2020 has been far from a normal year, so Opening Day at the end of July is pretty par for the course. That being said we couldn’t be more excited to have baseball back! But this year won’t look like any season we’ve ever seen before. 20 HRs will likely lead the league, Cy Young winners may only have five or six wins, and Mike Trout will likely (we have to say likely because you can’t underestimate Trout) post career lows in every category. With that said, let’s discuss the major changes to the MLB as we get ready to jump into another baseball season.
As you have likely heard by now, the MLB regular season will be completed in a mere 60 games. This will likely create some wild divisional races and some surprise playoff teams. Take a look back at the 60-game mark from 2019…
2019 MLB Standings thru 60 Games
1. New York Yankees: 38-22 (.633) — 103-59 (.636)
2. Tampa Bay Rays: 37-23 (.617) — 96-66 (.593)
3. Boston Red Sox: 31-29 (.517) — 84-78 (.519)
4. Toronto Blue Jays: 22-38 (.367) — 67-95 (.414)
5. Baltimore Orioles: 19-41 (.317) — 54-108 (.333)
1. Minnesota Twins: 40-20 (.667) — 101-61 (.623)
2. Chicago White Sox: 29-31 (.483) — 72-89 (.447)
3. Cleveland Indians: 30-30 (.500) — 93-69 (.574)
4. Detroit Tigers: 23-37 (.383) — 47-114 (.292)
5. Kansas City Royals: 19-41 (.317) — 59-103 (.364)
1. Houston Astros: 40-20 (.667) — 107-55 (.660)
2. Texas Rangers: 32-28 (.533) — 78-84 (.481)
3. Oakland Athletics: 30-30 (.500) — 97-65 (.599)
4. Los Angeles Angels: 29-31 (.483) — 72-90 (.444)
5. Seattle Mariners: 25-35 (.417) — 68-94 (.420)
1. Philadelphia Phillies: 33-27 (.550) — 81-81 (.500)
2. Atlanta Braves: 33-27 (.550) — 97-65 (.599)
3. New York Mets: 28-32 (.467) — 86-76 (.531)
4. Washington Nationals: 27-33 (.450) — 93-69 (.574)
5. Miami Marlins: 23-37 (.383) — 57-105 (.352)
1. Milwaukee Brewers: 34-26 (.567) — 89-73 (.549)
2. Chicago Cubs: 34-26 (.567) — 84-78 (.519)
3. St. Louis Cardinals: 31-29 (.517) — 91-71 (.562)
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 29-31 (.483) — 69-93 (.426)
5. Cincinnati Reds: 28-32 (.467) — 75-87 (.463)
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 41-19 (.683) — 106-56 (.654)
2. Colorado Rockies: 31-29 (.517) — 71-91 (.438)
3. San Diego Padres: 31-29 (.517) — 70-92 (.432)
4. Arizona Diamondbacks: 30-30 (.500) — 85-77 (.525)
5. San Francisco Giants: 25-35 (.417) — 77-85 (.475)
- The 78-84 Texas Rangers were an AL WC team.
- The 93-69 Cleveland Indians were a pedestrian 30-30.
- The 81-81 Philadelphia Phillies led the NL East.
- And the biggest one… The 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals were just 27-33.
Now, there will certainly be more emphasis placed on each game but if a player is mired by a month-long slump, that’s half the season. It is certainly worth pointing out that managers will be required to make more tough decisions in 2020, given the high-stakes of every game, than they have ever been tasked with before. We’ll likely see more pinch-hitting/running, situational strategies, and defensive substitutions during the regular season than we have since the infusion of sabermetrics. For better or worse, it’ll definitely be exciting!
MLB records translated into 2020 MLB stats
Baseball is a sport rooted in the analytics of statistics. But with the shorter schedule, what are some notable statistics to keep an eye on? Keep in mind, a 60-game season is only 37% of the traditional 162 games. And granted these will likely not be touched but it could certainly be interesting if any one player got off to a Cody Bellinger-2019-esque (.370/.456/.721 thru-60 game) start to the 2020 season.
Notable Hitting Records
- 27 Home Runs ~ 73 Home Runs (Bonds)
- 44 Extra Base Hits ~ 119 Extra Base Hits (Ruth)
- 97 Hits ~ 262 Hits (Ichiro)
- 71 RBIs ~ 191 RBIs (Hack Wilson)
Notable Pitching Records (1920-Present)
- 142 Strikeouts ~ 383 Strikeouts (Ryan)
- 23 Saves ~ 62 Saves (K-Rod)
- 11 Wild Pitches ~ 30 Wild Pitches (Red Ames)
- 6 Balks ~ 16 Balks (Dave Stewart) (editor: Yes, 3x World Series Champion Dave Steward had 16 balks in a single season)
Notable Team Records
- 114 Home Runs ~ 307 Home Runs (‘19 Twins)
- 395 Runs Scored ~ 1,067 Runs Scored (‘31 Yankees)
- 43 Wins ~ 116 Wins (‘01 Mariners)
How do the MLB schedules breakdown?
Each Major League Baseball team will play 40 divisional games and 20 same-region, interleague games. This means that all of the AL East teams will play each other 10 times while also playing every team in the NL East four times. The idea is to limit travel while allowing the divisions to be decided by matchups within the division. The reason they have to incorporate the interleague aspect is the direct result of each division consisting of five teams, thus one team would always be without an opponent if they limited the schedule to just a single division. It’ll only make the playoffs even more exciting given most matchups will pit the best teams in the game against one another for the first time all year.
Will there be a 2020 Trade Deadline?
Yes, the MLB has announced that 2020 will have a Trade Deadline on August 31st. This means that teams will be required to make their future roster decisions after just 5 weeks of play. That’s the equivalent of having it on Cinco de Mayo during a standard 162-game season. And while It’s certainly a tough task, look for promising teams mired in playoff droughts (like the Padres & Reds) to be more active than usual. Couple that with rebuilding teams likely willing to punt the season for future successes, and we could have a few blockbuster deals to discuss as we head into September.
No Fans in the Stands
It has been well-documented that the MLB will not allow any fans in the stands at the start of the 2020 season due to concerns with the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, some teams are allowing fans to purchase a cardboard cut-out of themselves (or a loved one) to provide a unique opportunity for fans and also produce better optics for television viewing. There have also been reports of fans being able to use the MLB App to influence the crowd noise of home ballparks. Both are interesting ideas and we would like to give the MLB some credit for attempting to adapt the fan experience to the current times.
Updated Rule Changes
There are a few notable new changes to the game of baseball. Some of the following changes were already slated to be implemented for the 2020 season, while others are now in place as a result of the varied climate.
- Both leagues will utilize the DH. The National League will no longer require their pitchers to hit.
- All relief pitchers will be required to face a minimum of (3) batters, unless the inning ends.
- In extra innings, each team will begin their half of the inning with a runner on second base.
- There will be a COVID-list for any players that test positive during the season. Teams will be allowed to replace a player on this list with another from their organization.
- Each team has submitted a 60-Man Player Pool to designate the players that will be eligible to play in 2020.
- Each team will have a three-player taxi squad. These players will travel with the team but will only be allowed to play if a roster player becomes injured or ill. The idea here is to minimize the number of commercial flights required to fill rosters.
- (UPDATED) Announced on Thursday July 23, the MLBPA has agreed to a proposal that will allow eight (8) from each league to make the postseason. The top-2 from each division and two wild card teams, based on overall record.
- (UPDATED) The first round of the playoffs will be best-of-3 series (all played at higher seed's home ballpark) where the winners will advance to the Divisional Series round.
Playoff-like feel to each game
As the pundits submit their “chalk” picks for the season, we can’t help but think 2020 will be anything but. Yes, over the course of a 162-game slate the best teams will likely rise to the top. However, keep in mind that a 10-game winning streak in 2020 is the equivalent to a 27-game winning streak during a standard season. A measly 5-gamer would be like 13.5 games! Even bad teams can win five in a row. This puts incredible amounts of pressure on the players to perform, while creating a playoff-like, win-at-all-costs attitude to each game.
It’s gonna be a wild ride and 2020 might just go down as baseball’s most exciting season… in a long time. We hope you enjoy it! Nonetheless, it’ll be nice to get back into our summertime baseball Routine.