2020 MLB Preseason Power Rankings, Part 4: 15-11
- Arizona Diamondbacks
(Picture Credit: Yardbarker.com)
Underrated is the word that I would use to describe Arizona. The Diamondbacks are one team that certainly flew under the radar in 2019 finishing the season 8 games over .500 and 2nd in the N.L West. The team was also able to go out and improve the rotation, bringing in a bonafide ace in Madison Bumgarner this past off-season. Bumgarner will bring a much needed verteran arm to the team and will complement the other pitchers in the rotation very nicely. The rest of the rotation is made up of southpaw Robbie Ray, upcoming star Luke Weaver, rookie sensation Zac Gallen, and the very dependable Merrill Kelly. This is truly one of the more underrated rotations in the league and I think they show a lot of young promise especially with Weaver and Gallen. The lineup is also very strong, despite the fact that it lacks a true superstar. The team will look for the main bulk of their production to come from Ketel Marte, who finished 4th in MVP voting this past season, third baseman Eduardo Escobar, and outfielder David Peralta. The Diamondbacks could make a run at an N.L wild card this year, especially with a shortened season. They’re not a team that jumps out at you when you think of “elite teams” in the league, but there aren’t many holes on their roster which makes them a sleeper team in my opinion.
- Cincinnati Reds
(Picture Credit: Forbes.com)
The Reds are one of the most improved teams this year, and I believe that the 6 year playoff drought in Cincinnati may be over within the near future. The pitching rotation looks solid this year as they have a very dependable top 3 of Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Trevor Bauer. The rotation is rounded out with Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani, two of the more underrated pitchers in the majors. The batting lineup is also really good this year and I especially love the addition of Nick Castellanos who will slot into the middle of the lineup very nicely. Despite a down year in 2019, I believe that Joey Votto still has the talent to be a top tier first baseman, and Eugenio Suarez is one of the most underrated players in the MLB. The team also has some other solid hitters such as Jesse Winker, Nick Snezel, and the newly acquired second baseman Mike Moustakas. The bullpen is decent and Raisel Iglesias is a worthy closer, but it’s definitely not a standout area for the team. The Reds could definitely make a run at an N.L wild card, and possibly even N.L Central crown if they turn in a solid season but that’s unlikely. I think that they still have a little ways to go especially with some of their younger guys, but this could be a scary team for years to come, very soon.
- Philadelphia Phillies
(Picture Credit: USA Today)
The Phillies would be a top two team in almost any division, except for the fact that they’re in the insanely competitive N.L East. The Phillies may be 4th in these rankings for N.L East teams, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they have an insanely talented team, and could easily get into the playoffs with a wild card. The team is obviously going to be very reliant on superstar outfielder Bryce Harper, who will cement the middle of the lineup. Overall I believe this lineup is one of the best in the National League, as it's got great depth, players with different strengths, and veterans who have great experience in the league. The top of the lineup will consist of outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who will look to bounce back from an injury riddled 2019 season, the best catcher in the league J.T Realmuto, and the previously mentioned Bryce Harper. The rest of the lineup is composed of some speedy infielders such as Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius, as well as sluggers Rhys Hoskins and Jay Bruce. The pitching rotation is strong with 3 top options; Aaron Nola, off-season acquisition Zack Wheeler, and Jake Arrieta. The four and five rotation spots are where the team really struggles, and they currently have Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta plugged into those spots. The bullpen could also use some improvement but hitting is definitely where this team will excel. The Phillies have a good roster, but I just don’t know if it will be enough for a playoff spot in the competitive N.L.
- New York Mets
(Picture Credit: Bleacher Report)
New York, New York. The Mets enter the ranking at the 12 spot, with an absolutely loaded roster for the 2020 season. I haven’t been too high on the Mets and their moves over the past few years, but I think they finally have a roster assembled that could make a deep run in the playoffs this year. The lineup is really good and will be highlighted by 2019 rookie of the year winner Pete Alonso, veteran slugger Robinson Cano, and the always steady Michael Conforto. The team also will look forward to the return of former superstar Yoenis Cespedes, who missed the entire 2019 season due injury. The pitching rotation will be missing Noah Syndergaard this year due to Tommy John surgery, but there are plenty of guys who will eat the innings that he would have normally pitched. The acquisitions of Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha may be the difference for this staff, as they’re two veteran guys who have both pitched in the World Series and know what it takes to win games. Despite them, you obviously can't talk about the Mets pitching staff without mentioning the top starter in the N.L, back to back N.L Cy Young award winner Jacob deGrom. deGrom is dominant, and will look to repeat as the first back to back to back Cy Young winner since Randy Johnson, who won four straight from 1999-2002. The remainder of the rotation is rounded out by Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz, both of whom can be boardline studs when they have their stuff working. The bullpen is solid and has a good backend shutdown tandem of Edwin Diaz and Dellin Betances. The Mets could definitely secure a wild card bid this season if they get off to a hot start, but there are 4 really good teams in the N.L East, so it’s going to be tough. If they are able to squeeze into the postseason I think they have a roster that could carry them to the NLCS or World Series.
- Chicago White Sox
(Picture Credit: Forbes.com)
Two Chi Town teams in the top half of the league? Absolutely. The White Sox made impressive improvement this off-season and I honestly believe that 11 is still a little bit low for their ranking. I originally had them in the top 10, but their new core still hasn’t played a game together so they’ll need to prove themselves on the field, but the potential is certainly there. Key additions this offseason include starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, catcher Yasmani Grandal, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, and outfielder Nomar Mazara, among others. The lineup is very strong this year and includes some key pieces besides the newcomers. Jose Abreu will be the cornerstone of the lineup, along with Eloy Jimenez, and Yoan Moncada. The pitching rotation has made great strides this offseason and will look for strong seasons from Keuchel, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Gio Gonzalez. The bullpen is also really good, highlighted by Alex Colome, Kelvin Herrera, and Aaron Bummer. I can understand why some people may feel that I’m overrating the White Sox but I believe they have a great mix of veterans who know how to win, and young guys with great potential who are hungry to make this team into a winning product for the next few years. Look for the White Sox to make a run at the playoffs in 2020.
- Andrew Gardner, UNH '23