Warrior Weekly: MLB Power Rankings


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Josh Schreiber

Opening Day is one of the most exciting days of the year for baseball fans around the country. This past week, the MLB season was supposed to kick off with all 30 teams playing in games, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the season will not likely start until at least after Memorial Day weekend. With the season currently on hold, here are some early MLB power rankings.

10. Cincinnati Reds
To start the list we have the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are led by a potentially very strong batting lineup featuring Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and newly acquired Nicholas Castellanos and Mike Moustakas. Yes, I know Joey Votto will turn 37 at the end of the year, but when you put him in front of Eugenio Suarez (49 HR in 2019) and Nicholas Castellanos, he’s going to get many great pitches to hit. Aside from these sluggers, the Reds signed Japanese superstar Shogo Akiyama in the offseason and will have a full season of Aristides Aquino, the stud rookie who bashed a record 13 home runs in just 27 games.

To me, the biggest question for the Reds will be their bullpen. They have a strong top of the rotation with Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer and Sonny Gray, but they will need guys like Amir Garrett and Raisel Iglesias to step up in key situations if they want to go on a postseason run.

9. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals seemingly came out of nowhere to snatch the NL Central title in the 2019 season and then made it all the way to the NLCS before being beaten by the World Series champs, the Washington Nationals. The Cardinals may not look like a daunting team on paper, yet they somehow manage to be competing for a playoff spot every year. Although they lost Marcell Ozuna last year, I expect Paul Goldschmidt, Matt Carpenter and Paul Dejong to have bounce back years. I’m also looking for speedster and defensive wizard Harrison Bader to finally have a breakout year offensively.

Their starting rotation is shaky, but they are led by quite possibly the pitcher of the future in Jack Flaherty, and they have a pretty deep bullpen. While they may not have a great record to finish the season in a competitive NL Central, I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in the NLCS.

8. Washington Nationals
Coming off an unbelievable championship season, I’m expecting the Nationals to take a slight step back from last year. The loss of Anthony Rendon really hurts the team – there’s no escaping that. However, the addition of Starlin Castro along with a full season of Carter Kieboom could help maintain some of that lost production. Even after losing Rendon, the Nationals still have a very solid lineup with the young sensation Juan Soto along with Trea Turner, Victor Robles and company.

The starting rotation for the Nationals will still be among the best in the game with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, and their bullpen really cannot get much worse than it was last year. The Nationals definitely have a shot of repeating history.

7. Atlanta Braves
Even with the departure of Josh Donaldson, the Braves still look like they’re the team to beat in the NL East.

On the offensive side, they have who I believe is the NL MVP frontrunner, Ronald Acuña Jr., along with the best first baseman in the league Freddie Freeman. Atlanta has an exciting roster of young studs like Austin Riley and Ozzie Albies who are sure to have tremendous seasons at the plate.

The Braves have consistently had a great offense in past years, but they have really struggled with pitching. The Braves have several young pitchers who need to be more consistent if they want to compete with the Dodgers to go to the World Series. Their bullpen still looks very shaky, but if their starting rotation can step up big, the Braves have a very bright future.

6. Oakland Athletics
The Oakland A’s have come off two seasons in which they posted at least 95 wins but no postseason wins to show for it. That could definitely change this year. The Athletics have three outstanding offensive players with 2019 MVP candidate Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman and the extremely underrated Matt Olsen.

While their starting rotation is a little concerning, they have Sean Manaea back from injury and a very deep bullpen led by closer Liam Hendriks. While the Athletics are a very good team, they will need to have a better season than the Houston Astros to avoid being a Wild Card for the third straight year.

5. Houston Astros
As much as it hurts me to put them so high, I have the Houston Astros at the five spot in my rankings. Even though they were likely cheating by stealing signs for the past three years, you can’t deny their talent. The Astros may have lost Gerrit Cole, but they still have reigning AL CY Young Justin Verlander along with Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers and Jose Urquidy. The bullpen is the biggest concern for Houston, though they do have a great closer in Roberto Osuna.

Their lineup still compares to some of the best lineups in the league with Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Yordan Alvarez. The talent is there – that’s undeniable – but the biggest question is how the Astros will deal with the opposing fans and teams trying to get under their skin.

4. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays have been one of the most well built franchises in all of sports. Aside from their unconventional methods of winning games, the Rays have a very talented team. Their lineup is very solid even after losing Tommy Pham and Avisail García. I expect Austin Meadows to continue to progress and become one of the best hitters in the American League. Along with Meadows, they are very strong defensively with probably the best defensive center fielder in the game in Kevin Kiermaier.

The Rays strongest aspect is their pitching. They have one of the strongest trios in the league with Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow as well as two-way player Brendan McKay, who has flown under the radar. Their bullpen is among the best in the league, and we can expect Tampa to go as far as their pitching will take them.

3. Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins are the sleeper World Series contender in the MLB. This team is absolutely stacked. The Twins hit an MLB record with 307 home runs last season, and they added the “Bringer of Rain” himself in Josh Donaldson. The Twins can get on base, hit for power, hit for average and hit in the clutch.

The only thing holding back the Twins is its pitching. In last season’s ALDS, the Twins just did not have the pitching depth to hold the Yankees. The Twins did add veterans Kenta Maeda and Homer Bailey to its starting rotation, but the team is going to need guys like Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi to have career years if it wants to win the World Series.

2. New York Yankees
Going into the offseason, the Yankees knew they needed to get a starting pitcher, and it’s safe to say they got their guy in Gerrit Cole. Cole was the best available pitcher on the market, and he had a legendary season picking up 324 strikeouts. Injury is yet again a cause for concern with Luis Severino getting Tommy John surgery, Aaron Judge with a cracked rib and James Paxton coming off back surgery, but the Yankees are no stranger to injury. In 2019 the Yankees had an MLB record 31 guys on the injured list and still won 103 games. The Yankees have a stacked lineup and the best bullpen in baseball.

The starting rotation also consists of guys like Cole, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery. The lack of pitching depth may be a bit concerning, but the Yankees do have the pieces to trade for another big starter. Barring injuries (which is a big ask), the Yankees are easily the favorites to come out of the American League.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
What do I really have to say about the Dodgers? They have Mookie Betts AND Cody Bellinger in the same lineup. With that, they also have guys like Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Corey Seager – and that’s just to name a few. They have a top five prospect Gavin Lux who most people are projecting to win NL ROY.

The starting rotation is just as scary. Even with the loss of Hyun-Jin Ryu, they still have Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Dustin May and David Price. As long as the bullpen can hold it together, they are far and away the favorites to be the NL World Series team, and I think, the World Series favorites.