Five Teams That Could Surprise This Season

2020 MLB Surprise Teams
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With Spring Training upon us, it’s time to begin to focus on the coming season. Every year around this time, predictions are made and teams are studied up and down on paper. Furthermore, baseball fans and analysts alike try to make their best predictions regarding potential 2020 MLB Award winners.

Regardless, it’s part of what makes this time of year fun. Optimism reigns high for all thirty teams and baseball fans all over the country envision their team playing in the World Series. While all of the predictions can be made, the fact is the game is played on grass not on paper.

2020 MLB Surprise Teams

Therefore, here are five teams that could jump out of the pack and surprise everyone this season.

1. Oakland Athletics

The Oakland Athletics have built up a tremendous foundation of talent throughout their farm system. Much of that talent is starting to make it’s way to the big league level. What’s even more impressive is how the Athletics compete with one of the smallest payrolls in all of baseball. If you recall, last year’s American League Wild Card Game was played between the Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays. Both of those teams constantly have the lowest payrolls in baseball.

For the Athletics, there is a very good chance that the team could win the American League West this year. With the distractions from this offseason lingering over the Houston Astros this year, that could pose a serious problem in Houston’s pursuit of the American League West. As a result, a team like the Athletics could reign the division especially considering the team’s talented and young starting rotation.

Talented, High-Upside Pitching

As it stands right now, the Athletics starting rotation this year will consist of right-hander Mike Fiers at the top followed by a trio of youngsters like left-hander Sean Manaea, right-hander Frankie Montas, and the team’s number one overall prospect last year, Jesus Luzardo. Furthermore, you can’t forget about lefty A.J. Puk either who should impact the rotation this season. If healthy and performing at their best, that could end up being one of the top starting rotations in baseball.

With Matt Olson and Matt Chapman on the corners, shortstop Marcus Semien, and catcher Sean Murphy along with designated hitter Khris Davis, the Athletics have a nice offensive core. From a defensive standpoint, the team finished last season with the highest Defensive Rating in all of baseball at 42.9.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks

For the Arizona Diamondbacks, this past offseason was a very good one. The Diamondbacks were able to bring in several notable names in free agency. Arizona signed starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner, catcher Stephen Vogt, right fielder Kole Calhoun, and reliever Hector Rondon in the open market. Furthermore, the Diamondbacks made an impact trade when they acquired centerfielder Starling Marte from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

When you combine those additions with the core group that the Diamondbacks have in place with second baseman Ketel Marte, shortstop Nick Ahmed, and outfielder David Peralta the lineup becomes really intriguing. If every hitter in the lineup is healthy and performing at their best, the Diamondbacks could very well have one of the best lineups in baseball.

Intrigue Surrounding the Diamondbacks Pitching Staff

Furthermore, there is some intrigue when it comes to the starting rotation. The Diamondbacks have done a really good job over the last few years of acquiring young starting pitchers with high upside. A potential name to watch this coming season in the rotation is right-hander Zac Gallen. Gallen was acquired by the Diamondbacks last July from the Miami Marlins and has a lot of upside to his craft.

Beyond all of that, the Diamondbacks are hoping for a nice season from closer Archie Bradley. If Bradley is able to perform like he did two years ago, then the Diamondbacks will have a great late-inning weapon and one that helps them lock down several more wins compared to last season.

3. Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers have quietly built a nice roster. Last year, the Rangers had a very effective starting rotation and really received great results from both left-hander Mike Minor and right-hander Lance Lynn. In fact, both Minor and Lynn were in the conversation to some degree in the American League Cy Young Award race. Those results should carry over to this season for both Minor and Lynn.

Furthermore, the Rangers added more stability to their rotation this offseason when they acquired right-hander Corey Kluber from the Cleveland Indians. Kluber gives the Rangers a very good presence at the top of their starting rotation. In addition, the Rangers continued their pursuit of adding stability to their rotation by signing right-handers Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles in free agency.

Pitching Down on the Farm

When you look down at the farm system, the Rangers have three starting pitchers ranked in their Top 10 Prospect list. Those individuals include right-handers Hans Crouse and Cole Winn along with lefty Joe Palumbo. All three of those names should impact the Rangers sometime during the 2020 MLB season or once 2021 rolls around. As such, if one or two of those names really comes onto the scene, then the Rangers might experience a nice boost in their rotation.

From an offensive standpoint, the Rangers have some question marks. Most of those questions surround the teams core group consisting of the likes of first baseman Ronald Guzman, second baseman Rougned Odor, left fielder Willie Calhoun, and centerfielder Danny Santana. The two locks in the Rangers lineup are likely to be both shortstop Elvis Andrus and outfielder Joey Gallo. If the lineup finds a way to keep up with the pitching, then the Rangers could have a surprise season.

4. Milwaukee Brewers

Internally, the Milwaukee Brewers feel as though they are still a contending team. Although, it doesn’t look that way on paper especially when you look back at how the Brewers started this past offseason. The team’s front office made a bunch of cost-cutting moves to the point where the Brewers cut upwards of $60 million dollars from their payroll for this season.

However, the Brewers made some intriguing pickups this past offseason bringing in catcher Omar Narvaez from the Seattle Mariners and signing a lot of potential bounce back players in free agency. Those individuals include first baseman Justin Smoak, first and third baseman Ryon Healy, and outfielder Avisail Garcia. Easily, the best acquisition was the signing of utility man Brock Holt.

Pitching and the Bullpen Will Be Key

Where the Milwaukee Brewers really stand out is with their pitching staff. If the Brewers pitching staff puts up solid numbers this coming season, then that will definitely help the team’s pursuit of trying to win the National League Central. Over the last few years, there have been a lot of question marks around the Brewers starting rotation. However, manager Craig Counsell has found a way to piece everything together and rely heavily on a deep bullpen.

Besides the starting rotation, the Brewers will need a healthy left-hander Alex Claudio and right-hander Corey Knebel. If Claudio and Knebel return to how they performed in 2017, then Milwaukee will be in good shape especially with Josh Hader locking down things in the closer role.

5. Toronto Blue Jays

While many fans and analysts alike expect the Toronto Blue Jays to be in rebuild once again, Toronto doesn’t feel that way internally. The Blue Jays feel as though they have a very young and energetic core that could exceed everyone’s expectations. As such, when you have a number of young, talented position players like Toronto does, then anything is possible.

When you factor in the Blue Jays strong offensive core, their lineup could be really intriguing this year. Toronto has two talented top of the lineup hitters in second baseman Cavan Biggio and shortstop Bo Bichette. When you add third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., you can begin to see where a lot of offensive production could come from.

Blue Jays Added Pitching This Offseason

Additionally, that increase in offensive production should pair well with the pitching additions the team made this past offseason. Toronto was desperately in need of more starting pitching and they accomplished that. The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Chase Anderson from the aforementioned Milwaukee Brewers. Furthermore, the team made a big splash in signing left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu in free agency. Beyond that, Toronto also brought in right-handers Tanner Roark and Matt Shoemaker as well as Japanese right-hander Shun Yamaguchi.

All in all, the starting rotation looks much better now than it did at the conclusion of last season. For Toronto to be a surprise team, they will need the lineup and pitching to perform at the same level. It’s definitely possible if everything clicks right and while Toronto likely won’t win the American League East, they could surprise in the American League Wild Card race.

2020 MLB Season Final Thoughts

In the end, every single season there are players that come out of nowhere and teams that surprise us all. While you can study teams on paper all day and make all the predictions you want, the game is played on the field, not on paper. As such, these five teams could very well shock the entire baseball world this year. That’s part of the fun and intrigue that is involved in this game of baseball that we all love and enjoy. Here is to a great 2020 MLB season.

 

2020 MLB Surprise Teams: ANAHEIM – APRIL 24: A close-up picture shows one of the new Major League Baseball official game balls lying on the grass during the Detroits Tigers game against the Anaheim Angels on April 24, 2000 at Edison Field in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)