With negotiations between Players Associations and Major League Baseball (Team owners) finally concluding, commissioner Rob Manfred has finally stepped in and imposed a 60-game season for 2020.
While 60 is less than half of the usual 162, at least we are getting baseball after it looked so uncertain for a while. With that, like any start of a season, predictions come. Here are predictions for team records for the shortened 2020 MLB season in the American League. Keep in mind that teams are only playing 40 games in their division and 20 against corresponding division in the NL. (example: AL East vs. NL East)
American League Season Preview and Predictions:
- Yankees 43-17: There is no reason why the Bronx Bombers can’t do their thing in a shortened season. They were 2 games away from the World Series a year ago and are just as good if not better this year as the lineup is still among the scariest in the league featuring of course Aaron Judge, all stars Gleyber Torres, DJ Lemahieu and Gary Sanchez. Add this to a top pitcher in the world in Gerrit Cole and New York is now the team to beat in the American League.
- Rays 41-19: A breakout season a year ago only sets Tampa up for more success this year and their deep roster and rich prospect pool makes them even more dangerous in a shortened season. Multiplying with their already shutdown pitching and overlooked hitters in Austin Meadows and Brandon Lowe and Tampa returns to the playoffs in 2020 and might do more than just give a team a scare.
- Red Sox 31-29: The Red Sox will likely use 2020 as a down year to build up for a return to contention in 2021. But even so, they still have a lethal lineup of young studs Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers plus the fearsome bat of JD Martinez. This team is just two years removed from the World Series and with an improving rotation as well as some emerging bullpen arms, don’t be surprised if Boston is still competitive deep into September.
- Blue Jays 25-35: Toronto is still too young to really be a threat this year but their young and talented core of Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Austin Martin will certaintly keep showing flashes of what the Blue Jays could have in the future, especially if the pitching improves.
- Orioles 19-41: Baltimore is very certain to not do much this season but it will be interesting to see how many home runs Gleyber Torres hits off of them. But in all seriousness, the rebuild is still in full swing and a shortened season won’t bring Baltimore anywhere near the playoffs.
- Twins 39-21: The Bomba Squad is back to mash more home runs in 2020 by adding even more firepower to an already elite lineup filled with power. With Jose Berrios only getting better, Jake Odorizzi and Taylor Rogers coming off career years, the Twins have a real shot to finally get past the Yankees in October and maybe even bring a World Series to the Twin Cities.
- White Sox 36-25: The long and painful rebuild finally shows some serious progress as the young and exciting South Siders make a big jump in 2020. The entire team is filled with young talent across all nine positions and although it’s maybe too early for a serious playoff run, just making it there is a big step in the right direction.
- Indians 35-25: An unpredictable year for Cleveland is coming as speculation over the status of superstar Francisco Lindor hangs over. Even with that, Cleveland’s pitching is still dominant with a formidable lineup and its hard to imagine Cleveland falling off too far, but with just two wild cards, they’ll miss out on October again.
- Royals 23-37: Kansas City will show improvement in 2020 but they still don’t have enough to be serious players. But with the emergence of young sluggers Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler as well as some promising arms in Brady Singer and Asa Lacy on the way up, something interesting could be brewing in KC.
- Tigers 16-44: Like last year, Detroit doesn’t have much to look forward to this season. Having an abysmal lineup and just one decent starter in Matt Boyd and a somewhat reliable Joe Jimenez isn’t getting the Tigers anywhere near the playoffs. But there is a glimmer of hope for the future with top prospects Casey Mize and Spencer Torkelson showcasing unreal potential.
- Astros 41-19: The pressure is on in Houston after the revealing of the sign stealing scandal that was a major part of their success the last 3 seasons. But even so, this team is still loaded with talent in 2019 American League MVP runner-up Alex Bregman, reigning CY Young winner Justin Verlander, last year’s Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez and all stars Michael Brantley, George Springer and Ryan Pressley. Add these guys to a top middle infield duo of Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve, lights out reliever Roberto Osuna and returning hurlers Zack Greinke and Lance McCullers and the Astros still are among the favorites this season to be the last team standing in October.
- Athletics 37-24: After winning 97 games the last two years, Oakland has to be more determined than ever to finally make a run in the playoffs. Their lineup is potent with the all around Matt Chapman and Matt Olson , a breakout All-Star in Marcus Semien and the slugger Khris Davis. With a young but impressive roation and a dominant bullpen lead by All Star Liam Hendriks, Oakland looks like a complete team that should easily make the playoffs. The only question is, when they get there, can they actually last.
- Angels 30-30: The Angels can tear the cover off the ball with two of the best all around hitters in baseball. But in a shortened season like this, pitching is more valuable than before. Shohei Ohtani can’t pitch everyday. The Angels success this season depends on pitching and with no guy in the rotation being truly reliable outside of Ohtani, concern is very much there. Rendon and Trout as well as others in the lineup will keep the Angels in the hunt but without much firepower on the mound, it’s going to be a struggle for them to reach October.
- Rangers 23-37: Texas is a hard team to get a good read on for this season. The rotation looks to be very effective with 2019 breakouts Mike Minor and Lance Lynn being joined by former CY Young winner Corey Kluber. The lineup is somewhat decent with the massive power of Joey Gallo and steady contributors in Ronald Guzman, Danny Santana and Willie Calhoun as well as the promise of Nick Solak. But the bullpen outside of Jose Leclerc is going to be a problem and with the lack of pitching depth and stuck in a tough division, Texas doesn’t have enough to return to the playoffs this year.
- Mariners 19-41: Expectations on Seattle are low this year as other than starters Yusei Kikuchi and Marco Gonzales, there isn’t much talent on the big league club. But even though Seattle won’t have enough for the playoffs this year, with top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez on the way up, the future does look promising.
1 seed: Yankees
2 seed: Astros
3 seed: Twins
Wild Cards (Best to Worst): Rays, Athletics (Tiebreaker over White Sox)
Photo: Houston Chronicle