The 2020 season is barely out of the starting gate, and the Miami Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak has brought about myriad scheduling issues. After Marlins players broke protocols laid down by MLB and the MLBPA during a preseason trip to Atlanta, 18 players and three coaches tested positive for the virus and are currently quarantining.
I have never used my MLB power rankings in a punitive way, but the Marlins have worked their way from No. 23 to last place and they may just stay in that vicinity the rest of the season. While it would be near impossible to fine a team a large sum of money — say $5-7 million — without it having been put on notice, the Marlins put the game and season in jeopardy.
MLB has now added a layer of accountability by installing compliance officers to oversee each team and make sure players are not putting themselves and the game at greater risk.
By mid-week, commissioner Rob Manfred was sounding an alarming tone by implying that he could call off the season. But his threats rang hollow for one major reason — MLB stands to take in nearly $1 billion in TV money if it can get to the finish line of a 60-game season and month-long playoff.
As you can see, there is a fair amount of certainty right now in the top four or five clubs, but after that, fluidity is the name of the game.
Here are my MLB power rankings:
1. New York Yankees (7-1, No. 1 last week)
We wondered what their 2019 season would have been like without suffering injury after injury. We are being given a glimpse of that in the early going. Gerrit Cole certainly helps a lot.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (7-3, No. 2)
It took until the 10th game of 2020, but Clayton Kershaw returned to the mound and threw six shutout innings. Mookie Betts sure looks nice in Dodger blue.
3. Minnesota Twins (7-2, No. 4)
Two pitching additions by way of the Dodgers — Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda — have looked incredibly solid. Slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson has sprung a leak with that oft-injured right calf.
4. Atlanta Braves (7-3, No. 6)
Former Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis initially opted out of the season, but he decided to return.
5. Oakland Athletics (5-4, No. 3)
The A’s offense is led by the dynamic foursome of Matt Chapman, Ramon Laureano, Matt Olson and Marcus Semien. The starting pitching has been solid, and the bullpen has been spectacular with Jesus Luzardo and Joakim Soria setting up Liam Hendriks, who is turning into an elite closer. But when did Khris Davis turn into Chris Davis?
6. Chicago Cubs (7-2, No. 11)
I’ve done a big about-face on the Cubs. I had them initially at No. 21, moved them all the way to No. 11, and now they are all the way up to No. 6. Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood have been very good in that rotation. That three-year deal for Craig Kimbrel (signed in June 2019) already looks like an albatross.
7. Cleveland Indians (5-5, No. 7)
Have to keep an eye on skipper Terry Francona, who missed the final game at Target Field due to some gastric distress. The illness is not related to COVID-19. On the field, that starting rotation of Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac is imposing.
8. Tampa Bay Rays (4-6, No. 5)
Not taking anything away from how the Orioles are playing, but when you are considered one of the top five or six teams in all of baseball and you get swept in Baltimore … remember guys, it’s only a 60-game schedule. The starting pitching isn’t performing well enough.
9. Houston Astros (5-4, No. 12)
Dodgers right-hander Joe Kelly was suspended for eight games but probably is a hero in the Dodgers’ clubhouse for throwing at a couple of the cheating Astros. Carlos Correa is healthy and looking elite, for now.
10. San Diego Padres (6-4, No. 13)
The Padres’ young rotation has been buoyed by Garrett Richards. The lineup has some real juice to it, but it is missing the big bat of Eric Hosmer, who is dealing with a serious bout of gastritis. He’s now on the 10-day injured list.
11. Washington Nationals (3-4, No. 9)
12. Chicago White Sox (5-4, No. 17)
13. Colorado Rockies (6-2, No. 20)
14. St. Louis Cardinals (2-3, No. 8)
15. Cincinnati Reds (4-5, No. 15)
16. New York Mets (3-7, No. 10)
17. Philadelphia Phillies (1-2, No. 16)
18. Milwaukee Brewers (3-3, No. 14)
19. Boston Red Sox (3-7, No. 24)
20. Texas Rangers (3-5, No. 21)
21. Toronto Blue Jays (3-4, No. 22)
22. Baltimore Orioles (5-3, No. 25)
23. Los Angeles Angels (3-7, No. 18)
24. Arizona Diamondbacks (3-7, No. 19)
25. San Francisco Giants (6-4, No. 29)
26. Seattle Mariners (4-6, No. 28)
27. Detroit Tigers (5-5, No. 26)
28. Kansas City Royals (3-7, No. 27)
29. Pittsburgh Pirates (2-7, No. 30)
30. Miami Marlins (2-1, No. 23)