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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 7, Nationals 1: I spilled a lot of ink complaining about Ronald Acuna not being with the big club early — and I stand by that complaining — but let it be known that the guy keeping left field warm for him, Preston Tucker, has raked on the young season. Here he hit a three-run homer — his second such dong in as many days — and his 9-for-21 with eight driven in in six games. Not saying that’s sustainable, but I am saying that when Acuna comes up, perchance Atlanta might consider whether whatever is sustainable for Tucker is better than what can be expected from Nick Markakis. In other news, Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz outpitched Max Scherzer, allowing one run in five and a third and (all together now) helped his own cause by doubling in two runs in the fourth inning. The Braves are 4-2. It’s the first time they’ve been two games over .500 in three years.

Yankees 7, Rays 2: For the first time since they got together, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez all homered in the same game, all of which were two-run shots. That was more than enough run support for Luis Severino, who allowed two while pitching into the eighth before handing it over to the pen. This is the Platonic idea of a 2018 Yankees win, I’d say. Expect many to follow this general arc this year.

Mets 4, Phillies 2: The most notable thing about this game is that it was streamed on Facebook. Like, exclusively. No local TV of any kind. Which means that if you wanted to watch this game you had to click a little box that said “YES: I agree to handing over all of my personal information to shady gray market data miners.” Hey, if you really love your Mets and Phillies, you’d do it. As for the game itself, Noah Syndergaard couldn’t make it past four innings, but the Mets bullpen was strong, facing the minimum over the final five frames, shutting Philly out in that span. Yoenis Cespedes went deep. Oh, And Amed Rosario hit a two-run triple that should NOT have been a triple but was because Gabe Kapler had right fielder Nick Williams playing roughly 50 feet shallower than the average right fielder would play, assuming Rosario couldn’t hit to the opposite field with authority. Watch:

 

I’m not gonna say Kapler’s data-driven innovations are bad ideas, full stop. I get the theory. I am gonna say, though, that when they backfire like they have so far, he’s gonna take the heat for it and deservedly so.

Astros 3, Orioles 2: Give the O’s pitching staff props for only giving up three runs I guess. Give Dallas Keuchel props for allowing only two — one unearned — and Brad Peacock for tossing three innings of scoreless relief. Josh Reddick had three hits and Alex Bregman hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh to help Houston complete the sweep.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 0: Patrick Corbin shut the boys in blue down, striking out 12 in a little over seven innings of work and the Dbacks bat, while mostly contained by Alex Wood, chipped off three in the first three innings. That’s a three-game series sweep for Arizona and their ninth straight regular season over Los Angeles overall.

Angels 3, Indians 2: Andrelton Simmons is a man after my heart for bunting to break up Corey Kluber’s no-hit bid in the fifth inning. To the extent that had the potential to be slammed as an Unwritten Rules violation, Shohei Ohtani nipped it in the bud by taking a Kluber fastball out to center field for a two-run home run, tying the game at 2-2. It was Ohtani’s second homer in as many days. That didn’t end things, of course. The game would be tied after regulation and eventually make it into the 13th inning, where Zack Cozart walked ’em off with this blast:

The Angels are 4-2 to start the season for the first time since 2007.

Twins 7, Pirates 3: The warm sunshine. The smell of the green grass. The fresh breezes. The relief pitcher catching snowflakes in his mouth as he’s trying to lock down the game in the ninth:

Brian Dozier hit his fourth homer in as many days and the Twins put up a four-spot in the sixth inning to hand the Pirates their first loss of the year. Miguel Sano had three hits and two RBI. Eduardo Escobar drove in two as well.

White Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: Jose Abreu‘s eight inning homer on a 3-0 pitch broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Chisox the game. Earlier Matt Davidson hit his fourth homer on the season. Sox starter Carson Fulmer held Toronto to three runs and five hits over five innings, and I continue to refuse to believe that that’s his name as opposed to the name of a backup quarterback someplace that an agitated fan base doesn’t severely overvalue in the way that backup quarterbacks are overvalued. I mean, yeah, he looks good on the sidelines and had some nice college numbers, but Trent Whoeverthehell is this club’s best option at QB, even with the current rough patch.

Giants 10, Mariners 1: The San Francisco offense finally work up, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first and making it 9-0 after five. Pablo Sandoval walked with the bases loaded in the first to drive in a run and later it a three-run homer on his four-RBI day. Gorkys Hernandez, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford also went deep for the Giants. Gorkys should change his name to “Brandon” so we can refer to this offensive attack as “The Three Brandons.” Wait, never mind. That sounds like a craft beer only boring white dudes drink. He can stay “Gorkys.”

Cardinals 6, Brewers 0: Carlos Martinez shut the Brewers out through eight and a third, striking out ten while Yadi Molina homered and hit a sac fly. At one point Martinez retired 16 straight. The Brewers threatened in the ninth but Bud Norris got out of a bases loaded jam to end it. St. Louis takes two of three from Milwaukee on the road.

Athletics 6, Rangers 2: Sean Manaea was in control here, tossing eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball, which allowed the A’s four-run fourth inning to more than hold up. Bob Melvin did not allow Manaea to go out for the ninth despite the fact he was only at 94 pitches. Manaea was OK with that:

“Obviously I wanted to finish the game, but talking to BoMel it kind of wasn’t the right idea this early in the season,”

“BoMel?” No. Uh-uh. We are not doing this. Do you hear me, Oakland? If I hear “BoMel” one more time, I’m stopping this car.

Rockies 5, Padres 2: Jon Gray tossed seven shutout innings, striking out seven and walking none, while the Rockies $108 million man, Charlie Blackmon, got two hits and scored twice. Ian Desmond and Trevor Story each drove in two. Nolan Arenado doubled in a run. The game took just 2 hours and 41 minutes, and neither team used a mound visit. Progress? I dunno.

Royals vs. Tigers — POSTPONED:

The rain falls hard on a humdrum town
This town has dragged you down
Oh, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town
This town has dragged you down
Oh, no, and everybody’s got to live their life
And God knows I’ve got to live mine
God knows I’ve got to live mine

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.)