2020 MLB Pre Season Power Rankings, Part 6: 5-1

  1. Tampa Bay Rays 

(Picture Credit: Bloomberg)

Despite their small market status the Rays are always able to put a competitive team on the field. Tampa is one organization that always seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to baseball concepts and they have been no stranger to this again as they were one of the first teams to introduce the “opener” concept over the past few seasons. This year however, they’re very seldom going to need an opener with how strong of a rotation they have. Former Cy Young winner Blake Snell is the ace of this staff and 2019 standout pitcher Charlie Morton is an impressive second option. The 3-5 guys are all under 28 years old, and have proved that they belong on a big league roster. These players include Tyler Glasnow, Ryan Yarbrough, and Yonny Chirinos. 

The bullpen is also one of the best in the American League, with arms like Chaz Roe, Jose Alverado, Diego Castillo, and closer Nick Anderson being the backbone for the team's late inning hopes. 

Hitting is also going to be a strength for this team as they have one of the games best rising stars in Austin Meadows leading off at the top of the lineup. The middle of the order consists of players such as the newly acquired Hunter Renfroe, first baseman Ji-Man Choi, and third baseman Yandy Diaz, along with some key depth pieces toward the bottom of the order. 

Tampa’s going to be a good team this year, there’s no doubt about it as they always seem to pull out a good season no matter who’s on the roster. The question is will they get off to a hot start so they have a good shot at winning the A.L East title over the Yankees? We will just have to wait and see. 

  1. Atlanta Braves 

(Picture Credit: Last Word on Baseball)

The Braves suffered a crushing loss in Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS to the Cardinals, but the roster looks ready to bounce back for a chance at a deep playoff run. You can’t talk about the Braves without mentioning Ronald Acuna Jr., who is one of the best young talents in the major leagues. The team also made some very nice additions this off-season, bringing in veteran pitcher Cole Hamels and outfielder Marcell Ozuna. The lineup is very strong from top to bottom, even without Nick Markakis, who opted out of the season. Options in the middle of the lineup include second baseman Ozzie Albies, first baseman Freddie Freeman, and shortstop Dansby Swanson. There’s a lot of depth with this lineup which is really going to benefit this team in the long run. 

The pitching rotation is also very solid and has some great arms to start games such as Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, and the previously mentioned Cole Hamels. A strong bullpen is what every team needs and the Braves definitely have that in their repertoire with guys like Will Smith, Darren O’Day, and closer Mark Melancon being the key arms in this unit. 

The Braves are going to be a very strong team in the National League this year, but it’s not going to come without a tough test as many of their N.L East opponents also have very good rosters. Look for the Braves to try and push through to at least the NLCS this year.

  1. Houston Astros 

(Picture Credit: Athletics Nation)

If there’s one team that’s happy with the shortened 2020 season and absence of fans in the stands, it’s the Astros. The team had one of the toughest off-seasons in recent memory after they were busted for a major cheating scandal that occurred during their 2017 World Series Championship season. With that being said their roster is still very menacing, even without their ace Gerrit Cole, who left in free agency to sign with the Yankees. 

The rotation is led by two future hall of farmers, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. The remainder of the rotation is made up by righties Lance McCullers Jr., Jose Urquidy, and Josh James. The rotation is actually entirely right handed which would be a problem for most teams, but I think the Astros will do alright with this setup, especially because the majority of these guys are really good pitchers. 

The lineup is quietly one of the best in the A.L with bats like Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and George Springer leading the top of the lineup. The team also has some solid veterans toward the bottom of the lineup such as Michael Brantley, Josh Reddick, and Martin Maldonado who are surely going to help the team out at each of their positions. 

The bullpen is first-class, with guys like Roberto Ozuna, Ryan Pressly, Chris Devenski, Joe Smith, and Brad Peacock being the main arms who the teams will entrust with the ball late in the game. 

Overall I think the Astros have a good chance at reaching the World Series for the 3rd time in 4 years. The problem for me is that I believe a lot of teams will have the Astros circled on the schedule and will give it their all to beat the cheaters from Houston which could complicate matters for the Astros. It’s going to be an interesting season for them nonetheless, and I’m just interested to see how many pitches the team gets hit by. 

  1. New York Yankees

(Picture Credit: Empire Sports Media)

What did the Yankees, a team with 103 wins do this offseason? Acquire the top starting pitcher on the free agent market, Gerrit Cole. Cole will headline this already star studded rotation that includes James Paxton, J.A Happ, Masahiro Tanaka (doubtful for Opening Day), and Jordan Montgomery. The scary part is that this team will still be missing two of their best starters for the entire year, Luis Severino and Domingo German. Severino will miss this season due to Tommy John Surgery, and German will be out on a suspension due to suspected domestic violence. 

The bullpen is far and away the best in the major leagues, with arms that include Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and Tommy Kahnle being the key contributors. 

The lineup is also very potent, with the always scary power trio of Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez headlining the middle of the lineup. The middle of the infield is also one of the best pairs in the league as it includes 2019 All Stars Gleyber Torres and DJ Lemahieu. Throw in some other above average players such as Brett Gardner, Luke Voit, and Aaron Hicks and you’ve got a winning formula. 

The Yankees are the obvious choice to represent the A.L in the World Series this year, but I still believe that Houston can give them a good fight. It’s been 11 years since the Yankees last World Series victory, a streak that is too long for most New Yorkers. But will this finally be the team to break the drought? Only time will tell. 

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers

(Picture Credit: Dodger Blue)

The Dodgers are absolutely stacked, and there’s no way around it. They have an outfield that consists of the 2019 N.L MVP Cody Bellinger, newly acquired stud and 2018 A.L MVP Mookie Betts, and the power hitting Joc Pederson. The infield is also very impressive with former All Stars Max Muncy and Justin Turner manning the corners which is any insanely scary duo. Shortstop will be played by another former All Star Corey Seager, who will look for a bounce back 2020 season after injury riddled 2018 and 2019 seasons. Second base is one of the only possible holes on this team, but it looks as if it will be patrolled by one of the league's best prospects in Gavin Lux. 

The pitching rotation is also one of the best in the league, despite the loss of 2019 Cy Young runner up Hyun-Jin Ryu and the newly acquired David Price, who decided to opt out of the season. Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are one of the best 1-2 duos in the league, if not the best and Julio Urias and Alex Wood are solid options to back them up. The 5th spot in the rotation is up in the air, but it’s possible that the Dodgers second best prospect Dustin May, could possibly win the spot. The bullpen is one of the best in the National League, with key lock down pieces in the backend including Blake Treinen, Joe Kelly, and the closer Kenley Jansen. 

The Dodgers are the undoubtable pick to win the 2020 World Series, but their lack of recent postseason success leaves me intrigued to see how this year's roster responds to the playoffs. I personally think there’s too much talent on this team to forgo a championship, but crazier things have happened.

- Andrew Gardner, UNH '23 

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