Major League Baseball announced its new 2020 schedule on Monday. Each team will play just 60 games instead of the usual 162 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which already pushed back the start of the season by four months. Opening Day is July 24 league-wide, with a few clubs getting started the day before.
Teams will face only regional opponents, meaning the Oakland A’s will play against the AL West and the NL West. They have 10 games against each division rival, six games against the local Giants, and either three or four against the other interleague competition.
Here’s the full schedule via the team’s press release:
The A’s will start their season by hosting the Angels on July 24, and the opener will be televised on ESPN at 7:10 p.m. PT.
The season will run through Sept. 27, with the A’s hosting the Mariners to wrap things up. The six Giants games will take place from Aug. 14-16 in San Francisco and Sep. 18-20 at the Coliseum.
Beyond its short nature and late opening date, another notable feature of the schedule is the start times of the games. Rather than the usual 7:05 p.m. first pitch for night games, most of them begin at 6:10 or 6:40. On top of that, over half of the home dates are day games.
As is normal for AL West teams, Oakland will be among the league leaders in miles traveled. Their 11,363 miles rank fourth in MLB, barely edging out the Rockies, and ahead of them are three division rivals (TEX, HOU, SEA). That’s no coincidence, as the AL West is far more spread out than any other division, ranging down the entirety of the West Coast from border to border and then all the way across to Texas. Darren Willman of MLB Research & Development offers the following visual representation, plus a list of all teams’ 2020 travel miles:
And here's a quick breakdown of teams mileage breakdown... pic.twitter.com/jO3jQh1Co8— Daren Willman (@darenw) July 6, 2020
Quick analysis: This schedule looks relatively favorable for the A’s. The AL West is a slightly tough division in this 2020 regional setup, but that’s partly because Oakland themselves are really good, so their own strength of schedule is more toward the middle of the pack.
Within that context, the chips couldn’t have fallen better for the A’s. The 10-game slates against their division rivals are each split between seven at home and three on the road, and they drew the advantage against their two toughest rivals, the Astros and Angels. That means they’ll only have to play three games in Houston against the heavyweight front-runner they’re trying to catch, and three in Anaheim against a star-studded squad that could be a dangerous dark horse, while enjoying home-field seven times against both.
Their interleague slate also turned out well. The Giants are expected to be bad this year, so getting more dates against them is a bonus rather than playing an equal four against everyone in the NL West. What’s more, one of those extra Giants games comes at the expense of one against the Dodgers, who are easily the best in the NL West and possibly the top team in the entire NL. Their series against the Dodgers will be on the road, but that’s less important than having one fewer matchup against them overall.
In addition to the Dodgers, the A’s will also only play three games against the Padres, who are similar to the Angels in being a potential up-and-comer who is suddenly loaded with star talent.
Of course, all of these projections could go out the window in a short season, where small-sample shenanigans could heavily skew the standings. A team considered to be bad could get hot for a month and rise to the top, without the need to sustain it too long, and likewise an expected contender could hit a slump that they don’t have time to dig out of. Injuries could have an especially big effect, even minor ones — a badly pulled hammy in the first week could end someone’s season — and there’s no telling what attrition could be caused by positive coronavirus tests or voluntary player opt-outs.
Looking at the even bigger picture, there’s still a real chance that the season won’t be played at all, depending on how the pandemic develops over the coming weeks. But for now, the green light is on, and this is how the schedule will look it if happens.