MLB predictions 2020: Final standings, playoff projections, World Series picks

first_imgWho could have predicted this?It wasn’t long ago when there were serious doubts that a 2020 MLB season was actually going to happen. Public bitterness and infighting between MLB and the MLBPA took the forefront, leaving public bitterness and infighting among its fan base. Not to mention the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While the issues between both sides weren’t exactly solved, and while COVID is still very much an issue, we will have MLB in 2020.MORE: 9 questions for the 2020 seasonA 60-game season means anything goes, and there’s absolutely zero certainty as to what will happen. Professional sports in the middle of a pandemic, and players testing positive even before they start traveling for games, is pretty harrowing foreshadowing. Still, we can take a stab at how we think this wacky, bizarre season will play out.After all, there’s no such thing as a bad prediction, just teams or players who don’t follow through on them. So with that in mind, here are SN MLB’s collective predictions for the 2020 season, including picks for the recently expanded postseason. Do not @ us.(All teams listed are division winners followed by the runner up.)MLB predictions 2020Joe RiveraTwitter: @JoeRiveraSNAmerican League racesEast: Yankees, RaysWest: Angels, AstrosCentral: Twins, White SoxWild cards: Athletics, IndiansAmerican League awardsMVP: Aaron Judge, OF, YankeesCy Young: Gerrit Cole, YankeesRookie of the Year: Nate Pearson, SP, Blue JaysNational League racesEast: Mets, NationalsWest: Dodgers, DiamondbacksCentral: Reds, CubsWild cards: Brewers, BravesNational League awards:MVP: Kris Bryant, IF, CubsCy Young: Walker Buehler, DodgersRookie of the Year: Dustin May, SP, DodgersPostseasonAL champ: YankeesNL champ: DodgersWorld Series winner: YankeesStorylines I’m watching:— How does the NL Central play out? A long time ago in an offseason far, far away, the Reds were easily the most improved team in the division. Does that hold up in a 60-game season? — How do the Dodgers cope with the opt-out of David Price? While the team still has a top 1-2 punch in Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, pitching depth will matter some in a short season. Without one of their prized trade acquisitions this offseason, their rotation depth takes a bit of a hit. They’re more than capable— What does the trade deadline look like? Teams will either think this is their greatest chance at a World Series and mortgage the future in a short year, or they’ll believe mortgaging the future in a short season isn’t worth it. There will likely be talent to be had, but teams will probably think more the latter than the former.— How do the Astros fare this season? In case you forgot, the Astros were embroiled in a pretty deep sign stealing scandal, they fired manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow, lost Gerrit Cole in free agency and didn’t do a whole lot to fix improve their team this offseason. While there might not be a whole lot of fans in buildings to serenade them with boos, it will be interesting to watch how the team reacts.Dan BernsteinTwitter: @Dan_Bernstein_American League racesEast: Yankees, RaysWest: Astros, AthleticsCentral:  Twins, White SoxWild cards: Red Sox, AngelsAmerican League awardsMVP: Alex BregmanCy Young: Gerrit ColeRookie of the Year: Luis RobertNational League racesEast: Phillies, BravesWest: Dodgers, PadresCentral: Cubs, RedsWild cards: Nationals, CardinalsNational League awardsMVP: Cody Bellinger, OF, DodgersCy Young: Walker Buehler, SP, DodgersRookie of the Year:  Nico Hoerner, IF, CubsPostseasonAL champ: AstrosNL champ: DodgersWorld Series winner: DodgersStorylines I’m watching:— Will we see a dominant Astros prove-it season fueled by claims the team’s top players have been little more than sign-stealing assisted frauds? No booing fans in the stands and a prolonged stretch for emotions to simmer down a tad could work in Houston’s favor.— Speaking of frauds: Are the Angels prepared to finally turn preseason hype into actual success, or will another roster short on starting pitching mean continued mediocrity? With the Rangers potentially stronger and the A’s still contenders, it could be a tough battle to upend the White Sox and their juicy AL Central schedule and the Rays for a wild-card spot.— What will Mike Trout’s WAR look like through 60 games, and how many respectable full-season outputs from 2019 will he eclipse?— Who’s more miserable out West: the Rockies or Giants? Los Angeles should have a grand time obliterating each team en route to another division crown.— We know at least a couple of borderline contenders are going to explode in a 60-game season. Will that favor older squads some believe to be well past their best years (such as the Cubs) who could use their experience to their advantage, or will an up-and-coming club (such as the White Sox) burst into prominence. Perhaps we’ll see both!MORE: MLB Opening Day Power RankingsTom GattoTwitter: @TGatt_TSNAmerican League racesEast: Rays, YankeesWest: Astros, AthleticsCentral: Indians, Twins   Wild cards: Rangers, White SoxAmerican League awardsMVP: Francisco Lindor, SS, IndiansCy Young: Gerrit Cole, YankeesRookie of the Year: Kyle Lewis, OF, Mariners National League racesEast: Nationals, BravesWest: Dodgers, DiamondbacksCentral: Cardinals, CubsWild cards: Mets, RedsNational League awardsMVP: Cody Bellinger, OF, DodgersCy Young: Stephen Strasburg, NationalsRookie of the Year: Carter Kieboom, 3B, NationalsPostseasonAL champ: YankeesNL champ: DodgersWorld Series winner: YankeesStorylines I’m watching:— Will a team that was bad last year contend this year? The shortened season will keep clubs from separating like they do after two or three months in a normal season. A hot start, followed by .500 ball afterward, could be enough for, say, the Blue Jays, Mariners, Giants or Padres to sneak into the second wild-card spot. Toronto, with a revamped rotation now led by Hyun-Jin Ryu, stands out among that group.— How many top prospects will get regular playing time? Teams must decide whether they want to prematurely start the service time clocks of players who can push them over the top. Development is out the window with the minor league season being canceled. Does Wander Franco make his way to St. Pete in mid-August? Nate Pearson to Toronto? Dylan Carlson to St. Louis? Name a top-100 player, and he could be added to this discussion.— What will happen when teams begin traveling regularly? The regional schedule will shorten flight times overall, but that’s just one element to travel. There’s still the threat of a players getting the coronavirus in a hot-spot city or just through a chance meeting. MLB’s restrictive protocols can only help so much.— The universal DH will blend into the game, but what about the runner-on-second rule for extra innings? It’s on par with the NHL shootout as a non-organic means of deciding a winner. There’s a noble intent in trying to keep games from becoming marathons that tax players physically, but it’s still the wrong way to end a game. A more palatable solution: Declare ties after 12 innings, the way the leagues in Japan do.Jason FosterTwitter: @ByJasonFosterAmerican League racesEast: YankeesWest: AstrosCentral: TwinsWild cards: A’s, RaysAmerican League awardsMVP: Aaron Judge, YankeesCy Young: Gerrit Cole, YankeesRookie of the Year: Luis Robert, White SoxNational League racesEast: BravesWest: DodgersCentral: CardinalsWild cards: Nationals, RedsNational League awardsMVP: Cody Bellinger, DodgersCy Young: Max Scherzer, NationalsRookie of the Year: Kyle Wright, BravesPostseasonAL champ: YankeesNL champ: DodgersWorld Series winner: DodgersStorylines I’m watching: — The biggest thing I’m watching is really the only thing that matters: Will this season actually happen? With COVID-19 still raging and potentially able to significantly damage players’ health, the idea of a complete 60-game season seems far from certain. I’ll be curious to see just how much the virus affects the season. Will a lot more players test positive? Will lots more opt out once the season starts and players go down? Will recovered players be as good as they were before they had the virus, or will there be long-term consequences? Will the season somehow finish without any significant COVID disruptions? There’s a lot to think about. Related to all that …— How much will players’ overall enthusiasm be affected by the current wackiness? It seems possible that players could gradually lose interest in being on the field as the season goes along, depending on how things play out, COVID-wise. If a first-place team suddenly sees a slew of positive tests and has to field a team that’s heavy on minor league replacements, how will that affect the energy and morale of the remaining players?— In more optimistic terms, I’m curious to see what crazy on-field stuff happen this season. What out-of-nowhere thing will happen that wouldn’t have happened in any other season? Which non-usual suspect will have a great season and become everyone’s new favorite cult hero? A 60-game season holds the potential for a lot of weirdness, and I’m here for it.last_img

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