And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Athletics 3, Mariners 2: Coco Crisp with a leadoff, walkoff homer in the 12th. He did it by doing the one thing they tell you not to do as a hitter:

“I was just going up there to swing as hard as I could. Probably nine times out of 10, I ended up with a strikeout with that approach. Tonight was that one time that it ended up working out. I’m not going to have that as my everyday approach but I’m just grateful that it worked out tonight.”

You know, driving home, he thought “well, maybe I can try that a little bit more and it won’t hurt any. I can keep it under control.” It’s what all hardcore home run junkies say to themselves when they start dancing with Mr. Longball. Let’s just home Crisp has a good support structure to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Red Sox 4, Orioles 3: Boston racked up 14 hits. Xander Bogaerts has reached base in eight of his 12 plate appearance via five hits and three walks. This kid is gonna be amazing and you can all say you saw it when it started. Assuming you were paying attention late last season.

Giants 8, Diamondbacks 5: Five runs in the eighth capped by an Angel Pagan three-run homer. Also: the Diamondbacks, obviously in an effort to delay the inevitable, released the hounds and the bees, and the hounds with bees in their mouths so every time they barked they shot bees at you.

Twins 10, White Sox 9: The Twins trailed 9-8 entering the ninth but came from behind via a Trevor Plouffe RBI single and an Oswaldo Arcia triple. Also: Chris Colabello drove in six. This guy spent forever putting dents in outfield walls in independent ball and then raked like nobody’s business once he finally got to the affiliated minors. Glad to see him getting it done in the majors.

Nationals 8, Mets 2: The sweep. Four hits for Ryan Zimmerman. Three RBI for Adam LaRoche, including one on a bases loaded walk. Also: thats 39 strikeouts for the Mets in three games, by the way. Maybe take a pitch, dudes?

Marlins 8, Rockies 5: That’s three of four for the Marlins from the Rockies. Casey McGeehee played the hero here, driving in three in the seventh and eighth. I think the Marlins are better than they were last year, but let’s be clear about something: they’re playing the Rockies here.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Cubs 3, Pirates 2: Jason Hammell pitched two-hit ball into the seventh. Emilio Bonifacio went 2 for 4 and scored twice. He’s now 11 for 16, but before you get too excited about that, know that he’s done this kind of thing before only to finish seasons with pretty pedestrian numbers.

Cardinals 7, Reds 6:  Three hour, forty-two minute rain delay. Three hour, forty-one minute game. Todd Frazier hit two homers, but that wasn’t enough. In other news, there was some fun fan interaction between Matt Adams and a Reds fan:

Rays 7, Blue Jays 2: Nice night for the Rays’ doorbuster bargains: Chris Archer signed a $25.5 million deal on Wednesday and allowed two runs, four hits, two walks and had seven strikeouts in six innings last night. Evan Longoria is one of baseball’s least expensive superstars and he hit a three-run homer.

Yankees 4, Astros 2: Oh well. There go the Astros’ dreams of a 162-0 season. Yangervis Solarte had three hits and an RBI, which is rather annoying because now we all have to look up Yangervis Solarte to see just who the heck he is. Dexter Fowler had his third straight multi-hit game for the Astros.

Royals vs. Tigers: POSTPONED: April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.

If 2020 season is canceled, which players would be hurt the most?

Miguel Cabrera
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Last week, I went over a few teams that stood to be hurt most if there were to be no 2020 season as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Today, we will look at some players who may be adversely effected by a lost year.

Milestones

Players chasing milestones, especially those towards the end of their careers, would be stymied by a lost season. Tigers DH and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera is the first one that comes to mind. He is 23 home runs short of joining the 500 home run club. Though he hasn’t hit more than 16 in a year since 2016, he would likely have at least hit a few this year and would have had an easier time getting there in 2021. He turns 37 years old in 10 days. Cabrera may be under contract through 2023, but it is not clear that his age and his health would allow him to play regularly such that he would be able to reach 500 home runs if the 2020 season were to be canceled. (Cabrera is also 185 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.)

Mike Trout has 285 home runs for his career. It’s almost a given that he would get to 300 and beyond in 2020. He is currently one of only 13 players with at least 250 home runs through his age-27 season. The only players with more: Álex Rodríguez (345), Jimmie Foxx (302), Eddie Mathews (299), and Ken Griffey Jr. (294). Trout likely would have also reached 1,000 runs for his career, as he is currently at 903. Losing a full season could really make a difference where he winds up on the all-time leaderboards at the end of his career.

Veteran catcher Yadier Molina will be a free agent at season’s end, though he and the Cardinals have expressed interest in a contract extension. He turns 38 this summer and is 37 hits shy of 2,000 for his career. Even if this season never happens, Molina will likely join the 2,000 hit club in 2021 whether or not he signs a multi-year extension. Molina is also 84 RBI shy of 1,000 and 21 doubles shy of 400.

Free Agents

Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto headline the free agent class heading into the 2021 season. Even if there eventually is a 2020 season, or something resembling it, teams are losing money across the board and that will result in stinginess in the free agent market. Make no mistake, Betts and Realmuto, as well as Trevor Bauer, Marcus Semien, and Marcus Stroman will still get paid handsomely, but they likely won’t get as much as they would following a typical year. The players that really stand to get hurt are the mid-tier free agents, whose cost won’t match their relative upside — players like James McCann, Howie Kendrick, Yuli Gurriel, DJ LeMahieu, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Turner, Michael Grantley, Marcell Ozuna, Jackie Bradley Jr., Jay Bruce, and Josh Reddick.

2020-21 Draftees and International Free Agents

At the end of March, MLB and the MLB Players Association reached an agreement on a deal covering issues including service time, pay during the pandemic, and the amateur draft. In exchange for players on active rosters getting credit for a full year of service time whether or not there is a 2020 season, the league got the right to shorten the 2020 draft to five rounds and the 2021 draft to 20 rounds. The league also gained the right to delay the start of the 2020 and 2021-22 international signing periods.

The MLBPA effectively sold out what will be their future union members. A shortened draft this year and/or next year would mean that players who would otherwise have been drafted this year will go undrafted and thus will either become unsigned free agents or return to the draft next year as part of a crowded pool of players. Likewise, pushing back the international signing period will add more players to the market at the same time. This, obviously, benefits ownership as a surplus of labor diminishes those laborers’ leverage.

Bounce-back Candidates

Players coming off of injuries or otherwise down years in 2019 were hoping to use 2020 to bounce back, reestablishing themselves in the league. Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani didn’t pitch at all last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery and was hopeful to rejoin the starting rotation at some point in the first half of a normal 2020 season. We learned yesterday that Ohtani is expected to throw off a mound “soon.” If a 2020 season does happen, it likely wouldn’t begin for another couple of months at minimum, which should afford him enough time to get into pitching shape.

Ohtani’s teammate and perennial Gold Glove Award candidate Andrelton Simmons played in only 103 games last season due to an ankle injury. He mustered a meager .673 OPS as well, compiling just 1.9 WAR, his lowest total in any season since debuting in 2012. In 2017, he peaked at 7.8 WAR and put up 6.3 the following season. Simmons will become a free agent after the 2020 season, so he most certainly needed a healthy and productive 2020 to maximize his leverage on the market.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, now 36 years old, is coming off of the worst offensive season of his career. He hit .261/.357/.411 with 15 home runs and 47 RBI in 608 plate appearances, continuing a downward trend. He registered a 167 adjusted OPS as recently as 2017, but that declined to 126 in ’18 and 98 last year. The Reds, back to being competitive, were definitely banking on a bounce-back year from Votto. (Votto, by the way, is also 56 RBI short of the 1,000 milestone for his career.)