Compared to the normal Power Rankings that focus on where a team currently is, ESPN.com's Future Power Rankings tackle the trickier task of figuring out how teams will fare over the next five years. Predicting future success isn't easy, especially because time machines don't exist. To tackle this uncertainty, Buster Olney provided the overview on where things stand for each team, while Dan Szymborski ranked teams in four categories, explained below, to attempt to cut through the fog of uncertainty. The rankings were used to compute each team's overall score out of 30 points.
Current talent: 25 percent of the ranking. While a team's farm system has the heaviest weighting, the talent a team has right now is a large part of predicting the future as well. Good players now, especially those younger than 30, are likely to continue to be contributors for the next few years. Current talent also can be traded for future talent.
Future talent: 45 percent. For this category, we used a combination of the ZiPS projections for the minor league systems and Keith Law's 2018 farm system rankings, in order to get the best of both man and machine. Farm systems are as important for contenders as rebuilders, given that nobody has enough money to obtain all of their needs by spending alone.
Financial support: 20 percent. Poorer teams and/or teams in smaller markets do have the ability to compete in baseball, but we'd be lying to ourselves if we didn't say that financial support of a team was just "nice to have." Teams are ranked by their historical payrolls relative to revenue and market size.
Front office/ownership: 10 percent. Given its share, this category mostly functions as a tiebreaker for teams that are otherwise close. That's not to say these things aren't important, but a lot of front-office performance is already contained within the first three categories. The average front office is far more capable today than 30 years ago, and while you can argue that most of the lowest-ranked front offices -- maybe not the Marlins -- would be average or even better in 1988 or 1998, not everyone can be above average. Here, we're looking for front offices that most capably combine their strengths in the first three categories and, whether now or later, maximize their team's success. We're also looking for owners with the willingness to be patient with and to support the plans laid out by their front offices.