Happy new decade!
Last year was certainly memorable: the Astros were (supposedly) cheating, the Nationals made an unlikely race through the playoffs, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado signed mega agreements (that happened in 2019, by the way), MLB wants to ax some minor league teams … many things happened.
MORE: Five bold predictions for the MLB 2020 season
But 2019 is now almost in the rearview mirror, and with its 2020 glasses on the MLB 2020 season, there is a lot to see next year.
So, without further ado, here are 20 baseball things to watch for by 2020:
1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. …
Vladito had a rookie season from top to bottom. It didn't have a big impact on the team as many expected it to. Still, he is a very exciting young player who should prepare for an outstanding 2020 season, so keep your eyes north of the border.
2.… and the rest of the Tiles core
Guerrero was not the only one who made his debut in 2019. He was joined by Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, two other bright young stars on the Jays list. Bichette had a very good rookie season, as did Biggio. The three second-generation stars that are brewing will lead a great era of Jays baseball, if they continue to develop.
3. The next Cleveland moves
Cleveland sent Corey Kluber out of this offseason, and there are still some expectations that they can try to change Francisco Lindor. It is unfortunate to see the Indians move on from the World Series in the hope of competing with hope in a few years, and 2020 will offer much information on where they will go in 2021 and beyond.
4. Juices flow
Will baseballs reappear in the next year? What MLB calls a quality assurance problem and manufacturing inefficiencies resulted in the home run boom of the last two seasons.
5. The touch of a grandfather
David Ross is entering his rookie year as a manager, giving the Cubs a bit of "feeling good,quot; hired. Chicago is still very good on paper.
6. New white socks
Chicago AL brought Dallas Keuchel and Yasmani Grandal to help accelerate the reconstruction, and it will be fun to watch, especially with a group of Keuchel, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and others throwing Grandal. With a core that features Giolito, Kopech, Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jiménez, Chicago could improve quite quickly, if the Red Sox take the next step this season.
7. The construction of Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay was an amazing team of 95 wins in 2019, but don't expect that "surprise,quot; to happen in 2020. Everyone knows that the Rays are good, and this year they will have potentially healthy seasons for Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow and Charlie Morton: it's a solid 1-2-3 in the rotation. Also, keep your eyes on Brent Honeywell, who is on the way back after two devastating elbow injuries in the past two years.
8. Western National League Race
The Padres finished a disappointing 72-90 after looking like they were going to take a big step forward at the beginning of the season. The Diamondbacks signed Madison Bumgarner and they are building something good. The giants are in a state of limbo. The Dodgers seem to be the cream of the crop once again, but will anyone give them trouble?
9. How bad will it become bad?
The Orioles have an improved farm system, and the Tigers can expect brighter days ahead. But both teams don't seem to be interested in being more competitive on the opening day 2020. Will they cross the 100-defeat mark again and, if they do, how bad will it be?
10. The next step for twins
The Twins flew the doors throwing rotations around baseball in 2019, setting an MLB record with 308 homers thrown. The next step for the Twins is crucial: they need to build on that crown of the Central American League and not make it look like this time and again.
11. Stars in new places …
Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Corey Kluber and Zack Wheeler have new homes in 2019, and each player could have a big impact on the playoff races. Cole could be the difference in the Yankees that finally make their way to the World Series. Rendon could provide a useful blow to the Angels in a wild place (not yet a division). Kluber offers a much-needed rotation leader for the Rangers, who were much better than people expected in 2019. Wheeler will be a good Robin for Aaron Nola's Batman in the East Division Open of the National League.
12.… and the stars continue in the spotlight
MLB has done a much better job in recent years by raising and promoting their talent. We saw it with the commercials of Mike Trout and Javy Baez, cheating Francisco Lindor during the All-Star Game and so on. The marketing strategy has been varied and widespread, and that is a good thing for fans and the growth of the sport. With luck, MLB can continue that momentum by moving towards a new decade.
13. The punishment of the Astros
As things stand, we are still waiting for a punishment against Houston for its role in the debacle of poster theft since November, but that is not the case. How the punishment will harm the Astros in the field and beyond it will definitely be one of the most important stories to keep in mind in 2020.
14. The Braves playoff trip
Atlanta was ashamed in Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS against the Cardinals, a team that clearly did not belong to the same field as the eventual National champions. That should double doubly badly for Braves fans, and the way they recover in 2020 both in the regular season and during a possible playoff race will be important for the team's future.
15. The next exchange of the Sailors
It has been a suspiciously quiet offseason for Jerry Dipoto. Is it snowy? Does your cell phone have service? What's going on there? Since Seattle's main change was the exchange of Omar Narváez to the Brewers, it has been an unusually dead low season for the Seattle headquarters.
16. The October Red Hunt
The Reds have to do with improving at this time, making them the only team in the National League Central that can admit, like, trying at this time. While the Reds were a deceptively decent team in 2019, no one will be surprised this year. Could it mean wildcard of NL? It remains to be seen, but they are a team to see in 2020.
17. The Mets – that is, that is the thing
Mets are always good for some ridiculous headlines. Will chairs be thrown? Will Carlos Beltrán curse a journalist? Will Brodie Van Wagenen develop some humility? All questions that will be answered. Maybe.
18. The rest of the free agency.
It has been a refreshingly busy low season, with important signatures during the Winter Meetings and before, so that's good. But there are still many useful free agents, highlighted by third baseman Josh Donaldson. With a few months to go before the season begins, it is worth checking which general managers will reinforce their lists.
19. Future of the Red Sox
The Red Sox won a World Series in 2018, but now it feels like a late occurrence. A disappointing 2019 season saw them miss the playoffs altogether, and with rumors about the possible exchange of Mookie Betts, the 2020 season for Boston could be revealing. With Chaim Bloom ready to head the Boston main office, maybe the Sox will eliminate the payroll if they don't leave at the beginning they want in 2019, or maybe they will do it for the mere fact of doing so.
20. What's next for the Rockies?
The reported availability of Nolan Arenado means that the Rockies could head for a collapse sooner rather than later. Until they discover the launch, they will be nothing more than a "fun to watch,quot; team, so 2020 will tell us a lot about where the Rockies are heading in the future.