This season promises to be one wild ride. The 2020 season schedule will feature a 60-game sprint, as well as a modified schedule that will pit teams against only their division rivals, and their AL/NL counterparts (i.e. AL East teams will only face other AL East teams and NL East teams).
Because of this format, there’s a chance that we could see some surprises in the MLB this year. The lack of a 162-game season means that teams that start out hot may be able to ride out a streak into a postseason birth. It also means that teams, now more than ever, would like to avoid a slow start out of the gate, or otherwise their season may end before it even started.
So who do we think will make the playoffs this year? Let’s go over our predictions, starting with the American League
2020 American League Predictions
AL East Champion: New York Yankees
The New York Yankees will look to make the World Series this year for the first time since 2009, but the Bronx Bombers will need to get through the regular season first. The Yankees added Gerrit Cole this past offseason, giving them arguably the best starting pitcher in the game today. While it would have been nice to have Luis Severino join Cole in the rotation, the Yanks should have enough firepower in their rotation with Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery, and James Paxton.
The Yankees rotation is their biggest concern, but if that holds, the Bronx Bombers should be fine. The defending AL East Champions have a ton of depth when it comes to position players, and their bullpen sans Aroldis Chapman should be good enough in the late innings. The Rays will be the Yankees’ biggest competition, but with a stacked roster, it’s going to be hard to unseat the team from the Bronx.
AL Central Champion: Cleveland Indians
Last season, the Twins rode a dominant offense to win over 100 games and take the AL Central crown. This year, we believe the Cleveland Indians are in the best position to take the crown in the division. Cleveland has re-tooled their roster a bit over the past 12 months, trading away pitchers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer while bringing in a couple of power-hitting outfielders in Domingo Santana and Franmil Reyes. Despite the losses of Kluber and Bauer, the Indians still boast the best pitching staff in the division. Shane Bieber, Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger should be ready to bring the heat to opposing hitters, and the Indians have a solid bullpen as well, led by closer Brad Hand.
And as of their offense, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Carlos Santana can give fits to opposing pitchers, The Twins will still be a tough out in the AL Central, but in this shortened season, the Indians’ pitching depth could be the difference-maker for Cleveland.
AL West Champion: Houston Astros
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months from the Astros. From losing Game 7 of the 2019 World Series to the fallout of the sign-stealing scandal, the Astros have gone from an analytical darling to the bane of baseball fans. But even though the Stros are now the enemy of most baseball fans outside of the Houston area, their roster is still a powerful force. The Astros may have lost Gerrit Cole this past offseason, but a rotation featuring the likes of Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr., who’s back after missing of all of 2019, is still quite formidable.
The Astros’ offense also remains relatively unchanged. Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Alex Bregman are all back this year, and let’s not forget about Kyle Tucker, Yuli Gurriel, and Michael Brantley. The Athletics and Angels are going to be tough competition for Houston, but the talent in Houston should be able to get the Astros over the hump.
AL Wild Card Teams: Minnesota Twins and Oakland Athletics
There’s going to be quite a few teams that will be in the hunt for a playoff spot in 2020. The Rays have a young, talented squad, the Angels now have Anthony Rendon, and the Chicago White Sox have a solid mix of veterans and youngsters that could help put the South Siders over the top. However, both of those teams have some flaws. The Rays (Austin Meadows) and Angels are still without key players, and the White Sox have to deal with two difficult teams in the Indians and Twins.
We believe the two teams that will come out with spots are the Twins and Athletics. The Twins have added 3B Josh Donaldson to the ‘Bomba Squad’ and with some weak teams on their schedule (Royals, Tigers and Pirates) as well as talented roster, Minnesota is poised to make the postseason for the second consecutive season. And as for the A’s, Oakland still has a strong roster, filled with talented position players (Marcus Semien, Matt Chapman, Matt Olson) and a solid pitching staff. The Athletics also have some potential game-changing young pitchers in Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, both of whom could play pivotal roles with Oakland. Both the Twins and A’s made the playoffs in 2019, and we like their chances to do so again this season
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