With the Major League Baseball playoffs beginning this week I have to give the league a grade of “A” for playing what amounted to an entertaining regular season under difficult circumstances. We had some playoff races go down to the wire, and I expect the playoffs to be equally exciting.
It wasn’t perfect, as you’d expect in these difficult times. The league came out with a bunch of rules before the season and not all of them were closely followed. For example, in the coronavirus rules “spitting” is strictly prohibited but I constantly saw spitting. And, if someone is standing in the outfield or in the on deck circle I didn’t see a problem with it.
Other rules required fielders to retreat several steps from runners, and that coaches should not approach runners. If you didn’t know they were rules you would never know by watching the games, and no one seemed to be worse for not obeying them.
Players were supposed to use their own personal equipment, but I remember several instances where the TV announcers commented about someone using someone else’s bat, a common occurrence in normal times.
Leaning on the railings was discouraged, but good luck on that. Balls that were touched by multiple players were supposed to be tossed out, but I didn’t see a lot of that, either. And only the players in the game were supposed to be in the dugout and the others were expected to social distance in the stands. The only guy I ever saw in the stands was the next days’ pitcher charting pitches. And how about those home run celebrations where everyone was dancing, or the home run hitter was pushed down the dugout in a laundry cart while players hugged and high-fived. No one said a word, and it didn’t seem to matter in the big scope of things so I guess it really didn’t matter.
On a lighter vein, I found it interesting to project the statistical leaders for 60 games over a 162 game season. Of course, that’s not a true gauge of what would have been because you have injuries and slumps, but then again you had injuries and slumps in the 60 game regular season as well. Check out these numbers.
Luke Voit of the Yankees led the majors with 22 home runs, and that projects to 59.4 home runs over 162 games. Jose Abreu of the White Sox had 60 RBIs in 60 games and I don’t even need a calculator to figure that would be 162 in 162 games. How about that Roanoke College education?
Freddie Freeman of the Braves led the majors with 51 runs scored, projecting to 140.4, and he also was tops with 23 doubles, or 62.1 in a normal year. Washington’s Trea Turner had 78 hits, a pace for 210.6 for 162 games. Adalberto Mondesi of Kansas City was high with 24 stolen bases, projecting to 64.8. And here’s an interesting one, Migual Sano of the Twins struck out 90 times, and if he maintained that pace over a full season he would fan 243 times over 162 games! He did have 13 home runs and 25 RBIs while batting just .204.
Of course, your batting averages, on base percentages, slugging percentages and OPS should be the same if the players maintain the same pace. DJ LeMahieu of the Yankees led the majors with a .364 batting average, a tough pace to maintain over 162 games. Juan Soto of the Nats had a .490 on base percentage and also led the majors with a .695 slugging percentage and a 1.185 OPS. If I was starting a team and could pick anyone in the majors he’s the one I’d take. He was also second in the majors with a .351 batting average and he turns just 22 on October 25.
As far as pitching, Shane Bieber of the Indians had eight wins, projecting to 21.6 for a full season, and he also led the majors with a 1.63 earned run average and 122 strikeouts, a 329.4 strikeout pace. He’s only 25, and he’ll be fun to watch in the playoffs.
Baseball is such a statistical game, it’s a shame we didn’t have a full season to compare past performances. However, under the circumstances I’m just glad we had any games at all.