Despite the results of the post season, the loss or Roy Oswalt from the starting rotation or the uncertain health of slugger Ryan Howard, Bleacher Report's off-season Major League Baseball power rankings name the Phillies as the team to beat in 2012.
Tops in the American League are the free spending, Albert Pujols stealing Angels. But the ranking is based on Anaheim's pitching more than it's newest slugger:
"The Angels improved and old, underproducing offense with an old, yet still awesome Albert Pujols," Bleacher Report opines. "In the grand scheme of things, Pujols wont' matter as much to this team as C.J. Wilson does."
Bleacher Report predicts that Wilson could win 20 games in his new California digs and that he, Dan Haren, Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana might just be the core of the best starting rotation in baseball.
The clubs that lost Wilson and Pujols round out the top four.
By replacing Wilson with former closer Neftali Perez in the rotation and hiring former Twins closer Joe Nathan to finish games, Texas is figured to be a contender for a third straight World Series appearance.
The Pujols-less Cardinals are pegged in the fourth slot of the power rankings.
According to Bleacher Report, the Redbirds' key off-season move wasn't signing Carlos Beltran or brining back Rafeal Furcal it was the club "unburdening itself from Albert Pujols' monetary demands."
Bleacher Report continues:
"Cardinals fans, be glad he's gone," the site opined about Pujols. "I'm serious about that. Ten years at eleventy-billion dollars (or whatever obscene number the Angels thrw his way) is mind-numbingly stupid.
"Look at it this way St. Louis: Albert Pujols helped (he didn't do it single-handedly) bring your fine city two World Series Championships. His 10 years in St. Louis will be much better than his next 10 years in Anaheim. Or Los Angeles. Sure, Pujols will be fine for the next three years or so. And then his decline will kick into high gear. Just watch. And laugh a little.
The whole list:
9) Red Sox
12) Blue Jays
16) White Sox