The 2020 MLB season is upon us, and with that comes new expectations for all teams. So it’s with that thought that we look at 20 storylines for the 2020 MLB season. (In no particular order.)
1. How Will CO-VID19 Affect the Season?
The 2020 season has found itself delayed by more than half with the shutdown caused by CO-VID19. And thus, the shortened 60-game season that we will have will be very different than the norm. However, the main question/storyline, now that the season is confirmed, is how will Co-VID19 continues affecting the outcome of the season. This will be something to monitor as “Summer Camp” progresses into the shortened regular season.
2. Houston Astros Fallout
There has been a lot of coverage from the Laracuente Ledger Network (and honestly everywhere) about the Astros Sign-Stealing Scandal. It’s not going away anytime soon. The Astros have failed to show a genuine level of remorse. And it’s because of the failure that many fans and players alike will be unable to move past this scandal quickly. The Astros will be facing off against harsh and unfriendly territory during each and every road game this season. And the eerie and uncomfortable feeling will not leave the stadiums until after the ‘Stros have gone. This fallout will be one of the ongoing MLB storylines in 2020. The Astros have received a benefit from the fact that this season will be played differently than initially expected. And the retaliation that was anticipated as retribution for their heinous actions will be mitigated.
3. CBA Negotiations
The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) comes to an end after the 2021 season. And at that time, a new CBA will have to be agreed to by the MLB Owners and the MLB Player’s Association. This is unlikely to be a swift and easy process. The last CBA was clearly in favor of the Owners, and the players are going to want to correct those perceived injustices. Thus over the course of the next two seasons, we will have to pay attention to the ongoing CBA discussions. And as we have seen through the back and forth media negotiation during the CO-VID19 hiatus, the 2021 CBA conversation is bound to be very ugly. Hopefully, progress can be made throughout this and next season to avoid another prolonged stoppage in play.
4. Has the Baseball been “De-Juiced”?
The 2019 season was undoubtedly the year of the homerun ball. Two teams (Twins & Yankees) hit over 300 homeruns, and many more shattered their franchise records for team homers in a season. But when the 2019 postseason hit, the baseballs just didn’t seem to carry in quite the same way—thus leading many people to question (even more so) if the baseballs during the regular season were juiced up. And as the 2020 season gets underway, the balls themselves will be one of the interesting storylines for which we are to pay attention.
5. Who’s the real World Series favorite? Dodgers? Yankees? Other?
After the Yankees doled out their obliterating record offer to Gerrit Cole, the Bronx Bombers were the favorites by fans and betting oddsmakers to win the World Series. However, fast-forward and the LA Dodgers would make a massive splash in the pool by acquiring Mookie Betts from the Red Sox. So the question every year of which team is the favorite seemingly is a battle of Yankees or Dodgers. But are there going to be other contenders that could emerge and unseat the current favorites? This is just one of the storylines we will need to follow this Summer.
6. Will Nolan Arenado be traded?
We have a piece up about this very question, Nolan Arenado wants out of Colorado. The idea of trading Nolan Arenado would have seemed blasphemous just one season ago when Nolan signed an eight-year extension with Colorado. But here we are only one season into that deal, and Arenado’s name has been floated about the baseball industry. Until either a trade happens or moves are made to bolster the Rockies, this will be an ongoing storyline in Major League Baseball in 2020.
7. Will Kris Bryant get traded?
Similarly to Nolan Arenado, Kris Bryant has also had his name in trade rumors this offseason. Bryant would have to deal with a service time grievance that would honestly derail all potential negotiations until resolved. Now that the Cubs (& all of MLB) know that Bryant will have another two seasons under contract, it is easier to proceed with a possible trading scenario. Kris Bryant doesn’t currently possess the same perceived value has he had just a few seasons ago. However, should Bryant re-establish himself in the first half of 2020, once again, his name quickly rises to the top of the trade request depth charts. How the Cubs are playing will determine just how much of a storyline this will be in 2020.
8. Japanese Babe Ruth ~ Shohei Ohtani
Since his posting and joining the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Shohei Ohtani has been a spectacle. However, injuries would make the two-way player only a single action star. This season we should see Ohtani return to full health and re-establish himself as the two-way player that baseball fans were expecting. How Ohtani manages his workload to remain healthy and productive will be an ongoing storyline to watch this season.
9. Breakout Players
Every season several players have that monstrous breakout season. And 2020 is likely to be very much the same. We will have to wait and see which players have those magical moments that turn them into a superstar in MLB.
10. Can the Mike Trout show continue?
For approximately the last eight seasons, someone naively asks the question can Mike Trout get better. The answer has been a resounding YES! But now, as we have seen Trout deal with injuries the last few seasons, the question has shifted. The question has now become, is this the year that Mike Trout falls back down to earth? And as storylines go, this is a compelling one. Everyone believes that a healthy Mike Trout is the best in baseball. But if Trout is unable to remain healthy for a full season, does that change his narrative? We will have to watch as the 2020 season unfolds to get more depth for this answer.
11. Will Francisco Lindor be traded?
As we have discussed with previous storylines about both Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant, Francisco Lindor’s name had been brought up as a potential trade candidate this offseason. There’s little doubt in the minds of anyone who watches games that Francisco Lindor is among the very best in baseball, let alone the best shortstop. But Cleveland seems poised to enter that strange downward slope of the win-curve. And moving Lindor now will give the Indians the best chance to recoup some value that will be lost via free agency.
12. How will the Astros players handle the intense pressure?
The situation that the Astros are facing is unparalleled in sports. Never before have we witnessed such institutionalized cheating permeate this deeply. And we know how much it affected players as nearly everyone has spoken out about the players not being punished. The normal comradery that players usually display is all but nonexistent for Houston Astros players. This changes everything that we have seen throughout sports scandals. And for that reason, how the Astros will handle being “the enemy” in every ballpark and among all players (the more critical factor) will be an intriguing storyline in 2020.
13. Universal DH 2020 and Beyond?
The use of the Universal Designated Hitter will be implemented for this shortened 2020 season. But the original negotiated plans from MLB and the MLBPA included the universal DH in 2021 as well. If you’ve followed the Laracuente Ledger for any amount of time, inevitably, you’ve come across at least one article a year of this website’s existence about the universal DH. ( Debating the DH, To DH or Not to DH, That is the Question, Three Reasons the Universal DH Stays after 2020.) Not to mention the baseball case study that was done over on our YouTube channel, the Laracuente Ledger Network. (Should the National League adopt the Designated Hitter Rule.) This season will present the experiment of the universal DH to the world. And dependent on its success (or failure), it may be implemented for good.
14. Next Megacontract
With the recent extension signed by Mookie Betts and Dodgers, we have to ask the question, who is the next young superstar to sign a massive extension. Stars like Javier Baez and Francisco Lindor have the appeal of their fan bases, but the question remains will their teams give them the dollar value they are seeking.
15. Albert Pujols Passing Willie Mays
The storylines each season in the game of baseball is all about the numbers. And even in a shortened season, we could see one legendary player passing another. Albert Pujols will be approaching Willie Mays’ homerun record. Pujols currently stands at 656 homeruns while Mays has 660. So it shouldn’t take long, but the Pujols Watch will be on.
16. Will Pete Rose Gets Reinstated to Baseball?
This needs the least of all explanations but remains one of the important storylines, with all of the Astros sign-stealing scandal, resulting in no punishment for a player-driven scheme. There is only one logical conclusion and correlation that can be made. And it’s actually quite simple, REINSTATE PETE ROSE! Pete Rose is the All-Time MLB Hit King and was not even afforded the opportunity to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame because of his ban from MLB. So remove Pete’s ban, and we can celebrate the Hit King for his accomplishments just like they should be recognized.
17. Expanded Playoffs
It has been reported that the 2020 MLB Postseason will feature expanded playoff format. The usual ten teams will be pushed to sixteen. But as with every change in Major League Baseball, there will be unforeseen repercussions for this change. What those ripple effects will be, we will just have to wait and see.
18. How Will Record Feats be Viewed
With a shortened season, some strange oddities may occur. Most notably a batter having a .400 batting average or a pitcher having an ERA under 1.00. But the question to ponder will be how those records will be viewed should they happen during the 2020 regular season.
19. A Season of Experimentation
The 2020 season will be one that goes down in the record books as a strange one. We’ve already discussed in this piece about the 2020 storylines, the Universal DH and the expanded playoffs. But one other aspect of the experiment that is the 2020 season is the addition of the runner on second base for extra-inning games. The added runner is usually something seen in tournaments and little league to speed up games. It isn’t something that was ever expected to be present during Major League Baseball games. However, as the saying goes, “necessity is the mother of all invention.” And because of CO-VID19, MLB and the world must find new ways to do the same old things of yesteryear. Thus 2020 will see some new things that we would have never thought we would ever see before in MLB.
20. Should MLB Have Even Played, or Will it be Stopped?
The question will be pondered, asked, and deliberated all season long as players continue to contract CO-VID19. The question of whether or not a Major League Baseball season should even have happened will remain one of the main storylines. If you’re a diehard fan of baseball, you needed the sport back for your sanity. But one would still have to wonder was this the correct decision. As the season progresses and we come to more of an understanding of this virus, we will have to speculate if the season should have happened. Or should it continue?