2020 MLB Preseason Power Rankings, Part 3: 20-16
- San Diego Padres
The Padres have been trying to take that next step for the past decade, but seemingly fail at every attempt that they have. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006 and hasn’t had a winning record since 2010. On paper the Padres team isn’t horrible but there’s not enough pitching to make a run at even the second wild card. The Dodgers are a powerhouse in the N.L West and the Padres (among others) don’t stand a chance at dethroning LA’s crown. The lineup has a few major bright spots including 2019 rookie standout Fernando Tatis, superstar Manny Machado, and the always dependable Eric Hosmer. There’s a few others in the top half of the lineup such as Will Myers, who really compliment each other well, but the bottom of the lineup is pretty weak. The pitching rotation is fine, but there’s nothing to write home about. Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, and Zach Davies are going to be the inning eaters for the team, but they’re relative no names to the average fan. The bullpen is one of the better units in the N.L, hightleted by All Star closer Kirby Yates, but I don’t think the rest of the roster can match the high level of where the bullpen is at. I really want the team to prove me wrong as Padres fans have waited a longtime for a competitive team but I think that they may just have to wait another year.
(Picture Credit: Hemispheres Magazine)
- Los Angeles Angels
Anthony Rendon was the biggest free agent name on the hitters side of the board this past offseason and the Angels were able to go out and get him. Despite this the Angels still are not going to be a complete enough team to compete this season. The batting lineup is rather star studded and besides Rendon carries players by the likes of Justin Upton, Albert Pujols, Shohei Ohtani, and of course the best player in the MLB, Mike Trout. The lineup however does not make up for the incredibly weak pitching rotation and bullpen. Andrew Heany is the team's “ace” but he doesn’t blow me away. Manager Joe Maddon recently announced that two way player Shohei Ohtani will be pitching once a week, which will surely help the team but I’m unsure how well they can count on him after a year off with Tommy John surgery. The team will be rolling with 6 guys in the rotation during this abbreviated season and have a few guys that show lots potential such as Julio Teheran, Dylan Bundy, and Matt Andriese. I don’t know how the Angels will handle facing the Astros and A’s 10 for 33% of the season but they’ll need to have a winning record against those top tier opponents if they want to go anywhere this year. In my opinion the Angels are finally heading in the right direction after missing the playoffs for 5 straight years, but their roster has too many question marks that leaves me uncertain about them. If they make a run in the first half and acquire some pitching talent at the deadline look for them to be a dark horse team in the A.L to make the playoffs, but the odds for that seem to be very slim. I’m predicting a very mediocre record for the Angels this year, but I think this could be a good building block year to see what pieces they have, especially under a new manager, Joe Maddon.
(Picture Credit: UPI.com)
- Milwaukee Brewers
Christian Yelich may be the face of the National League, but that doesn’t mean the team around him is phenomenal. The Brewers were just one win away from the World Series in 2018, but their roster has taken a step in the wrong direction these past two seasons. The pitching is the main problem for the Brew Crew, more specifically the starters. In fact the Brewers have one of the best bullpens in the entire MLB with their lockdown closer Josh Hader and set up guys Corey Knebel and Brent Suter, among others. The rotation is really, really thin as they may only have 2, maybe 3 guys who they can trust to eat some innings. Brandon Woodruff will be making the Opening Day start after he had a great 2019, where he made the N.L All Star team. Next in line is Adrian Houser, who’s a rather unknown name despite his decent 2019 season where he had 3.72 in 35 games (18 starts) and a 1.24 WHIP. The 3-5 spots are going to be up for grabs between a few guys heading into the season. The Brewers are going to need at least one bottom 3 starter to step up and improve this year if they want to have any shot at making the playoffs, as it’s even tough to trust Houser in the #2 spot to have a good year. Thankfully for Milwaukee the lineup is pretty good and is headlined by former N.L MVP Christian Yelich. The top of the lineup is complemented by leadoff guy Lorenzo Cain, rising star Keston Hiura, and veteran Ryan Braun, among others. The team will deeply miss Yasmani Grandal who left this offseason in free agency but still has some solid talent to make up for him. Overall the Brewers roster is either going to be boom or bust this year, but I believe they are a few pieces short to make a long playoff run this year.
(Picture Credit: Madison.com)
- Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox will definitely be looking for redemption in 2020, after the followed up a World Series Championship in 2018 with a very disappointing 2019 season. The team will be without their ace Chris Sale this year, after he underwent Tommy John Surgery in the spring. The pitching rotation is incredibly thin especially after the departures of David Price and Rick Porcello this past offseason. The team will rely on Eduardo Rodriguez and Nathan Eovaldi to be the top two pieces in the rotation, and will then follow them up with a combination of Martín Perez, Ryan Weber, and Collin McHugh. The bullpen is slightly upgraded over last year's group and I think they may use guys in the bullpen a lot earlier in the games this season if the starters aren’t getting the job done. Despite the shaky pitching arsenal, the team's batting lineup is still one of the best in the big leagues, even after Mookie Betts was traded away. The 2-4 trio of Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez is one of the best in the league, and they will certainly put up impressive offensive numbers. The lineup is deep at every spot and pitchers will have a very tough time deciding who they want to face this year when they're in a jam. The team is also very strong defensively, especially in the outfield with Kevin Pillar and Jackie Bradley Jr., both of whom are talented in that department. The team could have an outside shot at a wild card this year, but I tend to doubt it as the A.L is very competitive.
(Picture Credit: NBC Sports)
- Cleveland Indians
Cleveland turned in a very solid 2019 season, clocking in at 93 wins which kept them just short of the second wild card, causing them to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2015. I believe that Cleveland still has a solid roster, but the A.L Central was undoubtedly the weakest division in baseball last year and many of their wins came against very bad Royals and Tigers teams, where they held a combined 30-8 record, including a 18-1 record against the MLB’s worst team, the Tigers. I think Cleveland will have one of the biggest regressions of any MLB team in 2020 and there are a few reasons why. The lineup is solid but not great, and Francisco Lindor will look to lead the team’s offense with support from veteran Carlos Santana, and the team's third baseman José Ramirez. Despite these solid players there are still some variables in this lineup such as Tyler Naquin’s health, and the inconsistency of players like Domingo Santana and Franmil Reyes. The pitching rotation is pretty good with a strong top duo of Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger, who both posted ERA’s under 3.30 this past season. The lower half of the rotation is also really good and I think pitching is what Cleveland will rely on most if they want to have a good season. I feel as if a few of these pitchers really had breakout years last year and I’m not positive that they’ll be able to repeat that performance which is why I have the Indians a little bit lower on this list then most people would probably put them. I think they could get a wild card, or even make a run at the A.L Central crown, but I think the Twins are just too good and the White Sox have drastically improved their roster which is why my gut is telling me that the Indians will finish in the middle of the A.L Central.
(Picture Credit: Cleveland.com)
- Andrew Gardner, UNH '23