The 2020 MLB season, which will be limited to 60 games because of the coronavirus pandemic, is likely to produce wildly different results than we would see over the course of a full 162-game season. Last year, the Phillies and Cubs led their divisions after 60 games, but neither made the playoffs. The world champion Nationals were 27-33 after 60 games and wouldn’t have made the postseason under the 2020 format. The volatility of a 60-game schedule will present opportunities for presumed non-contenders to make a run at the playoffs.
When I did this exercise last year, I picked the Diamondbacks, Rangers, Pirates and Padres as surprise contenders. Only the Diamondbacks managed to finish above .500, with 85 wins, though all four teams were within a game of .500 after 60 games.
Here are my picks for teams projected to finish below .500 who have a shot at contending for a playoff spot.