A 60-game Major League Baseball season is officially slated in the calendar to begin on July 23 or 24 this year.
It is a bit of an understatement to say this season would be unique. Baseball is usually a marathon, but this year it will be a sprint to the finish line. A 60-game season could allow any team to sneak into the playoffs.
Through the first 60 games last season, the eventual World Series champion Washington Nationals were 27-33 and 6.5 games back in the NL East.
It may also allow for some wild stats.
There is a chance for a .400 batting title, a Cy Young Award winner with fewer than four wins, a shortstop to commit zero errors among some of the possibilities this season.
With this in mind, we have some bold predictions for the 2020 season.
White Sox SS Tim Anderson will hit .400
Tim Anderson may have some of the best bat flips in the game, but the 27-year-old shortstop showed last year he is a pure hitter. Anderson cut down on his strikeouts and had a 95-point improvement in batting average, leading the majors with a .335 mark last year.
A .335 average is a long, long ways off from hitting .400. And only Chipper Jones in 2008 has hit above .400 through the first 60 games of a season since 2000. The pure, average hitter is uncommon in the way the game is currently played.
But with just 60 games, the chances certainly go up, and if Anderson is locked in at the plate he has as good a chance as anyone to accomplish the feat.
Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty wins Cy Young with sub-1.00 ERA
The St. Louis Cardinals pitcher had a breakout campaign last season, finishing fourth in the Cy Young voting after going 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA. In his final 12 starts, he posted a 0.77 ERA while striking out 100 in 82 innings pitched.
With only about 12 starts in 2020, Flaherty should build off his strong finish in 2019 and dominate the NL and AL Central lineups in his limited appearances.
Mets 1B Pete Alonso will lead league with 25 home runs
Alonso burst onto the scene last season belting a rookie-record 53 home runs. It will be interesting to see if the ball remains juiced this year, but the Mets slugger, who plays with an unbridled enthusiasm, will set out for an encore performance.
While the juiced ball remains the biggest variable this season, Alonso hit 20 home runs in his first 60 games last year, then 19 in the next 60, so we can project he will be in that neighborhood again this year.
But, these are bold predictions and 20 home runs is a little too modest. Factor in that Alonso could get half-days as a DH this season and perhaps that gives him an extra boost to hit a league-leading 25 home runs in 60 games.
Astros SS Carlos Correa will not commit an error
Correa had trouble staying healthy last season, playing in just 75 games, but when he is on the field he is one of the best shortstops in the game.
Playing one of the toughest defensive positions, Correa committed just two errors in 75 games in the field last season. If he can stay healthy, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Correa has an immaculate season in the field and posts a perfect fielding percentage.
It would not be unprecedented, either. Former Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick once went 102 consecutive games without committing an error.
The Philadelphia Phillies will have the best record in the majors
The Phillies had a disappointing 2019 season after inking Bryce Harper to a mega contract, failing to miss the playoffs, but they made some significant improvements in the offseason and with 60 games to play, they are a team that can catch fire and lead the way in the regular season.
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.
In a 162-game season it would be hard to pick against the Yankees or Dodgers to have the best record in baseball, but 60 games? Any team with the talent on paper could get hot and not just sneak into the playoffs but be the best team over that stretch and the Phillies fit the bill.