Power Rankings as Opening Day approaches

July 20th, 2020

We’re almost there.

After months of waiting, real baseball is about to begin. Starting on Thursday, there will be a Major League game played every day from that moment forward through Sept. 27, at which point the postseason field will be set.

This will be a fascinating 66 days. On paper, we can -- sort of -- guess what teams will still be suiting up in October. But with a truncated 60-game season, and with so many next-tier teams showing a legitimate ability to create havoc in their respective divisions in a shorter timeframe, consider this our final “on-paper” Power Rankings of 2020. (We’re looking at you, Reds, Padres and White Sox.)

Here are our Power Rankings top 5, while preparing to be totally wrong about all of this in another couple of weeks ...

1) Dodgers (1 last week)
First game: Thursday vs. Giants, 7:08 p.m. PT

The Dodgers are a little bit of an "even though" team right now. Even though they're without David Price for the season, and even though Walker Buehler, who in normal times is the club's No. 2 starter, is a little bit behind the rest in his readiness for game action, the Dodgers are still No. 1 in the Power Rankings. That doesn't mean there is not concern about starting-pitching depth -- given they won't be at full strength, and they lost prominent arms last offseason in Hyun Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill, the Dodgers may have to piecemeal part of the season from a pitching standpoint. But the lineup, seemingly healthy right now, will be a force, and the bullpen seems to be in good shape.

2) Yankees (2)
First game: Thursday at Nationals, 7:08 p.m. ET

The long quarantine/shutdown allowed the Yankees to heal from injuries that would have hampered the offense had the season started on time. Instead, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, most notably, appear ready for Thursday's opener. Pitching-wise, the Yankees should be plenty deep, even if they're not at full strength to begin the season. Masahiro Tanaka is still recovering from a concussion suffered after he was hit in the head by a comebacker on July 4, and manager Aaron Boone floated the idea of possibly using an opener the first time through the rotation rather than a fifth starter. Regardless, a foursome of Gerrit Cole, James Paxton, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery appears solid.

3) Astros (3)
First game: Friday vs. Mariners, 8:10 p.m. CT

This has been a strange two weeks for the Astros, who look strong offensively and in their rotation, but have a ton of question marks when it comes to the bullpen. Manager Dusty Baker indicated on Sunday that they may start the season without a large chunk of the core of their relievers from the prior season -- Joe Smith, who for sure won't be at the opener and whose season status is still undefined, and Brad Peacock and Roberto Osuna, who are not going to be ready in time, for various reasons. Newcomer Austin Pruitt is also battling injury. This could put pressure on a group of young and talented but unproven relievers to jump into the fray, perhaps prematurely.

4) Twins (4)
First game: Friday at White Sox, 7:10 p.m. CT

If the season will be determined by which team stays the healthiest, the Twins are in a good position to make a push in the early-going of the sprint to October. Until Byron Buxton sustained a left mid-foot sprain while chasing a fly ball during an intrasquad game last week, the Twins were largely in good shape. Additionally, the significance of Josh Donaldson joining a lineup that was already plenty good without him cannot be stated enough. With so much rotation depth and a lineup that looks to be one of the best in the league, this could be a good year for the Twins.

5) Rays (6)
First game: Friday vs. Blue Jays, 6:40 p.m. ET

A Rays roster that nearly toppled the Astros in the postseason in 2019 remains mostly intact heading into '20, indicating Tampa Bay could again be a force in an always competitive American League East. The Rays haven't been without their setbacks during Summer Camp due to COVID-19, but players who have been affected appear to be recovered and on track to start the season. As always, pitching should be a strength, starting with the top rotation trio of Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow.

The rest of the field of 30
6) Braves (5 last week)
7) A’s (7)
8) Nationals (8)
9) Cardinals (9)
10) Cubs (10)
11) Reds (14)
12) Indians (11)
13) Mets (13)
14) Phillies (12)
15) Brewers (16)
16) D-Backs (15)
17) Angels (17)
18) Red Sox (18)
19) Padres (19)
20) White Sox (20)
21) Blue Jays (21)
22) Rangers (22)
23) Rockies (24)
24) Giants (23)
25) Marlins (25)
26) Royals (26)
27) Pirates (27)
28) Mariners (28)
29) Tigers (30)
30) Orioles (29)

Voters: Alyson Footer, Richard Justice, Anthony Castrovince, Jesse Sanchez, Mark Feinsand, Nathalie Alonso, Mike Petriello, Sarah Langs, Andrew Simon, David Venn