Somehow there might be a baseball season in 2020. For many reasons I think the powers-that-be should have canceled it, but they didn’t because money. While I am glad to have baseball back in my life, the shortened season is going to be weird and played under the anxiety of a COVID-19 outbreak shutting it all down.
Predicting a 60-game season is even more foolish that predicting a 162-game season, but here is how I think the season standings will end:
These are the 10 teams I think will make the playoffs, the league champions, and the world series winner:
|East||Central||West||Wild Card 1||Wild Card 2||League Champions||World Series Champion|
With a couple of exceptions (e.g., Padres, Reds) this is not all that different from what I was anticipating back in March for the would-have-been full season. The Padres pick and the exclusion of the defending World Series Champion Nationals are probably too cute, but this 60-game season has the potential for weird things to happen.
As an example, to start the 2019 season the Mariners went 13-2 in their first 15 games. Some people were excited about this hot start but those aware of regression to the mean knew it was a mirage in a small number of games. Sure enough those Mariners went 55-92 in games 16:162, finishing 39 games out of first place in the AL West. But if a team gets out to a similarly hot start over the first 15 games of this shortened 2020 season, they don’t even need to be good over their remaining 45 games to stay in the playoff mix. Combining a 13-2 start with 45 games of games-16:162-2019-Mariners level play would result in a 30-30 record and a decent shot at a Wild Card spot. Playing just .500 ball after a 13-2 start would get a team to 36 wins, which is enough to win a division. Basically, bad teams who have two good weeks could make the playoffs, just as good teams who have a bad two weeks could miss them. Embrace the chaos.
Update (July 23, 2020)
The predictions above can maybe mostly be ignored as hours before the season was set to start major league baseball and the players union agreed to a cockamamie scheme of expanded playoffs:
16 teams - more than half - will make the playoffs this year, which I guess is fine in this wild and whacky 2020 season. It is a goofy season so I guess why not just go full goofy. My concern is that this is the sort of thing that will be used to justify doing it again in 2021 and beyond, which is bad and dumb. Baseball should recognize the importance and value of its regular season and small playoff field and stay away from turning itself into an October-Madness tournament.
Another stab at this silly task:
|Most Valuable Player||Mike Trout (OF, Angels)|
|Cy Young||Blake Snell (SP, Rays)|
|Rookie of the Year||Luis Robert (OF, White Sox)|
|Manager of the Year||Kevin Cash (Rays)|
|Most Valuable Player||Ronald Acuña Jr. (OF, Braves)|
|Cy Young||Walker Buehler (SP, Dodgers)|
|Rookie of the Year||Gavin Lux (2B, Dodgers)|
|Manager of the Year||David Bell (Reds)|
I will revisit all of this after the (hopefully completed) season.