2020 MLB Preseason Power Rankings, Part 1: 30-26

With the news on Wednesday that the MLB and MLBPA were close to agreeing on a deal for a 2020 season, I figured it would be a good time to take a look at what we can expect from each team in the majors. This will be a six part power rankings series that breaks down my outlook for each team's 2020 season. It’ll be an interesting season because it’s going to be shorter than usual, nonetheless I think it’s still fairly predictable what each time will do this season. Let’s get into it starting at the worst team in the league and work our way all the way down to the best. 

 

  1. Baltimore Orioles 

The rebuild for the Orioles could be moving faster than many might assume, but they still have what is undoubtedly the weakest roster in all of the majors. The team is coming off back to back 100+ loss seasons, and a third straight season finishing in the basement of the always competitive A.L East. It’s going to another long season for Orioles fans as there’s not much to get excited about even in the player development department as many of their top prospects, such as the #4 overall MLB prospect Adley Rutschman is still in the early development of his minor league career. On the brightside, the organization carries in the lowest MLB payroll for 2020 at just above $56,000,000. Chris Davis’s horrible contract is taking up almost 38% of that figure, which is a comical number and will go done as one of the worst contracts in MLB history, especially after seeing Davis’s horrible play over the past few years. The organization has shown that they’re willing to spend money when the time is right, such as when they had the 10th highest salary in the majors for 2016, when it was almost triple what their current total is. Looking at the current roster there are major holes at almost every position and the team lacks a solid bat in the middle of their lineup. Some of the brighter talents on the roster heading into the season include right fielder Anthony Santander and DH Renato Núñez. The team’s best player Trey Mancini will miss the 2020 after undergoing surgery for stage 3 colon cancer, a tremendous blow to the team and organization. Mancini was cementing himself as one of the elite batters in the A.L and it’s very unfortunate to see this happen to such a great person and teammate. Hopefully Mancini will be able to return to the field in the not so distant future, but he obviously needs to take care of what’s important right now, and that’s not baseball. The pitching rotation is very thin and will rely on southpaw John Means and veteran Alex Cobb to carry the majority of the load for the starters. There will be a time where the Orioles are a standout team again, but it may not be for a few years as they are in complete rebuild mode right now. (Picture Credit: NBC Sports) 

 

  1. Seattle Mariners

It looked as if the Mariners were about to turn a corner over the past few years, as they were slowly building a solid core. However, after a few more unproductive seasons on the field the front office tore it all down and left the Mariners in the decrepit state that their roster is in right now. Seattle’s looking to tank in 2020 and that’s very clear as they need to do something extreme after missing the postseason for 18 straight years, a mark that is the longest in the MLB right now. Seattle still remains as the only franchise to never appear in the World Series and it’s going to stay that way for a long time with how it’s looking for the team right now. The rotation is largely unproven, and their #1 option is Marco Gonzalez, who would be a 3rd or 4th option in a solid rotation. Beyond that the other starters are essentially no names who are just out there to eat innings for the team. Tajun Walker is an interesting name in the rotation who does hold some potential as he’s only appeared in four games over the past two seasons due to injury, but was a solid pitcher before 2018 and will look to return to his old form. The lineup has a lot of holes and will look toward veteran Kyle Seager to lock down the middle of it. Other than that there’s not a lot of solid options who I think the Mariners will be able to rely on in the lineup. It’s going to be a tough year for Seattle, and I think it’ll mostly be a season to see who has potential, and who doesn’t. (Picture Credit: Everett Herald)

 

  1. Miami Marlins 

The Marlins are another team who are going to spend a lot of their 2020 season in the loss column. The team may be starting to turn a corner and I think they made some positive moves this offseason, but I don’t believe they're enough to make much of an impact especially with how competitive the other four teams in the N.L East are expected to be. Miami hasn’t had a winning season since 2009 and have been arguably the worst franchise in the major leagues over the past decade. The team brought on two bats who will cement the middle of their lineup with the likes of outfielder Corey Dickerson and first baseman Jesús Aguilar. The team will also rely on infielder Johnathan Villar and right Brian Anderson to support the top of the lineup. Pitching is going to be the main question for this team as nobody in their projected rotation has made more than 46 career starts, which in perspective is only about a year and a half of starts for a normal starter. Sandy Alcantra and Jordan Yamamoto could be interesting pieces in the rotation that are vying for long run positions in the rotation but beyond that the rotation is mostly just fill in guys who don’t have much business being on a big league roster. The Marlins are second to last in payroll for the majors, just a few hundred thousand dollars ahead of the Orioles and are definitely going to feel the result of that on the field. 2020 is going to be another tough year for Miami but the new ownership group that includes Derek Jeter will be looking to improve the team and build a winning roster over the next few years. (Picture Credit: Miami Herald)

 

  1. Pittsburgh Pirates

2019 was an interesting year for the Pirates who finished the first half of the season at 44-45, looking to make a late run at the second N.L Wild card. They unfortunately couldn’t do so, and instead had a disastrous second half where they went 25-48, finishing the season at 69-93. The roster isn’t anything to write home about and I don’t think fans should expect much from the Pirates this season, especially because of the fact that they’re playing in one of the most competitive divisions, the N.L. Central. The lineup does have some bright spots in Bryan Reynolds and Josh Bell, but the rest of the starting nine consists of mostly below average to average players. The pitching is a little shaky and a 2018 trade to acquire Rays starter Chris Archer is starting to look more and more like a move that will haunt the team for the next few years. Archer will miss the entirety of the 2020 season along with the majority of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in early June to fix some elbow discomfort. The team could really use the strong bat of Austin Meadows and standout pitching arm Tyler Glasnow, the two players who they gave up for Archer who are developing into very strong players with the Rays. In fact, the reason why the Pirates roster is so poor is because of moves like this which killed the hopes of having a competitive roster for the next few years. The Gerrit Cole trade is another one that hasn’t quite panned out for the Pirates the way they thought it would, but there is still some solid potential with players such as Michael Feliz and Colin Moran. Looking back at the rotation, Joe Musgrove will headline the group, but will need to improve after a shaky 2019 season. Other than Musgrove the rotation has very little experience and it’s unclear who will emerge as a solid #2 or #3 options for the team. Pittsburgh fans may want to focus on the Steelers and Penguins instead, as it could be another very long year for the Pirates. (Picture Credit: Shepherd Express)

 

  1. Detroit Tigers 

The Tigers had one of the worst seasons in MLB history in 2019 after then won only 47 games during the course of the season. This resulted in the team securing the first overall pick in this year's draft which they used on Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson. It’ll be a few years before Torkelson and Detroit’s other young prospects are ready for the majors, but in the meantime it’s rebuild time in Detroit. The lineup is mediocre at best and is definitely in need of another standout bat in the middle of it. Future hall of famer Miguel Cabrera headlines the starting nine, but it’s unclear how effective he’ll still be in his age 37 season, after he slashed just .282/.398/.744 in 2019. He can still get on base at a decent rate as he also carried an OBP of .346, but his power and defensive ability have all but vanished at his current age. The top of the lineup of the lineup isn’t horrible as it includes infielder Johnathan Schoop, first baseman C.J.Cron, among others. However, the bottom of the lineup has many holes, specifically in the outfield and left side of the infield. The rotation for Detroit is interesting because I think a lot of them have potential, but it’s unclear which version of each guy we’ll get in 2020. This will be a big year for both Matthew Boyd and Jordan Zimmerman, who are the teams current 1st and 2nd options in the rotation, and will need to have a strong season if they want to show the front office that they have a future with the organization. Ivan Nova and Daniel Norris are also fairly dependable options to start for the team and 2016 Rookie of the Year Award winner Michael Fulmer might be ready to go whenever the season is ready to resume. The Tigers will probably spend another year sitting in last place of the A.L Central, but there are some interesting storylines to watch with this team. (Picture Credit: USA Today Sportsbook Wire)

- Andrew Gardner UNH '23 

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