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MLB Offseason Power Rankings (Pre-Free Agency)

As we enter the 2020-21 MLB Offseason, let’s take a look at how the teams stack up in this edition of the MLB Power Rankings. These Power Rankings are based on how the teams should look entering 2021.

“Bottom Feeders” (Power Rankings 23-30)

#30. Pittsburgh Pirates

2020 Record: 19-41

Last on the power rankings are the Pirates, who won’t look to contend in 2021 and will try to stock up their farm with young assets. Their #2 prospect Ke’Bryan Hayes was called up in 2020 and played great baseball. Expect the Pirates to finish 5th in the NL Central again in 2021, but they look to have a bright future in a division that projects to be bad for years to come.

#29. Texas Rangers

2020 Record: 22-38

The Texas Rangers have some major contracts ending this offseason, and they would’ve been much higher on the power rankings before the season. The Rangers should look to bolster their low-ranking farm system by moving big-leaguers like Joey Gallo and Lance Lynn.

#28. Arizona Diamondbacks

2020 Record: 25-35

The Diamondbacks disappointed in 2020, following a promising 2019 season. They ranked in the teens in most preseason power rankings and were expected to compete for a playoff spot in the NL. Zac Gallen had a great 2020 season, but 2019 MVP Candidate Ketel Marte disappointed. They have a great farm system and it should only be a few years before the D-Backs are contenders in the NL West once again.

#27. Kansas City Royals

2020 Record: 26-34

Kansas City was expected to be bad in 2020, and they were just that. Brad Keller, Salvador Perez, Adalberto Mondesi and Hunter Dozier all had solid seasons in 2020, but the Royals finished in 4th in the AL Central once again. They don’t look to compete in 2021, but they have a great farm system behind 2019 #2 pick Bobby Witt Jr. and 2020 #4 pick Asa Lacy.

#26. Baltimore Orioles

2020 Record: 25-35

The Orioles were a pleasant surprise early on in the season, but they faltered toward the end. Anthony Santander had a great breakout season, and they probably would’ve ranked much higher on these power rankings had he stayed healthy all year. The Orioles’ pitching staff was solid in 2020, but their offense held them back from contending for a playoff spot. They have a top 10 farm system in the league, and they should become a player in the AL East battles of the future.

#25. Colorado Rockies

2020 Record: 26-34

Colorado made the playoffs in 2018 and knocked out the Cubs in the Wild Card game, but since then they have been disappointing. They usually have a problem with pitching, but this year their offense was also among the worst in the league. They may look to trade their stars, 3B Nolan Arenado and SS Trevor Story before next season, which would drastically improve their farm, which has been ranked as one of the worst in the league.

#24. Detroit Tigers

2020 Record: 23-35

The Tigers had a solid start to the season but struggled in the second half. They have a great farm system, with two of the top five prospects in the league. Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal debuted in 2020, and they should look to build their rotation around them for the future. They hired the former Astros manager A.J. Hinch, a controversial choice, who should help them build themselves back into a contender within the next few years.

#23. San Francisco Giants

2020 Record: 29-31

San Francisco is a confusing team, coming in at #23 on the power rankings. They always look like they will be among the league’s worst, but they always end up hovering just below .500 and missing the playoffs. In 2020, they were one win short of a playoff spot, but they lost to the Padres on the final day of the season. They still have some guys from their team that won three championships in five years, but none of them are the players they once were.

Their pitching held them back in 2020 and it doesn’t look like it will improve in 2021. It may be time for the Giants to move on from their early-2010s dynasty and try to build for the future.

Sleeper Teams and Borderline Contenders (16-22)

#22. Seattle Mariners

2020 Record: 27-33

The Mariners improved drastically in 2020 and were in playoff contention until the last week of the season. Most pre-2020 power rankings placed them as one of the worst teams in the league, but they got great contributions from their young guys and they look to be a force in the future. They project as a fourth-place team in 2021, but they could be a sleeper playoff contender if MLB sticks with the expanded format.

#21. Miami Marlins

2020 Record: 31-29

Miami was the biggest surprise of the 2020 season, overcoming a COVID-19 outbreak and finishing second in their division. Before 2020, they were ranked as a bottom-three team in the league in most power rankings and predictions, but they rode their great pitching to a playoff spot and an NLDS berth. The Marlins should have a great rotation once again in 2021, and with a farm system that ranks among the best in baseball, they should be contenders in the NL East for years to come.

#20. Philadelphia Phillies

2020 Record: 28-32

The Phillies had one of the worst bullpens of all time in 2020, and they missed the playoffs by just one game. With some great options to improve their roster in free agency, the Phillies could be a dark horse playoff contender in 2021, especially if the playoffs are expanded once again.

#19. Toronto Blue Jays

2020 Record: 32-28

The Blue Jays slot in at #19 on the power rankings after they returned to the playoffs as the #8 seed in 2020, and still have one of the brightest futures in the league with their trio of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. They should look to add starting pitching this offseason to pair with their star Hyun-jin Ryu and rookie Nate Pearson. They probably aren’t contenders in a standard 10-team format, but like many other teams, could be contenders in an expanded format

#18. Los Angeles Angels

2020 Record: 26-34

The Angels have been an ace away from being a contender in the AL West for years. They have only made the playoffs once in Mike Trout‘s career, in 2014, a gap year between the dominance of the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. If the Angels can land Trevor Bauer, Marcus Stroman or James Paxton, they will be in a prime position to contend for a playoff spot next year.

They can count on production from perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout and star 3B Anthony Rendon, but Shohei Ohtani‘s future is a question mark. Their offense has been great for years, and they brought in Joe Maddon last offseason to manage the team. With a new GM, this might be the year that they acquire a top tier arm in free agency and help Mike Trout return to the playoffs.

#17. Milwaukee Brewers

2020 Record: 29-31

Milwaukee was one of the two teams to make the playoffs with a losing record in 2020, but they were handled pretty easily by the Dodgers. Milwaukee still has a great top of the rotation with Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, and the back end of their bullpen is great with Devin Williams and Josh Hader. The question mark for the Brewers is their offense, and if they can return to 2018 or 2019 form, they can be a contender to make the playoffs even in a normal 10-team format.

#16. Boston Red Sox

2020 Record: 24-36

Boston moved on from superstar right-fielder Mookie Betts following a disappointing 2019 season that saw the 2018 World Series champions miss the playoffs. The Red Sox had one of the worst rotations in baseball this year, but there have been rumors that they will make a move for a starting pitcher this offseason.

The Red Sox just brought back manager Alex Cora, who led them to 108 wins and a championship in 2018. With Chris Sale and Eduardo Rodriguez presumably returning for the 2021 season, the Red Sox should have the pitching to compliment their star-studded offense and make a run at a playoff spot.

Playoff Contenders (10-15)

#15. Cincinnati Reds

2020 Record: 31-29

The Cincinnati Reds, similarly to the Brewers, rode a great rotation and below-average offense to the seventh seed in the National League playoff picture. With Trevor Bauer potentially leaving, they may look to make a splash for a bat in free agency, potentially George Springer or Marcus Semien. Right now, they’re still looking like the third-best team in the NL Central, but a lot could change, especially with the Chicago Cubs.

The Reds went all-in last offseason, but they disappointed in 2020. Expect Cincinnati to push for a playoff spot in 2021, but they aren’t looking like a true World Series contender.

#14. Cleveland Indians

2020 Record: 35-25

The Indians had a great year in 2020, finishing as the fourth seed in the American League. Right now, their roster would place much higher on the power rankings, but changes are nearly inevitable, and I don’t expect Francisco Lindor to be an Indian to start 2021. The Indians could return to the playoffs next year, but they would really need to add an outfield bat to make that possible.

#13. St. Louis Cardinals

2020 Record: 30-28

The Cardinals were once again a playoff team in 2020 but lost in the Wild Card round to the San Diego Padres. They have a questionable future, with a low-ranking farm system and a team that isn’t a true World Series contender. The Cardinals are in a position to be a playoff contender in 2021, and could potentially win the NL Central.

#12. Washington Nationals

2020 Record: 26-34

The 2019 World Series Champions experienced a pretty bad hangover to start the year. They had the same record through 50 games as last year at 19-31, but there wasn’t time to recover in the shortened season. The loss of superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon and an injury to Stephen Strasburg made a massive difference in 2020, but they could be players in free agency and the trade market this offseason.

Their stars Juan Soto and Trea Turner had great years in 2020, and they will look to repeat their 2019 success in 2021. In a tough division featuring the Braves and Mets, the Nationals will probably be contenders for a Wild Card spot next season.

#11. Chicago Cubs

2020 Record: 34-26

After a 13-3 start, the Cubs played mediocre baseball until the end of the season. Their offense was underwhelming, with just a cumulative 91 wRC+. Their stars, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber all had down years, and a Kris Bryant trade this offseason is likely. Their top two starters, Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks had great seasons. Their most productive hitters this year were Jason Heyward and Ian Happ, and bounce back years from Rizzo and Baez are likely in 2021.

Theo Epstein and the Cubs’ front office have decisions to make this offseason. It is likely that they break up the core from their 2016 World Series team, but it’s also possible that they go all in for a second title next season, before Bryant, Baez and Rizzo’s contracts expire. Should the Cubs trade Bryant, they would move down in the power rankings, and if they sign a top free agent, they would move up. The Cubs are currently looking like the favorites to win the NL Central for the fourth time in six years heading into the 2021 season.

#10. Chicago White Sox

2020 Record: 35-25

The White Sox won 35 games in 2020, tying the Indians for second place in the AL Central. They lost in the Wild Card round, but they are young and should only improve moving forward. Chicago will look to add talent this offseason to pair with their explosive young offense featuring Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, and Rookie of the Year Candidate Luis Robert, as well as veteran First Baseman Jose Abreu.

Brining in Tony LaRussa to manage the team was a polarizing decision, but the hall of famer brings experience to a young ball club. The White Sox and Twins will probably be in a close race down the stretch, but it is likely that both will be playoff teams.

#9. Oakland Athletics

2020 Record: 36-24

Marcus Semien, Tommy La Stella and Liam Hendriks probably won’t be back in 2021, but the Oakland A’s should still be contenders in the AL West and a potential Wild Card race. In 2020, the A’s beat the White Sox in the AL Wild Card but fell in four games to the Astros in the ALDS. Oakland looks like they are trending downward, but they still have a lethal lineup with Matt Chapman, Matt Olson and Mark Canha.

#8. New York Mets

2020 Record: 26-34

The Mets will certainly be active this offseason, but even without massive free-agent acquisitions, they have one of the best rosters in the National League. In 2020, they tied the Dodgers for 1st in wRC+ (122) but their rotation, outside of Jacob deGrom, was among the worst in the league.

With Syndergaard returning from injury and a potential free agent signing to go along with deGrom and David Peterson, the Mets should be contenders to win their first World Series since 1986. The reason they land so low on the power rankings, relative to their roster, is because they are the Mets, and underperform every single year.

World Series Contenders (1-7)

#7. San Diego Padres

2020 Record: 37-23

The surprise team of the 2020 season should be here to stay. They got MVP level production from Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado and Wil Myers. Myers and Eric Hosmer probably won’t replicate their 2020 seasons, but they now have a great rotation anchored by Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet. Kirby Yates is a free agent, but he missed most of the season due to injury..

The Padres have one of the brightest futures in baseball, and top prospect Mackenzie Gore is on track to be a part of their rotation next year. “Slam Diego’s” offense probably won’t replicate their 2020 success but their pitching and defense should make up for it, and they will be in the market for a top free agent, possibly Trevor Bauer.

#6. Minnesota Twins

2020 Record: 36-24

Minnesota had a great year in 2019 but got swept by the Yankees in the playoffs. They had a great year in 2020 but got swept by the Astros in the playoffs. We’ll see if Minnesota can get over the hump and advance in the playoff in 2021, but they should definitely make the playoffs, whether they win the AL Central or not. The Twins have the roster to make a World Series run, especially if they add another starting pitcher this offseason.

#5. Houston Astros

2020 Record: 29-31

The Astros made it to the ALCS for the fourth year in a row, despite their regular season struggles. They battled injuries throughout the season, including their ace, Justin Verlander, only throwing six innings. George Springer is a free agent, and it is unknown whether he will be back in Houston next season. Despite their cheating scandal, the Astros forced a Game 7 in the ALCS against the Rays in 2020. Houston should be back in 2021, looking to win their second title in five years, before their window inevitably closes.

#4. Atlanta Braves

2020 Record: 35-25

Coming in at #4 on the power rankings are the Atlanta Braves, whose explosive offense led them to the second seed in the National League. It was their pitching that helped them sweep the first two rounds of the playoffs and take a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers in the NLCS. In 2021, Mike Soroka should return from injury, and their rotation will be back up to par with their bullpen and lineup.

They shouldn’t expect the same production from Travis d’Arnoud and Adam Duvall, and Marcell Ozuna is a free agent following the 2020 season. Ozuna ranked 3rd in wRC+ and was the best DH in the National League. Their stars, Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. will all be in their lineup in 2021, and they are definitely contenders to win their first World Series since 1995.

#3. Tampa Bay Rays

2020 Record: 40-20

Tampa Bay had a great year in 2020, and it looks like they have the brightest future in the AL. They won the AL in 2020 and have redefined small market baseball. The Rays don’t have any superstars in their lineup, but they use analytics to maximize the production of the players they have. They declined Charlie Morton‘s option, but they will look to restructure his contract for next year. After taking the Dodgers to six games in the World Series, they should look to win their first title in franchise history in 2021.

#2. New York Yankees

2020 Record: 33-27

The Yankees lost to the Rays in Game 5 of the ALDS in 2020, and although they have been one of the favorites to win the World Series favorites over the past few seasons, they still haven’t won a pennant since 2009. DJ LeMahieu is a free agent, but they have other options if he chooses to leave New York. With Judge, Stanton and Voit, they should still have one of the best offenses in the league.

Luis Severino should return to their rotation, and they will look to sign a free agent starting pitcher with Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton’s contracts expiring. The Yankees are a powerhouse, and they should contend for a title once again in 2021.

#1. Los Angeles Dodgers

2020 Record: 43-17

The reigning World Series champions come in at #1 on the power rankings. Their only big free agents are Justin Turner, Joc Pederson and some of their bullpen pieces. They could choose to be active in free agency or wait until next year when Corey Seager will need to be paid. They have a top farm system, and they could look to trade for Francisco Lindor to solidify their lineup to make a run for the second year in a row.

Seager, Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw will all be back for the next few years. This team seems too good to be affected by the World Series hangover, but it seems to have hit every team in recent memory.

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