Coronavirus has halted sport. Major League Baseball is no different. Spring Training was cancelled, the season has been postponed, and despite ambitious proposals to play games in Arizona and Florida, there’s little sign of the season returning yet.
There are benefits to the league’s suspension. Some teams lose very little, but others are under pressure to get on the field in 2020.
The New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are two of the teams most keen to get underway at some point this year. Los Angeles gave up Alex Verdugo to land Mookie Betts for a year, and the Yankees just handed Gerrit Cole an enormous contract.
The Dodgers have owned the National League West for years. They have been sensibly aggressive in the trade market and resisted reckless contracts, allowing for sustainable success, something that so often seems impossible in the big three American leagues. Adding David Price and Betts seemed like another shrewd move, as they retained Gavin Lux, Dustin May and other top prospects.
Over on the other coast, the Yankees tussled with injuries throughout 2019, but still came out on top in the American League East. Their dominance was a factor in the Red Sox trading away Betts. The Tampa Bay Rays are the Yanks’ biggest rivals in the division once the 2020 season gets underway, though New York is the overwhelming favourite.
It is a dream for broadcasters and MLB alike. The two biggest markets, a team on side of the continent, meeting in the Fall Classic.
A number of major online betting sites are struggling now, due to the postponed season and the absence of games being played, but that hasn’t stopped a single one of them from picking out a Yankees-Dodgers World Series. As of the end of April, it looks by far the most likely outcome for the 2020 season.
Nevertheless, a shortened campaign will make it less predictable, however, and there are plenty of teams with the talent to be a real threat.
The Houston Astros are still loaded despite losing Cole. Minnesota has elite prospects on the way to join a homer-smashing offence and the Chicago White Sox will be eyeing 2020 to make a breakthrough after a lengthy rebuild.
Plenty have enough to topple the Dodgers in the National League, but there’s uncertainty over all of them. Four teams in the East harbour World Series aspirations, as do several in the Central. Arizona have rapidly re-tooled and are a dark horse if Madison Bumgarner can return to his All-Star best.
The Yankees and Dodgers are far clear of the chasing pack. Having the best roster doesn’t always equal a trip to the World Series, however, as the Dodgers proved in 2019. It’s the most likely matchup as it stands, but this season is impossible to predict right now, and a shortened season could see some major upsets.