CONTEST #1: How will the COVID-19 virus affect the 2021 MLB season? Include some Overall Predictions as well as some Specific Ones. Creativity is encouraged. I’ll choose the five best submissions and have MillersTime baseball contestants vote on the winner:
Winner as chosen by you readers was #2: Very little overall. There will be some hand-wringing about vaccinations, but the season will happen and a champion will be crowned. Attendance will increase throughout the season, and the World Series will have a completely full stadium.
BRANDT & SAMANTHA TILIS who submitted that answer are the winners. As their Prize, they get to join me at a Nats’ game next year, or I’ll join them for a regular season MLB game of their choice anywhere they choose, at my expense (for the cost of the tickets and refreshments only).
(Full Disclosure: Brandt ‘happens’ to be my son-in-law and Samantha is his daughter and therefore my five year old granddaughter. Fortunately, I do not vote in any of the Contests and the selection in Contest #1 was chosen by readers/contestants who voted for this anonymously listed submission.)
CONTEST #3: Five Fill in the Blanks & Five True/False Questions.
There were five submissions that all answered seven of the 10 questions correctly:
Daniel Fischberg, Jeff Friedman, Larry Longenecker, Ed Scholl, & Matt Wax-Krell.
By dint of being the earliest submission, ED SCHOLL is the winner and his Prize is to join me (along with another guest of his choice) for any Nats’ game in the 2022 season. (If I’m not available, or if he prefers, he can choose to take two others with him to that Nats’ game.
Additional Prizes for those who sent in questions that were chosen for the 2021 Contests: – Tim Malieckal, Zach Haile, Dawn Wilson, and Steve King: Choose either to join me, and you can bring a friend, for a game of your choice with the Nats in 2022 or get one of the MillersTime Contest Winners Exclusive T-Shirts. Let me know which you choose.
And if you missed the winners of Contests #2 & #4, check here.
*** *** *** ***
For anyone interested in attending Nats’ games next year, here is an offer from a friend, Jim Cooke, a long time Nats’ season ticket holder:
I have a full season plan for a pair of seats at Nats Park in Section 117 (3rd Base Dugout Box), Row K, seven rows from the field, 90 feet from home plate. I’m relocating to Philadelphia and would like to hold onto them for the sake of three current partners. The seats are available at cost ($80 per), so a 10-game share costs $1,600. You pick the games you want in a draft of dates in early March. For more information, please contact me at my cell phone number (240) 731-9576. Thank you, Jim Cooke.
First, a thank you to Bill P., Brian S., David E., Ed S, Chris B., Elliott T., Matt W-K, Carrie T., and Anonymous for your comments on the shortened season. You can read what they said by going Here. Good stuff.
Second, I’m re-posting what MillersTime Baseball Contestants predicted at the beginning of this abnormal season started. See Baseball’s Back! Your Predictions. Again, lots to show the ‘wisdom’ and a bit of foolishness from MillersTime readers.
Third, The Athletic, the newish go to source for some of today’s best baseball (and some other sports) writing just came out with the results of a baseball survey that sums up how almost 7,000 fans felt about some of baseball’s changes and new rules. A few surprises and lots of agreement on what this year’s 60-game season has revealed.
The Athletic’s state of baseball survey results: Following up as season closes by Jason Jenks, The Athletic,
As this one-of-a-kind season winds down, The Athletic wanted to circle back to see how fans felt about some of baseball’s changes and new rules.
Nearly 7,000 people responded. Let’s get to the results.
This has gone up from our survey before the season when just 66 percent of respondents said a World Series would be legitimate.
This one was really interesting. A total of 76 percent of fans of American League teams are in favor of the universal DH; the exact same percentage from our survey before the season.
NL-centric fans have pretty significantly changed their feelings. Before the season, 56 percent of fans of NL teams were against the universal DH. But after watching the DH in action, that number dropped to 43 percent. Before the season, a whopping 80 percent of Cardinals fans were against the DH; in this most recent survey, that total dropped to 58 percent. They were one of five teams whose fans were against the DH (Nationals, Cardinals, Pirates, Diamondbacks).
In the AL, White Sox fans were really in favor of the universal DH (85 percent) after watching their team rake this year. Two other AL fans crossed the 80-percent threshold, and neither should be surprising: the Yankees (81 percent) and the Twins (80 percent).
One fan had a particularly interesting comment: “Before this crazy season, I was adamantly opposed to the universal DH. Now, although I still don’t love it, I could live with it.”
Full disclosure: I hated this rule when I first heard about it. Absolutely hated it. But when I watched it … I liked it. If nothing else, it induced drama right away.
Several fans said that while they enjoyed the rule, they think it should start in the 11th or 12th inning. “Let them have an inning or two the normal way,” one person wrote. That seems like a sensible compromise to me.
One fan who liked it wrote, “The extra inning rule has added an excitement not just to extra innings but also adds even more importance to finishing a game off in the ninth.” Another added, “The extra-inning rule has been surprisingly good. I’m here for a good time, not a long time.”
But those people were in the minority. Wrote one fan, “The extra inning rule does the most violence to the fabric of the game and fixes a nonexistent problem.” Another person compared it to college football’s overtime rules. While still another said it felt like the rule was intended just to “get it over with.”
One person who was against the minimum made this point: “I don’t care for the three-batter minimum because I don’t think it helps make things any faster, making it pointless.” Our Cliff Corcoran did the math earlier this year and figured that the minimum would save … 34 seconds per game.
Here are some other reactions:
“I like the three-batter rule if only because it allows the pitcher to show he’s more than a one-trick pony.”
“It means a bullpen has to be filled with capable pitchers, not just specialists.”
“Absolutely loathe the three-batter rule. LOATHE. Kills the strategy and excitement of those old games. They were like a chess match.”
“Three batters is a superficial attempt to solve the time issue.”
This was a lot of people’s least-favorite change (The other most common answer was the extra-inning rule). One fan wrote that it turned the sport into a “carnival act.” Another liked it because it made “starting pitching have similar value to years past.”
Here are some other responses:
“Seven-inning double header is solid idea. Over the course of the 162 game season you only would have a handful, and it keeps the players fresher.”
“I don’t necessarily love the seven-inning doubleheader’s, but I like doubleheaders, so if that’s how we have them, then I’m for that.”
“I liked the seven-inning double headers as long as they keep it single admission.”
“I liked that there were more doubleheaders, so much baseball in one day. That those games were seven-inning affairs made it possible for me to listen/watch the whole thing.”
“Seven-inning doubleheaders are anticlimactic every time.”
“Seven-inning doubleheaders are not baseball. It’s trash. I understand it for this season just to be able to get through the games. But it’s not something I’d ever want to see become the norm.”
This one was a little surprising. Before the season, 57 percent of people were against the expanded postseason. But now that it’s here, that number jumped up to almost 71 percent.
One person wrote, “I like a limited expanded playoffs, but eight teams is too many, and the seeding is random and stupid.” Another said, “I think that expanded playoffs dilute the competition, especially the regular season.” And still another person chimed in with, “I’m most against an expanded postseason that does not reward division winners. I don’t mind an expanded field, per se, but there should be a better incentive for teams to win their division beyond just three home games in the first round.”
This one really seemed to bother a lot of people:
“My greatest concern is growing the game. Every choice MLB makes is about short-term financial gains at the expense of future growth and engaging the next generation of fans. I mean seriously, MLB is eliminating minor-league teams, heavily attended by families and kids.”
“Without the minors, for me it’s like one-third of baseball, because I’m the rare fan who follows all of my team’s minor league teams.”
“Great that teams are playing, but fearful of the consequences of no minor leagues and impact on next generation of players.”
“I am sad to see what could be the implosion of the minor-league system as we know it. … While I have been to only a few major-league games in person, much of my love of baseball comes from summers at all sorts of minor-league stadiums.”
“Canceling minor-league baseball was bad for the players but mostly for the small towns that support the teams.”
“I understand why the minor leagues aren’t playing this season, but I don’t like the negative effects on player development and the possible future of the minors in general.”
Here are some responses across the spectrum:
“The D-backs being terrible ruined the whole thing for me, but as a league I think the season went better than expected after the ridiculous labor arguments and early COVID issues. Granted I had very low expectations early on.”
“Good year to experiment. I wish that they tried more things to quicken the pace of the game.”
“It’s a season with multiple asterisks.”
“Short and sweet.”
“Made the games more important.”
“I would have liked even more experimentation. It’s been tough to get overly excited by the season when 50 percent of teams will make the postseason.”
“This season is a joke. Players and owners alike are to blame. They fiddled around and now we’re stuck with a shortened season, ridiculous rules and accommodations to make the season ‘work.’ I’m boycotting MLB this year. I may or may not be back.”
“The season’s sprint to the finish really has me believing a shorter season could be more fun for all.”
“The shortened season has given us a chance to see what the sport might look like if we didn’t have 150 years of history telling us it was something else. Baseball needs to ask itself what it wants to be. Does it want to be more like basketball, with a shorter number of regular season games and a longer postseason? Or does it want to embrace its history and everyday nature and keep the regular season meaningful?”
I was curious if people would change their minds after watching a shortened season. They didn’t. At least not much.
Before the season, just 2.2 percent of respondents thought the ideal season consisted of fewer than 100 games. That number actually went down (slightly) to just 1.9 percent.
Not much change from the survey before the season, when 38 percent percent of fans expressed no confidence at all in Manfred and 47 percent said they weren’t very confident.
Thanks to all who participated in both surveys. Enjoy the postseason.
Here are the revised Contest questions for the ‘Proposed’ 60-Game Season:
Assuming the 60-game plan generally works, and the 2020 ‘season’ contains at least 45 games, how will your favorite team do?
Name your team and predict their win-lose record
for the 60 games.
Will they make the playoffs?
Will they make it to the WS?
Will they win the WS?
Name the three Division winners in the AL & the NL.
Prize: Assuming fans can safely attend games in 2021, join me for a Nats’ game of your choice, or I will join you for a game of your choice anywhere you choose.
True or False Questions:
The 60 game season will not happen as it is presently scheduled, i.e., the season will be shortened by anywhere between five to 60 games.
There will be at least one hitter with at least 100 AB who will hit .400 or higher. (Submitted by Zack Haile)
There will be no starting pitcher who wins 10 games or more.
No one will hit more than 23 HRs. (Submitted by Rob Higdon)
At least one team in each league will win 42 or more games?
One or more games in each of the three Divisions will be played in front of a crowd.
Only one Division winner will make it to the WS.
At least one MLB starting pitcher will win 8 games or more without a loss and at least one MLB starting pitcher will lose 8 games or more without a win.
Over the course of the 60-game season (or even if the season is shortened), the National League will outscore the American League for the first time in the last 45 seasons. (Ron Davis)
At least one of these teams (Red Sox, Angels, Giants, White Sox) will make it to the postseason. (Chris Boutourline)
Prize: Assuming there is a season next year, bring a friend and join me for a Nats’ game in 2021, or if you’re not able to make it to DC, perhaps I can make it to where you live, and we’ll see a game together.
Assuming there is a World Series,
Name the two teams who will make it to the WS.
Which one will win?
In how many games?
Tie-breaker: Which AL or NL Division will have the most wins?
Which AL or NL Division will have the least wins?
Prize: One ticket to a WS game in 2021, assuming there is a WS.
What will be the main ‘take aways’ from having a 60 game, or shorter, season? (I will ‘crowd source’ what I think are the top five answers, so everyone can partake in deciding who wins this Contest.)
On or about July 23rd or 24th, a 60 game ‘season’ will begin.
How far it will go, what it will be like (compared to an 162 games season), whether it will shortened by the virus, or is it possible there will be fans in the stadiums before the season ends?
No one knows the answers to those and a number of other questions about MLB in 2020.
But we do know some things:
Look at the two articles below, the first outlines the main the guidelines and ‘rules’ under which the teams will compete. The second is an attempt to calculate if a 60 game season will need asterisks in the baseball history books. (Ed. Comment: Of course it will, but for those of you who like to get into the ‘weeds’ of baseball, it’s an interesting look at how 60 games can be compared to 162 games.)
Whether or not you read either of these articles, I need your suggestions for a three question MillersTime Baseball Contest for 2020.
And I need them quickly.
By Sunday, July 5.
That way I can get the Contests out to everyone in time for you to submit your award winning answers prior to the first game.
So, see what you can come up with in regard to this “season like no other.”
Send them to me at Samesty84@gmail.com., and if one of your questions is chosen, you will be ‘entitled’ to a MillersTime Baseball Contest Winner T-Shirt.* (You can also make suggestions for the prizes for this year’s Contests.)
Deadline for Potential Questions: Sunday, July 5
Contests Will Be Announced by Friday, July 10
Submission for Your ‘Winning’ Answers Due by July 23rd.
I don’t want to try to summarize Joe Posnaski’s blog this morning, other than to say it’s definitely worth the few minutes it will take you to read it. Don’t get lost on the details of his solution. Just focus on how he is thinking of a whole new way to imagine a 2020 baseball season.
This morning’s baseball ‘news’ is that both sides remain deadlocked after MLB rejects the lastest Players Association proposal. I suspect (hope?) there will be some last minute agreement between the players and owners. Likely an 80+ game season without fans, at least initially, in three realigned divisions with an expanded playoff scenario, with many built in safety measures , re COVID-19, and with a pay scale that won’t satisfy either side but will allow the game to continue.
My two cents, without getting into the weeds of the negotiations – who’s right, who’s wrong – is that both sides need to step back, take a longer view of where the country is now, where baseball may be headed, and come together to preserve some semblance of the game for now.
As is so often the case, Joe Posnanski, one of my favorite baseball writers, hits on what is essential in his blog post yesterday: The Future of Baseball.
Joe’s wordy, but knows and loves baseball and most often seems to get things right. This article is not another lecture about baseball as a dying sport, but really a plea for understanding what is at stake.
In part, he writes:
“What you see, I believe, is a shortsightedness, a submission to the moment, a perpetual fight over the game’s riches. This last part, in particular, has played out over the last few weeks while a global pandemic rages on, and do you think most people care if it’s the owners or the players who are at fault? No. Most people just see that people can’t come together, even now, for this game that they’re all supposed to love.
“So who can blame someone for asking: If that’s how they treat this game, why in the hell should I care?
He writes about Dayton Moore, a friend with whom he disagrees about many things, but about baseball, Joe thinks Moore gets it right:
“THIS is how baseball should be thinking about everything, not just now but always: How can we celebrate baseball? How can we reach new audiences? How can we bring live, exciting baseball to more communities (and for less money)? How can we show young people how much fun the game is to play and watch and follow? How can we get into communities? How can we make a difference? How can we draw more young people?
“There aren’t easy answers. But there are no answers if you don’t take the time to ask the questions. If I was commissioner, I would put Dayton Moore in charge of the game’s future.”
With news yesterday and probably more details later today, it appears there maybe a baseball season consisting of 82 games starting in July. There are details remaining to work out, including the two biggest issues of finances for both the MLB owners and the players as well as safety concerns for the players and those who will participate in the shortened season.
At least at the beginning, there will be no fans present.
Baseball without fans?
It’s happening in Korea now, since their season opened about a week ago, without fans in the stadium. (It also happened once previously, for one game in Baltimore in 2015, for a game between the Orioles and the White Sox.)
And while it’s too early to really evaluate how significant the absence of spectators in the stadium is affecting the game in Korea, it’s clear that things are not the same.
Time will tell if this substitute for the real thing is safe, is satisfying, is something that helps everyone in these troubled times.
All of this, the absence of one of my life’s obsessions, baseball, and the role of sports in the lives of people everywhere, but in this instance particularly in our country is ‘explored in the two links below: one a 4:29 minute YouTube video of President Bush throwing out the opening pitch of game three in the World Series at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 30th, following 9/11 (hat/tip to Jere Smith for the update on this) and one a recent article in the NYTimes entitled The Healing Power of Baseball by Franklin Zimmerman, M.D. (hat/tip to Harry Siler for alerting me to this article).
If the current allegations that my beloved Red Sox illegally stole signs in the 2018 baseball season using video replay, they should pay the heaviest of prices.
No matter that other teams do and did something similar.
No matter that it could only happen if there was a runner on second.
No matter any of the other excuses that are being made.
They, and other MLB teams, had been explicitly warned by MLB against this sign stealing.
They had been caught and fined earlier for using an Apple watch to relay signs.
Using technology to cheat, which is increasingly possible and available, cheapens the game, and cheaters need to know that continuing to do so will cost them heavily.
Just as the penalties now for use of PEDS (performance enhancing drugs) have become severe, so too should the penalties for this cheating be severe.
MLB , in my humble opinion, should throw the book at the Sox:
Suspend Alex Cora (whom I’ve greatly admired, until now) for a year from managing. And a second infraction under his watch, if he returns to baseball, should result in his permanent removal from baseball.
The Red Sox should lose their first two draft picks in the coming year.
The Red Sox should be fined a significant amount of money (in the millions).
Any further such violations by the Red Sox, these penalities should double.
Well now that the 2019 baseball season has come to a (wonderful) conclusion, it’s time to announce the various winners of the MillersTime Baseball Contests for this year.
Name the two teams who will play in the 2019 World Series, which team will it all, and if a tie-breaker is necessary, what is the total number of games it will take to win it all this year?
The clear winner is Joe Higdon who predicted the Washington Nationals would defeat the Houston Astros.
The runner-up was Jeff Friedman, a past winner, who predicted the Astros would beat the Nats.
They both said the series would go six games. Fortunately, for all, it took seven, but the tie-breaker was not necessary as far as determining the winner of this contest..
Joe wins one ticket to the 2020 World Series, which hopefully will be in Boston or Washington. Or in both places!
Jeff (and guest) can join me in DC for a Nats’ game.
Pick your favorite MLB team, and prove you’re not a ‘homer’ by predicting your team’s 2019 regular season record, whether they’ll make it to the playoffs, and if so, how far will they go. Also, what will be the determining factor in their season?
This contest was a much more difficult one to choose the winner.
Basically, Yankee fans were good on their team’s record, but not so good on how far they would go in the playoffs. (Fortunately, in my humble opinion, they lost 4-2 in the ALCS.)
Red Sox fans did even worse, overrating their record. Plus, the Sox didn’t even make it into the playoffs. (So sad.)
Orioles’ fans did well predicting their losing record, etc., but that wasn’t too difficult a call. And one Mets’ fan predicted their won-loss record exactly but erroneously said they’d make it into the playoffs.
Two Nats’ fans, Ronnie Davis & Joe Higdon, were close on the won-loss portion of this contest, and both had them winning the World Series.
Ben Senturia, a long suffering Cards’ fan, had St. Louis with the exact won-loss record (91-71) and predicted they’d lose in the NLCS (which they did to you know whom).
By the power granted to me by me, I’m declaring this contest a three-way tie.
Ben Senturia and Bronwen get to join me at Nats’ park for a Cards vs Nats game at a convenient time in the future. Alternatively, Ellen and I could make our way to St. Louis and spring for four tickets there.
Joe and Ronnie each get two seats to a Nats’ game in 2020, and I’ll likely join each of them for those games.
Choose which League will win the All Star game in 2019, and name one AL and one NL team who will be leading their Division on July 9. Tie-breakers: Name the first MLB player to hit 25 HRs and the first MLB pitcher to win 12 games.
This contest winner was announced on MillersTime previously, but I repeat those results here for full disclosure.
A dozen of you got the right answer to Part 1 (American League) along with an AL & NL team leading in their Division:
Ed Scholl, Andrew & Noah Cate, Todd Endo, Jeff Friedman, Matt Wax-Krell, Brandt & Samantha Tilis, Chris Eacho, Justin Barrasso, Maury Maniff, Jesse Maniff, Jon Frank, Tim Malieckal.
The Tie-Breaker separated the pack. Many of you seemed to choose individuals who were particularly good last year.
No one got both the first to hit 25 home runs (Christian Yellich) and the first to 12 wins (Lance Lynn).
But one of you did identify Yellich who just barely beat out Alonso and Bellinger:
So Tim Malieckal wins.
Tim and a friend can join me for a Nats’ game of his choice next year. If he can’t make it to DC, maybe I can make it to see a Mets’ game, and we’ll go together at my expense.
True or False:
A. The New York Yankees WILL win the AL East in 2019.TRUE.
B. The Washington Nationals WILL win the NL East in 2019. False.
C. There will be at least one 20 game winning pitcher in each League in 2019. False. (None in NL).
D. No pitcher in MLB will have two complete shutout games (from Ben Senturia).False. (Three did – Giolito, Alcantara, & Bieber).
E. At least two teams in 2019 will loose 100 games or more. True. (Four had the dishonor of so doing – O’s, Royals, Tigers, Marlins).
F. A manager will be fired by the All Star game (from Brent Schultz). False.
G. In 2019 the two AL and the two NL Wild Card teams will each come from the same Division in their League.False. (All four were from different Divisions.)
H. Either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper will fail to live up to expectations in 2019. Specifically, one of the two will not perform well, will not have a particularly good year as defined by factors such as BA, HRs, RBIs, OPS, Fielding Average, etc. True. (While Harper didn’t live up to the expectations of the Phillies’ fans, he did perform about as well as he had the past couple of years with the Nats. But Machado more clearly makes this question True as in almost all categories he performed less well than he did in 2018.)
I. At least three teams will win 100 games or more in 2019. True. (Four did: Astros – 107, Dodgers – 106, Yankees – 103, Twins – 101).
J. One of Grand Papa’s (c’est moi) grandchildren will witness in person (at an MLB game at least one of the following: a grand slam, a triple play, a no hitter, Teddy winning the President’s race at the Nats’ stadium, will go home with a foul ball, will have his/her picture taken with an MLB team mascot or will be on the TV screen at an MLB stadium.Very True. (Between the three grandchildren living in the DC area, at least one saw a grand slam, one saw Teddy winning a President’s race, one went home with a foul ball, one had his picture taken with the Nats’ mascot, and one was on the big TV screen at Nats’ stadium.)
Three winners. Matt Galati, Jerome Greene, and Jess Maniff each got nine of the ten True/False questions correct.
Monica McHugh and Tim Malieckal had eight correct and are entitled to a MillersTime Winner Baseball Contest T-Shirt. (Monica, please send me shirt size and address. Tim has several T-shirts already. Do you want a Nats’ WS T instead?)
For all five questions, choose the MLB team who in the 2019 season will:
Have the most wins (Astros – 107)
Have the worst BA (Blue Jays – .236)
Have the most errors (Mariners – 132/ .978 FA)
Have the highest pitching save percentage (Blue Jays – 76.7%)
Have the lowest WHIP (Dodgers – 1.10)
These questions, all suggested by MillersTime contestants (and clearly baseball nerds/obsessives, positive virtues imho) proved to be the most difficult as judged by how many of the five questions were predicted correctly.
MLB, with the agreement of the MLB Players Association, have announced the rule changes in effect for 2019 and ones that will go into effect in 2020.
The most significant ones won’t be in effect until next year. But take a look, and see what you think. Maybe we can get a bit of a discussion going.
For me, I don’t really care about speeding up the game, and I don’t like taking away decisions that have been traditionally managers’ prerogatives. Some of the other changes seem to make sense (All Star ones and the change in July 31 trade deadline), without impacting the nature of the game.
But I’m conservative (as far as baseball is concerned) and believe that trying to speed up the game to try to placate our Attention Deficit Disordered audiences is generally a fool’s errand.
Changes for the 2019 Season
Inning Breaks: Subject to discussions with broadcast partners, inning breaks will be reduced from 2:05 to 2:00 in local games, and from 2:25 to 2:00 in national games. (The Office of the Commissioner retains the right to reduce the inning breaks to 1:55 in local and national games for the 2020 season.)
Mound Visits: The maximum number of mound visits per team will be reduced from six to five.
Trade Deadline: The trade deadline will remain July 31st; however, trade waivers will be eliminated. Players may be placed and claimed on outright waivers after July 31st, but players may not be traded after that date.
Joint Committee: MLB and the MLBPA will form a joint committee to study other potential changes.
Game fan voting will be conducted in two rounds. During the “Primary
Round,” each Club will nominate one player per eligible position (three
outfielders), who will be voted on by fans. In late June or early July,
an “Election Day” will be held in which the top three vote-getters at
each position in each League during the Primary Round (including the top
nine outfielders) will be voted on by fans during a prescribed time
period to determine the All-Star Game starters. Further details on the
new fan voting format will be announced in April.
payments will be given to the top three vote-getters at each position
in each League during the Primary Round (top six for outfielders).
Additionally, the prize money awarded to players on the winning All-Star
team will be increased beginning with the 2019 All-Star Game.
Clubs will start the 10th inning of the All-Star Game, and each
subsequent inning, with a runner on second base (re-entry substitutions
allowed for runners).
Home Run Derby: Total
player prize money for the Home Run Derby will be increased to $2.5
million. The winner of the Home Run Derby will receive $1 million.
single July 31 trade deadline means there will likely be a lot more
action. The MLBPA is hopeful that the single deadline will also
incentivize teams to be more aggressive in the offseason knowing that
trades in August are no longer an option. The All-Star Game Election Day
will be a chance for MLB to market its players. Fans will vote online
for All-Star starters, and the top three vote-getters will take part in a
one-day election. (More details on the two-step voting process here.)
Changes for the 2020 Season
Active Roster Provisions:
active roster limit from Opening Day through August 31st and in
Postseason games will increase from 25 to 26, and the minimum number of
active players will increase from 24 to 25. The current Major League
Rules allowing for a 26th player for doubleheaders will be amended to
allow for a 27th player.
Elimination of 40-man active roster
limit in September. From September 1st through the end of the
championship season, all Clubs must carry 28 players on the active
The number of pitchers a Club may carry on the active
roster will be capped at a number determined by the joint committee.
Clubs must designate each of its players as either a pitcher or a
position player prior to each player’s first day on the active roster
for a given season. That designation will remain in effect for the
player, and cannot change, for the remainder of the championship season
and Postseason. No player on the active roster other than those
designated as pitchers by the Club may appear in a championship season
or Postseason game as a pitcher except in the following scenarios:
designated as a “Two-Way Player.” A player qualifies as a “Two-Way
Player” only if he accrues at least 20 Major League innings pitched and
at least 20 Major League games started as a position player or
designated hitter (with at least three plate appearances in each of
those games) in either the current championship season or the prior
Following the ninth inning of an extra-inning game; or
In any game in which his team is losing or winning by more than six runs when the player enters as a pitcher.
Minimum Number of Batters for Pitchers: The
Office of the Commissioner will implement an amended Official Baseball
Rule 5.10(g) requiring that starting pitchers and relief pitchers must
pitch to either a minimum of three batters or the end of a half-inning
(with exceptions for incapacitating injury or illness). The Players
Association has agreed that it will not grieve or otherwise challenge
the Office of the Commissioner’s implementation of the amended Rule
Injured List and Option Period for Pitchers: Subject
to input from the joint committee, the minimum placement period for
pitchers on the Injured List shall increase from 10 days to 15 days, and
the minimum assignment period of pitchers who are optionally assigned
to the minors will increase from 10 days to 15 days.
Correct answer: American League. Fifty-eight per cent of you picked the correct answer, 42 had the National League.
Tie-Breakers: Name the first MLB player to hit 30 HRs and the first MLB pitcher to win 12 games.
Jose Ramirez, Indians, first to 30, followed by JD Martinez, Red Sox 29, and Aaron Judge, Yankees, 26.
Luis Severino, Yankees, won his 12th on June 26 (and now has 14), Corey Kluber, Indians, got his 12th on July 2 and Max Scherzer, Nationals, on July 12. (There are others – Curasco, Lester, Nola & Snell – who are at 12 wins but were not picked by any contestants.)
No one chose either Ramirez as first to 30 HRs or Severino as first to 12 wins.
Not so easy to decide:
1. Tim Malieckal on 3/21 had the American League and Judge & Scherzer.
2. Edan Orgad on 3/21 had National League and Judge & Scherzer.
3. Dawn Wilson on 3/21 had National League and Martinez & Kluber.
4. Justin Stoyer on 3/24 had American League and Judge & Scherzer.
5. Brian Steinbach on 3/24 had National League and Judge & Kluber.
6. Brandt & Samantha Tilis on 3/26 had American League League and Judge & Scherzer.
7. Ellen Miller on 3/27 had American League and Martinez & Scherzer.
8. Jere Smith on 3/27 had American League and Martinez & Sale.
9. Tiffany Lopez on 3/29 had American League and Judge & Scherzer.
10. Eli Orgad on 3/29 had American League and Judge & Scherzer.
For not answering the initial question correctly (Which league will win the All Star Game?), Edan Orgad, Dawn Wilson, and Brian Steinbach are eliminated.
For getting assistance from Richard Miller/Grand Papa, Ellen Miller and Eli Orgad are eliminated.
For only getting close on one of the two Tie-Breaker questions, Jere Smith and Tiffany Lopez are eliminated.
Tim Malieckal wins as a result of his being the first (3/21) to chose the American League and Judge & Scherzer. Tim will join me on Sept. 23 for a Nats vs Mets game in DC, four rows behind the Visitors’ dugout. And, of course, he will receive the ever popular and desiredMillersTime Baseball Winner T-Shirt.
Justin Stoyer (3/24) and Brandt/Samantha Tilis (3/26) are the runners up, predicting the American League and Judge & Scherzer. They will receive the fabulous T-Shirts.
Finally, and happily for some of us, we’re about 10% into the 2018 baseball season, and there are some early indications of what is ahead of us.
First, however, a look at what MillersTime readers, as gleaned from their entries into the annual contest, have predicted for the season:
1. It will be a Dodgers vs Yankees World Series and a toss up as to which team will win it all.
2. The Astros and the Nats will get close but not go all the way.
3. The American League will again win the All Star game (‘”Duh,” as my daughter writes).
4. Giancarlo Stanton will beat Aaron Judge as the first to hit 30 HRs, and Clayton Kershaw will beat Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer to 12 wins.
5. Nats fans think they’ll win 96 games but most don’t believe they’ll get to or win the WS.
6. Sox fans (ever the pessimists) predict 93 wins but little chance of making it into or winning the WS.
7. Yankee fans think their heroes will win 96 and have a good shot at winning it all.
8. Dodger fans say 98.6 wins and have a 33% chance of winning the WS.
9. Pitching seems to be what most of you believe will be the determining factor in how your team fares.
10. Most of you think there will be at least one 20 game winner but no (starting) pitchers with an ERA under 2.0.
11. Most don’t believe Stanton and Judge will hit as many HRs as last year (111) and certainly not 115.
12. Those who believe there will be at least three teams with 100 wins or more slightly out number the doubters.
13. And almost everyone believes that one of my grand kids will witness in person an MLB grand slam, a triple play, a no hitter, an extra inning game, or Teddy winning the President’s race. If one of little tykes had been with me the other night, they would have seen two of those events.
As to how much we can know from the first 10% of the season, it does look as if the Nats are not the shoe-ins many predicted, and the Dodgers are off to a bad start, tho they seem to be trying to overcome that. The Yankees are struggling a bit, and unless their pitching improves, they may not even make it into post season.
On the other hand, the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, and Angels are doing better than predicted, as are the Mets and the Phillies (watch out Nats).
And then there are my heroes, the Sox. As a true Boston fan, I swing back and forth between believing/fearing what’s happening (16-2) is not going to last and hoping that everyone stays healthy and they continue to pitch, hit, and field at the rate they are now doing.
Finally, one big concern: the attendance at MLB is down markedly (see this article). It’s not clear if that is weather related (probably not) or some other factors are at play. So, go to a game. Take a kid. Or a friend or two.
Baseball creates an endless evolutionary cycle where hitters and pitchers battle to find an edge and maintain it. The periods where one side or the other seizes control have often been measured more in decades than years. Earlier this decade, pitchers gained the upper hand and they did so — at least in part — by throwing baseballs really, really fast. The pendulum has now swung back toward the hitters in the past couple seasons, and only time will tell whether that was the result of the ball itself or some other factor. Regardless of how this unfolds, one thing is clear: Those really, really fast pitches are no longer making hitters look silly.
While more pitches than ever have been coming in at 95-plus mph,1 today’s hitters have seemingly adapted, gaining the supernatural ability to hit these pitches. Last year, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group, hitters faced 110,529 fastballs traveling 95 mph or faster. That’s an increase of 124 percent from 2011, when hitters saw the fewest such fastballs in the period (starting in 2009) for which this data is tracked, and a spike of 32.6 percent from 2016. But the returns are diminishing as blazing-fast heaters become the norm. In 2017, 28,749 plate appearances were decided2 on a 95-plus mph fastball, and batters’ on-base plus slugging percentage against them was .734. That’s 80 points higher than in 2014, when OPS against these pitches hit a low of .654, and the high mark for the period in which the velocity data is tracked. Hitters produced home runs on 2.8 percent of plate appearances decided by 95-plus mph pitches in 2017, also the highest since 2009, and an increase of 75 percent from a low of 1.6 percent in 2014. Weighted on-base average, which more precisely assesses the value of every plate appearance, also spiked against 95-plus gas last season, and players were less likely to make the kind of soft contact that can lead to easy putouts.
(Ed.Note #1: To see 538’s chart of how MLB hitters have fared against fastballs of 95-plus mph, by on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS), 2009-2017, go to this site.)
This is a one-sided development. Think of these hitters like the cheetah evolving enough speed to catch a gazelle: This advantage doesn’t mean they can’t also catch slower prey, and MLB hitters are feasting on slower fastballs, too. In 2017, batters across the league were almost as good at hitting fastballs that came in at 95 mph or above — .734 OPS — as they had been in 2014 at hitting midrange fastballs — .754 OPS on fastballs between 92 and 94 mph. And on fastballs under 92, big league hitters sported a .906 OPS last year. In other words, hitters have gotten better at handling all species of fastball.
Of course, some are better at it than others. Over the previous two seasons, the king of smacking fast fastballs, according to wOBA, was J.D. Martinez, now of the Red Sox. In 128 plate appearances decided by fastballs at 95-plus mph, Martinez hit .360 with a wOBA of .542 (far above the league average of .327) and a 1.314 OPS that includes an .830 slugging average, courtesy of a Ruthian 10.9 percent homer rate.3 (For reference, among active players who had at least 100 plate appearances decided by fastballs of 95-plus mph, Brandon Moss was second in the league in home run rate on these pitches over the last two seasons, and he was more than two points behind Martinez at 8.7 percent.) The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo isn’t far behind Martinez in wOBA (.457) among active players, and he posted a 1.059 OPS in plate appearances decided by high-octane pitches. And while pitchers understandably try to muscle up to retire Joey Votto, one of game’s greatest hitters, the Reds’ future Hall of Famer is undeterred — he managed a higher on-base percentage (.479) and a nearly identical slugging average (.563) in 217 plate appearances against pitches at 95 mph and above as he had against all pitches in those two seasons (.444 OBP, .564 slugging).
Pitchers do find that pure velocity can still put some hitters away, of course. Fans wondered why the Rays gave up on Corey Dickerson this spring, but in 2016 and ’17, the current Pirate had one of the biggest drops in production4 (his OPS fell by 475 points) against high-octane heat compared to fastballs thrown at 94 and below. Trevor Story of the Rockies struggled after a record-setting debut in 2016, and it seems like teams have figured out that the hard stuff can get him out, as his OPS drops by 441 points against 95-plus mph fastballs compared to slower heaters. And there’s Chris Carter, who had 113 plate appearances decided by 95-plus mph fastballs in the previous two seasons, and who posted an OPS that was 609 points worse against the fastest fastballs (1.053 against fastballs up to 94 mph compared to .444 against fastballs at 95-plus mph). That helps explain why the player who hit 41 home runs for the Brewers in 2016 is currently a proud member of Salt Lake Bees.
Michael Salfino is a freelance writer in New Jersey. His work can be found on Yahoo and the Wall Street Journal. @MichaelSalfino
(Ed. Note #2 – If you haven’t seen 538’s on going predictions, updated after all games have been completed for that day, Check out their latest MLB predictions.)
Pick your favorite MLB team (or the team you know the best) and answer the following questions to prove whether you’re just a homer (“Someone who shows blind loyalty to a team or organization, typically ignoring any shortcomings or faults they have”) or whether you really know something about your team and can honestly evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Please answer all three parts of the question.
What will your team’s regular season 162 game record be in 2018?
Will they make the playoffs, and if so, how far will they go?
What will be the most important SINGLE factor (hitting, starting pitching, bullpen, an individual’s performance, the manager, injuries, etc.) in determining their season?
Prize: Two tickets to a regular season game with your favorite team (details to be negotiated with moi.)
Which League will win the All Star Game in 2018?
Tie-Breakers: Name the first MLB player to hit 30 HRs and the first MLB pitcher to win 12 games.
Prize: Join me after the All Star break to see a Nats’ game in wonderful seats. If you don’t live in this area or can’t get here, we can work out seats to a game somewhere that you can attend.
Contest #3: True or False:
A. The new MLB rules (shorter commercial breaks and limit of six non pitching visits to the mound by manager, coach or other players) will NOT result in reducing the average game time to under three hours. (Average time in 2017 was 3:05.)
B. The New York Yankees WILL win the AL East in 2018.
C. The Washington Nationals WILL NOT win the NL East in 2018.
D. There will be no 20 game winning pitchers in either league in 2018. (There were none in 2017 and three in 2016.)
E. At least one pitcher in the regular 2018 MLB season will have an ERA under 2.0. (There were none in 2017 or 2016. One did it in 2015 and two in 2014.)
F. Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge together will hit at least 115 regular season HRs in 2018. (In 2017 they ‘combined’ for 111.)
G. At least one MLB batter will strike out 220 times or more in 2018 regular season play. (Aaron Judge struck out 208 times in 2017, and Chris Davis struck out 217 times in 2016.)
H. There will be at least 8 Triple Plays in the MLB this year. (Over the last 10 years the average has been 4.1 per year, and in each of the last two years there were 7 each year.)
I. At least three teams will win 100 games or more in 2018. (Three teams did so in 2017: Astros – 101, Indians – 102, Dodgers – 104).
J. One of Grand Papa’s (c’est moi) grandchildren will witness in person (at an MLB game) a grand slam, a triple play, a no hitter, an extra inning game, or Teddy win the President’s race at the Nats’ stadium.
Prize: Your choice of one of these books: The 20 Best Books Ever Written About Baseball.
Contest #4 :
Who will be the two teams in the World Series in 2018 and which team will win it all?
Tie-Breaker: Name the five teams in each league who will make the playoffs.
Prize: One ticket to the 2018 World Series.
All winners get the ‘one-of-a-kind,’ specially designed and updatedMillersTime Baseball Winner T-Shirt in addition to the prizes outlined above.
Enter as many or as few of the contests as you want.
Be sure to answer all parts of each contest you do enter.
If you get a friend (or a foe) to participate in these contests, and he/she wins and has mentioned your name in their submission, you will get a prize also.
First time entrants who are runners up in any contest will get THE T-shirt.
Any two-generation submissions (mother/daughter, grandfather/grandson, etc.) who are runners up will also get THE T-Shirt.
Get your predictions in soon. In case of ties in any contest, the individual who submitted his/her prediction(s) first will be the winner.
The 2017 season isn’t over yet, at least for about 10-12 teams, yet there’s news about the 2018 season. It will start earlier, all teams will open their season on March 29, a Thursday, and the season will end Sept. 30 (for all but 10 playoff teams). There will be more off days scheduled, as a result of a collective bargaining agreement between league and the player’s union. More 2018 details.
And, of particular importance to this fan, the Boston Red Sox will come to Washington for a three game series, July 2-4. (For those of you who care about such things, the Yunkees come to DC for two games, May 15th & 16th). Also, as previously announced, the 2018 All Star game is in DC next year!
Cheating Red Sox:
Speaking of my heroes, the Sox have been caught red handed (wristed) using an Apple iWatch to steal and relay catchers’ signals about what pitch is coming, probably using TV to send this illegally gained info from the clubhouse to the dugout to the runner on second and then to the batter. Dustin Pedroia, one of my long time favorite Sox players, was instrumental in this violation of MLB rules (it’s OK to steal signals, say for a runner on second to relay what pitch is coming to a batter, but it’s not OK to use binoculars or electronics to do so).
Pedroia says stealing signals has always been part of the game and is no big deal.
The Sox admitted it when MLB confronted them, following evidence of the Sox perfidy being transmitted from the Yankees to MLB. (The Sox also said the Yankees are doing it, using their YES TV network in the process).
MLB is “reviewing all the evidence” and will announce any action in the near future.
So what do I say to my grandchildren about this when they learn of it and asks me?
Winning and Losing Streaks:
The Cleveland Indians, those bad guys who knocked the Sox out of the playoffs in the ALDS last year, have of this writing won 20 straight games with their complete game win last night by Corey Kluber. Twenty straight is quite a feat. It ties Cleveland for the American League record with the 2002 A’s. Now, if they win tonight, they will tie the 1935 Cubs for the MLB record at 21. (The 1916 New York Giants had a 26 game winning streak, but that was ‘marred by a tie game in a 27 game stretch.)
The Los Angeles Dodgers just barely held on over the Giants last night by striking out the final two batters in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded. For those of you who don’t follow the West Coast Bums, the Dodgers seemed headed for 115+ wins until the ‘regression to the mean’ struck. They were 91-36 (.716) and had gone 25-5 without losing consecutive games. Then they lost the next 16 out of 17 games. With last night’s ‘win,’ they are currently 93-52 (.642).
And for the really important update, the Sox won last night, the Yankees lost, giving my cheating boys a four game lead over the Bronx cheaters going into the final 18 games.
Isn’t baseball wonderful?
Final Free Nats’ Tickets for the Asking:
Since I will be in Seattle for a wedding of a good friend of more than 50 years, you can benefit from my absence from DC. Let me know if you’re interested in two good seats (free if you take a kid, broadly defined) to the Nationals Sept. 29th game against the Pirates (7:05).
Email me at Samesty84@gmail.com if you’re interested. First shot to anyone who hasn’t used my tickets this year, then to anyone who will take a kid to the game.