Every year, around late-March, I write up my postseason predictions for MLB on a legal pad and tape it to my cubicle wall. I did it this year, too. Then, well, you know. For like 8 years, I guessed that the Nationals would win it all, because frankly it made sense. Then I stopped doing that and believed too much in a Cubs resurgence. Then the Nationals won the Series. So lets just put as much value as possible into what I’m about to predict. If I’m right, I will spend the rest of my life angry that I didn’t put money on this result.
Baseball is not about winning. It’s about falling in love and getting hurt. Please be sure to tell me how stupid I am over on the twitter, where I talk baseball from @LowOutsideCurve. Check out the last three years below. Yes, I have the Cubs in the World Series every year. It’s not entirely homerism. They had a really good lineup every year, but whatever, the baseball season is long and full of problems. I own my failures.
Obviously, I’m making these picks nearly a whole week before the season starts. This post is going live on Opening Day, so injuries, opt-outs, etc. could impact them between now and then. Really though, I expect so much chaos in 60 games that any of those otherwise critical issues may not make much of a difference.
You’ll notice over the last three days that I support a lot of chalk. I still believe that the cream rises to the top, so the Dodgers, Yankees, and Astros had to be here. But this year we’re essentially trying to predict if the playoffs started in June rather than October. Here’s what the divisions looked like on 6/6/19, when every team had played at least 60 games.
Now, of course the argument can be made that if the teams knew the would only play that many games, their strategy would change. The most glaring problem with the standings above is in the NL East- Philly is on top and the eventual champion Washington Nationals are in FOURTH PLACE. They didn’t hold a wild card position until July 6th, a full month later. A lot can happen in 60-ish games, but what happens in the playoffs is even more bonkers. If chalk won out every postseason, the Dodgers would be chasing their, like, 6th ring in 10 years… not their first.
So without further adieu, my totally incorrect playoff predictions for 2020:
I can’t accurately express how wrong this will be, but hey, at least I admit it. Now for the individual awards.
Rookie of the Year – Mackenzie Gore, LHP, San Diego. I’m going out on a limb here, since he isn’t even officially on the team yet. I feel like there is a place for him at the end of the Padres’ rotation and if so, I think he’s going to impress. He has a fastball that peaks around 97 MPH and a strong curveball to go with an above-average changeup and slider.
Cy Young – Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta. Obviously, if I’m as high on the Braves as this week has shown, there has to be a reason. At the top of their rotation is a budding star in Soroka, whose sinker-slider combo is downright ostentatious. While his fastball velocity doesn’t hang around the upper nineties like a lot of today’s Cy candidates, his mastery of the zone is worthy of recognition, even in just his second “full” season.
Most Valuable Player –
Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles. The newest Dodger is stuck in a precarious situation. If he were to opt-out of the season, he forfeits his free agency until next year. So, Mookie will play. And if Mookie is going to play, he’s going to play pretty damn well. The former American League MVP is looking at a nine-figure deal this winter, depending on his play here. He turned down a 10 year, 300 million dollar deal in Boston, which was the catalyst for the trade. Look for him to do Mookie things on the other coast.
Ronald Acuna, Jr., OF, Atlanta – So on Wednesday, Betts allegedly signed a nightmarishly large extension with the Dodgers, so my point above is null in void. Its not that he’s not going to have a great year, but I don’t think the edge is there for him to rise above my new pick. The pride of La Guaira, Venezuela is entering his third Major League season and has already finished 12th and 5th in MVP voting. He is the face of the “new guard” of youth-driven baseball. He’s as exciting as any player in the game and he isn’t afraid to get loud. He led the senior circuit in plate appearances, runs scored, and stolen bases last year. He was fifth in home runs with 41. He was top-10 in offensive WAR, Slugging pct., and overall hits. He had issues with striking out, but if he’s able to get that under control as he ages, the game is his. And take note- i did accurately predict his ROY award in 2018.
Rookie of the Year – Luis Robert, OF, Chicago. Robert has five-tool potential. The kid can straight up bop. In the minors last year, he hit 32 home runs and stole 36 bases while maintaining a slash line of .328/.376/.624. He is going to eat up the pitching in both Central Divisions. If the Sox manage to win the division, look for Robert to get some MVP votes.
Cy Young – Gerrit Cole, RHP, New York. The ace of aces feels like he should be much older than 29. He has a dominating fastball that he can place with nauseating precision. If he has a vulnerability, its his knuckle-curve, and even that maintained a staggering 60% ground ball rate. Last year he came up short in Cy voting to teammate Justin Verlander, that won’t happen again.
Most Valuable Player – Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles. I know what you’re thinking. This is a boring pick. It is, and I have no regrets in making it. He is the best baseball player on the planet and he is finally entering his traditional prime years. Since 2012, Trout has finished first or second in the MVP vote every year but 2017… when he finished 4th after only playing in 114 games. Please, I implore you, watch some Angels games. More than one. We are in the era of Mike Trout and he is a baseball blessing. Picking anyone else here is just trying to be witty.
Thanks for reading. Hopefully I made you think that you know baseball better than I do.
Now the tables turn. How do you think the sprint season will play out?