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2020 MLB Season Predictions

The Major League Baseball season begins tonight as Gerrit Cole and the Yankees take on Max Scherzer and the Nationals. This is going to be a wild season with statistical oddities, postseason chaos, and a heavy use of relievers. I tried to predict the 2020 60-game season in what was a difficult task to partake. Each team will have a short blurb, along with an optimistic record, pessimistic record, and what I actually think will happen. Read until the end to see the postseason, award winners, and statistical leaders. Let’s not forget that in a 60-game season any crazy prediction is a good prediction.

American League East

Baltimore Orioles

Optimistic: 25-35

Pessimistic: 9-51

Prediction: 19-41, 5th in AL East

The Orioles have one of the hardest schedules in all of baseball, playing against both divisions in the East which are two of the most competitive. Their lone All-Star last year, John Means, got pushed back from an Opening Day start due to injury. Therefore, the Orioles are starting journeyman lefty Tommy Milone on Opening Day (4.47 career ERA – yikes). Hey, on the bright side, Baltimore fans should get their first look at stud hitting prospect Ryan Mountcastle. Oh, and of course they will tank for yet another top draft pick.

Boston Red Sox

Optimistic: 32-28

Pessimistic: 25-35

Prediction: 28-32 tied 3rd in AL East

This is a vastly different looking Red Sox team after trading star right fielder Mookie Betts. Not to mention the fact that their starting rotation has quickly fallen to one of the worst in baseball. Chris Sale underwent Tommy John surgery before the pandemic, David Price was traded with Betts to L.A. and Eduardo Rodriguez will be eased back after testing positive for COVID-19. But, their lineup is still very strong with Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers, and J.D. Martinez manning the middle of their order. Not so Sweet Caroline.

New York Yankees

Optimistic: 42-18

Pessimistic: 35-25

Prediction: 40-20 1st in AL East

The Yankees are the one true juggernaut in the American League. They won 103 games last year with a million injuries and now they have added Gerrit Cole. The pandemic actually helped the Yankees as now Judge and Stanton are ready for Opening Day. With only a few major guys contracting the virus (Aroldis Chapman and DJ LeMahieu), the Yankees are geared up to make yet another run at the pennant that has eluded them since 2009.

Tampa Bay Rays

Optimistic: 38-22

Pessimistic: 30-30

Prediction: 36-24 2nd in AL East

Mixing, matching, and squeezing every last ounce of potential out of each and every player is how the Rays operate. Kevin Cash is going to go to the bullpen early and often and matchup as well as he can with the new 3-batter minimum rule. The team has 3 excellent starters in Charlie Morton, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow. The lineup will be pretty good with new additons Hunter Renfroe and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. But, the team will be without their best hitter from 2019, Austin Meadows, for the first week or two of games after testing postive for coronavirus. Tampa Bay looks to be right in the mix for a playoff spot yet again.

Toronto Blue Jays

Optimistic: 32-28

Pessimistic: 24-36

Prediction: 28-32 tied 3rd in AL East

The Blue Jays don’t have a home ballpark for the season after not being allowed to play in Toronto by the Canadian government. There is a real possibility they will be road warriors if they cannot find a home site. Despite all the chaos, the Blue Jays are probably the most exciting young team in all of baseball. Everyone has heard of the 3 sons of major leaguers, Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. But, keep your eye on Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (127 OPS+ in 2019) and the #1 rated right handed pitching prospect in baseball, Nate Pearson. And the Jays added the owner of the lowest ERA in 2019, Hyun-Jin Ryu (2.32) to anchor their staff. It’s probably a year or two early for this team to make a serious run but in a shortened season, you never know what will happen.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox

Optimistic: 36-24

Pessimistic: 29-31

Prediction: 36-24 1st in AL Central

The White Sox are the trendy pick in the American League for good reasons as the South Siders have emerged from their rebuild. They have a good mix of young core (Anderson, Moncada, and Jimenez), veteran presence (Abreu, Encarnacion, and Grandal), along with top prospects (Madrigal and Robert). The sky is the limit with this team, though they are still young and inexperienced and have questions in the rotation. But, as you see I picked the optimistic record for the White Sox. Mainly because of the deep lineup, but also because of ace Lucas Giolito, Dallas Keuchel paired with elite pitch framer Grandal, and a breakout or two from Cease and or Lopez. Even if they don’t make the playoffs it sure will be a fun time at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Cleveland Indians

Optimistic: 36-24

Pessimistic: 28-32

Prediction: 33-27 3rd in AL Central

The Indians are a very top heavy team and are just a few key injuries or positive tests away from having their season go to waste. Led by SS Francisco Lindor and 3B Jose Ramirez, the Indians offense is pretty strong at the top. The question remains with the outfield, a problem the front office has been trying to solve for years. Even with trades of Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer this rotation is still very good. Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger are both top 15 pitchers in the game. The bullpen was 3rd in ERA in all of baseball but the 3-batter minimum rule will put a monkey wrench in Francona’s bullpen strategy.

Detroit Tigers

Optimistic: 25-35

Pessimistic: 18-42

Prediction: 22-38 4th in AL Central

The Tigers were the worst team in baseball last year with an unwatchable lineup. Thankfully, they brought in some help in C.J. Cron, and Jonathan Schoop. But, they won’t make much difference in a team that is still far, far away. The only thing to really look forward to in 2020 for Tigers fans is watching unexpected breakouts and seeing the arrival of top pitching prospects Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal.

Kansas City Royals

Optimistic: 25-35

Pessimistic: 16-44

Prediction: 20-40 5th in AL Central

Are the Royals going to be able to get through the season without their entire team going down to the virus? They have had a ton of players go down including RF Hunter Dozier. Mike Matheny noted that Brady Singer will start the season in the starting rotation, which is exciting for KC fans. They have some good offensive players like Whit Merrifield and Jorge Soler but other than that there isn’t much flavor on the Royals roster.

Minnesota Twins

Optimistic: 40-20

Pessimistic: 32-28

Prediction: 35-25 2nd in AL Central

Everybody loves the Twins which is understandable since they hit 307 home runs last year; the most ever. Their bullpen is really good and they have a budding ace in Jose Berrios. However the rest of the rotation is more up in the air especially with Michael Pineda being suspended and Jake Odorizzi gone with upper back issues. But, they added Josh Donaldson and have 40 year old Nelson Cruz along with a bunch of other bats. While the lineup will likely still be very good this year, it’s possible that they’re due for regression given that they had many opportunities to hit against sub-par AL Central pitching in 2019. Also of note is that seemingly every player on the Twins had a career year last year and they had excellent health. That will be pretty hard to sustain again, especially in the era of corona.

American League West

Houston Astros

Optimistic: 39-21

Pessimistic: 32-28

Prediction: 35-25 1st in AL West

Recently throwing their name in the ring for the most hated team in the history of sports, the Astros are going to have a huge bullseye on their back as every team is going to go super hard when playing them. Luckily for them, the pandemic hit and now fans can’t be in the stadium to heckle the hell out of them. The team is still very good*, but they lost Gerrit Cole which is a huge blow, and Justin Verlander continues to get older. Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez hasn’t showed up to camp and the team will be without him for a while.

Los Angeles Angels

Optimistic: 35-25

Pessimistic: 26-34

Prediction: 30-30 3rd in AL West

A team that always seems to be mediocre and never meets expectations is the Angels. There is a lot to be excited about with Ohtani being the Sunday Starter, the free agent signing of Anthony Rendon, and some much needed starting pitching help with Dylan Bundy and Julio Teheran. However, outside of Trout, Rendon, and Ohtani the lineup doesn’t seem very intimidating, although it could improve with the arrival of top prospect Jo Adell. I like the improved offense but the pitching, especially the bullpen, is not going to be able to compete with the other teams in the division.

Oakland Athletics

Optimistic: 36-24

Pessimistic: 28-32

Prediction: 33-27 2nd in AL West

I loved the Athletics over 162, actually picking them to win the division, but over 60 games I don’t feel the same. Rookie Starters Jesus Luzardo (COVID) and A.J. Puk (shoulder inflammation) have had health concerns making the back end of the rotation more of a crap shoot, especially in the first few weeks. The team can really field and the lineup is very solid top to bottom but I don’t think they will be able to topple the Houston Astros in this sprint.

Seattle Mariners

Optimistic: 24-36

Pessimistic: 16-44

Prediction: 21-39 last in AL West

The Seattle Mariners are a very bad baseball team, but they are in the middle of the rebuild. Mariners fans cannot wait until next year when Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez enter the fray and cement themselves as superstars. This year at least provides the opportunity to watch Daniel Vogelbach and Kyle Lewis continued development along with the debut of Evan White at 1st base.

Texas Rangers

Optimistic: 34-26

Pessimistic: 25-35

Prediction: 29-31 4th in AL West

All anyone wants to talk about is the Rangers new ballpark, but the rotation doesn’t get the love it deserves. Led by trade acquisition and two-time AL Cy Young, Corey Kluber, the Rangers rotation is the calling point of the team. But the lineup just isn’t up to par with the Angels, Astros, or Athletics. The most exciting part of the season might be when Joey Gallo hits the 1st baseball to the moon.

National League East

Atlanta Braves

Optimistic: 36-24

Pessimistic: 30-30

Prediction: 33-27 1st in NL East

The Braves have been in the middle of a lot of unfortunate circumstances in the past year. It was 10 runs in the 1st inning that knocked them out of the playoffs, then star 1st baseman Freddie Freeman got the virus, and free agent signing Yasiel Puig went for naught after he tested positive. Atlanta is a very similar team to last year with superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. manning RF and new free agent acquisition Marcell Ozuna probably at DH. The key factor might be if Mike Foltynewicz can rebound to what he was in 2018. It’s going to be a nail biting finish come late September.

Miami Marlins

Optimistic: 26-34

Pessimistic: 20-40

Prediction: 22-38 5th in NL East

The Marlins are clearly at the bottom of the NL East but that shouldn’t stop them from having a fun season. With talent up and down the farm system there will be plenty of interesting debuts like Monte Harrison and Jesus Sanchez. In a 60-game season, the Marlins could actually surprise us as Derek Jeter complimented the youngsters with veterans Jesus Aguilar, Corey Dickerson, and Jonathan Villar. At worst the team is going to have a chance to spoil some seasons of their rivals.

New York Mets

Optimistic: 36-24

Pessimistic: 28-32

Prediction: 32-28 tied 2nd in NL East

The New York Mets, as we all know, have been known for their pitching throughout the franchise’s history. But this season, the Mets are going to be known for a dynamic offense. With NL Rookie of the Year Pete Alonso and the return of Yoenis Cespedes to the lineup it is going to be a dangerous offensive attack. The starting pitching is dwindling, however, as Noah Syndergaard is gone for the season with Tommy John, and Marcus Stroman was placed on the IL with a torn calf. They still have back-to-back NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, but after that there are many question marks. The Mets were my pick to win the division originally but after the Stroman injury, I sided with Atlanta.

Philadelphia Phillies

Optimistic: 36-24

Pessimistic: 27-33

Prediction: 32-28 tied 2nd in NL East

The Phillies were supposed to finally be a legitimate postseason contender last year after the big signing of Bryce Harper but the team left Philly fans dissapointed. After the season, manager Gabe Kapler was fired, and replaced by Joe Giradi. The veteran manager should help guide this team to better success but the bullpen is pretty thin, and the rotation will need another guy to step up behind the 1-2 of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler; maybe Jake Arrieta can show flashes of his old Cy Young self?

Washington Nationals

Optimistic: 34-26

Pessimistic: 25-35

Prediction: 30-30 4th in NL East

Coming off an improbable World Series championship last year, the Nationals are going to want to start off much better than last year. The rotation is probably the best in baseball and the bullpen should not be as bad as it was early on last season. The team is going to be competitive because of their pitching but after losing Harper and then Rendon in consecutive offseasons, I’m not confident this lineup will be able to get the job done especially after the dreadful news that Juan Soto tested positive for coronavirus.

National League Central

Chicago Cubs

Optimistic: 35-25

Pessimistic: 29-31

Prediction: 32-28 tied 3rd in NL Central

The Cubs have quickly fallen after winning the World Series in 2016, having a worse season each year since. With David Ross taking over as skipper the clubhouse should have a much different vibe. Still, regardless of who’s managing the team, there’s a lot of potential for disaster in the bullpen, which is difficult to overcome to truly contend. Closer Craig Kimbrel was awful last year, and everybody else is either unproven or looking to bounce back. The lineup is still good but the rotation is aging and it looks like Jon Lester is on the downward trend. Still, the Cubs are going to be right in the middle of the exciting National League Central race.

Cincinnati Reds

Optimistic: 37-23

Pessimistic: 31-29

Prediction: 35-25 1st in NL Central

It feels good to say that the Reds are a legitimate favorite to win the division after having too many losing seasons in a row. There isn’t a clear 2nd best team in the NL but the Reds have one of the best cases. Cincinnati has a formidable rotation headed by Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, and Trevor Bauer. Additionally, their lineup features underrated 3B Eugenio Suarez and veteran Joey Votto, along with new signings Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos. With the addition of the DH, this team benefits more than most due to an excess of outfielders as well. They are everyone’s fun pick in the NL and I’m picking them to win the division too.

Milwaukee Brewers

Optimistic: 35-25

Pessimistic: 25-35

Prediction: 32-28 tied 3rd in NL Central

The Milwaukee Brewers are coming off back-to-back postseason appearances but remain a team stuck in the middle. No matter what, the team seems to figure it out somehow. With fireballer Josh Hader leading the bullpen, Craig Counsell is going to utilize his bullpen to its max. The rotation remains a work in progress after Brandon Woodruff and their lineup is in the same boat. They do have extremely good hitters in Hiura and Yelich but other than that there are a lot of guys who can go either way.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Optimistic: 24-36

Pessimistic: 19-41

Prediction: 22-38 5th in NL Central

The Pirates are going to be in store for a really bad season as they are officially in a rebuild. This is a year to find out who can contribute at the big league level. 2019 had big breakouts from Josh Bell and Bryan Reynolds, and the Pirates would love to see top prospects Ke’Bryan Hayes and Mitch Keller cement themselves as good major league contributors. They only catch a break when they play the Royals and Tigers, with every other opponent still hoping for a playoff spot this year.

St. Louis Cardinals

Optimistic: 37-23

Pessimistic: 27-33

Prediction: 33-27 2nd in NL Central

St. Louis is a defense and pitching team first and an offensive team second. Jack Flaherty is one of the best pitchers in the game. Dylan Carlson is on the cusp of the big leagues. But the offense seems very underwhelming. Goldschmidt had his worst year in the majors last year, Molina keeps getting older, and none of the young players seem to be dynamic offensive players. The pitching is going to carry this team but if the offense can have some sparks they can definitely win the division.

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks

Optimistic: 36-24

Pessimistic: 30-30

Prediction: 34-26 2nd in NL West

The Diamondbacks are a sneaky good team. Ketel Marte is the most underrated superstar in the game after a 7 win season in 2019. The lineup has good bats like Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, and David Peralta. The defense is really good and the pitching now has Madison Bumgarner atop a rotation that also features studs in Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver. They could make a run at the Dodgers but at worst they should make the postseason as a lower seed.

Colorado Rockies

Optimistic: 31-29

Pessimistic: 24-36

Prediction: 26-34 4th in NL West

Colorado looked very good in 2018 with pitching breakouts everywhere, but in 2019 everything fell apart. They have Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story in the lineup but if they don’t get any pitching it doesn’t matter how many homers they hit. If the rotation pitches closer to how they did in 2018 the team can find itself playing in October. On the other hand, if they pitch like last year they will find themselves toward the bottom of the league.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Optimistic: 50-10

Pessimistic: 35-25

Prediction: 38-22 1st in NL West

1a or 1b to the Yankees, the Dodgers are primed for yet another deep playoff run. No matter how many wins the Dodgers amass this year, the season will feel incomplete without a World Series title. The team has so much depth that even their backups including clubhouse attendant, Chico, would find themselves competing. They added Mookie Betts in the offseason, now one of the richest men in baseball history, to give them the best 1-2 in the game with 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger. A World Series favorite in the NL.

San Diego Padres

Optimistic: 35-25

Pessimistic: 28-32

Prediction: 33-27 3rd in NL West

We have been hearing about the Padres farm system forever, yet the team remains below .500 every year. They have solid pieces, with probably the most watchable player in baseball, Fernando Tatis Jr. and 3B Manny Machado. Their pitching looks to be pretty good and could be helped with the debut of MacKenzie Gore. If everything clicks they could be World Series contenders but if things go like they have been in San Diego they may find themselves short of the playoffs once again.

San Francisco Giants

Optimistic: 25-35

Pessimistic: 15-45

Prediction: 21-39 last in NL West

The Giants should have traded away all their veterans when they actually had value to help kickstart the rebuilding process. Now they are stuck with a bunch of players past their prime and even breakouts Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski are 30 and 29, respectively. It doesn’t help that Buster Posey opted out, and Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria are starting the season on the IL. The best case scenario for the team is probably tanking for the 1st overall pick in next year’s draft.

Postseason

If you want to know who is going to win the postseason, simply get a hat, put 16 team’s names in it, and randomly pick. It’s going to be a total crap shoot with round 1 being a best of 3 series. 1st and 2nd place teams make the postseason along with the 2 other best records in each league.

American League

1st Round: Yankees, White Sox, Astros, Rays, Twins, Athletics, Indians, Angels

2nd Round: Yankees, White Sox, Rays, Indians

League Championship Series: Yankees, Indians

The Yankees lineup is just so much better than the Indians that they will give even the good Indians pitching staff trouble.

National League

1st Round: Dodgers, Reds, Braves, Diamondbacks, Cardinals, Padres, Mets, Cubs

2nd Round: Dodgers, Reds, Braves, Diamondbacks

League Championship Series: Dodgers, Reds

I love the top 3 in the Reds rotation but you cannot go wrong with Walker Buehler and the never ending Dodgers depth.

World Series:

Probably the most boring prediction I have made. It’s extremely difficult to pick against either team because they are easily the best two teams. I will go with the Dodgers because of Betts and Bellinger but also because their position players have had much better injury history than the Yankees.

Awards

AL MVP: Francisco Lindor (CLE)

NL MVP: Mookie Betts (LAD)

AL Cy Young: Mike Clevinger (CLE)

NL Cy Young: Luis Castillo (CIN)

AL Manager: Rick Renteria (CHW)

NL Manager: David Bell (CIN)

AL Rookie of the Year: Luis Robert (CHW)

NL Rookie of the Year: Dylan Carlson (STL)

Statistical Leaders

AL Batting Average: Anthony Rendon (LAA)

NL Batting Average: Nolan Arenado (COL)

AL Home Runs: Joey Gallo (TEX)

NL Home Runs: Nicholas Castellanos (CIN)

AL Stolen Bases: Adalberto Mondesi (KC)

NL Stolen Bases: Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL)

AL OPS: Alex Bregman (HOU)

NL OPS: Mookie Betts (LAD)

AL ERA: Mike Clevinger (CLE)

NL ERA: Luis Castillo (CIN)

AL Strikeouts: Tyler Glasnow (TB)

NL Strikeouts: Trevor Bauer (CIN)

AL Saves: Nick Anderson (TB)

NL Saves: Josh Hader (MIL)

AL Innings Pitched: Justin Verlander (HOU)

NL Innings Pitched: Trevor Bauer (CIN)

Featured Photo: @MLB Twitter

Andrew Horwath

Writer. Diehard White Sox fan. Brewers fan. Favorite number is 22 because of 2005 World Series Game 2 hero Scott Podsednik. Find me on twitter @supersoxfan79

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