While there’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding the 2020 Major League Baseball, we probably can bank on a handful of teams excelling this summer and potentially into the fall.
Both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees are loaded from top to bottom and are primed to make serious bids for their respective league’s pennants. Last season’s World Series participants — the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals — also have enough pieces in place to make another trip to the Fall Classic.
Seemingly every season, however, there are one or two clubs that enter the campaign with little postseason buzz and wind up playing in October. Here are six teams that could prove doubters wrong in 2020 and reach the playoffs.
New York Mets
Yes, losing Noah Syndergaard will be a tough obstacle to overcome, but the Mets still boast a fairly strong starting rotation even without the hard-throwing righty. Jacob deGrom is a perennial Cy Young candidate, and Marcus Stroman and Rick Porcello will be motivated as ever as they both enter “prove it” seasons. New York’s lineup also features plenty of pop with the likes of J.D. Davis, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil and 2019 home run leader Pete Alonso.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels made one of the biggest splashes in the offseason by adding one of the best players in the game, Anthony Rendon. The superstar third baseman joins a pretty exciting lineup that includes power bat Justin Upton, budding superstar Shohei Ohtani and, of course, three-time American League MVP Mike Trout. LA’s postseason prospects this season likely will come down to pitching, and if the likes of Andrew Heaney and Julio Teheran exceed expectations, the Halos potentially could sneak into a wild-card spot.
The NL Central is shaping up to feature one of the more entertaining division races this season, and we probably shouldn’t rule out the Reds claiming the crown. Cincinnati boasts a very strong front end of the rotation in Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Trevor Bauer, who will be looking to bounce back from his underwhelming 2019 season in a contract year. The Reds also made some nice additions to their lineup this offseason in the form of Mike Moustakas and Nick Castellanos.
Chicago White Sox
Don’t look now, but the South Siders potentially could have one of the more potent lineups in the American League this season. Jose Abreu and Edwin Encarnacion can both flat-out slug, and the left side of the infield — Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson — has rake potential as well. Keep an eye out this season for Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert, two of the more exciting prospects in baseball. We’re not ready to call the White Sox World Series contenders quite yet, but a postseason berth this season wouldn’t be incredibly shocking.
San Diego Padres
After a solid start to the 2019 season, the Padres crumbled in the second half and ended up finishing in the cellar of the NL West. To put it bluntly, this lineup has too much talent to finish well under .500 again. San Diego’s infield — Eric Hosmer, Jurickson Profar, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado — is one of the best in baseball, and the under-the-radar addition of Tommy Pham back in December could prove to reap nice rewards. There are some question marks surrounding the starting rotation, but the Padres could overcome average pitching with strong offense.
Boston Red Sox
Much of the sentiments mentioned about the Padres can be expressed toward the Red Sox as well. Mookie Betts is gone, but Boston’s lineup still can be considered above-average. Starting pitchers will have their work cut out for them getting through an order that includes Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. Newcomer Alex Verdugo also comes to Boston with star potential, too. Should Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez pitch to their abilities, the Red Sox could find themselves in the postseason.