Finally, baseball returns.
It took me days to figure out what I was going to write here. A 60-game season could be full of surprises and I am going to try and predict All of them. Bear with me as I have a lot of explaining to do.
1) Washington Nationals (36-24)
Everyone in the media is underestimating the Nationals, putting them in 3rd or 4th place. Could they have a World Series hangover? Yes. Could last year have been a fluke? Possibly.
The Nationals’ rotation is too good to ignore. Last year, the Phillies could barely put together winning streaks because of their rotation. It’s the totally opposite situation for the Nats. Their top 4 of Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, and Sanchez will put together win streaks, propelling them to an NL East crown.
BTW, they still have Juan Soto and Trea Turner AND play 10% of their games against the Orioles.
2) Philadelphia Phillies (34-26)
Playoffs? We’re talkin’ playoffs!
I am fully convinced the Phillies take the first wild card in the National League. The Phillies showed what they could do in the first iteration of Spring Training, leading all of baseball when baseball stopped.
I know, I know, those games don’t matter, but the Phillies have the tools to win the ones that count as well. Pitching wise, Vince Velasquez’s new cutter has pushed him to the #3 starter, renewing a sense a hype. Aaron Nola will have a better 2020 than in 2019. Jake Arrieta is in a contract year and if he wants to continue pitching, he has to do better. Finally, top pitching prospect Spencer Howard is ready to slot into this rotation before the month is over.
A healthy Andrew McCutchen and newly acquired Didi Gregorius should be a ton of help to an already dangerous lineup. Bryce Harper should be in line for a huge second season with the Phillies. Hopefully, Rhys Hoskins fires on all cylinders like he did to begin last season.
If Rhys matched his first 60 games from last season, he’d slash .273/.398/.528 with 13 homers and 42 RBI.
3) Atlanta Braves (33-27)
The Atlanta Brave are many’s favorites to win the NL East, but they’re betting on a bunch of young players. I’d be shocked if he has an ERA under 3 again. He posted a 0.93 ERA against the Marlins last year and they’re a much better team in 2020.
My biggest hang up on the Braves is how much they’ve been affected by COVID-19. Freddie Freeman had a temperature of 104.5, Yasiel Puig didn’t sign because he contracted it, and Georgia is one of the biggest hot spots right now.
Even without Josh Donaldson, the Braves have young stars Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies in their lineup. Beyond Freeman, their lineup doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of men.
They probably have the best bullpen in the East at least.
4) Miami Marlins (25-35)
Anything can happen in 2020 and the Marlins finishing 4th isn’t absurd, I swear. There lineup is the most underrated in the NL East. Brian Anderson has seen his OPS rise 50 points every year since 2017. New acquisitions Jesus Aguilar, Jonathan Villar, and Corey Dickerson are all significant upgrades.
Isan Diaz will be the Marlins starting 2nd baseman. In 2019, he absolutely destroyed AAA with a .973 OPS with 26 homers in 102 games.
Pitching wise, Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, and Jordan Yamamoto could be a solid top 3 in the rotation. In the bullpen, Brandon Kintzler, Ryne Stanek and Yimi Garcia all replace spots that let to the only bullpen with a negative WAR in the majors.
5) New York Mets (23-37)
Sorry Mets. This isn’t your year.
Noah Syndergaard was already out for the entire season for the Mets. Now, Marcus Stroman is starting the year on the Injured List with a calf muscle tear. Unless someone bounces back, Jacob deGrom will be the only Mets’ starter who will have an ERA under 4.
In the bullpen, Robert Gsellman will start out on the injured list. Edwin Diaz had a 5.59 ERA last season. Dellin Betances is coming off a major injury.
Their line is fairly strong lineup but look for Pete Alonso to regress. They’ll be able to muscle their way to some wins, but their pitching will hamper and progress of win streaks.
I don’t expect the Mets’ luck to get any better in season.
NL East Champ: Washington Nationals
NL Central Champs: Cincinnati Reds
NL West Champs: LA Dodgers
AL East Champs: Tampa Bay Rays
AL Central Champs: Minnesota Twins
AL West Champs: Oakland A’s
NL Wild Cards: Phillies/Arizona Diamondbacks
AL Wild Cards: New York Yankees/Houston Astros
NLDS: Nationals vs. Reds- Reds win 3-2
NLDS: Phillies vs. Dodgers- Dodgers win 3-1
ALDS: Twins vs. Yankees- Yankees win 3-1
ALDS: Rays vs A’s- A’s win 3-2
NLCS: Reds vs. Dodgers- Dodgers win 4-2
ALCS: Yankees vs A’s- A’s win 4-1
World Series: A’s beat Dodgers 4-3
The Oakland Athletics have an amazing young rotation featuring 6 quality arms in Fiers, Manaea, Mantas, Luzardo, Puk, and Bassitt.
Their corner infield is basically the Bash Brothers 2.0 in Matt Chapman and Matt Olson. Oh, they’re Gold Glovers as well. The rest of their lineup is very deep. I predict they take advantage of this 60-game season all the way to the World Series in a repeat of the ’89 series.
For the Phillies, I don’t see a way that they beat the Dodgers. Lady Luck would have to be with the Angels in the Outfield in order for the Phillies to pull of that miracle. Hey, at least they see playoff baseball for the first time since 2011.
NL MVP: Mookie Betts
AL MVP: Austin Meadows
NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg
AL Cy Young: Sean Manaea
NL Rookie of the Year: Spencer Howard
Yes, I’m buying into the hype. He’ll be a big reason why the Phillies have their first winning season since 2011.
AL Rookie of the Year: Luis Robert
Be sure to check out Ricky and Sean’s predictions as well!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports