By: Scott Hoyt @ScottyyDoesKnow
The rich got richer this offseason as the Yankees made a huge splash in signing Gerrit Cole long-term. That addition fixes an immediate need to their biggest flaw, starting pitching. They still have one of the best bullpens and a potent line up to complement that. It will be a tall task to take down the Yankees this year plain and simple.
There isn’t a team in baseball that benefits more from the changes made to this season then the Astros. No fans on the road will be a huge bonus for the Asterisks, I mean cough cough, Astros, as their cheating scandal gets swept further under the rug. The delay in the start of the season also allows Verlander to be ready to go for the start of the season, and their other starters can bounce back after a long playoff run. The offense didn’t go anywhere and should get contributions from some young bats once again.
This Twins team made some significant investments in free agency, as they see their ‘win-now’ window dwindling. This squad mashed a MLB record 307 homers last year and added the ‘Bringer of Rain’ Josh Donaldson. Donaldson should give an already dangerous line up an added dimension. They also went out and secured a lot of MLB ready arms that will give them much needed depth. This team should continue to mash homers, but we will see if the added pieces complete the puzzle.
It seems like no matter how well the Rays play, they don’t get the league wide respect they deserve. Their rotation is still top notch and with Glasnow back, he gives their rotation a scary three headed monster. Plus, this team is built for playing a lot of games in a short amount of time given their history of having “openers” start their games. It is an all hands-on deck approach that should pay dividends for them this season. They won’t be flashy offensively but they should play sound defensively and mix in some small ball. Watch out for this team.
The A’s are another dark horse team and it seems like people describe them as such almost every year. They are not a team with a lot of high profile guys, but manager Bob Melvin does a good job putting his players in positions to succeed. Keep in mind they also have a ton of scary good young talent making its way to the big leagues (Puk & Luzardo) mixed in with guys who fly under the radar (Chapman, Semien, Olsen). This team will push the Astros like they do every year and this might be the year they get over the hump.
Despite the big names you used to associate with this team like Bauer and Kluber now gone, they still have the pieces capable of winning their division and making a playoff run. It will be interesting to see if Shane Bieber or Mike Clevinger can take over the helm at the top of the rotation. They still have a solid closer in Brad Hand and young talent that will need to take the next step in front of him. Lindor and Santana will anchor this line up, and if they can get decent production out of Jose Ramirez again this team could make a run.
The Angels might have missed out on the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes but they still landed a key piece in Anthony Rendon during free agency. There is no doubt that Rendon and Trout will be potent at the top of the lineup but there are still plenty of question marks with this team. Lack of quality starting pitching, like many teams, is going to be a struggle for these guys this season. It will be worth monitoring to see how they plan on configuring their rotation.
8. White Sox
I debated a long time on where I think this team ranks in the American League and I truly think they will make a run at the playoffs. When you look at their roster, it is littered with potential All-Stars and players ready to break out. I think that Luis Robert will have a Juan Soto impact on this team with his bat and plus defensive tool set. They also retained Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada while they re-signed Jose Abreu long term. Add in the off-season addition of Yasmani Grandal and this team has a dangerous line up. They could shake out to be one of the best in the league by the time the season is done. It is still up for debate if their pitching can get them to the promise land but there is a lot of potential.
9. Red Sox
This team has a World Series caliber offence with a Triple-A pitching staff. Chris Sale is done for the year with Tommy John, Price is in L.A., E-Rod tested positive for Covid-19, and Porcello is with the Mets (might not be a bad thing for both sides). Nathan Eovaldi as your ace and opening day starter is something Red Sox fans thought they would never say in the same sentence, but here we are. This line up will still be potent and they will still have one of the best defensive outfields in the game, but their lack of quality arms on their entire pitching staff is going to cripple this team.
10. Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are similar to the White Sox this year in the fact that they have an incredible amount of up and coming talent that is starting to put their own stamp on the MLB. Bo Bichette, Vlad Guererro Jr., and Cavin Biggio will look to surpass the careers of their fathers and could form one of the most dynamic trio in the major leagues. The big hurdle this team will have to climb is starting pitching. Ken Giles is a solid option at the back end of the pen but they might struggle to get to him. The addition of last year Cy Young candidate Ryu was swept under the rug, but they still lack depth in their rotation. If they can solidify the top end of the rotation, this team could jump up the rankings very quickly.
The Rangers welcome a new stadium in 2020, and while fans might not be able to experience it, the organization is hoping it starts a new chapter. The pieces are there for this team as they have somewhat solidified their rotation in the offseason. Lance Lynn and Mike Minor had great bounce back years last year and look to lead that rotation into 2020. Their bats will be there like they normally are but it will be interesting to see if this team can close games out and beat teams they shouldn’t. They are on the fringe for me as of now.
It seems like not too long ago the Royals were among the MLB elite. With key pieces long gone now, the rebuild continues. Pitching is at the top of the list for this team as it continues to haunt them. There is a young core there you can build around (Merrifield, Mondesi, Dozier) so all hope is not lost for this team. They also have Jorge Soler who quietly led the AL in Home Runs last year. Look for this team to be better than the product put out last year with Salvador Perez coming back from TJ, just don’t expect too much from this group with their current roster.
The Mariners don’t have many recognizable names, if any, to the average MLB fan. But this team is young and is led by their young core. They are most likely going to take their lumps this year, but they are going to get valuable experience to build on going forward. I don’t expect any better product in 2020 then what was on the field in 2019. That being said, they should finish towards the bottom in the AL and certainly towards the bottom in the stacked AL West.
It looks like the Orioles fan base needs to strap in for another year of subpar baseball while this team rebuilds. There is a ton of young power coming up in this organization due to all the high draft picks, but they are still a few years away. The shortened season really hurts a team like the Orioles who wanted to give their young talent some big-league exposure. Now with the season structured the way it is and playing almost every day, this team is going to struggle. It’s going to be tough for this team to score any runs considering their best two players from last year are gone. Villar is now in Miami and Trey Mancini revealed he has Stage 3 colon cancer (get well soon Trey!).
The Tigers got the first pick in the draft this year and that was for good reason. They absolutely stunk last year and it doesn’t look to be any better. Jordan Zimmermann is in the final year of his huge deal he signed to go to Detroit, and he just got placed on the 45-day IL which essentially ends his season. This might be the best thing for the Tigers since he went 1-13 last year with an ERA over 6. They do have some young arms that should improve this year like Spencer Turnbull, but this team does not have a lot to look forward to. I don’t realistically see them getting out of the basement anytime soon.
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