Next Thursday, the 2020 Major League Baseball season, will get underway. It will be a 60 game season. Just like everything else in 2020, this will be unchartered waters, for our American pastime. This will be the least amount of games played, for a season, in the history of baseball. Even though many of the experts that cover baseball, feel that anything can happen, everyone thinks that the cream will rise to the top, and the best teams will make the playoffs, and world order will return. Of course, once opening day and the schedule was announced, the in-depth analysis has been going on and on and on. There is this obsession with Shohei Ohtani, the universal DH, and the extra inning rule. Despite all of this, I think there has been things that have been overlooked and because I’m about to lose my mind, I will make my own predictions for the coming season, sort of.
I think, one of things, that has been over looked, is the lack of travel, that has been built into the schedule. A lot of teams will hardly leave their time zones. This should help more veteran ball clubs, from a fatigue standpoint. There should be less need for days off. This means your better players, should be able to play almost every game. A team should be able to ride the hot streak, of a player, and not worrying about tiring him out. I know injuries, and testing positive for the virus could be big factors, but with a shorter schedule, I feel, with any luck at all, depth may not be a big issue, for some teams. Let’s face it, you do not have to be lucky, for as long, to avoid injuries, this year. You can not say that a 60 game season is a sprint, but it is far from a marathon. Pitchers, down the stretch of the last 10 to 15 games, can be used more than they would be at the end of a 162 game schedule. The other factor, that seems to be overlooked, is that there will not be any of those cold weather games that you see in April and May. I feel this affects some teams more than others. Many people feel that teams, like the Blue Jays, Padres, White Sox and Rangers could be contenders, because of all the young talent they have. I feel that it will be the more veteran teams, that will be fighting for the playoffs. The short season may make bullpens less important, down the stretch. The bullpen may be important to start the season, since some starters will need to stretch out early in the season. However, this is the perfect season to ride the starting pitching the last 14 games and right through the playoffs. One of the big factors will be, what team can remain the coolest, when things start to go wrong. Panic mode will be hard to avoid with only 60 games to be played. So, what do I think might happen.
There are seven teams, the Orioles, Marlins, Royals, Tigers, Mariners, Pirates, and Giants that are given no chance to make the playoffs. I feel that one of them will make the playoffs. Of these teams, I feel the Pirates may have the best chance. I think the NL central, is by far the weakest division in baseball, and that the winner of the division may finish at .500 or below. For lack of a better term, with the whole division floundering around, the Pirates may be able to flounder up a hot streak at the end, and pull out the division. The Giants have a veteran presence, and may be able to slip in as a wild card. The other teams would be a bigger surprise, but in 60 games anything can happen. On the other side of coin, I feel the Astros will not make the playoffs. Without playing a game, the Astros have caught a couple of breaks, by having the season delayed, and with no fans in the stands, to harass them. However, this team has a stigma surrounding it, that will be hard to overcome. If they get off to a shaky start, they would have to live in a cocoon, not to hear all the insinuations, that the only reason they won, was by cheating. This, like any sporting endeavor, is a game of confidence, and theirs could be shot by the 10th game. When spring training started in March, I thought it was a foregone conclusion, that we would have a Dodger-Yankee World Series. I still feel that way, but I think there may be one team, that could spoil the party. The Oakland A’s could be a team, that will benefit the most from this shortened season. They have always been a team that has waxed hot and cold. I think they will win the division, if the Astros decline, like I think they will. They can avoid the one and done wild card game, which may be enough to get them into the World Series. In this crazy year, it would be nice to see this Oakland regime finally get a ring.
So, there you have it, the baseball season preview, with some rare predictions by yours truly, which I will revisit in about 2 months. Let’s hope most of all, that the players stay safe, and we can enjoy this very unique baseball season, that is about to start. PLAY BALL!