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 last month, and spring training -- "summer camp" -- opened two weeks ago. Opening Day is one week away. 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 teams that are best built for the 60-game mad dash. This week we're going to debate MLB's three superpowers or the field for the World Series title.
Pick one to win the World Series: Astros/Dodgers/Yankees or the field.
Katherine Acquavella: I'll go with the Astros/Dodgers/Yankees group over the field. We're going to see a few below-average clubs sneak into the playoffs during this 60-game season, but as far as the best chances to win this year's World Series, I'm still going to stick with the trio of powerhouse teams. Aside from David Price's opt-out, there hasn't (at least yet) been any other big names choosing to sit out this season, from those three clubs. So, they'll be entering this shortened season with most of their potent lineups intact and will be nearly, if not fully healthy due to the season's delay. I know it's possible another team takes home the title in this wacky season, but it's hard for me to commit to a 2020 World Series champion that's not the Yankees, Dodgers or Astros.
R.J. Anderson: The field. Let's be clear: those three teams have the best individual chances of winning the World Series. If you're asking me to pick the one team I think will win the title this fall (if there is one to win this fall), it's going to be one of those three. Be that as it may be, this question is about probability, and probability favors the field. FanGraphs gives those three teams a combined 46 percent chance at winning the World Series; the other 27 teams, then, have a combined 54 percent chance. You can argue that the odd format of the season means those percentages are out of whack either way; that's fair, but I'm rolling with them for now.
Mike Axisa: If I had to pick one individual team to win the World Series, it would be one of those three teams. But since I get to pick the other 27 teams as a group, give me the field. Just playing the odds, folks. The 60-game season means weird things can and will happen, and it's not a given those three clubs even make the postseason (though they likely will). The team with the best record in baseball during the regular season has made a habit of winning the World Series the last four years, though it didn't happen in 2019, and the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox are tainted by sign-stealing scandals. Point is, picking against the best team to win the World Series is hardly a bad bet. Give me the field. I'll take my chances.
Dayn Perry: I think under normal circumstances, I'd be tempted to take one of these three teams, the obvious best teams on paper. However, the 60-game regular season presents an opportunity for weirdness. As well, there's also the possibility that players important to these teams wind up opting out or wind up sidelined because of a positive test. Obviously, we're all hoping the latter doesn't happen, but the possibility must be considered. Given the randomness inherent in baseball and the oddities of the 2020 season, I have to take the field.
Matt Snyder: I'll take the three teams. I like gambling and those odds R.J. mentioned seem similar to beating the house in blackjack. I've done that before. Let's re-ante. The Dodgers and Yankees are clearly the two best teams and throwing in the Astros is some kind of sweetener. Sure, the best teams don't always win. Heading into last season and again into the playoffs, the Nationals weren't the best team. The 2018 Red Sox were the best team, though. So were the 2016 Cubs. The 2017 Astros and Dodgers were the two best teams. There's an argument the 2015 Royals were the best team wire-to-wire. The 2013 Red Sox? Yep. Taking the best teams has merit, so bring them on. Dodgers, Yankees and Astros it is!