NL power rankings | La Velle E. Neal III picks his top teams in the National League
1. Mets: With the best rotation in baseball and a full season of OF Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets can follow the Royals’ path to a title.
2. Cubs: Their rotation is experienced and accomplished. Their lineup is young with high-level producers and others with upside. A lot to like on the North Side this year.
3. Giants: Don’t rely on the every-other-year thing. The Giants have bolstered their rotation and have a dangerous lineup capable to getting them deep into the playoffs.
4. Nationals: OF Bryce Harper could overtake Mike Trout as the game’s best player, but can he help change the perception that Washington is a group of underachievers?
5. Cardinals: OF Jason Heyward is gone to a division rival, but St. Louis has shaken off free-agent departures before. RHP Carlos Martinez about to go to the next level.
6. Dodgers: The lineup should be productive, especially with rookie phenom SS Corey Seager for a full season. Rotation health will hold this team back.
7. Pirates: Timing is everything. Pittsburgh has superstars in OF Andrew McCutchen and RHP Gerrit Cole and a good lineup. But it’s hard to be more than a wild card in the NL Central.
8. Diamondbacks: Adding RHP Zack Greinke to the rotation was huge. 1B Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best, and OF A.J. Pollock is great in center. But won’t be enough.
9. Marlins: Barry Bonds, the all-time home run leader, gets to work with a team that was 12th in OPS and 14th in home runs last season. Pack a lunch, Barry.
10. Brewers: This team is in rebuild mode, and it wouldn’t be shocking if C Jonathan Lucroy and LHP Will Smith are dealt.
11. Padres: San Diego went for it last season — and flopped. The Padres need to take a step back, and RHP James Shields can be had for the right price.
12. Reds: Another rebuilding project in its infancy. They have some interesting young arms, but things could get ugly this season as they pitch in that offense-friendly ballpark.
13. Phillies: 3B Maikel Franco looks as if he has star potential. RHP Aaron Nola has promise, too. But this team is going to take some lumps this year.
14: Rockies: The post-Troy Tulowitzki era is underway, with Colorado trying to find pitching arms. Carlos Gonzalez should be Car-Gone by trading deadline.
15. Braves: Poor Freddie Freeman. The first baseman is too well-liked to be traded, so he will be part of a massive rebuilding before the Braves move into new stadium in 2017.