5. Minnesota (13-7)
The defending AL North Champ returns almost exactly the same roster that finished 88-74 last season and 89-73 the year before. With a lot of the big teams taking a step back, the consistent Twinkies rosters allows them to jump into the top 5 for the first time.
4. Salt Lake City (14-8)
SLC makes their first appearance in the power rankings since I took over in the lofty position of #4. The Mormons have a history of success in Hunter (1 Title & 2 other WS appearances), until S20 they have been perenial contenders, then Shmish put the team into rebuild mode and it's quite apparent based on his off-season that he believes his roster is ready to compete again.
SLC jumped into the deep end of the FA pool. Salt Lake signed qty (4) Type A/B FA, they added SP J. Jacques, CF Willie Rijo, RP E. Blackmon & C Aaron Bennett.
Early returns from the off-season expeditures are very good, given that SLC is Hunter's hottest team having rattled off a 12 game winning streak
3. Kansas City (12-8)
KC finished last season with the 2nd best record in the AL, unfortunately that meant the #5 seed in the playoffs because the top record belonged to divison mate SF. In an unlikely upset Atlanta knocked off KC in the first round. The biggest defection of the off-season was the loss of future HOFer Bob Creek, which will hurt the rotation but Ptowner has done a great job since he joint Hunter in S21 assembling a deep roster through trades and FA. He did pick up Rich Williams in FA, who represents and an average 3b bat but has a ++ glove for the position.
2. San Fransico: Record (13-7)
As I mentioned at the end of last year, I was dissappointed in Bjb, for losing the NL, as it meant I had to retire my Quadruple A jokes, that said SF is till the class of the AL, it returns almost every key contributor from last year, the biggest loss was the trade of Albert Callabero, however his overall rating has exceeded his success thus far (.761 OPS). The never ending farm system of SF is sure to spit out a quality replacement.
1. Little Rock: Record (12-8)
As I envoke in my intial power rankings every year, Ric Flair says it best "To be the man you have to beat the man". Right now, after 4 failed tries the Renegades broke through and took home their first Hunter title. The statement I made prior to last season was the Renegades window was starting to closer as most key contributors were aging and their farm system had been depleted by their extended run of excellence. The statment continues to be true and every player has gotten one year older. The two key defections LR sufferd in their title defense was the loss of 38 year old Juan Jacques & more importantly the loss of bullpen stud Willie Guerreo. The team is still built to contend, hats off to timf for setting a Hunter record for 5 consecutive WS appearances (still bitter he bested my previous record fo 4 straight)