The latest news surrounding a potential 2020 season for Major League Baseball came with reports of an increased playoff system for both this and next season that will include 16 teams.
Should MLB and the MLBPA come to an agreement, the season likely would consist of a 60-game regular season, give or take, with an expanded postseason.
But as for what that could mean for the Orioles? Not much — at least in the next two years.
The Orioles are clearly in the midst of a multiple-year rebuild that won’t have them contending for the American League in either 2020 or 2021. A shortened season essentially boiled down to a sprint instead of a marathon wouldn’t change those plans.
Baltimore doesn’t have much proven major league talent in the organization at the moment making a playoff run, even in a shortened season, unlikely. Last season’s 16th best team in baseball, the Phillies, finished .500.
If the Orioles finish .500, shortened season or otherwise, it’d surely come as a surprise to the rest of baseball.
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While it’s true the Nationals famously began last season 19-31 before their World Series run, even a run for league average seems out of the cards for the Orioles headed into 2020 and 2021.
With a farm system not set to graduate until the major league until the 2021 or 2022 season, a shortened season with the potential for an easier playoff appearance won’t matter to a team focused on rebuilding.
Of the Orioles’ top 10 prospects according to MLB.com, five prospects — including the top three of catcher Adley Rutschman and pitchers Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall — aren’t projected to make the major leagues until 2021. With a new crop of prospects set to come from this year’s draft as well, the organization is moving in the right direction.
An expanded playoff in future years, however, would undoubtedly benefit the Orioles, who will then be turning the page from contender to playoff hopeful.
And with Vanderbilt’s right-handed pitcher Kumar Rocker, one of the more highly touted pitching prospects in years, seemingly set to be the first overall selection in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Orioles shouldn’t veer off course just yet.
While an expanded playoff seems promising in the short-term for the Orioles, it’s the long-term goals that this organization has been, and will continue, to focus on.
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