It’s been a long winter, but spring training has started and the 2020 baseball season is only weeks away. This last offseason seemed longer than usual thanks to the Astros’ scandal and the managerial shuffle it resulted in.
But the closer we get to games, the further we will get away from that situation. 2019 saw a rapid increase in home runs and offense in general. Will that continue? Here are some bold predictions for the upcoming year.
Jacob deGrom Wins 20 Games
For a pitcher of Jacob deGrom’s talent, it shouldn’t be a stretch to think that the right-hander could win 20 games. I mean, he has won the last 2 National League Cy Young Awards. But amazingly, he’s only won 21 combined games in those years.
The Mets were pretty good in 2019 and should be better in 2020 with a deeper lineup and a better bullpen. If Edwin Diaz can get back to his pre-Mets form, deGrom could be in for another big season.
Adalberto Mondesi Swipes 70 Bases
Stolen bases are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Analytics says that the risk of a caught stealing could outweigh the advantage of advancing on the base paths. Mallex Smith led baseball in steals in 2019 with 46.
The second-place player was Kansas City’s Adalberto Mondesi. The Royal shortstop stole 43 bases, but he also did so in only 102 games. Mondesi, who is a very talented offensive player, should get on base more than enough to swipe 70 bags.
Raisel Iglesias Leads The League In Saves
Cuban-born hurler Raisel Iglesias had been very effective since coming over to the states in 2015. He became the Reds closer in 2016 and has already saved 98 games. 2019 saw him close out a total of 34 contests.
The closer who saves the most games in baseball doesn’t necessarily play for the best team, but the team that plays the closest games. With strong starting pitchers like Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer, the Red could be that kind of team.
Ryan Mountcastle Is The AL Rookie Of The Year
There is going to be plenty of competition for the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Depending on when their teams call them up, White Sox outfielder Luis Robert and Angels phenom Jo Adell seem to be top candidates.
Ryan Mountcastle, though, has a really good shot at amassing both the numbers and playing time required to win the award. The slugging third baseman has nothing left to prove in AAA and will soon be hitting in the middle of Baltimore’s order.
The National League Rookie Of The Year Is Brendan Rodgers
There will also be a fierce competition for the National League’s Rookie of the Year Award. St. Louis outfielder Dylan Carlson seems to have an awful lot of talent and a path to playing time. Dodgers stud Gavin Lux should also have a shot.
Rockies infielder Brendan Rodgers played a lot in Colorado last year but an injury made it so he is still eligible for the award this year. If he can win a full-time job, he will light up Coors Field and win the honor.
The San Francisco Giants Are Baseball’s Worst Team
The San Francisco Giants are one of the model franchises in the MLB. The team has been especially good in the last decade, winning titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014. Only Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence, and Brandon Belt remain from that era, though.
The Giants are in a transitional period. Madison Bumgarner recently left for the Diamondbacks and many of their players are nearing the end of their careers. 2020 will be an especially rough year in San Francisco as younger players are broken in.
Aaron Judge Crushes 50 Homers
Aaron Judge busted onto the scene in a big way during the 2017 season. The hulking outfielder made it look easy that year, hitting 52 homers and knocking in 114. He has only hit 27 bombs in each of the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Injuries have been a problem for the Yankee slugger and he’s missed a total of 110 games the previous two years. The injuries that have befallen him are more of the nagging variety than the chronic. A healthy year in 2020 should see Judge get back to 2017 levels.
Bryce Harper Is The National League MVP
It has never been easy for Bryce Harper to make people happy. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16 and greatness has always been expected. His 8 big league seasons have consisted of one great season and seven really good ones.
The bar has been set so high for the outfielder that even last year’s 35 homers, 114 RBIs and .882 OPS was considered underwhelming. The 2020 season will be even better for Harper and he will take home his first MVP Award since 2015.
Jose Altuve Wins The AL MVP
Jose Altuve has had a really, really bad offseason. One of the players tied to the Astros’ sign-stealing scheme, many have begun to question just how good the diminutive second baseman really is.
Altuve will go into the 2020 season with a real chip on his shoulder and will look to victimize all the players and fans who are doubting him. Expect the Venezuelan to have a season similar to his 2017 MVP campaign that saw him hit .346.
David Price Gets Back To Stardom
During the offseason, the Dodgers pulled off a major coup by acquiring both Mookie Betts and David Price from the Red Sox. Betts was seen as the star of the deal whereas Price was seen as more of a salary dump.
But Price will quickly get back to stardom with his new team. The pitcher was troubled last year with a hand injury that prevented him from gripping the ball properly. He is also moving from facing vicious AL East lineups in Fenway Park to pitching in the pitcher-friendly Chavez Ravine.
The Minnesota Twins Have Baseball’s Best Record
Last year’s Twins team came out of nowhere and shocked baseball. Rookie manager Rocco Baldelli oversaw a roster that saw many young players take a step forward and become stars.
Don’t look now, but the Twins got better during the offseason. The team added all-world third baseman Josh Donaldson and steady starter Kenta Maeda. Don’t forget that the team has young talent like Alex Kiriloff and Royce Lewis on the way up and play in one of the sport’s weakest divisions.
Cavan Biggio Is The Best Of The Blue Jays 2nd Generation Players
Three of the Blue Jays best young players are the sons of former MLB Stars Vladimir Guerrero, Craig Biggio, and Dante Bichette. And all 3 are now regulars with the big club.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has the most upside with his incredible hitting ability. Bo Bichette looked the most pro-ready last season, putting up well above average numbers at only 21 years old. But second baseman Cavan Biggo will be the best of the 3 in 2020 putting his great batting eye and intriguing pop to good use.
Shane Bieber Wins The AL Cy Young
The Indians were able to trade Trevor Bauer last year knowing they had a ton of young pitching talent. Mike Clevinger was already a star. Zach Plesac and Aaron Civale had bright futures. And then there was Shane Beiber.
Beiber is already a top ten starter in the league as 2019 saw him win 15 games and strike out 259 batters. And while he isn’t well known on a national level, he will be after he takes another step forward in 2020.
The NL Cy Young Winner Is Josh Hader
Relief pitchers are not supposed to win the Cy Young Award. The age of analytics has helped fans understand how even great relievers are close in value to above-average starters. The last relief pitcher to win the award was Eric Gagne in 2003.
Josh Hader isn’t your regular kind of relief pitcher, though. He plays the role of multiple relievers. Sometimes he gets big outs in the 7th and 8th innings. Other times, he comes on in the 9th to close the game out. Hader’s immense value is sure to be recognized in 2020.
Daniel Murphy Leads The NL In Hitting
Daniel Murphy has had a somewhat odd career. With a .298 career batting average, the second/first baseman has always been a solid average hitter, but he found his power stroke during the 2015 playoffs and has never looked back.
After Murphy moved to the Rockies last year, many expected him to see career highs across the board. It didn’t work out that way as he hit .279 in an injury-marred season. That won’t be the case this year as Murphy will make Coors Field work for him.
The AL Hitting Leader Is Alex Verdugo
This offseason the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts and David Price to the Boston Red Sox. Many found the return package, which was headlined by Alex Verdugo, to be fairly underwhelming.
That’s not to say Verdugo can’t play. The lefty has a beautiful line-drive swing. And the outfielder is really going to enjoy hitting not only in Fenway Park but also in the other AL East stadiums like Camden Yards and Yankee Stadium. Verdugo will rip the ball all over the yard this year.
The Washington Nationals Don’t Make The Playoffs
The Washington Nationals went on a true roller-coaster ride during the 2019 season. Early in the year, there were rumblings that manager Dave Martinez would be fired. By the end of the year, Martinez was holding the World Series Trophy over his head.
Everything broke right for the Nationals. They had incredible pitching from Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer, incredible hitting from Juan Soto and Anthony Rendon. And for a few weeks, Howie Kendrick hit like Joe DiMaggio. The team lost Rendon in the offseason, though and also play in a brutal division. 2019 won’t be repeated.
The Texas Rangers Sneak Into The Playoffs
The AL West crown hasn’t really been up for grabs the last few seasons. The Astros have completely dominated not only the division but also the American League for years. Houston, however, had a very tumultuous offseason in 2019-20.
The division is ripe for another team to take over and the Texas Rangers will be ready. The team added an ace in Corey Kluber to go along with Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. The lineup will feature ascending players like Joey Gallo, Willie Calhoun, and Danny Santana.
The New York Mets Win The National League
The Mets made the World Series in 2015 largely on the strength of their pitching. With a staff featuring Jake deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey, it seemed likely that they’d be back again.
It hasn’t worked out that way. The team still has deGrom and Syndergaard but needed to develop some new positional players. With Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil developing into stars, the Mets may very well have the firepower to get back to the Series in 2020.
The Tampa Bay Rays Are The World Series Champion
They may operate on a shoestring budget alongside financial powerhouses like the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, but the Tampa Bay Rays always find a way to win ball games. They did it again in 2019 winning a Wild Card game to get into the playoffs.
And in that 2019 season, a lot of things went wrong. Players like Brandon Lowe, Blake Snell, and Tyler Glasnow missed plenty of time with injuries. The team improved their depth in the offseason and with some health luck, they will be the last team standing.