After a wild and eventful 60 game sprint, we’ve arrived at the end of the most unique regular season we may ever see as baseball fans. As such, it’s an appropriate time to review the power rankings of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams with what we’ve learned in this season, even if we may acknowledge that these results are not necessarily representative of how these teams would perform over a full 162 games.
While the playoffs have been decided and the top 16 teams here are the 16 teams that made it, they are notably ranked differently from their playoff seeding. These rankings aim to rank teams based on those that are better rather than those that performed better this season.
With that in mind, let’s jump right into our final power rankings before the 2020 playoffs.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (Opening Day Rank: 1; -)
It was tough to bet against the Dodgers this season, and they spent all year proving why. They finish the year with a 43-17 record that is bolstered by an absurd +136 run differential. Only two other teams in baseball have a positive run differential that is at least half that of the Dodgers. The Dodgers are an incredible 20-9 record at home and even better at 22-8 on the road, and they have a winning record against all nine of their opponents this season. Regardless of what happens in a three game Wild Card playoff series, this is the best team in baseball.
- Tampa Bay Rays (Opening Day Rank: 4; ↑2)
As evidenced by their opening day ranking, the Rays came out looking like one of baseball’s best teams and have backed that up, working to secure baseball’s second best record and 40 wins. Tampa has survived severe injuries to their pitching staff to capture the AL East over the Yankees, and while their run differential suggests they may have overperformed some, that can certainly be attributable to their bullpen, which leads MLB in bullpen fWAR and has helped lock down close games. The team’s biggest concern was offense, and they scored more runs than a Twins offense which broke the MLB record for home runs in a season just a year ago. The Rays are very good. (They even managed to acquire some prospects at the trade deadline this year, because Rays gonna Rays.)
- San Diego Padres (Opening Day Rank: 19; ↑16)
No, that’s not a typo; the Padres jumped up 16 spots from their Opening Day rankings. If anything, that’s our fault for having them so low. The Padres had all the potential to be a great team, and then they saw breakout seasons from Trent Grisham, Jake Cronenworth and Dinelson Lamet and supplemented their roster considerably with the additions of Mike Clevinger, Trevor Rosenthal, Austin Nola, and more at the trade deadline. The Padres seem to have dodged a bullet with both Clevinger and Lamet’s recent injuries being very minor, and they are legitimately stacked headed into the postseason.
- New York Yankees (Opening Day Rank 2; ↓2)
The Yankees have had a very up and down season, struggling in the middle of the year before becoming blazing hot as the season moved into its final weeks. Their lineup looks as dangerous as ever with MLB home run leader Luke Voit leading the charge and DJ LeMahieu continuing to be great this year (oh, and those Judge and Stanton guys), and they have Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka anchoring things on the pitching side, in case you forgot. Pitching could certainly be the Yankees downfall, but they’re as dangerous as any team in baseball.
- Oakland Athletics (Opening Day Rank: 7; ↑2)
The A’s were consistent more than anything this season, holding on to the lead in the AL West all season in order to clinch the division title. They have four starting pitchers who have pitched to above average results and a solid bullpen that’s anchored by Liam Hendriks, who has been among the best relievers in baseball. The loss of Matt Chapman for the season was huge, though, and without Marcus Semien, Matt Olson or Khris Davis producing offensively like they have in recent years, the offense is certainly a question mark approaching the playoffs.
- Chicago White Sox (Opening Day Rank: 15; ↑9)
I think it’s fair to say that the White Sox exceeded most expectations (they certainly exceeded ours) en route to a 35-25 record and a tie for second place in the AL Central. While the team has hit a bit of a skid to close out the season, it speaks to how hot they got that they will still finish with so many wins, and so much confidence, entering the postseason. Lucas Giolito has been great, Dallas Keuchel is everything they hoped he would be, and the offense has demonstrated an absurd ability to punish lefties, as the team won all fourteen games they played against a left-handed starting pitcher this season. These White Sox are legit.
- Minnesota Twins (Opening Day Rank: 5; ↓2)
The Twins certainly haven’t disappointed this year, and if anything they’ve moved down in the rankings only because other teams have looked so good. In addition, they’re a virtual tie with the White Sox here and a game ahead in the standings. Their offense has taken a step back, but the offensive talent is still there and their pitching staff has been among the best in baseball with the second fewest runs allowed. The only thing that is uncertain is their first round opponent, and Minnesota will match up well regardless of who that is.
- Atlanta Braves (Opening Day Rank: 6; ↓2)
The Braves are testing the limit of how good a team can be with hardly any starting pitching. Three of their best rotation options to start the season are all out or uncertain for the playoffs, with Cole Hamels getting reinjured upon his return, Mike Soroka suffering an untimely Achilles tendon tear early in the year, and Max Fried struggling to remain healthy as the postseason approaches. The lineup absolutely mashes, though, with four position players over 2.0 fWAR (hello, Dansby Swanson) and Freddie Freeman running away with the NL MVP award after an obscene year. Anything can happen with this offense, but also anything can happen with such a shaky pitching staff in a series where one close game can decide a team’s fate.
- Cleveland Indians (Opening Day Rank: 11; ↑2)
The Indians seem to have an innate ability to develop good pitching. They have baseball’s best K/BB rate, with 0.4 more strikeouts for every walk than any other team, to go along with an 11.4 fWAR total that is 1.6 wins better than any other pitching staff in baseball. Shane Bieber has led the charge, but Carlos Carrasco, Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale have combined to make a very deep rotation that’s backed up by a great bullpen. The Indians have seven(!) pitchers that have thrown at least 10 innings and have an ERA under 3. There are legitimate concerns about a lineup in which Jose Ramirez has been the only legitimate producer, but they do still have Francisco Lindor, and if their opponents can’t score many runs the Indians will be tough to beat.
- Chicago Cubs (Opening Day Rank: 13; ↑3)
The Cubs have continued a troubling trend in recent years of their offense struggling late in the season. After a 13-3 start, the Cubs have a team wRC+ of 91 on the year which is down to 76 in the month of September (and that’s after scoring 25 runs in their most recent three games). The pitching staff has exceeded expectations, with Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks presenting a strong 1-2 in the rotation that makes the Cubs look good in a best of three series. Quality pitching depth is more of a concern with the Cubs than many other teams, and especially if the offense continues to struggle putting runs on the board this may become obvious in October. The Cubs are capable of getting hot, though, and it’s easy to forget that much of their roster has postseason experience under their belts.
- Houston Astros (Opening Day Rank: 3; ↓8)
The Astros certainly underwhelmed this season after suffering two of the biggest individual player losses of any team in Justin Verlander and Yordan Alvarez, and they’ve also taken a step back on both sides of the ball from their excellent seasons as recent as last year. Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve all saw offensive regression, and the Astros have had one of baseball’s worst defenses. They come into the playoffs with a losing record, but the most important thing is that they’ve made it at all – anything can happen now.
- Cincinnati Reds (Opening Day Rank: 10; ↓2)
The Reds were many people’s favorite pick in the NL Central, and they capitalized on a hot streak late in the season to capture the seventh seed in the National League. They looked like they would benefit from a strong starting rotation, and they did exactly that with the lowest FIP and highest fWAR from starting pitchers of all teams in baseball this season. This speaks to their ability to contend in the postseason, as pitching will be paramount. Still, they don’t have the deepest bullpen by any means, and they’ll hope for more production from a lineup that finished the season with the lowest batting average of any team in baseball.
- Toronto Blue Jays (Opening Day Rank: 21; ↑8)
The Blue Jays grabbed the eighth AL playoff spot with a solid 32-28 record that ends their season with a better record than all of the bottom four playoff teams in the National League. Still, the Blue Jays have an uphill climb in the playoffs with the most runs allowed of any playoff team and one of only three negative run differentials among playoff teams. They’ve certainly benefited from the expanded playoffs, and their next task is proving that they belong.
- St. Louis Cardinals (Opening Day Rank: 14; -)
It’s been quite a season for the Cardinals, with a long stretch of many games that included 19 games played over the last two weeks of the season. The Cardinals held on to a playoff spot throughout that time, grabbing the fifth seed in the National League for a date with the Padres in the Wild Card round. The Cardinals have hardly excelled anywhere like some of the best teams in baseball, but they have a solid +11 run differential that suggests that they are indeed a good team, and it’s hard to overstate that any team has a chance in these playoffs.
- Miami Marlins (Opening Day Rank: 26; ↑11)
The Marlins had a very similar season to the Cardinals, with an early season COVID outbreak putting their season, and their hopes of contending, on the ropes. Instead of surrendering, though, the Marlins got hot down the stretch en route to exceeding most expectations and capturing their first playoff berth since 2003. There are some troubling statistics about this team, including a -41 run differential, a team wRC+ of 95 and the second most runs allowed in the playoffs, but what this team still lacks in depth they make up for in youth and energy, and a postseason berth speaks for itself.
- Milwaukee Brewers (Opening Day Rank: 17; ↑1)
The Brewers are perhaps the most interesting of all playoff teams, having stuck around just enough to capture a playoff spot despite never once exceeding a .500 record in 2020. It’s arguable that such a team doesn’t deserve a playoff berth, but the Brewers still have many talented players on their roster, including young talents Devin Williams and Keston Hiura as well as that Christian Yelich guy, in case you forgot about him. Williams and Corbin Burnes were revelations for the Brew Crew in 2020, but the loss of Burnes for at least the Wild Card round means the Brewers have a steep uphill climb to make it deeper into the playoffs.
- Philadelphia Phillies (Opening Day Rank: 18; ↑1)
The Phillies suffered one of the worst fates imaginable, ultimately controlling their destiny coming into the last series of the season (even coming off a rest day before the series) and getting swept to miss out on the playoffs. Still, Bryce Harper was very good this year, Aaron Nola showed that he wasn’t a one hit wonder, and Alec Bohm was a great rookie. It’s helpful that their next steps are obvious: re-sign J.T. Realmuto and fix that dang bullpen, which tied for the league lead in blown saves with 14. It’s not helpful that fixing that dang bullpen seems impossible.
- San Francisco Giants (Opening Day Rank: 24; ↑6)
The Giants suffered an equally cruel fate, ultimately losing all of their last three games when just one win would have put them into the playoffs as well. They also suffered at the hands of their bullpen, with 11 blown saves on the season. Still, it was a fun season where the Giants were better than most expected, especially because the majority of their production came from Mike Yastrzemski. With only four players that produced at least 0.5 fWAR for the Giants this year being under 28 years old, it’s questionable how many of these players will still be around the next time the Giants are truly contenders, but they’ll certainly be interesting to watch in a competitive NL West next year.
- Los Angeles Angels (Opening Day Rank: 11; ↓8)
The primary concern for the Angels this season was always whether they had enough pitching depth, and they proved that they did not as one of the first AL teams out of the playoffs. The Angels had one of the best offenses of any non-playoff team, but were outpitched by every team that did make the playoffs, struggling to gain enough momentum to recover from a poor start. They’re the team with whom the Phillies tied for the league lead in blown saves with 14, in case you were wondering. Still, that offense isn’t going anywhere, providing hope for the years to come.
- New York Mets (Opening Day Rank: 9; ↓11)
In case you didn’t notice, the Mets, along with the Angels above them and Nationals below them, are the teams whose struggles were borderline confounding in 2020 after being projected to do much better. It’s hard to argue that the Mets regressed offensively, with five players that exceeded both 180 plate appearances and a 130 wRC+, but their pitching, especially their starting rotation, struggled mightily. That’s potentially an easy fix with Jacob deGrom at the front of the rotation and Edwin Diaz in the bullpen, but for this year it didn’t spell success for the Mets.
- Washington Nationals (Opening Day Rank: 8; ↓13)
Perhaps this ranking, and their place in the standings, doesn’t do the Nationals justice. The defending World Series champs saw Trea Turner post one of the best offensive seasons by a shortstop in recent memory and Juan Soto post one of the best offensive seasons period. The team’s -8 run differential suggests that they likely could have been a few wins better, but at best that would have them right on the fringe of a playoff spot. It’s unfortunate that their two best starters had two of the highest BABIPs of any pitchers in baseball, but sometimes that’s the way things go.
- Seattle Mariners (Opening Day Rank: 28; ↑6)
The Mariners had a lot to be excited about this year, exceeding expectations and coming close to a playoff spot in the AL West. Kyle Lewis is the AL Rookie of the Year frontrunner, and Marco Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi indicated that they’re quality rotation options for the future. The Mariners demonstrated that they’ve got the talent to contend with an AL West that now appears fairly open in the coming years, and they’ve still yet to call up Jarred Kelenic and dip into one of baseball’s better farm systems.
- Baltimore Orioles (Opening Day Rank: 30; ↑7)
The Orioles also contended more than many expected, avoiding another last place finish and even staying in the race for a playoff spot for part of the season. Anthony Santander and Ryan Mountcastle are both 25 or younger and had solid offensive years, and the Orioles are in the process of building up a solid team themselves in the near future.
- Kansas City Royals (Opening Day Rank: 25; ↑1)
The Royals slightly exceeded expectations and are another team that’s coming out of 2020 with hope for the future. Josh Staumont demonstrated the stuff to anchor a bullpen for a while, Salvador Perez showed that he still has life after a year off due to injury, Brad Keller and Brady Singer are two young pitchers that appear to be legit rotation options for the next several years, and Adalberto Mondesi immediately went from one of the worst hitters in baseball to one of the best hitters with three weeks to go in the season.
- Detroit Tigers (Opening Day Rank: 29; ↑4)
The Tigers saw a lot of position players in 2020, and one of the most welcome developments was Jeimer Candelario showing that he can be a legit starter in a good offensive lineup. The pitching was still rocky, but debuts from Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal gave the first looks of the future that’s on the horizon in Detroit, and Gregory Soto showed that he has legitimate potential out of the bullpen. This is certainly a team on the rise, and they will likely only continue to improve next year.
- Colorado Rockies (Opening Day Rank: 23; ↓3)
The Rockies were one of baseball’s hottest teams out of the gate but struggled severely down the stretch to finish with a 26-34 record and one of the worst run differentials in baseball. The loss of Nolan Arenado for the year put a cap on a frustrating season down the stretch in Denver, but the Rockies’ struggles really started with a pitching staff that allowed the most runs in baseball.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (Opening Day Rank: 16; ↓11)
The Diamondbacks were one of the most disappointing teams in 2020, with Ketel Marte taking a major step back from his excellent 2019 season and Madison Bumgarner showing alarmingly poor performance and peripherals in his first season in Arizona. The struggles of young starter Luke Weaver also meant that the rotation wasn’t nearly as formidable as the team had hoped, and while they weren’t awful on either side of the ball, the Diamondbacks just didn’t really stand out in any way. They return all of their roster except for Jon Jay and Mike Leake, though, and have the payroll space to make some noise coming into 2021 with a talented roster assembled already.
- Boston Red Sox (Opening Day Rank: 20; ↓8)
It’s impressive that the Red Sox ended up this low considering the strength of their offense, which still has Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo. Indeed, Boston scored more runs than ten of the 16 playoff teams, but their pitching allowed the second most runs in baseball. That pitching staff will need to be the focus in order for Boston to capitalize on the position player core that they still maintain, but the pitching staff still has a long way to go.
- Texas Rangers (Opening Day Rank: 22; ↓7)
The Rangers bucked the trend of having poor pitching among most teams that disappointed in 2020 and instead had very poor offense. The Rangers finished as the only team that received negative value from their position players (by fWAR) with a league worst 67 wRC+ as a team (for comparison, Kris Bryant, who struggled mightily this season and ended up with a slash line of .206/.293/.351, had a wRC+ of 76). Joey Gallo’s offense mysteriously disappeared, and the absence of Corey Kluber and regression of Mike Minor meant that the pitching staff was not nearly equipped to compensate for the lack of offense. The Rangers have their work cut out for them to compete with fans in their new ballpark for the first time in 2021.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (Opening Day Rank: 27; ↓3)
Finally, we have the Pirates, who finished with three fewer wins than any other team in baseball. Ultimately, the Pirates did see promise towards the end of the season, most notably from rookie third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who managed to become a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate in just 24 games. The Pirates saw some strong pitching performances towards the end of the season as well, with Steven Brault showing legitimate rotation potential, among others. Still, the offense was very poor all season, and the bullpen was certainly no marvel. The Pirates still have their work cut out before they truly ascend and compete once again.
How do you rank the teams after a 60 game season? Let us know on Twitter, and be sure to follow along for postseason coverage as well!