MLB Shortened Season Projections (Pre-Playoff expansion)
At long last we are finally getting a baseball season. It might not be the full 162-game season us baseball fans are accustomed to, but considering the circumstances, a 60-game season is incredible in itself. It will be interesting to see how the shortened season will affect the playoff alignment. Baseball is such a wacky sport, and in a normal season we would never be able to judge a team based off their first 60 games. Just for reference, the team that won the World Series in 2019 had a record of 27-33 after 60 games. How different would the Washington Nationals’ season have been viewed if the season ended at that mark?
There will be no room for error in 2020, and whichever teams want to have a shot of winning a World Series they will need to bring it from the start.
National League Regular Season
Starting things off we have what many consider to be the toughest division in baseball this year, the NL East. 4 out of the 5 teams in this division have a legitimate shot at making the World Series (sorry Marlins’ fans). This will be an unpredictable season and I think more than ever offense is going to reign supreme over pitching and I don’t think there is a team better than the Braves at this. For what they lack in a rotation they will make up for in their bullpen. I would expect at least one more team from this division to make the playoffs, as well.
In the NL Central we have teams that will have the easiest schedules. With an abundance of games played against the NL and AL Central I am going to go out on a limb and say the Cincinnati Reds will take the crown and earn a playoff spot for the first time since 2013. Outside of the Reds, the Cardinals will have the best shot at making some noise. Unfortunately, I do not see the Brewers or Cubs doing much after not improving themselves in the offseason.
Lastly, the NL West. As already stated this is going to be a crazy season and we have no idea what is going to happen. Well, we know one thing. The Dodgers will win the NL West for the eighth year in a row. The Padres are definitely a team on the rise, but they just will not
have what it takes yet to take that crown for the Dodgers.
American League Regular Season
Unlike their counterparts in the National League, the AL East only has two true contending teams: the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay (Montreal) Rays. The obvious choice here is the Yankees but I am going to go with... No, I am still going with the Yankees. That offense is so powerful and explosive and the addition of Cole to the rotation will be the move that ultimately gets them over the hump. The Rays are still a dangerous team and certainly have the ability to win the East, but I see them more so fitting in as a possible wild card team.
Heading over to the American League Central we have what many would consider the worst division in baseball. Well, not me. I think this division is making strides as a whole. Cleveland is still good, Minnesota has gotten better, and the White Sox are going to be the surprise team of 2020. That being said, with all of their firepower I see the Twins winning the division. However, the surprise will be the White Sox claiming a wild card spot.
In the AL West, the Angels, Astros, and A’s will lead the division. The Angels got much better in the offseason and it is time this team finally does something with Trout, but I am not sure it will be enough to win the division. In unsurprising news, the Houston “trash can” Astros will win their division again, giving them four division titles in a row.
WC1: White Sox
National League Postseason
The wildcard game this year will feature the Nationals (again) facing off against the Cardinals. As we already saw, the Nationals have figured out a way to win in the postseason. As long as they get quality performances out of their ridiculous rotation it shouldn’t matter that their offense took a serious hit. Expect the Nationals to move onto the division round, again.
Since the Dodgers are going to finish with the best record in the NL the Nationals will once again have the honor of facing the team out west. However, this time they will not be as fortunate and the Dodgers will advance to the NLCS. On the other side of the bracket the Braves will play host to the Reds in the first two games of the NLDS. The Reds have not won a playoff series since 1995 and the Braves haven’t won a series since 2001. That is right, the Braves have lost 10 straight playoff series. Something has to give, and while one streak will finally end, the other will continue on. The Braves advance to the NLCS.
The Braves will travel to LA to face the Dodgers to start the NLCS. The Dodgers have already bested the Braves in the postseason before in 2018, and I fully expect that to happen again. This series will be more competitive than the one in 2018, but the Braves lack of starter depth will cost them here. Dodgers win in 6.
National League Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
American League Postseason
Starting in the wildcard game the White Sox will host the Angels. Two teams that missed the playoffs in 2019 will be fighting for a spot in the ALDS. I know you are probably wondering where the Rays are, but I think they will just miss out on a spot. Their schedule is much tougher than their Central and Western counterparts, and in a shortened season this will prove detrimental. As for the actual game, the Angels will be the team to advance. The amount of talent they possess will be more than enough to carry them through to the next round.
In the Division series the Angels will be forced to travel to New York as the Yankees will have the best record in all of baseball. It seems as if the Yankees are a team on a mission and they will not let the Angels deter them. Yankees pull off the 3-game sweep. Meanwhile, the Astros will begin their series hosting the Twins. The Astros have been the team to beat in the American League for some time now, but their run ends early in 2020 as the Twins will advance to the ALCS.
The ALCS in 2020 will feature a rematch off the 2019 ALDS: the Twins vs the Yankees. In their previous matchup the Yankees pulled off the sweep, but they won't be so lucky this go around. Don’t get it twisted, the Yankees are still winning this series, it just will not be a sweep. The Twins will give them everything they have, but in the end, the Yankees will take in seven games.
American League Champions: New York Yankees
The World Series
Surprise, surprise, the 2020 World Series will see the Yankees first host the Dodgers in a best-of-seven series. It might not be the spiciest of takes, but honestly this is just how I see things playing out. As for the series itself, I see this being an old-fashioned slobberknocker. This series will make it all the way to seven games and the Dodgers will finally get their World Series victory.
World Series Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
Photo source: Getty Images