The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers both finished near the bottom of the MLB in 2019, but which Is better suited for surprise 2020 success?
With the MLB playing a 60-game regular season in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, randomness will be at an all-time high.
While both the Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers finished in the AL Central cellar in 2019 and are likely to be back there again, a short season makes anything possible.
The Minnesota Twins appear to be the favorite for the division title again in 2020, but young talent could elevate the Tigers and Royals in the division standings. The White Sox appear to be mediocre again, and Cleveland, while still a playoff contender, is not the same team that won the AL pennant in 2016.
For Detroit and Kansas City, two extremely young teams, 2020 may present the perfect opportunity to gain some surprise playoff experience. Admittedly, this is a stretch. More likely than not, both of these squads will be closer to the top pick in the draft than a playoff spot.
However, if there were ever a season where the league’s bottom-feeders could make a run to the playoffs, 2020 would be it. With some players, including David Price, considering opting out of the season, the playing field could be leveled a bit.
Out of the two, however, Kansas City appears to be the more likely candidate to make a surprise run. The Royals still have former World Series MVP Salvador Perez on the roster in addition to 2019 All-Star second baseman Whit Merrifield. The only notable name in Detroit is the 37-year-old Miguel Cabrera, who can no longer produce at a level even close to his peak.
Kansas City also edged out Detroit in team batting average and team ERA in 2019, a trend that is likely to continue in 2020. While neither team’s postseason chances are particularly great, the Royals appear poised for a better season than the Tigers.
With Perez returning from injury and Merrifield emerging as a valuable piece, fans should not be surprised if the Royals finish the season with a record much more respectable than last season’s 59-103 mark.