Baseball fans have waited months for Opening Day of the 2020 MLB season and now it’s almost here. While a 60-game schedule and the universal designated hitter will take some getting used to, it helps us create some bold predictions for the upcoming season.
The beauty of a 60-game season means that, now more than ever, anything could happen. Teams will take the field feeling a playoff-like intensity to win now and not stumble, with the margin of error between playing in the postseason and watching at home slimmer than ever.
Of course, that’s not the only major change that will define this season. Between the NL instituting the designated hitter and a wild offseason of blockbuster moves, this will be a wild time for baseball.
Before Opening Day arrives, let’s look at our bold predictions for the 2020 MLB season.
Luis Arráez wins the batting title
There’s been some talk about potential candidates to post a .400 batting average this season. While that would be great to see, even in a 60-game season that seems highly unlikely. However, Luis Arráez could be in the perfect position to shock the world and win the batting title.
Minnesota’s 23-year-old utility player excels at making contact and finding gaps all over the diamond. He recorded a 93.3% contact rate during the 2019 season, the highest mark in the majors. Arráez should also see plenty of good pitches to hit surrounded by a loaded Twins’ lineup. When all is said and done, he could lead the AL in batting average when the season ends.
Cincinnati Reds win the NL Central
The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs carry far more name recognition and will start the season as the co-favorites to win the division crown. However, a close examination of rosters in the NL Central shows the best team can be found in Cincinnati.
The rotation of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer, Wade Miley and Anthony DeSclafani is among MLB’s best. Behind them, Cincinnati boasts a sharp bullpen headlined by Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Amir Garrett. Plug in the additions of Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos and you have a lineup poised for stellar production. Frankly, the Reds could win this division by five-plus games.
Boston Red Sox trade J.D. Martinez
Boston hired Chaim Bloom as its chief baseball officer this offseason and change quickly followed. In a matter of months, he shipped out David Price and Mookie Betts as he started to rebuild a farm system that desperately needed help. Now that Chris Sale is out for the season, there’s little reason to believe this team can win.
As our latest MLB power rankings highlight, we expect things to get rough for Boston this summer. When the losses start piling up, it will only make sense for Bloom to start unloading talent. Jackie Bradley Jr. will go first, but now could be the time for Martinez to be traded. With NL teams having the DH this season, there will be even more teams looking to add this All-Star slugger and the Red Sox must take advantage.
Washington Nationals don’t make the postseason
On paper, there aren’t too many differences between this roster and the team that won the World Series. Losing Anthony Rendon is an obvious blow for Washington’s lineup, but it will return the same dominant rotation that carried it through October. When looking for a club that could fall short of expectations, the Nationals become the answer.
Consider that 60 games into the 2019 season, Washington held a 27-33 record and sat six games back in the NL East. The team ultimately enjoyed a miraculous turnaround, but it highlights the unpredictability of a shorter schedule. Pair that with Rendon’s departure and concerns over this rotation holding up after a long postseason, the worst-case scenario for the Nationals becomes evident.
Tampa Bay Rays win the World Series
The 2020 MLB season will come down to outstanding pitching and incredible depth. When looking across the majors, few teams can compete with the Tampa Bay Rays in those areas. This club already knows how to play in quiet ballparks and with there is a lot of reason to like their title chances this year.
Most importantly, Tampa Bay’s rotation trio of Charlie Morton, Blake Snell and Tyler Glasnow are all legitimate AL Cy Young contenders this season. If the Rays make the postseason, only the Nationals and Houston Astros can stack up with those three arms. Behind the trio, Ryan Yarbrough and Brendan McKay are talented arms to solidify the rotation.
Tampa Bay’s bullpen is elite and its immense depth of hitters provide manager Kevin Cash with incredible options for any situation. The Rays can compete with any team in baseball and we wouldn’t be surprised if they ultimately won the World Series.