FanGraphs Power Rankings: Spring Training 2024 Edition

It’s been a long offseason, one that has felt all the more drawn out because a number of high-profile free agents, including three of the top five in our rankings, remain unsigned. But spring training has begun in earnest and the thwack of baseballs hitting gloves has started to punctuate the air in Arizona and Florida. These power rankings give us a snapshot of where each team stands, though a lot could change between now and Opening Day.

A reminder for how these rankings are calculated: first, we take the most important components of a team — its offense (wRC+) and its pitching (a 50/50 blend of FIP- and RA9-, weighted by starter and reliever IP share) — and combine them to create an overall team quality metric. I’ve removed defense from the calculations during the offseason since defensive projections aren’t the most reliable. For these offseason power rankings, I’ve used each team’s projected stats based on their Depth Charts projections, which now include both the 2024 ZiPS projections and the 2024 Steamer projections. The result is a power ranking, presented in tiers below.

Tier 1 – Preseason Favorites
Team Projected Record wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality
Braves 97-65 114 88 92 200
Dodgers 92-70 111 94 101 168
Astros 90-72 111 97 97 169

The Braves spent a lot of effort this offseason solidifying their place atop the NL pecking order. With an already strong roster, they were surprisingly busy this winter, making nine different trades, the majority of which looked more like an accounting ledger than a major league transaction record. In the end, they bolstered their pitching staff by adding Chris Sale and a handful of bullpen arms and filled the lone hole in their lineup with the mercurial Jarred Kelenic. They’re projected to win five more games than the Dodgers and should have no trouble running the table in the NL East again this year.

The Dodgers did all they could this offseason to try and topple the Braves from the top of the projected standings, signing two Japanese superstars, trading for Tyler Glasnow, and re-signing their franchise talisman. Despite all the money they’ve spent on revitalizing their once-depleted starting rotation, there’s still plenty of risk dragging their projection down. Their talent is undeniable, but it’s unclear how much of it will be healthy and available for the entire season.

The Astros remain the class of the American League despite a pretty quiet offseason. They addressed their biggest pitching need last summer when they reacquired Justin Verlander, though it remains to be seen how long he can fight off Father Time. Houston’s one big addition this offseason was to bring in Josh Hader to strengthen an already elite bullpen and help shorten games even further. The Astros also signed Jose Altuve, the face of their franchise, to a five-year extension that should keep him in Houston through the end of his career. With the rest of the AL playoff picture looking very crowded right now, the Astros stand above the fray as preseason favorites.

Tier 2 – The AL Battlezone
Team Projected Record wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality
Yankees 89-73 111 98 100 145
Rays 86-76 106 99 98 141
Twins 84-78 102 96 95 143
Blue Jays 84-78 104 98 97 141
Mariners 86-76 102 95 99 134
Orioles 86-76 106 97 102 133

This tier really exposes the stark differences between the top teams in the American League versus that same group in the National League, which is not represented here. Even though the Astros are listed in the tier above, all six of the teams in this second tier could wind up being the best team in the AL by the end of the season, and this tier doesn’t even include the reigning World Series champions. It would be hard to imagine any of the next best teams in the NL surpassing the Braves or Dodgers this year. Hopefully that means the AL playoff picture will be crowded and exciting.

The Yankees entered this offseason at a bit of crossroads. Their 2023 season was derailed by injuries to their biggest stars, and they still have far too much money tied up in guys in the decline phase of their careers. They really needed to make a splash to keep up with the rest of the teams in the AL East. And make a splash they did. The one-two punch of Aaron Judge and Juan Soto rivals that of any other team in baseball, and they also managed to add depth in the outfield, with Alex Verdugo and Trent Grisham, and the rotation, with Marcus Stroman. They’ve emerged as the slight favorites in their very competitive division.

The Rays traded Glasnow from their rotation, they won’t have Wander Franco in their lineup, and they’re still projected to finish second in the AL East with 86 wins. Not many other teams in baseball could survive losing two of their top players, much less project to be nearly as competitive. The depth of their roster is unrivaled, giving them plenty of leeway when the inevitable roster attrition begins to take its toll during the season. Unfortunately, their potential ceiling is a little lower without those same top contributors, making their chances of winning the division a little tougher.

The Twins, who cruised to a division title last year, look like they have a clear path to repeat. They still managed to improve their pitching staff and alleviate their infield logjam, even as they cut payroll. Despite the rosy projections, it still feels like the success of their season will hinge on the health of Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa, and Royce Lewis. If that trio is producing regularly, their lineup should be formidable. If not… well, the depth behind those three is rather lackluster.

For a brief moment, it looked like the Blue Jays had pulled off the heist of the offseason — and it involved sushi restaurants, flight trackers, and Canadian billionaires. Hearts across the north were broken when Shohei Ohtani did not step off that private jet in Toronto, and clothes rended asunder when he announced he’d be signing with the Dodgers a few hours later. Anything else the Jays did this offseason had to compete with that disappointment, which is why adding a couple of defense-first players and a 39-year-old designated hitter didn’t exactly generate a ton of excitement.

It was a long and winding road, and some of the individual moves didn’t necessarily make much sense in a vacuum, but the Mariners managed to red paper clip their way into a roster that looks roughly as talented as their squads from the past three seasons. Thanks to a young and talented pitching staff, Seattle is projected to have the best run prevention unit in baseball. That strength alone gives them a shot at toppling the Astros for the top spot in their division. Capping off their revamped lineup with Jorge Polanco gives their offense another middle-of-the-order hitter to help support Julio Rodríguez. They could use one more bat to lengthen their lineup, but that doesn’t seem likely.

After breaking out of their long rebuilding cycle with the AL’s best record last year, the Orioles have had an eventful offseason, though it took a while for the dominos to drop. As the calendar flipped to February, they traded for Corbin Burnes to give them an ace to lead their starting rotation. The very next day, news broke that John Angelos had agreed to sell the team to an investment group led by David Rubenstein. Hopefully, the change brings increased investment to the team, though it’ll probably take a while for those effects to be seen. Meanwhile, the roster looks as good as it did last year and Baltimore still has plenty of young talent on the cusp of making an impact in the big leagues.

Tier 3 – Solid Contenders
Team Projected Record wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality
Red Sox 82-80 103 98 97 137
Diamondbacks 83-79 100 96 97 131
Cardinals 83-79 106 103 99 120
Phillies 84-78 99 96 99 117
Rangers 82-80 106 101 103 109

The Red Sox don’t have a bad roster — and they were right to bring in Lucas Giolito, Tyler O’Neill, and Vaughn Grissom as complimentary pieces — but they don’t have a great one, either. The problem is that Boston plays in a division with four of the six teams in Tier Two, so it’s not enough to have a roster that is just OK. The Red Sox seem to be trying to straddle that awkward line between building toward the future and maintaining a roster that could luck into a Wild Card spot if enough things break their way.

The Diamondbacks have quietly had a strong offseason to support the squad that surprisingly won the NL pennant last year. They brought in Eduardo Rodriguez to bolster the starting rotation, re-signed Lourdes Gurriel Jr., traded for Eugenio Suárez, and signed Joc Pederson. They’re not splashy moves, but they do fill in some of the cracks that were exposed in the World Series once their good fortune ran out. They won’t challenge the Dodgers for the NL West crown, but they should be right in the thick of the Wild Card race again this season.

You can quibble about who they brought in, but the Cardinals had one job this offseason and they went right after it, signing Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson to revamp their starting pitching. Those three should be better than the patchwork staff that derailed St. Louis last season. Combined with a strong offensive core and solid bullpen, an improved rotation should be enough for the Cardinals to make last year a one-year blip rather than the start of a long decline.

By re-signing Aaron Nola and calling it an offseason, the Phillies have indicated they’re satisfied with running back the same group that has been so successful over the past two seasons. That’s not a terrible place to be in — back-to-back NLCS appearances is nothing to sneeze at — but it’s also not very aspirational. Of course, it’s hard to have higher aspirations when you have to chase down the Braves in the NL East, so another Wild Card berth will have to do.

It’s weird to see the Rangers this low in the rankings, but they’ve had a relatively quiet offseason for a team that just won a World Series. That said, they can look forward to their lineup continuing to be one of the league’s best, with a full season of Evan Carter and the eventual debut of Wyatt Langford. The problem is their pitching staff. Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Tyler Mahle are all expected to return from their respective injuries during the second half of the season. That should give them a formidable playoff rotation should they reach the postseason again, but the onus is on their healthy starters to hold down the fort for the first three months of the season.

Tier 4 – High-Variance Could Be’s
Team Projected Record wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality
Marlins 81-81 94 94 97 103
Guardians 80-82 99 100 99 90
Brewers 81-81 96 99 95 87
Cubs 81-81 98 99 99 82
Giants 80-82 99 96 102 96
Padres 81-81 99 103 105 65

There are five NL teams with projections sitting around .500 in this tier, with two more in the tier below, and they’ll all be fighting over one or two Wild Card spots. That should make for a dramatic race, though any one of those teams could begin to separate themselves from the pack by signing any of the free agents still on the market.

The Marlins have been very quiet this offseason — they’re the only remaining team who hasn’t signed a free agent to a major league contract. The moves they have made have been around the margins, bringing in some additional depth and utility types. Once again, they’re going to rely on their young and dynamic pitching staff to carry the load. It worked for them last year, though they benefited from some historic Pythagorean overperformance.

ZiPS actually likes Cleveland’s chances of challenging Minnesota in the AL Central, projecting the two teams to finish with the same record. That’s interesting, considering the Guardians enter this season with mostly the same players as last year’s team that missed the playoffs. But they’ve got a talented pitching staff that could carry them, and they’ll be calling on a couple of their prospects — Brayan Rocchio and Kyle Manzardo — to improve their lineup. It might not be enough, but Cleveland has the potential here to make for an interesting division race if things break right.

Boy, does the Brewers roster look different without Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff leading their rotation. In a wide open division, Milwaukee has opted to try and build toward the future while still hoping for a competitive season in the present. In addition to top prospect Jackson Chourio, the Brewers have a bunch of other exciting youngsters who could make an impact in the big leagues this year. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them right in the thick of the playoff race.

The Cubs stayed competitive until the final week of last season, but they’ve failed to address the big hole on their roster that opened when Cody Bellinger hit free agency. They did sign Shōta Imanaga, which should give them a boost to their starting rotation, and they also picked up Michael Busch from the Dodgers in a savvy little trade. There’s still time to re-sign Bellinger, but until they do, they look like they’re a hair behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.

The Giants finally added some oomph to their lineup by signing Jorge Soler to a three-year deal earlier this week. Along with newcomer Jung Hoo Lee, San Francisco has brought in two solid offensive players to bolster its lineup. The Giants have capable starters across every position, and they have some decent depth, but they still lack the upside to push their projection above .500. They could go out and sign Blake Snell, which would certainly help, but they’re clearly not good enough to challenge the Dodgers for the division. They’ll be stuck fighting with the other high-variance teams in the NL for those last Wild Card spots.

After the death of owner Peter Seidler and a television contract that was suddenly up-in-the-air, the Padres cut payroll after spending lavishly during recent offseasons. The Juan Soto trade helped solve that issue while also restocking their starting rotation. San Diego still has plenty of talent on the big league roster, and top prospect Jackson Merrill is knocking on the door, but the Padres desperately need another outfielder, even after re-signing Jurickson Profar.

Tier 5 – No Man’s Land
Team Projected Record wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality
Tigers 80-82 97 100 99 78
Reds 80-82 98 99 104 74
Mets 80-82 102 104 103 71
Angels 78-84 103 104 104 85

The Tigers have spent this offseason filling in the edges of their roster, with righty starters Kenta Maeda and Jack Flaherty being the standout acquisitions. They also handed out a big extension to top prospect Colt Keith; he’ll join the collection of young hitters already in the big leagues. If enough things break its way, Detroit could surprise in the weak AL Central. However, it’s more likely that the Tigers are another year away from the end of their rebuild.

The Reds have the enviable problem of having too many young infielders for not enough spots, and manager David Bell will have to figure out how to get them all regular at-bats while also juggling their development when the inevitable growing pains come along. Even with all that position player talent and the additions of Frankie Montas and Nick Martinez, the projections peg Cincinnati to be right around where it finished last year. That’s not terrible, considering the Reds were in the playoff conversation right up until the last weekend of the season, but they’ll need to get a lot from their youngsters to rise above their current projections.

The Mets fell the furthest of any team in these rankings over the offseason. You get the sense that this year is being treated as an evaluation year by their new president of baseball operations David Stearns as he begins to put his stamp on the organization. There’s still talent on this roster, though. If some of their veterans return to form and Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty produce, the Mets could challenge for a Wild Card spot.

If the Mets are stuck in the limbo of not rebuilding yet, the Angels are even further out in the cold. They realized they couldn’t replace the production of a unicorn like Shohei Ohtani, so they didn’t try to do that this offseason. Instead, they brought in a pile of relievers and are hoping for a return to health from all of their key contributors on offense. Even if Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Taylor Ward all play full seasons, that still won’t be enough to compete in the crowded AL Wild Card race, and there aren’t many reinforcements coming up through their farm system, either.

Tier 6 – Rebuilding
Team Projected Record wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality
Pirates 77-85 94 104 97 60
Royals 76-86 97 102 103 52
Athletics 72-90 93 110 104 21
Rockies 64-98 84 106 100 33
White Sox 68-94 91 111 109 9
Nationals 66-96 88 114 106 5

Even though they’ve started to graduate some of their prospects, the Pirates are still a step behind the other teams in their division. Oneil Cruz and Ke’Bryan Hayes look like franchise pillars, but Pittsburgh doesn’t have enough to contend just yet.

After signing Bobby Witt Jr. to a franchise-record extension, the Royals face the difficult task of building a winning roster around him. Signing veteran starters Michael Wacha and Seth Lugo to support a beleaguered pitching staff was a good start, but the Royals needed to do more than make incremental moves, and so far, they haven’t. Considering there isn’t much coming through the minor league system, either, Kansas City would probably be better off trading away Wacha and Lugo for prospects during the season to hopefully speed up this rebuild.

The A’s lost 112 games last year, but it’s hard to care about the product they put on the field because of their impending move to Las Vegas. The best thing you can say about Oakland’s roster right now is that it is not projected to be the worst team in the majors. Unfortunately, there’s a serious lack of upside on the big league roster and little high-end talent down on the farm. It’s possible that when (or, at this point, if) the A’s head to Vegas four years from now, they will still be one of the worst teams in baseball.

You’d think the Rockies would’ve learned a valuable lesson after striking gold with their under-the-radar pickup of Nolan Jones last offseason. But instead of working to find more under-appreciated, talented players who are blocked from getting regular playing time elsewhere, they spent this offseason acting as uninspired as ever. Maybe they expect to see some growth from Ezequiel Tovar and healthy seasons from Kris Bryant and Brendan Rodgers, but there isn’t much else to get excited about on this roster.

It’s a sad state of affairs. The most that White Sox fans can look forward to this season is that their team trades its two best players, Dylan Cease and Luis Robert Jr. for the package of prospects that could form the next great South Siders roster. Until they trade those two, the Sox will likely avoid being the worst team in the majors, but the bottom could fall out very quickly after the deadline.

At the end of this season, the Nationals will be one year closer to seeing the fruits of the Juan Soto trade in the majors. That’s the best that can be said about their roster as it’s currently constructed. Sure, CJ Abrams looks mildly interesting as a breakout candidate, and it isn’t the worst plan to bank on Joey Gallo, Nick Senzel, and Jesse Winker returning to form. But make no mistake, this organization is in a holding pattern until its ownership question is answered.

Complete Power Rankings
Rank Team Projected Record wRC+ SP- RP- Team Quality Δ
1 Braves 97-65 114 88 92 200 0
2 Dodgers 92-70 111 94 101 168 7
3 Astros 90-72 111 97 97 169 0
4 Yankees 89-73 111 98 100 145 2
5 Rays 86-76 106 99 98 141 -3
6 Twins 84-78 102 96 95 143 -1
7 Blue Jays 84-78 104 98 97 141 -3
8 Mariners 86-76 102 95 99 134 0
9 Orioles 86-76 105 97 102 133 1
10 Red Sox 82-80 103 98 97 137 1
11 Diamondbacks 83-79 100 96 97 131 7
12 Cardinals 83-79 106 103 99 120 4
13 Phillies 84-78 99 96 99 117 -6
14 Rangers 82-80 106 101 103 109 -2
15 Marlins 81-81 94 94 97 103 -1
16 Guardians 80-82 99 100 99 90 4
17 Brewers 81-81 96 99 95 87 0
18 Cubs 81-81 98 99 99 82 3
19 Giants 80-82 99 96 102 96 0
20 Padres 81-81 99 103 105 65 -5
21 Tigers 80-82 97 100 99 78 1
22 Reds 80-82 98 99 104 74 1
23 Mets 80-82 102 104 103 71 -10
24 Angels 78-84 103 104 104 85 0
25 Pirates 77-85 94 104 97 60 0
26 Royals 76-86 97 102 103 52 0
27 Athletics 72-90 93 110 104 21 0
28 Rockies 64-98 84 106 100 33 0
29 White Sox 68-94 91 111 109 9 1
30 Nationals 66-96 88 114 106 5 -1

Jake Mailhot is a contributor to FanGraphs. A long-suffering Mariners fan, he also writes about them for Lookout Landing. Follow him on Twitter @jakemailhot.

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3 months ago

Go O’s