MLB's 60-game season should create some wild playoff races within the six divisions. But what's the magic number to claim a division title? That will be interesting to find out, but teams should have 40-20 vision heading into the season. That is, 40 wins should be more than enough to win a division, while a wild card berth should fall at least several wins below that.
Let's take a closer look at what should be the goal for major league teams in 2020.
Odds Shark released its win totals for the 60-game season, and the Yankees and Dodgers have the highest number at 37.5 each. Those two — which will be heavy World Series favorites even in the new format — are the only teams picked to win more than 35 games.
Houston is next at 35, followed by Minnesota at 34.5. Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Washington are at 34. That list provides five of the six division winners from last season — with the Cardinals the other team. St. Louis is at 32.5.
By these numbers, any team that gets to 35-38 victories should be good for a playoff berth.
That might not be enough to win the division, however.
2019 division winners
We totaled the winning percentage for the six division winners from 2019, and that number is .622. If you are targeting that winning percentage over a 60-game season, then the closest record would be 37-23 — a .616 winning percentage.
Teams that win 38 games would have a .633 winning percentage. The Astros (.660), Dodgers (.654) and Yankees (.636) were the only teams that did better than that over a 162-game season last year.
Of course, a 60-game season is much different.
A 60-game sample
We looked at the division leaders after 60 games last season. The Dodgers were the best of the bunch at 41-19. Here's a look at the division leaders' records after 60 games last season:
The average record among those teams? Again, we're looking at 38-22.
Room for variation
Vegas, the full-season numbers and the 60-game sample all seem to agree. A team that wins 38 games should be able to claim its division in a 60-game season.
So, we'll call 38 the magic number to essentially assure a postseason berth.
You can go a few games up or down to allow for variation, and that's why that 40-20 vision is important in a 60-game season. Wild card teams can probably get in with 34 wins or fewer, but there are no guarantees in a 60-game format.
Milwaukee Brewers 89 31
Win totals via Odds Shark
Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
St. Louis Cardinals
Los Angeles Angels
New York Mets
Boston Red Sox
Chicago White Sox
San Diego Padres
Toronto Blue Jays
San Francisco Giants
Kansas City Royals