Winners and losers of the MLB 2020 calendar: the Mets, the Angels have difficult lists; good news for NL Central contenders


Even if the MLB plays an unbalanced 2020 calendar – that is, teams don’t play other teams an equal number of times – you usually don’t see huge disparities in terms of calendar strength. Last season, for example, the Marlins had the toughest record with an average winning percentage of their opponents of 0.510. Meanwhile, Indians and twins tied for a score of 0.482. It’s a ditch, but it’s not a yawning variety.

However, the 2020 season – shortened to 60 games due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the overwhelming pace of ownership in negotiations with players – the numbers will be very different.

The teams will play regional schedules, with 40 games in the division and 20 games against the corresponding regional division in the other league (for example, NL East against AL East, NL Central against AL Central). This lack of “cross-pollination” by division in the calendar is likely to result in very different degrees of difficulty. Note those for 2019 above – .510 at the difficult end of the continuum and .482 at the other end, easier. Now consider these same two extremes for 2020, based on the winning percentages of 2019.

The most difficult 2020 calendars based on the winning percentages of 2019

out .534











Easiest 2020 schedules based on 2019 winning percentages







White Sox






As you can see above, the margins now range from a low note of 0.449 to a high note of 0.534. It’s a much bigger variation than what we see in normal seasons, and as such, calendar strength is likely to play a major role in how the playoff field unfolds in 2020.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a handful of “winners and losers” timelines now that the full 2020 record has been announced. We will continue to focus on potential contenders rather than the pitiful tastes of the Orioles and Marlins.

Gagnant: Cardinals and Reds

Looking at the winning percentages from the previous year is not a perfect method due to the rollover of the list, but it is not a bad evaluation of the thumbnails. As for the Cardinals, they have a fairly easy list based on the winning percentages in 2019. What is interesting about the NL Central is that the division is home to four certifiable contenders – the Cubs, Cardinals, Brewers and Reds – but none of these teams are planning anything similar in 2020. Probably, it’s going to be close to a four-team race with a lot of compression in the classification from wire to wire and the total of final victories in the 1930s.

As indicated above, each team will play 20 games against the corresponding regional division of the other league. In the case of Cardinals and NL Central, it is AL Central. During those 20 games, some teams will be matched with an interligue rival for six games, leaving only 14 games against the other four teams in the division. Here is where we can see some differences.

In more specific terms, an x ​​factor in NL Central is the number of times each competitor has the opportunity to beat the Royals and the Tigers, the two weakest teams in AL Central. The Cardinals will face the Royals six times in 2020 – 10% of their regular season games – and the Tigers four more. The Reds can also play these two teams 10 times, while the Cubs and Brewers only play them seven times. It doesn’t sound like much – and it wouldn’t be 162 games – but in a regular 60-game season, a slight advantage could matter, especially in a division as tight as NL Central.

Yes, the Cardinals have a slightly easier schedule than the Reds based on the winning percentages in 2019, but that reflects the fact that the Cardinals play the Reds at 75 wins 10 times while the Reds play the Cardinals at 91 wins 10 times . Since the Reds have made substantial improvements this last off-season, this divide is a bit misleading.

Loser: the angels

As you saw above, the Angels are tied for the toughest schedule in MLB based on the winning percentages in 2019. In part, in addition to playing a third of their schedule against the Astros and the A, they have to play the Dodgers six times due to the natural rivalry between the leagues. That represents 26 games – 43.3% of the calendar – against three of the best baseball teams.

Winner: Dodgers and A’s

According to the SportsLine projection model (@SportsLine on Twitter), here is the average total of victories projected by team by division in 2020:

  • AL East: 30.2
  • AL Central: 27.8
  • AL West: 31.3
  • NL East: 30.0
  • NL Central: 30,5
  • NL West: 30.3

In the west of the Netherlands, the division is on average slightly above 0.500. However, the Dodgers – gird yourself on the latest news – have the advantage of not playing themselves. Take them out of the calculation, and the NL West has an average winning total of 27.9, which is about the same as the relatively low AL Central.

In the case of A and West AL, which looks like the most difficult division measured by the projected average wins, Oakland helps to raise this figure. Yes, the Rangers can be better, and the Angels are improved, but the Astros are the only certifiable colossus that Oakland will play. Framed in another way, the A will only play 17 of their 60 games against teams that were .500 or better in 2019. It is tied for the least in MLB. The other team that will only play 17 of the 60 games against .500 or better teams from last season? It would be the Dodgers.

Loser: Rangers

The Rangers will run 14,706 miles in the 2020 season, which is the most in MLB. This, combined with their opponents’ average winning percentage in 2019 of 0.518, earns them the status of “schedule loser”.

Loser: Braves

The Braves play in a hotly contested division that includes three other likely contenders (the reigning national champions, the Mets and the Phillies). In addition, thanks to a home game against Boston, they will play 14 of their 20 games between the Yankees, the Rays and the Red Sox (yes, the Red Sox are still profiled as a quality team despite the cynical trade of Mookie Betts ). On top of all that, there is the fact that the Braves are one of the seven teams this season that will play 20 games in 20 days. The Braves will endure this stretch to start the season – they’ll open on July 24 and won’t get a day off until August 13.

Winner: Rays

You will note above that the Rays’ opponents had an average winning percentage of 0.482 in 2019. They are the only AL East squadron to make the schedule easy, and this is partly because they get six games between the Marlins, who lost 105 games last season.

Loser: Food

Like the Braves, the Mets are one of four teams in NL East with legitimate designs on the division title. They will play exactly half of their games against the Braves, Nationals and the Phillies, and they will play another six against the Crosstown Yankees, who are in the running for the best baseball team. In all, the Mets will play 43 of their 60 games against teams that were 500 or better in 2019.

Loser: Yankees until September 2

The Yankees start the 2020 season by playing 33 of their first 36 games against teams that were 500 or better in 2019. Suffice it to say, it’s a demanding stretch to start the year on.

Winner: Yankees after September 2

A surge for the powerful Yanks? It’s very likely, as they will be playing all of their last seven games except one against teams that lost 95 games or more in 2019.


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