Of course, power rankings are as faulty as they are fungible, and this list will evolve not just during the regular season but even during Spring Training, as injury, conditioning and performance issues reveal themselves.
But this seems as good a place as any to start, with the 10 teams best positioned to go all the way. We'll also look at both the best- and worst-case scenarios for these clubs.
10. (tie!) Nationals and Red Sox
Yep, leading off with a total cop-out, because I don't know what else to do with two woefully disappointing clubs from 2015 that are back to mess with our minds again in '16. They both look good, as they did a year ago. Looks can be deceiving.
The Nats' championship scenario: The team we expected to see in 2015 shows up in '16. This time, Bryce Harper's MVP-worthy brilliance is surrounded by healthy, productive years from Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, with newcomers Ben Revere and Daniel Murphy providing better balance. The rotation is still strong, with Stephen Strasburg pitching lights-out in his walk year. And manager Dusty Baker keeps everybody on the same page.
The Nats' doomsday scenario: The rotation beyond Max Scherzer and Strasburg is problematic, with inexperience in the back end and Gio Gonzalez's control problems catching up to the Nats; Jonathan Papelbon's late 2015 implosion proves to have staying power; and the otherwise reformed bullpen remains a weakness. A Nationals team that has struggled to live up to the sum of its parts does so once again.
The Sox's championship scenario: David Price and Craig Kimbrel anchor a much-improved pitching staff in which guys are slotted into roles that more properly suit their strengths, and Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts become superstars in their age-23 seasons. True to form, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski takes advantage of a deep farm system to make the necessary mid-summer swaps that round out the roster.
The Sox's doomsday scenario: Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez continue to drag the Sox down on both sides of the ball, and the young guys -- Bogaerts, Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Blake Swihart -- don't take major steps forward. The rotation beyond Price proves to be shaky, and Price himself shows the effects of having the fourth-most innings and pitches thrown (regular and postseason) of anybody in the bigs since the start of 2010.
The 2010, '12 and '14 title runs were preceded by relatively subtle offseasons, but there's nothing subtle about the $220 million bet the Giants have placed on their new-look rotation.
The championship scenario: It's an even year, duh. Not only does Matt Cain stay healthy and return to his past effectiveness, but Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija properly maximize their potential in AT&T Park to form a lethal unit behind Madison Bumgarner. Denard Span's range and top-of-the-order attributes return following hip surgery. With their typically excellent defense, contact hitting and bullpen prowess, the Giants are just good enough to reach October, where they demonstrate their usual biennial brilliance.
The doomsday scenario: All great trends must come to an end. As has been the case in many other instances, slight elbow troubles one year turn out to be a precursor to a bigger problem the next, and Cueto hits the disabled list. The Shark, with a career ERA+ of 96, is a solid addition but no savior, and Span's abilities are compromised by all the lower-half procedures he's had over the last couple of years. Joe Panik's back issues linger, as do Cain's elbow problems, and Buster Posey has some health issues, as well. The Giants' swagger staggers.
We already know they're going to win the 2017 World Series. But what does 2016 have in store?
The championship scenario: Turns out, 2015 was just the beginning. The first full season of the Carlos Correa era is a tremendous success, with Correa putting up an MVP-worthy campaign at age 21 and Jose Altuve challenging for another batting title. Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh front a sturdy rotation in which Doug Fister proves to be a wily, on-the-cheap addition. And with a solid farm system and a payroll that still rates as bare bones, the Astros are able to makes adds in-season.
The doomsday scenario: The team that went 55-57 after May 30 and struggled to win on the road proves to be the real Astros, and the infield corners that went unaddressed in the offseason morph from areas of concern to outright holes in a still-strikeout-prone lineup. The rotation's depth issues in the wake of the Ken Giles trade reveal themselves, as Fister's elbow and Scott Feldman's shoulder do not cooperate.
It was a Texas-sized leap up the standings for the Rangers last year, despite some notable injury adversity. They've got the system stability to stay on top of an improved American League West.
The championship scenario: Yu Darvish arrives in May to pair with Cole Hamels at the top of a suddenly lethal rotation. And that rotation is given plenty of leads to protect, with Prince Fielder, a now-healthy Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Josh Hamilton and a still-improving Rougned Odor posing a dynamic attack made all the more imposing by some in-season contributions from top prospects Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara.
The doomsday scenario: Hamels, having amassed more than 2,100 innings since 2006, continues to have trouble with AL lineups in his age-32 season, and Darvish's Tommy John return comes with the usual ups and downs. With Derek Holland still struggling to recapture his 2011 World Series brilliance, the rotation sags, and the older guys in the lineup can't deliver like they did in the second half last season.
6. Blue Jays
I have trouble buying into the notion that the departures of David Price and Alex Anthopoulos take all the shine off last year's strides. This is still a terrific team.
The championship scenario: Deeper all the more with Michael Saunders back and Devon Travis close, they continue to bludgeon people with five runs a night. Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez make people forget Price was once an honorary Canadian, and Drew Storen nicely amplifies the 'pen. Even Troy Tulowitzki stays healthy. Thanks, dirt infield!
The doomsday scenario: The injuries pile up for a lineup with several regulars north of 30 (Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin and Tulo), the rotation falls apart without Price and a farm system raided by last summer's trades can produce neither the in-season augmentation or trade chips necessary to stay relevant in the AL East.
Spoiler alert: The 2-5 spots all come from the Senior Circuit (when you've got so many powerless clubs in your league, you can absorb a lot of power). All Cubs hoopla aside, the Cards are still a perennial contender coming off a 100-win season. Let's not lose total sight of that.
The championship scenario: All the fawning over the club from the North Side proves to be a powerful motivator for a veteran-laden squad on which young Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha continue to improve as starting studs and Adam Wainwright and Mike Leake stabilize what was the best pitching staff in baseball in '15. General manager John Mozeliak is celebrated for his offseason prudence, as Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty take the Cards' production to another level and Jedd Gyorko proves to be a valuable infield utilityman.
The doomsday scenario: With Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta getting up there in years and Yadi Molina compromised early by his recovery from thumb surgery, a lineup that has had a sub-.400 slugging percentage each of the last two seasons continues its sub-standard power production, and this time the pitching staff simply isn't good enough to bail it out. Trevor Rosenthal, Seth Maness and Kevin Siegrist all wear down after heavy workloads in '15, and the bullpen suffers.
As I've noted, this is probably the most flexible team in MLB. And in a 162-game schedule, that might matter more than any Spring Training storyline we're focused on.
The championship scenario: Depth wins the day. With suitable safety nets in their rotation (Alex Wood, a recovered Brandon McCarthy and Julio Urias, among others), their catching spot (Austin Barnes), their infield (Chase Utley, Kiké Hernandez, Micah Johnson) and their outfield (Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Trayce Thompson, Scott Van Slyke), plus a deep farm system that allows them to have their pick of the litter at the Trade Deadline, the Dodgers have a solution for every bit of adversity that comes their way. And it doesn't hurt that Yasiel Puig finally has a superstar season.
The doomsday scenario: The rotation beyond Clayton Kershaw is big on quantity but not quality, and Zack Greinke's transcendent season with the D-backs makes that fact sting all the more. Meanwhile, the lineup just doesn't produce enough runs, a 2015 issue that lingers as Adrian Gonzalez's once-steady production slides in his age-34 season, Puig's erratic output continues, Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal's second-half slides prove to have staying power, and Corey Seager handles the inevitable early-career slumps.
A starting staff throwing heaters and a cleanup hitter ripping heaters -- both at the plate and between innings (if reports about Yoenis Cespedes' chain-smoking habits are to be believed)! Fun club.
The championship scenario: Everything we saw down the stretch last season from a suddenly lethal lineup fronted by Cespedes holds true, as does the nightly brilliance of a young, hungry and dangerous starting staff in which Matt Harvey takes the next, natural step into Cy Young standing and Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz continue to get better.
The doomsday scenario: The major 2014-15 innings jump catches up to deGrom and Syndergaard, and Harvey's 216-inning output in his first year back from Tommy John leads to a particularly steep regression. A Mets bullpen that showed its leaks on the World Series stage becomes a liability. Cespedes' streaky side shows over the course of 162 games, and the lineup never takes off.
The last five Las Vegas favorites were the 2015 Nationals, 2014 Dodgers, 2013 Blue Jays, 2012 Angels and 2011 Phillies. Yikes. I don't want to subject long-suffering Cubs fans to any more bad karma by putting this club at No. 1.
The championship scenario: A team loaded with youth, upside and potential lives up to every projection and sets off a party 108 years in the making. Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward ignite the top of an order in which Kris Bryant leaps into MVP-type terrain and Kyle Schwarber improves offensively against lefties and defensively in left. Jake Arrieta backs up his Cy Young bid with a brilliant year leading a rotation in which Jon Lester and John Lackey routinely bring back memories of October 2013, and the rotation is further augmented by a midseason swap in which the Cubs utilize their deep system.
The doomsday scenario: The Cubs become the latest Vegas favorite-turned-flub, with the youngsters enduring a sophomore slump, Arrieta feeling the effects of his 40.7 percent innings leap from 2014-15 and Lackey finally acting his age (37). Outfield defense is an issue, as is a still-rising strikeout total. The magician Joe Maddon hires to help turn things around mid-summer trips and falls at the construction site outside Wrigley, smashing his top hat and his knee. The curse continues.
I mean, somebody's got to give the defending champs some love, right? I know PECOTA didn't.
The (repeat) championship scenario: Their formula of contact-hitting, basestealing, ball-catching and lead-protecting excellence simply works. Once again, some of GM Dayton Moore's low-profile acquisitions -- non-roster invitees Dillon Gee and Travis Snider -- pan out perfectly, Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy put it all together to make the rotation as much a strength as the 'pen, and Eric Hosmer finally has the MVP-type year people have long projected.
The doomsday scenario: The rotation remains the five-and-fly unit it was before last year's Trade Deadline, and this time there's no ace acquisition to be made using a now-depleted system. The bullpen finally shows its human side. Time and workload finally catch up to Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera, and Joakim Soria can't recapture his past Kansas City brilliance. And with nothing to prove to anybody but the PECOTA people, the Royals don't play with the same edge night after night.
Honorable mention: Really, anybody other than the Braves, Reds, Brewers and Phillies (baseball's only outright rebuilders) and the Padres and Rockies (whose outlooks trend far more toward transitional than triumphant). I legitimately feel every other team has, at bare minimum, a puncher's chance of getting to October.
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Anthony Castrovince is a Sports on Earth contributor, MLB.com columnist and MLB Network contributor. Follow him on Twitter @Castrovince.