It's that time of year (sure, maybe I'm a day late) where those of us who profess to be baseball fans make predictions on how the season will play out. Typically, these predictions go off the rails but I'd like to remind you all that I did predict the Nationals would play the Astros in the 2019 World Series, and you all said I was crazy. Granted, I had the Astros winning but I still was closer than most of you. With that being said, I'm sure my predictions this year will be nowhere close to accurate. Without further adieu, here's how I see the strange 2020 MLB season unfolding.
- Blue Jays
- Red Sox
Synopsis: The Rays are a crazy, innovative team that is always looking for new ways to get a competitive advantage. They pioneered the opener and are now experimenting with a two-man outfield featuring the ground-covering duo of Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot. They also like to hit dingers, and I think Kevin Cash knows how to push the right buttons and will be able to make the right moves to overcome the mighty Yankees. For the Bronx Bombers, Gerritt Cole will be awesome and they will score a ton of runs. I think the Rays just slightly edge them out to win the division crown because of their greater depth in the rotation. The Blue Jays are up and coming with an exciting offensive core. The Red Sox will have one of the most dreadful pitching staffs in the league to the point where I will be surprised if their team ERA stays below 6. The Orioles, well, you know.
- Indians (37-23)
- White Sox (33-27)
- Twins (33-27)
- Tigers (23-37)
- Royals (21-39)
Synopsis: I know you all think I'm crazy already, but hear me out on this one. Everything that could go wrong for Cleveland in 2019 did, and they still won 94 games. I don't think Jose Ramirez will be awful for half a season, and they won't have injuries from Lindor, Carrasco, and a slew of others. They have the best rotation in the division and Terry Francona is a master at managing a bullpen in a 162-game marathon. I think he will be a wizard in 60 games as well en route to stealing several wins. It pains me to type this, but I think they find a way to win the division on the strength of that pitching. The weak schedule in the AL Central allows the Tribe to take the top record in the AL.
Good times finally arrive for us on the South Side. This team is going to score and score in bunches, and they will be extremely fun to watch. I think the pitching will be slightly better than people believe but it won't take enough of a jump to win the division just yet, although with all the upside I will not be the least bit surprised. Eloy takes another step forward, and after a slow start, Luis Robert has a fantastic rookie campaign but doesn't win the Rookie of the Year award because I just can't bring myself to believe national media will recognize an individual White Sox player. The playoff drought will end (thank you expanded playoffs) as the Sox finish tied with the Twins at 33 wins apiece but take second place thanks to tie-breakers.
Speaking of the Twins, they had a large collection of players enjoy career years last season, and I believe they are due for a level of regression (I'm looking right at you, Mitch Garver). They did add Josh Donaldson, which greatly improves their defense, but I think they have a little bit of bad luck this year that causes them to regress in the win column. The Tigers have some scary pitching coming and they added some veteran position players, but there's not much to be worried about there. The Royals are back to being the Royals, but it will be interesting to watch Brady Singer take the mound for the kings of BBQ land.
Synopsis: If Jesus Lazardo and A.J. Puk were healthy, I would've picked the A's to topple the Astros. I can't bring myself to do that given their uncertainty. Houston is still loaded offensively, but there are some questions on the pitching side due to the loss of Gerritt Cole. The A's are a loaded, well-balanced team with a smart manager in Bob Melvin. They will threaten the Astros but won't catch them, unfortunately. Mike Trout finally has support in Los Angeles of Anaheim of Orange County of California with Anthony Rendon and Jo Adell, but I'm not sure how they will get people out frequently enough to win games. Adell comes up after a week of service time manipulation to win the AL Rookie of the Year. I think they will slug their way to the final playoff spot. The Rangers can pitch but can't hit. Nobody knows how their new warehouse -- I mean ballpark -- will play, but they just don't have enough punch in the lineup. The Mariners could challenge the Orioles for the title of worst team in the entire league.
Synopsis: I thought the shortened season would benefit the Nats more than any team, making it a coin flip between them and Atlanta for the division crown. Then Juan Soto went down with COVID-19. Losing Rendon and now Soto is simply too much for this team to overcome. Washington still touts tremendous starting pitching and they fortified their bullpen over the winter. They will get back to the postseason on the strength of their run prevention. The Braves are a well-balanced team, even with the loss of Josh Donaldson. They can pitch, they can hit for power, and they have a reinforced bullpen that will be dangerous. The Phillies bullpen will ultimately be their undoing, despite Joe Girardi trying everything in his power to steal victories. I don't know what to make of Jake Arrieta coming off of an injury-plagued season, and we will have to see if Zack Wheeler can live up to his big deal. Overall, I just don't think this team has enough pitching to make the postseason. The Mets are already flooding the injured list before even playing a regular-season game. We were told they have tons of depth this year, but a rotation that is relying on Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello doesn't work for me. The Marlins have some young, exciting arms that could be a threat in a year or two.
Synopsis: I admittedly struggled with this division more than any other. I think the Reds pitching and reinforced lineup will help them take the title for the first time since 2012. They have the strongest rotation in the division, which was the deciding factor for me. I'm seemingly on an island thinking the Brewers will overcome the losses of Grandal, Thames, and Moustakas. Granted, they have serious questions in their rotation but I think Craig Counsell is very adept at managing a bullpen and will utilize Josh Hader in a sprint to steal more games than in a typical season. The Cubs still have a solid offensive core, but I have serious questions about this pitching staff. If Yu Darvish is the pitcher he was in the second half, I wouldn't be shocked to see them top the Brewers for second, but Jon Lester is aging rapidly while there is no certainty as to what they will get from Jose Quintana. Can David Ross really trust Craig Kimbrel and that bullpen right now? There are just too many "what ifs" for my liking. The Cardinals offense was very mediocre a year ago, and now they've lost their second-best hitter with the departure of Marcell Ozuna to Atlanta. Even if Dylan Carlson comes up and sets the world on fire, I don't know how this team scores enough runs. In Pittsburgh, Ben Cherington is just starting the long teardown, so it will be a while.
Synopsis: The Dodgers are the deepest team in all of baseball. They have star power, too. This organization has about 35 legitimate Major Leaguers on their 40-man roster, which is something no other organization can boast. They won't be challenged again this year. The Padres young talent takes a huge step forward, and Tommy Pham (who the Sox failed to trade for twice now) adds some veteran leadership. A.J. Preller's job is saved as the team snags a Wild Card. The Diamondbacks added Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte this winter. They have an adequate pitching staff but a relatively pedestrian lineup. However, they will be able to snag the final playoff spot in the weak NL. The Rockies and Giants are both stuck in neutral at the moment. Is this Nolan Arenado's final season in the mile-high city? Which team trades for Johnny Cueto to fortify their rotation for the final month?
Wild Card Round:
- (1) Indians over (8) Angels
- (5) A's over (4) Yankees
- (3) Astros over (6) White Sox 3-1 (Sox just aren't ready yet for the big boys)
- (2) Rays over (7) Twins (Twins finally win a postseason game, so get the parade route planned)
Division Series Round:
- (5) A's over (1) Indians
- (2) Rays over (3) Astros
League Championship Series:
- (2) Rays over (5) A's 4-3
Wild Card Round:
- (1) Dodgers over (8) Diamondbacks
- (4) Padres over (5) Nationals
- (3) Braves over (6) Brewers
- (2) Reds over (7) Cubs 3-2
Division Series Round:
- (1) Dodgers over (4) Padres
- (3) Braves over (2) Reds
League Championship Series:
- (1) Dodgers over (3) Braves 4-1
The Dodgers finally get over the hump, beating the Rays 4-2 in the battle of Andrew Friedman. I look at this season for the Dodgers similarly to what we saw from the 1995 Atlanta Braves. They are a team that has dominated their division for close to a decade, suffered consecutive World Series defeats, and then had an early postseason exit only to turn around and win a shortened-season championship. This Dodgers team is simply too good in all facets of the game. They finally put an end to their title drought and bring the city their first World Series since 1988.
AL Cy Young
NL Cy Young
AL Rookie of the Year
NL Rookie of the Year
AL Manager of the Year
NL Manager of the Year
Well, that's a wrap. Now it's time to sit back, relax, strap it down and see how wrong I am.