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The way-too-early 2017 power rankings

With young stars like Kris Bryant and Mookie Betts, the future should be bright in Chicago and Boston. USA TODAY Sports

Congrats to the Chicago Cubs for their historic season. They entered spring training as the favorites and delivered, winning 103 regular-season games and then coming back from 3-1 down against the Cleveland Indians to win their first World Series title since 1908.

But that's old news! The other 29 teams are already looking ahead to 2017. The offseason has barely started and free agency and trades will have an impact, but here are our too-early rankings for 2017. FYI, I had the Cubs first and the Indians seventh on this list a year ago. Just don't ask me where I had the Diamondbacks.

2016 rankings: Week 26 | Week 25 | Week 24 | Week 23 | Week 22 | Week 21 | Week 20 | Week 19 | Week 18 | Week 17 | Week 16 | Week 15 | Week 14 | Week 13 | Week 12 | Week 11 | Week 10 | Week 9 | Week 8 | Week 7 | Week 6 | Week 5 | Week 4 | Week 3 | Week 2 | Week 1 | Preseason

1. Chicago Cubs

2016 record: 103-58-1
Final ranking: No. 1

With a core of young position player stars -- they had the fourth-youngest group of hitters in the majors as weighted by playing time -- the question isn't why the Cubs are No. 1, but what could go wrong that would prevent them for holding this spot for several years to come? I guess the rotation could fall apart -- Jake Arrieta leaves as a free agent after 2017, Jon Lester gets hurt, Kyle Hendricks goes back to being a mid-rotation starter -- but the Cubs have the resources to fix that if necessary. Aroldis Chapman and Dexter Fowler (assuming he declines his option) are the only major free agents, and Theo Epstein will have to sort out a crowded outfield, but I see them winning 100-plus games again.


2. Boston Red Sox

2016 record: 93-69
Final ranking: No. 2

Like the Cubs, the Red Sox have a young group of position players, the safest type of player to project moving forward. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts will be entering their age-24 seasons, and Andrew Benintendi and Yoan Moncada look like two more young stars in the making. They'll have to replace David Ortiz, but designated hitter is the one area of strength in free agency with Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Mark Trumbo and Carlos Beltran available. The rotation again will feature David Price and Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez has breakout potential.


3. Washington Nationals

2016 record: 95-67
Final ranking: No. 5

There are some concerns here -- Stephen Strasburg's health, Ryan Zimmerman's dead bat, Jayson Werth's age, replacing or re-signing Wilson Ramos (who tore his ACL in late September) -- but with a full season from Trea Turner, better numbers from Bryce Harper and plenty of rotation depth, the Nationals should return to the playoffs, where they've lost in the division series three times in five years.


4. Los Angeles Dodgers

2016 record: 91-71
Final ranking: No. 4

Look, I don't like the bloated payroll full of expensive, injury-prone starting pitchers, either, but it's not our money being flushed down Chavez Ravine. They still have the best pitcher in the game in Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda is solid and youngsters Julio Urias and Jose De Leon have star potential. And that's aside from whatever Scott Kazmir, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy have to offer. As we saw in the playoffs, adding some right-handed bats and re-signing Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen will be top priorities.


5. Cleveland Indians

2016 record: 94-67
Final ranking: No. 6

Assuming Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar return to health, the Indians could run away with the American League Central again, given the unknown direction of the Tigers and the shaky state of the Royals. Remember, they'll still have Andrew Miller and will hopefully get Michael Brantley back in the outfield to go along with rising superstar Francisco Lindor. Mike Napoli is the major free agent, coming off a 34-homer season.


6. Houston Astros

2016 record: 84-78
Final ranking: No. 15

The Astros never quite recovered from a 7-17 April that put them in a big hole. They had the youngest group of position players in the majors, however, and will be adding Alex Bregman for a full season. Carlos Correa didn't put up the MVP numbers many expected, but he'll be better and may do that in 2017. They'll need a bounce-back from Dallas Keuchel, health from Lance McCullers and better production from first base. Adding a lefty bat or two would help balance out the lineup.


7. San Francisco Giants

2016 record: 87-75
Final ranking: No. 10

They need to figure out what happened to the offense in the second half, and they'll have to find some stability in the ninth inning (Jansen? Chapman?), but any team that starts with Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore should be competitive. Depth is an issue, and Bumgarner, Cueto and Samardzija were all worked hard in 2016. A power-hitting left fielder who bats right-handed would fill a need. Hmm, sounds a lot like Yoenis Cespedes.


8. Pittsburgh Pirates

2016 record: 78-83-1
Final ranking: No. 17

Almost every year, at least one playoff team finished under .500 the season before -- and usually more than one team. In 2016, that was the Red Sox; in 2015., there were four such teams. The Pirates fit the bill after a down season. They fell from third in the National League in runs allowed to ninth, as the rotation fell apart. No starter made more than 21 starts, always a recipe for disaster. They just need Gerrit Cole to return to ace status and Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow to reach their potential. Re-signing Ivan Nova -- 52 strikeouts and three walks after joining the Pirates -- is another key. The big question looming: Trade Andrew McCutchen and play Austin Meadows? Or move McCutchen to left field and hope he bounces back?


9. Texas Rangers

2016 record: 95-67
Final ranking: No. 3

The Rangers won 95 games while somehow outperforming their BaseRuns win total by 13 victories. That's because they went 36-11 in one-run games, the best winning percentage ever, and that's not going to happen again, so they'll have to improve just to get back to 90 wins. That can happen with full seasons from Yu Darvish and Jonathan Lucroy, improvement from Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara and the addition of another starter like Rich Hill.


10. St. Louis Cardinals

2016 record: 86-76
Final ranking: No. 12

The Cardinals are always a safe bet to contend. They've won at least 86 games each of the past nine seasons and have just one sub-.500 season in the past 17, a stretch that includes 12 playoff trips. They struggled defensively in 2016 as Mike Matheny never seemed to settle on the right defensive rotation and the starters -- other than Carlos Martinez -- collapsed after a great 2015. In the past, the Cardinals have been able to contend simply aiming for 90 wins. The growth of the Cubs means they need to aim higher.


11. Seattle Mariners

2016 record: 86-76
Final ranking: No. 13

The Mariners could go either direction. They had the oldest lineup in the AL and you can't expect Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz to combine for 82 home runs again. Felix Hernandez is no longer an ace and Hisashi Iwakuma will turn 36. They also won 86 games despite some glaring problems, most notably a bullpen that lost nine games the Mariners were leading heading into the ninth. Edwin Diaz seemed to fix that problem, however, and James Paxton and Taijuan Walker (after a late-season mechanical change) teased once again.


12. Toronto Blue Jays

2016 record: 89-73
Final ranking: No. 8

With Encarnacion and Bautista possibly leaving, and given the ages of Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin, I've seen suggestions that the Jays may have missed their window and should consider rebuilding. That seems a little absurd given they'll bring back the AL's top rotation. Aaron Sanchez led the AL in ERA in his first full season as a starter and Marco Estrada's BABIP ability is clearly the real deal. OK, maybe J.A. Happ doesn't win 20 games again and the offense needs to find support for Josh Donaldson, but the Jays have deep pockets to fix some holes.


13. Colorado Rockies

2016 record: 75-87
Final ranking: No. 20

Sure, they could turn into the 2017 version of the Diamondbacks, but the Rockies have the talent to end their skid of six straight losing seasons. I would not trade Carlos Gonzalez -- an outfield of CarGo, David Dahl and Charlie Blackmon would be too much fun -- in part because the Rockies always overestimate their offense. They had their best season in a long time on the road but were still just 22nd in the majors in runs. They need to fix a horrific bullpen that had the worst ERA in the majors; even factoring in Coors Field, a 5.13 mark is unacceptable.


14. New York Mets

2016 record: 87-75
Final ranking: No. 9

Winning 87 games and a wild-card spot was a minor miracle given only two regulars played 140 games and the rotation was decimated by injuries down the stretch. Aside from health, however, there are some red flags here. Bartolo Colon will be 44 if he's re-signed. Cespedes will almost certainly leave, and while Jay Bruce has a team option, he's not that good. Michael Conforto's fast track to stardom had some bumps. The rotation, of course, could carry the Mets to 90-plus wins, but we know the precarious nature of young arms.


15. New York Yankees

2016 record: 84-78
Final ranking: No. 14

Bring on the youngsters! Aaron Judge, Clint Frazier and Greg Bird should all be incorporated into the 2017 lineup, although I envision some growing pains for Judge and Frazier. Then there's Gary Sanchez, who was arguably the best player in baseball the final two months. There are rumors they'll look to re-sign Chapman to form a 1-2 punch with Dellin Betances, and they'll need to find another starter or two.


16. Kansas City Royals

2016 record: 81-81
Final ranking: No. 16

This looks like the last hurrah for this group of players: Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jarrod Dyson, Danny Duffy and Wade Davis are all free agents after 2017. Kendrys Morales has a mutual option for 2017 as well. The Royals were in first place through the end of May, and while injuries to Moustakas and Cain hurt, mostly they just weren't that good. They were last in the AL in home runs and 13th in OBP. They'll need better work from Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura and better numbers from Alex Gordon.


17. Detroit Tigers

Record: 86-75
Week 25 ranking: No. 11

It will be interesting to see what the Tigers end up doing this offseason after general manager Al Avila said "changes are coming." If the aging core of stars -- Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander -- wasn't good enough to make the playoffs in 2016 in a weak division, what are the odds the Tigers will get there in 2017?


18. Atlanta Braves

2016 record: 68-93
Final ranking: No. 24

The Braves finished next to last in the National League in runs, but here's a fun fact to amaze your friends with: Over the final two months they ranked fourth in the majors in runs and the team went 31-25. That certainly provides hope for 2017, and while I'm not quite as optimistic as Braves fans, young pitching can mature in a hurry. And if Mike Foltynewicz, Matt Wisler turn the corner, the Braves could surprise.


19. Baltimore Orioles

2106 record: 89-73
Final ranking: No. 7

If you think this is pessimistic, just wait and see what the computers project for the O's. Of course, the computers always aim low on the Orioles and, hey, Zach Britton may actually blow a save or two in 2017. The concerns: The team relied on mashing 253 home runs, but 47-homer guy Trumbo is a free agent; they may not extend a qualifying offer to Matt Wieters and hand catcher over to rookie Chance Sisco, and Adam Jones had a subpar OPS+ of 95 (below league average). And who's in the rotation after Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman?


20. Arizona Diamondbacks

Record: 69-93
Week 25 ranking: No. 28

OK, 2016 was a complete disaster, a 93-loss season that resulted in the firing of GM Dave Stewart and manager Chip Hale and the demotion of Tony La Russa. But there's talent here in Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke, Jake Lamb, Jean Segura and others. Robbie Ray had a 4.90 ERA but was second in the majors in K's per nine (11.25). If A.J. Pollock comes back from his broken elbow and Shelby Miller finds himself, the D-backs are a deep sleeper.


21. Los Angeles Angels

2016 record: 74-88
Final ranking: No. 21

Are the Angels wasting the best years of Mike Trout's career? Well, they're certainly going backward, from 98 wins in 2014 to 85 to 74. There aren't any reinforcements coming up on the farm, but if Garrett Richards' elbow can hold up that will help a rotation decimated by injuries. C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver are free agents, so that clears $40 million off the payroll to spend in a weak free-agent market.


22. Milwaukee Brewers

2016 record: 73-89
Final ranking: No. 22

I like the direction the Brewers are going. Jonathan Villar came out of nowhere to become one of the league's most exciting players, Zach Davies proved himself in the rotation and Tyler Thornburg developed into a closer with 90 K's in 67 innings. The farm system is highly rated after some of the in-season trades and could get even deeper if Ryan Braun is traded. They're not ready to contend in 2017, but get this: Other than Braun, only Matt Garza makes big money and he's gone after 2017. Not only will they have a young core, they'll have money to spend in free agency, probably in 2018 and 2019.


23. Miami Marlins

2016 record: 79-82
Final ranking: No. 18

The Marlins finished three games under .500 but were 10 games under in games Jose Fernandez didn't start. His death obviously leaves a gaping hole in a rotation that was already thin. Look, if Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton have better seasons there is reason to believe, but it's also a team with a management that lacks the creativity and financial willpower to make the necessary upgrades. A bad farm system makes it even more likely the Marlins remain stuck in mediocrity.


24. Tampa Bay Rays

2016 record: 68-94
Final ranking: No. 28

The Rays' pitching strategy in recent years had been to develop or acquire fly ball pitchers, who generally give up a lower BABIP and have higher strikeout rates. As home runs soared in 2016, this strategy was crushed: Their pitchers allowed 35 more runs than in 2015. The offense, meanwhile, hit 216 home runs, but ranked next to last in the AL in OBP. They need to find a catcher who can hit and they hope Matt Duffy shores up defense at shortstop as Brad Miller moves to first base, but this comes down to Chris Archer and Drew Smyly having better seasons and Blake Snell developing as expected.


25. Chicago White Sox

2016 record: 78-84
Final ranking: No. 19

Do they rebuild? Doesn't it seem that four straight losing seasons is a sign this group as constructed isn't good enough? So you have to assume everybody is potentially on the board, including Chris Sale.


26. Philadelphia Phillies

2016 record: 71-91
Final ranking: No. 23

Are Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff and Jake Thompson the core of a future playoff rotation? All four had good moments in 2016, but Nola finished the year on the DL, Velasquez had a 5.33 ERA in the second half, Eickhoff gave up 30 home runs, and Thompson had a 32/28 SO/BB ratio in his 10-start debut. The Phillies need that group to develop because the lineup is still a work in progress.


27. Oakland Athletics

2016 record: 69-93
Final ranking: No. 26

I think Billy Beane would love to turn the clock back to the eighth inning of the 2014 wild-card game to see how history unfolds if Bob Melvin has a quicker hook with Jon Lester.


28. Cincinnati Reds

2016 record: 68-94
Final ranking: No. 27

They did go 36-37 in the second half after a 32-57 first half. Some of that was due to Joey Votto's monster second half, but the pitching staff also lowered its ERA from 5.47 to 4.22. The bullpen was a wreck, serving up 103 home runs, the most in MLB history. Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson could provide a boost to the rotation at some point, and Billy Hamilton's .369 OBP in the second half provides some hope, but the Reds remain a long way off.


29. Minnesota Twins

2016 record: 59-103
Final ranking: No. 30

The Twins predictably regressed from their lucky 2015 campaign -- but nobody expected them to regress all the way back to 103 losses. Miguel Sano struck out 178 times in 116 games; Jose Berrios had an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts; Byron Buxton struggled out of the gate (although did post an .812 OPS over his final 44 games). Even if those three improve, however, there are still big problems in a pitching staff that -- remarkably -- allowed 128 more runs than the next-worst AL team.


30. San Diego Padres

2016 record: 68-94
Final ranking: No. 25

Imagine a team with Corey Kluber, Anthony Rizzo, Trea Turner, Joe Ross, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Brach, and Logan Forsythe. Now imagine the 2017 Padres.