As we head into Tampa Bay Rays and, mostly, the Atlanta Braves. I've been doing the power rankings here at CBS Sports since the beginning of spring training in 2012 and this is, by a decent margin, the easiest season I've ever had in ranking a No. 1 team from nearly the start through the finish.with the 2023 regular season complete, let's give a tip of the cap to the
If we exclude the preseason and the first full week -- where there's always going to be lots of shuffling early -- I only really had two No. 1 teams all season. The Rays started the season 13-0 and held onto the top spot through a 51-22 start until the Braves zipped past them and never relented. So, again: I've basically only had two first-ranked teams all season, a ridiculous occurrence.
Some of the most dominant teams in recent years have had either some major down cycles or company at the top. Last season, the Dodgers won 111 games, but the Yankees held the top spot for much of the first half while the Mets and Braves each won 101 games and had cracks at No. 1. Oh, and the 106-win champion Astros also had turns at the top. The 2021 season was top heavy, but the Giants won 107 and the Dodgers won 106 while the Rays and Astros also had some time atop the list.
We could go back to the 2018 season, but there were some back-and-forths through June with the Yankees and Astros. The 2017 season saw a lot of Astros early and Dodgers late, but there were others mixed in from Cleveland, Chicago and D.C. The 2016 Cubs started and finished with long runs on top, but there was a stretch in the middle where we had a revolving door at No. 1. In fact, I believe at one point we went eight straight weeks with a new No. 1 because it became a running joke that once I put a team first, they went on a losing streak.
This season, it simply didn't happen. The Rays owned most of the first half and then the Braves just closed things down. The Orioles won 100 games and never even got a shot at the top.
Speaking of the Orioles, it's worth mention that it's been quite a while since the World Series featured the team with the best record from each league, at least with a full season and home-and-home playoffs (2020 had the top record in each). We've often gotten one side, but not both. Not for years. If we carve out 2020, here are the teams with the best record in each league and how things ended up for them, listing the AL team first:
2022: Astros (won World Series) and Dodgers (lost NLDS)
2021: Rays (lost ALDS) and Giants (lost NLDS)
2019: Astros (lost World Series) and Dodgers (lost NLDS)
2018: Red Sox (won World Series) and Brewers (lost NLCS)
2017: Cleveland (lost ALDS) and Dodgers (lost World Series)
2016: Rangers (lost ALDS) and Cubs (won World Series)
2015: Royals (won World Series) and Cardinals (lost NLDS)
2014: Angels (lost ALDS) and Nationals (lost NLDS)
2013: Red Sox (won World Series) and Cardinals (lost World Series)
Exactly a decade later, is it finally time to see the best team from each league square off in the World Series again? That would be really fun. Seeing the two best teams from the regular season squaring off is always great, but there's also the storyline of the postseason regular (the Braves have been to the playoffs for six straight years) against the newbie Orioles.
Regardless, it's been a wild and incredibly fun regular season, even if the Rays (early) and Braves (the rest) made it anything but exciting in deciding the top spot in the power rankings.
|If you have to bet on one team to win it, it's the Braves. Without question. If you get the chance to take the Braves or the rest of the field, though, take the field. Simply: The most likely individual team to win the title is still unlikely to win it. That's just how it is these days with the playoff format.||--||104-58|
|The last time the Orioles made the playoffs was 2016. The last time they won the division was 2014. The last time they won at least 98 games was 1997. They've already reset everything there, so why not look back at 1983, which was the last time they won the World Series? Hmmm ...||1||101-61|
|The Dodgers got to the 900-run mark as a team for the season on Friday. The Dodgers hadn't previously scored 900 runs in a season since 1953 when they were in Brooklyn and had Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Gil Hodges anchoring the lineup.||1||100-62|
|They had 16 different starting pitchers this season and still nearly won 100 games. Remarkable.||--||99-63|
|Can they find enough offense to make a deep playoff run? They are trending the right way. September was their highest month in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.||--||92-70|
|They weren't even in first place for a single day until September, and yet here we are again with the Astros as AL West champs. The road in the AL still runs through Houston until someone knocks them out.||3||90-72|
|It's tough to screw up a 2.5-game lead with four games to go, but the Rangers did it. At least they made the playoffs.||1||90-72|
|Something to watch if they have a deep run: Chris Bassitt has a 2.86 ERA at home but a 4.50 road ERA.||2||89-73|
|Another Red October? They have the horses. A good sign was Aaron Nola, after a totally inconsistent season, locking in for two solid starts to close the season.||2||90-72|
|Welp, it's time, Twins. Time, that is, to erase the 0-18 thing. If you don't do it now, the focus and attention on the streak only gets worse for future seasons and weighs more heavily on the players involved.||1||87-75|
|OK, 2023 was not a *terrible* follow-up to making the playoffs, but the bottom line is they missed out. Maybe do something of substance this offseason? Go look up Cal Raleigh's comments after the Mariners were eliminated on Saturday. I'm with you, Big Dumper.||1||88-74|
|This marks the third full season in which the Marlins have ever made the playoffs. They won the World Series the previous two times (1997, 2003).||2||84-78|
|Good on the Diamondbacks for sticking with Torey Lovullo. They made the playoffs his first season (2017) and then dipped all the way to 110 losses in 2021. So many other teams would've mindlessly fired the manager. Now the D-Backs are in the playoffs again. He was a good manager in 2017 just like he was in 2021 and still is.||1||84-78|
|When asked why he couldn't go for more than three outs in what could've been a big save for his team, Josh Hader got miffed and said "you guys want me to do everything." As a reminder, no, we really don't, Josh. You only get three outs at a time and appeared in just 60 of your team's 162 games this season. That isn't even in the same universe as "everything." Even if we skip past the obvious example of Shohei Ohtani and then dismiss that statement as hyperbole, what about position players who play everyday and hit in addition to playing defense? What about starting pitchers who log upward of 200 innings? Get some perspective and do better at quotes, man.||2||82-80|
|The winning record streak lives. The Yankees haven't had a .500 or worse record since they went 76-86 in 1992. That team featured the likes of Matt Nokes, Mel Hall, Roberto Kelly, Danny Tartabull and Kevin Maas.||2||82-80|
|There were so many things that did this team in down the stretch, to the point that we don't need to get into them now. I'll avoid a deep dive for the sake of my sanity. I will say this: Having playoff odds over 90% through Sept. 6 and then missing the playoffs, however it happened, is unacceptable.||3||83-79|
|They'll be back. Even though it might not feel positive right now for a good number of Reds fans who wanted to cheer for their team in the playoffs, the 2023 season was incredibly successful for the betterment of the franchise.||2||82-80|
|It appears that Brandon Crawford is set to hang up the cleats. That would conclude a very admirable career that includes two World Series rings, four Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and three All-Star Games.||--||79-83|
|Did you know Chris Sale is the all-time leader in K/9? Maybe. I don't know. I guess it's not that interesting, but I don't really have anything else to say about the Red Sox. Boring and sub-par-but-not-awful is a rough combination for someone who needs to come up with something to say every single week for over six months.||--||78-84|
|Happy trails, Miggy. I'll enjoy casting my ballot for you for the Hall of Fame in five years.||2||78-84|
|In 19 years managing with Boston and Cleveland, Terry Francona had just two losing years: 2021 and this season.||--||76-86|
|I mentioned the possibility a few weeks ago, but Mitch Keller got there. He struck out 200 this season. That means Immaculate Grid players need to be aware and file it away. But also, here are some other names: Ed Morris, Bob Veale, Oliver Perez, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Gerrit Cole. Morris was in the 1880s, so for those of us who love low rarity scores, he's the play.||2||76-86|
|Francisco Lindor joined Howard Johnson, Darryl Strawberry and David Wright in the Mets' 30-30 club. Kodai Senga joined Dwight Gooden as the only Mets' rookies to strike 200 batters out. Pete Alonso now has the two highest single-season home run totals in Mets' history (and three of the top six). OK, so it looks like Immaculate Grid has really worked me over, but also: Now get to work on those team accolades, right, Mets?||--||75-87|
|This was the Cardinals' first losing season since 2007, as well as their first 90-loss season since 1990. That's also the last time they finished in last place.||1||71-91|
|There's still one more year on that Patrick Corbin contract, but I have a rule: If you win a championship, no move should be questioned. The Nationals signed him before the 2019 season and won it all, so the contract was automatically worth it. That's the rule.||1||71-91|
|It's easier than ever to make the playoffs and yet the Angels are still so far away. It's going to be a long path forward.||--||73-89|
|This was just the fifth time in 123 seasons that the White Sox lost 100 games.||--||61-101|
|In the 31 seasons of Colorado Rockies baseball, no team ever lost more games than the 2023 iteration.||--||59-103|
|Here's a list of Royals 30-30 players, all-time: Bobby Witt, Jr. That's it.||--||56-106|
|In 123 seasons of Athletics' baseball, only the 1916 (Philadelphia) A's lost more games than the 2023 team.||--||50-112|