Here we go. The 2020 Major League Baseball season is finally here, 17 weeks later than planned.
It’s pretty safe to say that this is going to be a season unlike any other. Shortened season? Well, most baseball fans have seen that. But because of a global pandemic that’s going to mean no fans in the ballparks as well as health and safety protocols? Unprecedented.
Regardless of how different this season will be, it’s time for baseball writers to once again make fools of themselves and try to make predictions about the upcoming season.
That’s no different at Federal Baseball. So, which fools are stepping up to the plate...
- Patrick Reddington - Part man, part content machine, somehow keeping this site filled with many articles during the long offseason.
- Blake Finney - Has a 100% record of Nats winning the World Series while at FBB.
- Marty Niland - D.C. baseball stalwart, artificial crowd noise hater.
- Brett Barnett - Our own friendly neighborhood Yinzer.
- The ghost of Will Kubzansky - Temporarily back from the dead to give his hot takes.
Will the 2020 MLB season be played to a conclusion?
- Patrick - No.
- Blake - Yes, they squeeze it in, even if there are plenty of concerns.
- Marty - No. I sure do hope so but I’m still not optimistic.
- Brett - Yes. Initially, I was pessimistic and still am to an extent. But seeing actual baseball being played again raised my optimism levels.
- Will - No. I truly hope they can, but especially as we approach a second wave in the fall, it’s hard to imagine getting through a World Series.
This is definitely the most important question of the season, or potential season, depending on whether it makes it all the way to end uninterrupted. We’re all pretty split on this subject though, as there are serious concerns as the virus continues to spike in some MLB cities.
Even those who do think it will be curtailed will hope it does play to a conclusion, not just for baseball’s sake, but because it probably means the country is in a much better state too.
Note: All further questions will be under the assumption that the season is finished as expected so that we all have guesses based on the same number of games.
Who will lead the team in home runs? How many?
- Patrick - Juan Soto, 15
- Blake - Eric Thames, 13
- Marty - Juan Soto, 17
- Brett - Juan Soto, 14
- Will - Juan Soto, 17
Most of us were on the same page and thought that the 21-year-old will carry over his power surge from last year’s World Series and keep going as one of the best hitters in all of baseball. Meanwhile, yours truly went a little outside the box with Thames, who should now start most games at either first base or DH after Ryan Zimmerman opted out of the season.
Who will lead the team in saves? How many?
- Patrick - Sean Doolittle, 14
- Blake - Sean Doolittle, 9
- Marty - Sean Doolittle, 25
- Brett - Sean Doolittle, 18
- Will - Sean Doolittle, 12
Though we all had the option to stray from the team’s current closer, we all seem to believe that Doolittle will at least hold onto the role for most of, if not all, of the season. That said, we do have a pretty wide range when it comes to the number of saves, perhaps a microcosm of how wide-ranging the left-handed reliever’s performance could be in 2020.
Which pitcher will lead the team in wins? How many?
- Patrick - Stephen Strasburg, 7
- Blake - Patrick Corbin, 8
- Marty - Stephen Strasburg, 7
- Brett - Stephen Strasburg, 6
- Will - Patrick Corbin, 7
Here’s where things get more varied in our predictions. With the Nationals’ big four starting pitchers, we weren’t short of choices. Overall, it was a split between the newly-minted $245 million man, Strasburg, and last year’s Game 7 winner, Corbin. Was tough to really go wrong with either of them as they would have the advantage over other number twos and threes.
Which player will hit third in the batting order the most?
- Patrick - Starlin Castro
- Blake - Starlin Castro
- Marty - Juan Soto
- Brett - Howie Kendrick
- Will - Howie Kendrick
Well, if you believe the exhibition games, Castro looks likely to get the first crack at hitting ahead of Soto in the order. He’s a less than convincing choice though, so it’s a very real possibility that someone else, like Soto or Kendrick, winds up hitting third more than Castro.
How many stolen bases will Trea Turner get this season?
- Patrick - 25
- Blake - 18
- Marty - 30
- Brett - 14
- Will - 25
How aggressive will the Nationals get with base stealing in 2020? We haven’t really got a consensus at FBB. With no Anthony Rendon, it’s certainly in the realms of possibility that Turner goes crazy on the basepaths to help generate offense and gets up towards the 30 Marty predicted, while Brett has the low-point of 14 if the team stays cautious.
What will Carter Kieboom’s batting average be?
- Patrick - .265
- Blake - .248
- Marty - .240
- Brett - .257
- Will - .253
Kieboom’s performance as the team’s primary third baseman is going to be one of the biggest stories of the Nationals’ season and a pretty big factor in how successful they will be. On the whole, we think it’ll be solid, if unspectacular in terms of batting average, though he’ll need to show improved plate discipline and power at the same time.
Aside from the big 4 who will make the most starts for the Nationals?
- Patrick - Austin Voth
- Blake - Austin Voth
- Marty - Erick Fedde
- Brett - Erick Fedde
- Will - Erick Fedde
A fairly even split here. Team Voth, Patrick and I, clearly believe in the flashes of promise he displayed last season before injuries derailed his season. Team Fedde, Marty, Brett, and Will, go with the experience and think that he will claim a consistent rotation job over the year.
What will the final NL East standings be? * for Wild Card
- Patrick - 1) Nationals 2) Braves* 3) Mets 4) Phillies 5) Marlins
- Blake - 1) Mets 2) Phillies* 3) Braves 4) Nationals 5) Marlins
- Marty - 1) Nationals 2) Braves* 3) Mets* 4) Phillies 5) Marlins
- Brett - 1) Nationals 2) Braves 3) Mets 4) Phillies 5) Marlins
- Will - 1=) Nationals 1=) Braves* 3) Phillies* 4) Mets 5) Marlins
Most of us are on the exact same page, barring some Wild Card differences, thinking that the Nationals can take back the National League East crown over those pesky Braves. And then there’s me, who thinks the division could be shaken up with the shortened season and the top four teams still seemingly well-matched. Now I’m off to duck for cover...
PS, props to Will with a bold pick of a Game 61 to break the tie at the top of the division.
How many wins will the Nationals have?
- Patrick - 40
- Blake - 30
- Marty - 35
- Brett - 34
- Will - 35
The shortened season makes our win totals seem close, but in a 60-game season, the difference between the top-end at 40 and the low-point of 30 is like a 25-game difference in a normal season. But it seems like everyone but me is close to the same page for wins.
How will the Nationals’ season end?
- Patrick - NLCS loss
- Blake - Fail to reach the playoffs
- Marty - World Series loss
- Brett - NLCS loss to Dodgers
- Will - NLCS loss
I guess I gave away my own answer with the division standings earlier, but everyone else thinks the Nationals can once again get out of the NLDS and make a dent on the postseason, even if they fall short near the end. Even Will finally predicts they win a playoff series!
Will any Nationals win any awards at the end of the season?
- Patrick - No
- Blake - Juan Soto, Silver Slugger
- Marty - Stephen Strasburg, Cy Young; Juan Soto, MVP
- Brett - Max Scherzer, Cy Young
- Will - Juan Soto, MVP
The end of season awards won’t mean as much this year in a 60-game sprint than in any other season, but they will still be there regardless. Among some predictable awards like Soto with a Silver Slugger and couple Cy Young predictions for the co-aces, we have not one, but two, Soto MVP predictions! Now that really would be something for the 21-year-old.
One bold prediction not covered by the previous questions
- Patrick - Juan Soto will win the 60-game batting title.
- Blake - Howie Kendrick will receive multiple MVP votes.
- Marty - Michael A. Taylor will have a good year at the plate, pushing Victor Robles all year for the starting CF job.
- Brett - Patrick Corbin finishes with a sub-3 ERA.
- Will - Victor Robles is going to have an extreme season — either dominant or atrocious.
And finally, the part where we really try to make fools out of ourselves with bold predictions.
I think we’re all quite bold here, though Will maybe slightly more tepid than the rest trying to wedge two scenarios in one. Marty, while not overly specific, does seem to think we see something resembling an even split in center field. I like Brett’s prediction of Corbin taking yet another step forward. With the DH this year, I think Kendrick will play enough games to have a legitimate case for a handful of MVP votes, at least. And Patrick, the man of few public opinions, goes boldest of all with Soto winning a batting title at just 21. [ed. note - “Patrick here: Opinions are overrated.”]
And there we have it. Another set of predictions that we can come back and laugh at when it all goes pear-shaped over, hopefully, the next three months (knock on wood) of baseball.