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April 3, 2020 | °F in Baltimore

The way too early picks for the 2020 MLB season

By MIKE JAFFE | February 27, 2020

This year’s Major League Baseball (MLB) off-season saw a series of significant stories leading up to the start of spring training. The Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal was the story of the off-season. 

As always, several notable players also signed with new clubs. With the preseason kicking off this past weekend, it only seems right to announce this year’s MLB predictions.

American League (AL) East: The New York Yankees got even better this offseason by signing Gerrit Cole. They have nearly all of their key contributors returning and should win the division a second straight year. 

The Tampa Bay Rays did trade away key pieces Tommy Pham and Emilio Pagan, but they still have their three best starters in Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton. They also have a strong bullpen and several offensive pieces to keep them in the playoff picture and possibly challenge the Yankees.

The Boston Red Sox are coming off of a down year, and Alex Cora’s firing and the Mookie Betts trade indicate that they will not be in contention this year. The Toronto Blue Jays are still young and the Baltimore Orioles are still rebuilding amid recent struggles.

Projected Standings: Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles

AL Central: After shocking the world by winning the division last year, the Minnesota Twins are the favorites to repeat in the AL Central. They added Josh Donaldson to an already powerful lineup, and signed veteran arms in Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. 

The Chicago White Sox had an eventful off season after signing Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel. With Eloy Jimenez entering his second year and Yoan Moncada developing as people expected he would, they have a lot of talent on the roster and could potentially challenge the Twins for the division.

The Cleveland Indians appear to be past their peak with the current core centered around Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, and in the past year they’ve traded away arguably their two top starters in Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber. 

Realistically, they will be looking at a wild card spot if they make a playoff push. The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers are both still rebuilding and will be at the bottom of the division.

Projected Standings: Twins, White Sox, Indians, Royals, Tigers

AL West: The Astros will be under a microscope this year as we see how they perform after the cheating scandal. Regardless, they are still the most talented team in the division and are favorites to win it for the fourth year in a row. 

The A’s always seem to get hot late and secure a wild card spot, but with a relatively quiet off-season, we will have to wait and see how they perform with their usual low payroll in 2020. 

The Los Angeles Angels finally have some players to surround Mike Trout, and the Anthony Rendon signing should bolster their offense and give them a chance of contending for a wild card spot this year. 

Still, their pitching isn’t very strong and they will need to add some arms in order to dethrone the Astros in the future. 

The Texas Rangers added Corey Kluber and Todd Frazier, but they are still retooling and won’t be in contention this year. The Seattle Mariners lack direction and will likely finish last in the division once again.

Projected Standings: Astros, A’s, Angels, Rangers, Mariners

National League (NL) East: There are four teams that could compete for the NL East crown in 2020. The Atlanta Braves strengthened both their pitching and their offense this off-season after signing Marcell Ozuna, Cole Hamels and Will Harris, and with Ronald Acuña Jr. still improving, the sky is the limit for Atlanta. 

The New York Mets made a push near the end of 2019, and with the exception of Zach Wheeler, they have all of their key players returning. Dellin Betances will look to bring stability to their shaky bullpen. 

Coming off their World Series title last year, the Washington Nationals enter 2020 having lost their best hitter in Rendon. Still, Juan Soto is a star and the Nats still have their three-headed monster of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. 

The Philadelphia Phillies’ 2019 season was ultimately a disappointment after all the hype around the Bryce Harper signing. 

They did sign Didi Gregorius, but their pitching is thin after Aaron Nola, even with the signing of Zach Wheeler.

The Miami Marlins have been the worst team in the division for a long time, and 2020 doesn’t appear to be any different.

Projected Standings: Braves, Nats, Mets, Phillies, Marlins

NL Central: The Central doesn’t have any dominant teams this year, and four of the five teams could make their case to win the division. The St. Louis Cardinals lost Ozuna and Jose Martinez this offseason, but Paul Goldschmidt is still a star and Tommy Edman and Jack Flaherty are both emerging as young stars. 

The Chicago Cubs will be led by new manager David Ross, but outside of Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, their pitching is mediocre at best. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javy Baez will need to carry the offense this year.

The Cincinnati Reds have a lot of new faces this year. The trade for pitcher Trevor Bauer, along with the Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas signings, will make them an intriguing team to watch. 

For the Milwaukee Brewers, outside of Christian Yelich, Keston Hiura and Lorenzo Cain are the only key offensive players returning from last year. 

The Brewers always need pitching, and they didn’t make any big moves this offseason to address this. The Pittsburgh Pirates completely gutted the team this offseason and could enter the season with a payroll around $50 million.

Projected Standings: Cardinals, Cubs, Reds, Brewers, Pirates

NL West: The L.A. Dodgers will once again be the best team in the NL West. They added to their star studded lineup in the Mookie Betts acquisition, and David Price solidifies a rotation headlined by Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. It will be interesting to see if they can turn their talent into a World Series this year. 

After the Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks have the best chance to finish second in the division and compete for a wild card.

They added Madison Bumgarner and Starling Marte to a solid team that finished second in the West a year ago. The Padres will be fun to watch as we see how Fernando Tatis develops and if Manny Machado can return to all star form. Still, they are a young team and likely need a few more years before they can compete. 

The Colorado Rockies likely won’t contend, and Nolan Arenado has been vocal about the club’s failure to address its pitching needs. 

Buster Posey is the only San Francisco Giant remaining from their even year dynasty from 2010-2014. The Giants have been sellers lately as they try to cut down their payroll and rebuild.

Projected Standings: Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies, Giants

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