The 2020 MLB season is right around the corner. We'll get two games on Thursday evening, including a Max Scherzer vs. Gerrit Cole matchup, before we get a full slate of games on Friday. With us being so close to the first pitch of the season, we thought it was time to release our first Power Rankings of the year.
Each week we'll have a special guest picker give us their top 10 teams as wel.. This week's guest is Andrew Alix, co-host of ESPN Blacksburg's The Drive.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Could it finally be the Dodgers time? They lost the World Series to a team that cheated and then lost it again to another team that the evidence suggests may have cheated too. It has to happen eventually, right? With Mookie Betts added to the mix, it very well might be their time.
2. New York Yankees
Murderer’s row has returned to New York. If the heart of their lineup can remain hot and healthy over the course of the shortened season, the Bronx Bombers have their best shot in a decade to secure title number twenty eight. Stealing the reigning Cy Young winner from the team that bounced them in the postseason can’t hurt either.
3. Tampa Bay Rays
Moneyball is back! Led by the front office vision of Virginia Tech alumni Eric Neander (shameless plug for my alma mater), the Rays have one of the most versatile rosters in baseball. The lineup is young and intriguing. The bullpen is strong and deep. Perhaps most importantly for when the postseason rolls around, the rotation, if healthy, has elite potential. They may be off of the casual fans radar because of the market they play in, but I view the Rays as a serious dark-horse contender to make a run for the championship.
4. Washington Nationals
Unfortunately for the DC faithful, the Nationals aren’t able to truly experience their World Series victory tour. The good news: Their rotation still features perhaps one of the greatest 1-2-3 punches in baseball history. The question: Can Soto, Turner and the rest of the returning crew maintain the offensive production even with the loss of MVP candidate Anthony Rendon in free agency? If the young bats can sustain that production, Washington is primed to “stay in the fight” during their title defense.
5. Houston Astros
I wish they got to tour the country all summer to a chorus of boos. Alas, the Astros will get to attempt to return to the World Series in silence. They may have lost Gerrit Cole to a rival contender, but George Springer, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Justin Verlander, Zack Grienke and Alex Bregman remain from a team that was one game away from their second championship. The proven talent on this team is simply impossible to ignore, scandal be damned. You might not like to admit it, but the Houston Asterisks are still very much contenders.
6. New York Mets
Full disclosure: I am slightly biased here because I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of being a lifelong Mets fan. But the Mets return the two-time reigning NL Cy Young winner and best pitcher in New York (Jacob DeGrom), the NL Rookie of the Year and Home Run leader (Pete Alonso) and a guy that almost won the NL batting title (Jeff McNeil). All from a team that won 15 out of 16 games during a magical run in the second half of the season. Will they disappoint me again? Perhaps. Losing Noah Syndergaard hurts. The success of new additions like Rick Porcello, as well as potential career resurgence of old friend Yoenis Cespedes, will determine if the Mets are well-rounded enough to make a deep run.
7. Atlanta Braves
In a 60 game season, I see the NL East as a wide-open four team race. The Braves are smack dab in the middle of it. I do believe they still have ample offensive firepower to overcome the loss of Josh Donaldson in free agency, but the pitching rotation is going to have to overachieve to hang with the likes of New York and Washington in a shortened season. One interesting storyline to follow is the early season availability of franchise cornerstone Freddie Freeman, who recently experienced a wicked bout with COVID-19 that left him praying for his life with a 104.5 degree fever. In this abbreviated season, every game that he misses is magnified.
8. Oakland A’s
Moneyball is back, again! The A’s lineup features three players that received MVP votes last season. Their rotation, on the other hand, is competent but not outstanding. I think they have an interesting group that will make some noise in the postseason, but I don’t really think that have the quality of pitching that it takes to be considered a true championship contender. Unlike the team assembled in Tampa Bay, I think that budget restrictions may be too much for Oakland to overcome.
9. Los Angeles Angels
The halos feature the best player in baseball (history?), a Swiss Army knife type player the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades and added a guy that many considered to be worthy of last season’s National League MVP honors. This is, on paper, the best supporting group that the Angels have surrounded Mike Trout with since he arrived in Anaheim. It is on Joe Madden and his staff to maximize a mediocre pitching rotation and finally give Trouty the chance to shine in the postseason.
10. Chicago Cubs
The young core of the 2016 World Champions remains in tact in Chicago. This club certainly still has the talent to be a division winner — potentially even a World Series contender. But the late 2020 collapse that saw the Cubs finish with just 84 wins begs the question; Does the young group that broke the curse of the billy goat have one last run in them before being dismantled by free agency when their rookie contacts expire? They turn to World Series hero David Ross as manager to see if this Chicago team can have their own “Last Dance” of a sort.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers won 106 games last year, and added Mookie Betts in the offseason. They lost Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda to free agency and trades, but their rotation is still solid with Walker Buehler developing into a great pitcher and Clayton Kershaw still one of the best in the league. With their young prospects now ready to play a full season, this team should be ready to win their eighth-straight division title.
2. New York Yankees
Yeah, it's boring, but you have to go with Dodgers-Yankees at 1 and 2. The Yankees brought in the best pitcher in the league in Gerrit Cole. Their lineup is as scary as ever, and if Stanton and Judge can stay healthy all season long, they're sure to repeat as division champs, and maybe win a whole lot more.
3. Houston Astros
Yes the Astros lost Gerrit Cole in free agency, but they still have Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. Fans are never going to let them forget about the sign-stealing scandal, but there was no evidence of sign-stealing during 2019, when the Astros won a league-best 107 games. Look for them to have a similar season this year.
4. Minnesota Twins
The Twins set the MLB record for most home runs by a team in a single season last year, and then they went out and got Josh Donaldson in free agency. They also bolstered their rotation this season with the addition of Kenta Maeda, so Minnesota is a dangerous team.
5. Tampa Bay Rays
If you don't pick the Yankees to win the AL East, you've gotta go with the Rays. They've put together quite the team over the past two seasons, and with their pitching trio of Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow, they're among the league's best rotations.
6. Atlanta Braves
Ronald Acuña, Jr. won't get the chance to go 50-50 this year, but there's a good possibility he could go 20-20. With all the young talent the Braves have, plus Freddie Freeman still anchoring down first base and Marcell Ozuna now in the lineup, Atlanta should get their third-straight division title.
7. Oakland A's
The A's have suffered from being in the same division as the Astros, but they've been one of the best teams in the league recently. Not much has changed over the offseason for them, so they should be able to contend again.
8. Washington Nationals
They might've lost Anthony Rendon over the offseason, but with Scherzer and Strasburg still at the top of the rotation and Juan Soto holding down the lineup, the Nats have a good shot at making a run again this season.
9. Cleveland Indians
This could be Cleveland's last season with Francisco Lindor at shortstop, so the Indians better make it a good one. They've still got the core players needed to do some damage, and they should be able to contend with the Twins in the Central.
10. Cincinnati Reds
Perhaps no team is better suited to make a run in a short season than the Reds. They have added so much talent in the offseason and are loaded with bats. They could surprise a lot of people in the NL Central this season.
The best team in the NL over the last four seasons, the Dodgers added a top 5 player in baseball in Mookie Betts. A top-five rotation and lineup make the Dodgers the favorite to win it all this season.
The Yankees are the clear cut AL favorites with the dynamic lineup and depth they have in their lineup and bullpen, which is the best in baseball. The only thing the team was missing over the last couple of seasons was a front end starting pitcher, filling that hole they put in the best pitcher in baseball in Gerrit Cole. The expectations are high for the Bronx Bombers this season.
The World Series Champs deserve as much credit as possible, however, after losing Anthony Rendon to the Angels, this past offseason knocks them a few notches off the list. Yet, the team still has a great young core and maybe the best pitching staff in baseball.
The defending AL Champs had the most interesting offseason in recent memory with the sign-stealing scandal coming out. However, despite losing their Manager in AJ Hinch, the team fields a top tier line-up and rotation. So much talent that they are bound to make the playoffs. However, figure there will be a struggle out of the gate for a team still adjusting to a new culture.
One of the most talented baseball teams with two young studs in Ronald Acuña, Jr. and Ozzie Albies. The team did lose Josh Donaldson, who performed well for the team last season. But they did get Marcell Ozuna in the offseason. Braves have the ability to make the World Series.
A team with a great line-up that added Josh Donaldson, a team that is flying under the radar a little but wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the Fall Classic this season. A team built on the long ball looking to repeat in a very deep Central division.
A team that is replacing a manager, has a great lineup and a pitching staff that can be able to put together a great season in 60 games. A team that won the World Series in 2016 is primed to try to make it back to the postseason in a loaded NL Central.
Defending NL Central champs, looking to repeat, a consistent lineup and rotation are going to allow them to contend in the best division in baseball.
A team that breeds consistency and will always be in contention, the A’s have a great lineup with some great players. This will always be a team that might not have the most talent, but is so consistent and will always be a tough team to beat.
The team adds one of the best managers of all time in Joe Maddon and Anthony Rendon, an MVP caliber player. The team gets a fully healthy Shohei Ohtani back as well. Oh, they also have the best player in the world in Mike Trout. A talented team primed for a run back into the postseason.