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MLB 2020 Division & Wild Card Predictions: American League

Feb. 14, 2020 - Michael Stewart

MLB 2020 Division & Wild Card Predictions: American League

Introduction: The 2020 American League teams have made many changes to either improve their lineup or to rebuild the roster. With Mookie Betts and David Price now wearing Dodger Blue for at least in 2020, other teams have added players in hopes of gaining a playoff spot in 2020. Let’s take a look at each division and see which teams have done the best in improving their team in 2020.

American League

East:

New York Yankees: (103-59 in 2019)-The New York Yankees starting lineup would make the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio and Mantle proud. With the likes of Judge, Stanton, LeMahieu, Sanchez and Torres leading the way. Despite the Yankees power bats in 2020, it’s the pitching that should lead them back to a Eastern Division crown with the addition of Gerrit Cole at the top the rotation. Cole will be the anchor and the difference for the Yankees in 2020. The Yankees will have a minor setback with James Paxton recovering from back surgery, but the Yankees should have enough depth until Paxton returns. Let’s not forget the Yankee dominant bullpen with Chapman, Britton and Ottavino leading the way. Prediction 1st place: 100+ wins.

Tampa Bay Rays (96-66 in 2019)-If there’s one team in the east that can un-seed the Yankees from finishing in first place, it’s the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays may not the well-known names as the Yankees, but this is a well-balanced team that can beat you in so many ways. The Rays have a solid defense to go along with clutch hitting; and let’s not over look the Rays pitching staff led by Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. The Rays bullpen did a solid job in 2019 as they were collectively one of the best in 2019. Everyone is returning which is good news for the Rays and bad news for the rest of the league. Prediction 2nd place: 96+ wins

Boston Red Sox: (84-78 in 2019)-The Red Sox pulled off a well anticipated trade involving their best player in Mookie Betts and included pitcher David Price as well to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In return the Red Sox receive Alex Verdugo and Brusdar Graterol (Twins). This 3-team trade will help all three teams involved. The Red Sox will still have some talent on the roster with Chavis, Bogaerts, Martinez and Devers. If the Red Sox want to make some noise and possibly gain a wild card spot, it will be up to their pitching with Sales, Eovaldi and Rodriguez expected to carry the load. The Red Sox bullpen was above par in 2019, but they need to be better than that to improve upon the 2019 season. Prediction 3rd place: 80+ wins.

Toronto Blue Jays: (67-95 in 2019)-The Blue Jays showcased three young rising stars in 2019 in Biggio, Bichette and Guerrero Jr. All are expected to improve in 2020 and beyond and should be fun to watch. The rest of the Blue Jays starting lineup is not too shabby, but will they be able to keep up with division rivals? The Blue Jays starting rotation and bullpen could be the difference maker as free agent Hyun-Jin Ryu leads a rotation of unknowns along with a bullpen that must step up in 2020. Prediction 4th place: 75+ wins.

Baltimore Orioles: (54-108 in 2019)-Barring a miracle, the Orioles will once again finish in last place of the eastern division. The Orioles main free agent signing was SS Jose Iglesias along with unknown SP Kohl Stewart. The Orioles are regretting the multi-year deal they once made with Chris Davis and now must bit the bullet until that deal expires. The Orioles only offensive bright spot is DH Renato Nunez who had a solid season in 2019 for a under achieving team. The Orioles pitching staff and bullpen are not much to talk about as this is team that is trying to take baby steps in improve. Prediction 5th place: 55+ wins.

Central:

Minnesota Twins: (101-61 in 2019)-The Twins had a solid season in 2019 and they brought back pitcher Jake Odorizzi and added depth in their bullpen and the bench. Offensively; the Twins are loaded with Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Nelson Cruz all eclipsing 30+homeruns in 2019. Prediction 1st place: 95+ wins.

Cleveland Indians: (93-69 in 2019)-The Indians still have Francisco Lindor on their roster and in all likelihood at least until the trading deadline. Lindor is arguably the best SS in the game and along with Carlos Santana, Jose Ramirez and Franmil Reyes provide the Indians will a lot of pop in the lineup. The deal breaker for the Indians will be how well the starting pitching will be in with 2020 with the departure of Corey Kluber. Pitchers Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber and Carlos Carrasco will be looked upon to pick up the load. Prediction 2nd place: 87+

Chicago White Sox: (72-89 in 2019) - The White Sox added catcher Yasmiani Grandal, pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel and 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion. They are also expected to bring up Steve Cishek and Luis Roberts from AAA who are projected to be main contributors in 2020. The biggest question mark for the White Sox is how will their bullpen hold up? Prediction 3rd place: 80+

Kansas City Royals: (59-103 in 2019)-The Royals have a few recognizable names in their lineup in Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler and Salvador Perez. The Royals starting rotation is a different story as they are mostly pitchers who can eat up innings with Brad Keller, Jakob Junis and Danny Duffy. The Royals bullpen will be the albatross around the neck for this team this season and will prevent them from winning 70 games. Prediction 4th place: 65+ wins.

Detroit Tigers: (47-114 in 2019)-The Tigers are a team that seems to be a spinning wheel, never really making any progress and going anyway. Miguel Cabrera is a future Hall of Famer, but now his current contract is restricting the team and will end in 2023 when he turns 40 years old and making $32M. The Tigers lineup will not put fear in opposing pitchers, even with Cabrera cemented in the middle of it. The starting pitchers have a little more promise, especially with top prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning. Neither may not open the season with Detroit, but I expect both of them to be call ups by early spring and remain with the club for the rest of the season.  Prediction 5th place: 55+ wins.

 

West:

Houston Astros: (107-55 in 2019)-The Astros sign stealing scandal will not go away and I believe it will affect their play in 2020. The talent is still there, as eight of the nine position players are retuning in 2020, however; how many wins can be credited to the scandal? Losing Geritt Cole will certainly hurt, but the starting rotation still has Justin Verlander and a productive bullpen. The Astros have won 100+ games three straight seasons, but I think that streak will be snapped in 2020. Prediction 1st place; 97+ wins

Oakland A’s: (97-65 in 2019)-The A’s have a solid team and battled hard until the end. Most of their nucleus is returning like 3B Matt Chapman, SS Marcus Semien, CF Ramon laureano, DH Khris Davis, RF Steve Piscotty and 1B Matt Olsen. However; the key to the A’s success in 2020 could lie in the starting pitching with ace Mike Fiers leading the way. Let’s not forget that the A’s bolster the best defense in franchise history in 2019, along with a solid bullpen.  Prediction 2nd place: 95+ wins.

Los Angeles Angels: (72-90 in 2019)-The Angels signed 3B Anthony Rendon who will be penciled in the middle of the lineup that also features Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton and Shohei Ohtani. It won’t be the offense that will prevent the Angels from advancing to the playoffs, but rather their pitching. If the starting pitchers can keep them in games more and the bullpen can covert more saves than in 2019, then the Angels will have a much better 2020 season. Prediction 3rd place: 85+

Texas Rangers: (78-84 in 2019)- The Rangers made a bold trade this off season by acquiring pitcher Corey Kluber and sprinkled in a few positional players as well. The Rangers feature a balance attack and rumors are still swirling that they could acquire Nolan Arenado. The Rangers are going to need excellent production out of their starting rotation and the bullpen, if they expect to any kind of a chance at a wild card. Prediction 4th place: 80+wins.

 

Seattle Mariners: (68-94 in 2019)-The Mariners are still being considered in a rebuilding phase. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto believes the Mariners are at least 2-3 years away from being a strong contender. They have some young talent on the roster in Daniel Vogelbach, Austin Nola and J.P Crawford. In terms of trade commodities, the Mariners will look to trade Kyle Seager or Mitch Haniger. The starting rotation and the bullpen are a mystery at this point, so if you’re a Mariners fan, patience is needed in 2020. Prediction 5th place: 70+ wins.

Final Thoughts: In my American League predictions, I have the Yankees, Twins and Astros winning their respective divisions and the Rays and A’s earning a wild card. A lot could happen during the course of the season (injuries and trades) that could affect the outcome of a team’s overall record. Regardless, we should see a very entertaining 2020 season that should feature quit a few highlighted moments.