This is Part One of a Two-Part Simulation. Click here for 2020 MLB Award Winners.
Many baseball writers across the country have used the first 60 games of last season to get a gauge on where batting leaders, homeruns leaders, and ERA leaders will stack up in the record books.
Here’s an idea – what about using the final 60 games of 2019 instead of the first 60? It makes perfect sense.
The final 60 games occur post-trade deadline – rosters are more accurate. The final 60 games occur in the heat of summer – the same months the shortened 2020 season is taking place. The final 60 games of 2019 are the last regular season games that teams have played. Wouldn’t it make sense to use these games to mold projections for an identical slate in 2020?
Using the MLB Query tool at Killersports, I gathered the records of each MLB team over their final 60 games of the 2019 season. I then put together what the standings and playoff seeding would look like if these were the only 60 games on the schedule.
Today’s article will focus on the 2020 standings and playoff matchups. Tomorrow’s sequel will detail award winners based on numbers over the last 60 games of 2019 from Fangraphs. I will conclude tomorrow’s sequel by selecting an MVP and Cy Young from each league.
The best part about this simulation? These are real stats and results accrued in real MLB games! Instead of the first 60, this is how the 2020 MLB season would look if it mirrored the final 60 games of 2019.
2020 MLB Regular Season Standings
YouTube baseball personality GiraffeNeckMarc caught some flak when he predicted the Tampa Bay Rays to win the AL East in 2020, but our simulation echoes his pick.
Down the homestretch in 2019, only the cheating Houston Astros had a better record than the Rays.
An afterthought for much of my life, the Rays have quietly put together a very solid ball club. I say quietly because they never have any fans at their games …
This division title would be the Rays’ first since 2010. Even the Orioles have won the East more recently.
A 39-21 record puts the Rays behind Houston and in a tie with Minnesota for the second-best record in the American league.
The Rays and Twins did not play each other in the final 60 games of 2019, so there is no tiebreaker game to go on. Because this is my simulation and my rules, I am giving the 2-seed to the Rays because they played a tougher schedule than those pansies in the Central.
This gives Tampa a home playoff series in an empty stadium – which will feel normal for veteran Rays players.
New York Yankees – 2nd Place – 37-23
With the highest expectations for a Yankees team this decade, the 2020 Bronx Bombers can’t beat out the Rays for the division crown.
In a thrilling 2-game Rays-Yankees series in the last week of September, the Rays swept their arch nemesis to lock up the East.
The Yankees still have a chance to add number 28 to their trophy case, as their 37-23 record is good for the second wild-card spot in the American league and a one-game playoff in Oakland for a chance to face the cheating Houston Astros in the ALDS.
This makes 4 straight seasons in which the Yankees have made the postseason. Here’s hoping the World Series drought continues.
Toronto Blue Jays – 3rd Place – 29-37
The up-and-coming Blue Jays put together a very strong 60-game stretch, beating out the Boston Red Sox for third place in the East.
Those grounded in reality knew Toronto couldn’t compete with the two big boys of the division, but few north of the border are surprised to see the Jays posting a better record than the fledgling Red Sox.
Boston Red Sox – 4th Place – 27-32
The Sox spun their wheels and could not play themselves out of the basement. But wait! The Orioles are in last place. Isn’t Baltimore the basement?
Baltimore is the muddy concrete slab below the basement. The Red Sox finished fourth out of the four legitimate major league teams in the AL East.
This really does not bode well for the real 2020 season, because the Red Sox had Mookie Betts during the simulation and he is now in LA.
It’s time for the Red Sox to do one of their stupid half-rebuilds. That means we’ll see them winning the World Series in 2 or 3 years.
Baltimore Orioles – 5th Place – 21-39
Baltimore played better in the simulation than I expected them to – beating out 2 other American league teams.
In such a strong division, Baltimore has a less than 1% chance of making the playoffs. Everyone’s favorite phrase this summer is in a short season anything can happen … but anything does not include Baltimore winning the AL East.
For the second-straight season, the Minnesota Twins take the AL Central, which is the equivalent of graduating high school. Not everyone can do it, but there are way cooler accomplishments.
It will be very hard to keep the Twins out of the playoffs in 2020 because they have the luxury of replacing all of their difficult games on their 2019 schedule with the Tigers, Royals, and Pirates.
A 39-21 record ties Minnesota with Tampa for the second-best record in the American League. As I mentioned in the Tampa section, I am giving the tiebreaker to the Rays because they played a tougher schedule.
This makes Minnesota the third seed in the AL which puts them in Tampa for Game 1 of the ALDS.
Cleveland Indians – 2nd Place – 33-27
The Indians can’t keep pace with the Twins for the second-straight season and finish in second place in the Central.
The Indians entered the final week of the season with a very slim shot at earning a Wild Card berth, but fell flat on their faces losing their final 5 games – falling 4 games short of the Yankees.
Chicago White Sox – 3rd Place – 27-33
Everyone’s favorite sleeper team – the Chicago White Sox – couldn’t play themselves above .500, even in the shortened slate.
I could see the White Sox 2020 record being a little bit better than it was in the simulation because Central teams get the benefit of a very weak schedule.
This third-place finish continues a long drought for Chicago. The Sox have not finished higher than third place since 2012 and have not won the Central since 2008.
Kansas City Royals – 4th Place – 22-38
Kansas City and Detroit are the two cellar-dwellers in the Central, but Kansas City has far more exciting young talent at the Major League level than Detroit.
Nobody expects the Royals to perform well in the 2020 season… and they didn’t.
Detroit Tigers – 5th Place – 17-43
Time to roast my team – the Detroit Tigers. Bovada has the Tigers rated as the worst team in the MLB and it is not hard to see why. A quick glance at the Tigers roster will do absolutely nothing for you because you’ve never heard of any of their players.
Detroit has some awesome talent hidden deep in the minors, but in true Tigers fashion, we will win a AAA championship and shoot for another #1 overall pick in 2021.
In case you were wondering, 17-43 is the worst record in the Major Leagues.
The cheating Houston Astros take home the MLB’s best record in this 2020 simulation, finishing 3 games higher than the next closest club.
Repeating this type of performance in the real 2020 season will be no small feat. The Astros have one of the most difficult travel schedules in the Majors this year, and their main method of scoring runs – cameras and trash cans – have been confiscated.
They got Altuve, they got Bregman, they got Correa. Can these players match their 2019 production with no cheating?
I’m excited to see what kind of funny jabs opposing teams will take at Houston in lieu of jeering fans. I’m thinking some clever in-game advertising may be in order. For example, a big banner reading Nikon Cameras – the official hitting coach of the Houston Astros.
Oakland A’s – 2nd Place – 39-21
Is it just me or does it feel like Oakland has played in the Wild Card play-in game every year?
Assuming that my feelings are historically accurate, 2020 marks yet another season that we will see Oakland hosting some poor team that is sure to underestimate them. This year it’s the New York Yankees.
I love when the Yankees are in the playoffs because the entire nation unites to cheer for the opposing team. This is the only way the MLB can con millions of fans into watching Oakland A’s baseball.
Seattle Mariners – 3rd Place – 28-32
The Mariners started 2019 super hot, and would have made the playoffs if the season was only 60 games. 28-32 is not a bad final 60 games, either. The problem? Seattle was the worst team in the MLB over those 102 games in the middle.
I recently came across an article speculating which team could be this year’s Mariners. It’s highly improbable that a sleeper team will rise up in the AL West, as that seems to be the toughest division in baseball this year. Some may argue the toughest division is the NL East, but it’s neck-and-neck.
Texas Rangers – 4th Place – 27-33
I always forget about the Texas Rangers when discussing the AL West. They have not been good for a while and are constantly overshadowed by the Astros and A’s.
The Rangers actually won 3 AL West division titles in the 2010s, but nobody cares because they couldn’t bring home the Commissioner’s Trophy.
2020 is the fourth-straight season that we will not have the pleasure of watching the team from Arlington in the postseason.
Los Angeles Angels – 5th Place – 19-41
The fact that the Angels suck is one of the biggest shames of our generation. This franchise is wasting the efforts of one of baseball’s transcendent talents – Mike Trout.
The Angels also have a special two-way player – Shohei Ohtani – but I’m sure they’ll find a way to squander his talents as well.
The Angels were so bad down the stretch in 2019. They now have Anthony Rendon. Does Rendon take the angels from 19-41 to 38-22? I think not.
GiraffeNeckMarc picked the Mets to get all the way to the World Series and actually win the thing in 2020. Some would say this is hometown bias, but the numbers back him up.
Everyone talks about the Nationals’ second-half surge to play themselves out of the bottom of the division all the way to the World Series. Few realize that the Mets were actually a better team than Washington over the final 60 games of 2019.
This 2020 AL East title would be the Mets first since 2015 and just their second since 2006.
New York’s 39-21 record not only propels them to the top of arguably the toughest division in baseball, but puts them in a tie with the Dodgers for the best record in the National League.
The Mets and Dodgers met for a three-game set in the final 60 – with the Dodgers winning two of three, giving LA the one seed. I’m sure the Mets will happily take a 2 seed and home-field advantage in the NLDS against the Cards.
Washington Nationals – 2nd Place – 38-22
The Washington Fighting Dave Martinez’s managed a second-place finish in the brutal AL East, falling just one game shy of catching the Mets for the division crown.
The Nationals were involved with the New York Mets in the most thrilling division race of the 2020 season. Washington sprinted to the finish – winning their last 8 games, but could not gain enough ground on New York who won 5 of their last 6 and avoided a tiebreaker situation by beating Atlanta on the last day of the season.
Washington’s effort was not in vain as their furious rally put them ahead of the Braves by 1 game and earned the Nats home field in the NL Wild Card play-in game versus the Braves.
Atlanta Braves – 3rd Place – 37-23
Atlanta let the AL East slip away and now must play a road play-in game against division foe Washington just to have a shot at a 5-game series against the Dodgers. That’s not a good situation.
Both the Mets and Nationals finished on furious paces to catch and pass Atlanta. The braves had a 3-game set with the Mets to conclude the 60-game season, and allowed the Mets to sweep them, which propelled the Mets into first place and allowed the Nationals to slip into second.
The good news? Atlanta made the playoffs for the third-straight year. The bad news? Atlanta has not advanced past the NLDS since 2001.
Philadelphia Phillies – 4th Place – 27-33
Bryce Harper really takes the lead for this Phillies team – setting an example of mediocrity that both Philly vets and youngsters alike are more than happy to follow.
For a team with so much talent on paper, the Phillies continue to disappoint. It would have been nice to see the Phils at least get to .500.
Thank goodness for some free wins against Miami or Philly’s record would have been very ugly. The Phillies get some help in the real 2020 season with extra games against Baltimore. The ironic thing about Philly looking forward to playing Baltimore is that Tampa and the Yankees are both looking forward to extra games against Philly.
Miami Marlins – 5th Place – 18-42
No surprises here. Even Derek Jeter cannot resurrect this doomed franchise. The Fish are able to finish one game ahead of Detroit to avoid the embarrassment of being MLB’s worst team – but that just means they are now picking second in the draft when they could have easily been picking first with a little better business planning and a little less will to win.
I’m not a Cardinals fan nor do I think they have a particularly good team. In fact, I predicted they would be right down at the bottom of the NL Central along with Pittsburgh, trying to keep their heads above water.
I can’t argue with the numbers though. St. Louis finished the 2019 season on a good note – 36-24.
This was a good enough record to win the NL Central – the weakest division in baseball this year – but would not have cut it in other divisions.
36 wins would put the Cardinals in third place in most divisions and fourth place in the AL East.
The Cards finished in a tie with the Milwaukee Brewers at 34-26, but won the tiebreaker because they beat the Brewers in 5 of 9 regular season games.
I can’t wait for the Cardinals to start tanking and losing lots of games so that I look smart and we can all stop pretending that Yadier Molina is still good.
Milwaukee Brewers – 2nd Place – 36-24
Poor Brewers. Yelich and Co. couldn’t get the job done – missing out on the playoffs by the narrowest of margins. If it makes Brewers fans feel better, the Brewers wouldn’t have even been in playoff discussions had they been playing in another division.
Milwaukee finishing in second place in the terrible NL Central reminds me of that Monopoly card which shows the old man winning second-prize in a beauty contest. Makes you wonder what the guys who finished behind him looked like …
Chicago Cubs – 3rd Place – 29-31
The city of Chicago rallied and gave the Cubs one special year – now it’s looking like we might need to wait 108 years to see another one.
Joe Maddon is heralded as a savior on the Northside but has now moved on to greener pastures.
The Cubs’ roster is filled with guys who fans have heard of, but don’t let that trick you into thinking they are good. Even in the weakest division in baseball, the Cubbies could not pull their record above .500 over 60 games.
Chicago has a decent chance of getting to .500 during the real 2020 season because a large chunk of their games will be against Pittsburg, Kansas City, and Detroit.
Cincinnati Reds – 4th Place – 28-32
The Reds are a very sneaky baseball team. Many fans are expecting them to break out and have a tremendous 2020 season. The Reds did not want to tip their hand at all so they intentionally lost 32 of their final 60 games of the 2019 season just to mask how good they truly are.
Power-hitting is this team’s strong suit, and they had a full complement of big boppers during the 60-game stretch – so there is really no excuse for the poor record.
GiraffeNeckMarc predicted the Reds to win the NL Central on his YouTube channel. That would be quite a remarkable turnaround given how Cincinnati showed absolutely no signs of capability of playing playoff-caliber baseball.
Pittsburgh Pirates – 5th Place – 23-37
A good color scheme and a beautiful stadium are the only good things about the Pirates franchise right now.
23 wins is way more than Detroit or Miami had in the simulation, but you know things are bleak when those 2 teams are your measuring stick.
The best team in 2017 who didn’t cheat – the Los Angeles Dodgers. LA made easy work of their weak NL West division – finishing 5 games ahead of Arizona for the title.
This makes the 8th-straight season in which the Dodgers win the West. When was the last time the Dodgers won the world Series? 1988. Ouch.
Arizona Diamondbacks – 2nd Place – 34-26
The Diamondbacks are very good, but don’t get a ton of respect because nobody stays up late to watch their games and they are constantly overshadowed by the Dodgers.
If any team is to apply a little pressure on LA in the West this season, it’s going to be Arizona. The Diamondbacks were within sniffing range of a Wild Card spot, but finished 3 games behind the Braves.
San Francisco Giants – 3rd Place – 25-35
I think most MLB fans could name even less Giants players than Diamondbacks players. Umm … I guess Joey Bart might play in 2020 … that’s cool.
Colorado Rockies – 4th Place – 24-36
The Denver Arenados really stunk it up down the stretch in 2019, which doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence heading into 2020
To make matters worse, Colorado is isolated from the other Western teams, meaning each of their road games will be quite a hike. Their interleague games are against a stacked AL West division which means Colorado has the potential to lose even more than 36 games this year.
San Diego Padres – 5th Place – 22-38
Everyone loves the Padres because they have young talent and a lot of prospects on the MLB Top 100 list. Baseball writers have been proclaiming for nearly a decade that the Padres are “about to turn the corner”.
Well, it’s 2020 and that hasn’t happened. Young teams normally play very well down the stretch once the pressure is off, but that was not the case for the Padres at the end of 2019.
They have Fernando Tatis Jr. They still stink.
2020 MLB Playoffs Bracket
Opening Day is less than one week away!!