After a long and nasty labor dispute between the MLB and MLBPA, baseball is somehow set to return this Thursday, July 23rd with a marquee pitching matchup between the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and the Nationals’ Max Scherzer in D.C. Make no mistake, this season is going to be WEIRD. These days, it seems like most people think the usual 162-game schedule is too long, but at least it allows the best teams to prove their superiority via large sample size. With a 60-game schedule, any random-ass team can pull out a 9-game win streak and make the playoffs. Not to mention player stats, which will look more unnatural than JR Smith and Dion Waiters both wearing purple and gold alongside LeBron.
Oh yeah, and I haven’t even mentioned the Big Rona! Let’s see, so far we’ve had:
The MLB telling players that they can’t high-five each other, spit or use chewing tobacco. Good fucking luck with that one.
Teams experiencing delayed test results because the MLB forgot that FedEx takes July 4th off. Really encouraging sign right off the bat (pun intended, sorry).
Big-name guys opting out of the season due to concerns about the Big Rona (Buster Posey, David Price, Jordan Hicks, Ryan Zimmerman, Nick Markakis, etc.).
Big-name guys testing positive for the Big Rona (though most have since recovered). Braves’ star Freddie Freeman detailed his frightening experience with the virus, saying his fever spiked up to 104.5 degrees. Yikes. Wear a mask, people.
Given how poorly the US has handled the Big Rona, Canada told the Toronto Blue Jays to kindly fuck off and play elsewhere. Sooooo… where are they gonna play? Will they move to their training facility in Florida, aka the epicenter of the Big Rona? Will they move to their AAA stadium in Buffalo? I don’t know about you, but at this point I’m all aboard the #JaysMafia train.
The MLB also doesn’t have the luxury of operating in a bubble. While the NBA’s biggest concern is Richaun Holmes snagging some late-night Postmates, the MLB has no way of policing players once they leave the stadium. Several anonymous executives have said that they expect the World Series champion to be the team with the smallest number of positive tests.
With all that said, baseball is back! Here are my official Power Rankings for this weird, short-ass season. I’ve also channeled my inner Busti The Bookie and included one bet per team that I like.
All odds from Caesar’s Sportsbook
TIER 1: LEGIT WORLD SERIES CONTENDERS 🏆
1. LOS ANGELES DODGERS (NL Champions +150)
Look, the Dodgers are absolutely stacked. Their lineup features Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, Max Muncy and Corey Seager. They’ll also finally get to unleash super-prospect Gavin Lux. I mean, what 😰? Is this team gonna average double-digit runs per game? Good luck to every pitcher that has to navigate their way around that lineup.
From a pitching perspective, the Dodgers lost Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and David Price… and no one gives a shit. They still have Walker Buehler, Ross Stripling, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood, Julio Urías and stud prospects Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin. Barring injuries/the Big Rona, the Dodgers seem like a lock to win the NL pennant. I’m just not ready to declare them World Series favorites given their recent playoff track record. Is this the year Dave Roberts finally wises up and benches Kershaw in big moments?
2. NEW YORK YANKEES (AL Champions +160)
Full disclosure: I’m a massive Yankees fan, so credit to me for not putting them #1. All bias aside, from a personnel standpoint, it doesn’t get much better than the Bombers. By my count they have 6 starting-caliber outfielders (Judge, Stanton, Hicks, Gardner, Tauchman, Frazier), 8 starting-caliber infielders (Sánchez, Torres, LeMahieu, Voit, Urshela, Andújar, Ford), they still have the best bullpen in the majors, and oh yeah, they went out and snagged Gerrit fucking Cole in free agency.
The only issue with this team is the rotation (aside from Cole). James Paxton has been inconsistent since coming over from Seattle. Masahiro Tanaka has been a great playoff performer, but he has been inconsistent the past few seasons (side note: how the fuck is Tanaka fine after taking a Giancarlo Stanton liner off the dome?? The exit velo. on that thing was 112mph. Tanaka’s head must be made of straight granite). I’m starting to worry that Luis Severino will be one of those “what-if?” guys after undergoing Tommy John this offseason. Domingo Germán is still suspended under the MLB’s domestic violence policy and has been posting all sorts of weird shit about retiring on social media. Guys like J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, Mike King and stud prospect Deivi Garcia don’t do it for me. This rotation will struggle at times, no doubt about it.
I hate to be that guy, but this is the same team that set records last season with 36 separate IL stints for a grand total of 2,246 games lost, both MLB records. The Yanks overhauled their training staff this offseason, which is great, but that definitely doesn’t alleviate all of my concerns. If the Yanks want ring #28, they need to stay healthy and get consistent starting pitching.
3. TAMPA BAY RAYS (AL East Champions +325)
Listen, I hate the Rays. They’re a division rival. Fuck ‘em. With that said, they’re an UNBELIEVABLE organization that doesn’t get nearly enough credit. I understand why nobody cares: shittiest stadium in all of American pro sports, terrible attendance (stadium is in St. Petersburg, which is juuuuust far enough from Tampa to ensure that no one wants to make the drive), small-market team, no real stars, etc. I mean, we’re talking about a team that won 96 games last season and still finished 29th in the MLB in stadium attendance. The Dodgers, Red Sox and Astros have poached former Rays’ front-office geniuses Andrew Friedman, Chaim Bloom and James Click respectively to oversee their baseball operations in the past few years. The Rays should be a perennial laughingstock, a division bottom-dweller year in and year out. They’re basically at every disadvantage you could imagine.
But wait, we’re talking about a team THAT WON 96 FUCKING GAMES LAST SEASON. They lost Tommy Pham and Avisail García, but they picked up masher Hunter Renfroe, Japanese stud Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and solid role players like José Martinez and Manuel Margot. Blake Snell hasn’t dropped any bathroom furniture on his toes and should be back in Cy Young form. Tommy Shelby, I mean, Tyler Glasnow has recovered from wrist surgery (and the Big Rona) and should be back to throwing 100mph and striking everyone out. Charlie Morton has quietly been one of the best starters in baseball. The bullpen is still rock-solid. I’m a believer in the Rays, and with a shortened season, they could absolutely knock off the Yanks in the AL East.
4. HOUSTON ASTROS (AL Champions +500)
Man, it really sucks that there won’t be fans to boo the shit out of the Astros at every single road game. Let’s just hope the Astros break MLB records for the most HBPs in a single season.
As much as I hate the Astros, they’re still nasty. Altuve. Bregman. Correa. Springer. Air Yordán. This team can mash. They lost Gerrit Cole, which is obviously a massive blow, but they still have Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, and Lance McCullers Jr. has recovered from Tommy John and has, by all accounts, looked great in Summer Camp. This team has tons of playoff experience (ugh) and has great value to win the AL pennant at +500.
Lots of experts have wondered if the sign-stealing fiasco will affect the team on the field. I think that’s a bunch of bullshit. The players haven’t shown much remorse, and new manager Dusty Baker is one of the best in the biz. The Astros are as formidable as ever, unfortunately.
TIER 2: DEEP PLAYOFF RUN POTENTIAL 💪
5. ATLANTA BRAVES (NL Champions +600)
The Braves are a fascinating team. For starters, their core is absolutely good enough to win now. Ronald Acuña Jr. has a chance to be one of the best players this game has ever seen. Ozzie Albies is electric. Freddie Freeman, a bona fide superstar, is back after beating the Big Rona. Dansby Swanson and Austin Riley are very solid youngsters. Snagging Marcell Ozuna and Will Smith in free agency were shrewd moves. King Felíx Hernández opted out, and with all due respect to a future HOFer, that’s addition by subtraction.
The Braves definitely took some Ls this offseason, losing Josh Donaldson and Dallas Keuchel in free agency and Nick Markakis to Big Rona concerns. But I like their young pitching staff, with dudes like Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Chad Sobotka and Touki Touissant. The Dodgers are the better team, but in this shortened season, anything can happen. The Braves are for real.
6. OAKLAND ATHLETICS (AL West Champions +225)
Similar to the Rays, people forget that the A’s won 97 games last season and almost made the Astros a wild card team. The A’s kinda did jack shit this offseason, but I don’t care. Matt Chapman and Marcus Semien are the best shortstop/3rd baseman combo in the majors (sorry Machado/Tatis Jr.) and guys like Matt Olson, Mark Canha and Ramón Laureano will quietly produce. The pitching staff should hopefully be healthy, and with guys like Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, A.J. Puk, Jesús Luzardo and Mike Fiers, the A’s are definitely formidable in the AL West. Don’t be surprised if the lovable, small-market Moneyballers dethrone the big bad Astros this season.
7. WASHINGTON NATIONALS (NL Champions +1000)
I did a double take when I saw the defending champs are +1000 to win the NL pennant. Yes, they lost Anthony Rendon, who finally showed the world that he’s a legitimate superstar. Fine. I get it. But they still have the most devastating top-three starting rotation in baseball with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. Juan Soto seems like he could carry an offense to the World Series all by himself. People disrespected the Nationals last season and look what happened. They now have championship experience and a ton of roster continuity – are experts underestimating them again?
8. MINNESOTA TWINS (AL Champions +600)
Not gonna lie, the Twins have some STINKY lines on Caesar’s. I think they’ll win the AL Central, but they’re -125. I don’t think they’ll win the AL pennant, and they’re only +600. The Twins are a team I’m staying away from betting-wise.
As for actual on-field performance, the Twins are great on paper, but I’m out on them. Maybe it’s because I watched the Yankees kick their dicks in during the ALDS last year, but the Twins struck me as a team with too much flash and not enough substance. Hitting an MLB-record 307 homers during the regular season was cool, but that doesn’t guarantee wins in October. They did add Josh Donaldson, which is huge, and the pitching staff seems healthy. Adding Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda certainly doesn’t hurt, either. The Twins certainly have the pieces to put it all together, but I’m still skeptical.
TIER 3: IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT, BUT NOT A REAL CONTENDER
9. ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (NL Central Champions +240)
The Cubs and Reds both have better odds to win the NL Central than the Cards this season. Wait, what? Did everyone forget that the Cardinals came out of nowhere to win the Central and reach the NLCS last year? Sure, they lost Marcell Ozuna in free agency and Jordan Hicks opted out. In my mind, losing those two guys doesn’t hurt them all that much. Jack Flaherty is morphing into a perennial Cy Young candidate before our very eyes, and the Cards have solid-but-unspectacular talent all around the diamond. The Cards also have the 3rd-easiest schedule this season (based on 2019 winning percentages). I’m not saying they’re going to reach the NLCS again, but this is a good team that isn’t getting enough respect.
10. CLEVELAND INDIANS (AL Central Champions +260)
Ever since the legendary 2016 World Series, I get the sense that both the Indians and Cubs (more on them below) have been on a slow-but-steady decline. The Indians still have some studs – Francisco Lindor (get him the fuck out of Cleveland, please), José Ramirez, Carlos Santana, Shane Bieber, Mike Clevinger, Carlos Carrasco and Brad Hand come to mind – but this just doesn’t feel like a roster that’s going to make any real noise in the playoffs. With that said, that rotation is solid and they could definitely give the Twins a run for their money in the AL Central.
11. ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (Over 31.5 wins -110)
The D-Backs are a nice team. They quietly won 85 games last season, then went out and snagged MadBum, Starling Marte and Kole Calhoun. Not flashy additions, but additions. I love Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed, and guys like Christian Walker and David Peralta can play. The D-Backs seem perennially pissed off that they play in the same division as the Dodgers and play with that chip on their shoulder.
12. CHICAGO CUBS (Under 31.5 wins -110)
Like I mentioned in the Indians section, the Cubs just don’t do it for me anymore. They still have stalwarts like Javy Báez (most exciting player in the sport, by the way), Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras and Kyle Schwarber, but this team has a LOT of question marks. Behind Kyle Hendricks, who are their starters? Old-ass Jon Lester? Yu Darvish? Is Craig Kimbrel an elite closer anymore? How does new manager David Ross navigate both the Big Rona and managing his boys? The Cubs definitely have the roster to make the playoffs, but my money is on them having a .500 record or worse.
TIER 4: DECENT, BUT NOT THERE YET 😪
13. CINCINNATI REDS (Under 32 wins +100)
“Experts” love the Reds going into this season after snagging Mike Moustakas, Pedro Strop, Nick Castellanos and Japanese stud Shogo Akiyama. I’m pumping the brakes a bit here. The Reds are a nice team and will be fun to root for, but do they have the pitching? I’m skeptical about Sonny Gray (probably the Yanks fan in me), and I think Trevor Bauer, while a great Twitter follow, is the most overrated guy in the sport. Aside from a nasty All-Star, 2.21 ERA campaign in 2018, Bauer’s ERAs since 2015 are 4.55, 4.26, 4.19 and 4.48. The guy is consistently mediocre. The Reds will be fun to watch, but they aren’t making a playoff run anytime soon.
14. LOS ANGELES ANGELS (Under 31 wins -110)
The Angels are a FASCINATING team. They got arguably the best player in the history of the sport in Mike Trout. They got an absolute two-way dynamo in Shohei Ohtani, who seems poised to begin his reign of terror on the rest of the league. Lame-ass owner Arte Moreno finally shelled out some money in free agency to snag Anthony Rendon. They went out and hired legendary manager Joe Maddon. And yet… who the fuck else is on this team? Albert Pujols and his ancient ass? Andrelton Simmons, who’s a defensive wizard but also coming off an 80 OPS+ season? Besides Ohtani, who is in this rotation? Can you name a single guy in their bullpen off the top of your head? This roster is intriguing, but way too top-heavy to make any real noise.
15. NEW YORK METS (Under 32 wins -110)
Look, trying to predict the outcome of the Mets season in 2020 is a fools’ errand. I mean seriously, what the fuck is the deal with this team? Given the Big Rona, it seems hard enough for new managers to establish a culture this season. But the Mets have hired two new managers this offseason, and who knows what the hell is going on with ownership? From a roster standpoint, they still have STARS in Jacob DeGrom and Pete Alonso, but the rest of the team is a giant question mark. Good luck trying to predict Yoenis Cespedes’ stats.
16. MILWAUKEE BREWERS (Over 30.5 wins -110)
I like the Brewers. Craig Counsell has done an excellent job as manager, and Christian Yelich is obviously one of the best players in the sport. I mean, even with Yelich’s season-ending injury last year, the Brew Crew won 89 games last year! They had a TON of roster turnover, but none of the moves were especially noteworthy. I think this team wins over 30.5 games, but their ceiling is probably a Wild Card game appearance.
TIER 5: EHHHHHH 😬
17. CHICAGO WHITE SOX (Under 32 wins -110)
Like the Mets, anyone who claims to know the White Sox identity is full of shit. They have tons of intriguing young talent with guys like Eloy Jiménez, Yoán Moncada and Tim Anderson. And don’t even get me started on uber-prospect Luis Robert, who looks like an ANIMAL. If this whole baseball thing doesn’t work out, the Giants should sign him to start at middle linebacker. Anyway, the White Sox have exciting young players – emphasis on young – we should have a better idea of their ceiling in like 2022.
18. PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (Under 31 wins -110)
I don’t like the Phillies roster. They got so much hype after signing Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto last offseason then proceeded to go 81-81. Now they have a new manager in Joe Girardi and signed Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius in free agency. Great! Who cares! This team is solid at best, but probably still mediocre.
19. SAN DIEGO PADRES (Under 31 wins -110)
Fernando Tatis Jr. is a top-5 most exciting player in the game. Manny Machado is a proven entity). I love the Tommy Pham acquisition. But they just don’t have the pieces or the pitching in place to be a real playoff contender just yet. I’m hoping Tatis Jr. stays healthy – that guy is absolutely unreal.
20. TORONTO BLUE JAYS (Over 27.5 wins -110)
I like the Jays! They have tons of intriguing young talent in Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. et al. They even went out and snagged Hyun-Jin Ryu in free agency, which I like a lot. I don’t think they have a competitive roster just yet, and the whole “where the fuck are they gonna play?” question is definitely a big deal. But these guys will be fun to watch and I like them to beat their projected win total of 27.5 games.
21. BOSTON RED SOX (Under 30.5 wins -110)
You tell me, does this seem like a team that’ll go over .500? They lost stud manager Alex Cora, Chris Sale is hurt, and they lost Rick Porcello and David Price in free agency. Oh yeah, and they decided they didn’t wanna pay one of the best players in the game in Mookie Betts. I guess J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi give them a chance to win some games, but the lack of pitching and overall depth gives me pause. Man, it feels good to have the Red Sox suck again.
TIER 6: JUST TOTAL GARBAGE TEAMS
22. SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (Under 24.5 wins -110)
Alright, now we’re into the real bottom feeders. The Giants are in full rebuild. They got rid of Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy and replaced him with all-time hardo Gabe Kapler. MadBum is gone. Buster Posey opted out. Pablo Sandoval is back to weighing 450 pounds. This team blows.
23. TEXAS RANGERS (Under 29 wins -110)
Why are the Rangers expected to win 29 games? Because they signed Corey Kluber’s washed up ass? Because they’re moving into a new stadium that no one asked for? This team went 78-84 last year and I’m not convinced they improved. Like at all.
24. COLORADO ROCKIES (Under 27 wins -110)
Damn, the Rockies killed it this offseason! They went out and signed a bunch of stud free agents like… *checks notes* Matt Kemp🧐? Yeah this team sucks ass. Nolan Arenado joins Frankie Lindor in the category of “get that hype player off of their current shitty team.” Who are their pitchers?
25. SEATTLE MARINERS (Under 24 wins -110)
It’s funny, a couple of years ago I thought the Mariners were in decent position to become a good team. Then Mitch Haniger exploded his testicle (YIKES) and the Mariners won only 68 games last year. Now in a full-blown rebuild, this team has no direction and a psycho GM who simply loves high-risk trades that blow up in his face 90% of the time (unless he’s trading with the Mets, LMAO).
TIER 7: HYPE THAT NO FANS ARE ALLOWED BECAUSE NONE WOULD COME ANYWAY
26. PITTSBURGH PIRATES (Under 25 wins, +100)
I don’t even care that the Pirates have plus odds on U25 wins. Let’s go down the list here. They lost their longtime manager in Clint Hurdle. Owner Bob Nutting is a total dick and has a hilarious name. Their one good reliever, Felipe Vazquez, is gone and facing 25 charges for being a pedo. They lost Starling Marte in free agency. Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer are hurt. I mean, who the hell is on this team? They hired Derek Shelton as their manager… and who the fuck is that? This team could be in Orioles territory in a couple seasons.
27. KANSAS CITY ROYALS (Under 24.5 wins -110)
Look, the Royals actually have some direction as a franchise. They’re slashing payroll and making some shrewd moves in their farm system. They might turn some heads and start being good in like 2025. But for now, they’re coming off a 59-win season and haven’t really improved… soooo…. yeah.
28. MIAMI MARLINS (-10000 to suck absolute balls)
Ah, the Marlins. Remember when they traded Christian Yelich for a package based around Lewis Brinson? Scouts called Brinson “toolsy” and “raw” which translates to “fast” and “sucks at baseball.” While Yelich has produced two MVP-caliber seasons in a row, Brinson is rocking a career -3.3 WAR. But wait, last year he produced… uh… a .173 average, 24 OPS+ and -2 WAR. Hey Jeter, maybe it’s time to retire and go chill on a beach somewhere?
29. DETROIT TIGERS (-20000 you can’t name more than 4 players on that roster off the top of your head)
They went 47-114 last season and didn’t really make any upgrades. Enjoy Miguel Cabrera while you can!
30. BALTIMORE ORIOLES (-infinity to suck as much or more than the Marlins)
So let’s see here. The Orioles went 54-108 and had two decent players in Jonathan Villar and Trey Mancini (for those who say “John Means was an All-Star,” kindly shut the fuck up). They traded Villar, and Mancini unfortunately has been diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer. Let’s hope he makes a full recovery. The Orioles are fuckin cursed, man.