As of now, the Major League Baseball season is on hiatus due to COVID-19 outbreaks nationwide.
Recently, baseball fans were given a glimpse of hope that the season could potentially be back on track. ESPN’s Jeff Passan stated in a tweet, “At this point, there will be baseball in 2020. The details are the tricky part.”
The small details are yet to be ironed out by team owners, The MLB Players Association and Commissioner Rob Manfred. But otherwise, this is potentially great news for baseball fans.
In the meantime, whenever baseball resumes action, whether it be in Arizona, Florida, Texas or on a remote island, here are my predictions on how the teams will stack up with each other.
- Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Season: 106-56; Lost in ALDS
Acquired: OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price, RHP Jimmy Nelson
Lost: OF Alex Verdugo, INF Jeter Downs, C Conner Wong, LHP Rich Hill
Team Overview: The Los Angeles Dodgers come into the 2020 season as the best team in baseball. Last year, Los Angeles fell short in a seven game NLDS loss to the Washington Nationals.
This season, if and when play returns, the Dodgers should be heading right back to the World Series like they did in 2018.
The Dodgers are equipped with lethal arms in their rotation and bullpen. At the top of the list is the electric and CY Young favorite Walker Beuhler. Other notable and trustworthy a arms include Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly and Blake Treinen.
An offense that was already good, just got great. Manager Dave Roberts and his offense acquired former MVP Mookie Betts this off-season from the Boston Red Sox. Betts will be roaming the outfield alongside silver slugger Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson.
The best team in the National League arguably has the most well rounded lineup with dangerous and malignant hitters in Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernandez, Corey Seager and Rookie Of The Year favorite, Gavin Lux.
The Dodgers will be a force to be reckoned with once the season gets underway.
- New York Yankees
Last Season: 103-59; Lost in ALCS
Acquired: RHP Gerrit Cole, 3B James Nelson, RHP Chad Bettis
Lost: LHP Nester Cortes Jr., RHP Chance Adams, LHP Stephen Tarpley, SS Didi Gregorius, OF Cameron Maybin
Team Overview: Following the Dodgers, comes the New York Yankees. Last season, New York fell short in the ALCS against the Houston Astros primarily because of their lackluster starting pitching.
Brian Cashman, General Manager of the Yankees, filled that void by signing their top target Gerrit Cole to a historic nine-year, $324 million dollar contract. In the rotation behind Cole are strikeout machines James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Jordan Montgomery and J.A. Happ.
Some may argue that New York’s bullpen is most dominant all time considering the amount of heavy amount of depth and talent.
To close out games, manager Aaron Boone primarily calls upon Alrodis Chapman to shut the door. Boone can practically use anyone else on the bench for this role including Zack Britton, Jonathan Holder, Tommy Kahnle and Adam Ottavino. And oh, let’s not forget about Chad Green; He can do serious damage to opponents too.
The Yankee offense last year had more injuries than any other team in MLB history and still managed to win 100+ games. The main reason is because of their versatility.
The underrated D.J. LeMeiheu was the team’s silver slugger last season and always delivered a big hit when needed. When New York’s line up is healthy, they could be the scariest team in baseball. Up and down the lineup, all I see is power from the bats of sluggers Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Staton, Aaron Judge and Brett Gardner.
New York, when healthy, is certainly a scary sight. They will be the favorites in the American League if and when baseball returns.
- Atlanta Braves
Last Season: 97-65; Lost in NLCS
Acquired: LHP Will Smith, C Travis d’Arnaud, OF Marcell Ozuna
Lost: OF Billy Hamilton, 3B Josh Donaldson
Team Overview: The third team overall are the Atlanta Braves. After falling short in the NLCS, Atlanta is bound to make it back and possibly go all the way to a World Series. Their roster is filled with high ceiling potential from the pitching staff, lineup, bullpen and even defense.
In the front end of games on the mound, Atlanta often turns to rising rookie Mike Soroka. Besides Soroka, Atlanta is equipped with elite arms including Mike Foltynewics, Max Fried and Sean Newcomb.
They also have proven veterans on the staff in Cole Hamels and Félix Hernandez. In the later innings, manager Brian Snitker often calls upon Mark Melancon to close out close games. Atlanta also has impactful and trustworthy arms in Will Smith, Luke Jackson and Shane Greene.
Atlanta’s lineup is star studded and filled with unlimited potential. Freddie Freeman, Marcell Ozuna are the experienced veterans, while they also have impactful young players in Dansby Swanson, National League MVP favorite Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies. Let’s not forget impactful role players in Adieny Hechavarria, Austin Riley and Nick Markakis.
Atlanta has one of the most well rounded teams in the Major Leagues and is bound to have a deep playoff run sooner than later.
- Houston Astros
Last Season: 107-55; Lost in World Series
Acquired: Manager Dusty Baker, LHP Blake Taylor, OF Kennedy Corona, C Martin Maldonado
Lost: OF Jake Marisnick, RHP Jared Hughes, RHP Gerrit Cole, (1st and 2nd round picks in 2020, 2021 draft, $5 million dollars, GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J Hinch)
Team Overview: The Houston Astros are coming off a heartbreaking World Series loss against the Washington Nationals. But in terms of the big picture, they have the nation’s eyes on them as an organization, all for the wrong reasons.
This off-season, reports came out that Houston was caught illegally stealing signs. To briefly summarize, Commissioner Rob Manfred punished the organization which resulted in losses of their 1st and 2nd round picks in the 2020 and 2021 draft and a $5 million dollar fine paid to the MLB.
To add insult to injury, Manfred placed one-year bans on General Manager Jeff Luhnow and Manager A.J Hinch from Major League Baseball.
With the loss of ace Gerrit Cole, the Astros still have a lethal repertoire of arms with Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers Jr. In the bullpen, Houston has beneficial and experienced arms in Joe Biagini, Chris Devenski, Roberto Osuna and closer Ryan Pressley to slam the door at the back end of games.
On the offensive side of the ball, Houston has a star studded lineup featuring Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel and Yordan Alvarez. This offense can out hit any other team in the Majors.
No doubt that Houston has a elite talent on their roster, but will they live up to expectations set on them with the entire nation’s eyes on the team?
- Tampa Bay Rays
Last Season: 96-66; Lost in ALDS
Acquired: OF Hunter Renfroe, INF Xavier Edwards, RHP Peyton Battenfield, OF Cal Stevenson, INF Estaban Quiroz
Lost: 3B Matt Duffy, 3B/OF Yoshitomo Tsutugo, OF Tommy Pham, INF/RHP Jake Cronenworth, RHP Austin Pruitt
Team Overview: The Tampa Bay Rays come in as the number five team in baseball. This Tampa Bay squad might be the most underrated team in all of baseball. Tampa Bay’s pitching staff and lineup are filled with under the radar and impactful talent.
For Tampa Bay’s pitching staff, you can categorize anyone as a starting pitchers due to the high rate usage of the “opener”. Jose Alvarado, Diego Castillo, Yonny Chirions and Oliver Drake often all are called upon as this role for the Rays. Besides the 2-3 inning arms, Tampa Bay is also equipped with legit starting pitchers that can take the team into 7 innings or even more.
Former CY Young award winner Blake Snell leads the pack along side with Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton.
At the plate, the Rays have an array of talent. An infield led by Mike Zunino behind the plate and Willy Adams, Ji-Man Choi, Brandon Lowe and Yandy Diaz around the diamond can certainly put up big numbers. Roaming the outfield for Tampa Bay are Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows and Manuel Margot. The three all have large ranges to catch any ball hit their way.
This offense, coupled with the talented arms, are certainly capable of doing big things down in Tampa Bay.
- Minnesota Twins
- St. Louis Cardinals
- Washington Nationals
- Oakland A’s
- New York Mets
- Cincinnati Reds
- Milwaukee Brewers
- Cleveland Indians
- Chicago Cubs
- Philadelphia Phillies
- Los Angeles Angles
- Arizona Diamond Backs
- Chicago White Sox
- San Diego Padres
- Boston Red Sox
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Colorado Rockies
- Texas Rangers
- Kansas City Royals
- Seattle Mariners
- Pittsburgh Pirates
- Miami Marlins
- Detroit Tigers
- Baltimore Orioles
- San Francisco Giants
If and when we get the season rolling, it’s going to be a great year and no doubt the level of play will make up for lost time. I can’t wait to hear the crack of a bat, the snap of a ball in a catcher’s mitt or those immortal words, “Play Ball”.
Photo Credit: Getty Images