Opening day is right around the corner and that means we need to take a look at how each team looks as we get closer to Opening day. There are 6 categories that a team can fall under – World Series Contenders, Playoff Caliber Teams, Playoff Hopefuls, Middle of the Pack, Always Next Year, and Major Rebuilds. Each tier represents where that team is with their current roster and outlook for this upcoming season.
World Series Contenders
Los Angeles Dodgers – The reigning World series champions only got better during the offseason. The Dodgers acquired Trevor Bauer in the offseason which gives them arguably one of the best pitching rotations in the history of baseball featuring multiple Cy Young award winners in Clayton Kershaw, David Price, and Trevor Bauer. The rotation also features quality pitchers in Walker Buehler and several rising stars. On the other end of the ball, the Dodgers have 2 MVP candidates in Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts. If you thought the Dodgers were going to hit a World Series curse, you thought wrong. The Dodgers are only getting better and can make history as one of the best teams of all time.
Atlanta Braves – The Atlanta Braves have quietly been building a juggernaut of talent right under our very noses. The Braves have an arsenal of weapons from Ronald Acuna Jr. to Atlanta great Freddie Freeman to veterans Jason Kipnis and new addition Charlie Morton. The Braves have a lot of talent on their team to be a real threat to the Dodgers hopes of making the World Series. The Braves had a great season in 2020 but fell short early on in the playoffs. It’s a matter of getting the pieces of the puzzles to fit together just right and capitalize on the talent they have.
San Diego Padres – The Padres today are a completely different team than they were just a couple seasons ago. From being one of the bottom dwellers of the league to having multiple top players and a World Series Contender. The Padres acquired Yu Darvish and Blake Snell in the offseason to significantly bolster their pitching rotation. The Padres also have added in recent years, Manny Machado, Tommy Pham, and Eric Hosmer along with star prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. to their core. The Padres we see are one like we’ve never seen before and we are here for it!
Chicago White Sox – The Chicago White Sox are a team similar to the Padres that we are not used to seeing in the World Series Contender tier, but they are here and trying to prove to doubters why they are. The White Sox are led by veterans Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson with many rising stars under their wing. The White Sox are up there with the Tampa Bay Rays for one of the top farm systems in baseball. Many of the White Sox prospects are much closer to the MLB or are already in the big leagues compared to the Rays though. Such prospects turned stars include Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert.
New York Yankees – The New York Yankees are historically one of the best teams in the MLB. The Yankees are looking to continue being one of the AL’s best as their lineup returns to full health. The Yankees biggest priority in the offseason was retaining their top talent that they already have which they managed to do with keeping DJ LeMahieu on a six-year $90 million dollar deal. The Yankees did add a couple players in Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon which should help them have more stability throughout the season and needed depth to still be a contender.
New York Mets – In an unlikely turn of events, the New York Mets were aggressive and big spenders in this past offseason. The Mets had the blockbuster trade of the offseason in acquiring not only Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland but also getting star player Francisco Lindor. Carrasco and Lindor bring new energy to a Mets organization that has seen better days. The Mets also have heavy hitter Pete Alonso who if he can continue hitting the way he is, the Mets should be in good position to make a deep run in the playoffs for the first time in years.
Toronto Blue Jays – The young core of the Blue Jays are continuing to develop each year. We expect in another year or two, the Blue Jays could enter the World Series Contender Category when players like Bichette and Guererro Jr. enter their prime, but for now they remain a very good team on the rise even before they added George Springer. Springer brings a strong at bat presence and veteran leadership to the Blue Jays.
St. Louis Cardinals – The time to win for the St.Louis Cardinals is now as they have one of the oldest teams in the MLB. Cardinals legends Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina are 39 and 38 respectively with both nearing the end of their careers. The Cardinals acquired Nolan Arenado to help get the Cards a World Series Win but that might not be enough as most players on this team are past their prime. The Cardinals will still be a good team nonetheless and should make the playoffs with ease.
Tampa Bay Rays – The reigning World Series runner up has the best farm system in the entire league and they should continue to get better over the next several seasons. The biggest question for the Rays this season is will we see the debut of several of their prospects including #1 overall prospect Wander Franco. Regardless if we do or not, the Rays might not make it back to the World Series this season since the loss of top pitchers Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, but should squeeze into the playoffs thanks to their depth at most positions.
Washington Nationals – The World Series Champions in 2019, the Washington Nationals are hopeful to return again soon. If the Nationals can get hot, it is possible and they have one of the top players in the league in Juan Soto who is only 22 years old and has yet to reach his peak. The Nats are a good team, but the NL has a lot of good teams that will make it tough, but if they can win at the right time, anything is possible like their 2019 run.
Minnesota Twins – The Twins have a team to be excited about this season. The Twins stayed committed to the defensive end with the signing of the winner of 4 Golden Gloves in Andrelton Simmons. The Twins are one of the better defensive teams in the league and if they can improve on their offense, they should be in a good position to make the playoffs.
Oakland Athletics – For many Athletics fans, it was a rather sad offseason as they had to witness several key players leaving. It will be a tough blow for Oakland as they try to recover after those losses of Semien and Hendricks. They did add Sergio Romo and Trevor Rosenthal which should help, but this definitely was a setback for a low budget team that can’t afford to keep it’s top players each season.
Philadelphia Phillies – To say the Phillies had a disappointing last 2 seasons is an understatement. They went all out and snagged Bryce Harper then Harper’s former team went on to win the World Series. The Phillies haven’t done much to turn things around, but things can’t get worse for a team that has the talent that they do. The Phillies should make a comeback in a longer season and be in the playoff hunt after a poor showing in 2020.
Milwaukee Brewers – The Brewers overall had a down year in 2020 compared to what we expected of them. Yelich wasn’t at the top of his game, Lorenzo Cain opted out for the season and pitching was a bit shaky at times. With Cain set to play this season, Yelich having time to recover and new addition of Kolten Wong, the offense should be back to what we’re used to for the Brewers. The pitching end will need work still, but the offense should be back in form to help with that.
Houston Astros – The Astros narrowly missed out on making the World Series for another season after losing to the Rays in the ALCS. Similar to the Rays, the Astros lost a couple key pieces of their future with George Springer heading to Toronto and Justin Verlander being out for the entire season with Tommy John Surgery recovery. The Astros are definitely going to feel the pain with missing out and will go from World Series Contenders to fighting for a playoff spot.
Middle of the Pack
Miami Marlins – The Marlins exceeded the expectations of many by making the playoffs in 2021 and even winning their wild round matchup in the playoffs as well. The Marlins did have a late-season skid after their insane start to the season. Will we see the Marlins that jumped off to a strong start or the bottom dwellers of the NL East? The NL East will be filled with competitive teams all fighting to make the playoffs and the Marlins will be trying to prove the doubters wrong. The Marlins will continue to surprise people, might not be with making the playoffs, but their young team will be better than most people think.
Los Angeles Angels – Despite having one of the best players in MLB history on their roster, the Angels still have continued to be bad year after year. Every spring, we are optimistic that this will be the year that the Angels can get a championship for Mike Trout and every year we are disappointed before the halfway point of the season. We still have hope that Mike Trout can be enough, but with the lack of supporting cast, we’re unsure if they’ll be able to make the playoffs and be an average run of the mill team.
Cincinnati Reds – After six straight losing seasons, the Reds finally managed to make the playoffs in 2020. With hope finally arising for the Reds, it was shortly lost in the offseason after they lost out resigning Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, Freddy Galvis, and Anthony DeSclafani in free agency. The Reds will take a step back in 2021 after a promising 2020 season.
Chicago Cubs – The Chicago Cubs had one of the most hectic offseasons in baseball. There were a lot of moving pieces in the Cubs organization with gaining and losing talent. The returns on the players they lost don’t equal the gains, at least in the short term. The Cubs pitching will not be as strong as it once was. Their offense could help get them runs on the board, but the pitching staff won’t be strong enough to last throughout the entirety of the season to make the playoffs.
Cleveland Indians – Many people have Cleveland set to be one of the worst teams in the league after losing All-Star Francisco Lindor and star pitcher Carlos Carrasco in the trade to the Mets. Cleveland is going to take a significant hit to their capabilities for the 2021 season, especially without Lindor who is one of the best infielders in baseball. Despite the loss of Lindor and Carrasco, Cleveland still boasts one of the best pitching rotations in baseball led by Shane Bieber which should help manage a respectable record.
Always Next Year
Seattle Mariners – The Mariners are one of the most chaotic organizations in all of baseball, but even with that, we shouldn’t rule them out entirely. The Mariners do boast one of the better farm systems which will help them out in the future, but with no real talent in their ball club currently, they will need to call up their prospects sooner than expected. Once they do that, we believe we will see significant movement up the rankings for the Mariners as players like Jarred Kelenic will be the next generation of stars.
Boston Red Sox – The Red Sox have one of the highest payrolls in the MLB, but have been underperforming for the last several seasons. Since the loss of Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have looked like a completely different team. There shouldn’t be many things to be happy about with this Red Sox organization and they should continue to slide down this list as their high paying players continue to age and their younger players will walk in free agency when their contracts are up.
Detroit Tigers – One of the typical laughing stocks of the league, the Detroit Tigers are in an interesting position to make some strides in the next year or two. The Tigers don’t have star talent on their team that will put them in the playoff hunt, but they have an abundance of top prospects like Spencer Torkelson and Casey Mize. They might not see action in 2021, but in 2022, the Tigers should be on the rise. The biggest question for the Tigers is if any of their prospects get called up during the season without much else going on for them.
San Francisco Giants – The Giants made some moves that should place them in a better position to succeed than they have the last 3 seasons, but the moves weren’t anything major that should push them over the edge into the playoff hunt. The Giants still have a ways to go and we’re excited for Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos to be promoted to the big leagues which should help them, but they don’t have the talent all around to take them to the next level.
Kansas City Royals – The Royals went out guns blazing in the offseason acquiring Andrew Benintendi in a trade and the signing of Mike Minor, Carlos Santana, and Michael Taylor. The Royals will have many heavy hitters at the bat and will be steady here for several years to come, especially with franchise legend Salvador Perez still in Kansas City. The Royals should be above average on offense, but their pitching is underwhelming.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Zac Gallen is growing into a star pitcher right under our eyes. He has the potential to be one of the league’s most dominant over the next several seasons. Besides Gallen, the Diamondbacks don’t have a whole lot else going on for fans to look forward too. The Diamondbacks are in a weird place with their franchise as their vets have regressed significantly in recent years.
Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles made major improvements from 2019 to 2020 with their pitching performance. They went from a 5.79 ERA to a 3.90 allowing them to be one of the most improved teams in baseball. Even with improving, the Orioles have a long ways to go before fans can even mutter the words “Playoffs”.
Colorado Rockies – The days of Nolan Arenado in Colorado are over and so is hope for the future of the Rockies. Once the last remaining pieces of their core like Trevor Story walk away or get traded, the Rockies will fully embrace the tank. The Rockies should do it sooner rather than later to get the most value for the assets they have available while they are higher in demand.
Texas Rangers – The Rangers sit in our power rankings exactly where they finished last season as the 2nd worst team in the league. There are many question marks surrounding the Rangers roster for the 2021 season. The Rangers can’t get any worse and could only go up from here which is one good sign. The other is Josh Jung, their top prospect who is rapidly progressing already and should be ready for a full-time spot in the majors shortly.
Pittsburgh Pirates – Where do we even begin with the Pirates? The Pirates sit in the middle of what will be one of the longest overhauls in sports. The Pirates were already bad to begin with and with the departures of Josh Bell and Chris Archer, the Pirates will get even worse as they are the definition of the tank. We are sorry if you are a Pirates fan in advance, but it’s going to be a long 2020’s for you.