Houston Astros: Why the 2020 strength of schedule favors team

Houston Astros fans, how should the 2020 division realignment affect the team’s playoff chances? Will it help or will it hurt? Read on for more.

For the Houston Astros, after what seems like endless months of figurative punches, finger-pointing, and poker faces between the MLBPA and league executives, MLB has now set in stone the Houston Astros’ 2020 regular-season schedule.

While the schedule for the Houston Astros clearly indicates that the regular season opposition this year will come exclusively from teams traditionally representing the AL and NL West divisions, a critical question remains. Specifically—which of the three 2020 divisions features the highest average 2019 winning percentage among its participating teams?

Answering this question provides an opportunity to peer into what teams must accomplish in order to earn a playoff berth. After personally completing the averages for all 30 teams’ 2019 winning percentages in their modified 2020 divisions, I found some interesting trends that should affect the AL West division favorably.

Before going forward, it should be noted that while interleague play will occur in the 2020 season, the majority of games for every team will take place against opponents within their own respective leagues. Also for the purposes of this article, I refer to the three sections of ten teams that exclusively play each other in the regular season as the 2020 Central, East, and West divisions, though each individual AL and NL team constituting those ten-team units compete only with league peers to earn an AL or NL playoff spot based on their overall winning percentages at the end of the season.

The Houston Astros—while not set to face the formidable Nationals or Yankees in the regular season—surprisingly will play what on paper appears as the division with the highest 2019 average winning percentage. In other words, the ten-team 2020 West division averaged a .512 winning percentage last season. For comparison purposes, the 2020 Central division averaged a .489 2019 winning percentage, while the 2020 East division averaged a .505 winning percentage, respectively.

However, don’t let that confuse you as the 2020 West division features such a high 2019 average winning percentage precisely because the A’s, Astros, and Dodgers finished 2019 around .600 or above. Subsequently, these three teams significantly inflate their new 2020 division’s average

winning percentage for games played in 2019. Meanwhile, a whopping six teams in the 2020 West division finished their 2019 campaigns with a sub-.500 record. So, if last season serves as an indication of the quality of this season’s teams, the Astros, A’s, and Dodgers should be coasting toward October baseball.

In case you were wondering, the 2020 central division features five 2019 sub-.500 finishers, while the 2020 East division features only three. Additionally, the 2020 East division features seven teams that finished 2019 with at least a .500 or better winning percentage.

Therefore, going into the upcoming 60-game season, the argument could very well be made that the 2020 East division possesses the largest number of teams currently capable of earning a ticket to the postseason, and subsequently could play out as the toughest division to win the most games. Translation—the Astros, along with the A’s and Dodgers, have found themselves in a favorable position due to the 2020 division realignment situation to make it back to the postseason.

Next: Astros: The main ingredient lacking from the schedule

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