Believe it or not, the 2020 MLB playoffs are quickly approaching. Starting on October 5, 16 teams (eight per each league) will battle it out to see who will get that coveted World Series title. However, in this abbreviated season, some teams have elevated themselves above the rest with their high-level play. With this in mind, here are the top five World Series contenders entering the postseason.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been the best team in baseball all season long. Star outfielder Mookie Betts has led the way for L.A., as he is one of the top contenders for this year’s NL MVP award. If Betts wins the award, he will join Hall of Famer Frank Robinson as the second player to win MVP in both leagues. Along with Betts (161 OPS+), the Dodgers have a stacked lineup. Shortstop Cory Seager (155), catcher Will Smith (171), outfielder AJ Pollock (125), utility man Chris Taylor (136) and 2019 NL MVP Cody Bellinger (102) make up an absolutely lethal offense in L.A. In terms of pitching, the Dodgers’ rotation has the best ERA in the NL (3.24 ERA). Even with Walker Buehler injured and underperforming, the Dodgers have one of the best rotations in baseball led by veteran ace Clayton Kershaw (2.15 ERA). The Dodgers have once again fielded the deepest and most talented in baseball this season, the key is if they can keep up their success in the postseason unlike years past.
Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have one of the deepest teams in baseball, led by their great pitching. Tampa’s offense isn’t filled with elite talent like other teams on this list but they still know how to get the job done. Most importantly, the Rays simply find ways to win games. Despite the rival Yankees starting to surge recently, the Rays have beat them in eight out of 10 games this season. This has helped vault Tampa to first place in the AL East and to the AL’s best record overall. The main keys for the Rays in the postseason is if the pitching staff can keep up its success and if they can continue to beat the star-studded Yankees like they have all season.
New York Yankees
The Yankees started the season on the outside looking in with a 5-15 record. Many experts questioned if they would even make the playoffs. Since then, however, New York has been red hot. They won 10 straight for the first time since 2012 and set an MLB record for most runs scored (43) in a three-game span. Giancarlo Stanton, Gio Ursehla and Aaaron Judge recently returned from the injury list, giving the Yankees’ lineup a massive boost. New York’s MVP candidates DJ LeMahieu and Luke Voit have been crushing baseballs all year, and now have support behind them with Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez picking up their play. Along with their red-hot hitting, the Yankees are supported by a great pitching staff led by Gerrit Cole (2.84 ERA), Masahiro Tanaka (3.27 ERA) and J.A. Happ (3.25 ERA). Besides their deep lineup, New York has the depth, experience and pitching needed to make a World Series run this year.
Chicago White Sox
The White Sox have been one of this season’s biggest surprises, as they are set to make the postseason for the first time since 2008. The Sox do everything well, with one of baseball’s deepest lineups, a good rotation and a strong bullpen. Chicago has a great blend of youth and experience led by star MVP candidate Jose Abreu, 2019 batting champ Tim Anderson and Rookie of the Year contender Luis Robert. The White Sox are one of the most exciting teams in baseball and look poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. If Chicago keeps up their massive success, they could potentially beat out traditional powerhouses like the Dodgers and Yankees on their way to a World Series title.
San Diego Padres
Along with the White Sox, the Padres also are a surprise contender this season. San Diego has made the playoffs for the first time since 2006, which ends the NL’s longest postseason drought. The Padres are a complete team with the third-best offense led by superstar shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. (5.56 runs per game), the third-best rotation ERA (3.38) and a deep bullpen led by two elite relievers (Drew Pomeranz and Trevor Rosenthal). The rival Dodgers are the only team to score more runs than San Diego (5.78) and have a better rotation ERA (3.24). Additionally, L.A.’s bullpen ERA (2.86) is more than a run better than the Padres’ (4.00), which gives them an advantage. If they can find a way to get past the powerhouse Dodgers in the playoffs, the young and exciting Padres have a great chance to win their first World Series title in over 30 years.