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MLB 2020 Division & Wild Card Predictions: National League

Feb. 05, 2020 - Michael Stewart

MLB 2020 Division & Wild Card Predictions: National League

Introduction: Major league Baseball is just around the corner and this off season created a lot of buzz with free agent signings and trades that re-shape the outcome of divisional winners and the wild card as well. This will be a 2-part series featuring first the National League and then the American League. Some of my predictions will be expected; while others will not be. So let’s get started, here are my predictions of the National League division winners and wild card contenders.

National League

East:

Atlanta Braves: (97-65 in 2019)-The Atlanta Braves won the Eastern division in 2019 and were eliminated by the Dodgers in the playoffs. This off season the Braves were the most aggressive buyers in free agency early with the signing of closer Will Smith. The Braves also added pitcher Cole Hamels to anchor the backend of the rotation and then added outfielder Marcell Ozuna to put in the middle of that lineup that already features Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies. Prediction: 1st place: 95+ wins.

Washington Nationals: (93-69 in 2019)-The key loss of 3B Anthony Rendon could hurt the middle production of the Nationals batting order as it’s being projected that Asdrubal Cabrera could replace Rendon at 3B and newly acquired Starlin Castro will play 2B. The Nationals were able to bring back vital pitching from last year’s team in Stephen Strasburg, Will Harris and Daniel Hudson. Prediction: 2nd place: 92+ wins

New York Mets: (86-76 in 2019)-Aside from the Marlins, the Mets seem to have been the least active among the teams in the division. The Mets focused primarily on pitching and brought in SP Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha and RP Dellin Betances hoping that they can regain past glory in 2020. If they do and then add in the Mets productive position players such as: Alonso, McNeil, Davis, Conforto, Rosario and Ramos, then the Mets could be hot on the Nationals tail in late September. Prediction: 3rd place: 88+ wins.

Philadelphia Phillies: (81-81 in 2019)-The Phillies had a disappointed 2019 season and their banking on the new additions SP Zach Wheeler and SS Didi Gregorius to help turn it around. I still believe the Phillies might make a push for possibly 3B Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado. If so, then the Phillies could challenge for a wild card. However; for now they finish in 4th place. Prediction: 4th place: 85+ wins.

Miami Marlins: (57-105 in 2019)-The Marlins weren’t as active in the off season as they added OF Corey Dickerson, C Francisco Cervelli and SP Brandon kintzler. Aside from these additions, the Marlins will continue to go with their young players and try to improve from last year. Prediction 5th place: 60+ wins.

Central:

St. Louis Cardinals (91-71 in 2019)- The Cardinals won the division in 2019 and have enough to win it again in 2020. The Cardinals have a well balanced team led by Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina. The Cardinals pitching staff has a slight advantage over the other teams in their division; which could be the deciding factor. Prediction 1st place: 90+ wins.

Milwaukee Brewers: (89-73 in 2019)-The Brewers may not remind people of the Brew Crew back in the 80’s, but this team has some production in the lineup. Christian Yelich leads the way for the Brewers offensively; followed by Lorenzo Cain, Ryan Braun and Keston Hiura. The addition of SS Luis Urias (San Diego Padres) will help defensively, but the Brewers are expecting Urias to contribute with the bat as well. The Brewers pitching should do their part and give the Brewer a solid chance to win the central division crown. Prediction 2nd place: 87+ wins

Chicago Cubs: (84-78 in 2019)-The Cubs are in transition with a new manager in David Ross and possible rumors of Kris Bryant and Will Contreras being traded. If the Cubs ownership keeps this team intact for this season, they could make a run and battle for the central divisional crown. Prediction 3rd place: 85+ wins.

Cincinnati Reds: (75-87 in 2019)-The Reds were aggressive in free agency, landing two productive hitters in Mike Moustakas and Nicholas Castellanos. They will add punch to a lineup that had production from Egenio Suarez and Joey Votto. If the Reds pitching can keep them in the game, they could cause some damage and make life difficult for the rest of the central division teams. Prediction 4th place: 80+ wins.

Pittsburgh Pirates: (69-93 in 2019)-The Pirates are clearly in a rebuilding stage with the latest castoff CFer Starling Marte going to the Diamondbacks for two prospects. The Pirates can only play the spoiler role in 2020; while they give their young players valuable playing time. Prediction 5th place: 65+ wins.

West:

Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56 in 2019)-The Dodgers have a solid core of players and they might even improve on the lineup if they can pull off a deal for either Mookie Betts or Francisco Lindor; which has been rumored. However; the Red Sox are demanding that David Price and hefty 3 year/$98M contract be part of the deal.  The Dodgers have the hitting and the pitching to once again pull away from the other teams in the western division with or without Betts. The only thing that could derail the Dodgers is major injuries to key players. Prediction 1st place: 100+ wins.

Arizona Diamondbacks: (85-77 in 2019)-The Diamondbacks will more than likely be battling for a wild card spot in 2020 and with the addition of Starling Marte, they helped their chances considerably. The Diamondbacks have a balanced attack with 2B Ketel Marte, 3B Eduardo Escobar and 1B Christian Walker. The adition of Madison Bumgarder will bolster their rotation that includes Merrill Kelly and Rob Ray. Prediction 2nd place: 87+ wins.

San Francisco Giants: (77-85 in 2019)-The Giants should provide some quality competition within the division, but have a lineup of players who have seen their better days behind them. The Giants have enough talent to put together a couple of modest winning streaks, but nothing attainable to be considered a serious threat for either the western division crown or a wild card spot. Prediction 3rd place: 80+ wins.

San Diego Padres: (70-92 in 2019)-The Padres have arguably the best farm system in baseball and if the rumors of them acquiring Mookie Betts become a reality, they could make a major leap in 2020. The Padres added a solid OFer in Tommy Pham from the Rays and with rookie sensation Fernando Tatis Jr. fully healthy, along with 1B Eric Hosmer and 3B Manny Machado, this team could put some scare into teams in the division. Prediction 4th place: 80+ wins.

Colorado Rockies: (71-91 in 2019)-The Rockies are rumored of looking to trade 3B Nolan Arenado to free up some money as this team is looking at finishing in the cellar of their division. The Rockies have some productive players such as: SS Trevor Story, RF Charlie Blackmon and 3B Nolan Arenado. However; it’s their pitching that will fail their chances in 2020. Prediction 5th place: 75+ wins. 

Final Thoughts: So it looks like the division winners in their respective divisions will be the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The wild card race should be better in 2020 than it was in 2019 as my early favorites are the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets edging out the Phillies, Brewers, Cubs and the Diamondbacks. Aside from the western division, the other two divisions should be very close from start to finish and it wouldn’t surprise me if any of the teams mentioned as wild card contenders, capture their respective division. Next articles: The American League division winners