The MLB landscape is vastly different than the landscapes of many other professional sports leagues, mainly because of the minor league system that allows players to see many different levels of competition before reaching the major league. Only about 10% of MLB players ever actually reach the major league level, this number shows how vast and important the minor league system is in Major League Baseball. It is also where many teams develop championship rosters filled with elite prospects. For many teams, windows of opportunity come and go based on the level of talent in their minor league system and the estimated arrival of that talent in the major league. For that reason, many analysts try and predict when a large window of opportunity for a team can open up and allow the trove of minor league talent to reach the majors and compete for a World Series title. This article will dive into the teams that I personally think could dominate the 2020 decade based on their current roster, ability to develop minor league talent, and their current top prospects in the minor leagues. Watch out for every one of these teams over the next ten years, as they may be creating dynasties right before our eyes.
The Braves are a team that has skyrocketed over the last few years after being among the league’s worst teams over a four year stretch from 2014 to 2017. The reason for this sudden rise was their minor league system being filled with numerous talented players such as Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies. Many of their top prospects panned out at the major league level and joined some of the proven talent on this roster such as reigning NL MVP Freddie Freeman. This team is only getting better, but a torn ACL for Ronald Acuña could derail their plans at a title run this season. As long as he comes back and looks like himself again though, the Braves should have a great shot at a title over the course of the next few seasons. They made outstanding decisions by signing both Ozzies Albies and Acuña to very cheap deals that last through much of the next decade. This will allow them to sign key veterans and make sure there is always talent surrounding their franchise cornerstones. The Braves have set themselves up for long term success, and this may be the start of a dynasty in Atlanta.
San Diego Padres
The Padres arrived unexpectedly into baseball’s elite tier in the shortened 2020 season. This happened mainly because their top prospect, Fernando Tatis Jr., became one of the best baseball players in the league at an incredibly young age. Manny Machado’s elite defense and bag showed up as well, making San Diego’s left side of the infield a nightmare for opposing teams. Tatis and Machado are both under contract for much of this next decade already, so now the Padres can shift their focus to adding talent around them. They went all in during the off-season and put together one of the best starting rotations in baseball. The rotation features Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, Blake Snell, Dinelson Lamet, Chris Paddack, and soon to be Mike Clevinger. The bullpen is also elite, featuring some outstanding talent in a league currently devoid of many reliable relief pitchers. This team is built to win a championship and compete for a long time, and I expect them to do just that.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays completed a quick rebuild after being at the doorstep of the World Series in both 2015 and 2016. This rebuild brought Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio into the minor league system. There is something very interesting about those three players too, they are all sons of legendary baseball players. Vladimir Guerrero, Dante Bichette, and Craig Biggio have probably become very close watching their sons reach the major league level and make this Blue Jays team an offensive powerhouse. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is actually a front runner for the AL MVP award this year at only the age of 22. This team is at the beginning of their title window and could make a lot of noise over the decade. The biggest thing for them is to add more pitching. They have an elite offense, but don’t have the pitching depth both the starting rotation and bullpen to compete for a World Series currently. There is still plenty of pitching prospects that could end up helping the Blue Jays, and they could address the need in free agency as well. If the Blue Jays are able to add some reliable pitching, I think they actually have the best chance of any team on this list to make a true dynasty and dominate the next decade. This roster is close, and the young players on this team definitely have what it takes to bring a World Series to the city of Toronto.
Chicago White Sox
Going into the shortened 2020 season, the White Sox hadn’t finished a season with a winning record since 2012. This is becoming a common theme, bottom feeder teams going into a rebuild and accruing talent in the minor league system to make title runs a few years down the line. The Chicago White Sox fit that mold perfectly. They absolutely loaded their minor league system to the brim with top tier prospects and it all came together in the shortened 2020 season. They went down in the wild card round in their first taste of the postseason since 2008, but they shouldn’t be discouraged. They have a great starting rotation to go with the young talent littered across their batting order. The injury bug has hit the White Sox hard this year, going after their young talent a little extra as well. Eloy Jiménez, Nick Madrigal, and Luis Robert were all young players that were expected to break into stardom for this White Sox team in 2021, but they instead found themselves on the injured list early on this season. That hasn’t stopped the White Sox from being at the top of the standings in the AL Central, and getting their young players back is only going to make them scarier. The White Sox have the best chance out of anyone on this list to win it all this year in my opinion, and they are only going to get better over the next few years. This is a dangerous and balanced team that is built to win it all, and they might bring Chicago a few championships over the next decade.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are by far the best team in the league at building up their minor league system and developing it to put a winning team on the field at the major league level. This is their only realistic way to win a World Series, they spend less than any team in the league. The lack of spending didn’t stop them from making it all the way to the World Series in 2020 though, and they have the ability to make deep playoff runs at any given time as long as their minor league system is stocked full of talented prospects. They are a game behind from the AL East lead this season, and look poised to take down some teams with way bigger payrolls in the playoffs again this year. They are a classic David vs. Goliath type of team, and we all know how that story ends. You can outspend them and put more proven talent on the field than them, but it’s hard to beat a team that uses their minor league talent as well as the Rays. Their performance over the last few years and the surplus of prospects still littered throughout the minors makes the Rays a team that could use a similar formula to their 2020 season and dominate the next decade. They are the modern day example of “Moneyball”, and it be unwise to bet against them.