MLB Power Rankings: Who's the best team in each region? Yankees rule East; Astros, Dodgers battle in West
MLB's proposal has teams playing a 'regional' 82-game schedule in an abbreviated season
We don't know exactly what the 2020 MLB season is going to look like just yet, but signs point to us getting one. MLB owners MLB's proposal would have teams play an 82-game "regional" schedule.and submitted it to the players union as the two sides try to find a way to play an abbreviated season. While safety protocols and player salaries are the two biggest issues,
That means the two East divisions would play each other, as would the Central and West. The traditional format of two leagues and six divisions would remain, but a regional schedule would essentially mean a team's slate would only feature nine different regular season opponents.if there is a 2020 season.
Here are some of the bigger storylines from the combined regions:
The East is loaded
Here are SportsLine's win total projections for some teams in the East before the 2020 season got shutdown:
The Blue Jays are likely to be improved from last season, too. There's only so much beating up that can be done on the poor Orioles and Marlins, so the seven average or better teams will do a lot of beating up on each other.
AL Central powers take a hit
The Twins won 100 games last season, but they were 41-16 against the Royals, Tigers and White Sox. The Indians won 93 games, but they were a ridiculous 18-1(!) against the Tigers and 12-7 against the Royals. Now, the White Sox are bound to be better -- maybe significantly so, but we can't be sure -- but the Royals and Tigers aren't. Enter the NL Central with four likely contenders in the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers and Reds, and things get a lot tougher for the Twins and Indians.
Dodgers have company, but West is still top heavy
Every single projection system there is has the Dodgers running away with the NL West from the get go. SportsLine had them winning the division by 20 games. The projection also had the Astros winning 97 games and the Athletics winning 91. Now, it does look like there's a big drop off after those three West powers, but we can't ignore the possibility that someone from the Angels, Rangers, Padres, Diamondbacks group could break through.
Now, let's power rank each region, 1-10. Good mix, right?
|They were my number one when I ranked all 30, so there's no need to get cute here. Also of note, the extended break is going to help with their injury woes. Only Luis Severino won't be recovered.|
|Count me in the group that thinks there's still another gear coming from Ronald Acuna. In fact, let's throw this out there: He's going to win the MVP in 2020. Wait. The leagues could still be combined, and I can't pick against Mike Trout ... Acuna will finish in the top three of MVP voting! I'm nothing if not bold.|
|There is no team better equipped on how to deploy its pitching staff in a short season after a short (second) "spring" training with an expanded roster.|
|Note the shortened second spring and now apply it to how much it hurts the reigning champs with their three aces and a relatively thin bullpen. Also, I worry about the infield beside Trea Turner.|
|You know we're heading on a path to get 100 percent (at the plate) full-time designated hitter Yoenis Cespedes, right?|
|Andrew McCutchen back at the top of the order makes a big difference, but they could sure use a lot more from Rhys Hoskins. Also, here's my pick to sign Yasiel Puig as a DH. Do it!|
|The shorter the season, the less they are punished for dealing Mookie Betts. Life ain't fair. Well, maybe it is. Their current rotation looks dreadful.|
|They really need a season, because it's a crucial year of development for all their young position player studs.|
|I really liked them adding cheap veterans like Jesus Aguilar, Jonathan Villar and Corey Dickerson to the mix. They'll be a little more competitive but still not very good.|
|The shorter the season and the more teams that make the playoffs increase the chances of a fluky run, I guess.|
|This is a provisional pick, because so much of that power surge last season seems like it can't be replicated. Mitch Garver never hit more than 17 homers in a season in the minors. He hit seven in 302 MLB at-bats in 2018. He hit 31 in 311 at-bats last season. See what I mean? I can't put anyone else at the top for now, though.|
|We have a gigantic blob here. I think you could justify the Cubs, Cardinals, Reds, Brewers or Indians as the pick for No. 2. I'll go Cubs because I think they have the most overall talent of the group and them falling apart down the stretch was partially due to the stale message from Joe Maddon. I think David Ross makes a difference. Some projection models agree with this pick, too. Both SportsLine and Fangraphs had the Cubs winning the NL Central.|
|They have excellent run prevention, possibly the best in this division, but that offense is lackluster. I do think the shortened season helps Adam Wainwright try to hold on and Carlos Martinez's transition back to the rotation. Jack Flaherty is a legitimate ace, too.|
|Welcome back to contention. Also, the DH rule really helps the Reds. They can use it with either Mike Moustakas or Nick Castellanos on a given day and get Nick Senzel in the lineup more often. They have a sneaky-good bullpen, too.|
|They'll still pitch well even after dealing Trevor Bauer last July and Corey Kluber in the offseason. Francisco Lindor, Carlos Santana and Jose Ramirez just have to do so much heavy lifting for the offense, though.|
|This is going to be one of the more fun teams to watch. Why? They are loaded with power. They have Tim Anderson and Luis Robert. There are question marks in the rotation and bullpen and the defense could be pretty bad. That means lots of high-scoring games!|
|As noted, I could see them as high as No. 2. Christian Yelich is elite. Keston Hiura is an elite hitter. The rest of the position players are riddled with question marks. The rotation behind Brandon Woodruff is, too. The bullpen isn't as vaunted as it was two years ago, either. I foresee a backslide.|
|I could also reasonably see a path to contention with this club here, honestly. Mostly that goes through a new pitching philosophy and the upside of the talent in the rotation. The most likely outcome is the Pirates being the worst of the NL teams in this region, though.|
|Salvador Perez getting the extra time to be able to come back is nice. The Royals still aren't good, though.|
|Once again, the Tigers will be competing with the Orioles for the first overall draft pick.|
|Yeah, they'll have more competition, but they are still the best. The only question? Can they finally get it done in October (or November)?|
|Similar to the Rays, I give a bump to the A's because I trust they'll be excellent at dealing with the pitching situation early in the season.|
|I don't think it's been discussed enough how thin they are in both the rotation and bullpen. I do, however, trust that the offense still thumps.|
|The shorter season means Shohei Ohtani is ready to go right away. Anthony Rendon hitting behind Mike Trout? Yes please. I'll call a Justin Upton bounce back, too. You know how earlier I mentioned a shorter season with more playoff teams can lead to a fluke outcome while joking about the Orioles? Yeah, it actually applies to teams like the Angels. SportsLine projected them for 86 wins in a full regular season. What if we get half a season and they get hot at the right time? Trout's chance to shine on the biggest stage?|
|The rotation and offense have a chance to be sneaky-great. The bullpen is full of volatile arms that could go either way and they'll take on increased importance early in the season. Also, how can you not love Marte-Marte atop the order?|
|I was worried about Corey Kluber holding up over a full season. I'm not anymore with it being shortened and him having a break. Joey Gallo, MVP candidate? Maybe!|
|It's the year before the year. Remember the 2014 Cubs and Astros? This is where the Padres are this season. They'll be a fun team on the fringe of contention. Of course, a shortened season and more teams in the playoffs means there's a chance...|
|This is perhaps the most fascinating team in baseball to me if the Rockies don't play in Coors Field. If the season does wind up at more neutral sites, the Rockies' pitchers get a boost and their hitters both lose the feast at home and famine on the road due to the Coors effect (they are generally the worst hitting team in baseball on the road every year, for those unaware).|
|You know what would be so Giants? Somehow sneaking in an expanded playoff field and winning a World Series title despite being like 10-plus games inferior to the Dodgers in the regular season.|
|Even with an expanded field, the longest playoff drought in the majors continues.|
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