If and when Major League Baseball starts their new season, they are expected to have realigned divisions, which could have an impact on the Dodgers’ pursuit of a title in 2020.
Various plans as to how Major League Baseball plans to hold a 2020 season continue to be leaked or speculated upon by news and media outlets and fans alike. The latest iteration has indicated a proposal could be issued by early next week at the latest and could involve teams actually being able to play in the home parks, including the Los Angeles Dodgers playing at Dodgers Stadium, albeit without fans.
While the location of games has been a source of debate, ranging from the use of home stadiums to the possibility of bubble cities in Arizona and Florida, each proposal has included the necessity to realign the divisions in order to limit travel and potential exposure while the rest of the country deals with managing reopening around the Coronavirus pandemic.
When last we heard, the Dodgers were set to be slotted into a revised MLB West division, putting them into a group that included the cross-town Angels and the hated Houston Astros, among other teams west of St. Louis. With five California teams and the further reaches of travel into the Houston and Arlington areas of Texas, this represents an interesting alignment and creates the potential for new rivalries when the season gets underway.
But how will this impact the Dodgers and their aspirations of winning a World Series in 2020?
In his latest post for FanGraphs, uber-statistician Dan Szymborski (via Tony Wolf) applied ZiPS projections to each team in the league based on the new alignments and their potential opponents. While the alignment may make the overall challenge more difficult for the Dodgers, the projected results are nonetheless encouraging.
If played over a 100 game schedule and within their division, the Dodgers project to have a record of 61-39, an MLB-best, and a 64-2 percent chance of winning the division. Coupled with their 19.4% chance of finishing in second place, Los Angeles has a projected 83.6% chance of finishing within the top two of the division. If the plan is to take the division winners and perhaps one wild card team to form a four-team playoff, the Dodgers will almost certainly claim at least a spot in the postseason.
While we await the beginning of the 2020 MLB season, let's take a look at what questions the Los Angeles Dodgers may need to answer when play resumes.
Of course, this all comes with the caveat that nothing is set in stone, from the set-up of the leagues, the length of the season, or the actual outcome. Various wrenches can be thrown into the mix, including a potential second wave of infections that effectively shuts down any opportunity for a 2020 season. Regardless, it is a worthwhile look at what may come for the Dodgers should we clear all the hurdles and see meaningful baseball be played this season.