Will the championship for the 60-game 2020 MLB campaign have an * attached in history books? What about the (since we’re talking Washington Nationals) NL Cy Young award? Is the award for what a pitcher or player accomplishes over 60 games going to be viewed a little bit differently when we look back on what Major League Baseball is hoping will be a three-month season in total, postseason included, which gets the national pastime back in front of their fans, who are hungry for content amidst an ongoing pandemic? Will baseball with a DH in both leagues, a runner on second in extras, and the threat of COVID-19 ending things at any moment be viewed the same in the end?
What will winning the 2020 World Series mean compared to previous championships which came at the end of a 162-game season (with a few exceptions) and the grueling, month-long postseason run?
“It’s going to be different,” veteran catcher Kurt Suzuki told reporters in a Zoom call earlier this month.
“It’s not 162 games,” Suzuki explained. “I think what makes it so special is you’re in it for 162 games. It’s a marathon, man. You go through so many ups and downs.
“It’s survival of the fittest, who can last the full season, and then you have the postseason, the extra month of the postseason, going in to — I don’t want to discredit it, because everybody is in the same boat, everybody has the same rules to follow, and we’re all in this doing the same thing, so I think you can’t discredit a championship because everybody starts from scratch. Is it going to be different? Maybe.”
“I think not having 162 games,” Suzuki continued, “... a normal baseball season is 162 games, so playing 60 is going to be different, but like I said, everybody is playing by the same rules.
“Everybody’s had three months off, and has a three-[week] ramp up period, so I think it will be a championship.”
It will be “a championship”, yes, but will the 2020 World Series champs* end up being viewed the same?
“What does 60 games prove? I don’t know,” Daniel Hudson, who recorded the final out of the 2019 Fall Classic, said when he spoke to reporters at Spring Training 2.0 this week.
“Can you really figure out who’s the best baseball team in the league from 60 games?
“Probably not. But, I think it’s going to be competitive.
“And in the end that’s what we want to do. We want to go out and play and be competitive against each other. That’s what we’ve done for our whole lives.”
But, of course, as everyone keeps noting, it’s not the usual 162-grind, the marathon. Instead it’s a sprint as people are fond of saying this summer.
“If it’s only for 60 games and that’s it, then whoever is left standing there at the end you can probably ask them about it then,” Hudson said. “But I can’t tell you how is whoever is there at the end going to think about it. If they’re going to think it’s legit, I don’t know. But if we’re standing at the end then I’ll probably be just as happy as I was last year when we were the last standing.
“It is what is, man, we’re going to go out there and compete and have fun under the new protocols, and do what we can to get through it together.”
So, will it be a big accomplishment, but not the same as last year’s championship in the end, or just a different kind of season and a different length, but just as meaningful?
“It’s possible. It really is,” Davey Martinez said of whether a championship will be viewed the same. “We talk and I talk with the guys during the game and stuff right now and we’ve got over/unders on who’s going to win the home run [race] this year. Is it going to be 15-17 [HRs]? Somebody is going to get hot and [go on a] hit streak and hit 20? You don’t know. Who’s going to be that guy that hits .400 this year? So we’re constantly just talking about different things like that.
“I pushed Trea [Turner] I said, “Hey, you could lead the league in stolen bases with 30.’ You know? Who knows what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be interesting.”
And when it comes to awards season next winter?
Will a Cy Young award for a pitcher who starts as often as he can in a 60-game season be the same as one for a pitcher who took the mound consistently in a full 162-game slate?
“Yeah, I guess I haven’t thought about it too much,” Patrick Corbin, who finished 5th in NL Cy Young voting in 2018 and 11th last season, said when he too talked via Zoom call from Nationals Park at Spring Training 2.0.
“But there are so many challenges this year for everybody. I mean, there is going to be a champion at the end of the season, and I personally think they’ve earned it.
“To go through all these testings and everything that everyone’s had to [go] through, and still go out there and play 60 games, make the postseason and play postseason baseball, so...
“I don’t know. I mean, I think some of these relievers are going to have more appearances than they would have, or back-to-back games, especially early on when these starters are building up more and more, so we’ll see. It’s going to be fun, it will be exciting.”
“I’m curious to see who’s going to be the home run leader, how many that will be?” Corbin added.
Stephen Strasburg, who was the World Series MVP last season, has finished as high as 9th (2014), 3rd (2017), and 5th (2019) in NL Cy Young voting in his career.
He said he didn’t know what to think about the awards for a 60- vs 162-game campaign.
“I mean, it’s tough to say,” Strasburg acknowledged.
“Those are — I don’t really have any say in how those awards are divvied up, or how they’re evaluated, I would say from a pitching standpoint, maybe it will give some relievers a little bit more of an opportunity to win [a Cy Young].
“I’m sure that there are some guys that might be lobbying to pitch in all 60 games, so that would be pretty interesting to see.”