Don't look now, folks, but we've almost made it. Meaningful Major League Baseball games will be played Thursday, July 23, 2020 for the first time since October 30, 2019.
What follows is the weirdest baseball season anyone alive will ever experience. There will only be 60 games. There's a DH in every game. Teams aren't leaving their regions, so we'll get more interleague games than something like Dodgers vs. Cardinals. Extra innings will feature a runner starting on second. Oh, and there won't be fans. Even if there eventually are fans, they'll likely only allow like 20 percent capacity and make fans social distance. Basically, every game is going to look like it's at Marlins Park.
Again, it's going to be the weirdest thing we've ever seen.
And yet, I find myself more excited than ever. We have never really been seriously faced with "what does our world look like without Major League Baseball?" Sure, there have been strikes and lockouts, but those were always going to be resolved. This situation, we were never sure there was going to be a 2020 baseball season and we were powerless as we watched things unfold for four months.
This coming Thursday, Gerrit Cole will toe the slab donning a Yankees uniform to take on the defending champion Washington Nationals in our nation's capital. In a year where we could all agree nearly everything has sucked, I'm downright giddy to watch that first pitch and realize, "yes, this is it. It's finally baseball season again."
With that season comes my being tasked with weekly power rankings. There isn't much movement at all here since I last put this together, but there have been some opt-outs that matter and sometimes I simply change my mind. Let's get to it.
|Who is gonna pull an Urshela and come from outta nowhere to have a big year? Matt Duffy? Chris Iannetta?||--||33-27|
|The David Price opt out does hurt a bit, but the Dodgers still have plenty of rotation depth, even after losing Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda from last season. The organizational depth here is just incredible.||--||43-17|
|Marcus Semien in a walk year, Ramon Laureano continuing to make strides, Matt Chapman's MVP-caliber play, Khris Davis' bounce-back coming and Matt Olson's power. I love this team this year.||--||36-24|
|Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow have the ability to be the top 1-2-3 rotation punch in baseball.||--||40-20|
|The ageless Nelson Cruz is as good a bet as any to lead the league in homers in this sprint. Could he hit 20? He clubbed 41 in 120 games last year. He hit 24 in his last 54 games.||--||36-24|
|Looks like Freddie Freeman is going to make it back healthy for the start of the season. Good news. It's a shame on the Yasiel Puig deal, though. That could have been an all-world outfield in terms of fun.||1||35-25|
|While lots of people (likely rightfully, I might add) focus on how the cheating scandal will affect the offense, let's not walk away without noting the bust potential on the pitching staff. Their two aces are 36 and 37, respectively, followed by a guy coming off Tommy John surgery (Lance McCullers) and a host of unknowns. The bullpen isn't very deep, either. I can't go any lower just yet, but if pressed to make a "bust" pick among AL titans, it's the Astros.||1||29-31|
|Does it matter how well players are playing in the summer camp games? I ask because Willson Contreras is all kinds of locked in at the plate. Take from that what you will.||--||34-26|
|If the Astros are my "bust alert" warning label team in the AL, their World Series counterpart lands there for me in the NL. They haven't replaced Anthony Rendon and there's only so much a trio of aces can do in this regular season.||--||26-34|
|A trendy playoff pick that makes a lot of sense to me. We need to see them turn the corner, though. It can't just happen on paper.||1||31-29|
|Is Matt Carpenter done? Did Paul Goldschmidt hit his age-related decline? This offense is worrisome.||1||30-28|
|When Jacob deGrom was removed from a summer camp game after one inning with an injury, I imagine a lot of Queens residents went into panic mode. They can't go anywhere without him, even with him only impacting one out of every five games.||--||26-34|
|I sense this is the last gasp with this nucleus. Surely their owners will again cry poor in the offseason after not having fans and that means trading Francisco Lindor.||1||35-25|
|I have a penchant for talking myself into teams and readily admit that. I've done so with this Padres team. I'm convinced they are strong contenders throughout this season.||4||37-23|
|Trout, Rendon, Ohtani is as fun a 2-3-4 in any order in baseball. Can we please add Jo Adell to that mix soon, Halos? Please?||2||26-34|
|Now that we're getting closer to actual games, I started to think back to some discussions I had with scouts during spring training. One name came up again and again when discussing possible breakout stars in 2020: Zac Gallen. Take from that what you will.||--||25-35|
|They seem a pretty sure bet to crush the ball. Will they pitch and play defense well enough to make a playoff run?||2||35-25|
|The team that just two seasons ago was one of the best in MLB history now has a rotation that will leave casual fans saying "who?"||1||24-36|
|I just don't think they are very good, but they've proven me wrong multiple times in the past.||1||29-31|
|If the Padres are my NL sneaky sleeper special, consider the Rangers my AL version. A good Corey Kluber gives them such a strong top three in the rotation along with Mike Minor and Lance Lynn and Joey Gallo has MVP upside.||1||22-38|
|Gut feeling? Bryce Harper explodes this year and is right in the middle of MVP discussions.||--||28-32|
|A popular sleeper pick who I'm really going to enjoy watching on offense, but the pitching depth just isn't there for me.||--||32-28|
|I could be talked into the Pirates as contenders this year, but they sure could've used a healthy and right Gregory Polanco.||2||19-41|
|I have no faith at all in their bullpen, the backward movement of the rotation last year in general was worrisome and they basically have three good offensive players. Not much to like.||--||26-34|
|Madison Bumgarner is gone. So is Bruce Bochy. Buster Posey has opted out. Things are going to look awfully weird in San Francisco.||2||29-31|
|Jarred Kelenic has looked pretty strong in summer camp and would be a decent Rookie of the Year prediction if the Mariners would promote him to the majors. Let's hope they do. Regardless, this is the spot where I stop accepting arguments for a team to be a contender. The Mariners won't be nor will the four teams that follow.||1||27-33|
|Top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez had a 2.53 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 103 innings at Double-A last season. Call him up, Marlins. Do it!||1||31-29|
|I'm sure Royals fans will be excited to see Salvador Perez back behind the dish. He does have great impact on his pitchers. He's also gotten on base at a dreadful .285 clip the last five seasons.||--||26-34|
|There is very little reason to deprive the rotation of Casey Mize, but it looks like that's the plan. Sigh.||--||23-35|
|One of their only good players, starting pitcher John Means, is dealing with "dead arm." Things are once again off to a roaring start in Baltimore!||--||25-35|