And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 8, Reds 7; Reds 7, Pirates 5: The first game was the completion of Monday’s suspended game with all the homers. The second one was the scheduled game, played in temperatures in the 30s when most other cold weather games were cancelled. And for whatever reason it showed up on my Extra Innings package even though I’m usually blacked out from both the Reds and the Pirates. Glitch in the matrix, I assume. Still, I wasn’t much into it so I watched “Night Court” reruns. Specific shoutout to “Chrizzi’s Honor,” the 1988 episode in which my inner circle childhood crush Markie Post had a party to celebrate Prince Charles and Lady Di’s sixth wedding anniversary only to have it interrupted by a siege in which hitmen tried to kill the anglophile dude she invited to her party because he was going to serve as a witness to the mob. The entire episode couldn’t have happened if cell phones existed or if anyone knew then how twisted the Charles-Di dynamic was at the time. Outside of some “Three’s Company” episodes, I don’t think I’ve seen a more dated episode of television that I actually watched in its first run. Oh, Mike Leake hit a home run.

Marlins 11, Nationals 2: A three-run homer and five RBI for Giancarlo Stanton. The homer was an absolute moon shot off Stephen Strasburg. Marcell Ozuna had four hits and Casey McGehee had three. Quite a definitive way to break an eight game losing streak.

Rangers 5, Mariners 0: When were one of you guys gonna tell me that Kevin Kouzmanoff was still alive? All this time I’d been thinking that he was killed in a bus accident in late 2011 or something, and here he pops up with a homer and three RBI like it’s 2007 or something. Figuring this Kouzmanoff thing is a Winter Soldier situaish? People recognize him, but he has no memory of his Padres days? Metal arm, etc.? Figure that has to be it.

Cardinals 6, Brewers 1: I figure one more game like this and those “so, are the Brewers for real?” questions I get on talk radio hits will dry up.  Shelby Miller, who spent the end of 2013 on the side of milk cartons, struck out seven and allowed three hits over six innings. Mark Ellis came off the DL yesterday and then drove in two.

Royals 4, Astros 2: Yordano Ventura was totally boss, striking out seven and allowing one earned run over seven while averaging 97 on his fastball. This kid is must-see TV. Like, real Must-See TV. Not one of those lame series they tried to shoe-horn in between “Friends” and “Seinfeld” back in the day. Starring Jonathan Silverman or some b.s.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $125,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Wednesday night’s MLB games. It’s $200 to join and first prize is $20,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on WednesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

White Sox 2, Red Sox 1 Xander Bogaerts one-hopped his throw to first baseman Mike Carp in the bottom of the ninth, Carp couldn’t scoop it up and Alexei Ramirez scored from second. And while there’s no guarantee he does any better with the throw, Mike Napoli would’ve been a first base in the ninth if he hadn’t dislocated his finger earlier in the game.

Blue Jays 9, Twins 3: The AP game story says that the Blue Jays knew it was “only a matter of time before they got to” Phil Hughes. Yep, them and about 28 other teams in major league baseball. The Jays put up a five-spot in the sixth and Brett Lawrie made it a laugher in the ninth with a grand slam.

Mets 9, Diamondbacks 0: The day he was called up to replace the injured Juan Lagares, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a homer among his three hits and three RBIs and he also made a diving catch in center field. Not a bad way to debut for the year. Bronson Arroyo was touched for nine runs on ten hits in three and a third innings. Eww.

Rockies 3, Padres 2:  Juan Nicasio started off a bit shaky, but then settled down and finished with six solid innings, which the Rockies’ staff needed.

Athletics 10, Angels 9: Mike Trout hit a two-run homer to tie the game in the ninth and send it to extras but then Josh Donaldson doubled in Jed Lowrie in the bottom of the 11th for the win. Those of you who dig bullpen drama should know that Sean Doolittle blew the save for Oakland and then Jim Johnson came in and pitched two scoreless innings and got the win. The A’s have won eight of nine.

Giants 3, Dodgers 2: Hector Sanchez singled home the winning run with two outs in the 12th. He said he had to win the game because his wife and young daughter waiting in the parking lot, had been at the game for three hours and that the daughter had school this morning. Ever heard of a cab, Hector?

Rays vs. Orioles, Braves vs. Phillies, Cubs vs. Yankees, Indians vs. Tigers: POSTPONEDI waited for you winterlong. You seemed to be where I belong. It’s all illusion anyway. If things should ever turn out wrong. And all the love we have is gone It won’t be easy. On that day.

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.)