As the summer rolls along and the Pandemic keeps getting worse and worse in the United States, the Red Sox and the rest of the Major League Baseball teams are going to play baseball this year. As has been reported before, the schedule will be 60 games and will begin at the end of July. The stadiums will likely have no fans, which regardless of your opinions on the matter, is not going to change. The player and fan safety are important. So, in order to make that happen their likely will not be fans in the stands.
A shortened season is normally going to favor the best teams with the best pitching depth and best lineup. This season is going to be the furthest thing from normal and probably will never happen again. Players and coaches are going to get sick, teams are going to have a revolving door of players playing every year. The season will be uncomfortable, stressful, and scary. As mentioned above, whether you think the players should be playing or not, the reality is they are going to, and the fans are in for a very weird season. What are some things that could potentially happen this year?
The MLB player pool has been expanded to 60 players this season. Each team can move players to and from the MLB roster of 26 players. Since the players are going to be tested frequently every few days up to every week in some cases. Do not be surprised if teams have a revolving door of a new batch of 26 players every 14 days. If a player on the active roster test positive the MLB may decide to quarantine the current roster and the roster of the opponents, they played for 14 days leading to another fresh crop of players. The cycle will then repeat itself every 14 days. This is going to allow the organization to keep a fresh batch of heathy players and will allow them the flexibility to keep their other players as healthy as possible. It is also going to be an added opportunity for the organizations to evaluate talent at the Major League level against Major League talent when those players otherwise would not have gotten a chance to show what they can do in a normal year.
Players and some key players have already opted out of the year, citing safety reasons as their main reason for not playing. Personally, I don’t blame the players for having reservations on playing. Keeping yourself, family and those around you should be the biggest priority. I commend those who have taken a stand and are not going to play. It remains to be seen what happens when a player gets sick and when that player is a high-profile player like Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, JD Martinez etc. It can’t be understated that those players could get sick and if they do, they may opt to sit the rest of the season out. If that is the case, it will drastically alter the seasons for those teams.
The world is a different place right now, with the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement that many other players may also choose to go the route that Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond has chosen. Desmond has chosen to sit the year out because he feels that by him playing baseball it would do an injustice and take light away from the Black Lives Matter movement. This is also something that is going to have to be considered. Other players may feel the same way and eventually give up on the season. I commend those athletes for doing what they feel is right in their hearts. No fan wants to see a player out there not giving it their all.
What if there were teams who won less than 10 games this season? Looking at the rosters of the Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers that does not seem that extreme. These three teams were likely going to lose over 100 games this season anyway and now that the season is only 60 games and with the likely volatility of the roster it wont be surprising to see just this happen. Would it be unprecedented? Yes. Is it still unlikely to happen? Yes but it is fun to think about it and will be something to watch.
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On the other side of the coin, say a team gets hot for a month and a half, which happens every single year and that team also stays relatively healthy. Some surprise team like the Mariners or Angels could make a run to the World Series. That is a scenario that is extremely likely to happen, both of those teams have good enough rosters to go on a run. The Angels were a team many were high on when the year was set to begin especially with a healthy Ohtani in the rotation. The Angels have a favorable schedule this year and are one team who has a great chance to make the postseason.
Next comes the ever-controversial topic of a pitching rotation. Ideally every team would like to have five guys who can run out there every fifth day. With only 60 games and that every team is going to have players get sick, it would be a miracle if any player gets more than 7 starts. This is going to be a weird year. It could go the way of the college system where each team has a designated pitcher for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then they try and piece it together the rest of the week. Many of these teams are going to announce their rotation but it is going to be up in the air given the health of every player. This year’s Cy Young award is going to look a lot different than in years past, especially with a smaller sample size.
If anyone hits 30 homers given the climate and the possibility, they may get sick it would be nothing short of a miracle and should be awarded properly with the MVP award. However, since players will get less at bats look for the statistical categories to have lower minimums to win a batting title and other offensive categories. Can someone hit .400 with less at bats? Still probably no, but the chance of it happening this year is greater. 100 RBI’s won’t happen, 50 doubles won’t happen, 30 steals likely wont happen, and the best one yet for hitters who don’t make a lot of contact it is going to be really hard to rack up 100 strikeouts on the ledger this year.
This has already been the weirdest year of anyone’s lives especially for those of us in the 25-40 age range. Sports are slowly going to help all of us who love sports return to some sense of normalcy. The Red Sox look to be a tad bit behind the Yankees overall and the questions around the Red Sox pitching staff are warranted. Don’t put too much stock into this season as it is going to get extremely weird for all teams. Just sit back relax, stay home, wear your masks and enjoy it.