Here’s a prediction: 2020 MLB season will be unpredictable

CHICAGO - JULY 06: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox looks on while wearing a face mask during summer workouts as part of Major League Baseball Spring Training 2.0 on July 6, 2020 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - JULY 06: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox looks on while wearing a face mask during summer workouts as part of Major League Baseball Spring Training 2.0 on July 6, 2020 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty had wild performance swings during 2019. (Photo by John Capella/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty had wild performance swings during 2019. (Photo by John Capella/Sports Imagery/Getty Images) /

The short 2020 MLB season virtually guarantees wild performance swings that would even out over the course of a full regular season

Of all the silly expenditures of energy in anticipation of the start of the 2020 MLB season, the silliest has to involve those attempting to predict the outcome of the races.

In a 60-game, regionally-based season, there’s simply no statistical way to do it.

Consider the evidence from 2019. The consensus is that to be a serious post-season contender this year, a team will have to win at least 35 games. For the record, that’s a.583 winning percentage, strong by historical standards but valid for the sake of argument in 2020.

By contrast, the consensus is that any team winning fewer than half its games in 2020 can be summarily dismissed from contention.

With that as a background, ponder this question: During the 2019 season, how many teams had 60-game stretches in which they won at least 35 games, AND also had 60-game stretches when they played .500 ball or worse?

For the record, the correct answer is 11; that’s more than one-third of all the teams who – depending on which part of the 2019 season you are looking at – both played ball that would be dominant or disqualified if they did the same thing in 2020.

Here’s a companion question: With 43-17 records, three teams shared the 2019 record for best performance over a 60-game stretch of 2019. Two of those teams were the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros. Care to guess who the third 43-17 team was? Hint: They did not make the playoffs. The answer will follow below.