MLB Power Rankings: Dodgers have Mookie Betts, but Yankees have top spot entering spring training
A lot has changed since the final out in the 2019 World Series
As pitchers and catchers start to report for the 2020 season, let's quickly go back to the final day of the 2019 campaign. We saw the Astros lose Game 7 in Houston after Howie Kendrick's foul-pole shot became one of the most memorable home runs in World Series history. And for the first time in franchise history -- even including the Expos years -- the Washington Nationals were World Series champions.
But a lot has changed since the final out of the 2019 Fall Classic. The Nationals don't get to begin the rankings at the top, as people generally suggest to me every single year before the season starts. 2020 isn't 2019, folks.
As evidence for that, just look at the two participants from last year's World Series. Gerrit Cole left Houston for the Yankees. Anthony Rendon went from the world champs to the Angels. Off the field, the Astros went through one of the biggest scandals in recent memory and now have Dusty Baker as their manager. It's a drastically different baseball landscape.
With that in mind, we're going to reiterate that these rankings are for how the teams in baseball are currently constructed. For purposes of the rankings, I don't really care how last season ended up.
At the top, I have the Yankees, and it got me thinking: can we really call them the "Evil Empire" anymore? They haven't won the World Series since 2009. Since the last time the Yankees were even in the World Series ...
- The Giants have won it three times.
- The Red Sox won it twice.
- The Cubs won one!
- So did the Astros and Nationals.
- The Royals won two pennants and a World Series.
- Twelve different teams have won a pennant.
That's pretty remarkable, right? Go back to 2009 and imagine reading those bullet points. You'd be floored.
I have no doubt that despite this, the Yankees remain just as hated as almost any team (maybe the Astros and/or Red Sox have made up some ground, however).
Which means placing them at the top here is sure to ruffle some feathers. But hey, at least I didn't put the Astros at the top, right?
These rankings are for the start of spring training. There will be more transactions before Opening Day that these rankings don't account for. But please hold onto your good players, Cubs (Kris Bryant), Rockies (Nolan Arenado) and Indians (Francisco Lindor), so these rankings don't have too short of a shelf life.
|1||Yankees||This was actually a pretty easy pick. They won 103 games last year while being the most banged-up team in baseball and now Gerrit Cole fronts the rotation.||2||0-0|
|2||Dodgers||The butt of October jokes actually isn't too many plays away from being a dynasty. Baseball can be funny (or cruel, depending upon your point of view) that way. They are loaded again and all that's going to matter is October. It's kind of a shame.||2||0-0|
|3||Twins||What a late offseason surge with the Twins grabbing Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda.||3||0-0|
|4||Astros||Putting aside the concerns over the scandal, look at that rotation. It's worrisome, no? Justin Verlander is 37. Zack Greinke is 36. Lance McCullers is coming off Tommy John surgery. Jose Urquidy only has seven career starts and was removed from the rotation down the stretch. Then there's Brad Peacock, who is better suited in the bullpen. It's hard to see anyone beating them in the AL West, but an argument could be made based upon that rotation.||2||0-0|
|5||Braves||There have only been four 40-40 (HR-SB) seasons in history, with the most recent being Alfonso Soriano in 2006. I just felt like making that comment here, you know? It's a TOTAL coincidence.||4||0-0|
|6||Nationals||Truly a game of inches: What if Trent Grisham didn't misplay Juan Soto's single in the Wild Card Game? From likely wild card loss to World Series champs. Mercy.||5||0-0|
|7||Rays||Much of the "they had lots of injuries" talk rightfully centered around the Yankees, but the Rays didn't have great luck on that front last year, either. Better health should mitigate some backslide in performance.||2||0-0|
|8||Athletics||There's some sneaky-good upside in the rotation, should they get full seasons from Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas and Jesus Luzardo.||1||0-0|
|9||Indians||Whatever was going on with Jose Ramirez for the first 2 1/2 months last year is likely a thing of the past. In his final 56 games, he hit .325/.371/.703 with 21 doubles, 18 homers and 55 RBI.||2||0-0|
|10||Red Sox||Pretty frustrating to watch one of baseball's richest teams make salary-shedding moves one year removed from a World Series title.||4||0-0|
|11||Cubs||They were in playoff position with two weeks to go before falling apart. It was a majorly flawed team before that, sure, but a lot went wrong and maybe they actually needed the wakeup call. There's plenty of talent here.||2||0-0|
|12||Cardinals||The Cardinals were 10th in the NL in runs, 11th in average, ninth in OBP and 12th in slugging last year. They haven't added anyone from outside the organization that looks to improve on that while Marcell Ozuna is gone.||4||0-0|
|13||Mets||My guess is Edwin Diaz is a stud again and ends up one of the better closers in baseball.||1||0-0|
|14||Diamondbacks||I really love the fit with Starling Marte here and leading off the game with a Marte-Marte combo is pretty fun.||1||0-0|
|15||Brewers||Behind Brandon Woodruff, that's a pretty worrisome rotation, but we've seen too much Craig Counsell magic to put them any lower.||5||0-0|
|16||Phillies||I feel like there's a lot of variable here. I could see them as a division winner or finishing in fourth place in the NL East. The offense should, in theory, be pretty strong.||--||0-0|
|17||Reds||Here will be the most popular pick in the NL as a breakout team, but there are plenty of questions. I do consider them a contender.||2||0-0|
|18||White Sox||Here's the popular AL breakout pick. They will, at a bare minimum, be very fun to watch on offense.||3||0-0|
|19||Angels||Pretty bummed the trade for Ross Stripling and Joc Pederson didn't work. That would've been such a great deal for the Halos.||1||0-0|
|20||Padres||They didn't get to make a huge splash (yet?) this offseason, but there are plenty of reasons to believe they'll improve internally this season. Plus, Tommy Pham is a very good addition.||4||0-0|
|21||Blue Jays||Behind Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel and Vladimir Guerrero, this will also be a very fun offensive team.||5||0-0|
|22||Rangers||Joey Gallo, sleeper MVP pick.||4||0-0|
|23||Rockies||It's always a good idea to piss off your superstar in the offseason, one year after signing him to a long-term deal, right?||1||0-0|
|24||Giants||As things stand, the Giants appear to be heading to the season with four platoons in the lineup. That's at least mildly interesting, isn't it?||7||0-0|
|25||Royals||The front office's refusal to seemingly even discuss a Whit Merrifield trade is mind-boggling. He's 31 years old and they are several years away from contention. They could get a veritable killing for him.||2||0-0|
|26||Mariners||Dan Vogelbach through May 20: .270/.400/.659 with 14 homers in 155 plate appearances. The rest of the season: .185/.318/.357 with 16 homers in 403 plate appearances. One side of that is a much bigger sample, so it's pretty worrisome.||1||0-0|
|27||Marlins||I really like the Corey Dickerson and Jesus Aguilar additions for credibility. They'll still probably lose the most games of any NL team, but it's a tough division.||1||0-0|
|28||Pirates||Pirates fans deserve better than this. Sell the team, Bob Nutting.||5||0-0|
|29||Tigers||We might see Casey Mize in the majors this year. Woo!||1||0-0|
|30||Orioles||The last time this franchise had three-straight 100-loss seasons was when it was the St. Louis Browns. They hit triple digits in losses 1910-12. It's gonna happen from 2018-20, too.||1||0-0|
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