Dutch Lion’s 2020 MLB Preview!
“In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened”– Vin Scully after Kirk Gibson’s dramatic Game 1 walk-off home run in the 1988 World Series
I know what you’re thinking: Home (Plate) is where the Heart Is.
Who cares about COVID, protests, flag-waving or flag-burning? We just need some baseball and all will be fine. The National Pastime has been gone since October and that’s why America has gone nuts. All we need is baseball.
What the world needs now is ‘baseball’, sweet ‘baseball’. So sit back, relax, and strap it down. Strap what down Mr. Lion? Uhhh, don’t worry about my FOID card. Concealed carry much?
Eat some sausages, drink some beers, keep score at home. Sox television announcer Ken “Hawk” Harrelson used to say, “If you’re scoring at home”, so I decided to start scoring at home when I was about 15. It was fun, but then again, I’m a baseball diehard. As you can imagine, we’re just dying over here at Maplewood without sports.
But boy have I got some incredible news for you….BASEBALL is BACK!
So here we go, finally cracking the pack of Big League Chew on the 2020 MLB Season. In case you didn’t know, teams are playing 60 games each instead of the usual 162 games (Not that Cuuuuu LF Kyle Schwarber knew how many games there were anyway. One time I heard him interviewed on local sports radio and he fumbled the total amount of games in his interview. He literally said something like “We’re gonna play hard for all 140 or 150 or whatever games they have on our schedule”. Geeesh, what a dummy, and that was in about 2017 or ’18, long after he was a regular).
Naturally, the “Dutch Lion” wants to make predictions and we’ll do just that, even though it may be harder than ever to forecast. But how do we predict in such an unpredictable environment?
We’ll get help. I heretofore proclaim that Gary “The Gut” Goombah is back. Gary will provide much needed help with our 2020 Crystal Ball. Maybe we’ll even make some money along the way.
Here are the rules, or rather, guidelines for this Major League Baseball season: Each team will play 60 games. Ten of those games are against each of your four division rivals. The other twenty games are interleague games against the corresponding geographical division. It’s not perfect but what is in 2020?
Dutch Lion’s 2020 MLB Predictions
American League East
- * New York Yankees (40-20) – With this incredible lineup, the Yankees should return to the World Series for the first time since 2009. Since that last Championship, the Yanks have advanced to the ALCS four times. A ten year title drought. Can they break that streak?
- * Boston Red Sox (35-25) – No mo’ Mookie, but Boston still has Bogaerts, Benintendi, Bradley, and J.D.
- * Tampa Bay Rays (31-29) – Blake Snell in ’18: 21-5. Blake Snell in ’19: 6-8. Blake Snell in ’20: “I gotta get my money. I gotta get mine okay?” Don’t worry Snell, you’ll get yours alright. Question: The Tampa fans chose not to attend games in the past anyway so what’s the difference with the new COVID restrictions? Answer: Larger attendance… due to safety personnel and cardboard cutouts.
- Toronto Blue Jays (28-32) – The Blue Jays have migrated down to Buffalo, New York because Canada is not letting the Jays play baseball in Toronto. However, Canada is letting the Maple Leafs play hockey. In fact, Toronto is hosting half of the NHL hockey teams for the upcoming Playoffs. Hockey > Baseball. That’s so Canada.
- Baltimore Orioles (19-41) – They stink more than dead birds. Baltimore is tanking once again in ’20.
American League Central
- * Minnesota Twins (38-22) – Minnesota was much better in ’19 than we imagined they’d be. The Twins set a record with 307 home runs last year, barely edging New York’s 306. Then the Yankees swept the Twins in the ALDS. Can they get a rematch versus New York?
- * Chicago White Sox (36-24) – This team turned a corner since last year. After seven consecutive losing seasons and no playoff appearances since 2008, the ChiSox are finally going to win in 2020. The additions of Yasmani Grandal, Edwin Encarnacion, and Dallas Keuchel to a young core of studs will vault Chicago on a journey to a glorious decade of winning championships. Have you seen this Cuban wunderkind Luis Robert yet? Amazing talent! This is just the beginning.
- * Cleveland Indians (33-27) – They’re on the downslide but still have pop with Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez as well as pitching with Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger. But make no mistake, the Indians are not as good as their ’16 World Series group. On the other hand, they’re not quite tanking yet either. They’re potentially close to mediocre. One last run for Terry Francona and company?
- Kansas City Royals (24-36) – They’re rebuilding and tanking.
- Detroit Tigers (20-40) – They’re tanking and rebuilding.
American League West
- * Houston Astros (37-23) – Everybody hates these cheaters. They’re still really good though, right? I’m sure they are. No Gerrit Cole but they still have Verlander (check that… Breaking News! Verlander is out with an strained forearm/elbow), Bregman, Springer, Altuve, etc. Losing Cole and Verlander, as well as all the negative energy from the cheating scandal should halt the Astros progress and take them down a notch.
- * Los Angeles Angels (36-24) – The Angels should finally break out with new additions such as Anthony Rendon, Dylan Bundy, and Manager Joe Maddon.
- Oakland Athletics (30-30) – Average.
- Texas Rangers (26-34) – The Rangers don’t seem very good on paper but they added Corey Kluber. An interesting team to track.
- Seattle Mariners (21-39) – The Mariners… they uh, they’re not good.
American League Playoffs
* This Preview was ready to be published a few days ago but then Major League Baseball and it’s Players Association decided to quietly announce changes to this year’s Playoff format… on Opening Day Thursday. Therefore, the Dutch Lion along with Gary “The Gut” Goombah had to spend a busy weekend revising our Predictions. In case you don’t understand this newly approved MLB Playoff format (supposedly for this year only), there are eight Playoff teams per league. Each of the three division champions will be seeded #1 through #3. Each of the three second place teams will be seeded #4 through #6. Finally, two wild cards will advance to the postseason as seeds #7 and #8. These first round matchups will be a best-of-three series played entirely at the home field of the higher (better) seed. Then the Division Series (ALDS & NLDS) will be best-of-five. It’s unclear how they travel arrangements will work for that series. Moving forward, the League Championship Series (ALCS & NLCS) will be the usual best-of-seven, as will the World Series.
AL Playoff Seeds:
- New York Yankees – AL East Champ
- Minnesota Twins – AL Central Champ
- Houston Astros – AL West Champ
- Los Angeles Angels – AL West Runner-Up
- Chicago White Sox – AL Central Runner-Up
- Boston Red Sox – AL East Runner-Up
- Cleveland Indians – Wild Card
- Tampa Bay Rays – Wild Card
AL First Round:
#1 over #8
#5 over #4
#3 over #6
#2 over #7
AL Division Series (ALDS):
#1 over #5
#2 over #3
AL Championship Series (ALCS):
#1 over #2
American League Award Winners:
AL MVP – Giancarlo Stanton/New York Yankees (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Aaron Judge/New York Yankees, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Mike Trout/Los Angeles Angels)
AL Cy Young – Gerrit Cole/New York Yankees (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Trevor Bauer/Cleveland Indians, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Justin Verlander/Houston Astros)
AL Rookie of the Year – Luis Robert/Chicago White Sox (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Vladimir Guerrero/Toronto Blue Jays, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Yordan Alvarez/Houston Astros)
AL Manager of the Year – Aaron Boone/New York Yankees (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Aaron Boone/New York Yankees, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Rocco Baldelli/Minnesota Twins)
National League East – Just like 2019, this should be the best playoff race. Four of five teams have legitimate chances to become champion. Predicting this division must be a job for……Gary “The Gut”. Gary, take us away.
- * Philadelphia Phillies (35-25) – Led by new Manager Joe Girardi, the Phillies have Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, and Didi Gregorius. “The Gut” expects the Phils to make a BIG jump from last year’s 81-81 4th place finish all the way up to winning the East this year.
- * Atlanta Braves (34-26) – Atlanta won’t have Nick Markakis who chose to sit out ’20. The Braves also had a scare when Freddie Freeman had a bad case of Chinese Flu earlier this year.
- * Washington Nationals (33-27) – The defending World Series Champs went 93-69 last year but will have a much harder time repeating because Juan Soto has the COVID, Rendon went to L.A., and this all East opponent schedule will be tough for everybody. Where do you get easy wins? Only Baltimore and Miami are “pushovers”.
- New York Mets (28-32) – The Mets are pretty good but will also suffer from a brutal schedule.
- Miami Marlins (15-45) – Miami is so horrible but they will compete for one dubious record. That would be with Baltimore for the world’s worst record, the least victories in a baseball season of all-time. “The Gut” will give the edge to the Marlins with just 15 wins in 2020.
National League Central
- * St. Louis Cardinals (40-20) – Seemingly one of the best teams in baseball, the city of St. Louis will fall in love with their ’20 Cards. Too bad they can’t enjoy a day at the beautiful Busch Stadium. Maybe next year.
- * Cincinnati Reds (32-28) – Cincinnati might be one of the most improved teams this year. Only 75-87 last year, the Reds have added Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, and Trevor Bauer to a group that still includes Joey Votto and a guy named Eugenio Suarez who bombed 49 dongs in ’19. Watch out… the Reds are good.
- * Milwaukee Brewers (30-30) – Old Milwaukee beer was something my dad used to drink in the backyard after a long day of lawn mowing. (He also drank Pabst Blue Ribbon, Stroh’s, Schlitz, Old Style, Miller Genuine Draft, and martinis.) What does that have to do with this year’s Brewers? Nothing. I love the new Brew Crew’s unis, which are a tribute type of kit that makes one think of Harvey’s Wallbangers, which by the way is another kind of beverage, and the nickname for the beloved 1982 American League Champions…. which make me kind of SADD, and MADD at the same time.
- Chicago Cubs (29-31) – Here we go, the annual roast of the Northsiders. This is where we live, but nonetheless we hate the rivals that play under the big top circus known as Wrigley. This year’s Cubs don’t look very good on paper, at least to me, but I’m biased. Seriously though, the old mainstays left from their 2016 miracle are good, but what happened to everybody else? “They Gone!”, as Hawk Harrelson would bark into the mic. Jake Arrieta, Dexter Fowler, and Ben Zobrist have left the building and they’ve been replaced with guys like Yu Darvish, Nico Hoerner, and Ian Happ. Meanwhile, the consternation from youngin’s becoming stars that crave Blake Snell-like money cause a “me-first” mentality that could break many a little bear’s will. These Cubs are locked up in the circus (Wrigley) with no paying customers (fans) to ogle them when they tear into Siegfried & Roy (new Manager David “Clown” Ross & Cubs President Theo Epstein). Yes, it’s quite a circus on the North Side. Barnum & Bailey used to be a circus too. Then they (PETA) shut it all down. The Cubs time to shut it all down is nigh.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (21-39) – The Bucs are not good. Neither are the Pirates.
National League West
- * Los Angeles Dodgers (42-18) – This is the year! L.A. won a franchise record 106 games last year but once again it didn’t help in the postseason. They’ve lost the World Series twice during their current “dynasty”, both times to supposed cheaters (’17 Astros, ’18 Red Sox). Then last year they were surprised by the Nationals. Dem Bums will go all the way in this shortened season, making the City of Angels sing “I Love L.A.” all through October.
- * San Diego Padres (31-29) – San Diego was only 70-92 in ’19. The Padres could be one of the most improved teams this year, along with the ChiSox and the Reds. Look for San Diego to return to the postseason for the first time since 2006 with Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, Fernando Tatis, Kirby Yates, Chris Paddack, and Tommy Pham.
- Colorado Rockies (27-33) – When I think of the Rockies, I think of Todd Helton, Larry Walker, humidors, and Bo Bichette’s (Boba Fett) father Dante Bichette. What does that have to do with the Rockies now? Nothing.
- Arizona Diamondbacks (25-35) – Earlier this year in the pandemic’s early quarantine stages, the Diamondbacks were in consideration to host all or most of baseball in Chase Field, their home ballpark in downtown Phoenix. What does that have to do with the D’Backs now? Nothing. PS I sometimes call them the D-Bags.
- San Francisco Giants (20-40) – Oh the Giants. A franchise with an incredibly rich history. Teams of yore included Willie Mays, Mel Ott, Barry “U.S.” Bonds, Willie McCovey, a mad bum (Madison Bumgarner) and a poser (Buster Posey). None of those dudes will be playing in San Francisco’s Oracle Park this year. Only the Giant ghosts of decades long gone will be playing in New York’s Polo Grounds, the “Dutch Lion’s” favorite old park behind Comiskey Park of course. This year’s Giants, they are not good. Posey is busy fathering twins so he took a maternity leave in ’20. The rest of San Fran is just bad. This is one of the premier tankers of the year.
National League Playoffs
NL Playoff Seeds:
- Los Angeles Dodgers – NL West Champ
- St. Louis Cardinals – NL Central Champ
- Philadelphia Phillies – NL East Champ
- Atlanta Braves – NL East Runner-Up
- Cincinnati Reds – NL Central Runner-Up
- San Diego Padres – NL West Runner-Up
- Washington Nationals – Wild Card
- Milwaukee Brewers – Wild Card
NL First Round:
#1 over #8
#5 over #4
#3 over #6
#2 over #7
NL Division Series (NLDS):
#1 over #5
#2 over #3
NL Championship Series (NLCS):
#1 over #2
National League Award Winners:
NL MVP – Mookie Betts/Los Angeles Dodgers (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Paul Goldschmidt/St. Louis Cardinals, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Cody Bellinger/Los Angeles Dodgers)
NL Cy Young – Jack Flaherty/St. Louis Cardinals (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Max Scherzer/Nats, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Jacob deGrom/Mets)
NL Rookie of the Year – Carter Kieboom/Washington Nationals (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Victor Robles/Washington Nationals, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Pete Alonso/New York Mets)
NL Manager of the Year – Dave Roberts/Los Angeles Dodgers (LAST YEAR’S PICK: Gabe Kapler/Philadelphia Phillies, LAST YEAR’S WINNER: Mike Shildt/St. Louis Cardinals)
2020 World Series
Los Angeles has won their division seven years in a row but still haven’t won the World Series since 1988. Like in 1955, and in ’88, “This is the Year”. Take it from Vin Scully, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened”. Your 2020 COVID World Champions…the Los Angeles Dodgers.