American League Preview 2020

We are 15 days away from having baseball on nearly everyday until the end of October.  This has been one of the crazier off-season’s MLB has had in recent memory.  The past few months MLB has gotten more attention than it is used to with the Astros sign stealing scandal, Mookie Betts & David Price traded to the Dodgers, Anthony Rendon joining forces with Mike Trout, and more.  It’s hard to keep up with more than one team over the course of 6 months but take a deep breath that’s why I (Bigdawg) am here.  I am going to recap the good, the bad, and the angry from MLB each week.  Today we are breaking down the American League.  We are going over power rankings and awards.  LETS GO:

AL Power Rankings:

1. New York Yankees: The Yankees won a 103 games last year while having the most players land on the Injured List (IL).  Already, there are questions whether or not Stanton and Judge will be ready for Opening Day. Their pitching staff is depleted with Severino out for the year. Paxton will miss two months recovering from back surgery and Domingo German is suspended until mid season. All of that being said the Yankees will still be the team to beat once their horses get back in the lineup. Oh yeah, they added Gerrit Cole too.

2. Oakland A’s: Yeah you read that right.  This is the year the Oakland A’s not only win the West but go to the ALCS.  The A’s are overlooked all the time and once again coming off back-to-back 97 wins seasons, this team is projected to win around 83ish games.  A lot of people are focusing on how the Astros screwed the Yankees and Dodgers… what about the team that plays them 19 times per year?  They’re pissed and sneaky good.  Matt Chapman is an MVP candidate. Marcus Semien is in a contract year plus his WAR was 4th best in MLB last year at 8.1 trailing only Bellinger, Bregman, and Trout.  Matt Olson is an undervalued 1B and the pitching staff is loaded.  Jesus Luzardo and AJ Puk are highly touted pitching prospects and check out Sean Manaea’s hair.  Oakland seems to find a way with what they have, but have true starpower to go with their complimentary players in 2020. 

3. Houston Astros: What a time to be an Astros fan.  This will be one of the most interesting seasons in MLB seeing how each stadium and player reacts in game to the Astros.  They should have a hired a better Public Relations person to tell Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve to shut up.  They dug the hole much deeper and pissed off a lot of players/fans in the process.  I am curious on how they will respond to 6 months of being heckled and whether or not they breakdown or use it as motivation.  I had to put them as the third best team because they have won 101 games or more the past three years.  I see them finishing at 91-71.  They have an incredible lineup… I think.  I am not as high on Verlander this year and he is starting spring with some arm issues. Losing Gerrit Cole hurts as the Astros starters need to eat innings. I see every team playing the Astros as if it was a playoff game and I think a 16 game drop off from last year is reasonable.  Still a loaded team. 

Image result for tyler glasnow and blake snell

4. Tampa Bay Rays: I love the Rays other than their God-awful stadium.  Like the A’s, they are better at playing moneyball than the rest of the league.  They flipped a washed Chris Archer for pitcher Tyler Glasnow and stud outfielder Austin Meadows two years ago.  Pittsburgh is scratching their head.  I think this team goes as far as two pictured above.  Blake Snell won the Cy Young in 2018 and had a disappointing start to the 2019 campaign.  He’s going to bounce back and get into Cy Young form while his teammate Tyler Glasnow is going to (spoiler) win the Cy Young this year.  Glasnow before getting hurt had an incredible 1.78 ERA in 60.2 innings to go along with 76 strikeouts.  If he is able to start at least 25 games, the Rays have a legit 1-2 punch that can compete against anyone.  Don’t forget about Mr. Charlie Morton as their number 3. This team is deadly.

5. Minnesota Twins: The Twins quietly won 101 games last year.  They only got better with additions of Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, and gave one year deals to Micheal Pineda and Jake Odorizzi.  Jose Berrios had a decent year but I expect he takes a leap this season.  Last year the Twins led the MLB in homeruns and they added a former MVP in Josh Donaldson.  Donaldson has gone under the radar but still produced a stellar 37 HR, 94 RBI, and 96 runs to a team that already scores a ton. We should see 2017’s number 1 pick Royce Lewis get some action as well. Minnesota is in great position to secure the Central yet again.     

6. Cleveland Indians: I simply do not understand the Indians.  When you draft someone with Franciso Lindor’s talent, you pay and keep him there as long as humanly possible (Ask Red Sox about Mookie).  This team has a lot to like but their vibe just sucks. Probably because they are in Cleveland but they have a solid lineup with Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, and the Franimal (Franmil Reyes).  The starting rotation is competitive with Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Carlos Carrasco and Mike Clevinger who is really good.  It is up to how the Indians start.  If they come out hot, they probably won’t trade Lindor.  And if they start off cold, we might see a total destruction of this team.  Cleveland has no clue what they want and that is their issue.  

7. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox are going to be fun and have and one of the more exciting offenses in the league.  They added Yasmani Grandal who is a top 2 offensive catcher and a good pitch framer.  Jose Abreu put up another solid year with .288 AVG, 33 HR, 123 RBI.  Tim Anderson won the batting title last year and Yoan Moncada seems to be figuring it out after batting .315 with 25 bombs.  He was rewarded with a 5yr/70mil extension this past week.  The outfield consists of former top prospect Eloy Jimenez, the current number 3 overall prospect Luis Robert, and former Ranger, Nomar Mazara, who has shown snippets of his potential.  They improved their rotation by adding Dallas Keuchel and Lucas Giolito finally showed up last year.  Micheal Kopech is the next young starter the Chisox are hoping to make his presence known. He throws 100 mph in his sleep. This team is young and fun.

8. Los Angeles Angels: The Angels did the most Angel thing after missing out on Gerrit Cole.  The past decade has been miserable for Halo fans as they keep whiffing on finding a consistent top of the rotation guy to help Mike Trout get into the playoffs.  So what do they do with their money?  Get Anthony Rendon, who is great, but true Angel fans are holding their breath for two reasons.  (1) They didn’t address pitching issues and (2) Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, and C.J. Wilson are all I need to say.  I think Rendon will be fine but the Angels have not done well with free agent signings as of late.  The other notable move was bringing back Joe Maddon.  Joe Maddon vibes are a real thing and is the only hope to one of the worst pitching rotations in all of MLB.  Arte Moreno singlehandedly revoked the trade between the Dodgers that would have sent Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling to the Angels, for a 3rd string 2b (Luis Rengifo).  It sure would be nice to have Stripling, especially, with Canning having arm issues.   Made zero sense to revoke the trade other than ignorance. Cheers Arte!

9. Boston Red Sox: Boston traded away a generational talent in Mookie Betts and their return was not what you would expect.  They got Alex Verdugo, prospect Jeter Downs, and a catching prospect.  The biggest problem I have with Boston is that many are projecting around 84 wins, which makes you wonder why they would trade Mookie if they were that competitive.  Chris Sale is having health issues again and the biggest problem with the Sox is pitching.  If you are going trade Mookie, fix the problem!  J.D. Martinez, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and now Verdugo are good… But with Sale likely to miss time and trading away Price, the rotation is Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and I won’t bore you with the rest.   My other concern is how the team is coming to fruition.  Many players were bummed to see Betts and Price go but what about Alex Cora being fired?  We still do not know what the Red Sox did during 2018 season and now the report might be pushed back for a third time due to the Coronavirus (that makes no sense either).  Red flags. 

10.  Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto might be the most exciting team to stream this year.  Three infield slots are sons of former MLB players.  How cool is that?  Guerrero Jr. is the only prospect to have a hit grade scale of 80/80 and we seem to forget he is going to turn only 21 on March 16th. Cavan Biggio did not wow with his batting average, however, to hit .234 and to have an on base of .365 is incredible.   To put in perspective, Acuna Jr., Josh Bell, and Charlie Blackmon all finished with a .365 OBP.   Bo Bichette is a great name and showed us a small sample size of how legit he can be.  In 46 games, he had a .311 AVG to go with 11 homeruns.   He is also 21 years old.  For the pitching staff, they added Hyun-Jin Ryu who is coming off his best season.  The Jays have a top prospect and flamethrower Nate Pearson who has turned several heads this Spring.   This is the beginning of something special for Canada.  

11.  Texas Rangers: The Rangers are getting a new ballpark and new uniforms to kick off the decade.  They traded for former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to build around Mike Minor and Lance Lynn.  Both Minor and Lynn had respectable seasons and if Kluber can put it together they can be a sleeper team.  When I think of Texas I think of the early 10’s teams where they had sluggers like Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Adrian Beltre.  Oddly enough, the Rangers lack offensive firepower besides a few notables like Joey Gallo and potentially Willie Calhoun.  Other than that Texas is banking on their pitching.  Weird. 

12. Kansas City Royals: The Royals have some fun players that include Whit Merrifield, Jorge Soler, Adalberto Mondesi, and the return of Salvador Perez.   They really did not make any splashes this offseason and my best advice would be to trade away Whit Merrifield to a contender for prospects.  He is under a friendly contract and is coming off a 206 hit season that can steal at least 20 bags.  Since winning the World Series, the Royals have quickly become irrelevant again and most likely that won’t change anytime soon. 

Automatic 10 year rebuild.

13. Seattle Mariners: The Mariners stink.  Jerry Dipoto their General Manager stinks.  For those who aren’t fond of Mr. Dipoto here is a breakdown of some the contracts he handed out last decade.  (1) 10yr/250 mil Albert Pujols.  (2) C.J. Wilson 5yr/75 mil (3) Josh Hamilton 5yr/125 mil (4) Robinson Cano 10yr/240mil.  Jerry loves rewarding 32 year olds clearly out of their prime with contracts that won’t live up to the hype.  The Mariners must have been drunk when they gave Dipoto an extension back in 2018.  Something to look forward to is that they have 5 top 100 prospects but most will not impact the 2020 Mariners.

14. Detroit Tigers: Detroit will not be making many headlines until the trade deadline as they have quality arms to negotiate trades.  Trade rumors circulated around Matthew Boyd and I think teams may be interested in Ivan Nova or Daniel Norris.  They brought in veteran Jonathan Schoop and have a top-pitching prospect in Casey Mize who is expected to contribute this year.  This will be another long six months for Detroit.  Get your paper bags ready.  But hey, they have a top 5-farm system.  Patience. 

15. Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore is the worst team in baseball.  The best player on their roster is probably Trey Mancini and he is out indefinitely for unknown reasons. They have to play AL East opponents 76 times.  There’s a legit shot this team goes 15-61 in their division.  I think I’m being a bit generous too.  The only thing this team has going for them is that they have 4 prospects in the top 100, good unis, and a cool stadium.  The most intriguing player is the number 4 overall prospect, catcher Adley Rutschman.  He is expected to come up next year but I have never been a fan of drafting catchers in the first round, let alone first overall pick.  The Angels took back-to-back first round catchers a few years ago and they are nowhere to be found.  I would just take the best talent over a catcher any-day and sign a veteran to short term deals. Most catchers are done by age 30-32 and have to switch to first base like Joe Mauer. Baltimore is at least five years from being somewhat competitive and by then, Rutschman, will be 28 years old. The Orioles are stuck with the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, and now the upcoming Blue Jays.  I don’t see this team making the playoffs until the 2030’s.  Prove me wrong O’s!

AL AWARDS

MVP:  Mike TroutWith Mookie out of the AL, Judge having health issues, Bregman being an Astro and Rendon now protecting- makes this an easy lock. 

AL Cy Young: Tyler Glasnow-  I do not see Gerrit Cole replicating a similar season like last year because he is going to Yankee Stadium where the left field fence is 318ft and the short porch in right is just 314ft.  Glasnow was the most dominant pitcher when he was out there and I see him picking up where he left off despite coming off an injury-plagued season. 

AL Rookie of the Year:  Luis Robert– Robert is most likely going to be on the White Sox Opening Day roster, plus the guy is going to hit for a high average and possibly swipe 40 bags.  

AL Reliever of the Year:  Liam HendriksHendriks finished with a 1.63 ERA and 25 saves.  I see the ERA hovering in the same neighborhood while the save total to increase. 

AL Manager of the Year:  Bob MelvinIf you haven’t noticed a pattern, I am all in on Oakland this year.  The Oakland A’s will make it to the ALCS and win the West.  They will finish the year at 95-67 and manager Kevin Cash of the Rays will finish in 2nd.

No copyright infringement is intended with the photos used.

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