With the shortened MLB schedule for the 2020 season recently released, I am first and foremost anxious to see whether the season will be able to last the full 3+ months (through the end of October) given the very recent spike of coronavirus infections in the US. And will Opening Day even be able to be played as scheduled on July 23rd? We will see in due time the next few weeks. However, the one key variable that I think will dictate how well teams will do in the shortened season will be simply: the amount of miles traveled. Let's see who is in the best position to succeed given this variable.
Overwhelmingly, I believe that the teams in the central part of the country will have things easiest, as they will almost exclusively be paying each other. Almost all of the of the teams in the top 10 "least miles traveled" are in the Midwest. This includes the Milwaukee Brewers at 3,962 miles traveled; the Chicago Cubs at 4,071 miles; the Detroit Tigers at 4,615 miles; the St. Louis Cardinals at 4,616 miles; and the Chicago White Sox at 4,750 miles. Not only that, most of these teams are expected to be solid contenders for the title this year, so look for a lot of strong play out of the AL and NL Central this year.
The teams in the West divisions of the league, on the other hand, have it very difficult this year. Take the Rangers and Astros, for example. Being in Texas, these teams will have to travel all over the West to California and Washington most weeks of the season and have 14,706 miles and 13,954 miles traveled scheduled, respectively. This is over 3 times the amount of most of the centrally located teams and will undoubtedly play a large factor in quality of play. West teams can expect a lot of overnight flights and restless nights this year, and I believe may struggle to contend as they normally would have.
Let's please get this virus under control and have a MLB season, first, though.