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#pounditSaturday, August 8, 2020

5 MLB teams most likely to surprise this season

Lucas Giolito

The MLB season looks like it will be played in some form, which is good news for teams who had high hopes for the 2020 season. Multiple teams have put the pieces in place to have a very good season — sometimes in a way that will defy expectations.

Here are five MLB teams that had poor 2019 seasons but could be poised to surprise in 2020.

5. Texas Rangers

An aggressive offseason makes the Rangers a team worth watching in 2020. Corey Kluber is the marquee acquisition, and he will head up the starting rotation. While they lack anyone who hits for a high average, there is power up and down the lineup. The rotation will be key. Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles are interesting additions, while Mike Minor and Lance Lynn needs to be solid starters. If that happens, the Rangers could make some noise.

4. Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have enough young talent on the roster that they could make significant improvements if those players develop quickly. Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. look like stars in the making. Hyun-Jin Ryu is an excellent signing and a pitcher who can anchor the rotation. The key will be depth. The rest of the lineup needs to produce, and pitchers like Matt Shoemaker needs to stay healthy and discover good form. Ken Giles is a quality closer at the end of the bullpen. A few things definitely need to come together, but the Jays have upside.

3. San Diego Padres

Manny Machado’s first season in San Diego did not go well, as the Padres lost 92 games and finished in last place. 2020 could be different. Adding Tommy Pham and Jurickson Profar should help the lineup. The Padres usually pitch well at home owing to the size of Petco Park, and Chris Paddack looks like a possible ace in the making. The key will be the bats — Eric Hosmer and Machado both need to perform. A strong middle of the order could push the Padres toward the playoffs.

2. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds have pretty clearly been building up for this year since the middle of 2019. Their acquisition of Trevor Bauer was the first big move, and they added more punch to their lineup with Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos. As it often is with the Reds, pitching will be key. Bauer must improve and pitch like an ace, while Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo must build in the promise they’ve shown. There is some vulnerability in the NL Central that the Reds can exploit if they fulfill their potential.

1. Chicago White Sox

The White Sox haven’t had a winning season since 2012, but their rebuilding may finally be set to pay off. The core of young studs Eloy Jimenez, Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, and Lucas Giolito appear to be coming into their own. The White Sox clearly think they’re close, because their active offseason focused on augmenting that core with tested veterans in Edwin Encarnacion and Dallas Keuchel. Add in Jose Abreu, and you have a lineup that has the potential to put up a lot of runs. If the pitching holds up, this team looks poised for a major turnaround — and they might not be a one-year wonder, either.

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