It's time for the last batch of predictions. SI's MLB staff has already looked into its crystal ball to devise World Series picks and award predictions, and below you'll find the group's bold predictions. Get ready to see some records broken. Let's get to it.
Not that anybody will consider it a true record, but several pitchers will threaten or go lower than the modern mark of the 1.12 ERA of Bob Gibson. The most likely: Walker Buehler, Jack Flaherty, Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole.
At least half a dozen star players opt out after games begin. If their teams start off badly and case numbers start spiking, I expect some of the veterans with financial cushion and young families to go home.
Okay, this may seem like the least sexy bold prediction of all time, but hear it out: Everything about this format of play will lean toward frequent pitching changes and loose roles. It seems reasonable to believe that the length of the average start is going to drop. Realistically, we shouldn't see any complete games at all... but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that we see at least two.
(Editor's Note: This prediction was filed before the Nationals-Yankees rain-shortened season opener, in which both Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole were credited with a complete game after five innings, perhaps the first time that a "bold prediction" has been proven right on Opening Day. But Baccellieri maintains that multiple pitchers will throw nine-inning complete games, too.)
Ready for a revival of wins? I predict one pitcher–probably of the random/no-name variety–will run the table in all 12 of his starts, finishing the season with a perfect 12-0 record this season. It's a feat infinitely more innocent than hitting .400 or ducking Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA, but still a joy to follow along with.
Twins second baseman Luis Arraez will finish the year with a .401 batting average, becoming the first player to hit over .400 since Ted Williams in 1941.
Of course, such a feat comes with an asterisk in such an abbreviated season, but this is probably the only way we’re seeing a .400 hitter again anyway. Last year as a rookie, Arraez went 72-for-208 with 24 walks in his first 60 games, good for a .346 average. But to hit .400 in a 60-game season, Arraez would have to record roughly 8-12 more hits in the same number of plate appearances (235), to hit .400. For example, to bat .401, Arraez could go 81-for-202, adding nine hits and a combination of six walks, HBPs and sacrifices.
We should be in store for a season of true statistical anomalies, a trend we should choose to embrace rather than degrade. At least one player will challenge for .400, and the likes of Gerrit Cole or Jacob DeGrom could finish with a sub-1.00 ERA. Any record set in 2020 would come with a serious asterisk. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the ride.