As you may have heard, the MLB and MLBPA finally agreed to start the MLB season in late July and play 60 games. Due to this agreement, teams are expected to report for a shortened spring training on July 1st, COVID-19 increases be damned. First and foremost, let’s all agree, that would make it summer training. Weird.
No One Won Despite the 60 Game Deal
Now, I’m not going to analyze the negotiations between the players and owners regarding restarting this season. I’m not going to dive into who was more wrong; you can read about that in some great pieces by my Turf colleagues here, here and here.
The TL;DR version: no one came out of this looking good. The owners are penny-wise and pound foolish, and the MLB just lost some young fans that they couldn’t afford to lose.
60 Games & the Inevitable Asterisk
What I will focus on are the bizzaro MLB playoffs that would’ve ensued if the 2019 season ended after 60 games. My hope is to shed light on what 2020 will bring. Since this year is so unpredictable, trying to find patterns is a Sisyphean task, but I’ve got time to kill. So let’s roll this rock up the hill.
Spoiler alert: your 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals don’t even make the playoffs in a 60 game 2019 season. Due to the red flags that throws up, consider this your reminder of the giant asterisk that will be added to whatever team wins the 2020 World Series.
Note: I’ve included each team’s record after 60 games first, and their 162 game record in parenthesis
- New York Yankees: 38-22 (103-59)
- Tampa Bay Rays: 37-23 (96-66)
- Boston Red Sox: 31-29 (84-78)
- Toronto Blue Jays: 22-38 (67-95)
- Baltimore Orioles: 19-41 (54-108)
Normal so far. The Yankees (boo) win the division in this shortened 60 game season, which also happened after the full season. On the plus side, the 60 game season would’ve provided a bit more excitement with the Rays only one game back at the end instead of *checks notes* seven games.
- Minnesota Twins: 40-20 (101-61)
- Cleveland Indians: 30-30 (93-69)
- Chicago White Sox: 29-31 (72-89)
- Detroit Tigers: 23-37 (47-114)
- Kansas City Royals: 19-41 (59-103)
Welp, it looks like ending the season after 60 games isn’t as crazy as I thought. These standings, again, are in line with what happened after the full season with the Twins on top.
What fans do miss out on is some wild card drama thanks to the Indians. Cleveland turned their 30-30 record into 93-69 after 162 games. Impressive. So, shortening things had no major impact in terms of the standings, but we do lose a storyline.
- Houston Astros: 40-20 (107-55)
- Texas Rangers: 32-28 (97-65)
- Oakland A’s: 30-30 (97-65)
- Los Angeles Angels: 29-31 (78-84)
- Seattle Mariners: 25-35 (68-94)
We really need to appreciate how indicative a 30-30 start is of a scorching end to the season. Look at the A’s! Just like the Indians, they went off to end the season. They finished the year 67-35 and ended up with a 97-65 record. But without that resurgence, they do not make the bizarro 2019 playoffs. Instead, the Rangers slide into that wild card spot.
Oh, and the *stros still win the division. If that interests you.
- Philadelphia Phillies: 33-27 (81-81)
- Atlanta Braves: 33-27 (97-65)
- New York Mets: 28-32 (86-76)
- Washington Nationals: 27-33 (93-69)
- Miami Marlins: 23-37 (57-105)
Oh, hell yes. Let’s. Get. Weird. As you may remember, the Washington Nationals not only made the playoffs in 2019 – they ended up winning the damn World Series.
But in this 60 game season, the Nats don’t get a chance to go on their famous second half tear and rattle off 66 wins to finish 93-69. They don’t get to secure a wild card spot and give D.C. a playoff run to remember. Instead, Bryce Harper gets the last laugh and takes his Phillies to the playoffs as the division champs. Sorry Nats fans.
Also, pour one out for the Braves, because they go from winning the division to barely making the playoffs as the second wild card team. The shortened format claims another victim.
- Milwaukee Brewers: 34-26 (89-73)
- Chicago Cubs: 34-26 (84-78)
- St. Louis Cardinals: 31-29 (91-71)
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 29-31 (69-93)
- Cincinnati Reds: 28-32 (75-87)
Cubs fans, rejoice. Instead of finishing the season in third place and missing the playoffs, you get to go to the postseason for the fifth year in a row. Oh, and the Cardinals don’t win the division or go to the playoffs. Wrigleyville stand up!
Also, this would’ve been one hell of a glow up for the Brew Crew. Instead of making the playoffs as a wild card, they win the division. And, just for fun, this means they get Christian Yelich back from injury since that fractured kneecap didn’t happen until game 144. What might’ve been, right?
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 41-19 (106-56)
- Colorado Rockies: 31-29 (71-91)
- San Diego Padres: 31-29 (70-92)
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 30-30 (85-77)
- San Francisco Giants: 25-35 (77-85)
I mean, are you surprised? This division could’ve played 15 games and I’m sure the Dodgers would’ve been the clearly superior team. They were on an absolute tear last year, until they were upset by the Nats.
Also, note how fast the Rockies and Padres faded to end the full season. That is some top tier “let’s just mail this in” work. And shoutout to the Diamondbacks for joining the start-30-and-30-then-go-on-a-tear club. Elite company.
Winners & Losers After 60 Games in 2019
- Chicago Cubs (Secure 1st NL WC spot)
- Philadelphia Phillies (Win NL East)
- Milwaukee Brewers (Win NL Central)
- Texas Rangers (Secure 2nd AL WC spot)
- Washington Nationals (Miss WC, no WS victory)
- Atlanta Braves (Lose NL East)
- St. Louis Cardinals (Lose NL Central)
- Oakland A’s (Miss 2nd WC spot)
- Teams that started 30-30
Hopefully, we see the best, most deserving teams in the 2020 playoffs when October rolls around. But, based on the changes that stem from shortening the 2019 season, I doubt that’ll be the case. Just think of all those great second half runs we’ll miss out on. Looks like we’re in for a strange season.
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