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And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Happy Labor Day. I hope you have an enjoyable one. But I also hope you take some time to think about the reason for the holiday. It’s not just a day off for grilling meat, even if a lot of us plan to spend it that way.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Brewers 7, Nationals 2: Hello. My name is Domingo Santana. You killed my father. Prepare to die. Not sure why Washington even pitched to Santana. You knew it’d be his day. Dang day was named after him for cryin’ out loud.

Rangers 7, Angels 6: I can’t decide if I want to hug or boo the headline writer responsible for this: 

Probably hug. I love headline puns. This one described Elvis Andrus going deep twice, of course.  Robinson Chirinos and Delino DeShields hit back-to-back homers. The Angels rallied in the ninth, though, scoring three times and loading the bases before Luis Valbuena grounded out to end things.

Braves 5, Cubs 1: Rookie Max Fried made his first big league start against the defending World Series champions who came into the game on a six-game winning streak. No worries: Fried allowed one run over five innings and four relievers shut the Cubs out for the final four to give Fried the win. Rio Ruiz backed them offensively, going 3-for-4 and driving in three.

 

Orioles 5, Blue Jays 4: This one ended in the twelfth too, with Mark Trumbo hitting a walkoff RBI double for Baltimore. His cohort in clutchiness was Welington Castillo, who hit two home runs, including a game-tying shot in the ninth. Baltimore has won eight of ten and is now tied with the Angels, 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card spot. They’re three and a half back of the Yankees, who they meet this afternoon.

Indians 11, Tigers 1:  Jose Ramirez had five extra base hits on the day, smacking two homers and three doubles and driving in three. That’s not the sort of thing that happens every day. Something else that doesn’t happen every day is hitting a homer that an opposing outfielder helps over the wall. Cleveland outscored the Tigers 29-5 while sweeping them in the four game series. They’ve won 11 in a row overall.

Phillies 3, Marlins 1:  Nick Williams hit a two-run single with two out in the 12th to give Philly the win. Lost in the extra innings heroics was a nice little duel between starters Jose Urena of Miami and Jake Thompson of Philly, who went seven and six innings, respectively, each allowing one run.

Pirates 3, Reds 1: Trevor Williams tossed seven scoreless innings despite allowing eight hits and walking a guy. Cincinnati went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. That’s no way to go through life, son.

White Sox 6, Rays 2: Tim Anderson singled in a run, doubled in a run and homered in a run (sure, that’s a thing) on his 3-for-4 day. Jose Abreu hit a two-run homer after missing three games with an elbow injury. Guess he’s feeling better. Lucas Giolito allowed one run on three hits and struck out 10 in seven innings of work.

Royals 5, Twins 4: Lorenzo Cain hit a go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh inning to lift Kansas City. Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer. Not a bad bounce back day for the Royals, who lost 17-0 on Saturday.

Astros 8, Mets 6: Two guys who weren’t around for Houston a week ago — Cameron Maybin and Carlos Correa — came up big. Maybin hit a three-run homer and Correa drove in a run. George Springer homered and Josh Reddick had two hits and three RBI as the Astros sweep the Mets in the two-day, three-game series.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 1: Arizona seems unstoppable lately, winning ten in a row. Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury homered and Zack Godley pitched out of trouble, allowing only one run on three hits despite walking six. Striking out seven helps. The Dbacks lead for the top Wild Card spot is now six and a half games. The Rockies, who once looked to be locks for the second Wild Card, are now only up by a half game over the Brewers.

Cardinals 7, Giants 3: Madison Bumgarner hit a homer to tie things up at two in the fifth inning but Harrison Bader homered off of him in the sixth to put St. Louis up for good. Tommy DeJong and Jose Martinez took Bumgarner out too. Martinez drove in three on the day.

Mariners 10, Athletics 2: Robinson Cano had a day, going 4-for-5 and driving in four, thanks in part to a two-run homer. Andrew Albers took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before running out of gas, but he’d only allow one run on the day. The M’s sweep the A’s in three.

Padres 6, Dodgers 4: The Dodgers continue to struggle, dropping three of four to San Diego. Here Erick Aybar hit a go-ahead, two-run homer and Jose Pirela went deep as well. Los Angeles has lost eight of nine.

Yankees 9, Red Sox 2: New York takes three of four from Boston and moves to within 3.5 games back of the Sox for the division lead. Aaron Judge snapped his longest home run drought of the season, Chase Headley went deep and Matt Holliday and Todd Frazier hit back-to-back home runs. Chris Sale didn’t make it out of the fifth inning as he falls to the Yankees for the third time this year.

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.)