After last Sunday’s Super Bowl, it’s finally time for baseball season to take its turn in the spotlight of American sports. A surprising 2019 season led to the Washington Nationals being crowned World Series champions after storming from out of nowhere to take the title.
The Nationals didn’t make the playoffs in 2018 before winning it all in 2019, so it’s absolutely possible that another team could repeat this feat in the upcoming season.
Let’s take a look at some teams that are candidates to take a big step forward in 2020, and maybe even compete for a title.
The Reds missed out on the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season in 2019, but that could change after an offseason of upgrades has shifted the team’s roster.
The signings of free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos and infielder Mike Moustakas, neither of which broke the proverbial bank, should give a team that has struggled offensively in recent seasons a big upgrade. Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez are both entrenched as stars in the corner of the infield, and a solid rotation that was bolstered by a mid-season trade for righty Trevor Bauer could help the Reds take advantage of an NL Central that looks weak on paper.
Los Angeles Angels
It seems almost unbelievable that the Angels, despite having baseball’s best player in Mike Trout since 2012, have only managed to make the playoffs once in that stretch.
Going into 2020, the team has a new manager in Joe Maddon, and a new big-ticket acquisition in third baseman Anthony Rendon that could help the team get back into contention. Trout and Rendon will pair to form arguably baseball’s strongest 1-2 punch on offense, while a full season of healthy ball from Shohei Ohtani and a strengthened rotation might just be what the Angels have been looking for.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have a strong case to make as a playoff contender in 2020.
Why? A combination of youth and off-season signings and acquisitions could have the South Siders in the postseason for the first time since 2008.
Chicago has long had problems with starting pitching, and the off-season additions of Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez should help Lucas Giolito to make the Sox’s rotation at least average. Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez are two of baseball’s biggest offensive talents, and they should be regular starters for the club this season. Add the signing of veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion to the mix, and you might just be looking at this season’s biggest up-and-coming squad.