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Who’s Going to the MLB Playoffs in 2020?

| September 18, 2020 4:59 am PDT
Which Teams Will Make the MLB Playoff 2020

Get ready for the biggest crapshoot in MLB postseason history.

The playoff format has been modified, most notably expanding the field to 16 teams. This meant more buyers than sellers at the trade deadline, and this means more clubs in the mix to win a World Series title.

Now that the end of the regular season is in plain view, let’s take a look at which teams will make the 2020 MLB Playoffs.

Locks to Make the 2020 MLB Playoffs

As of September 17th, only the Dodgers had mathematically clinched a playoff berth. Nevertheless, several other MLB teams that we can already pencil in for dates in October.

Take a look at the postseason locks.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 100%
  • Top Performer: Mookie Betts
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Cody Bellinger

How potent is the Dodgers lineup?

Last season’s NL MVP is hitting a paltry .216 and is sporting a lowly 0.3 WAR, and yet LA won 35 games before anyone else in the NL even got to 30. The emergence of Dustin May gives LA as formidable of a starting rotation as any team in baseball.

San Diego Padres

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 99%
  • Top Performer: Fernando Tatis Jr.
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Chris Paddack

The exuberance of Fernando Tatis Jr. has spilled over and permeated throughout the Padres dugout. The Friars rank second in the Majors in homers and second in total bases. Dinelson Lamet has been virtually unhittable and Zach Davies is pitching lights out.

If Chris Paddack can get back on track in time for the playoffs, look out for San Diego to make a lot of noise.

Chicago Cubs

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 99%
  • Top Performer: Yu Darvish
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Kris Bryant

A comfortable cushion in the NL Central has the Cubs in great shape to make a run in October. The Cubbies don’t have a single batter hitting over .300 and former MVP Kris Bryant has been absolutely dreadful. Once reliable southpaw Jon Lester has continued fading into oblivion.

Does anyone deserve Manager of the Year more than first-league skipper David Ross?

Atlanta Braves

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 99%
  • Top Performer: Freddie Freeman
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Ozzie Albies

I picked an Atlanta Braves player to win the 2020 NL MVP before the season started, I just pegged the wrong guy.

Freddie Freeman has been on a terror – which has propelled Brian Snitker’s group into averaging more runs per game than any other squad in the league. Now that Ozzie Albies has rejoined the lineup and is looking more like himself, the Braves are now poised to challenge the Dodgers for supremacy in the National League.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 99%
  • Top Performer: Brandon Lowe
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Manuel Margot

Whatever Kevin Cash has been preaching in Tampa Bay should be adopted by more organizations around the league. The Rays don’t have any superstars and have only one player who has hit more than seven home runs.

Here’s a team whose payroll is lower than the Royals or the Marlins – making it incredibly impressive that they’re staring down at the Yankees in the standings.

Chicago White Sox

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 99%
  • Top Performer: Jose Abreu
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Yoan Moncada

The Chi Sox are going to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Only the Dodgers have a higher run differential, and you can argue that nobody has a more well-rounded lineup. I picked Jose Abreu as their top performer but should also point out that Eloy Jimenez has been a monster and Luis Robert is living up to the hype.

And I may as well mention that Tim Anderson might just be the favorite to win the AL MVP.

New York Yankees

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 99%
  • Top Performer: DJ LeMahieu
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Aaron Judge/Giancarlo Stanton

Luke Voigt has filled the power void in the absence of the Yankees heavy hitters, but Aaron Boone’s bunch looks like they’re starting to get healthy at the right time. Both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have rejoined the lineup, while Gleyber Torres should be good to by the time the playoffs start.

Unfortunately any Bronx Bombers fans who were hoping to get something out of James Paxton in any future series, that ship has completely sailed. He’s done for the year will likely never throw another pitch rocking the Pinstripes.

Minnesota Twins

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 99%
  • Top Performer: Nelson Cruz
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Miguel Sano

The Twins are probably not going to catch the White Sox in the Central. A 4-3 loss in Chicago on Thursday puts the Twinkies 3 games back.

With that being said, Minnesota could do themselves a favor by sliding up to at least the #2 or #3 seed in the American League. As things currently stand, Rocco Baldelli’s men are starting at a first-round matchup with the New York Yankees.

A best-of-three series facing Gerrit Cole and company is far from ideal to kick off the postseason. 

Oakland Athletics

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 99%
  • Top Performer: Liam Hendricks
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Marcus Semien

Hitting .228 as a club and lacking power and speed, it’s quite an anomaly that the Oakland A’s have been able to maintain a lead in the AL West. And a substantial one at that.

A potential first-round clash with the Astros looms, which would likely be music to Bob Melvin’s ears. The Athletics are 7-3 versus Houston this season.

Cleveland Indians

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 98%
  • Top Performer: Shane Bieber
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Franmil Reyes

It’s a good thing Cleveland was so sharp in the middle portion of the season. Eight consecutive losses heading into Thursday’s game in Detroit would push most teams to the outside, but the Indians are still sitting comfortably within the top eight in the AL standings.

The good news for Terry Francona heading into a three-game series is he gets to send Shane Bieber to the bump. That essentially guarantees the Tribe at least one win.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 97%
  • Top Performer: Teoscar Hernandez
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Tanner Roark

It would take a collapse of epic proportions at this stage for Toronto to not qualify for the 2020 MLB Playoffs. Taijuan Walker has looked sharp since coming over via trade while Bo Bichette is back after rehabbing his right knee.

The Blue Jays may not possess as much firepower as say the White Sox or the Yankees, but anything can happen in a truncated series. That’s exactly what’ll be at stake in round one of the playoffs.

Houston Astros

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 96%
  • Top Performer: Michael Brantley
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: George Springer

Batting .242 as a team and clocking in 12th out of 15 teams for the most home runs in the AL, now the Astros know what it feels like to have to play on a level playing field. Jose Altuve hasn’t even been a shell of himself, and apparently, Alex Bregman just isn’t very good either.

Armed with a suspect rotation, the Astros playoff run in 2020 should be nice and short. Just don’t expect it to be sweet.

Teams With Work to Do

As you can quickly gather, the only drama that remains in the AL is how the seeding will play out. However, while we know who the eight playoff teams will be in the American League, the NL is much more wide open.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 75%
  • Top Performer: Paul Goldschmidt
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Tommy Edman

Despite battling through distractions and a not playing any games for aa two-week period in early August, here the Cardinals are in a prime position to surge into the playoffs. They’ll need Jack Flaherty to contribute a couple of key outings as they are once again neck-and-neck with the Brewers in the division.

Only this time, the Cincinnati Reds have also joined the fray.

Philadelphia Phillies

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 74%
  • Top Performer: Aaron Nola
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Alec Bohm

Surpassing the Marlins down the stretch would lock Philly into a postseason berth, but Joe Girardi has a bit of an insurance policy thanks to the 7th or 8th seed still being attainable. Losing Rhys Hoskins to the IL is a big blow to the lineup, but thankfully, rookie Alec Bohm has been a pleasant surprise.

The unheralded third baseman is transitioning to first base with J.T. Realmuto also dealing with an injury, but the shift has been seamless thus far.

Miami Marlins

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 70%
  • Top Performer: Sixto Sanchez
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Brian Anderson

Miami was supposed to be the laughing stock of the season, not a team with an above .500 record on the verge of making the playoffs. No player has more than six home runs and they’ve got a starting rotation full of guys you’ve probably never heard of.

As tremendous of a story as the Marlins have been, they need to stay strong over the final week of the season in order to finish off what they started. Finishing up with seven straight road games against the Braves/Yankees could spell trouble.

Cincinnati Reds

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 57%
  • Top Performer: Trevor Bauer
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Shogo Akiyama

David Bell has the luxury of utilizing Trevor Bauer, Luis Castillo, and Sonny Gray in the first round of the playoffs. I can promise you that nobody in the National League wants to see the Reds in the opposite dugout in a three-game series.

Of their nine remaining games, six are at home, including three against the Brewers. Six wins down the stretch ought to do the trick, while five may just be enough.

Outside Looking In

Other than the Nationals, Diamondbacks, and Pirates, everyone else in the National League is technically still alive. Even the four teams below.

San Francisco Giants

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 47%
  • Top Performer: Mike Yastrzemski
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Evan Longoria

The Giants are in the thick of the postseason race and could very well be one of the teams that makes the 2020 MLB Playoffs. Seven of their final eight games are in San Francisco, and fortunately, there’s good news on the Kevin Gausman health front.

If he or Drew Smyly can be effective over the last week of the regular season, San Fran should be able to sneak into the top eight.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 44%
  • Top Performer: Corbin Bornes
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Christian Yelich

The upcoming three-game set in Kansas City is crucial for Craig Counsell and his team’s playoff hopes. After that it’s a bunch of road games at Cincinnati and St. Louis, putting an emphasis on sweeping the Royals this weekend.

Never in a million years did I expect to deem Christian Yelich as an X-Factor, but the numbers don’t lie.

A pathetic .208 batting average helps explain his paltry 0.2 WAR.

Colorado Rockies

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 17%
  • Top Performer: Trevor Story
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: Matt Kemp

 Nolan Arenado’s down year combined with the worst team ERA in the National League has all but removed the Rockies from the playoff conversation. Colorado’s postseason aspirations are hanging on by a thread, but it could all come crashing down by Sunday.

Picking off three of four versus the Dodgers at least gives them a fighting chance during the final week. anything less and you can stick a fork in them.

New York Mets

  • Chances of Making the Playoffs: 14%
  • Top Performer: Jacob deGrom
  • X-Factor Down the Stretch: J.D. Davis

If there was ever a time to run the table, it’s right now for the New York Mets. Jacob deGrom is likely available for two more starts, but it’s going to take at least six more victories to even threaten for the 8th seed.

Worth noting as impressive as Jacob deGrom as expectedly been, he’s actually not the Mets leader in WAR. That distinction belongs to Michael Conforto.

My 2020 MLB Playoffs Projection

The top two finishers in each division stamp their ticket into the postseason. The two teams in each league with the next best records will earn the 7th and 8th seeds, respectively.

In terms of which teams will make the 2020 MLB Playoffs and what the seeding could look like, here are my predictions.

2020 AL Playoff Predictions in 2020

  • Chicago White Sox
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Oakland Athletics
  • New York Yankees
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Houston Astros
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Toronto Blue Jays

2020 NL Playoff Predictions

  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Atlanta Braves
  • Chicago Cubs
  • San Diego Padres
  • Philadelphia Phillies
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • St. Louis Cardinals
  • San Francisco Giants
Michael Wynn
Michael Wynn

As a former Division I collegiate golfer, Michael Wynn loves writing about golf. He's also an expert in most of America's most popular sports, writing extensively for GamblingSites.com on football, basketball, and baseball.

Michael's a Las Vegas native and has been with the company since 2017.

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