USA Today released their predictions (which they call projections, more on that in a minute) for the 2020 season. Predictably for anyone who has followed this offseason, the Indians are expected to lose the AL Central for the second-straight season with an 86-76 record.
The Twins are predicted to be the winner of the division again, though with a less impressive 94-68 record. According to USA Today, the White Sox will be right in the race as well with 83 wins. The Royals and Tigers will also occasionally play.
Here’s all they had to say about the second-place Indians:
So long as the Indians hold Francisco Lindor, they will contend, but shipping out he or Mike Clevinger will send them tumbling toward the second division.
These predictions are not far off the opening betting lines put forth a couple weeks ago, either. There the Indians were pegged for over/under 87.5 wins, finishing behind the Twins with an over/under of 92.5 wins.
Now, it’s worth noting that — despite what USA Today says — these are not “projections”. This is the collective wisdom of six unnamed writers averaged together into one big sloppy prediction pie. Places like FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus use actual math and context for their standings projections. With any luck, it comes based on the hard numbers and facts with as little bias as possible. They also aren’t likely to have 20 teams with a winning record.
What USA Today is doing is fine, but it’s not a sound way of determining anything. Actual projections may very well say the same thing if the Indians don’t bother doing anything between now and Opening Day, but for the time being it’s a a distinction that I’m just petty enough to make.