MLB Futures: Probabilities of winning the 2020 World Series
And so it’ll be the MLB who first jumps off the US professional sports diving board, kicking off their season this Friday, more than three months later than initially planned.
While the circumstances around the delayed start are well documented, as too the tug of war between the MLB and the Players Union, a truncated, 60-game regular season has been agreed upon, down from its usually gargantuan 162-game slate.
At Stats Insider, we’ll have our finger on the pulse of all four major US sports this season, kicking off today with a journey through the ten franchises our MLB Futures Model has identified as the most likely to claim this season’s World Series.
Let’s get to it.
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 17.6%
In recent years the LA Dodgers have done everything but bring a World Series title back to Southern California. Despite continuing to dominate the regular season with their NL West streak now in its seventh season, they’ve routinely come unstuck in the playoffs, with their World Series drought now in its 32nd year. They are however adding one mighty new toy in 2020, with MVP, World Series winner and 4-time All-Star, Mookie Betts joining, and in the process leaving behind plenty of broken hearts in Boston.
KEY STAT- The Dodgers collective 3.37 ERA was the best in the MLB last season. Their offence however wasn’t as sharp, hitting .257 on the season (ranked 10th) and which slumped to just .220in the post-season.
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 15.3%
Few organisations in world sport have been dragged through the mud quite like the Astros in recent times, with their sign-stealing controversy casting a permanent stain upon both their 2017 World Series, as well as the mesmerising high-level of baseball they’ve played over the last three seasons. The off-field fall out has been immense, with manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow forced to depart the club, while franchise-ace Gerrit Colehas decided to take his talents to Broadway, inking a $324 million deal with the New York Yankees.
KEY STAT- Since 2017, the Astros .270 batting average and .467 slugging percentage have been the best in the majors. Their pitching department has also been stellar, with their 3.59 ERAthe third best figure in the MLB during that time-span.
NEW YORK YANKEES
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 9.9%
Major League Baseball’s most storied club, and backed by its biggest payroll, the New York Yankees continue to enjoy the role of league behemoth, lazily incorporating Gerrit Cole for a cool $324 million in the off-season. However for all their might, ultimate success has eluded the Bronx Bombers in recent times, with last decade their first since the 1910s without a World Series crown.
KEY STAT- The likes of Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez have turned the Yankees into an offensive juggernaut over the last few years, posting 814 home runs since 2017, which is 79 more than any other team in baseball during that span.
NEW YORK METS
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 6.0%
The success-starved New York Mets enter the truncated 2020 season as one of the league's most fascinating teams, led by the sport’s very best pitcher in Jacob deGrom, and perhaps its very best young talent in Pete Alonso. While they’ve missed the post-season three straight seasons, labouring around the .500 mark, their intriguing blend of hitters and viciously talented rotation has them poised for a break-out.
KEY STAT- From mid-July, Jacob deGrom went 7-1, pitched 94 innings, posted a 1.44 ERA and fired down 117 strikeouts. In others words, he was simply otherworldly, and justifiably romped to yet another unanimous Cy Young award.
BOSTON RED SOX
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 6.0%
On the surface, things are falling apart for the Red Sox. The Yankees, their mortal enemy, go from strength to strength, they lose their 2018 World Series manager Alex Cora due to his involvement in the Astros sign-stealing scandal, while to top things off their indisputable franchise star Mookie Betts was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Boston do however have a young, talented core led by the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Deversand Xander Bogaerts who all played a major role in their 2018 triumph.
KEY STAT- The Red Sox are devoting just 16.8% of their payroll to pitching in 2020 which ranks 28th in the MLB. Speaking of pitching, the Red Sox surrendered 828 runs last season- their worst return since 1996.
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 5.9%
With the exception of their sign-stealing controversy and World Series crown, the Atlanta Braves are doing one hell of a good Houston Astros impersonation. In recent years they’ve morphed themselves from a league laughing stock to formidable force, claiming the last two NL East titles and housing some of the sport’s best young talent. Former Toronto Blue Jays executive Alex Anthopoulos has done a masterful job reviving a club who won just 72 games in 2017, as too has manager Brian Snitker who got his first head coaching opportunity at the ripe age of 60.
KEY STAT- The Braves were exceptional away from home last season, topping the National League with 47 wins. They were also brilliant against the MLB’s best, posting 52 wins against the .500 or better opposition which was also the best mark in the majors.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 4.2%
The White Sox haven’t had a winning season since 2012, yet enter 2020 as a genuine break-out candidate. The South Siders have some of the MLB’s most talented youth led by Lucas Giolito who’ll spearhead their pithing attack, along with young batting sensations such as Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jiminez. The White Sox also got aggressive in the off-season adding in World Series and Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel, along with Yasmani Grandal, who's perhaps the game’s most offensively gifted catcher.
KEY STAT- As a team, the White Sox struck out on 25.6% of plate appearances last season (the third highest figure in the MLB) with Moncada (27.5%) and Jimenez (26.6%) among their chief culprits.
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 3.9%
The Twins jumped form 78 wins to 101 last season, in the process winning their first AL Central crown in nine seasons. Fuelling their dramatic turnaround was a super-charged offence which blasted an MLB-high 939runs and which was the best return in franchise history. They were however swept by the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs meaning their streak without a single post-season win is now in its 16th year.
KEY STAT- 64.7% of the Twins outrageous 939 runs last season were delivered by players 27 years or younger, led any the breakout season of Miguel Sano who hammered 34 home runs.
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 3.3%
Just one playoff appearance last decade for the Angels, and not a single winning season since 2015, yet there’s a palpable air of optimism about the Halos heading into season 2020. The sport’s very best player in Mike Troutwill finally have some serious talent around him with the Angels bringing in Washington’s World Series hero Anthony Rendon. Their pitching department will see the long-awaited return of the insanely talented Shohei Ohtani, who, if healthy, has the potential for super-stardom.
KEY STAT- Angels starting pitchers won just 28 games last season, the 2nd worst return in the majors, while their collective 5.68 ERA was a number only the Colorado Rockies faired worse in.
WORLD SERIES PROBABILITY 3.2%
The A’s have five straight seasons of steady improvement under their belts, last year winning 97 games and returning to the post-season as a Wildcard for the second straight year. Speaking of the Wildcard, the Green and Gold haven’t advanced beyond the play-in game since 2013, however boast one of the most well-balanced squads in the MLB, and which was one of just three teams last season (along with the Dodgers and Houston) to rank both top-8 in runs scored and conceded.
KEY STAT- For a team in serious contention, the Athletic’s payroll remains relatively minuscule with a total bill of just $35 million, placing them 25th in the league, and well below the average team expenditure of $59.4 million.
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