5 Teams That Could Steal a World Series in Weird, Wild 2020 SeasonAugust 21, 2020
5 Teams That Could Steal a World Series in Weird, Wild 2020 Season
The 2020 Major League Baseball season is unusual for a lot of reasons, including the truncated schedule and expanded postseason format. So it's reasonable to assume the '20 campaign might also feature an unexpected World Series winner.
Sure, prohibitive favorites such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees could hoist the Commissioner's Trophy. But in this weird and wild sprint, an underdog may steal the show.
Let's examine five teams capable of crashing the Fall Classic based on current record, talent and a healthy dose of gut feeling.
After losing 108 games in 2019, the Baltimore Orioles were supposed to be the doormats of the American League East. Instead, the O's have vaulted into the playoff picture thanks to an offense that ranks fourth in the game with a .783 OPS.
Standout performances from the likes of outfielder Anthony Santander (9 HR, 1.047 OPS) and catcher Pedro Severino (5 HR, 1.018 OPS) have kept the O's in contention.
Is it sustainable?
There are red flags, including the club's 20th-ranked 4.77 ERA. Other than Alex Cobb (3.77 ERA), no Baltimore starter has a sub-4.00 ERA.
If they play it safe and aim their sights on the future, the Orioles will sell assets such as reliever Mychal Givens, who has fanned 13 in nine scoreless frames, before the Aug. 31 trade deadline.
A four-game homestand against the Boston Red Sox that kicked off Aug. 20 could vault Baltimore back over .500 and set it up for a stretch-run sprint.
The safe money is on a flash-in-the-pan fizzle. But in the YOLO spirit of 2020, the Birds could shock the world.
The Colorado Rockies have gotten off to a solid 13-12 start thanks to an offense fronted by outfielder Charlie Blackmon, shortstop Trevor Story and third baseman Nolan Arenado.
The Rox have also benefited from a starting rotation that ranks sixth with a 3.44 ERA behind the rotation-topping duo of German Marquez and Kyle Freeland.
Colorado probably won't catch the loaded Los Angeles Dodgers for division supremacy, but it's positioned as a dangerous wild-card opponent for any possible foe.
An upcoming seven-game road trip that features three games against the Dodgers and a quartet of contests versus the Arizona Diamondbacks could help define Colorado's fate.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox are among the most exciting young teams in baseball. Center fielder Luis Robert is on a Rookie of the Year trajectory and is backed by names such as outfielder Eloy Jimenez and third baseman Yoan Moncada.
Overall, White Sox hitters rank eighth with a .768 OPS.
On the pitching front, the ChiSox have an enviable balance of veterans (Dallas Keuchel) and emerging youngsters (Lucas Giolito).
The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland give the South Siders stiff competition atop the American League Central, but a wild-card spot is well within reach. And if they make it to the playoffs, the White Sox are more than capable of making a run.
San Diego Padres
Like the Rockies, the San Diego Padres are likely a wild-card hopeful behind the Dodgers in the NL West.
But the Friars are dangerous with superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. spearheading the offense and budding ace Dinelson Lamet at the head of a starting rotation that is fourth in the game with a 3.34 ERA.
The Padres should improve a bullpen that ranks 25th with a 5.93 ERA and lost closer Kirby Yates to season-ending elbow surgery. They could dip into a deep farm system we ranked No. 4 after the 2020 draft to swing a deal.
They shouldn't mortgage what appears to be a bright future, but they have the talent to make a deep postseason drive.
Toronto Blue Jays
At 12-11, the Toronto Blue Jays are looking up at the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in the American League East.
The future is bright thanks to a second-generation MLB core centered around Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio. Bichette is currently out with a knee injury, though he could return before the season ends, and the Jays can lean on other contributors, including outfielders Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk.
The starting rotation took a hit when rising star Nate Pearson landed on the injured list with an elbow ailment, but veteran left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu is throwing like the guy who won the NL ERA crown with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019.
The Jays shouldn't trade any top assets from their No. 7-ranked farm system. But they are a team that could make a deep drive now and please their fans during this weird and wild season.
All statistics current as of Thursday and courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs.