One of the highlights of the year for me is prediction season! None of us truly knows what is ahead for the upcoming Major League Baseball season. Who would have thought the Washington Nationals would win a playoff series—let alone a World Series? And who would have thought the Colorado Rockies would have such a precipitous fall in the standings? Even my seemingly-negative-at-the-time 82-80 prediction for the Rox last year ended up being too optimistic.
The following are my standings predictions for the 2020 MLB season, with wins gained or lost from 2019 in parentheses. It should be noted that these are my predictions and do not represent Purple Row as a whole (in fact, some staff members may vehemently disagree with my positions)!
Boston Red Sox 104-58 (+20)
- Key additions: Austin Brice, José Peraza, Martín Pérez, Kevin Plawecki
New York Yankees 89-73 (-14)
- Key additions: Gerrit Cole
Tampa Bay Rays 88-74 (-8)
- Key additions: José Martínez, Hunter Renfroe, Yoshi Tsutsugo
Toronto Blue Jays 81-81 (+14)
- Key additions: Chase Anderson, Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis, Joe Panik, Tanner Roark, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Travis Shaw, Shun Yamaguchi
Baltimore Orioles 53-109 (-1)
- Key additions: José Iglesias, Wade LeBlanc, Richard Ureña
More often than not, the most talented team isn’t the one that “wins” the offseason. The Blue Jays had an incredible 2012-13 offseason, pulling off a blockbuster trade with the Marlins and signing the previous season’s Cy Young winner (R.A. Dickey), only to win 74 games. The Phillies roped in big names like Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and Jake Arrieta with their “stupid money” 2018-19 offseason, while also acquiring J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura via trades. They ended up winning 81 games.
The Blue Jays were one of the big winners of this offseason as well and I think it will improve them by 14 wins but not to the point of postseason contention. The Yankees only added Cole, but when you win 103 games, that’s the only kind of move you really need. The Red Sox seem to be interested in cost-cutting, with recent reports suggesting it’s more likely than ever they trade Mookie Betts. But I look at the 2018 Red Sox and find the core that won 108 games is still largely intact. And they’re ready to rebound.
Cleveland Indians 91-71 (-2)
- Key additions: Emmanuel Clase, Delino DeShields Jr., César Hernández, Sandy León
Minnesota Twins 89-73 (-12)
- Key additions: Alex Avila, Homer Bailey, Tyler Clippard, Josh Donaldson, Rich Hill (will begin season on Injured List), Matt Wisler
Chicago White Sox 76-86 (+4)
- Key additions: Steve Cishek, Edwin Encarnación, Yasmani Grandal, Gio González, Dallas Keuchel, Nomar Mazara
Kansas City Royals 75-87 (+16)
- Key additions: Maikel Franco, Matt Reynolds
Detroit Tigers 59-103 (+12)
- Key additions: C.J. Cron, Iván Nova, Austin Romine, Jonathan Schoop
That’s a lot of gained wins for the Tigers and Royals and they’re still pretty bad!
I think the Twins find their home run power can’t make up for their lack of starting pitching depth, resulting in a rather sharp decline from 2019. Even though Cleveland wasn’t as active as Minnesota or the White Sox, I have them sneaking back to the top of the division.
Houston Astros 102-60 (-5)
- Key additions: Dustin Garneau, Austin Pruitt
Los Angeles Angels 90-72 (+18)
- Key additions: Matt Andriese, Dylan Bundy, Jason Castro, Mike Mayers, Anthony Rendon, Julio Teheran
Oakland Athletics 89-73 (-8)
- Key additions: Austin Allen, Tony Kemp, T.J. McFarland
Texas Rangers 71-91 (-7)
- Key additions: Robinson Chirinos, Matt Duffy, Todd Frazier, Luís Garcia, Kyle Gibson, Nick Goody, Corey Kluber, Jordan Lyles, Joely Rodríguez, Sam Travis
Seattle Mariners 62-100 (-6)
- Key additions: Carl Edwards Jr., Kendall Graveman, Yoshihisa Hirano, Nick Margevicius
As Jake Mailhot of FanGraphs wrote in November, the sign-stealing scandal gave the Astros roughly five extra wins, so we’ll dock this still-very good team five wins for the upcoming season.
The Athletics won’t be quite as good, while the Angels’ big offseason gets them to 90 wins (and I predict a deep postseason run, but more on that later).
The Rangers had more of a roster turnover than anyone else in the American League this winter, but there are still big players they missed out on. They were in the running for Rendon, Donaldson and Castellanos but came up short. Even with new names in the rotation, I don’t see them pitching or hitting enough.
New York Mets 89-73 (+3)
- Key additions: Dellin Betances, Jake Marisnick, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha
Atlanta Braves 88-74 (-9)
- Key additions: Travis d’Arnaud, Cole Hamels, Marcell Ozuna, Will Smith
Philadelphia Phillies 85-77 (+4)
- Key additions: Didi Gregorius, Josh Harrison, Francisco Liriano, Nick Martini, Zack Wheeler
Washington Nationals 83-79 (-10)
- Key additions: Starlin Castro, Will Harris, Eric Thames
Miami Marlins 68-94 (+11)
- Key additions: Jesús Aguilar, Francisco Cervelli, Corey Dickerson, Yimi García, Brandon Kintzler, Matt Joyce, Jonathan Villar
I think the Mets seize an opportunity here. With the Braves and Nationals each losing out on their star third basemen (Donaldson and Rendon, respectively), I think there will be some very completive baseball played in the NL East in 2020 (with only six games separating the first place Mets from the fourth place Nats).
The Marlins had a big offseason and I have them gaining 11 games, but they’re still far away from being contenders. It was nice to see them trying, though!
Chicago Cubs 105-57 (+21)
- Key additions: Jeremy Jeffress, Hernán Pérez, Steven Souza Jr., Ryan Tepera
Milwaukee Brewers 88-74 (-1)
- Key additions: Brett Anderson, Avisaíl García, Jeff Gyorko, Ryon Healy, Eric Lauer, Josh Lindblom, Omar Narváez, David Phelps, Justin Smoak, Eric Sogard, Luis Urías (will likely begin season on IL)
Cincinnati Reds 84-78 (+9)
- Key additions: Shogo Akiyama, Nick Castellanos, Wade Miley, Mike Moustakas, Pedro Strop
St Louis Cardinals 64-98 (-27)
- Key additions: Kwang-hyun Kim
Pittsburgh Pirates 61-101 (-8)
- Key additions: Guillermo Heredia, Luke Maile
Here’s where you’re probably making a mad dash to the comment section to express your disagreement.
Much like with the Red Sox, I see a core of Cubs players that has plenty left in the tank. If the Cubs perform to my expectations, I expect we’ll see takes flying about how they didn’t need to spend to be successful, which will be unfortunate because this certainly isn’t always the case! Rather, I think the Cubs win 105 games in spite of their rather stagnant offseason.
The Brewers brought in more new faces than any other team this offseason, but it’s hard to see them being better than a season ago. They still have a hefty middle of the lineup, but their pitching staff leaves much to be desired.
The Reds have been active this offseason and it’s refreshing to see a team unafraid to spend. I don’t think it’s enough to get them back to the postseason, but their lineup is strong. The pitching is again the question mark here, but you could do a lot worse than a top three of Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer.
As for the Cardinals, I honestly see a lot of parallels to the Rockies. You will recall the Rockies won 91 games in 2018, only to fall to 20 games below .500 the next year. There are even fewer “sure bets” in this lineup than with the Rockies. Aside from Paul Goldschmidt, there’s an aging Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong (who tallied 62 extra-base hits in 2019 but only batted .233 with a .318 on-base percentage) and Kolten Wong (who had a solid 2019 with the bat but has always been a glove-first second baseman). Jack Flaherty is a legitimate ace leading the rotation and Miles Mikolas is a solid number two, but there are big questions at the back end of the starting five. Dakota Hudson outpitched his peripherals by over a run in 2019, Adam Wainwright will be 39 in August and Kim isn’t a sure thing in his first year in the big leagues.
Then there’s the Pirates who look to be in full tank mode.
Los Angeles Dodgers 100-62 (-6)
- Key additions: Jimmy Nelson, Blake Treinen, Alex Wood
Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75 (+2)
- Key additions: Madison Bumgarner, Kole Calhoun, Junior Guerra, Starling Marté, Héctor Rondón, Stephen Vogt
San Diego Padres 78-84 (+8)
- Key additions: Zach Davies, Trent Grisham, Pierce Johnson, Tommy Pham, Drew Pomeranz, Jurickson Profar
Colorado Rockies 69-93 (-2)
- Key additions: None
San Francisco Giants 62-100 (-15)
- Key additions: Tyler Anderson (will likely begin season on IL), Kevin Gausman, Yolmer Sánchez, Drew Smyly
As for our beloved NL West, the Dodgers look to have locked things up once again. Fellow Purple Row editor Adam Peterson has described the Dodgers as playing “Moneyball with money.” They have one of the highest payrolls in the sport, but they also took flyers on two non-tender candidates who have high ceilings in Treinen and Nelson.
The Diamondbacks certainly got better, but I think they just miss the postseason. The Padres also got better, which leaves us with…
The Rockies finishing at 69-93. You’ll note they are the only team with no “key additions.” If you would like to include players from the previous season who re-signed with their teams, we can throw in Drew Butera.
I’ll detail this more along with the rest of the staff in our full Rockies’ prediction post, but I have concerns about the back end of the rotation, the bullpen and the lineup—and particularly, the ability for key members of the lineup to all stay healthy for the full course of the season.
Fortunately, the Giants should save the Rox from a last place finish.
World Series Prediction
First off, you will notice I have a three-way tie for the second American League Wild Card slot between the Yankees, Athletics and Twins. Ultimately, I think the Yankees win this battle, but then lose to the Angels in the Wild Card Game.
From there, I have the Angels going all the way to the World Series where they will face the Dodgers. This would be the first Freeway Series World Series! The Dodgers are my pick to win (maybe some extra motivation after losing to cheating teams), which would certainly put a cap on what may be a trying 2020 season for us all.
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Purple Row will have a full staff predictions post related to the Rockies coming up in the next couple of months where we all predict the Rockies’ record and offer bold predictions. As for the rest of the league, who do you think wins it all? Who will surprise and who will disappoint?