Happy new decade!
This past year was definitely a complete surprise: the Astros were (supposedly) cheating, the Nationals made an unlikely run through the playoffs, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado signed mega deals (which happened in 2019, incidentally) some small league teams … a lot happened.
MORE: Five bold forecasts for the MLB 2020 season
But 2019 is now almost in the mirror and with your 2020 glasses set for the MLB 2020 season, there is plenty to watch next year.
So, without going bankrupt, there are 20 things for baseball to watch in 2020:
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. …
Vlado had an era of hilarious beginnings. It didn’t make enough of an impact on the team as many expected. Still, he is a very exciting young player to be prepared for a 2020 breakout season, so keep your eyes north of the border.
2. … and the rest of the Blue Jays core
Guerrero wasn’t the only one to make his debut in 2019. He was joined by Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, two other bright young stars in the Jays roster. Bichette had a very good starring season, as did Biggio. The three stars of the second generation will head to a great Jays baseball season if they continue to grow.
3. Cleveland’s next moves
Cleveland has sent Corey Kluber out this offseason and there is still some expectation that he could try and block Francisco Lindor. It is unfortunate to see Indians leaving the World Series hoping to compete in a few years and 2020 is going to provide a lot of information about where they are going in 2021 and beyond.
4. The juices are flowing ‘
Will base sticks reappear next year? What MLB calls a quality assurance issue and the ineffectiveness of construction have resulted in the eruption of the last two seasons.
5. The touch of a grandfather
David Ross enters his first year as manager, giving the Cubs a “feel good” hire track. Chicago is still very good on paper.
6. New White Sox
Chicago AL has brought in Dallas Keuchel and Grand Yasmani to speed up the rebuilding and it will be fun to watch, especially with a team of Keuchel, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and others throwing in the Grandal. With a core featuring Giolito, Kopech, Yoan Moncada, and Eloy Jimenez, Chicago could get good quickly enough – if the Sox take the next step this season.
7. Construction of Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay were an amazing team with 95 wins in 2019, but don’t expect a surprise in 2020. Everyone knows the Rays are good and will have potentially healthy seasons this year with Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Mordon – this is a solid 1-2-3 in rotation. Also keep your eyes on Brent Honeywell, who is on the comeback trail after two devastating elbow injuries in the last two years.
8. Western NL breed
The Padres finished a disappointing 72-90 as they looked to take a big step forward in the season. The Diamondbacks signed Madison Bumgarner and they are building something good. The Giants are in an unstable state. The Dodgers look to be the cream of the crop once again, but will anyone give them a problem?
9. How bad will evil get?
The Orioles have an improved farm system and the Tigers can look to brighter days ahead. But both teams do not seem to be interested in being more competitive on Spring 2020. Both teams will again pass the mark with 100 losses and if they do, how bad will it get?
10. The next step for the twins
The twins smashed the doors of the rotation around baseball in 2019, setting an MLB record with 308 home runs started. The next step for the Twins is vital: they need to build on this AL Central crown and not make last season look like one and do.
11. Stars in new positions …
Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Corey Kluber and Zack Wheeler all have new homes in 2019 and any type could have a major impact on the playoffs. Cole could be the difference for the Yankees to eventually break into the World Series. Rendon could offer a useful punch to the Angels in a wild card slot (not yet a division). Kluber offers a much needed rotation tip for the Rangers, who were much better than expected in 2019. Wheeler will be a good Robin to Aaron Nola’s Batman in the NL East.
12. … and the stars continue in the spotlight
The MLB has done a much better job in recent years of elevating and promoting its talent. We saw it with the advertising messages of Mike Trout and Javy Baez, with Francisco Lindor during the All-Star Game, and so on. Marketing strategy is varied and widespread and this is good for fans and for the development of the sport. Hopefully the MLB can continue that momentum to move into a new decade.
13. The punishment of Astros
Today, we are still waiting for the charge against Houston for his role in the November signaling crash, but that’s beside the point. How punishment will hurt the Astros on the pitch and from that will surely be one of the biggest stories to watch in 2020.
14. The Braves’ Playoff Journey
Atlanta was beaten in Game 5 of the NLD 2019 against the Cardinals, a team that clearly did not belong in the same field as the final Nations champion. That should double the damage for Braves fans and how they will recover in 2020 both in the regular season and during a potential playoff game, and will talk about the future of the team.
15. The next trade of seafarers
There was a suspiciously quiet offseason for Jerry Dipoto. It’s snowing; Does his cellphone have service? What is happening there? With Seattle’s main move being Omar Narvaz’s brewery trade, there was a highly inactive offseason for the Seattle front office.
16. The hunt for the red October
The Reds have got to improve now, making them the only NL Central team to admit as they are currently trying. While the Reds were a misleadingly good team in 2019, no one will be surprised this year. Could it mean NL wild card? That remains, but it’s a team to watch in 2020.
17. The Mets – that’s it, that’s the thing
The Mets are always good for some ridiculous headlines. Will chairs be thrown? Will Carlos Beltran shoot down a journalist? Will Brodie Van Wagenen develop some humility? All questions will be answered. It can.
18. The rest of the free service
It was a refreshing offseason, with big signage that happened during the Winter Meetings and before, so it’s nice. However, there are still many free agents, emphasized by third king Josh Donaldson. With a few months until the start of the season, it’s worth watching what top executives will enhance their lists.
19. The future of the Red Sox
The Red Sox won a World Series in 2018, but it feels like a thought. A frustrating 2019 season saw the playoffs lose completely, and with rumors swirling about Mookie Betts’ potential trade, the 2020 season for Boston could tell. With Chaim Bloom ready to drive Boston’s front office, the Sox may have to payroll if they don’t get the start they want in 2019 – or maybe they just do it.
20. What will happen to the Rockies?
The reported availability of the Nolan Arenado means that the Rockies could be headed for a division sooner rather than later. Until they get the pitch, it will be no more than a “fun to watch” team, so in 2020 it will tell us a lot about where the Rockies are headed in the future.