by Aaron Jaffe 21’
Baseball is (kinda) back, technically. March 26 was poised to be Opening Day for the 2020 season. In 2019, The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in seven games to win the World Series. We are into early April, with no signs of ramping activities back up until at least mid-May. The ideas to get baseball back in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic could look seriously different. 7-inning double-headers, playoffs in November and World Series around Christmas have all been thrown around. Baseball is known for their steady and traditional hand, meaning the MLB would be the last league to cancel or alter a season. However, as we go deeper into the calendar with no answer, expect less games than the 162 status quo. With all that being said, here’s how 2020 could have or still will pan out over the season.
2019 Division Winner: Atlanta Braves (lost in NLDS to Cardinals)
2020 Division Winner: Washington Nationals (2019 World Series Champions)
Coming into 2020, the Nats once again carry World Series expectations. Losing star third baseman Anthony Rendon to Los Angeles Angels will sting, but the remaining core was brought back by GM Mike Rizzo. Washington still has an elite if not the best starting rotation in the league, headlined by two-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, reigning World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and all-star Patrick Corbin. The Nats offense includes a barrage of talent, including young stars Juan Soto, Trea Turner, Victor Robles and veterans Ryan Zimmerman, NLCS MVP Howie Kendrick, and Adam Eaton. The division will be ultra competitive this year, but throw in the fact Washington came up with 93 wins in 2019 after starting an abysmal 19-31, their record will likely improve in 2020.
- Washington Nationals (96-66)
- Atlanta Braves (94-68)
- New York Mets (84-78)
- Philadelphia Phillies (83-79)
- Miami Marlins (58-104)
2019 Division Winner: St. Louis Cardinals (lost in NLCS to Nationals)
2020 Division Winner: Cincinnati Reds (missed 2019 playoffs)
Since 2013, Cincinnati’s last playoff appearance, the Reds have put together six straight consecutive last/fourth place finishes. The front office had been unwilling to spend big on players, but this offseason flipped the script. Cincinnati signed multiple impact position players such as Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, and Japanese player Shogo Akiyama to go alongside all-star Joey Votto. On top of the batters, the Reds already built a solid rotation with Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer. The central already looks to be one of the worst divisions this year, leaving the door open for Cincinnati to take home a division title.
- Cincinnati Reds (92-70)
- St. Louis Cardinals (88-74)
- Milwaukee Brewers (79-83)
- Chicago Cubs (74-88)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (69-93)
2019 Division Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers (lost in NLDS to Nationals)
2020 Division Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers always find themselves on polar opposite sides of the media. The Dodgers haven’t struggled at all in the regular season, winning seven straight division titles and posting 100-plus win seasons in 2017 and 2019. Los Angeles also went on to back-to-back World Series in 2017 and 2018, but losing both series with the final game of each matchup in LA. Then in 2019, making their exit early on, losing in the NLDS to the Nationals. However, 2020 figures to be different after LA shook the baseball world, trading for former MVP Mookie Betts and David Price and sending Boston a package surrounding Alex Verdugo. Their lineup looks to be historically great, but it also was historic last year. The 8-peat on the NL West is likely for the Dodgers, but once again all eyes will be on them come October.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (109-53)
- San Diego Padres (86-76)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (78-84)
- San Francisco Giants (71-91)
- Colorado Rockies (69-93)
2019 Division Winner: New York Yankees (lost in ALCS to Astros)
2020 Division Winner: Tampa Bay Rays (lost in ALDS to Astros)
In a world where injuries don’t exist, the “Evil Empire” would likely run away with the division. That however, is not how baseball works. The injury concerns are more than just red flags with the Yankees, giving the Tampa Bay Rays to enter the picture. The Rays look healthy and ready to build off last year’s playoff appearance. Tampa Bay has three really quality starters in 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton. Tampa Bay has never filled up the lineup card with stars, but their collection of young quality hitters and Bleacher Report’s top ranked farm system heading into 2020 point to Tampa having a ton of offensive firepower. The Rays will have better consistency than the Yanks, giving them the slight edge.
- Tampa Bay Rays (95-67)
- New York Yankees (94-68)
- Toronto Blue Jays (85-77)
- Boston Red Sox (81-81)
- Baltimore Orioles (56-106)
2019 Division Winner: Minnesota Twins (lost in ALDS to Yankees)
2020 Division Winner: Minnesota Twins
The Twins were easily the surprise team of 2019. Minnesota exploded for 101 wins and 307 home runs, a MLB record. Normally for overachieving teams, the next year brings a long slump of trying to repeat the magic found the year before. The Twins however had a stellar offseason, continuing to build instead of settling with the team they had. Minnesota added multiple arms for both the rotation and bullpen, extended power slugging first baseman Miguel Sano, and capped it all off by signing third baseman Josh Donaldson. The offense looks to be even more potent this year, enough to carry the Twins over one of the weaker divisions in baseball.
- Minnesota Twins (97-65)
- Chicago White Sox (83-79)
- Cleveland Indians (82-80)
- Detroit Tigers (63-109)
- Kansas City Royals (57-115)
2019 Division Winner: Houston Astros (lost in World Series to Nationals)
2020 Division Winner: Oakland Athletics (lost in Wild Card to Rays)
The A’s having a chance to win the division has more to do with the struggles the Astros are going to face for the long six month season, than the overall roster of the A’s. Oakland’s low-budget, trade everyone and still try to be relevant nature got them all the way to hosting the Rays in the wild card round. Headed into 2020, the roster doesn’t look a whole lot different, but it didn’t necessarily need an overhaul this past winter. The A’s have two of the better young corner infielders in the league. First baseman Matt Olson, 25 and third baseman Matt Chapman, 26, are just starting to hit their primes. The Astros just have too much adversity for them to stay level-headed and play to the potential of the team that got them to two of the last three World Series.
- Oakland Athletics (94-68)
- Houston Astros (93-69)
- Los Angeles Angels (84-78)
- Texas Rangers (72-90)
- Seattle Mariners (67-95)