The 2020 MLB season is just a few days old, but it's time to update our Power Rankings. The first weekend of games doesn't give us a whole lot to go off of, but it is enough to get a look at how each team is really looking this season.
Each week we'll have a special guest picker give us their top 10 teams as well. This week's guest is Nathan Brennan, producer of ESPN Blacksburg's The Drive.
1. Yankees (2-1)
While a 2-1 record with a -3 run differential may not strike you as worthy of the number one spot in a power ranking, it is still difficult to put any other team in this spot. After a dominant performance by newly acquired Gerrit Cole in a rain delayed opening night, and a couple of moon shots by now healthy Giancarlo Stanton, it seems this team could back up the hype. Winning a series in baseball is never a simple feat, especially one against the reigning World Series champions, and the undisputed best starting rotation in baseball. If the likes of Judge, Stanton and Torres can all continue their hot start from the plate, I see no reason this team will ever leave the top spot.
2. Dodgers (2-2)
I will admit I am SLIGHTLY concerned about dropping the back half of a home series against the lowly Giants. But ultimately this team is still one of the most well rounded teams in baseball, and boasts a run differential of +12 in their first 4 games. The two former MVPs in Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts seem they haven’t quite found their stride yet, and this could possibly play into the second half of the series collapse. A solid outing from Ross Stripling gives me confidence that the starting rotation should hold down the fort until the return of former Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. The upcoming series against the Astros will give us a good indication of where this team is truly headed.
3. Astros (2-1)
If it wasn’t for an 8th inning collapse Sunday night against the Mariners, this would be the lone undefeated team in baseball. The potential loss of Justin Verlander for the rest of the season, on top of the departure of Gerrit Cole to AL East foe New York Yankees, could pose problems for the once dominant rotation moving forward. Regardless, the lineup hit for a combined .290 with three homeruns, and 21 RBIs… in THREE games. The lineup has not skipped a beat, and if the starting rotation can continue to be adequate while they wait for Verlander’s return, we could very well see the Astros in the World Series again.
4. Braves (2-1)
I will admit, this simply could just be a knee jerk reaction after the BEATING to the Mets Sunday night, but a 14-1 win against any team in the majors is eye opening. After being shut out in game one to the New York Mets, the Braves responded with a 5-3 win, followed by a 14-1 beating, including 17 hits. While the normal punishers in Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman are all hitting sub .200, it is the likes of Marcell Ozuna and former number one pick Dansby Swanson lighting up the stat sheet. If this lineup continues to run this deep, it could become a serious issue for the already loaded NL East.
5. Rays (2-1)
Now I mean no disrespect to the Blue Jays here, I was actually fairly impressed with them (I will get to that later.) However, when your starting pitchers throw a max of five innings, it really shows you how exceptional this Rays pitching staff is. Cy Young hopefuls Charlie Morton and Blake Snell threw four and three innings respectively, before being pulled to let the Rays bullpen do what they do. This is a very similar strategy from last season, and in just 60 games I feel the Rays will begin to reap the benefits come midseason. A walk off from outfielder Kevin Kiermaier in the rubber match should give this lineup some confidence heading into a crucially important series with the team directly above, the Atlanta Braves.
6. Cubs (2-1)
Similar to the Braves, this very well could be just another knee jerk reaction. After a complete game shutout by Kyle Hendricks in game one, the bullpen completely collapsed in the second game of the series. The bullpen is going to be a major issue for the Cubs moving forward, but the hope is the starters can provide enough quality innings to reach closer Craig Kimbrel. Going into the rubber match against the Brewers, the Cubs put on a manufacturing clinic, winning 9-1. A hot start from Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber should help lead the lineup along until former NL MVP Kris Bryant gets his bat warmed up. This team still has the pieces from that magical 2016 World Series run, and winning a series against teams in the NL Central will be crucial in arguably the most difficult division in baseball.
7. Twins (2-1)
I will say, I was buying the White Sox going into this season. But the way the Twins took care of them this weekend could either be an indication that the White Sox aren’t as good, or the Twins are just that good. I am leaning toward the latter conclusion. Following a 10-3 loss in the second game of the series, it appeared the rubber match would ultimately decide my opinion on the Twins. They won 14-2. Nelson Cruz is absolutely smoking at the plate, with three home runs, and 10 RBIs on this young season. I am a bit concerned with the longevity of the pitching rotation, but if the already convincing lineup from a season ago can continue this type of production, I see no reason to count this small market team out of World Series contention.
8. Athletics (2-1)
Not the flashiest names or the flashiest plays, but the Athletics are for real. After winning 97 games last season, it would appear the A’s have picked up right where they left off. Former MVP frontrunner Matt Chapman may have started off cold, but the rest of the lineup of unfamiliar names manufactured runs the normal way that they do. Starting pitchers Mike Fiers and Sean Manaea struggled in their first outings, but I wouldn’t expect that to continue. Like I said, they aren’t the flashiest, but the A’s just always find ways to win.
9. Nationals (1-2)
In a normal MLB season, these two losses would mean nothing, and the Nationals would still be in my top five. Unfortunately for the Nationals, losing a series in a 60 game season, while playing in the NL East, is brutal. The starting pitching looked iffy, and I am assuming the reasoning would be playing the best lineup in baseball in the Yankees. I won’t sound the alarms yet, but the Nationals seemed to be a bit too home run happy, and didn’t manufacture runs as they did a year ago. Hopefully Juan Soto will return from his COVID break soon, and the starting pitching can get into a groove.
10. Blue Jays (1-2)
There are quite a few other teams that I could pick here, but I decided to go with a bit of a wild card. With the expansion of the playoffs, I legitimately do believe this is a playoff team. While losing on a walk off is rough, it was against one of the better teams in baseball in the Rays. This team is insanely young, but the production from Bo Bichette, Vlad Jr. and Cavan Biggio was impressive against arguably the best overall pitching staffs in baseball. Hyun-Jin Ryu looked just okay in his first start with his new team, but I still expect him to be productive. While young, I was very impressed with this Blue Jays team, and don’t be surprised when you see this team in the playoff hunt in just two short months.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (2-2)
You can't not keep the Dodgers at number one in this week's rankings. They came into the season at number one, and yeah they split the series over the weekend with the Giants, but they looked pretty dang good in the two games they won. Very early on, the Dodgers are sixth in MLB with an .835 team OPS.
2. New York Yankees (2-1)
Gerrit Cole was dominant in his Yankees' debut, Giancarlo Stanton looks as good as ever and the Yankees are not messing around this season. They dropped the second game to the Nationals, but finished weekend out with a 3-2 win to advance to 2-1 on the year.
3. Minnesota Twins (2-1)
Oh my goodness this offense is amazing. Nelson Cruz alone drove in seven runs yesterday while hitting two home runs. We all knew the Twins' bats were going to be there, but if they can get the pitching turned around, they'll find their way into one of those top two spots.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (2-1)
The Rays lost their first game of the season to the young and talented Toronto Blue Jays, but they were able to bounce back and win the next two to go 2-1 on the weekend, good enough to stay in the top five.
5. Atlanta Braves (2-1)
The first game of the year was rough for the Braves, but that's to be expected when you face Jacob deGrom. Their offense seemed to find its groove in games 2 and 3, though, with an extra innings comeback on Saturday and a blowout win last night.
6. Houston Astros (2-1)
The Astros got out to a good start to the season, and their offense is looking great as usual, but the uncertainty surrounding Justin Verlander's elbow is what hurts them. If he misses significant time, I don't know that the remainder of their rotation will be enough to carry them.
7. Oakland A's (2-1)
The A's certainly got started in dramatic fashion, with a walk-off grand slam on Opening Day. They wrapped up the weekend with a 6-4 victory over the Angels, getting five runs in on Shohei Ohtani in the first inning.
8. Cleveland Indians (2-1)
Shane Bieber set a club Opening Day strikeout record in his first outing of the season. Carlos Carrasco had a solid outing yesterday for the Tribe as he tossed six innings and struck out 10. Their offense hasn't been bad, but the pitching has shined so far.
9. Chicago Cubs (2-1)
The Cubs are the first new team in my Power Rankings this week, and they've earned it. Taking two out of three from the Brewers, including a 9-1 victory yesterday, and a team .804 OPS puts them at number nine this week.
10. San Diego Padres (2-1)
I didn't think I'd put the Padres in my top 10 this early in the season, but here they are. San Diego won two games against Arizona this weekend, and the Friars are up to a .774 team OPS at this point. They rank fourth with a 2.33 ERA and ninth with 29 strikeouts. The young talent is starting to shine through, and this could be a good year for the Padres.
The Yankees move up to number one after taking 2 of 3 from the defending champs in the Nationals. The biggest thing for the Yankees was Giancarlo Stanton, who appears to be returning to his MVP form with two monster home runs this past weekend. If the Yankees get the Stanton they expected when they traded for him, it makes the Yankees the clear cut favorite. Also, Stanton will win Comeback Player of the year, book it now.
A four-game split with the rival Giants showed their ability to hit with their vast lineup. Pitching could be an issue depending on how many more starts Kershaw will miss. However, with that great lineup, I expect the Dodgers to be one or two all season.
A solid start for the Braves, taking 2 of 3 from the Mets to start the season. This included an offensive explosion in their game on Sunday, winning 14-1.
Yes, I forgot about the Rays last week, but a team took 2 of 3 from the Blue Jays last weekend. With a great pitching staff and bullpen with a great lineup, the Rays could surprise many people this year.
Man, the Twins looked good this weekend against the White Sox. Like most teams on this list, they took 2 of 3 from the White Sox. A dynamic and powerful lineup is looking to make a deeper playoff run.
Cubs seemed to have a pretty solid team in the opening weekend against a great Brewers team, taking 2 of 3 (a theme of the weekend). Kyle Hendricks threw his name into the NL Cy Young award with his complete-game shut-out in game one and looked dominant in that game.
Cardinals looked good once again, taking 2 of 3 from the Pirates, the lineup looked solid, and as always, the pitching staff looked good. The Cards are looking to go back-to-back in the NL Central.
A’s looked real good this weekend, taking 2 of 3 from Angels. With the injury of Justin Verlander, the AL West is wide open at this point, and I believe the A’s move in as the favorites for the division crown in 2020.
Solid start for the Astros, winning 2 of 3 from the Mariners but the team falls on this list due to the significant injury for Justin Verlander that will take him out at least a couple of weeks and maybe the season, and with this few games this year, you miss weeks its like months. So, that knocks the Astros a few spots down on this list.
Nats fall to 10th on this list after losing 2 of 3 to the Yankees. The team did miss Juan Soto due to COVID. The team also has Stephen Strasburg on the sidelines with a nerve issue, so most importantly, the team needs to get healthy, but I still expect a great season out of the Nats.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.