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.
16. San Diego Padres
It could be a couple more months before the Padres' old-meets-new, new-meets-old brown and mustard jerseys are put on display in meaningful games. And what a shame that is. One positive for the Padres in baseball's COVID-19 delay is that there should be no workload limit on Dinelson Lamet in his first "full" season back from Tommy John surgery. Lamet struck out 33.6 percent of the batters he faced last year, better than any starter that threw 70-plus innings except Gerrit Cole, Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Mike Clevinger.
17. New York Mets
With the bad news dropping Tuesday that Noah Syndergaard needs Tommy John reconstructive surgery on his right elbow, the Mets no longer feel like a sure-fire contender. Jacob deGrom has claimed back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards and Marcus Stroman had an encouraging showing in the Grapefruit League this spring, but the bottom portion of the club's starting rotation -- Rick Porcello, Steven Matz, Michael Wacha -- looks rather underwhelming sans Syndergaard, who probably won't be fully recovered until the middle of the 2021 campaign.
18. Los Angeles Angels
Anthony Rendon was signed to a massive seven-year, $245 million free agent contract in December and could threaten for the RBI crown hitting behind Mike Trout, but the Angels ranked 25th in combined team ERA (5.12) last year and didn't do enough to address that issue. Julio Teheran, brought in on a one-year, $9 million deal, has issued 80-plus walks in consecutive seasons and was clocked at a career-low 89.7 mph average fastball velocity in 2019. Dylan Bundy, acquired in a trade from the Orioles, owns a rough 5.13 ERA and 1.38 WHIP over his last 61 starts.
19. Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee just locked up Christian Yelich to a new contract extension that could potentially run through 2029 and Keston Hiura has the skillset to be one of the top second basemen in fantasy baseball in his first "full" major league season, but the Brewers' roster on the whole lacks depth, especially on the pitching side. Beyond intriguing starter Brandon Woodruff and dominant closer Josh Hader, there's not much to like. This team won 89 games in 2019 despite a run differential (+3) that ranked 15th in MLB, and the overall depth chart got worse over the winter.
20. Texas Rangers
Globe Life Field, the Rangers' new retractable-roof stadium in Arlington, Texas, was all set to open on March 31 before the coronavirus began spreading throughout North America. The belief is that it will play a bit more pitcher-friendly than Globe Life Park, the Rangers' old stadium, because of the controlled climate within. But it's hard to know for sure until baseballs begin flying. Corey Kluber was brought in this winter via trade from the Indians and will try to bounce back in 2020 after posting a 5.80 ERA over just seven starts last season with Cleveland.
21. Toronto Blue Jays
Like the White Sox, there is a lot of buzz around the Blue Jays because of their budding young talent. Unlike the White Sox, the Jays are probably still a year or two away from contending for the postseason. Free agent addition Hyun-Jin Ryu can give Toronto a true ace, especially in a shortened season that won't challenge his durability quite as much, but the rest of the rotation is lacking. Bo Bichette was a popular early-round pick in fantasy drafts this spring after batting .311/.358/.571 with 11 homers and four stolen bases over his first 46 major league games in 2019.
22. Boston Red Sox
First the Red Sox traded one of the best players they have ever drafted and developed in Mookie Betts, then word came down in mid-March that staff ace Chris Sale needs Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and will be sidelined through the early part of 2021. It has been a rough couple of months in Boston, what with Tom Brady also leaving the Patriots. There is still some firepower in the Red Sox lineup between Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Andrew Benintendi, but the starting pitching looks highly suspect beyond Eduardo Rodriguez.
23. Colorado Rockies
Will there be a trade deadline this year? And if so, when will it be? Those are questions that Rockies GM Jeff Bridich must be asking himself after feuding publicly and privately this winter with star third baseman Nolan Arenado, who has made it clear that he wants out of Colorado if the roster around him is not improved. The offense looks stout, but there's little to suggest we'll see a significant turnaround from a Rockies pitching staff that registered a combined 5.56 ERA last season. Only the Orioles fared worse among MLB clubs with their combined ERA of 5.59.
24. Miami Marlins
Derek Jeter and Co. made some much-needed offensive upgrades over the offseason, bringing in Jonathan Villar, Corey Dickerson, and Jesus Aguilar, but those three aren't exactly standings-changers and the Marlins project to finish at the very bottom of the National League East for the third straight year. One hitter in Miami who could offer sneaky-good value in deeper fantasy formats is 30-year-old speedster Jon Berti, who tallied 17 stolen bases in just 73 games (60 starts) last season and is eligible as a third baseman, shortstop, and outfielder on Yahoo.
25. Kansas City Royals
The ongoing regular-season delay will be helpful to fleet-footed shortstop Adalberto Mondesi, who was questionable for baseball's originally-scheduled start date after requiring surgery last October to repair labrum damage in his left shoulder. Mondesi stole 43 bases in 102 games last summer and the 24-year-old is capable of pacing all of MLB in that category in 2020. He was going 49th overall in the average Yahoo league this spring, before fantasy draft season was largely put on hold when camps were closed due to growing coronavirus concerns.
26. San Francisco Giants
Madison Bumgarner is gone and Buster Posey is a shell of his former self. After winning three World Series titles in the 2010s, the Giants project to begin the new decade with a whimper. For evidence of this, look to the fact that Kevin Gausman, signed to a one-year free agent deal in December, is the highest-ranked Giants player on Matthew Pouliot's Top 300 in the Rotoworld Draft Guide at 221st overall. Gausman posted an ugly 5.72 ERA in 102 1/3 innings last year between the Braves and Reds, but he'll be in a pitcher-friendly home park for the first time in his career.
27. Seattle Mariners
Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners' hyperactive general manager, must be clawing at the walls in his home with the coronavirus pandemic effectively putting a pause on roster moves. Seattle suited up a record-breaking 67 different players in 2019, and there is still much restructuring to do before the Mariners can be taken seriously in the AL West. It's unclear how a shortened season will affect the ETA of top outfield prospect Jarred Kelenic, who was acquired from the Mets in the Edwin Diaz trade and put up a .904 OPS with 23 homers and 20 steals over 117 games last year in the minors.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates
It's easy to forget now that the Pirates were in the National League Wild Card hunt -- and even the National League Central hunt -- as late as mid-July last year. They managed only 25 wins over their final 73 games and then cleaned house at the conclusion of the 2019 season, canning manager Clint Hurdle, general manager Neal Huntington, and president Frank Coonelly. Ben Cherington and Travis Williams, the new lead decision-makers in Pittsburgh's front office, will try to negotiate choppy waters in 2020 and jumpstart a top-to-bottom organizational rebuild.
29. Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera was the talk of the Grapefruit League for a period of time this spring as he slashed .345/.406/.690 with three home runs across 29 total at-bats. The soon-to-be 37-year-old slugger has not aged gracefully, but maybe he has one more burst in him as he enters the sixth year of an ill-advised eight-year, $240 million contract extension signed back in March 2014. Cabrera is still owed a whopping $124 million and the rebuilding Tigers probably won't be able to find a trade partner for him even if his strong showing in the spring carries over into a fruitful summer.
30. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles finished with a wretched -252 run differential in 2019 and shed their most productive player from last year, Jonathan Villar, to avoid paying him a raise in salary arbitration. The commitment to tanking in Baltimore is both awe-inspiring and eye-roll-inducing. On top of the departure of Villar, the second-most-productive player from last year's Orioles team, Trey Mancini, underwent surgery in early March to remove a malignant tumor from his colon. It's unclear whether Mancini will be an active player for the O's when the 2020 regular season finally begins.