Coronavirus and its Impact on the MLB's Best Teams

by Zane Davis

The virus’ effect on two of the league’s superpowered lineups

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The coronavirus pandemic has created extreme uncertainty about the 2020 MLB season, and it’s unclear when the season will start or how long its postponement will last. It will be a loss for fans, players, and teams alike if the season is cancelled completely; however, if the season does return, the delay will have impacted teams in many ways.

For a team such as the New York Yankees, the delay has several positive effects. Over the past two years, the Yankees have suffered an onslaught of injuries that have held them back from a potential World Series run. The Yankees began this spring by losing many of their star players and were set to begin the season with an incomplete lineup with many gaps to fill due to injury. Although ace Luis Severino is unable to pitch this year due to his Tommy John surgery, other Yankees players like Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton can use the time to recover from less severe injuries. Both players were supposed to be on the injury list through opening day until April with respective rib and calf injuries; however, now that the season has been delayed, they will most likely recover before opening day.

The delay creates a better situation for the Yankees, as their depleted outfield and lineup would have struggled without two of their best players. Additionally, the delay would help the Yankees pitching rotation with the return of James Paxton, the left-handed starter who would have spent the first 3 months of the season recovering from back surgery. Without Paxton or Severino, the Yankees rotation would have been very unstable had they started the season without 2 of their top pitchers. With extra time to recover, Paxton will most likely be ready for the beginning of the season, and his arm will provide a major boost to the rotation. If the season is cancelled, these injuries will be irrelevant and all of the players will have a full year to recover. However, under the assumption that this season has a late start and begins in June or July, the Yankees will likely benefit from the extra time to get healthy. The Yankees were already projected to be a World Series contender after signing starter Gerrit Cole, and now that they have more time to rest, they will be even more of a threat if the season starts.

On the other side of this situation, the coronavirus delay is especially untimely for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who made a major trade for Mookie Betts and David Price this offseason in hopes it would finally bring them the World Series Championship they have narrowly missed in the past few years. Since Betts only has one year left on his contract, the delay is a loss for the Dodgers, as the longer the season is postponed, the less value and production they will get from him. The Dodgers were set to have an absolutely stacked team in 2020, as their lineup includes two former MVPs in Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger. These are additions to an offense that led the National League in HRs and RBIs last year, but fell short of a championship run after they were eliminated in the NL Division Series. The Dodgers were banking on short term success from their trade for Mookie. Unfortunately for them, at best they will only receive a shortened season of Betts’ all-star level production before he becomes a free agent this offseason. While other teams like the Yankees may use this time to revitalize their lineup as their injured players recover, the Dodgers will be put at a disadvantage, as their already healthy and loaded lineup will be forced to wait multiple months to live up to their projections to dominate the league.

Everyone involved with the MLB is hoping that baseball will return this year and that fans and players can have the season that they have been waiting for. While the coronavirus delay has been a disappointment for all baseball fans so far, the season will only be that much more exciting if it does eventually get underway, and teams like the Yankees and Dodgers look to run the league with their superpowered lineups. While each team is impacted by the delay in a different manner, it could make for more competition between them, and create an exciting end to the so-far disappointing 2020 season.