Welcome to the Rotoworld MLB Power Rankings, which are supposed to run every week throughout the 2020 regular season. Unfortunately, Opening Day has yet to arrive due to the global coronavirus outbreak, and this season will be anything but regular once (if?) it does begin. For now, we wait ...
These rankings are not fantasy-driven in any way, but there is fantasy advice peppered within the individual team write-ups. Be healthy, be safe, and send any complaints to me on Twitter: @drewsilv.
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1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Whenever the 2020 season gets underway, the Dodgers should be a juggernaut. They've won seven straight NL West titles and acquired 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts from the Red Sox this winter to pair with 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger. Young ace Walker Buehler was going 17th overall in the average Yahoo draft this spring as the owner of a 2.98 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.3 K/9 in 319 1/3 innings since the beginning of 2018. There are some question marks in the bullpen, but closer Kenley Jansen flashed improved velocity in Cactus League play.
2. New York Yankees
Luis Severino will be sidelined until sometime in 2021 after requiring Tommy John surgery in late February, but the delayed start to the 2020 season will benefit other injured Yankees like James Paxton, Aaron Judge, and Giancarlo Stanton, who are dealing with more minor ailments and could all be active when Opening Day finally arrives. Gerrit Cole was brought in this winter on a record nine-year, $324 million contract after going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA, 0.895 WHIP, and 326/48 K/BB ratio over 212 1/3 regular-season innings last year in Houston.
3. Houston Astros
Before the coronavirus pandemic became the focal point of all media reports, the Astros were public enemy No. 1 in the baseball world and there was growing chatter about how the ire toward the team might affect the on-field product. No one is talking about sign stealing now, and the reigning American League champions may be able to fly a little more under the radar in the aftermath. The delay to the season should aid Justin Verlander, who underwent groin surgery on March 17, and will likely mean less of a workload restriction on Lance McCullers.
4. Washington Nationals
There is an argument to be made that the Nationals should be at the very top of these rankings given that they are the reigning World Series champs and nobody can say for certain that baseball will be played in 2020. But that would be overlooking the fact that third baseman Anthony Rendon departed as a free agent this winter after leading the team in wins above replacement (fWAR: 7.0, bWAR: 6.4) last season. The Nats do still have Trea Turner and Juan Soto, and a starting rotation led by Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin.
5. Minnesota Twins
Last year's Twins team set a new MLB record with a combined 307 home runs and the front office added Josh Donaldson to the mix this offseason on a four-year, $92 million free agent deal. The power-hitting third baseman managed to stay on the field in 2019 and posted a .900 OPS with 37 home runs and 94 RBI in 155 regular-season games with the Braves. A shortened season could be just what the doctor ordered for the oft-injured Miguel Sano, who put up a career-high 34 homers and a career-best .923 OPS in only 105 games last year.
6. Atlanta Braves
Ronald Acuna was going No. 1 overall in a good amount of fantasy drafts this spring after tallying 41 home runs, 101 RBI, 37 stolen bases, and 127 runs scored over 156 regular-season games last year at age 21. He fell just short of becoming only the fifth player in baseball history to log a 40-homer, 40-steal campaign. Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman are a couple of other fantasy darlings at the top of the Braves' lineup, and free agent addition Marcell Ozuna could be in for a bounceback after two relatively disappointing seasons in St. Louis.
7. Oakland Athletics
Oakland has earned 97 regular-season wins in back-to-back years, only to lose in the American League Wild Card Game. If the Astros stumble in 2020, the A's could be ready to pounce on the American League West crown and put themselves in better position for a lengthy postseason run. The lineup remains largely intact from 2019, and the pitching should be much improved as young guns Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk graduate into established major league starters. Puk suffered a shoulder strain in early March but has already resumed throwing.
8. Tampa Bay Rays
The lineup lacks star power, but it's a dynamic group that can take advantage of favorable platoon splits and make enough noise to support a lethal pitching staff led by Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow. One offensive standout is 24-year-old outfielder Austin Meadows, who was going 42nd overall in the average Yahoo draft this spring after batting .291/.364/.558 with 33 home runs, 89 RBI, 12 stolen bases, and 83 runs scored over 138 games last season. In fantasy, there's also a lot to like about presumptive closer Nick Anderson.
9. Cincinnati Reds
While most of the teams in the National League Central sat idle this offseason, the Reds had the bright idea to actually improve their roster. They signed potential leadoff man Shogo Akiyama out of Japan, brought in power-hitting second baseman Mike Moustakas, and worked out a four-year, $64 million contract with outfielder Nick Castellanos, who led all of Major League Baseball in doubles (58) last season and could be in for a huge spike in home runs now that he gets to play half of his games at Cincinnati's power-friendly Great American Ball Park.
10. St. Louis Cardinals
Despite ranking 21st among all MLB teams last year in OPS and losing Marcell Ozuna to free agency, the Cardinals made no significant upgrades to their offense this winter. The thinking could be that top outfield prospect Dylan Carlson will be ready to make an impact as soon as the 2020 regular season gets underway. Carlson, 21, hit .292/.372/.542 with 26 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 126 games last year between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis. He may be the future in St. Louis, along with young ace Jack Flaherty.
11. Chicago Cubs
There was some thought that the Cubs might blow things up this winter after failing to reach the playoffs in 2019, but the only major change was a managerial one, with David Ross replacing Joe Maddon as skipper. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, and Jason Heyward are all still on board, and Ian Happ looks like a possible post-hype breakout candidate as the new primary center fielder. Yu Darvish will try to build on the 2.76 ERA and 118/7 K/BB ratio that he posted over his final 13 starts (81 2/3 innings) last year.
12. Arizona Diamondbacks
Arizona flirted with National League Wild Card contention last season and addressed needs in the outfield and starting rotation this winter in acquiring Starling Marte from the Pirates and signing Madison Bumgarner to a five-year, $85 million free agent contract. Ketel Marte exploded to the tune of a .329/.389/.592 batting line with 32 home runs, 92 RBI, 10 stolen bases, and 97 runs scored over 144 games in 2019, finishing fourth in the NL MVP balloting. If he can come anywhere close to that pace in 2020, the Diamondbacks will be poised to surprise.
13. Philadelphia Phillies
The delay to Opening Day could prove helpful to the Phillies' lineup, as leadoff man Andrew McCutchen will get a couple extra months to rest and rehabilitate the ACL tear that cut short his 2019 campaign. He'll be setting the table ahead of J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Scott Kingery, and newcomer Didi Gregorius as Philly looks to improve what was a middle-of-the-pack offense a year ago. Top pitching prospect Spencer Howard could offer a big boost to a pitching staff that ranked 17th in combined ERA (4.53) last season.
14. Chicago White Sox
Baseball fans on the South Side of Chicago were all jazzed up for this White Sox team after the front office got aggressive over the offseason and brought in Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Nomar Mazara, and Edwin Encarnacion while also signing top-ranked outfield prospect Luis Robert to a pre-debut six-year contract extension that effectively nullifies any concerns about his service time. For now, the only game to play is the waiting game. Once the regular season finally begins, the Pale Hose could be fast risers in the AL Central.
15. Cleveland Indians
Mike Clevinger was set to open the 2020 regular season on the injured list after requiring surgery in mid-February for a partial tear of the medial meniscus in his left knee, but he should be 100 percent for what we'll call Opening Day 2.0 and he could turn out to be a great value in fantasy leagues that held their drafts in early-to-mid March. The 29-year-old right-hander registered a 2.71 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, and 169 strikeouts over 21 starts (126 innings) in 2019. There are some holes on the Indians' roster, but plenty of high-level talent remains, at least for now.