2020 MLB Projected Standings & Preseason Ratings

The Dodgers lead our 2020 MLB Projected Standings

All signs point to the Dodgers being the favorite, unless someone steals it from them (Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)

Our MLB Projections are back, and for the second year in a row, as the MLB schedule continues to creep into March, we are releasing these before Selection Sunday. This year, the season begins with all 30 teams in action on March 26, 2020. This is the first time that every single MLB team has played on Opening Day since April 10, 1968, which pre-dated both the moon landing and MLB dividing into divisions and holding playoffs before the World Series.

Here are our 2020 MLB preseason ratings and 2020 MLB projected standings.

As always, the main purpose of our preseason MLB ratings is to provide a data-driven starting point for our MLB projected standings.

They also drive our MLB postseason seed projections and our other MLB season projection details. These include fully automated win-loss predictions, playoff chances, and World Series win odds.

Those standings and seed projection pages are updates every day to reflect the latest results and most up to date MLB power ratings.

How We Create The Preseason Ratings

For football and basketball, we use our own data and models to come up with independent estimates of team quality. We then compare those to the market, and to other projections, and make final adjustments.

We treat baseball a bit differently, though. So far at least, our methods for projecting MLB aren’t as cutting edge, relative to other sports. So rather than trying to create our own preseason ratings, and deriving a season projection from those, we base our initial MLB projected standings on a weighted average of betting market info and projected standings from other well respected sources.

Essentially, we combine projected win total info from various sources into a consensus win total projection for every team. Then we figure out what preseason team ratings would lead to those exact projections.

We’re still publishing these, so that you know what the initial rating in our projection system was for each team. But at this point we can’t recommend using these MLB projected standings to go place preseason bets, for example, if for no other reason than we haven’t done extensive backtesting of our approach.

Full Preseason 2020 MLB Projected Standings

American League
AL EastWLTR RankPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
NY Yankees100.461.6292.6%76.3%46.5%17.5%
Tampa Bay89.672.4856.2%16.4%6.9%3.5%
AL CentralWLTR RankPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
Chi Sox83.778.32030.1%17.2%1.7%1.2%
Kansas City65.097.0280.5%0.3%0.0%0.0%
AL WestWLTR RankPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
LA Angels85.376.71434.5%13.6%2.8%2.0%
National League
NL EastWLTR RankPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
NY Mets87.075.0649.1%25.4%5.5%4.2%
NL CentralWLTR RankPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
St. Louis84.977.11141.5%27.7%3.1%2.9%
Chi Cubs84.577.51240.4%26.8%3.1%2.8%
NL WestWLTR RankPlayoffsWin DivTop SeedWS Champs
LA Dodgers101.560.5196.2%89.4%63.4%24.1%
San Diego81.880.21726.9%5.0%2.1%1.1%
SF Giants67.894.2251.1%0.1%0.0%0.0%

A Seemingly Narrow Win Distribution

You may look at the projections and think that they aren’t extreme enough. In a way, you’d be right — the Dodgers and Yankees are the only teams projected with more than 95.1 wins, and the Tigers and Orioles are the only teams projected with under 65.0 wins. There’s a decent chance that the best team in baseball ends up winning more than the 101.5 games currently projected for the Dodgers.  And there’s a reasonable chance the worst team (which by record is the Orioles, but by power rating is the Tigers) will lose more than 104 games.

But if a team wins 101 games this year (or if anyone but the Dodgers and Yankees gets over 95 wins), it’s going to be because things have gone better than could have reasonably been expected to start the season. And picking which teams will wildly exceed expectations is rather tricky. On average these conservative predictions should provide a less biased starting point than more aggressive ones.

More Team Projection Details

If you’d like to see our more aggressive best case and worst case scenarios for each team, check out their team projections page. Here are the LA Dodgers projections and the Baltimore Orioles projections as examples.

Click through to find a chart showing the projected odds of the Dodgers or Orioles winning any specific number of games. From the details in the Orioles’ chart, you can glean that we project about a 2.2% chance for them to lose 120 or more games. Gulp!

The projections detail page also includes a list of each team’s toughest & easiest games, and a table showing how their chances of winning the World Series change depending on what seed they get in the playoffs.

2020 MLB Projected Standings Highlights

Here are some highlights that stand out about the 2020 projections:

  • The two leagues look pretty evenly balanced overall in 2020, as five of the top ten teams reside in both the AL and NL. The two highest rated teams (New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers) are also in separate leagues.
  • But that equality does not translate to individual divisions. Atlanta (No. 4 in the power ratings) plays in a much tougher division (NL East) than No. 3 Houston (AL West) or No. 7 Minnesota (AL Central). As a result, Atlanta is expected to win 7 fewer games than Houston despite having a similar power rating, and 4 fewer games than the Twins despite having a better power rating.
  • You might also notice that the higher-rated team is given slightly worse division-winning odds in both the NL East and NL Central. That’s because the teams in those divisions don’t play the exact same schedule. The Washington Nationals play four extra games against Baltimore, while Atlanta plays four more against Boston. In the Central, St. Louis gets four extra games against Kansas City compared to Cincinnati getting theirs against Cleveland. We’ll see if those schedule differences actually make a difference in the pennant chases.
  • Teams that have won a World Series in the last decade: 22.3% chance of winning the World Series in 2020. That’s what happens when the Dodgers haven’t been able to win the title, and the Yankees have not won since 2009. There’s a pretty good chance that this year’s winner will come from a team that has not won a World Series in a while.

New Playoff Teams?

Every year, some new playoff teams emerge and surprise, and other teams disappoint. Last year, Minnesota taking a leap in the AL Central was one of the big surprises, while the Washington Nationals finally put a playoff run together to win the World Series as a wildcard. Meanwhile, teams like Philadelphia and Boston disappointed.

Our initial projections have nine of last year’s ten playoff teams projected as the most likely to make it this year, with only the New York Mets replacing the Milwaukee Brewers as a wildcard projection.

But here are the teams that missed the postseason last year with the best chance of getting there this season:

  • New York Mets (49.1% chance of making the playoffs)
  • Cincinnati Reds (41.0%)
  • Chicago Cubs (40.4%)
  • Cleveland Indians (38.5%)
  • Los Angeles Angels (34.5%)
  • Chicago White Sox (30.1%)

2020 MLB Projected Playoff Results

Here is how the playoffs would play out, if these projections are spot on (numbers below refer to the team’s playoff seed within their league).

Wild Card Round

  • #4 Atlanta Braves over #5 New York Mets
  • #4 Tampa Bay Rays over #5 Oakland Athletics

Division Round

  • #1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #4 Atlanta Braves
  • #2 Washington Nationals over #3 St. Louis Cardinals
  • #1 New York Yankees over #4 Tampa Bay Rays
  • #2 Houston Astros over #3 Minnesota Twins

League Championship Series

  • #1 Los Angeles Dodgers over #2 Washington Nationals
  • #1 New York Yankees over #2 Houston Astros

World Series

  • #1 Los Angeles Dodgers (NL) over #1 New York Yankees (AL)