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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 10, Red Sox 5: Justin Upton took three days off to clear his head and to work on his swing. They did him well. He came back on Saturday and went 2-for-4 with a double. Yesterday afternoon he hit two three-run homers which went a combined 890 feet. Justin Verlander tends to win when he’s given ten runs to work with. As do most pitchers.

Indians 3, Blue Jays 2: Jose Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. That’s a pretty handy thing to do when you’re down 2-1. That came off of Brett Cecil and spoiled Marcus Stroman‘s seven and a third innings of one-run ball.

Dodgers 4, Reds 0: Julio Urias tossed six shutout innings, scattering six hits and striking out six. Or, as we professionals call that, “Tossing a Satan.”

Rays 8, Rangers 4: Logan Forsythe hit a three-run homer in the Rays’ five-run fourth as Tampa Bay took two of three from the Rangers. It’s too little, too late for the Rays, but they’re playing good baseball right now, having won six of seven.

Braves 7, Nationals 6: Jace Peterson hit a walkoff homer in the 10th. The Nationals committed five errors and blew an early 4-0 lead. Do that and even the Braves will make you pay for it.

Cardinals 9, Phillies 0: The Cardinals hit four homers —Jedd Gyorko, Stephen Piscotty, Brandon Moss and Jeremy Hazelbaker did the damage — and starter Mike Leake tossed seven shutout innings and hit a two-run single to boot. They went 6-3 on this now-completed road trip and remain a game and a half up on Miami for the second wild-card spot.

Marlins 3, Pirates 2: The Marlins sweep the Pirates. A Christian Yelich homer and two unearned runs held up. With that Miami is now right behind the Cards for that second wild card. What a year of lost chances and disappointment for Pittsburgh.

White Sox 4, Athletics 2: Jose Quintana won his 10th game. That’s the first time he’s ever won ten despite the fact that he’s pitched well enough to win 15 or more for four years running. Hell, he should probably have 15 this year already. His last start he gave up two runs and lost. The start before that he gave up one run and got a no-decision. July 29: one run, no decision. July 24: zero runs, no-decision. June 17: two runs, no decision. May 30: one run, and a loss. May 14: two runs and a loss. April 18: two earned runs and a loss. April 5: two earned runs and a no-decision. That’s nine games with either a loss or a no-decision in which he easily pitched well enough to win.With even a little better luck he’s among the league leaders in wins and with a tad more luck he’s leading everyone. I know every pitcher has spells in which he gets bad run support and bad luck, but for Quintana it’s been this way four four years.  I don’t know how he hasn’t had an aneurysm by now.

Royals 2, Twins 1: Danny Duffy hasn’t had to rely on luck lately. He’s just been pitching lights-out baseball. Here he won his 10th straight decision after allowing one run while pitching into the seventh. He’s 11-1 with a 2.66 ERA. The Royals started him in the bullpen this year for Pete’s sake.

Angels 2, Yankees 0: Jhoulys Chacin and three relievers combined for the shutout. Both Angels runs were singled in by Andrelton Simmons. One in the first, one in the eighth.

Brewers 7, Mariners 6: The Brewers’ four-run ninth stuns the Mariners. Keon Broxton and Chris Carter homered — it was Broxton’s second homer of the game — and Scooter Gennett had an RBI single in the final frame. The win ends Milwaukee’s six-game losing streak.

Rockies 11, Cubs 4: Nolan Arenado hit two home runs — both three-run shots — and drove in six. His dingers put him past Kris Bryant for the lead in the National League.

Padres 9, Diamondbacks 1: Luis Perdomo allowed one run — unearned, though that was due to his own error — on five hits over seven innings. I’ve always thought unearned runs due to a pitcher’s own error should be earned. It’d be a mess to manage and screw with scoring uniformity but on a cosmic level it seems more just.

Astros 5, Orioles 3: Dallas Keuchel allowed two runs over eight innings. Carlos Correa doubled in a couple of runs. Mark Trumbo hit his 37th homer of the year in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Mets 2, Giants 0: Syndergaard > Samardzija. At least on this night. The former with eight innings of shutout, two-hit ball, the latter whose only mistake was a gopher ball to Yoenis Cespedes with a runner on. In other news, Yoenis Cespedes seems to be OK.

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.)