Baseball is back, folks.
While both the coronavirus pandemic and logistic disputes threatened to eliminate the 2020 season, Major League Baseball and its players managed to power through and work out a structure for this summer and fall. All 30 teams will play 60 regular-season games, followed by a typical playoff format slated for October.
With Opening Day set for next week, here’s NESN.com’s first 2020 MLB power rankings.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers really have everything they need to finally get over the hump and win the World Series. After racking up 106 regular-season wins in 2019, Los Angeles went out and acquired one of the top players in baseball in Mookie Betts. There’s no other way to slice it: LA is a force to be reckoned with in 2020.
2. New York Yankees
The Yankees, as often is the case, made arguably the biggest splash in free agency by signing three-time All-Star Gerrit Cole. A healthy Giancarlo Stanton also is expected to rejoin a pretty frightening New York lineup, which has all the makings to be one of the most potent offenses in the big leagues.
3. Houston Astros
Cole heading to the Bronx was a big loss for Houston, but it still has Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke atop its starting rotation. One has to imagine the Astros collectively will be playing with added motivation following their sign-stealing scandal as well.
4. Atlanta Braves
The Braves might be the Dodgers’ biggest threat in the National League. There are some question marks surrounding Atlanta’s starting pitching, but its offense has the potential to light it up on a nightly basis. After falling just short of the NL Championship Series last season, the young Braves are poised for a deep playoff run in 2020.
5. Oakland Athletics
The A’s, as usual, aren’t entering the season with a ton of fanfare, but they could make things awfully difficult for the Astros in the AL West. Plan on Oakland utilizing its strong bullpen in a season that’s sure to be unconventional from a pitching standpoint.
6. Minnesota Twins
The Twins, who racked up 101 regular-season wins in 2019, bolstered their lineup in the offseason by adding 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson to man the hot corner. Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi are a solid 1-2 punch atop the starting rotation, and newcomer Kenta Maeda is a pretty nice No. 3.
7. Tampa Bay Rays
You surely can’t even count the number of times you’ve heard how wacky the 2020 season has a chance to be. If there’s a team best prepared to handle the unordinary, it might be the Rays, who’ve developed a reputation for going against the grain in recent seasons. Tampa Bay suffered some tough offseason departures back in the winter, but it’s still set up to succeed this summer.
8. Washington Nationals
The reigning World Series champions won’t be able to completely replace Anthony Rendon, but they still have enough pieces to make an October run. The Nationals’ starting pitching is among the best in the bigs, and there’s no reason to believe rising star Juan Soto can’t take another step up in 2020.
9. Chicago Cubs
Replacing a manager can be difficult, but it’s tough to imagine it will be a major issue for the Cubs. New skipper David Ross was teammates with the majority of Chicago’s projected starting lineup, so chemistry shouldn’t be an issue. Not to mention, slugger Kyle Schwaber could be one of the more prominent beneficiaries of the universal designated hitter rule.
10. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds very well could be a sneaky World Series contender. Cincinnati boasts three studs — Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer — in its starting rotation, and its lineup is improved from a season ago thanks to the additions of Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos and Freddy Galvis.
11. St. Louis Cardinals
The reigning NL Central champions are poised to be competitive once again in 2020. The Cardinals’ lineup lost some pop via the departure of Marcell Ozuna, but their pitching remains above average. Hard-throwing righty Carlos Martinez is expected to rejoin the rotation alongside Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty.
12. Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are set up to bounce back following their disappointing 2019 season. Their starting pitching — Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta — is strong, and there aren’t many, if any, holes in their lineup. Don’t be stunned if Philadelphia claims the NL East crown over Atlanta.
13. Cleveland Indians
The future isn’t looking incredibly bright in Cleveland, but there are reasons for optimism in 2020. Francisco Lindor still is with the organization and will make for one of the better left sides of the infield alongside Jose Ramirez. You also can do worse than Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber and Carlos Carrasco leading your rotation.
14. Boston Red Sox
Don’t expect the Red Sox to be completely doomed by their treacherous offseason. Boston’s offense still can slug it out with the best of them, and Eduardo Rodriguez has shown ace potential the past few seasons. It will be tough for the Sox to oust the Yankees in the AL East, but they could be in line for one of the Wild Card spots.
15. Los Angeles Angels
It would be great for baseball to see Mike Trout in the postseason, and we just might be in store for that this fall. Trout now has a superstar teammate in Rendon, and Julio Teheran was a nice addition to the rotation.
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
The D-Backs could surprise some folks this season. New ace Madison Bumgarner is an absolute horse on the hill, and their lineup consists of several under-the-radar players who can be tough customers in the box.
17. New York Mets
The Mets, of course, would be higher on this list if Noah Syndergaard was available, but their starting pitching still should be able to carry the load. Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil are two of the more exciting new faces in baseball, and veteran slugger Yoenis Cespedes should thrive in the DH spot.
18. Chicago White Sox
If you’re trying to identify some dark horses for the 2020 season, look no further than the South Siders. They have both a dynamic ace, Lucas Giolito, and closer, Alex Colome, and their offense has the chance to be fairly explosive, especially if prospects Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert live up to expectations.
19. Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers could be troubled by below-average starting pitching in 2020. That said, they did make some solid additions to their lineup this offseason in the form of Eric Sogard and Avisail Garcia. If the offense can perform to its potential, Christian Yelich and Co. could make the NL Central race more interesting.
20. Texas Rangers
Unlike the Brewers, starting pitching could be a strength of the Rangers if Corey Kluber can return to his All-Star form and Mike Minor builds off his promising 2019 season. Right fielder Joey Gallo also is one of the more underrated sluggers in all of baseball.
21. San Diego Padres
The Brewers seemingly are too talented to be a relative disaster yet again. You’d be hard-pressed to find many infields better than Eric Hosmer, Jurickson Profar, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado.
22. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are built for the future, but there’s always a chance they perform ahead of schedule in 2020. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette are three of the most exciting young talents in MLB.
23. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies likely will go as far as the top portion of their order takes them. Nolan Arrenado, Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story very well could keep Colorado afloat longer than expected, though.
24. San Francisco Giants
The Giants were dealt a tough blow when longtime catcher Buster Posey opted out of the season. San Francisco might not be a trainwreck, but the NL West simply is too competitive.
25. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have a bonafide ace — Chris Archer — which is more than some teams can say. But like the Giants, they’re poised to find themselves in the cellar of their division by season’s end.
26. Kansas City Royals
The Royals actually could feature an OK offense with the likes of Whit Merrifield, Salvador Perez and Jorge Soler, but they probably don’t have enough star power to make any real noise this season.
27. Miami Marlins
Don’t expect 2020 to be the season the Marlins manifest any benefits of trading Stanton, Ozuna and Yelich.
28. Detroit Tigers
There’s some home run potential there with C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Cabrera, but yeah, the Tigers likely are bound for another tough season.
29. Seattle Mariners
Watching exciting young arms Justus Sheffield and Justin Dunn is among the few things to be excited about this season for Mariners fans.
30. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are going to be bad. Very bad.