Getty Images

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

17 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rockies 10, Diamondbacks 3: Kyle Freelandwho, as Bill wrote last night is someone you should know better — picked up his 15th win while helping his own cause by doubling in a run. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story homered. Arenado reached the 100 RBI plateau with his. In so doing the Rockies take three of four from Arizona, holding on to their one-and-a-half-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West — two in the loss column — and shoving the fading Dbacks four and a half back. Arizona is 3-12 in September.

Mets 4, Marlins 3; Mets 5, Marlins 2Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier hit back-to-back homers with two outs in the ninth inning to give New York a walkoff 4-3 victory in the first game. Before that the Mets only had two hits in the whole game, though one of them was a homer from starter Steven Matz. In the nightcap Conforto knocked in three more runs and rookie Tomas Nido hit his first career homer. The Mets took three of four in the series and have won nine of 12 overall.

Cubs 4, Nationals 3: A makeup game that the Cubs have been complaining about having to play for some time carried with it some good news and some bad news. The good news: Cubs win, with Javier Baez bunting in a run in the top of the 10th:

Despite what the announcer said there, it was not Joe Maddon’s call. Baez decided to bunt for himself. The runner who scored — Kris Bryant — didn’t even know it was coming. Baez also homered and drove in three runs overall, pushing himself ahead of Trevor Story for the league lead in RBI, 103-102 and keeping himself in the thick of the MVP race.

The bad news for Chicago: reliever Pedro Strop batted for himself in that 10th inning and then strained a hamstring running to first base while trying to beat a double play ball. Losing Strop — as the Cubs are likely to for at least a couple of weeks given how hamstring injuries go — is a huge blow. He’s been closing for them since Brandon Morrow went down to injury and has been doing a fine job of it. Now he’s likely out at least until the playoffs start.

Mariners 8, Angels 2: Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer and he, Mitch HanigerRobinson Cano and Kyle Seager each had two hits as the M’s eliminate the Angels from playoff contention. Not that they were, practically speaking, in playoff contention of course. We just keep track of such things, much like Astinus — the worldly form of Gilean, God of Neutrality — who watches over the Great Library of Palanthas and scribes all history as it happens.

Wait, what?

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: The Blue Jays rallied for two runs to tie the game up in the top of the eighth and then they coughed up a run to Boston when second baseman Yangervis Solarte dropped a popup which allowed Xander Bogaerts to score from third base to give the Sox the lead and, eventually, the game. Rafael Devers homered as Boston increased its lead in the AL East to ten and a half games and reduced its magic number for clinching the division to six.

Orioles 5, Athletics 3: The A’s had a six-game winning streak and the Orioles had a six-game losing streak coming into this one. Streaks: ended. Dylan Bundy allowed two runs on six hits and struck out eight in six innings. Tim Beckham hit a two-run single and John Andreoli and Breyvic Valera each knocked in a run as well. Jace Peterson knocked in the final O’s run with an RBI double and the O’s pen squelched a would-be eighth inning rally for Oakland.

Dodgers 9, Cardinals 7Manny Machado homered, drove in three runs and made a nifty barehand play at short as well. David Freese had a big hit against his old mates, tripling in two runs in the first inning and helping Los Angeles build an early 8-1 lead. The Cards came back late, bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but a less-than-dominant Kenley Jansen closed it out. Pretty? Nah. But L.A. pulled to within one game of the second Wild Card slot, currently held by St. Louis. Three more games to go in this series.

Royals 6, Twins 4Heath Fillmyer allowed four runs but pitched into the eighth inning and the Royals came back from a small early deficit thanks to back-to-back homers from Sal Perez and Jorge Bonafacio in the sixth. Play of the game, though, was made by a non-roster participant:

Often when such plays happen the announcer will joke “sign that guy to a contract!” Given the state of the Royals these days it’d likely only be a partial joke. Like, no, the Royals wouldn’t sign him, but I’m not willing to say that a low level intern was not at least asked to, you know, do some quick checking on the guy’s high school stats or what have you.

If 2020 season is cancelled, which players would be hurt the most?

Miguel Cabrera
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
1 Comment

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.)