Any ranking oriented system is based on opinion. You look at the teams, and the players they have, and come to a certain opinion based on how you think they’ll fare going forward.
ESPN Senior Writer Buster Olney released his rankings for the top ten MLB teams going into the 2016 season, and there is a little bit of a shock on, or actually off, the list.
If you were looking for the Dodgers in Olney’s Top 10, you wouldn’t find them. Instead, he had them as the first unranked team. He had this to say about them:
Los Angeles Dodgers: FanGraphs’ early projections have them winning the most games in the National League. The team does have a ton of roster depth, as well as questions about exactly which guys will carry the load over the course of the season. If Scott Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Kenta Maeda and others pitch as much — and as well — as the Dodgers expect, then L.A. could win the NL West for a fourth straight season.
The National League teams that Olney ranks higher than the Dodgers are, in order, the Chicago Cubs (#1), San Francisco Giants (#4), St. Louis Cardinals (#7), New York Mets (#8), and Pittsburgh Pirates (#9). Essentially, Olney has the Dodgers as the sixth best team in their league going into the season. Some of that makes sense.
For instance, the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates all finished with better records than the Dodgers in 2015. The Cubs improved a ton in free agency, the Cardinals are always there, and the Pirates have been consistently good the last couple years. There’s some understanding of why they’re that high.
The two of note are the Giants and Mets.
The Giants have improved but, as Olney explains, they’re hoping the 2015 struggles of Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto are just one a year thing and that they can actually bounce back.
The Mets have lost free agent Daniel Murphy, and could lose Yoenis Cespedes, but they still feature one of the best rotations in baseball. So you can still understand why they’re that high.
If you choose to look at this way, the Dodgers have quite a few question marks going into 2016, and Olney sees them as a team with the potential to be great, but the potential for a lackluster season is also there. I guess we’ll see how it all plays out soon.