Predicting the Shortened 2020 MLB Season: AL and NL West

Baseball is back tomorrow, and before the season begins, my cousin Michael Philopkosky and I have put out one more MLB prediction podcast, covering the AL and NL West. We covered the AL and NL East in the first one, and the AL and NL Central in the one released on Sunday. All of them were released as a part of his podcast, the Master Plan. You can listen on Apple Podcasts and Spotify at the links below:

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/al-and-nl-west-predictions-for-the-2020-mlb-season/id1495662343?i=1000485744926

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/0Ub7QPMIQvZXgQc3t80LsQ

This episode is sponsored by Anchor, the software Michael has used to record his podcasts.

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, as well as a special surprise at the end.

AL West

Andrew’s PredictionsMichael’s Predictions
1. Los Angeles Angels1. Houston Astros
2. Oakland Athletics2. Oakland Athletics
3. Houston Astros3. Los Angeles Angels
4. Texas Rangers4. Texas Rangers
5. Seattle Mariners5. Seattle Mariners

Angels: It looks like Mike Trout is going to play this season, at least until his child is born in August. The Angels haven’t made the playoffs since 2014 (after that run the Astros started dominating the division). With Houston out of the way, the Angels have built up their roster and could be very competitive this year. They paired Trout with free agent stud Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani, their two-way star will be able to pitch and hit this year after Tommy John Surgery. With Rendon here and the rotation looking better after adding Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy, I think the Angels can win the division and return to the playoffs, so long as Trout plays. But if Trout misses time, it could end up being Oakland’s division to lose.

Athletics: After using the “Moneyball” framework to win cheap in the early 2000’s, Billy Beane executed a 5-year rebuild, allowing the A’s to win cheap with a rising young core of players. The lineup will be led by Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Marcus Semien, as well as DH Khris Davis. Meanwhile, the rotation is stacked with young talent like Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas, and Jesus Luzardo. Some people are calling them World Series contenders, and I’m not so sure about that quite yet. But I think they’ll be very competitive in the division and make the playoffs for the third year in a row.

Astros: Some analysts think the Astros, who have most of their roster from the 2019 World Series will continue as one of the powerhouses of the MLB. Others see them regressing. I have them falling to 3rd place and just barely missing the playoffs in a competitive division, while Michael has them edging out a division win despite regression. I think many of the players in the Astros lineup that were seen as star players benefitted significantly from the sign stealing scandal. I expect Alex Bregman, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Josh Reddick, and others to take a step back from their 2019 success. The lineup will still be good, but it won’t be as dominant as it has been in past years. Meanwhile, the rotational depth looks even weaker now that Gerrit Cole and Wade Miley are gone.

Rangers: The Rangers have a talented team and could contend if everything goes their way. But there’s a lot of question marks. How will the new stadium impact them? Can veteran middle infielders Rougned Odor and Elvis Andrus bounce back from a rough year? Is Corey Kluber healthy? The lineup will be able to rely on OF Joey Gallo, and they have some solid starters in Lance Lynn and Mike Minor. This team has a good mix of young talent and veteran leadership, but when it comes to playoff contention, a lot has to go right for them.

Mariners: The Mariners are in that bottom tier of teams that I’ve been talking about, with practically no chance at a playoff run. The team will merely be looking to see what they have down the road in younger players like SS J.P. Crawford, 1B Evan White, and SP Justus Sheffield. The only bright spot I can point out is SP Marco Gonzales, who has been Seattle’s #1 starter over the past couple years.

NL West

Andrew’s PredictionsMichael’s Predictions
1. Los Angeles Dodgers1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Diego Padres2. San Diego Padres
3. Arizona Diamondbacks3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. San Francisco Giants4. San Francisco Giants
5. Colorado Rockies5. Colorado Rockies

Dodgers: The Dodgers added another superstar this off-season in OF Mookie Betts, and even after the loss of Hyun-Jin Ryu, the rotation is stacked with talent including Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. I think they are the best team in the West by far and should be legitimate World Series contenders once again. But after losing in 2017 (to Houston) and 2018, can they go all the way this time around?

Padres: Michael and I both have the Padres breaking out this year and competing for a wild card spot. The rotation suddenly looks good between breakout star Chris Paddack, veterans Zach Davies and Garrett Richards, and plenty of depth behind them. The lineup also has plenty of talent between 3B Manny Machado, young SS Fernando Tatis Jr., and San Diego’s latest acquisition, OF Tommy Pham.

Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks added some nice pieces this off-season. They brought in Madison Bumgarner from San Fran after trading away Zack Greinke. They’ll have young SP Zac Gallen for a full season. Lastly, they added much needed outfield talent in Starling Marte and Kole Calhoun. These off-season moves could make the D-Backs somewhat competitive, but they could have a hard time keeping up with not only the Dodgers, but also other rising teams in these two divisions like the Angels, Athletics, and Padres.

Giants: The Giants had some nice stretches last year, but they lost talent in an already weak outfield, and veteran C Buster Posey will be opting out. SP Madison Bumgarner also left, and the best the Giants could do to replace him is add more rotational depth in Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly. Even though the rotation is still alright, I don’t expect much from them in 2020, since the lineup is washed up and lacks talent.

Rockies: The Rockies still have a nice core between 3B Nolan Arenado, SS Trevor Story, and OF Charlie Blackmon. But they’ve lost some of their supporting cast in the lineup and the rotation has continued to be extremely inconsistent over the last few years. Jon Gray, German Marquez, and Kyle Freeland have all had nice stretches, but haven’t been good on a consistent basis. That will make for a lot of high scoring games in a hitter-friendly ballpark, similar to the Brewers.

That’s all for my AL and NL West predictions. The Dodgers are the clear best team between these two divisions, but the Angels, A’s, Astros, and Padres will also be very competitive, and the Rangers or D-Backs could even make a surprise run. But today, I’ve included something extra, my MLB playoff predictions:

That’s right. I don’t have the Yankees or Dodgers winning the World Series. I have the title going to the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees and Dodgers have come in with stacked rosters over the last couple of years, but have missed out as baseball can be very unpredictable. The Twins have the deepest team in the league. They have a lineup with talent from top to bottom and a pretty deep rotation as well.

I have the Yankees coming close against the Twins in the ALCS, and the Dodgers falling to Minnesota in the World Series for their third World Series loss in 4 years. The Dodgers might be the best team in the NL, but I think the Twins and Yankees are both capable of beating LA.

It appears the Braves are LA’s toughest competition in the NL. I also have Washington making the playoffs, but struggling without Rendon and Zimmerman in the lineup. The Cubs and Reds will edge out the competition in a competitive NL Central and round out the NL playoff field.

I have the Astros missing the playoffs after their hitters regress. Their rotation already lacks depth. The A’s will beat out Houston for the second wild card while the Angels take the division with Trout playing. I have the White Sox taking the first wild card in a breakout year, but they won’t come close to the Twins in the AL Central or be able to beat them in the ALDS.

Stay tuned for more posts soon, including updates on the MLB season and my final NFL draft review. I’m so glad sports are finally back!

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