What could things look like for Red Sox if MLB realigns divisions in 2020?
Major League Baseball is discussing various scenarios as to how they can salvage the 2020 season. One of those ideas is to realign the divisions around the proximity of teams' spring training facilities, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
This would mean teams who train in Florida will compete against other teams in Florida with the same going for organizations in Arizona.
The division shakeup could be a breath of fresh air for baseball fans, but how could things shake out for the Boston Red Sox in their new division? We decided to take a look at the proposed Grapefruit League South Division and rank where we think the teams will place. Considering we won't know how many games will be played, we'll rank the teams without their potential records.
1. Minnesota Twins
The Twins are primed to have a solid year in 2020, provided the season actually happens. Last season they went 101-61 and won the AL Central. Minnesota has a solid pitching staff heading into 2020 with Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Randy Dobnak their likely rotation -- those pitchers went 54-33 last season with a 3.48 ERA.
The bats are also strong. The starting lineup could potentially look something like this: Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario. At the plate last season, that line hit .279 with 247 total home runs and a .890 OPS.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
Much like the Twins, the Rays also are expected to have a strong 2020. They went 96-66 last season in an AL East dominated by the New York Yankees. Their rotation is expected to be Blake Snell, Tyler Glasnow, Charlie Morton, Yonny Chirinos and Ryan Yarbrough -- they went 48-26 with a 3.42 ERA.
As for the bats, the Rays are expected to roll out these hitters: Mike Zunino, Ji-Man Choi, Brandon Lowe, Willy Adames, Yandy Diaz, Kevin Kiermaier, Austin Meadows, Hunter Renfroe, Jose Martinez. Last season, these players averaged .245 with 169 home runs and a .820 OPS.
3. Atlanta Braves
Third place in the division could've been a toss-up if the Red Sox had a healthy Chris Sale, so Atlanta edges Boston here because they've got a better pitching staff for 2020. The Braves went 97-65 in 2019, which was good enough for first in the NL East. Atlanta's rotation goes something like this: Mike Soroka, Cole Hamels, Mike Foltynewicz, Max Fried and Sean Newcomb -- they went 51-26 with a 3.64 ERA.
The Braves also have a solid lineup expected to include: Travis d’Arnaud, Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Johan Camargo, Ronald Acuña Jr., Marcell Ozuna, Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis. This group hit .264 with a .794 OPS in 2019.
4. Boston Red Sox
If you're a Red Sox fan, you shouldn't be too surprised that they're ranked four out of five teams in this new division. The Sox went 84-78 last season. After trading David Price and Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and losing Chris Sale for the season to Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox aren't expected to improve on last season. Here's what the projected rotation: Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, Ryan Weber, TBD -- these guys went 33-18 with a 5.00 ERA in 2019. New baseball boss Chaim Bloom and the Sox are reportedly looking to add another pitcher, so that's why the fifth spot is TBD or the dreaded "opener" out of the bullpen.
The bats appear much better than the arms: Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Kevin Pillar, Michael Chavis, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr. They hit .279 with a .829 OPS last season.
While the Red Sox may be better at the plate than the Braves, the pitching will likely be their biggest downfall.
5. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles have been cellar-dwellers for years and that's not expected to change in 2020. They went 54-108 in 2019 and their starting pitchers are John Means, Alex Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski, Wade LeBlanc, Kohl Stewart -- they went 24-30 with a 6.31 ERA in 2019.
The bats in Baltimore are just as bad as the pitching. Here's a look at what they'll most likely be rolling out: Pedro Severino, Chris Davis, Hanser Alberto, Jose Iglesias, Rio Ruiz, Renato Nunez, Anthony Santander, Austin Hays, Dwight Smith Jr. Those batters averaged .256 with a .744 OPS.