Texas College Football Rankings Part 2

Kenny Hill leads his team onto the field against Oklahoma Via: TCU Athletics

So, I said every three weeks and clearly that did not happen. Life comes at you fast, but here is my new grantee: I will update these ratings one more time post-bowl season for a final ranking.

For this ranking, I have decided to only give you the top 5 teams. No offense to any program not listed here, but outside of the top five there is not much excitement. (Technically there are six teams here sharing five spots.)

No. 1, TCU

Without a doubt, the Horned Frogs are the best in Texas. Yes, they just were slapped around by Oklahoma, but that does not discredit their body of work this season. They play solid defense and have a strong offense. Gary Patterson continues to be worth every dime TCU pays him, and while the Frogs are out of the playoff picture the Big 12 title is still very much in sight.

E Washington Texas Tech Football
Justin Stockton rushes against Eastern Washingtoon Via: The Spokesman-Review

 

No. 2, Texas Tech/Texas A&M

These two teams have both been a major disappointment to their respective fanbases. For Tech, an improved defense led to hopes of a prosperous season. But kicking woes and an oddly anemic offense at times has sunken those hopes.

We can pretty much say goodbye to Kevin Sumlin, barring a miracle, so that should tell you where the Aggies are at this season. These teams could very well end with the same exact record on the season, so I feel they should share the two spot.

No. 3, Texas

Tom Herman energized the Texas fanbase, but was quickly derailed by Marlyand. Since then, the season has not been much better. The Longhorn offense has been hit by injuries, and has been inept most of the season.

That defense is scary talented, but has not been good enough to carry this team to victory often. Bowl eligibility hangs in the balance with two games left, a rough start for Herman’s tenure.

No. 4, Houston

The Cougars have fallen off following Herman’s departure, but are not a bad team. Ed Oliver is still the best defensive lineman in the country, and the offense can still produce. Mystifying collapses against Memphis and Tulsa have been a major damper on the season, but a win over Number Five SMU gives them the nod to Number Four.

No. 5, SMU

The Mustangs are finally going bowling! The downside to this is you can basically kiss Chad Morris goodbye. The program is far from rebuilt but there is finally hope for the future. The Mustang offense continues to cruise carrying this team. Defensively, the Mustangs struggle a bit allowing Navy to run all over the yard against them last week.

Tune in post bowl season for my final ranking! Let us know in the comments if you agree or disagree with these rankings. Enjoy the end of college football season, the most magical time of the year.

College Football: Power 5 conference power rankings

With the College Football season past the halfway point, it is time to rank the Power 5 conferences from best to worst.

Photo via Getty Images

No. 1, Big 10

The Big 10 has three teams in the Top 10 and five total in the Top 25. There is no doubt that it will get at least one team in the playoff. If Penn St. and Wisconsin are both undefeated going into the Big 10 championship, then it has a very good chance at getting 2 teams.

The elite coaches set the Big 10 apart from the rest as Meyer and Harbaugh are probably among the top five coaches in the game. Behind them, they have James Franklin who is proving to be capable of building a championship contender now that scholarship restrictions are lifted.

The conference has also established consistent winners in Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz and Michigan State’s Mike Dantonio.

Finally, the Big Ten has young up and coming coaches in Minnesota’s P.J Fleck and Purdue’s Jeff Brohm. With great coaches across the board, the Big Ten has the potential to dominate the college football landscape for the foreseeable future.

TUSCALOOSA, AL – SEPTEMBER 28: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide walks the field during pregame warmups prior to facing the Mississippi Rebels at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

No. 2, SEC

After ruling the college football world for the entirety of the 2000s, the SEC has taken a step back.

Alabama is still by far the most dominant program in College Football, yet other traditional powerhouses such as LSU, Florida and Auburn have gone from perennial top 10 programs to very beatable teams typically ranked between 15 and 25. These teams still have unbelievable talent on their defensive lines and receiving cores, however, none of them have been able to find a reliable quarterback. Whether this is on the coaches or simply bad luck is unknown.

Until the majority of the SEC teams get championship caliber playmakers at the quarterback position, it will be difficult for them to re-establish themselves as college football’s unrivaled top conference.

Paul Nisely via SN Illustration/Getty Images

No. 3, Big 12

The Big 12 will always struggle to be a great conference with only 10 teams and no conference championship game.

They have earned the No. 3 ranking because they have three teams with a legitimate chance at making the playoff in TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State pending an undefeated finish. The same cannot be said for the ACC or the Pac 12.

The Big 12 has always seemed like the playground of college football, a cute place where everyone throws touchdowns, plays no defense and everyone is happy.

If Tom Herman can turn around Texas, then the Big 12 can return to the feared conference it once was when Michael Crabtree, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy held dominion over the college football’s top five.

Until then, the Big 12 will be limited by being somewhat top heavy and not having the potential resume builder that a conference championship game provides.

Photo via Gerry Broome/ Associated Press

No. 4, ACC

The ACC is still a very formidable football conference, but it took a major step back in 2017.

The Atlantic Division, arguably the most feared sub-conference last year, has regressed mightily as Florida State and Louisville have fallen entirely out of the top 25.

Clemson is still a national title contender but, with a first-year starting quarterback, they appear much more beatable than they were last year.

On the Coastal Side, North Carolina went from a top 20 team to perhaps the worst team in the ACC after quarterback Mitch Trubisky left for the NFL.

Heading the Coastal is undefeated Miami and Virginia Tech with one loss. Any team in the ACC is not really a threat in the national championship race.

Although it is a down year for the ACC, it should improve when its teams and quarterbacks gain more experience.

Photo via Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

No. 5, Pac 12

Rounding out the Power 5 conferences is the Pac 12, who has had an extremely disappointing year.

Unlike the ACC, the Pac 12 does not have the excuse of having inexperience as USC, Washington and Washington State all returned veteran quarterbacks with legitimate National Championship hopes.

USC’s Sam Darnold, the most exciting player since Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez has been an immense disappointment throwing countless interceptions and suffering an embarrassing defeat against arch-rival Notre Dame.

Washington’s Jake Browning has been uninspiring this year, crushing their National Championship in a humiliating loss to lowly Arizona State in which they only put up a measly 7 points.

Stanford has been the same team they have been since Andrew Luck left, consistent, and might get a cute bid to the Rose Bowl, but they still lack the all-around skill and speed to dominate a season from start to finish.

In order for the Pac 12 to return to the respected conference they once were, they must establish a dominant team capable of consistently competing with the likes of Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State.

Until then, the Pac 12 will continue to occasionally submit apathetic teams to the playoff that are not truly taken seriously.

Texas college football power rankings, ranked No. 1-11

Texas is home to eleven football programs, with five belonging to Power Five conferences. But who is the best in this great football playing state? Check in every three weeks to find out.

Photo via TCU Athletics

No. 1, TCU

Going in to Stillwater and knocking off Oklahoma State was impressive, to put it lightly. The Horned Frogs under Patterson have a strong defensive identity, but the offense is not shabby by any means. Slowing down Oklahoma State’s offense is extremely difficult, but TCU was up to the task. They added another impressive win to their record after besting West Virginia. TCU is in the playoff hunt now, and they are deservedly the best in Texas.

No. 2, Texas Tech

I will admit it, I am biased here. I am a Texas Tech student, but I will try to set aside my bias and defend this rank. Beating Arizona State is a decent win, but breaking Houston’s home winning streak was the best win on the young year. Texas Tech had a shot at knocking off Oklahoma State, but fell just short in the upset bid in a 41-34 defeat. Crushing Kansas is not really impressive, but the team was finally able to win soundly. At times Tech has struggled to do that under Kingsbury, and this shows the team is developing. If the defense really is as improved as early returns indicate, this could be a good year for a program looking to get back to the glory days under Mike Leach.

Kellen Mond being pursued by Keith Holcombe of Alabama (Photo Via: 247Sports)

No. 3, Texas A&M

The Aggies were a national laughingstock after blowing a 34-point lead at UCLA. The Aggies showed heart against Alabama, but were not seriously threatening the Tide. They have a streaky offense with Kellen Mond in his freshman season, but the defense has play-makers and Texas A&M has managed to close out two dogfights against Arkansas and South Carolina.  Between A&M and Texas Tech there is very little separation. The Aggies fall behind the Red Raiders because of their collapse at UCLA, which is just an unfathomable choke.

No. 4, Texas

After a disappointing loss against Maryland at home, the Longhorns are showing some of the talent that their recruiting class rankings promised. While the Longhorns are struggling mightily on offense, the defense has been superb since the Maryland game. Sam Ehlinger might be the new answer at quarterback for Texas after leading a comeback victory over Kansas state. Tom Herman has his work cut out for him, but Texas is moving in the right direction.

Derrick Willies being tackled by Cougar defenders (Via:  The Venture)

No. 5, Houston

You thought I was just going to stick the Power Five teams this high up here didn’t you? Two words whenever Houston is mentioned: Ed. Oliver. This man among boys is the best defensive player in college football. I dare anyone to prove that statement false. I watched as Texas Tech triple-teamed him and he was still able to bring pressure. Houston struggles offensively, but Ed Oliver is good enough to change the game. The rest of the defense is not shabby either, and if the offense can improve Houston could be poised for a run at the AAC title.

No. 6, SMU

SMU has relied on a stellar offense for their success thus far. A deep receiving core led by Courtland Sutton have led the offensive attack. While SMU was dispatched by TCU in a 20-point defeat, the Mustangs put up a good fight early demonstrating the progress Chad Morris has made. SMU still has much more to prove, and losing to Houston showed they still are not ready to compete in the AAC.

UTSA celebrates a touchdown during their upset bid over Baylor (Photo Via: SportsDay)

No. 7, UTSA

Stunning Baylor earns them the seventh spot above the Bears. I would have loved to see the match-up against Houston, but Hurricane Harvey had other plans. UTSA is playing good football, and this could shake up to be one of the best years for the program.

No. 8, Baylor

Man, Baylor is really bad. The winless Bears under new Head Coach Matt Rhule have shown some signs of life, but the program is in shambles. I can’t say I am shaken up about the Bears’ collapse, considering the scandal under the previous regime led by Art Briles. Matt Rhule is trying to do things the right way, but it will be awhile before Baylor is even close to heights it reached just a few years ago.

No. 9, Texas State

A positive for this program are that they played Appalachian State close, and that is something to build on.

No. 10, Rice

Rice is in a rough state, but a win over UTEP gives them the nod to the 10 spot.

No. 11, UTEP

Sorry to anyone who is a big UTEP fan, but they are the worst in Texas as of now. Just an all-around struggling program, UTEP needs a drastic turnaround to leave the cellar of Texas football.


Michael Macon is a contributing writer for The JR Report.

Chargers unfairly scraping near bottom of ESPN power rankings

Photo via Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The article can also be found on the Chargers Wire!


After an impressive 2017 NFL draft, the Los Angeles Chargers did not seem to benefit in the most recent ESPN power rankings landing in the same spot as before their selections in Philadelphia at No. 25.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano had this to say in justifying L.A.’s lowly ranking heading into training camp.

“Every other team in the AFC West is in the top 10,” Graziano began. “None of their quarterbacks is as good as this team’s is.

Philip Rivers needs help, and the Chargers got him some with Mike Williams and a couple of guards in the first three rounds of the draft. This team blew a lot of fourth-quarter leads last season; hold half of them and this ranking is way too low.”

Los Angeles still has likely future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers, drafted two excellent offensive guards and a playmaking wide receiver to assist him — and at some point, the Chargers have to avoid mass amounts of injuries setting them back.

This ESPN ranking is far too low, as the Bolts should be positioned no lower than middle of the pack based on talent alone.


The article can also be found on the Chargers Wire!

Raiders rise to No. 3 in NFL Network’s power rankings

Photo via Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!


The Oakland Raiders had a resurgent 2016 campaign, and are looking to make some more noise in 2017.

After a solid haul at the 2017 NFL draft, NFL Network’s Elliot Harrison seems to believe the Raiders are one of the top-three teams in the league in his latest power rankings.

Harrison thinks the acquisition of former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch “is no small deal.” Despite Lynch’s age, “he is playing for love more than money” and that extra motivation should show itself on the field.

He even compared Lynch to “the modern-day John Riggins” and called the Oakland native one of “the best true power backs to ever live.”

Harrison, one of the few media analysts who liked the Raiders’ draft, “loved” the selection of former UConn safety Obi Melifonwu, but decided to hold judgment on former Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley.

He concluded the draft deserved a “B to A-minus” grade, which is much better than the grades of other NFL experts, like ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.

Ultimately, Oakland had an excellent draft and signed some great pieces thru free agency to improve their already impressive offense. With that being said, the Raiders have earned their right at No. 3 in the latest power rankings.


The article can also be found on the Raiders Wire!

NBA Playoffs: Power Rankings (1-10)

Photo via Frank Gunn / AP

 1. Golden State Warriors

Warriors vs. Lillard.jpg
Photo via Kyle Terada – USA Today Sports

Kevin Durant’s injury, while unfortunate, was a good thing for the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors, and Steph Curry in particular, were playing without swagger and confidence.

The main difference between the Warriors last year and this year was Curry’s play. He went from an MVP to just a great player because he was trying to integrate Durant. Once Durant went down, the Warriors rediscovered the magic that made them one of the best teams in NBA history; they won 14 straight games and 15 out of their last 16 to finish the season.

They are the most talented team in the league, and they’re hot going into the playoffs.

 2. Cleveland Cavaliers

After losing their final four games, the Cleveland Cavaliers should probably be lower in the power rankings. This is a power ranking for the playoffs, though, not the regular season. The playoffs are their own season, and you can throw records out the window. At this point in the season, we can focus on experience, talent, matchups, and chemistry.

The Cavs save themselves for the playoffs. Once the ball tips, Cleveland will have something pretty close to their A-game. Their poor play is worrisome in terms of winning a championship, but it doesn’t foretell an early exit.

They are, however, making their third straight title run (LeBron James’ seventh in a row). It might catch up to them, but I think resting their stars down the stretch will benefit the Cavs playoff run.

They’ll make the conference finals, and most likely, the NBA Finals.

3. San Antonio Spurs

Kawai Leonard
Photo via Chris Covatta/Getty Images

 

Kawhi Leonard doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Yes, the San Antonio Spurs are a great team with a ton of depth, but they don’t have Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are not what they once were. It is Leonard’s team and he is performing at an elite level.

They don’t have the star power that the Warriors and Cavs do, but their experience, Kawhi Leonard, and Popovich make them a serious threat.

4. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not considered “real” title contenders. They have everything that one would look for in a team, but lack the star-studded lineup needed to compete for a title.

Boston will be a great team in the future. They have a nice roster and a great coach in Brad Stevens, but they need one more piece to be a real threat to LeBron in the east.

Maybe they should be ranked higher because of their record during the regular season. They have a chance to upset Cleveland should the matchup present itself.

5. Toronto Raptors

Serge Ibaka Raptors.jpeg
Photo via Tom Szczerbowski – USA Today Sports

The Toronto Raptors may not be playing their best basketball, but they have the potential to take the Cavaliers deep in a series. The injury to guard Kyle Lowry hurt their regular season record. Once Lowry returned to the lineup, they started winning games. They won 12 out of their last 14 games to finish the season.

They took a surprising loss to Milwaukee in game one, but people overreacted. They’ll bounce back and win game two, and they’ll steal a game on the road against the Bucks.

If they can get there, the Raptors have the star power to compete with Cleveland. At guard, Lowry can matchup with Kyrie Irving. DeRozan is a stud, and DeMarre Carrol can matchup with LeBron James. They have great size, too, with Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka.

A great point guard, an all-star scoring guard, and two seven-footers underneath. The Raptors have a chance to go deep in the playoffs.

6. Houston Rockets

They should probably be number three or four in these rankings, but the Rockets are in the Western Conference and don’t stand much of a chance against the top seeds. They have a shot at beating the Spurs, but they can’t beat Golden State.

They’re a good team, but they can’t play defense, and they don’t match up well against their conference’s top teams. No one should expect them to be the western conference’s representative in the NBA finals.

7. Los Angeles Clippers

Chris Paul dirbbling.jpg
Photo via the NBA’s website

The Clippers are similar to the Rockets. They’re a good team, they’d be great in the Eastern Conference, but they’re not good enough to beat the Spurs or Warriors.

It’s disappointing for Chris Paul, who’s a great player, but has been pretty unlucky. He’s never been surrounded with enough talent to win, and he’s had to play against the Lakers, Spurs, and Warriors’ dynasties.

The Clippers do have a lot of talent, with Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, but they lack in two key areas. They don’t have an elite wing like LeBron, Kobe, Thompson or Leonard, and Griffin seems like a great regular season player, but doesn’t help the team win.

When Chris Paul gets injured, the Clippers really suffer. When Griffin is out with an injury, the Clippers do just fine.

Anything can happen in the playoffs, but the Clippers probably won’t go far.

8. Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards have a lot of potential to make noise in the playoffs with John Wall and Bradley Beal. They also have good supporting players in Otto Porter Jr., Markieff Morris, and Marcin Gortat. They’re a good team, but they’re a star away from being true title contenders.

If they could have landed Durant, for example, they’d be as good as Cleveland. Wall is very good, but he’s not elite. His jump-shot, which is lacking, will hurt him down the stretch of games.

9. Atlanta Hawks

Paul Milsap backs down pacers.jpeg
Photo via John David Mercer – USA Today Sports

They’re pretty much the same team ever year; good in the regular season, but don’t have a legitimate shot at a championship. They’re stuck in limbo. The Hawks are never bad enough to get a high draft pick, but they’re never good enough to win it all.

They’ve got a shot to win a series, but anything beyond that would be a surprise.

10. Portland Trailblazers

The Trailblazers are fun to watch and they’ll put up a good effort against the Warriors, albeit exiting in the first round.

They have a good core with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who could be elite in the future. They need to bring in another all-star, though. If not, the two will surely leave Portland to team up with other stars.

Despite their long-term contracts, players have shown the ability to force trades if they are unhappy. It is the trend in the NBA for a star player to leave their team if no help comes.


Yes, there are other teams in the playoffs, but they won’t be winning an NBA championship this year. If you have no chance (and I mean zero) at beating Golden State or Cleveland, you’re not on the list. Sorry to the:

Milwaukee Bucks

Utah Jazz

Oklahoma City Thunder

Memphis Grizzlies

Indiana Pacers

Chicago Bulls

 

 

 

MLB Power Rankings (30-21)

30. San Diego Padres

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 65-97

MLB: San Francisco Giants at San Diego Padres

(USA Today Photo/Jake Roth)

The Padres big 2016 offseason acquisition? Jered Weaver! He was blowing his fastball by hitters at 83 mph last season. Oh, and his FIP? An astounding 5.62. The scariest part is he may actually be a mainstay in the Padres rotation. Jarred Cosart is probably the best option they’ve got, and that’s only because he was good two years ago. Hopefully for Padres fans, 2017 will be a year for prospects Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe to blossom, while Wil Myers provides a glimmer of excitement. This will be a forgettable season in San Diego.

29. Cincinnati Reds

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 70-92

CIN1.jpg

(Getty Images/Joe Robbins)

The Reds pitching staff had the third worst team ERA in 2016 and walked the most hitters in baseball. Alfredo Simon was dreadful in his return to the team, registering a 7.13 FIP in 58 ⅔ innings, and their ace was Dan Straily. To improve the pitching staff, the Reds front office made two (somewhat) notable moves, signing Drew Storen and Scott Feldman. After showing significant improvement with Seattle in the second half last season, Storen will likely strengthen the Reds bullpen. Scott Feldman will start on Opening Day. 

Billy Hamilton and new starting second baseman Jose Peraza will provide some excitement atop the lineup with their game changing speed, and Joey Votto will likely continue to drive in runs and get on base at an absurdly high clip. The offense will likely take a hit, though, after Jay Bruce’s midseason departure and Brandon Phillips’ trade to the Braves. Let’s see if Adam Duvall can build on his breakout year as the Reds continue to rebuild at an unusually slow pace.  

28. Philadelphia Phillies

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 71-91

PP1.jpg

(AP Photo, Derik Hamilton)

The Phillies have a trio of young right handers (Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff) who all showed promise in 2016. Aaron Nola, the most exciting of the bunch, posted a 4.78 ERA, significantly underperforming his FIP of 3.08. Velasquez, Nola and Eickhoff will be led by Jeremy Hellickson, who unexpectedly chose to return on a qualifying offer.

Philadelphia has a few exciting bats as well. Maikel Franco (25 home runs), Odubel Herrera (.361 OBP) and Cesar Hernandez (.371 OBP) all had excellent years in 2016. Shortstop J.P. Crawford, Philadelphia’s top prospect, is nearing the big leagues, too. 2017 probably won’t be a breakout year for the Phillies, but they’re getting more competitive and should contend relatively soon.

27. Minnesota Twins

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 74-88

MT1.JPG

(Star Tribune Photo, Richard Tsong-Taatarii)

The Twins’ rebuilding years are beginning to pay off. After finishing with the worst record in baseball last year, they’re poised to take steps forward in 2017. Miguel Sano and Max Kepler look like legit, power hitting prospects, Byron Buxton flashed all five tools in his second big league stint, and Jose Berrios looks ready to stick in the big league rotation. Minnesota will also add to their great young talent pool with the number one overall pick in the 2017 Draft. The Twins will be an exciting team to watch this year with their young power hitters. Plus, it’s always enjoyable watching undersized power hitting second basemen Brian Dozier launch balls into the upper deck.

26. Milwaukee Brewers

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 69-93

MB1.jpg

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The Brewers don’t have anything special going on in 2017.

They’re struggling to trade their aging all-star Ryan Braun, who’s expendable at this point; the Brew Crew won’t be winning anytime soon. Their best player last year, Jonathan Villar turned down a contract extension in hopes of getting more money after 2017, and their franchise catcher, Jonathan Lucroy, is gone to Texas. They have one promising young pitcher in the 2017 rotation in Zach Davies, and 2016 surprise Junior Guerra, who’s already 32 years old, will start on opening day. Get ready for a meaningless year, Milwaukee.

25. Chicago White Sox

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 69-93

CHW1.png

(MLB Photo)

The White Sox are beginning to rebuild, and it’s happening quickly. This offseason, they traded away their best pitcher, Chris Sale, and their best outfielder, Adam Eaton, who have three and five years of team control, respectively. After trying to win the last couple of years, GM Rick Hahn is tearing the team down in hopes of competing again a few years down the road. In return for Sale and Eaton, the Sox got excellent prospects in Yoan Moncada (#1 on MLB Prospect List), Lucas Giolito (#11 on MLB Prospect List), Michael Kopech (#16 on MLB Prospect List) and Reynaldo Lopez (#46 on MLB Prospect List).

These moves are just the beginning, though, as Chicago still has several big trade chips in first baseman Jose Abreu, third baseman Todd Frazier, outfielder Melky Cabrera, closer David Robertson and starter Jose Quintana. The White Sox will likely deal more players throughout the year as they prepare for the future. 

24. Oakland Athletics

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 79-83

MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics

(USA Today Photo/Kyle Terada)

The A’s bullpen looks good, as usual, with names like Sean Doolittle, Santiago Casilla, Ryan Madson, John Axford, etc. The starting rotation will look to bounce back after 2016 saw ace Sonny Gray’s FIP go from 3.45 to 4.67. Sean Manaea did look promising in his first big league stint, though.

Oakland has a good, young third baseman in Ryon Healy, who posted an .861 OPS in 283 big league plate appearances last year. Marcus Semien developed a power stroke, and Khris Davis broke out with 42 home runs. Don’t sleep on Billy Beane.

23. Atlanta Braves

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 73-89

AB1

(USA Today Photo/Daniel Shirley)

The Braves are in an unusual position. They’ve got a lot of young, inexperienced talent, yet they’ve spent a decent part of the offseason acquiring veterans like Brandon Phillips, Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey for what seems like an attempt to be respectable. Rather than riding out a tough season with young players, the Braves look as though they could actually be okay. They’re a bit higher on my power rankings than most. I think their lineup isn’t half bad, and their veteran rotation may guide them to a decent record.

22. Arizona Diamondbacks

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 77-85

Diamondbacks Greinke Baseball

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The Diamondbacks are coming off a dismal year in which they won just 69 games. Offseason acquisition Shelby Miller’s FIP ballooned from 3.45 in 2015 to 4.87 in 2016, and free agent, $205 million pitcher Zack Greinke’s went from 2.76 to 4.12. If they can return to form, the Arizona rotation might actually be decent.

A.J. Pollock, arguably the best center fielder in the NL in 2015, is returning from injury after playing only 12 games in 2016. According to Baseball Reference, Pollock was a 7.4 win player in 2015. With a similar performance, the Diamondbacks should expect to win an additional seven games. They’ve also got some solid offensive pieces around Pollock, including Yasmany Tomas, Jake Lamb and obviously, Paul Goldschmidt. Lookout for a solid year from Arizona.

21. Tampa Bay Rays

Fangraphs projected 2017 record: 82-80

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Detroit Tigers

(USA Today Photo/Leon Halip)

The Rays are projected to win 82 games, yet they’re number 21 on my power rankings, here’s why: After a 68 win season in 2016, it’s hard to imagine an above .500 finish after trading away two of their best players (Drew Smyly and Logan Forsythe). With that being said, there are definitely a few reasons the Rays may finish close to their projected record.  

The Rays were last in MLB in one-run ball games in 2016 at 13-27; that’s extraordinarily bad luck. If the Rays are league average in one-run ball games in 2017, they’ll win a handful more games. Despite losing Drew Smyly, the Rays rotation is still young and has three very promising arms. Chris Archer will likely bounce back after a disappointing 2016; he was fantastic in his World Baseball Classic start. Jake Odorizzi had another solid showing last year, and Blake Snell flew under the radar with a 3.39 FIP after being called up.

The lineup has some solid bats, too, with Kevin Kiermaier, Steven Souza Jr., Corey Dickerson, Brad Miller, who impressed with 30 home runs in 2016, and of course, Evan Longoria. They may be low on my list, but the Rays could be a surprise team in 2017.

 

All data courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.