MLB Pro Confidential: 2020 Preseason Anonymous Survey

MLB Pro AP
March 25, 2020

MLB Pro opens up its ninth season tomorrow and ahead of Opening Day, the “Anonymous GM” surveyed team executives on a number of topics. Here are the results and comments that were contributed anonymously:

Who will win the 2020 MLB Pro World Series?

  1. Los Angeles Angels – 35 percent
  2. Toronto Blue Jays – 20 percent
  3. Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners – 10 percent
  4. Detroit Tigers**, New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays – 5 percent

    ** – Sanity check requested

The defending champion Los Angeles Angels enter the season as the team to beat according to those surveyed. In addition to being picked on 7 of 20 ballots, the Angels were picked to play in the World Series by two others. The most predicted World Series matchup involved the Angels and Colorado Rockies (25%).

The Angels enter the season with major question marks in their rotation, but return an elite bullpen and a lineup that still includes the trio of Kaleb Cowart, Masutaro Ohayashi, and Nomar Mazara. With the Houston Astros and Oakland A’s in position to challenge perennial threats in Texas and Seattle, the road to a World Series title for the Angels first begins in a very competitive division.

The Toronto Blue Jays lost in six games to the Angels in the 2019 American League Champion Series. Toronto has added frontline starter Broderick Wilson and three-time All-Star Raynel Velette to the rotation. If Velette can return to form seen prior to an injury that cost him the 2019 season, the Blue Jays 1-2-3 will be as strong as any in the American League. The bullpen has added Joran Walden and Aroldis Chapman to Brian Wilson and Klaas Bongers. Some insiders question the fit amongst all of the arms, while others are convinced the power arms will be incredibly difficult for opposing teams to figure out.

NL West rivals Colorado and San Francisco each were picked by a pair of league insiders to become the first NL teams to win the league title. The Giants edged the Rockies for the NL West title last season, but fell in the NLDS to Colorado. San Francisco will look to return to the top of the division with a deep rotation and the bats of the new-age “Killer B’s” in Bob Carlise, Buster Posey, and Braulio Pardo. For Colorado, how will the Rockies replace the production of Wil Myers?

The Seattle Mariners were the third American League team to finish with at least 10% of the vote. One second teetering on the edge of rebuilding and the next acquiring the likes of Evan Longoria. Adding Longoria to a lineup that already includes Manny Machado, Mark Baker, and of course Armando Cabanas gives Seattle the power to dethrone Los Angeles.

Who will win each division in 2020?

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
1. Toronto 85%
2. Boston 15%

“With Tampa Bay going full rebuild, Toronto has little competition from within the division. The clear favorite in the division and the leader in the pack to nab the best record in the American League.”

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
1. Minnesota 53%
2. Cleveland 32%
3. Chicago 11%
4. Detroit 5%

“The central will be a dogfight, but Minnesota will finish on top yet again.”

“Cleveland has loads of pitching, Chicago has loads of hope, Minnesota has loads of talent. Talent prevails.”

“Chicago is asking a heck of a lot out of an aging Josh Johnson and one-year wonder Gary Sanchez…but if they get off to a hot start and if they show patience, Esteban Hernandez could be the difference in the division.”

“Cleveland led the division for much of last season…adding Espinoza and Barnum give the lineup the needed depth to finish the season on top.”

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
1. Los Angeles 50%
2. Seattle 33%
3. Houston 11%
4. Oakland & Texas 6%

“Been there, done that. Until they are torn apart, I am not betting against the Angels.”

“While the Angels are patient, Seattle is anything but. This time though, the all-in approach pays off, Seattle finishes on top.”

“The Astros have been building for now. Some concerns with their rotation and bullpen, but not enough credit is given to the lineup they have built over the years. Last season’s trade for Jose Gonzalez was a steal and continues to look like highway robbery.”

“The one team that goes into the season with the most to gain is Oakland. A team that is antsy and ready to make another move. The rotation might be the best in all of baseball.”

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
1. Washington 53%
2. New York 37%
3. Miami & Philadelphia 5%

“The Washington Nationals are flying under the radar. They return much of last year’s team, including Ed Palmer. Not enough attention is given to Palmer or this team.”

“New York has won 90+ games in each of the past seven seasons. The organization is meticulous and detail-oriented. Lincecum + Vega and their strong heart of the order bring New York back to the top spot in the East.”

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
1. St. Louis 50%
2. Cincinnati 44%
3. Pittsburgh 6%

“Cards have a full season of Zach Potter and the Longoria replacements (mainly Candy) will be enough to produce a similar win total to last year.”

“The Reds aren’t taking down the Cards this year.”

“A healthy Chris Sale should be the difference. I would be considered about the Reds defense though.”

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
1. Colorado 56%
2. Los Angeles 22%
3. San Francisco 17%
4. Arizona 6%

“The Rockies lost Myers, but they bring in Steve Winter. If Hideki Abe repeats his 2019 season, the Rockies will be champions of both the division and the National League.”

“The Dodgers gave Jon Lester a two-year, 64 million-dollar deal for a reason. Adding him to the rotation and the likes of Sergio Romo and Shawn Tolleson to the bullpen give LA the pieces to win the West now.”

“Dave Righetti will work his magic again and S.F. will turn Suarez and Paxton into productive members of a very productive rotation. Ivan Chavez adds needed power to the lineup. Don’t discount the motivation of losing in the playoffs to Colorado.”

If you could have any player in MLB Pro for the next three years, who would it be?

  • Nomar Mazara 25%
  • Armando Cabanas 15%
  • Gary Copeland, Jeremy Scott, Jose Gonzalez, Justin Hooper 10%
  • Arturo Moreno, Wil Myers, Jed McKinley 5%

Nomar Mazara is averaging 6.9 WAR per season over the past three seasons. He has reached the All-Star game in each of his big-league seasons and has won three consecutive Silver Slugger Awards. Mazara remains under team control for each of the next three seasons as well. A focal point of one of the best offense in the league, Mazara is a player any team would love to have.

Staying in the AL West, the Mariners made headlines last season when they sold the farm for Armando Cabanas. The 25 year-old, is a former MVP who in a “down year” hit .277/.378/.475 with a WAR of 7.6. A threat in the batters box, on the base paths, and in the outfield. What likely kept Cabanas from grabbing the top spot in this question is the possibility of him hitting the open market after the 2021 season.

A quartet of players earned 10% of respondents. Gary Copeland is an average at best defender at first base, but he easily could be the most complete batter in the league. He has an uncanny 623 career walks at the big league level and just 236 strikeouts…oh and 332 career extra-base hits, 161 of which left the yard. The face of the Twins franchise is also locked into a very team friendly deal that will pay him just $38 million over the next three seasons.

Jeremy Scott finished last season as the runner-up in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. The 24 year-old, slick fielding shortstop slashed .303/.379/.540 as a rookie, while stealing 28 of 43 bases successfully. Scott is a five-tool player making the league minimum.

Jose Gonzalez came to Houston via a mega-deal with Milwaukee early in 2019. In 113 games with Houston, Gonzalez flourished hitting .314, smashing 26 homers, driving in 72 runs, and scoring 80 runs in 113 games. He swings often, but rarely ever misses. A plus defender, a good base-stealer. A very team friendly deal for 2020 and 2021, before hitting his final year of arbitration in 2022.

The only pitcher to warrant recognition is Justin Hooper. One league executive called Hooper, “the best combinations of cheapness and projected performance over those three years.” A powerful, workhorse, Hooper will pair with Danny Hultzen to form the deadly top 2 in the Mariner rotation. Hooper easily hits triple-digits behind an electric fastball, while showing three plus secondary pitches.

Which player would fetch the most in a trade?

The following players received multiple votes:

  • Gary Copeland
  • Justin Hooper
  • Jed McKinley
  • Jeremy Scott
  • Nomar Mazara
  • Pedro Magana
  • Rod Swift

    Copeland, Hooper, Scott, and Mazara all make sense as they each were popular choices in the previous question. Colorado’s Jed McKinley exploded last season behind his league best .364 batting average. An elite bat, at a premium position, McKinley’s salary is set to explode over the next few seasons in arbitration, might Colorado listen to offers perhaps as soon as next offseason?

    Pedro Magana was nearly traded this offseason before a deal fell apart at last minute. Teams reacted to the news by expressing dismay at the near deal. Interest in Magana was made known across the league. Will the young pitcher repeat a successful 2019 season or will he regress back to a disappointing 2018 season? If the right-hander can repeat his 2019, the return he could be net Philadelphia could be massive if they were to move him.

    Joining Hooper and Magana as pitchers much of the league covets is Cleveland’s Rod Swift. As a rookie in 2019, Swift was named an All-Star and finished the year ranked in the top 10 in innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA, hits per 9 innings, and led the league with 26 quality starts. Just 24 years-old, Swift’s curveball and slider pair to be nasty pitches for opposing batters to deal with.

Who is the most underrated player in the league?

(Anonymous scout on Roberto Torres) “Torres had a 5.3 WAR rookie season with a 766 OPS as a non-HR hitter, was 3rd in the Majors in hits, while playing plus-plus center field, and he still shows room for growth. I think he should be considered a star in the league, but he seems largely overlooked.”

(Re: Alberto Vega) “Vega has led the NL in strikeout rate the past two years, but haven’t heard much about his stardom.”

(General Manager on Lucas Edgar) “Excellent defensive left fielder, and an extra base hitting machine with ++ speed.”

Dylan Bundy

(Scout on Dylan Bundy) “He’s in the shadow of the two other Seattle star pitchers (Hultzen and Hooper) and he is consistently good. He might not strike a ton of batters out, but he is always out there getting the job done.”

OTHERS TO RECEIVE VOTES: Carlos Correa, Daniel Santana, Josh Collmenter, Juan Soto, Martin Lopez, Mike Moustakas, Paul Erickson

Who is the most overrated player in the league?

(Anonymous Player on Cameron Gallagher) “For the simple fact that he has a career .297 OBP but is still hyped up to be something much more than that by scouts.”

(Talent Evaluator on Miguel Leon) “Leon is a player who has not performed to his talents yet. A good player who gets credit for being a great player.”

(Anonymous GM on Shelby Miller) “Considered by most as an ace, but has only had one really good season as a SP.”

Which team is the most underrated?

The Washington Nationals are the defending 2019 NL East Champions and a team few are talking about heading into the 2020 season. It’s a team that finished last season 32-17 over the course of the final two months, a team that finished 6th in the NL in runs scored and allowed the fewest runs of any NL squad.

The rotation is again led by the quartet of Ed Reith, Scott Trevail, Mark Davies and Cole Swanson. Trevail is coming off of a 13-win season with an ERA under three. The biggest question mark in the bullpen comes with the need to replace late-inning aces Aroldis Chapman and Scott Elbert.

Offensively, the Nationals have added Justin Upton on a 3-year, $29 million free-agent deal. Upton has an MLB Pro career slash line of .270/.372/.495. With protection in the lineup in the bats of Ed Palmer and Rymer Liriano, expecting Upton to round into form quickly should be expected.

OTHERS TO RECEIVE VOTES: Cincinnati, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, Texas

Which team is the most overrated?

TEAMS TO RECEIVE VOTES:

  • Cincinnati
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Houston
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • St. Louis
  • Toronto
  • Washington

Bold Predictions and More!

  • “The National League will win the World Series”
  • “Neither of the Wild Cards in the AL come out of the West.”
  • “Astros AND Diamondbacks both make serious runs at wildcard spots.
  • “The Seattle Mariners won’t make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.”
  • “Seattle finally dethrones the Angels in their division”
  • “Watch Out for those Tigers. I like everything about that team.”
  • “Twins finish third in AL Central, Mariners struggle…”
  • “Indians make the playoffs. Only 2 NL West teams make it. Huge April injury to an Angel”
  • “There are more than four teams in this league so try pay attention to them all”

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