Well, a 10-week regular season ends next week. The time really flew by, and the whole thing now seems like a bit of a blur. I’ll be back next week with my final power rankings for 2020, a bit of chatter about the O’s season and, of course, I’ll also handicap the first round of playoff games. That is, if I can even understand the expanded schedule.
But for now I’ll just give you the rankings with comments on the top 10 teams.
1. Oakland Athletics (33-20, No. 1 last week): I love Bob Melvin as a skipper. The team has built a special bullpen headed by Australian right-hander Liam Hendriks, whom then-O’s GM Dan Duquette actually claimed back in December 2013. Left-handed starter Sean Manaea has been building back the strength in his pitching shoulder. He missed almost all of 2019, making just five late-season starts (29.2 innings). He started awfully slow this season, but he has peaked at just the right time. In his last six starts (33 innings), Manaea is 4-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. He has also allowed just two homers during those 33 innings.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (38-16, No. 3): On paper, this is baseball’s best team. But as I have said for a while, closer Kenley Jansen is a shell of his old self. He is a definite liability during the postseason when batters can get awfully familiar with the opposition’s closer. The other things that scare me are Walker Buehler’s blister problem and Clayton Kershaw’s propensity to not be even close to his best in the postseason.
3. Tampa Bay Rays (35-19, No. 4): With Charlie Morton back and with Tyler Glasnow and former Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell throwing well, the Rays can play with the big boys. The question really is if the big boys can play with them. Ryan Yarbrough is no slouch as a No. 4 starter, either.
4. New York Yankees (31-22, No. 7): A 10-game winning streak marks the Yankees as dangerous. And sure, they have Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka, but the guy to keep an eye on is veteran JA Happ, who was 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA through two starts. But in his last 6 starts (37.1 innings), he has a 1.93 ERA and 0.85 WHIP and opponents are batting just .203/.232/.338.
5. Minnesota Twins (33-22, No. 2): I went into the season expecting big things from this club. And while the W-L record is hardly disappointing, I cannot see this group of starters matching up with the big boys. To truly be taken seriously, they have to be better on the hill on a day-to-day basis.
6. Chicago White Sox (34-19, No. 6): Probably a little too raw and a little too young. But they figure to be a serious contender over the next 5-7 years, maybe longer.
7. San Diego Padres (34-20, No. 5): I have the Padres one spot below White Sox, but if they had a healthy Eric Hosmer and Fernando Tatis Jr., they could certainly make a serious run at this. Mike Clevinger, picked up from the Indians, has been very good.
8. Atlanta Braves (31-22, No. 9): Max Fried is dynamite, and young Ian Anderson has been sensational. But, the drop-off in the rotation after those two is too significant to take the Braves seriously as contenders. They had a deep enough system to have traded for Mike Clevinger or Lance Lynn. They whiffed and will suffer the consequences.
9. Chicago Cubs (31-22, No. 10): Slugging third baseman Kris Bryant tried to play through some hand issues, but he’s batting .195 with two homers and five RBIs in 30 games. Shortstop Javier Baez has played in 50 games, but he is batting just .209 with seven homers and 21 RBIs.
10. Cleveland Indians (29-24, No. 8): The club is being managed by Sandy Alomar Jr. because Terry Francona has been dealing with a gastrointestinal issue and continues to recuperate from early August surgery. The Indians are just 6-10 in their past 16 games. We’ll never know what would have happened if Mike Clevinger had simply either followed COVID protocols set forth by MLB and the MLBPA or at least stepped forward and not flown back with his teammates from Chicago to Cleveland. However, Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco and Zach Plesac give them a puncher’s chance.
11. Miami Marlins (28-25, No. 16)
12. Milwaukee Brewers (26-26, No. 17)
13. St. Louis Cardinals (26-24, No. 14)
14. Cincinnati Reds (27-27, No. 19)
15. Philadelphia Phillies (27-26, No. 12)
16. Houston Astros (27-26, No. 15)
17. San Francisco Giants (26-26, No. 13)
18. Toronto Blue Jays (27-26, No. 11)
19. New York Mets (24-29, No. 18)
20. Colorado Rockies (23-29, No. 20)
21. Washington Nationals (20-32, No. 21)
22. Baltimore Orioles (23-31, No. 24)
23. Seattle Mariners (23-30, No. 23)
24. Los Angeles Angels (23-31, No. 26)
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (20-34, No. 27)
26. Kansas City Royals (21-32, No. 22)
27. Detroit Tigers (22-30, No. 25)
28. Boston Red Sox (20-34, No. 29)
29. Texas Rangers (19-34, No. 28)
30. Pittsburgh Pirates (15-38, No. 30)