How Will the MLB Divisions Play Out

Casey Fahrer, Staff Writer

With the beginning of Spring Training comes the beginning of the 2020 Major League Baseball season. A lot has occurred since the World Series (the Astros cheating scandal, the signing of markee free agents, and the announcement of the 2020 Hall of Fame inductees just to name a few), but now it is time to get back into the swing of the game for a new season. With a new season comes 162 regular season games to decide who will make the playoffs, and that gives us the time to predict who those playoff teams will be.

Leading off in the American League, the Yankees should be able to win the East for the second straight season. The Bronx Bombers were able to win 103 games last season, a season which included overcoming the loss of multiple key players. This year, the Yankees hope to utilize Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, and others that battled injuries throughout 2019. The addition of Gerrit Cole should also allow for New York to finish atop the East.

Over to the Central now, considered to be by many one of the weakest divisions in baseball, the Minnesota Twins are the team that I expect to win the division again this season. The race towards the top should be more competitive this season considering that Cleveland and Chicago both look to be in the hunt this season, but the Twins should be able to finish close to their 101 win total from last season. The additions of Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda will benefit Minnesota, and purpell them towards another division title.

The West should be an interesting race to watch throughout the season. The Angels got much better this offseason with the additions of Rendon, Teheran and Bundy, the A’s finished with 97 wins a year ago and have the ability to pull wins out of thin air, and the Astros have loads of talent on their roster, and finished with a league-best 107 wins in 2019. I still believe that Houston will be able to win the division at the end, but I do believe that the cheating scandal that was uncovered by the league will affect the ballclub. Houston may have plenty of talent on their roster, but the race for the West could be closer than we think.

The two wild card teams from the American League in my eyes would be the aforementioned Angels, and the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays finished with 96 victories a season ago, and have the roster stability to do it again. As for Los Angeles, the lineup featuring Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, Anthony Rendon, and others will be able to do damage throughout the league, and the Angels should be able to sneak into the playoffs as a Wild Card team. With the American League wrapped up, let’s move over to the National League.

The National League features plenty of competing teams, but not all of them will be able to win a playoff spot. Starting in the East, the Atlanta Braves are my pick to win the division for the third season in a row. Atlanta may have lost the presence of Josh Donaldson from their lineup, but the other infield options like Austin Riley and Johan Camargo should fill in fine defensively at the hot corner. The development of other players on the roster like Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies, should also allow the Braves to reach a mid-90s win total, allowing them to win the East.

The Central is more of a toss-up compared to the other National League divisions, but I actually have the Cubs winning it. Chicago missed the playoffs a season ago, winning just 84 games. 84 wins is not enough to make it into the playoffs, but many of the Cubs players were in the midst of a down year. Kris Bryant, John Lester and Jose Quintana can all expect better years, giving the Cubs a few more wins this season. The division will be a close one, but in the end I feel that the experience of the Cubs players and their ability to bounce back, will allow them to win the Central.

The West at this point is not even a contest. The Dodgers with what could be the best lineup in the majors will sweep away the division. There may not even be a team within 20 games of the Dodgers, and that is just how good they are.

The Wild Card teams from the National League in my opinion will once again be the defending World Series champions, the Washington Nationals, and the also the St. Louis Cardinals. Washington will have defensive issues to deal with as well as the World Series hangover, but they will still be good enough to slip into a Wild Card position. The Cardinals will also have to deal with the loss of Marcell Ozuna, and it will be almost impossible for Jack Flaherty to continue on with his second half success from last season. The Cardinals will still be a very good team during the regular season, but I think the Cubs will have the upperhand in the division, giving the Cardinals the Wild Card spot.

Obviously we cannot simply predict the division winners and have it always become true. That is why the games are played. These predictions are obviously up for debate, but one thing is for certain, the 2020 baseball season will be a fun one to watch.