The 2020 MLB Season is upon us and while there are major hurdles the league and its personnel must leap to get through the entire 60-game schedule, we will get a beginning to the campaign.
Considering the longest offseason of all-time and the dynamics that come with it for this season, let’s power rank every team in baseball.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
It’s the best roster in baseball with two of the game’s top 5 position players in reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger and former AL MVP Mookie Betts leading the way. The starting pitching might be a bit thin after Kenta MAeda was traded, Hyun Jin Ryu left via free agency and David Price opted out, but the re-signing of Alex Wood offers depth and young arms Julio Urias and Dustin May have a shot to help from the start this season.
Ross Stripling is starting the season in the rotation, but if the club can add another quality arm Stripling can help out the bullpen down the stretch.
This is a juggernaut destined to get back to the World Series and the truncated schedule shouldn’t be much of an obstacle.
2. New York Yankees
The Yankees will mash and they might have the league’s best bullpen with Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino leading to Aroldis Chapman. If the rotation holds up behind Gerrit Cole, we could have the first Yankees-Dodgers World Series since 1981.
The Astros lost their greatest advantage when Cole left for pinstripes, but Justin Verlander remains, Lance McCullers Jr. returns and the entire lineup remains intact. Aside from the bullpen, the main question here might be about how much the trash-can banging actually helped the Houston hitters.
I’m going to predict not a ton and another Astros division title, but with Zack Greinke and Verlander aging and with contracts up after 2021, and the pending free agency of outfielders Springer and Brantley, 2020 may be the last hurrah for their current core.
Whether that means they’ll be aggressive at the deadline or not remains to be seen, but there isn’t a lot left on the farm to go out and bring in impact players, so they may have to rely on what they have now to repeat in the west and get back to the World Series.
4. Washington Nationals
We can talk about the loss of Anthony Rendon all day if you’d like, but the defending champs boast the league’s best 1-2-3 rotation punch in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, and the bullpen gained Will Smith via free agency.
Starling Castro and Eric Thames add veteran help for the lineup and 21-year-old Juan Soto and 22-year-old Victor Robles are just scratching the surface. The Nationals are just as dangerous as a year ago.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
From a pure roster standpoint there are flashier clubs ranked behind them, but Kevin Cash is masterful at using his pieces and there are several young players trending up in their process, including shortstop Willy Adames and outfielder Austin Meadows.
If they stay healthy, the Rays’ top 3 starters — Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow — may be as good as any trip in the American League, and the Tampa bullpen led the American League in fWAR last year and everyone is back, led by Nick Anderson and Jose Alvarado.
6. Minnesota Twins
In a 162-game season, I’d pick the Twins to win the American League Central by 5-10 games. But they don’t have the impact rotation pieces Cleveland does, so I think the Twins are in for a season-long battle.
The key here for me the Twins’ bullpen which lacks names but performed very well in 2019 leading the AL in FIP, but it’s worth keeping an eye on some of the older players in that lineup, including Nelson Cruz and newly-acquired Josh Donaldson. It’s a short season, so the issue isn’t tiring down the stretch, but older players tend to get hurt more and Cruz is closer to 40 than 35 and Donaldson, 34, missed over 150 games to injury 2017-18.
Do they have the guns in the rotation for a deep playoff run? I don’t see it.
6. Atlanta Braves
8. Oakland Athletics
We used to say, yeah, they aren’t as talented as everyone else but they get the job done, kinda like the Rays. But from a pure talent standpoint, the A’s trail only the top 3 teams on this list.
Matt Chapman is an MVP candidate, Matt Olson is one the elite first baseman in the game, Marcus Semien is a top-level shortstop and this year’s rotation is more naturally gifted than any Bob Melvin has had.
One interesting situation to monitor on the field is left-hander AJ Puk, who is not ready to go to start the year, but could be a boost in some form in August.
Something to ponder as we watch these A’s in 2020: Where will Semien play in 2021? He’s a free agent at season’s end.
9. Cleveland Indians
Five years ago if you would have said Trevor Bauer and Core Kluber are no longer in Cleveland as of 2020, most would have replied “so much for that starting rotation.”
But Carlos Carrasco remains — and appears to be healthy — and both Mike Clevinger (30, 4.5 fWAR in 21 starts in 2019) and Shane Bieber (25, 5.6 fWAR in 33 starts) have effectively filled the gaps well.
The Indians didn’t add a lot of help offensively, but the addition of Cesar Hernandez shores up a weak spot at second base and the additions of Domingo Santana and Franmil Reyes lengthen the lineup and bench.
The club has two MVP candidates in Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor, one of which is looking to rebound from a bit of an off year (Ramirez played 129 games and posted a 104 wRC+) and the other is playing for a contract. Lindor hits free agency after next season, suggesting this may be his final season in Cleveland if the Indians choose to move him rather than let him play out the string.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals aren’t among the 10 most talented rosters and in that regard do not belong ahead of divisional rival Cincinnati, but they won 91 games a year ago despite a down year for Paul Goldschmidt (116 wRC+, 2,9 fWAR | 5.2, 146 in 2018) and Carlos Martinez pitching out of the bullpen.
Not to mention the emergence of Jack Flaherty, who starts the year as the club’s ace after leading NL pitchers in fWAR (4.1) and ranking No. 2 in FIP after the All-Star break last season.
11. Cincinnati Reds
Lots of talent, not major holes in projected lineup, but they may lack rotation impact to put them over the top. Legit division contender and should score a lot of runs if they stay healthy.
12. New York Mets
Despite the loss of Noah Syndgergaard for the season, the Mets rotation boasts five mid-rotation or better talents led by Cy Young favorite Jacob deGrom. Marcus Stroman‘s recent injury puts a damper on that a bit, but he’s considered week-to-week and does not require surgery.
13. Chicago Cubs
On paper, the Cubs should score runs, but the pitching staff is a lot of what-ifs and question marks with both performance and injury concern.
Keep an eye on Kris Bryant, a free agent after 2021, whom the Cubs may shop as early as this summer if they’re not in plain sight of a postseason berth in five weeks.
14. Philadelphia Phillies
Among the clubs outside the top 10, Philly might have the most upside. They were a .500 club last year, added Zack Wheeler and Did Gregorius, Andrew McCutchen is healthy to start the year (played just 59 games last season) and Joe Girardi is a significantly better puzzle master than his predecessor.
15. Texas Rangers
I’m high-man on Texas, and I’m fine with that. A year ago, the Rangers went 78-84, six games better than the division-rival Angels, and did so with Joey Gallo (paced for a 7-win season at the time) out for more than half the season.
General manager Jon Daniels added Kyle Gibson, Jordan Lyles and Kluber to a rotation that ranked No. 5 in the AL in fWAR last season, despite lacking a lot of impact performances beyond Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. the Rangers also boast multiple position players either on their way up or right in their prime, including Danny Santana (111 wRC+), Gallo, Willie Calhoun (110 wrC+) and Ronald Guzman.
16. Milwaukee Brewers
Still don’t see the starting pitching the Brewers need to do damage in October, but the lineup remains good and deep, led by former MVP Christian Yelich and the surging Keston Hiura, and the division isn’t exactly flush with flawless, runaway rosters.
17. Arizona Diamondbacks
I like Ketel Marte a lot, and liked him a lot before anyone else liked him at all, but I don’t buy his 7-win season as repeatable and the D-Backs didn’t do enough on the pitching front to lend confidence in competing for more than the No. 2 Wild Card. Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte help, but they’re not stars and that’s what’s lacking in Phoenix.
18. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Yep, they have Mike Trout, and yes, they signed Anthony Rendon, an MVP candidate. But Rendon may start the year on the IL, and the Angels have questions marks all over the roster after that.
Albert Pujols is a shell of himself, Justin Upton is now 32 (33 in August) and showing some signs of slowing down (missed 99 games in 2019, posted 92 wRC+), and perhaps the tremendous wizardry at shortstop is taking its toll on Andrelton Simmons, too.
The good news for the Angels is Shohei Ohtani is ready to roll and the dude can hit and he can really, really pitch. The bad news is, Andrew Heaney is a No. 3 at best, and an injury risk. Dylan Bundy is a No. 4 at best and an injury risk. Griffin Canning, who might be the defacto No. 2, is not yet established and had a bit an elbow scare this week.
The re’s no pitching depth in the minors for Joe Maddon to go to, but Maddon himself might be the Halos’ biggest addition.
If I’m Gm Billy Eppler and owner Arte Moreno right now, I’m eyeing every impact starter in baseball – readily available or not — and offering anything in my organization outside Trout, Rendon, and prospect Jo Adell to try and add one. Otheewise, the long-term, pricey addition of Rendon, who is already 30, stumbles out of the blocks.
19. San Diego Padres
A very talented team just waiting for young arms to blow up, and that could start in 2020. Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet are ready to show they’re frontline arms to lead a staff, Garrett Richards will be good as long as he stays healthy and Cal Quantril has No. 3 written all over him.
The bullpen figures to be very good again and they start the season with a healthy Fernando Tatis Jr. The reliance on so many young players is the only reason why the Padres don’t rank 8-10 spots higher, but they do have that kind of upside in 2020.
20. Chicago White Sox
The White Sox don’t have the Padres’ depth just yet, but they might have as many or more high-impact talents. For every Tatis Jr and Manny Machado San Diego boasts, the White Sox have their Yoan Moncada, Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez, not to mention Lucas Golito at the top of a staff balanced by veterans Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez.
The South Siders have similar upside as the Padres, but come with more questions marks (pitching, overall depth) than the clubs ranked ahead of them to start 2020.
21. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are a mess. They traded Betts for Alex Verdugo ( a nice player, but one without Betts-level upside) and Chris Sale is out for the year, leaving the rotation to Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi and patchwork. The bullpen doesn’t look much more stable. They’ll score runs, but they’re going to need to threaten .500 this year.
22. Toronto Blue Jays
A team on the rise that will get Nate Pearson late in Week 1 of the season could be a nuisance to AL East rivals. They;re a year away, most likely, from even Wild Card contention, but are one of the clubs with a real shot should MLB and the PA agree on a 16-team playoff format before Opening Day.
Side Note: I hate changing the playoff structure this late. Doing so did not give fringe clubs a chance to consider their opportunity over the past month, likely leading to fewer trades, more focus on development and less interest in acquiring veteran free agents.
23. Colorado Rockies
I have no idea what it is the Rockies are doing. Neither do they.
There’s talent here and two top-10 players in the NL in Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado, but there are a lot of holes and it’s difficult to think the field staff and players buy into the brand right now.
24. San Francisco Giants
Do not know what the Giants think they are doing, but they seem stuck in the middle of rebuild and add veterans to stay relevant. Reeks of the Howard Lincoln-Chuck Armstrong led Mariners after Pat Gillick left in 2003.
25. Miami Marlins
26. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Bucs saving grace in 2020 is a future rotation including Taillon, Mitch Keller, Joe Musgrove joining forces this year, and the club is one year closer to the arrivals of Ke’BRyan Hayes’ bat and the overall games of Oneil Cruz and first-round pick Nick Gonzales.
27. Kansas City Royals
The Royals remains years from competing, but have several potential trade targets on which to keep an eye over the next six months, including White Merrifield, Danny Duffy, Trevor Rosenthal and Salvador Perez.
Otherwise, it’s a potential 40-loss season.
28. Seattle Mariners
Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais are committed to continuing the development path, despite a 60-game season offering increased chances of a fluke postseason berth. Such consistency in approach to the rebuild is a microcosm of the differences between the current and previous front office and ownership.
It also appears, despite 2020 clipping their path a bit, the Mariners are on a faster track to being competitive than is typically foreseeable when clubs tear it all the way down the way they have.
29. Detroit Tigers
They have arms brewing in the minors to team up with Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris in a few years, but 2020 is all about maximizing assets, so expect Matthew Boyd‘s name to come up in trade talks until he’s traded.
One thing to watch for with the Tigers this season is a healthy Miguel Cabrera, who will surpass 1700 RBI and could get to 2900 hits. He’s also 23 shy of 500 homers, but 23 in a 60-game stretch is prime Cabrera fire, not that of the 37-year-old version.
30. Baltimore Orioles
The O’s are still pretty early in their rebuild and had nothing of impact to trade to get a legitimate jump-start the way Dipoto and the Mariners did after the 2018 season, so this is going to take a while.
Baltimore has some pitching growing on the farm, namely Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall, and their top prospect is catcher Adley Rutschman, among the top talents in all of baseball. That group should start showing up next season, but 2023 is probably the soonest the Orioles could be competitive again.…