MLB Energy Rankings, way-too-early version — How Dodgers, Rays and all 30 groups stack up for 2021

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MLB Power Rankings, way-too-early edition -- How Dodgers, Rays and all 30 teams stack up for 2021

We can only hope 2021 will be a more normal season, with 162 games and fans in the stands and hot dogs to eat and overpriced beer to drink. We don't know how things will stand on April 1st, when the 2021 season is scheduled to begin, but we can speculate on the state of the 30 franchises.

Yes, we are back with our annual power rankings that are way too early. There are a couple of obvious teams upstairs, a handful downstairs, and quite a number in the middle. Throw in the difficulty of analyzing a 60-game season and the uncertainty about how the off-season will play out due to that season's financial losses. These are the toughest rankings we've had to run so far. But we move forward fearlessly.

(2021 Title Odds from Caesars Sportsbook by William Hill)

Record 2020: 43-17
Won World Series
2021 title chances: 4-1

They are reigning champions. You have won eight titles in a row. You've signed Mookie Betts long-term. They have young starters like Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Julio Urias and Tony Gonsolin to keep the rotation strong for years. You have players who are capable of better playing times (Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy, Gavin Lux). They have a good farming system. They have financial flexibility, only Betts signed after 2022 and all of these young players are helping them keep the payroll in check. Justin Turner is a free agent but would be a nice DH option if the NL does this permanently. We know they will be good. But we know it's really all about October.

2020 record: 35-25
NLCS lost to Dodgers
2021 title chances: 12-1

The offense gives them a high priority: Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, even Travis d & # 39; Arnaud and Adam Duvall raked in 2020. Marcell Ozuna is a free agent and it would be nice to bring him back. But rookie center fielder Cristian Pache is ready and he looks like he's valuable on either side of the ball. The rotation will see the return of Mike Soroka from his Achilles injury and a full season from Ian Anderson to endorse Max Fried. Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson have potential, and Atlanta is likely to bring in a seasoned starter for a year, as they did with Dallas Keuchel in 2019 and tried Cole Hamels in 2020. The Braves are preferred to win a title in the fourth straight division, even if they do nothing this off-season.

2020 record: 37-23
Lost Division Series to Dodgers
2021 title chances: 17-2

Of course, it can be argued that the Padres are ahead of the Braves, but I think we need to first make sure Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger are perfectly healthy in spring training. San Diego is essentially bringing back every major player after the recent NL lineup expired. Jake Cronenworth and Trent Grisham look like founding additions to Fernando Tatis Jr. (all craft acquired; good job AJ Preller!) See if Eric Hosmer and Wil Myers can hit their 2020 production rate, but if Luis Patino and MacKenzie Becoming a gore hit starter, the Padres are ready to challenge the Dodgers for multi-year NL West supremacy.

Record 2020: 40-20
Lost World Series to Dodgers
2021 title chances: 10-1

The Rays won their premier league title since 2010 and did so in a remarkable way. 12 different helpers recorded a parade and the pitching team overcame a number of injuries. They were able to pull this off because of the depth of their staff, but after expanding the rosters during the 60-game season, it was possible to rely so heavily on the Bullpen. Of course, you can argue that the depth of pitching will be even more valuable in 162 games. The offense is not an elite, although we can't wait to see what Randy Arozarena will do throughout an entire season or if super rookie Wander Franco is ready to make a difference sometime in 2021.

2020 record: 35-25
Lost Wild Card Series to A & # 39; s
2021 title chances: 12-1

Much like the Braves, the White Sox's offensive firepower should give them high ground. Even if you see some regression from Jose Abreu or Tim Anderson, Luis Robert and Yoan Moncada should improve and a full season from Nick Madrigal will help. Michael Kopech, who signed out from 2020, will hopefully be back, but he hasn't served in two years. So finding another veteran arm for ace Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel will be crucial. The closer Alex Colome is a free agent, but the White Sox have multiple arms of power in their organization, including Garrett Crochet from the 2020 first round who could immediately be a dominant helper. Manager Rick Renteria and longtime pitching trainer Don Cooper have worked with A.J. Hinch a possible replacement for Renteria. That would be an upgrade.

2020 record: 33-27
Lost division series to rays
2021 title chances: 6-1

You can make an argument to get them a few places higher, but if you don't win the AL East in 2020, it points to some flaws. You just can't rely on Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to be healthy for an entire season. DJ LeMahieu and Masahiro Tanaka are freelance agents, two key players who need to be re-signed or replaced. Of course, we know the Yankees are going to do something big, maybe J.T. Realmuto and on by Gary Sanchez or Handel with Francisco Lindor and shifting Gleyber Torres to second place. Getting Luis Severino back from the operation on Tommy John will also be a huge boost.

Record 2020: 36-24
Lost Wild Card Series to Astros
2021 title chances: 14-1

The Twins didn't quite do what they did in 2019 when they set a record of 307 home runs (though their pace of 162 games for 2020 was still 259) as their team batting average dropped nearly 30 points and they fell second in the AL in runs in 10th place. Nevertheless, with three playoff appearances in four seasons they created a basis for success. The big problem is they have to replace or re-sign a lot of free agents, starting with Nelson Cruz, 40, but also Jake Odorizzi, Marwin Gonzalez, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard, Trevor May and Homer Bailey. These players made little contributions, but with Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Taylor Rogers becoming increasingly expensive in arbitration, the Twins may no longer be able to fill the roster with little free agents as they have been lately. They need a sane Josh Donaldson, especially if Cruz leaves, and they need to ditch the emotional baggage of 18 straight playoff losses to get going for 162 games and get back to October.

Record 2020: 36-24
Lost Division Series to Houston
2021 title chances: 14-1

The A's weren't as impressive as 2019 – Matt Olson turned into an extreme slugger with "three true scores," Matt Chapman's OBP dropped to .276 and Marcus Semien declined his MVP performance in third place. They have still progressed to the AL West title, however, and the division projects are pretty soft for now, at least. Semien and closer Liam Hendriks are free agents, as are some other key players, so this ranking is not presented with a high level of confidence. The A's always seem to be maximizing their talent and I think the rotation will be a lot better, offsetting some of the likely bullpen regressions.

Record 2020: 26-34
Tie for fourth place in NL East
2021 title chances: 30-1

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I think we need a different National League team here, but let's be honest: there is a big gap between the top three teams in the NL and the block of mediocre teams in the middle. Let's roll the dice on the Mets to the rescue with new owner Steve Cohen (once it's officially approved). Let's just say Mets fans are crazy about Cohen's WAW (wins via Wilpon). There have already been reports of all of the money he's going to be putting into the franchise, not just about players but also about building a more robust analytics team. Except for any zippy moves Cohen might make – trading for Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor? Signing J.T. Realmuto or Trevor Bauer? – There is a strong talent base here. They finished third in the majors in WOBA (behind the Braves and Dodgers) and fifth in the majors on the pitcher strikeout rate. They should be better – a familiar chorus for Mets fans, alas.

2020 record: 34-26
Lost Wild Card Series to Marlins
2021 title chances: 25-1

Everyone was on the Cubs, especially after the sad duel with the Marlins, but we have to point out that Chicago, despite Javier Baez (59 OPS +), Kris Bryant (73) and Kyle Schwarber (88) all produce well below the average Major League Hitter and Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras score below their career standards. This continues a downward trend for this once great offensive core, from second in the Netherlands in runs 2016 and 2017 to fourth in 2018, fifth in 2019 and tenth in 2020. Baez, Bryant, Schwarber and Rizzo are all free agents after 2021.But in all fairness, commercial value has cratered for Bryant and Schwarber – and to a lesser extent, even for Baez. Theo Epstein also hinted that 2021 will be his last season with the Cubs. Does this group get one last chance? In a weak division with some rebound potential, the Cubs could be better than anyone thinks. Or maybe the front office just tears everything down.

Record 2020: 29-31
ALCS lost to Rays
2021 title chances: 20-1

It promises to be a busy winter for the Astros. George Springer, Michael Brantley, and Josh Reddick are all free agents, while Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers Jr., and Zack Greinke will be free agents after 2021, as will Justin Verlander and Roberto Osuna, both of whom will likely miss the next season's Tommy John operation . You're going to need more of Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman (and don't forget Yordan Alvarez), but they could have a heavy rotation if they keep McCullers and Greinke to go with Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy. The outfield free agent market is thin. If Springer and Brantley sign elsewhere, the Astros may have to seek help for Kyle Tucker.

2020 record: 35-25
Lost Wild Card Series to Yankees
2021 title chances: 20-1

We're starting with one of the biggest questions of the entire off-season: will Cleveland Francisco Lindor act? It seems strange to say this, but there's no obvious match as most of the top teams are geared towards shortstop. It will be interesting to see if any team tries to pull Mookie Betts' maneuver: act against Lindor and then sign him to a major overtime before making the free pick after the 2021 season. Aside from the Lindor question, it's going to be a similar Cleveland team to the last two years: pitching enough to be a playoff team, but a crime that may prevent them from getting there. Please find some competent outfielders. Cleveland's outfield players hit .196 / .270 / .304.

Record 2020: 30-28
Lost Wild Card Series to Padres
2021 title chances: 30-1

In some ways, it's harder to gauge what the Cardinals did in 2020 than any other team, given that they have to play eleven doubleheaders following the team's COVID-19 outbreak earlier in the season. On the other hand, they were exactly what we wanted: below average offensive without power, good defense, good bullpen, decent starting pitching. Just don't know how they get any better, especially since some of their pitching peripherals numbers don't quite match the ERA numbers. Look, as always, you can never discount the cardinals. You haven't lost a season since 2007. The division is wide open. Jack Flaherty will be better. Dylan Carlson could give them an impact on the outfielder. The bullpen projects as a great strength.

Record 2020: 26-34
Tie for fourth place in NL East
2021 title chances: 30-1

No team had fewer incentives in 2020 than the Nationals, and when Stephen Strasburg went down it felt like the entire team was going down with him. Juan Soto played 47 games at MVP level and led the NL in batting average and the majors in OBP and slugging. It hasn't been a full season so I'm not saying it's comparable, but his 212 OPS + was the best since Barry Bonds in 2004.

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However, there are concerns about takeoff rotation beyond the Strasbourg nerve problem. Anibal Sanchez fell apart, Patrick Corbin was thrown around (85 hits in 65⅔ innings) and even Max Scherzer had his highest ERA since 2012. The real problem could have been the defense: The Nationals were last saved in the majors with minus 43 defensive runs . As always, depth is an issue and they need teenagers Carter Kieboom (no home races in 99 bats) and Victor Robles (.608 ​​OPS) to contribute to their plate. If Strasbourg is healthy, don't ignore the 2019 champions.

2020 record: 32-28
Lost Wild Card Series for Rays
2021 title chances: 50-1

The Blue Jays are facing a very interesting off-season, having completed the playoffs as a wild card and finished third in runs in the AL. The offense may look even better when you buy the Teoscar Hernandez and Rowdy Tellez outbreaks. Noteworthy: The Jays have scored much better at their temporary Buffalo home, so we need to be careful when overestimating the offense. Hyun-Jin Ryu was great (at least until his playoff start), but the rest of the rotation was so problematic that the Jays bought Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, and Ross stripling for the stretch run. Walker and Ray are free agents, but Nate Pearson will help, and the Jays should have some free hand money.

Record 2020: 28-32
Third in NL East
2021 title chances: 40-1

It's hard to see that the Phillies are much better than the 500 team for the past three seasons, which has resulted in General Manager Matt Klentak being reassigned within the organization. They had two great starters in Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler and finished fourth in runs in the NL, but the bullpen (6.92 ERA, worst ever) undermined any positive results. The Phillies allowed an average of .345 for balls in play, and maybe that would fall over a season, but it's the highest ever. This has been a perennial problem. They were allowed in the middle of the field in BABIP in 2019 but fifth worst in 2018 and sixth worst in 2017. They couldn't fix the defense. Anyway, J.T. Realmuto and Didi Gregorius are free agents. The wage bill would have been more than $ 200 million in a full season in 2020. So you're wondering if there is room to re-sign Realmuto and fix the bullpen and replace / re-sign Gregorius and possibly add another starter.

Record 2020: 26-34
Fourth in AL West
2021 title chances: 40-1

Billy Eppler is out as general manager after five years without a profitable season. Yes, he inherited the bad contract with Albert Pujols, but he also inherited Mike Trout and, despite additions like Andrelton Simmons, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon, has never been able to build a successful team around him. Simmons is a free agent, Pujols is finally out of his final season and Jared Walsh (.971 OPS, nine home runs in 99 at-bats, a low strikeout rate of 13.9%) has to play. The immediate concerns are making Jo Adell a major league hitter (.161, 55 strikeouts, seven walks in 132 PAs), figuring out what happened to Ohtani (.190) and Justin Upton (.204), and – how always – address the pitching. Sounds like the same story as the last five years.

Record 2020: 29-31
Lost Wild Card Series to Dodgers
2021 title chances: 50-1

This is a hard team to read. The Brewers didn't score at all in 2020 (I think the NL must have kept their balls in Lake Michigan because no one could hit). 2018 two-time batting champion and MVP Christian Yelich only hit 0.205, and I know it was only 58 games, but his strike rate rose from 20.3% to 30.8%. Something is wrong here.

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American League

MIN | CLE | GATE | CHW | OAK | NYY | HOU

Bundesliga

CIN | MIL | CHC | STL | MIA | SD | ATL

You have two great doubles in Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes in the rotation and Devin Williams and Josh Hader in the bullpen. Does Williams' breathtaking breakout (53K in 27 innings) make strife the trade bait? Burnes certainly looked like real business with his new cutter, but he has to prove he can make over 30 starts instead of 10. David Stearns is one of the more creative GMs, although he'd probably love to do something. via the Trent Grisham / Zach Davies for the Luis Urias / Eric Lauer deal.

Record 2020: 24-36
Fifth in AL East
2021 title chances: 60-1

This was the hardest team to project. The pitching has been so terrible – 5.85 runs per game, the most for the franchise since 1932 – that it's easy to assume it will be bad again in 2021. It was bad 2019 too (5.11 runs per game) so we have a two-year track record. Maybe they'll get Chris Sale back in the mid-season and Eduardo Rodriguez comes back from his COVID-related heart problem. There's a nice offensive core with Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, Alex Verdugo, and Christian Vazquez (and J.D. Martinez when he rebounds). I'm not sure what Bobby Dalbec will be. I think his advantage is Joey Gallo if that's a good thing. More importantly, is Chaim Bloom playing the long game or will there be pressure to get the Red Sox back into contender status immediately?

Record 2020: 31-29
Lost Wild Card Series to Braves
2021 title chances: 25-1

The Reds crept into the playoffs as wild cards with a late climb, but the team was embarrassingly knocked out with two failures against the Braves, including a 13 innings loss. The Reds have morphed into the most extreme example of a "three true outcome" crime we've seen in this era of the starting angle. They finished fourth in the home races and first in the walks in the Netherlands, but got a pathetic .212. The whole package added up to 13th place in the NL in runs, then you dig deeper and realize that they have 55 home runs at home and 35 on the road, so much of their performance is simply due to their home park. It's a terrible crime, and I'm not sure if it will improve much in 2021. Trevor Bauer is certain he will sign elsewhere as a free agent and we still don't know if Nick Senzel is the fix in midfield or an injury-prone role-player.

Record 2020: 31-29
Lost Division Series to Braves
2021 title chances: 60-1

It's been a fun ride on their first off-season trip since 2003, but once you get past the starting trio of Sixto Sanchez, Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez, holes remain. The pitching team was penultimate in terms of strike rate in the majors, and the team's five best helpers were all 30 – something not necessarily to be counted on for 2021. There are no offensive stars as the line-up relied on stopgap veterans The young thugs are still struggling to control the strike zone (and the young thugs aren't really that young). The minus-41 barrel differential is a bit of a misnomer as the Marlins have had to field more players than any other team due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but I'm not sure I'll see another 500 season unless some the young players suddenly develop into regular regulars.

Record 2020: 29-31
Third in NL West
2021 title chances: 80-1

Call me skeptical. They went from the second worst offense in the Netherlands to a top 5 offense – with no major additions. Brandon Belt with 1,000 OPS? Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson over 900? Donovan Solano chasing a punch title? I smell a lot of regression, and the giants don't have the rotation to support that. They also had the oldest lineup in the league: Mauricio Dubon is the only regular player who will not turn 30 or older in 2021. Perhaps catcher Joey Bart makes an impression, but a strike-to-walk rate of 41 to 3 suggests he's not ready for prime time. Some of their big deals will be struck off the books after 2021 when you factor in buyouts. So make sure the Giants wait for that big free agent class to turn the page in 2021-22.

Record 2020: 27-33
Third in AL West
2021 title chances: 100-1

There were some nice positive results in 2020: Kyle Lewis could win Rookie of the Year, Justus Sheffield was greatly improved, Marco Gonzales cemented himself as one of the majors' most underrated starters, Dylan Moore became one of the best utility players as a power / Speed ​​combination. But there is still no star power here, at least until Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez arrive as potential all-star outfielder, Kelenic in 2021 and Rodriguez likely in 2022. Jerry Dipoto has to reconstruct a bullpen that is one of the worst in the world was league (5.92 ERA). The Mariners are on the rise and have other potential impacts including pitchers Logan Gilbert and Emerson Hancock. However, you should stay the course in 2021 and push it forward in 2022.

Record 2020: 26-34
Fourth in AL Central
2021 title chances: 150-1

The Royals have some interesting young pitchers in Brad Keller, Brady Singer and Kris Bubic, with Josh Staumont as a potential closer, but there are still big gaps in the roster, especially on the offensive side of things. You have to figure out the midfield, second base, and left field, and even Adalberto Mondesi Jr. looks like a placeholder now until Bobby Witt Jr. arrives in a couple of years. This leaderboard could mean the royals falling a little short as young pitching players can carry a team when things go fast (and Asa Lacy, the top pick for 2020, may not take much time with the minors), but they have to find some thugs.

Record 2020: 25-35
Fifth in NL West
2021 title chances: 60-1

That was ugly and after a few years of trades (Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke and the deadline deals this season) the fans turn the team on that apparently haven't returned any talent on the front line. Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, who were so good in 2019, fell off, and Marte inexplicably decided that he no longer wanted to run. Robbie Ray couldn't strike and was eventually traded. Merrill Kelly injured his shoulder. Madison Bumgarner did not win a game. The problem for 2021? The Diamondbacks had the second oldest line-up in the NL (six of their eight best regulars were 29 years or older). Bumgarner now looks like a bad $ 80 million gamble. They're only a season away from 85-77 so there is potential for rebound, but the lines are a mess right now.

Record 2020: 25-35
Fourth in AL East
2021 title chances: 150-1

Don't get me wrong, there have been many positive results in 2020, especially after losing 108 games in 2019 and 115 in 2018. Anthony Santander had a little breakout with the metrics to back this up. Ryan Mountcastle appears ready to join the lineup in 2021, and Trey Mancini will hopefully be back at full strength after finishing his chemotherapy in September. Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer could be weapons to watch out for the rotation.

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They have financial flexibility, especially as they near the end of Chris Davis' deal and Adley Rutschman joins the majors and starters D.L. Hall and Grayson Rodriguez may be ready by 2022, the farm is better than in at least 10 years. But the basic level of talent remains pretty low here.

Record 2020: 26-34
Fourth in NL West
2021 title chances: 100-1

At the moment, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story are still on the list. Will they be there for spring training? The relationship between Arenado and the Rockies is strained, making it a trade candidate this winter. It won't be easy to trade, however: it didn't have a good 2020 on its plate, ended the season on the IL, has a full no-trade clause and can cancel its deal after 2021. When Arenado is traded, you could also see the Rockies Dealing Story as he is a free agent after 2021. Most of the time, this team just needs one overhaul. They finished eighth in runs in the NL, and for a Rockies team that's terrible. (They were below fifth place only one more time in franchise history.)

Record 2020: 23-35
Fifth in AL Central
2021 title chances: 200-1

Sometimes you just have to point out the obvious: Jeimer Candelario was the team's best player in 2020 – a 26-year-old first baseman who scored .203 the year before. Look, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal project as good starters at some point, but their struggles in limited promotions in 2020 suggest that this may not be in 2021. Along with Spencer Turnbull and potential Matt Manning, there's a rotation to dream of, but there's no insult, and Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, their best player prospects, are more on a 2022 schedule.

Record 2020: 22-38
Fifth in AL West
2021 title chances: 100-1

The Rangers keep going backwards. They were bad in 2020 in a year when they thought they could hold their own, they weren't particularly young, and the farm system struggled to develop pitchers and turn tool positioners into quality thugs. The offense had a brutal year – and not just because of the new park. You didn't take to the streets either. It's time to admit that Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor will never be the core of any championship roster, and if Lance Lynn trades – he'll be a free agent after 2021 – the rotation will have a huge hole to fill.

Record 2020: 19-41
Fifth in NL Central
2021 title chances: 300-1

Let's see, a small market team that has had the worst record in the sport is not going to spend money on free hand and their top three players in 2019 were all terrible in 2020. The first step is to hope Josh Bell, Bryan, Reynolds and Kevin Newman make a recovery, but with most of the company's best prospects still a long way off, the near-term outlook looks bleak. Heck, the long-term outlook isn't exactly full of roses and puppies.