And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 7, Twins 4: Tanaka and Beltran help the Yankees snap their losing skid. Tanaka with seven OK inning, even though he wasn’t at his best. Beltran with a big three run homer in the fifth. New York scored seven runs off Phil Hughes, which had to feel good.

Cardinals 7, Giants 2: The Giants are in freefall. Their 17th loss in their last 22, this time by giving up seven runs to a Cardinals team which has had a whale of a time scoring of late. Jhonny Peralta had a first inning homer to kick things off. Matt Carpenter continued to [punches hole in cliche rewards card] be a Giant killer, going 2 for 4. He is hitting .519 against the Giants in 54 career at bats.

Orioles 5, Rangers 2: Steve Pearce just keeps on keeping on. He had four hits and drove in a couple of runs. Wei-Yin Chen allowed two runs over six. He is 4-0 in four starts against Texas with a 1.67 ERA. I’d call him a “Ranger killer,” but that’s not a cliche like “Giant killer.” Also: totally against the law to kill a real Texas Ranger. Really, they’d execute for that. You can kill giants, though. But only if they’re trying to enter your property via a beanstalk or something.

Tigers 8, Rays 1: Erik Bedard got rocked with three homers and five runs in the first and after that it was all Max Scherzer. The reigning Cy Young Award winner allowed one run over eight innings, striking out seven.

Diamondbacks 10, Pirates 2: David Peralta had three hits, including a two-run homer and drove in four. Kirk Gibson after the game:

“We came back with a good effort today, played a good, clean game, got good pitching, some clutch hits then were able to have some fun in that last inning.”

Fun? Clean? Forget it Kirk. You’ve spent way too much time with the humorless and gritty thing now to try and pass of this team as fun and clean. Own your record, pal.

Phillies 5, Marlins 4: Philly rallied for two runs in the ninth when Steve Cishek couldn’t hold the lead. Thanks in part, also, to a bobbled ball at second which should have been an inning-ending double play.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2: Zack Greinke gave up one earned run and two total while scattering nine hits over eight innings. Juan Uribe had three of the Dodgers’ six hits including the go-ahead RBI single in the ninth. Eighth inning fun: with the game tied at two, one out and a runner on third, Greinke and Don Mattingly decided to pitch to Troy Tulowitzki. They retired him. Then they  intentionally walked Corey Dickerson. Got away with that. How often do teams pitch to Tulo only then to give Dickerson and intentional pass?

Angels 5 Astros 2: That’s the seventh straight home win for Anaheim. They were aided in the effort by David Freese, who hit a two run double. Freese hasn’t aided many efforts this year.

Athletics 4, Blue Jays 1: Sonny Gray pitched well. And could’ve even had a shutout but for a really weird replay in the second. The bases were loaded and the Jays hit a groundball which was fielded by the A’s first baseman. He tried to tag the runner going from first to second but the ump said he missed. He gathered himself and fired the ball home to get the force out at the plate of the runner coming from third. OK as far as that goes. The weird part: Jays manager John Gibbons comes out and challenges the safe call on the tag of the runner coming from first to second. Again: a manager is asking for a review in order to have his own baserunner called out instead of safe. For good reason, of course, because if he was out there was no force play at home and the A’s failure to tag the runner coming home means he scored.

Which was dumb, of course, because the A’s had no reason to even try to tag the runner given that as it was called on the field it was a force. The umps nonetheless let the run score and Bob Melvin played the game under protest. Good thing it didn’t end up mattering to anything but Gray’s ERA, but still, we have found a weird replay loophole.

If 2020 season is cancelled, 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 cancelled. (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.)