The off-season is only a week old, but in our fast-paced world, it’s never too early to look ahead to what’s to come. Only one team finishes a baseball season on top, which means 29 other teams, absent parades and pep rallies, have already started looking at 2022. And so are we.
As we relax, unwind and mix a little holiday feeling into our off-season, here’s our first look at next year, in our final Power Rankings of 2021:
They are the World Series champions, and while recent history suggests we won’t have a repeat in 2022 (no team has won consecutive titles since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000), the Braves deserved the trophy, which is why they take first place in our final Power Rankings of 2021. The Braves’ young pitching gives Atlanta plenty of reasons to be optimistic for next season. But there is uncertainty about their field – they may lose everyone they’ve finished the season with by choice (Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario) – and of course Freddie Freeman is also on the market. So there is work to be done.
The Dodgers have a slew of players who helped them reach the National League Championship Series who are now free agents, but with deep pockets, a solid farm system and a strong core returning, there’s little reason to believe they’ll be. not in the thick of a division race again. They have already taken one measure to boost their rotation, signing a modest one-year deal with left-handed Andrew Heaney. That won’t replace Max Scherzer, who is a free agent, or Clayton Kershaw, who didn’t get a qualifying offer, but it’s a small step. As is the case with any team at this time of year, there is more to do.
The Rays’ first 100-win season in their history was marred by a surprisingly early postseason exit, but that ALDS loss to the Red Sox doesn’t take away the shine from what appears to be a bright near-future for baseball’s best little one. players. market team. Even with the graduation of Wander Franco and others, their farm system is still a top 10 operation (6th, per MLB pipeline), and they have enough prospects ready to audition to fill the few gaps they have right now. that free desk is in fully equipped. If there is an obvious need, it is likely to be an established, durable starting pitcher to stabilize the apex of the rotation.
Like the Rays, the Brewers had high hopes after one of the best regular seasons in their history, but fell short in the NLDS against the eventual world champion. Losing to the last team standing is only a small consolation prize – Milwaukee will have to bolster its attack in 2022 if it is to continue in October. That doesn’t just mean drawing or trading for a batter; they’ll also need to get a few on track – namely Christian Yelich, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Keston Hiura. The prospects for pitching are much brighter, with Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta — one of the top trios in baseball — all returning.
5. White Sox
The White Sox took a step forward when they stranded to a division title in ’21, but given the composition of their roster – presumably key players who were heavily injured last season will return in good health – expectations will be even higher next year. They may look to improve at second base and rightfield, although Gavin Sheets and Andrew Vaughn could play a part in the outfield after strong rookie seasons. The Sox could lose Carlos Rodón to a free agency, but with Michael Kopech looking to move from the bullpen to the rotation, the starting staff appears to be in good shape.
The rest of the field of 30:
Voters: Alyson Footer, Anthony Castrovince, Jesse Sanchez, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn