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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Happy Birthday, America.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Brewers 8, Orioles 1: Chase Anderson went to the DL and Brent Suter took his place in the rotation. The former is not ideal but the latter worked out OK here, as Suter allowed only one unearned run on four hits in six innings, striking out eight. Manny Pina singled in one and doubled in two. Travis Shaw homered but he had to leave the game after getting hit on the wrist with a pitch.

Nationals 3, Mets 2: Steven Strasburg tossed seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits. After Max Scherzer‘s dominant start on Sunday, one can’t help but envision an early 2-0 hole for any team unlucky enough to face Washington in the playoffs. Of course, that irresistible force will have to meet the unmovable object that is the Nats’ inability to win a playoff series, so I guess we’ll see. If they do blow a series lead it’ll be because of the bullpen, which blew yet another ninth inning lead here, allowing a Curtis Granderson homer to tie it up. Ryan Raburn bailed the Nats out, however, by delivering a walkoff RBI single.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3: Masahiro Tanaka was dominant for seven innings. Chase Headley drove in three, with two coming on a double and one coming via a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. New York had a run walked in with the bases loaded in the same inning. Things were all beer and Skittles for the Yankees until the ninth when Aroldis Chapman allowed two runs on three hits in a non-save situation.

Phillies 4, Pirates 0: Nola beats Nova, with Aaron tossing seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out eight while Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco each hit two-run homers off of Ivan.

Cardinals 14, Marlins 6: Luke Voit, which sounds like a name you make up on the spot when the cops catch you breaking into a sporting goods store, hit a homer as the Cardinals romped. Miami starter Jeff Locke gave up 11 hits and 11 earned runs in two and two-thirds innings of work. Which made it OK that Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright gave up six runs in the fifth inning. Wainwright also drove in two with an RBI single, so we’ll take a couple of those off his tab.

Red Sox 7, Rangers 5: The Red Sox had a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth and Craig Kimbrel on the mound. That’s usually automatic, but here Mike Napoli took him deep to send this one to extras. Andrew Benintendi hit a single with the bases loaded, driving in two, in the top of the 11th inning, helping the Sox to their fifth straight win. Dustin Pedroia had three hits and four RBI and was intentionally walked to bring up Benintendi. That loaded the bases and caused the Rangers to play their infield in, which in turn allowed Benintendi’s bloop hit to fall, just beyond the infield dirt. Strategy, man. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

Twins 9, Angels 5Max Kepler knocked four hits, including a home run, driving in three. Adalberto Mejia allowed three runs over seven innings of work. Joe Mauer went 2-for-4 with a homer. Also, this happened:

Nice to see Rod Carew back on his feet again. The Twins and Angels legend had a heart and kidney transplant back in December.

Rockies 5, Reds 3: Rockies left fielder Raimel Tapia hit a double, triple and homer on a 3-for-4 day and Jeff Hoffman allowed three runs over seven innings. Hoffman also doubled in Tapia in the second inning. Those two had it covered yesterday. Bud Black on Tapia’s night:

“Stand-up triple . Stand-up double. Stand-up homer. Tonight was `Tap Time.”

That sounds like I sound when I’m intentionally trying to embarrass my kids. The rookie Tapia probably rolled his eyes pretty hard. Or, like my kids did to me, set up an Instagram account specifically to make fun of Black.

White Sox 7, Athletics 2: Carlos Rodon struck out ten in six and a third innings of work in his second start of the season. Todd Frazier backed him with a two-run double that put the Chisox ahead to stay early in this one. Oakland has lost six in a row.

Royals 3, Mariners 1: Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon each hit homers and Ian Kennedy allowed one run while pitching into the seventh.That was Moustakas’ 23rd homer of the season. His previous career high was 22, set in 2015.

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.)