The new year is upon us, and that means we can put 2019 in the rearview mirror and concentrate on what lies ahead for us. We always believe that the next year will be better than the last, an exercise in human optimism that is legitimately charming, if usually misguided.
So today we come up with one big prediction for every team in 2020. Some of these will be positives and some of them definitely won’t, but one thing is for sure: You’ll be able to mock us for making most of them by the end of the year.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Vlad Jr. will become the Vlad we’ve been waiting for.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a perfectly adequate rookie season, but he didn’t take over the baseball world the way everyone expected him to. That happens this year.
Orioles: They will improve for the third consecutive season.
Of course, all that requires is them losing fewer than 108 games. But we think they can do it!
Rays: Snell will be back to earning Cy Young Award votes again.
It was a bit of a lost year for Blake Snell, the 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner. But if he’s healthy -- and he should be -- he’s the Rays’ biggest star.
Red Sox: Betts isn't a member of the Red Sox one year from today.
Will it be a trade in the next couple of months? At the Deadline? Or just signing with another team before the end of next year? However it plays out, your opportunities to see Mookie Betts in a Red Sox uniform are dwindling.
Yankees: Stanton exceeds his current Yankees home run total.
Giancarlo Stanton has only 41 homers through two seasons, mostly because he only played 18 games last year. He’ll go over 41 this year. Stanton is 42 homers away from 350 for his career.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Indians: Lindor goes the way of Betts.
Just like I said Mookie won’t be in Boston a year from now, Francisco Lindor won’t be in Cleveland.
Royals: Soler will hit 40 homers again.
Jorge Soler must have hit the quietest 48 homers (most in the AL) in recent baseball memory in 2019. They might not be any louder in '20, but he will still keep hitting them.
Tigers: Miggy hits .300 again.
It’s a major goal for Miguel Cabrera every year, and even if it doesn’t come with much power, he can get there with even just a little bit of health.
Twins: Buxton will get MVP Award votes.
The Twins are so much better when Byron Buxton is on the field than when he isn’t. If he gets into 140 games or more, it’ll be impossible to deny him.
White Sox: Jiménez hits 40 homers.
Someday, Eloy Jiménez is going to explode and hit 50. But for now, 40 is a reasonable step up.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels: Trout misses the postseason again.
Astros: Correa finally has the MVP Award-caliber season we’ve been predicting.
The Astros were reportedly considering trading Carlos Correa this offseason. They’ll be glad they didn’t.
Athletics: No extension for Chapman.
This should be the biggest story in Oakland right now: When does Matt Chapman get an extension? He’s not a free agent until after the 2023 season, but the longer they wait, the less likely an extension becomes.
Mariners: There will be no trades until the Deadline, and then there will be about a dozen in an hour.
The Mariners have just been storing themselves up for the summer, surely.
Rangers: The new park will play much differently than anyone thought.
Remember when people thought the new Yankee Stadium would be a pitcher’s park? They’ve got to move into the place before we know how it’s going to work out.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: They will win the division again.
Considering how wonderful of an October the Nationals had, it’s easy to forget the Braves were the champs of this division, rather easily. And no matter what happens with Josh Donaldson this offseason ... they might be just as good in 2020.
Marlins: OK, this is the year Brinson breaks out.
To be fair, pretty sure I’ve been saying this about Lewis Brinson for four years now.
Mets: Canó makes the All-Star team.
For totally understandable reasons, Robinson Canó has been lambasted and forgotten the last couple of years. But this is a Hall of Fame-caliber player who would still seem to have plenty left in his bat. It went unnoticed, but he hit a more-than-respectable .271/.325/.477 after coming off the injured list with left quad tightness on June 16.
Nationals: The team takes a step back, and no one is that angry about it.
Welcome, Nationals fans, to the beautiful concept of a honeymoon year.
Phillies: They miss the playoffs again.
If this happens, all heck is gonna break loose in the City of Brotherly Love.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers: They will make a bigger move than you’re expecting.
The Brewers have a sharp, savvy front office, and their losses this offseason are a good sign something’s cooking.
Cardinals: The best hitter in their lineup by the end of the season will be Carlson.
Cubs: Mass chaos
The Cubs’ quiet offseason has been ... unsettling. Something is coming. It may take us all of 2020 to recover from the reverberations.
Pirates: A positive trade haul
General manager Ben Cherington knows what he’s doing, and he has a big job in front of him. But the man can compile and develop talent, as he proved in Boston.
Reds: One more big splash
The Reds are smart enough to realize there might be a window for them to capitalize on in the NL Central in the next couple of years.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs: Bumgarner throws a shutout at Oracle Park.
And Madison Bumgarner gets a standing ovation for it.
Dodgers: Another playoff appearance
The Dodgers have frustrated their fans with their lack of movement this offseason, but they’re still stocked with talent. As for October, well ... we’ll see about that.
Giants: A rebound for Posey
Buster Posey wasn’t himself last year, but he’s not that old (he turns 33 in March). There’s room left for a softer ending to his career.
Padres: A winning season
Padres fans are getting impatient, but even if the playoffs aren’t forthcoming, their first winning season since 2010 could be.
Rockies: Arenado stays put.
The Rockies aren’t ready to completely start over ... are they? What they do with Nolan Arenado would be an indication of the organization's path.