The glory of a baseball season is that, regardless of how a lot time you spend studying projections, analyzing rosters, and researching the league, there’ll at all times be one thing that surprises you. In a 12 months the place the world turned the other way up, that was more true than ever. So let’s take a step again and have a look at this season’s greatest surprises.
The hope of younger arms
Since Deivi García emerged on all people’s radar as a possible high prospect final 12 months following comparisons to Pedro Martinez, Yankees followers in every single place have been enthusiastic about the potential of two homegrown aces heading the staff’s rotation (Luis Severino being the opposite one). I actually have been following his rise by means of the farm system very intently, writing about it on a number of events final 12 months. Regardless of his struggles at Triple-A Scranton final season and the Yankees’ acquisition of Gerrit Cole final winter, he nonetheless remained an eagerly-awaited prospect.
In that, 2020 didn’t disappoint. Taking a look at simply his statline, you is perhaps considerably upset in García’s efficiency: he posted a 4.98 ERA (4.15 FIP) in 34 innings. Six of his 19 earned runs, nonetheless, got here in a single three-inning begin towards the Boston Red Sox on September 20; in his different 5 begins, he went at the very least six innings 4 instances (together with two by which he completed seven), giving up not more than 4 runs. He struck out 8.7 batters per 9 innings, whereas strolling just one.6, even if he averaged 4 BB/9 all through the minors. For a 21-year-old in his first style of the Main Leagues, it was nearly as good a begin as could possibly be hoped for.
Though it’s usually been forgotten amidst his subpar in-season efficiency (5 earned runs in 7.1 innings), Clarke Schmidt put himself on the map throughout Summer time Camp, reminding all people why the Yankees had drafted the right-hander within the first spherical of the 2017 draft even if he had simply obtained Tommy John surgical procedure. Whereas he’s unlikely to be counted on for a serious position on the 2021 Yankees (he had, in any case, solely three begins above Single-A in 2019), Schmidt nonetheless offers Yankees followers hope for a Cole/Severino/García/Schmidt partnership within the Yankees rotation.
Now, you might be questioning, what a part of Erik Kratz’s efficiency is essentially the most shocking? Was it the 112 OPS+ on the age of 40? His capability to mentor the younger members of the Yankees pitching workers, whom he affectionately calls his kids?
No. It was that knuckleball.
Twice in 4 days — first on September 20 towards Boston, then once more on September 23 towards Toronto — Erik Kratz got here in to pitch, to be able to give the Yankees bullpen a relaxation throughout a blowout. And, to the shock of all people, he unleashed a knuckleball — a fairly good one too; the one proven above went solely 66 MPH and had a minuscule 784 RPM spin charge. Though he didn’t strike anyone out, Kratz didn’t stroll anyone, and solely gave up two hits (albeit residence runs), good for a 9.00 ERA.
Who is aware of? That was with out making ready as a pitcher — maybe Kratz and his knuckleball may give new life to the 40-year-old’s profession?
We had a season in any respect
Tonight, Sport Three of the World Series will likely be performed between the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers at Globe Life Discipline, the primary World Sequence ever to be performed in a impartial web site and the primary since 1944’s matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns to be performed at just one ballpark.
All this occurred in the midst of the worst international pandemic in latest historical past, the COVID-19 pandemic, because the world has struggled to include a viral outbreak that has brought about greater than 1,000,000 deaths worldwide and greater than 200 thousand in the USA alone.
Had Main League Baseball seen completely no instances, that will have been spectacular sufficient. But it surely didn’t. No staff went unaffected by the virus, both seeing gamers take a look at constructive for the virus (or, within the case of the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, have outbreaks) or having their schedule modified on account of rescheduled video games. And someway, not solely did your entire season occur, however solely two video games all through your entire league (each between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals) had been utterly canceled.
Nothing, in 2020, may be extra shocking than that.