No more false starts: baseball is back.
We've spent the last few months asking questions about safety, feasibility, location logistics, and grievances. Now it's time to start asking about actual games — of which there will be precious few.
The Phillies will play 60 games this season, a jarringly low number that will put more weight behind each inning. Does the shortened season help the Phils? Hurt them?
Judging by the tone of a few early predictions, analysts think the Phillies could benefit greatly from this quirky mini-season.
Here's a look at how some MLB observers think the Phils' 2020 season will pan out:
B/R's Blake Schuster thinks the Phillies win the NL East this year, before losing in the expanded playoffs.
For the Phillies, this has all the makings of the season Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins establish themselves as the premier core in the NL East for years to come. With a rotation featuring Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia looks like it has the most balanced roster in the division. Get ready for this team to take over.
I still worry about the Braves, but I can see the Phils stealing the division with a few strong stretches in late August/early September.
Here's a bold one: Radio.com's John Healy thinks the Phillies will have the best record in Major League Baseball.
They bring in a new manager in Joe Girardi, who always had managed to keep some aging, lifeless Yankees teams in the hunt for the playoffs. Didi Gregorius, although streaky, adds a new dynamic to a lineup that already consists of Harper, Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto. The Phillies also upgraded their starting rotation with the addition of Zack Wheeler.
I won't go this far, but I do think the Phils will be surprisingly high in the MLB-wide standings.
The Fangraphs ZiPS model isn't as bullish on the Phils. The model, which "uses past performance and aging trends to develop a future projection for players", has the Phils finishing fourth in the NL East and missing the playoffs with a 30-30 record.
Because of the tight season, of course, the Phils end up just one game behind the third-place Mets and four games behind the tied-for-first-place Braves and Nationals.
So really, they're right in the mix.
Plus, a good sign for Phillies fans: the team's playoff chances increased by 11.7 percent from February to June, the ninth-best change in baseball:
The teams with the most positive change in their fortunes are the midwestern teams, and the teams that were on the very edge of Wild Card contention.
Trending up, and being on the edge of Wild Card contention, is always ideal.
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