Ok, here we go. Time for the individual winners of the 2020 MLB season. I believe the number one accomplishment and the pinnacle of baseball stats, is batting average. Why? Because it shows me how consistent a hitter was during the course of a season. All that WIP, OPS, WAR, etc, etc are just analytic, saber-metric, “mumbo-jumbo” to me. Maybe BABIP (Batting Average of Balls In Play) makes some sense. I repeat, some sense. Yet I don’t get why we really need that because it eliminates strikeouts and walks. Walks don’t count as at bats yet the player is on base, same as a hit. Ever hear, “A walk’s as good as a hit” before? Why not calculate it into the formula for batting average?
Ok, getting a little too political here and boy aren’t we all tired of that stuff? So let’s see, the Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu finished with a BA of .364 in 50 games to lead not only the American League but all of baseball in that category. The National League saw the youngest player to ever win the batting title, the Nationals’ young star, Juan Soto, who compiled a .351 BA in 47 games. The Yankees also had the Major League leader in home runs with Luke Voit powering 22 into the seats in 56 games.
The pitching leaders this year brought us equally interesting stats. It should be a no brainer for the American League Cy Young Award winner. That being Cleveland’s Shane Bieber, who had an 8-1 record over 12 starts with a 1.63 ERA. His 12 walks and major league leading 122 strikeouts along with a .167 opponent BA were amazing. The National League Cy Young will probably go to Cincinnati’s eccentric renaissance man, Trevor Bauer, who was Bieber’s teammate in Cleveland last year. He was 5-4 with a 1.73 ERA in 11 starts to go along with 17 walks, 100 strikeouts and a .159 BA by opponents. WOW, Those are impressive stats.
But, and it is a big but, how will we look at all of this in a few years? Keep in mind, there were only 60 games played instead of 162. 102 games where so many things could have happened, both good and bad. Maybe Bieber strikes out 300 batters and wins 26 games? Or Bauer wins 20 games? The possibility of Voit hitting 55 home runs would have been fun to watch.
Now for the “I’m not buying it” part of this being a real qualifier for players lifetime achievements, their trophy cases or credit towards their Hall of Fame votes in the future. Bauer was credited with two complete game shutouts in two separate seven inning games of doubleheaders. Years from now those will be a part of his lifetime totals. The amount of asterisks needed for stats in the year 2020 will be “Asterisk-nominal.”
Lets face it, the stats for 2020 that will count for most of us, will be the game stats. Home runs in a game, nine inning no-hitters, etc, etc. Seven inning game stats are bogus for pitchers. Also, 102 extra games were more likely to see those batting averages deflated. Yes, LeMahieu did hit .348 for Colorado in 2016 in 146 games but .368 over those same 146 games would probably not happen.
Granted what these winners did over 60 games is still quite amazing. Too bad none of us were able to actually see them play in person. We remember the things we saw live at a ballpark longer than the things we see on TV. Oh well, kind of puts this unprecedented short season in perspective. It will always be remembered for when it was, rather then what it was. This game is built around stats and records and this year, unfortunately, will be about the Coronavirus.
And now, on to the playoffs. 16 teams playing in ballparks other than their own with no home field advantage. So finally, except for the addition of 6 more teams and no fans, it’s the closest we will see to a normal baseball season.
Or is it, “A dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. Is it the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, lying between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge? Is it the dimension of imagination? Is it an area which we call The Twilight Zone?” (From: The Twilight Zone. 1959 TV series)