Major League Baseball is on the way back. There is still a global pandemic to navigate, but commissioner Rob Manfred imposed a 60-game season earlier this week, and spring training will begin Wednesday. Opening Day will be July 23 for some teams and July 24 for others. Hopefully the season can be completed safely and a World Series champion can be crowned.
Between now and Opening Day my fellow CBS Sports MLB scribes and I will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we discussed our ideal number of postseason teams. This week we're going to tackle our favorite underdog.
Which team has the best chance to make a Cinderella run in 2020?
Katherine Acquavella: I'll say the White Sox. I think any team that's on the verge of moving from rebuilder to contender has the ability to go on a run during this 60-game season, but Chicago looks pretty well-equipped. Especially after a flurry of offseason moves: signing Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, Edwin Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez and re-signing Jose Abreu. Combine that group of veterans with some of the club's top young talent (Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Lucas Giolito) and we could see this team go farther than expected. A trip to the postseason would be the first time since 2008 for the White Sox.
R.J. Anderson: I'm going with the Rangers, who PECOTA pegs for 73 wins over a 162-game season. The keys to a good Texas season were and will continue to be staying healthy and getting some surprising performances; both of those aspects are easier over the course of a 60-game season. As a result, you can talk yourself into Mike Minor, Corey Kluber, and Lance Lynn stringing together a two-month stretch of quality starts. Likewise, it's easy to envision Joey Gallo, Nick Solak, and others stinging pitchers who aren't at their peak. If some combination of Robinson Chirinos, Todd Frazier, Matt Duffy, and company can help cover for Texas' shortcomings ... well, maybe it won't be enough to win the division, but maybe it would allow the Rangers to get into the postseason and go from there.
Mike Axisa: The Blue Jays. They're in a tough division but I think they're going to be a real headache for opposing teams in 2020. This is a team that went 27-28 in the final 55 games last year, remember. The Jays were hardly a pushover like, say, the Orioles and Tigers. The teams that made the big jump from rebuilding one year to contending the next (2008 Rays, 2013 Pirates, 2015 Cubs, etc.) did so with high-end young position players. The Blue Jays have that in Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and don't sleep on Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. either. They have a shutdown closer in Ken Giles, a top-of-the-rotation starter in Hyun-Jin Ryu, steady mid-rotation options in Chase Anderson and Tanner Roark, and maybe the best pitching prospect in baseball in Nate Pearson. Would I call it a postseason berth likely? No, but I love Toronto's talent. It's the kind of talent that could do special things in a 60-game season.
Dayn Perry: I'll go with the Blue Jays. Largely that's because almost anything can happen over a 60-game span, but it's also because of the tremendous upside in the lineup with young hitters like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Cavan Biggio. As well, Hyun-Jin Ryu is a worthy frontman in the rotation. I don't think they'll make the postseason, but they definitely have enough play-up potential to make them interesting.
Matt Snyder: I'm gonna go Angels. With such a short season, the possibility of regulars never sitting skyrockets and they have Mike Trout now flanked by Anthony Rendon. Shohei Ohtani can be an ace from the get-go and will likely be in the lineup every day he isn't pitching. Maybe this is just wishful thinking because I'd love to see Trout get a deep playoff run and start to get more "GOAT" treatment from casual fans, but I'm firmly behind the Angels.