Predicting the Shortened 2020 MLB Season: AL and NL Central

We’re just a few days away from the return of baseball, and today, the second episode of my 2020 MLB prediction podcast series with my cousin, Michael Philipkosky, was released as a part of his podcast, the Master Plan. After covering the AL and NL East in the first one, we covered the AL and NL Central in the second one.

You can listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify using the links below:

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/al-nl-central-predictions-for-2020-mlb-season-andrew/id1495662343?i=1000485436003

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/21plmNvVQXzPR2H1SmDDbu

In addition, I have added both of our standings predictions below alongside my brief breakdown of each of these 10 squads. Keep reading to check that out.

AL Central

Andrew’s PredictionsMichael’s Predictions
1. Minnesota Twins1. Minnesota Twins
2. Chicago White Sox2. Cleveland Indians
3. Cleveland Indians3. Chicago White Sox
4. Kansas City Royals4. Kansas City Royals
5. Detroit Tigers5. Detroit Tigers

Twins: They may not have the star power that the Yankees or Dodgers have, but I can’t name a single flaw with this team. The lineup has an insane amount of talent, and the rotation suddenly looks strong, with plenty of depth and an emerging ace in Jose Berrios. The team added 3B Josh Donaldson, which will only help the them continue to build on the strong lineup they had last year. I see them as the clear top team in this division and the clear top team out of these 10. In addition, they have a legitimate chance to contend for a World Series and compete with the Yankees and Dodgers when the playoffs come around.

White Sox: They were clearly ahead of the Royals and Tigers in their rebuild last year, and they showed off a lot of potential. This off-season, they added C Yasmani Grandal, DH Edwin Encarnacion, OF Nomar Mazara, and SP Dallas Keuchel, likely in hopes of making the leap to playoff contention this year. Top prospect Luis Robert is expected to debut this year, and the team will likely be led by SS Tim Anderson, 3B Yoan Moncada, SP Lucas Giolito, three breakout players from the 2019 season.

Indians: While the White Sox have built up, the Indians have lost a step headed into 2020. They still have plenty of talent, including SS Francisco Lindor and young pitchers Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger. But they lost several key pieces, including SP Corey Kluber (traded to Texas). Kluber was hurt for a good portion of last year but he was still important to this team. Michael thinks they’ll still edge out the White Sox after getting off to a hotter start and beating Chicago early, but I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs this year, and they’re headed in the wrong direction. It doesn’t help matters that they won’t be able to afford Lindor when he hits the open market after the 2021 season.

Royals: They have some decent players in 3B Hunter Dozier and 2B/OF Whit Merrifield. But they haven’t done much over the last few years, and they come into this year as an extremely top heavy team that lacks good pitching. I still see them as a bottom of the barrel team in this league, especially considering the length of the season.

Tigers: They were the worst team in baseball last year, and unless they welcome up top prospects like Casey Mize and shock the world, I don’t expect much improvement in 2020. The lineup lacks much talent at all, and SP Matthew Boyd has potential, but he struggled for parts of the 2019 season.

NL Central

Andrew’s PredictionsMichael’s Predictions
1. Chicago Cubs1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Reds2. Chicago Cubs
3. St. Louis Cardinals3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Milwaukee Brewers4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Pittsburgh Pirates5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Both Michael and I feel this is a very close division with 3-4 teams that have a chance to contend, but no clear frontrunner. Here’s the team by team breakdown:

Cubs: They disappointed to an extent last year, but on paper they still look strong and haven’t lost much. They did lose SP Cole Hamels in free agency, but most of their core from the 2016 World Series squad is still here. Veteran 1B Anthony Rizzo, 3B Kris Bryant, and SS Javier Baez will anchor the lineup, and the rotation doesn’t have a clear #1 guy but it’s pretty deep. I expect them to be very competitive this year, and they may even come out on top of this division. But the window is closing for them to make another deep World Series run.

Cardinals: They have a pretty well-balanced roster after rebuilding the team in the last few years. Michael has them taking the division again, but I can’t see that happening. The Cardinals brought back most of the young talent that led them last year, but they did lose OF Marcell Ozuna, SP Michael Wacha, and some of their outfield depth. With other teams in the division improving and the Cardinals losing a step, it will be tough for them to win the division and make the playoffs.

Reds: They were already starting to show promise last year after a rough handful of years between 2014 and 2018. This off-season, they added a lot to the team and could be in line to make a playoff run this year if things go well. Their lineup looks strong between 3B Eugenio Suarez, breakout HR hitter Aristides Aquino, and the free agent additions of Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos. A Joey Votto bounce back could give them an extra boost. In addition, the rotation looks stronger with Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo coming off very impressive seasons and Trevor Bauer and Wade Miley here for a full season.

Brewers: They have the potential to compete, but after they lost starting pitchers Zach Davies and Chase Anderson, it won’t be easy. The team still has a strong lineup led by OF and 2018 NL MVP Christian Yelich. But similar to the Red Sox, the lack of good pitching will likely hold them back.

Pirates: There’s a lot of competitive teams in this division, and then there’s the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates are deep into their rebuild, and aside from 1B Josh Bell and SP Joe Musgrove, there hasn’t been much emerging young talent yet. I don’t expect much at all from this team, especially in a division with four competitive teams.

To conclude, the Twins appear to be the best of these 10 teams, while the White Sox and Reds should take big steps up. The Cubs, Indians, Cardinals, and Brewers could also compete. Meanwhile, the Royals, Pirates, and Tigers are unlikely to do much at all this year. But whatever happens, I’m getting more and more excited for baseball’s return every day. Stay tuned for the AL/NL West post this week as the season approaches.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s