Baseball is a numbers game, and hindsight is 20/20, but looking back at 2020 for years to come will be quite a head-scratcher upon initial glances.
Major League Baseball, if a 60-game season — as pushed by commissioner Rob Manfred after weeks and weeks of owners and players tossing the hot potato back and forth — actually happens, statistics will take on a drastically different look.
Inevitably, an asterisk will be placed next to potentially wild numbers.
The following is a possibility of what we may see:
• A .400 hitter. It hasn’t happened since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941, but it nearly occurred in a strike-shortened 1994 year — when Tony Gwynn hit .394. Here’s the crazy thing: Ted Williams had 185 hits in 1941. A .400 batter in 2020, if the player averages the same at-bats per game as Williams did nearly 80 years ago, will need just 76 hits to reach the magic mark.
On the contrary in 2020, we may see some sluggers struggle to hit their stride — the Mendoza line (.200) may be hovered upon.
• The winningest pitcher in the league may not even reach 10 victories. Tallying 20 wins is becoming a rare feat these days. In a normal 162-game season, that’s a win every 1.62 starts (if a pitcher starts every five days). A win every 1.62 starts in 2020 would equate to about seven W’s.
• League leaders in main offensive categories often viewed as traditional measurables such as home runs, RBIs and runs will be extraordinarily low. The league leader in home runs in 2019 was Pete Alonso (53). Alonso averaged a dinger every 11.3 at-bats. If he hits bombs at the same rate this year, he’ll be at 19 looking for 20 on the last day of the regular season.
Ninety RBIs is considered a pretty productive year. In 2020, using that same qualifier, 33 RBIs will be a solid season. The same goes for runs.
As for stolen bases, eight steals will be respectable.
Baseball is usually a long season, complete with streaks, slumps, peaks and lumps. A 60-game campaign won’t be normal, but what about 2020 has been?
Just call it par for the course. And just like in golf, a low number may not be so bad after all.
Reach AARON SNYDER at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.