2020 PLAYOFFS PREDICTIONS
It’s that time of year again. The season feels as if it only just started, but here we are and the playoffs begin today. I won’t do the typical round by round predictions and just make a general analysis of the likelihood of each team winning it all. If you’ve been reading this site, you know that my research showed that teams who win the World Series are in the top three in their league in either hitting or pitching. Please keep that in mind.
NEW YORK YANKEES
The Bronx Bombers scored the most runs per game during the season in the American League, and that’s while battling injuries all season. Now finally healthy, they have the best offense in the league. They also have a good bullpen and solid but shaky starting pitching. Gerrit Cole is an ace and if Masahiro Tanaka and Deivi Garcia can be consistently solid, this is a championship team.
TAMPA BAY RAYS
It’s very close between them and New York, I just think that if the season was at normal length, they would finish second in their division. They have good pitching, but the lineup lacks any impact bats, let alone consistent ones. I also just don’t think that their matchup playing strategy is going to work against playoff teams on a consistent basis. If it does work though, they could very well win their first ever World Series.
NEXT IN LINE
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
They’re better than their seeding. Their lineup is solid (they finished second in the AL in runs scored), they have a legit ace and their bullpen gets the job done. All of that said, their rotation lacks depth more than New York and when Alex Colome is your closer, well it’s just not good. They’re also inexperienced and some of their key players are beneficiaries of high BABIP’s.
UNLIKELY BUT POSSIBLE
They finished first in the league in team ERA and may have the best pitching rotation in the Majors. Unfortunately for them, they’re also at the bottom of the league in runs scored per game, with one of the weakest lineups among all of the playoff teams. Their pitching has to completely shut down their opponents, or it’s unlikely they get past New York and then likely Tampa Bay.
JUST PLAIN UNLIKELY
A team with a strikeout heavy lineup that finished in the bottom of the league in runs per game, that is also missing a key bat, and a rotation that lacks an ace. This is a pretty bad way to go into the playoffs to say the least. One thing that Billy Beane led Oakland Athletics teams have mastered are early playoff exits and I don’t see that changing this year. Even if they win in the Wild Card round, they are unlikely to advance much further.
Another team that lacks an ace, that has a shaky bullpen and that has an inconsistent strikeout heavy lineup missing a key bat. Minnesota actually finished in the bottom of the league in runs scored per game. That’s a big change compared to how good their lineup was last season. As I write this, they just lost Game 1 at home to Houston.
The defending AL Champions actually finished the season with a below .500 record. A shaky rotation missing its ace, a shaky bullpen, a cold lineup… they really have to get hot fast in order to make a deep postseason run. The problem is that even if they get hot, they still have to deal with their manager Dusty Baker being a historic loser in the playoffs. I’ll be very surprised if this isn’t the end of their run as one of the top teams in the American League.
TORONTO BLUE JAYS
A perfect example of a team that wouldn’t have made it into the playoffs during a normal season. Their pitching finished with a below average team ERA and it was their hitting that seems to have carried them into the playoffs. The problem is that their lineup is also streaky and inexperienced. I write this as they got beaten by Tampa Bay in Game 1 of their series. I just don’t see them winning 2 in a row in Tampa Bay.
SAN DIEGO PADRES
Top 3 lineup in the NL in runs scored per game, top 3 team ERA in the NL, good bullpen, good rotation, good lineup. It’s rare to find a team with no significant flaws, but we might have one here. I guess their rotation has some injury concerns, but then their aces aren’t on the IL. Fernando Tatis Jr. is inexperienced in the playoffs and Wil Myers is playing through injury and is injury-prone in general… but let’s be realistic this is a very good team and probably the best team in franchise history.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
They have the best record and team ERA in the Majors. They also allowed the least runs per game in the Majors. I can keep going, but let’s face it after 7 division titles this has to be their year right? Well there’s just one problem: Dave Roberts. Their manager and not Houston’s cheating cost them the 2017 World Series. They also just can’t seem to get the job done, whether it’s being beaten by the New York Mets in 2015 or the Washington Nationals in 2019 or being steamrolled by the Boston Red Sox in 2018, they just keep losing when it matters. Is it just bad luck or are they just a good regular season team and that’s that? I’m going with the latter.
NEXT IN LINE
They scored the second most runs per game in the NL and really have the best lineup in the game in my opinion. They also happen to have a solid bullpen. Their Achilles’ heel is their starting pitching, but if Max Fried and Ian Anderson can step up, they go straight to the top of this list.
They may just have the best pitching rotation in the Majors, or at least in the National League. Add an underperforming lineup finally performing as expected and we have a potential pennant winning team. If their bullpen can only deliver, they may just win the whole thing this season.
UNLIKELY BUT POSSIBLE
There’s no way they can do it right? So what that they never lost a playoff series and won the World Series both times that they actually made the playoffs, this streak ends this year right? Right? Their team stats don’t look impressive, but their pitching looks solid, their bullpen gets the job done and well…. they weren’t exactly the favorites when they won it in 2003. It’s unlikely, but you can kind of squint and see it.
The core of this team won the World Series in 2016. That said, their hitting has been below average this season, though a low BABIP has been some sort of a team epidemic this year. What if they finally start hitting? Could the surprisingly better than expected pitching keep enough runs at bay for them to make a deep playoff run? I don’t see it, but it’s not impossible.
JUST PLAIN UNLIKELY
A weak lineup that has to be carried by their solid but unspectacular pitching staff, oh and they have to beat LA twice in three games in LA. Can you see it? It just seems too unlikely that a team that only got into the playoffs on the last day of the season goes deep in the playoffs.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Their lineup is a contender for the worst among all playoff teams and it’s not a surprise that they were one of the worst run-scoring teams this season. Add in a shaky pitching staff and they’ll be lucky to win one series. It will take injuries to the opposing team for them to be able to advance.
The New York Yankees or Tampa Bay Rays will face the Chicago White Sox and most likely win. I’d be very surprised if something different happened. I would rank the possibility from most likeliest to least to win the pennant as: New York, Tampa Bay, Chicago.
The San Diego Padres or Los Angeles Dodgers face the Atlanta Braves or Cincinnati Reds and most likely win. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Miami ended up there either. I would rank the possibility of most likeliest to least to win the pennant as: San Diego, LA, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Miami, Chicago.
WORLD SERIES PREDICTION
Let’s just rank them here: New York, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Miami. I think that after a couple of near-misses this is New York’s year, but Tampa Bay and San Diego are good enough, where I can see them winning too. I’m ranking LA highly in this article, but honestly I think that they’re more likely to be eliminated early, such as by San Diego in the next round. Atlanta and Cincinnati have outside shots too, but they have to step up in their aforementioned weak areas.