To avoid having to refund ticket holders, Major League Baseball (“MLB”) is taking ideas out of left field (literally) to try and salvage their season. This time MLB is considering a three-division, 10-team plan in which teams play only within their division. Each division would be realigned based on geography. This plan has been looked upon more favorably by the players as the season would be played at each teams’ ballpark and would severely reduce travel. The season would start in late June and would include at least 100 regular season games with an expanded postseason. The plan is far from bulletproof but fans can at least dream for the time being. With that being said, here are my predictions if the MLB used this format for the 2020 regular season.
The East Division includes the New York Yankees and Mets, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins. The Yankees are the clear favorite to win this division and this time off as allowed them to get healthy. However, how well would the Yankees do without the home crowd behind them? The Rays won 96 games last year and we all know they don’t need fans in attendance to win games. The Marlins, Orioles and Blue Jays might lose 200 games combined, and the Red Sox and Pirates won’t be much better. The Mets love to disappoint their fans year in and year out but could fare well with added games against the Orioles , Blue Jays and Pirates. The Phillies and Nationals will compete with the Rays to upstage the Yankees. All 3 teams have the necessary arms to do so. It’ll be interesting to see how MLB structures the playoff field as this division features 4 quality ball clubs who all have their eyes on a world series.
The Central Division includes the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Kansas City Royals, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers. This has to be the deepest division of the 3 as 4 teams made the 2019 postseason and the Indians won 93 games. The Cubs and Reds also have high expectations coming in to the season. The Braves, Cardinals and Twins are the favorites to win the division with the Royals and Tigers likely to bring up the rear. However, after that it is truly a coin flip.
The West Division features the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels, San Francisco Giants, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, Seattle Mariners. The matchup between the Dodgers and Astros should provide fireworks all regular season and Mike Trout vs. Clayton Kershaw will also be memorable. While the Rangers aren’t expected to do much, they did have a surprisingly good record last season through 90 games, and the shortened season could benefit them immensely. Don’t expect much from the Giants and Mariners, but don’t overlook the Padres. The A’s will once again be contenders as well but will have a tough time taking down a Dodgers team that got even better this offseason.