Closing in on a baseball season

It should surprise no one that Major League Baseball owners and players could not reach agreement on the number of games to play in the 2020 season. Last night, we found out the players’ vote on the owners’ latest 60-game proposal. They voted 33-5 against accepting that.

Now we wait and expect to find out that commissioner Rob Manfred will implement a schedule. He was given that right in the March 26 agreement and could implement a schedule of 60 games that begins in late July. This could happen as soon as today.

He will implement that schedule, according to a press release last night from Major League Baseball, if by 5 p.m. today the players’ union signs off on health and safety protocols and agrees to show up to spring training by July 1.

After all the hostility of recent months, the sides didn’t agree on much. But despite that - and despite the fact they’ll have to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement at the end of 2021 - we should soon get the parameters for an actual 2020 baseball season.

If the season started on July 27, after three weeks of spring training 2.0 at home ballparks, it could run through Sept. 27. There are 63 days in that time frame. Schedule in two doubleheaders and you can play 60 games with five days off. That is if there were no rainouts. They could run the season through Sept. 30 and buy a few more days. Or, as some reports last night stated, start it July 24 and add days that way. Either way, they have time to comfortably play 60 games and then start the playoffs in October.

Had the players signed off on the owners’ proposed 60-game schedule, it would have included expanded playoffs. Now it appears that will not be the case. But there still could be some negotiating on other points, now that all parties know the number of games.

Meanwhile, if the season does turn out to be 60 games, we could see strange things happen. An expected non-contender or second-division team could play over its head and make the playoffs in such a season.

Severino-Watching-Hit-Gray-Sidebar.jpgBut that team is not likely to be the Orioles. Asking a team at the bottom of the division to play that well for that long is almost certainly asking too much. The Orioles did have a good stretch of baseball last year. It began with back-to-back 13-0 shutout wins at home over Cleveland on June 28-29.

Starting there, they went 5-3 over eight games and 13-11 over the next 24 through July 27. The Orioles were 22-58 (.314) heading into that Cleveland series. They then played .426 ball over the next 54 games, going 23-31. That was about their best run of the 2019 season.

We could even see some strange individual stats. Can you have a batting or home run champion in a 60-game season? Certainly you can, but the homer leader might have just 20. Or less.

A few Orioles would have put up some really nice stats if they could have taken their best two-month stretch of the season and had that as their final numbers last year.

Catcher Pedro Severino got off to a fast start last year. On June 3 he became the first Orioles catcher to ever produce a three-homer game. It was the 36th by a catcher in major league history. To that point of the year, Severino had played in 34 games. He was batting .288/.370/.567 with five doubles, eight homers, 18 RBIs and an OPS of .937.

Second baseman Jonathan Villar, now with Miami, had a torrid stretch from late June through Aug. 25. Over 52 games, he batted .324/.402/.560 with a .962 OPS. He added 10 doubles, three triples, 11 homers, 13 steals, 41 runs and 29 RBIs. That is a really strong third of the year.

Infielder/designated hitter Renato Núñez had a hot bat from May 20 through July 13. In that span, he played in 43 games. He batted .283/.363/.638 with 12 doubles, 14 homers, 32 RBIs and an OPS of 1.001.

It’s nice to actually look at some baseball stats at this point. Hope we get to do more of that over the summer.

Also last night, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer fired off this tweet.

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