After one of the longest Major League Baseball hiatuses in recent memory, the league is finally gearing up to return on Thursday. Amid months of negotiations on the terms of a return to play, it has been easy to forget the power dynamic of the league when things were gearing up five months ago. While not much has changed since then, there have been some shifts as well due to the addition of the designated hitter in the National League, and now, within 24 hours of Opening Day, talks of potentially expanding the postseason. At this point, then, how do MLB’s teams stack up? Here are our power rankings heading into Opening Day, as voted on by 31 of our writers.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Fresh off an extension of new superstar Mookie Betts, the Dodgers are absolutely loaded heading into 2020. They are as close as any team comes at the beginning of a season to a surefire playoff team, and with more firepower in the lineup than in years past, they look better suited than ever before to finally come out on top with their first title since 1988.
2. New York Yankees
Health has been a concern in recent years for the Yankees, and they haven’t been free of health concerns this year either. Still, with the addition of Gerrit Cole, the pitching staff is immediately very strong (you didn’t forget about their star-laden bullpen, did you?), and the lineup has immense power just as it has in years past. The Yankees have a much tougher division than the Dodgers, but it remains theirs to lose.
3. Houston Astros
The end of the offseason couldn’t have come more slowly for Astros fans. Amidst baseball’s largest scandal since the steroid era, it’s easy to have forgotten that the Astros are still… really good. Unlike the last three years, they’re no longer the clear favorite in the American League, but the remaining pennant winners have lost little except for Gerrit Cole and return a very strong lineup, though pitching depth is a question for the Astros this season.
4. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays enter 2020 with baseball’s best pitching staff. First, their rotation: there’s Blake Snell, the 2018 Cy Young award winner, Charlie Morton, who finished third in Cy Young voting in 2019, and Tyler Glasnow, who was one of baseball’s hottest starters in 2019 before being sidelined by injury. Throw in relievers like Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, Jose Alvarado and Chaz Roe and the Rays will provide very little opportunity to score. Their lineup is relatively weak in comparison, but still has solid potential and will be enough to help them challenge for a division title and more in 2020.
5. Minnesota Twins
The Twins hardly have any names on their roster that are eye-popping like many other teams, but they took a 103 win team in 2019 and got better over the offseason. New addition Josh Donaldson bolsters a roster that set the all-time home run record for a team in a single season, and the additions of Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill add to a rotation that is solid and backed up by a Taylor Rogers led bullpen that may catch many by surprise.
6. Atlanta Braves
The Braves come into 2020 as a competitive team once again, challenging for the top spot in what will be a tight NL East division race. With a position player core led by Ronald Acuña, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, and new addition Marcell Ozuna, and a pitching staff headed by Mike Soroka, Max Fried and new addition Cole Hamels, the Braves are formidable on both sides of the ball, and while depth is a concern, it’s much less so in a shortened season.
7. Oakland Athletics
The Athletics are hardly MLB’s deepest team, but have a lot of potential that rests on several great position players and a very good pitching staff. A lot depends on Marcus Semien to continue his breakout 2019 performance, but other young players such as Ramon Laureano and Sean Manaea should also take steps forward. This is a team that won 97 games last season, and without losing very much from their roster besides older pitchers returns in 2020 with the addition of Jesus Luzardo and (hopefully) A.J. Puk to help boost the pitching staff further.
8. Washington Nationals
The Nationals bring back almost everyone from their 2019 championship team, with a huge exception in Anthony Rendon and his 6.4 WAR. As has been the case often in recent years, the bullpen could be cause for concern again. If they hope to repeat, they’ll need their elite starting rotation and newcomers Starlin Castro and Eric Thames to step up. – Matthew Penn
9. New York Mets
The Mets have built a top 10 offense and bullpen with a rotation headlined by consecutive Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. Poor defense and a top-heavy division limits them from being a top 5 team, but they are talented and deep enough to make the playoffs. If they can stay healthy, which is no guarantee for the Mets, they have the chance of beating out the Braves and Nationals for the division and making a deep playoff run. – Jonah Keehn
10. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are one of baseball’s most exciting teams, taking a rotation that was great in 2019 and adding many offensive pieces for what should be a more well-rounded overall team that’s as fit as any in the NL Central to challenge for the division crown. With improved performance of Trevor Bauer, the Reds have one of baseball’s best rotations backed by a solid bullpen. Offensive newcomers Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama all look to help the offense, and a step forward by former top prospect Nick Senzel will only help. The addition of the DH helps the Reds considerably, allowing for more of their strong-hitting position players to get plate appearances, though defense is certainly a concern for the team.
11. Cleveland Indians
While for many fans it feels like the Indians are far removed from their dominance that included a pennant in 2016, the tribe is still packed with firepower, featuring Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez offensively and Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber to spearhead the rotation. James Karinchak looks to provide a boost to a bullpen that had the third best ERA in baseball in 2019. Depth, especially in the outfield, remains a concern, but with a schedule that includes a full third of the season against the Royals and Tigers, the Indians are as primed as any team to make a run for a Wild Card spot if not more.
12. Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani. Regardless of anyone else on the roster, the Angels have three of the most surefire stars that there are in baseball, and in a 60 game season, having absolute confidence that three of your guys can produce at the level that these three will is invaluable. Yes, the Angels have some questions of depth on their roster, but they have a solid lineup all the way down, are a good defensive team, and their pitching isn’t as bad as many make it out to be. The Angels may not be the best team in Los Angeles, but they will certainly be fun and have more than an outside shot at challenging for a playoff spot.
13. Chicago Cubs
Predicting the outcome of the 2020 season for the Cubs is no small task. While they remain loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, that talent has failed to convert into much production, especially in 2019. The Cubs will need improved performance from almost every man on the roster to seriously assert themselves as a threat and emerge from a crowded NL Central. The good news is that almost every man on the roster is capable of improving; now it’s a matter of showing how badly they want it.
14. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are another team right in the thick of the NL Central race. While they capitalized on a late collapse by the Cubs to seize the division in 2019, questions remain about whether the team has a very high offensive ceiling moving into 2020. Jack Flaherty’s excellent second half in 2019 leaves little question as to whether he’s fit to lead the rotation in 2020, but the Cardinals have a lot riding on aging players like Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, and Adam Wainwright, and a bullpen that was strong last year has suffered losses of Jordan Hicks, John Brebbia and Brett Cecil. The Cardinals have talent and a track record, but they also don’t have a single player projected to have an OPS over .850.
15. Chicago White Sox
In a shortened season where anything can happen, a young and explosive offense led by Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Luis Robert, and Yasmani Grandal, as well as a pitching staff led by Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel, and Dylan Cease look to get hot at the right time and end their 12 year playoff drought. The team still has much to prove, but it’s only a matter of time until they look to compete with the top of the league. – Conor Eagan
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks were a good-not-great team that finished second in a very mediocre NL West in 2019, and they made a conscious effort to improve via free agency in the offseason. The additions of Madison Bumgarner, Starling Marte and Kole Calhoun add depth to a roster that is now very interesting, with a solid starting nine and a great rotation (have you forgotten that Ketel Marte was a top-10 position player last year?). The bullpen is certainly not on par with some of the best in the game, but the Diamondbacks will absolutely be in the mix in what should be an interesting race for the second NL Wild Card spot.
17. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers lost many players to free agency over the offseason, leaving their roster much more thin than in years past, especially on the pitching side. While they still field many great position players – Christian Yelich will once again challenge for NL MVP, Luis Urias and Keston Hiura are great young players, and Lorenzo Cain won a gold glove in what was otherwise a down year – the Brewers don’t seem to quite stack up to the rest of the NL Central. The team will certainly still be in the mix, but having Josh Lindblom as a fifth starter is hardly what any team dreams of, and Josh Hader has lost some of his accomplices that boosted the depth of the bullpen, leaving the Brewers with several pitching options that are questionable at best.
18. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies absolutely have star power – Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Aaron Nola, and Andrew McCutchen are some of the better known names in baseball. Still, at second base and center field, the Phillies are hardly guaranteed any production. Their rotation has considerable potential, but it has also failed to deliver, especially in 2019. Perhaps most detrimental, the bullpen in Philly is alarmingly thin. The Phillies have talent, but they also have to run the gauntlet of the East division, where roughly ⅔ of their games this season will come against top ten teams in baseball. They will need a lot of things to go right to capture a playoff spot.
19. San Diego Padres
The Padres remain a very exciting team – Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado combine for one of the most talented 3B/SS combinations in baseball, they boast plenty of young pitching talent and a strong bullpen, and they finally seem to have moved past their roster crunch in the outfield that has made playing time inconsistent for some players in the recent past. Still, the Padres will hope that Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers can live up to their contracts to a much greater extent this season. Even the improvement of Machado from his first year in San Diego, though, will help boost a team that is among the likeliest to shoot up the rankings.
20. Boston Red Sox
Over the offseason, there was plenty of change for the Red Sox organization both on and off the field. New Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom brought in some part-time players while also adding more pieces to the bullpen, keeping much of the team’s core intact with the exception of Mookie Betts. A large concern for Boston, though, is their rotation, or lack thereof, as the Sox currently only have two or three healthy full-time starters, and they will need to deploy lots of relievers in split roles in order to completely assemble their pitching staff. – Avery Hamel
21. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are one of MLB’s more interesting teams headed into 2020, spearheaded by young talent including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette. The Blue Jays have a solid rotation headed by Hyun-Jin Ryu as well. Ultimately, though, the Jays are not a very deep team, and even in the lower end of their starting lineup they likely won’t match up to many better teams in baseball. Still, look for big step forward from some of their youngest players as they continue to build momentum into the future.
22. Texas Rangers
The Rangers are a very interesting team as well. Joey Gallo showed the potential to be one of baseball’s best hitters last season before hitting the injured list. Similarly, Mike Minor and Lance Lynn surprised many with excellent seasons of their own. Throw in Corey Kluber and Kyle Gibson to the rotation and the Royals have three of the pitchers with the best single seasons in recent years along with an incredibly consistent middle rotation starter. Beyond Jose Leclerc, the Rangers don’t have an excellent bullpen, though. They will be interesting to watch, but they don’t figure to match up with the contentious top of the AL West division.
23. Colorado Rockies
The rockies offense should be as good as ever with nearly all of their offensive starters returning from 2019, however the pitching is always the primary concern. After cutting Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw, the Rockies seem to be left with even more questions from their bullpen, a unit that already struggled mightily in previous years. The rotation offers a good mix of talent and upside, but is incredibly prone to blowups because of the nature of coors field. They certainly have the talent to compete, especially in an expanded playoff scenario, but the circumstances surrounding the team are hardly in their favor. – Brian Schlosser
24. San Francisco Giants
Not many people are expecting much from the Giants this year, especially with an aging roster and some tough competition in this shortened season; but they aren’t going to quit before the season starts. They could rise up the rankings if some things fall their way, but have little opportunity at a winning record, much less a playoff spot – Diego Franco-Carreno
25. Kansas City Royals
The Royals sit clearly behind the Twins, Indians and White Sox in the Al Central, though they will have some interesting pieces on the Roster in 2020. The Royals will once again hope for steps forward from Adalberto Mondesi and Brad Keller, and have several other guys on the roster, including Maikel Franco and the newly acquired Franchy Cordero, who they hope will show some success looking towards the future. In addition, this looks to be the first year that the Royals may see the crop of their pitching-heavy 2018 draft with Brady Singer projected to crack the Opening Day rotation.
26. Miami Marlins
The Marlins are a very young team still in the process of a rebuild. Pitching staff is talented but inconsistent, which means they won’t be the worst team and there is a chance they will surprise, but it is highly unlikely. The wins will come in the development of their talent and consistency of young bats and arms more so than on the record board. – Jonah Keehn
27. Pittsburgh Pirates
It’s going to be an uphill sprint for the Pirates in 2020. In order to have any hopes of contending they will need repeat performances from Josh Bell, Bryan Reynolds, and Kevin Newman. New skipper Derek Shelton and pitching coach Oscar Marin will need to maximize the potential of their young pitching staff that will be without Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer all season. The team’s struggles will only be compounded by a competitive NL Central division which leaves little room for error. – Ethan Fisher
28. Seattle Mariners
The Mariners, like many teams towards the bottom of these rankings, are looking primarily for steps forward from their young players this season. Mariners fans have had a lot to be excited about in summer training camp, with many prospects, led by Jarred Kelenic, performing very well over the course of the summer. With players like Kyle Lewis and Evan White cracking the roster, the Mariners will show a glimpse toward the future this season, but with a sub-par pitching staff they will very likely remain in the depths of AL West for at least one more year.
29. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers, unlike some other teams toward the bottom of the rankings, did make several moves over the offseason to bolster their lineup for 2020. The additions of C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop add some intrigue to a lineup that seriously lacked pop last season. While many of the players that will seriously contribute to the Tigers future still will not crack the roster at least by opening day, strong performances by players such as Riley Greene in training camp have given Tigers fans a positive glimpse of the future, even if it will take at least one more year of waiting to get there.
30. Baltimore Orioles
It’s difficult to rank a team whose opening day starter is Tommy Milone anywhere other than last barring a particularly strong lineup. The Orioles do not have a particularly strong lineup. The loss of Trey Mancini, one of the O’s best players from 2019, hurts as well. While one more year at the bottom of the rankings certainly doesn’t feel good, a shortened season is not too bad a year to be there.