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MLB Opening Day 2020: Predicting the pandemic-shortened Rockies season

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Will the Rockies finally win their first NL West title in this weird season?

It’s finally Rockies Opening Day and you know what that means...Purple Row staff predictions! The Rockies will begin their 60-game quest tonight by christening the new Globe Life Field in Texas against the Rangers, so let’s see how the staff thinks the team will fare in this pandemic-shortened season.

Let’s start with a win total

Last year, the majority of the staff predicted that the Rockies would come back to earth a little bit after their 91-win season in 2018. Of the 11 people who responded, just two had them winning more than 90 games and the lowest win prediction was 82. The Rockies ended up going 71-91 (.438).

This year, the Rockies are only playing 60 games. With not a lot of action in the offseason, the 12 respondents were split on how the Rockies would finish. While nobody thought they would finish right at .500, half predicted a winning record and half predicted a losing record. The majority (three) predicted they would finish 27-33 (.450). The lowest win prediction was 26 (.433) and the highest was 37 (.617).

National League winners

As for who will win the NL West, one respondent predicted that this would finally be the year of the Rockies. Everyone else predicted the Dodgers would take their eighth straight NL West title.

Five people said the Brewers would win the NL Central and three said the Reds, while the Cubs and Cardinals each received two votes.

For the NL East, the Braves received eight votes whereas the Nationals and Mets each received two votes.

For the Wild Cards, every team received at least one vote except for the Marlins, Pirates, and Cardinals. The most votes (three) went to the Diamondbacks, Reds, Rockies, Phillies, and Nationals.

American League winners

The Rockies are playing the AL West this year, on top of their normal NL West opponents. 23 of the Purple Row staff believe that the Astros will be crowned AL West champions for the fourth straight year, whereas 14 believe the Angels will unseat them. One person believes the Rangers will be a dark horse and take the title.

Seven people believe that the Minnesota Twins will be the kings of the AL Central. Three believe that the Cleveland Indians will take the title, and there was one vote apiece for the White Sox and Royals.

For the AL East, the majority of votes (seven) were cast for the New York Yankees. Four were cast for the Tampa Bay Rays and one for the Boston Red Sox.

The AL Wild Cards seemed to be more agreed upon than the NL Wild Cards. The most votes (five) were cast for the Angels and Yankees, four for the Oakland Athletics, three for the Rays, and two for the Rangers. The only teams not receiving a single vote were the Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Mariners, and Blue Jays.

Champions

75% of the staff believe that the Dodgers will win the NL Pennant for the third time in four years. The Braves and Brewers also received votes.

Seven staff members believe the Yankees will win on the AL side, with the Rays, Angels, and Twins also receiving votes.

Half of Purple Row staff members believe the Yankees will be crowned 2020 World Series champions, 13 believe the Dodgers will finally break through (ugh, I hope not), and one vote apiece went to the Braves and Brewers.

For individual awards, things were fairly evenly split for NL MVP. Christian Yelich, Mookie Betts, and Ronald Acuña Jr. all received three votes apiece. Nolan Arenado received two votes and Juan Soto received one.

On the AL side, the votes overwhelmingly went to Mike Trout. He received eight of 12 possible votes. Anthony Rendon, Francisco Lindor, Gleybar Torres, and Shohei Ohtani also received one vote apiece.

For pitchers, Walker Buehler is the Purple Row favorite to win the NL Cy Young — receiving three votes. Jack Flaherty, Max Scherzer, and Jacob deGrom all received two votes; and Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, and Trevor Bauer each received one vote.

On the AL side, votes were overwhelmingly cast for Gerrit Cole. Like Trout for AL MVP, Cole received eight of 12 possible votes. Jose Berrios, Justin Verlander, Mike Clevinger, and Shane Bieber also received one vote each.

The big question

The big question on everyone’s mind is “how much of the MLB season will actually be completed?” The Purple Row staff was asked the same question, and the majority believe that 34 will be completed at the minimum. Only one person believed that less than half would be completed.

Bold predictions

Now is the fun part of the staff predictions! With 2020 being a weird season (and weird year all around), the predictions are just as off-the-wall!

Sam Hilliard seems to have made quite the impression on the staff, since his name appeared in multiple bold predictions. If they all come true, he will be a starting outfielder, hit over .300, win Rookie of the Year, and finish top-5 in NL MVP voting.

Two Rockies were predicted to win the NL Batting Title — Ryan McMahon and Daniel Murphy — and seven were predicted to hit over .300 — Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story, Charlie Blackmon, David Dahl, and Ryan McMahon, as well as two of Raimel Tapia, Garrett Hampson, Sam Hilliard, and Brendan Rodgers (if he gets called up). Blackmon was specifically predicted to hit .400 for the season by one prognosticator and Matt Kemp was predicted to hit more home runs at Coors Field than Arenado by another.

There is optimism in the pitching staff as well, with Kyle Freeland and Jon Gray both getting nods as Cy Young contenders. Freeland specifically is being pegged to have a bounce back season and another top-5 Cy Young finish.

There were also some non-Rockies predictions. The most notable were that the Giants will win the World Series and that said World Series will be held at a neutral site (although the Rockies were predicted to win the NL Pennant by one staff member). One staff member predicted that Edwin Encarnación of the Chicago White Sox will break the record for most home runs in a 60-game stretch.

Some of these bold predictions will come true and we’ll all wish we had come up with them ourselves. 2020 is going to be a weird season on all accounts, but baseball is back everyone!