2020 MLB Season: Predictions, Storylines, and World Series Champion
Feb 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (50) talks with center fielder Cody Bellinger (not pictured), third baseman Justin Turner (10) and second baseman Max Muncy (13) during spring training at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Baseball is back.
It has been a wild three months but we finally have a clear answer regarding the 2020 edition of America’s Pastime.
Without further ado, here is a look at how each division could break down, a storyline in each division, and how the playoffs will transpire.
- White Sox
- Red Sox
- Blue Jays
Before spring training was shut down due to COVID-19, the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal was the almighty headline. Star players Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were booed in their first at-bats of the spring, and many speculated on how many teams would intentionally plunk Astros hitters this season.
With the localized schedules, the Astros will be seeing plenty of AL West rivals that are not likely to forget what the club did in the last few seasons. Although there will not be many fans in seats to boo the Astros, look for Houston’s opponents to give them the cold shoulder, and not just because of social distancing.
Young White Sox
Although everyone is claiming 2021 is the year the White Sox will peak, the shortened season provides an interesting opportunity for this young team. Possible standouts Luis Robert and Michael Kopech may benefit from fewer games being played. Often, young stars are not used to the long season and their production will tail off by the end of the year. Although the flip side can also be true, development does happen by playing games.
Look for streaky performances from the younger players, with “veterans” Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada taking the next step. If the core of the White Sox can perform well, they could snag the division from the Twins and Indians with such a small sample size.
Young Blue Jays
Although the Blue Jays are a longshot to make the playoffs this season, it is hard to not be excited about dynamic future superstars Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. This squad is not only a trio of sons of former major leaguers but also three of the most promising prospects in all of baseball. Add on first-round Vanderbilt product Austin Martin and the Blue Jays may have the best offense in MLB come 2022 and beyond.
The Blue Jays need to acquire some young pitching or perhaps even a star pitcher in the 2020-21 offseason if they want to be extremely dangerous ahead of schedule.
There’s really not much to say here. One of the top players in baseball last year was acquired by one of the top teams in baseball. This should make for a good match, although Dodgers fans and executive Andrew Friedman are surely disappointed about only having Betts for 60 games instead of 162.
Either way, Betts is projected to post roughly 2.76 WAR this year and will have much better protection with MVP Cody Bellinger behind him. The Dodgers project to easily win the NL West, although extra games against the Astros, Athletics, and Angels will not help their cause.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in a fascinating situation for 2020. An aging Matt Carpenter was unable to provide true protection for Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the lineup. In order for the Cardinals to rebound to playoff contention, they need Carpenter and Dexter Fowler to support Goldschmidt on the offensive front.
Ace Jack Flaherty will again lead the pitching staff, although the pieces behind him are suspect. If Adam Wainwright can turn this 60-game season into a farewell tour that cements his legacy in St. Louis, the Cardinals have a good chance at pushing their way into a stacked playoff situation.
Braves escape the NLDS
Sure, the Braves played great baseball last year. The issue is that their playoff performance was subpar, to say the least. With Ronald Acuna Jr. leading the way for the Braves, an MVP season out of the emerging superstar is not out of the question. A scaled-down repeat performance would allow for the Braves to fly into the postseason at the top of the NL East while staying as fresh as possible for a redemption run.
Playoffs (American League)
- White Sox
Longshots: Athletics and Angels
Rays over Twins
Yankees over Rays
Astros over White Sox
Yankees over Astros
Playoffs (National League)
Longshots: Padres and Nationals
Phillies over Cardinals
Dodgers over Phillies
Braves over Brewers
Dodgers over Braves
Dodgers over Yankees
Because of the issues of health for the Yankees, it is unlikely that they will be able to take down the Dodgers here. Motivation and superior talent and experience will lead them to the World Series, but Betts, Bellinger, and Clayton Kershaw will finally claim a World Series title for the Dodgers.