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  1. Roundtable: Is a World Series Champion in an 82-Game Season a Legitimate One?

    Here is what the Twins Daily writers had to say when asked, “Do you think the World Series Champion in an 82-game season would be legitimate?”

    Seth Stohs: Of course. The NHL and NBA had 82-game seasons and then they crown legitimate champions. If it's about number of games, the NFL plays 16 games and then has a champion. If the question is because it's a shortened season, well, then there have been several shortened seasons in MLB history and those champions have been considered legit.

    Nick Nelson: To me, the legitimacy of naming a 2020 MLB champion is more dependent on the makeup of a season than its length. I think 82 games is sufficient, especially with expanded playoffs. But how many players aren't participating? Is it fair to call this an official season of record if numerous stars opt out, especially if some teams are disproportionately affected? I don't think so.

    Ted Schwerzler: It’s still a season and not just a playoff. It’s different, but sanctioned and legitimate, nonetheless.

    Cody Pirkl: I would say yes, but I think the public perception will be based off of what team wins it. If a team like the Diamondbacks or the White Sox won, I think people would be more likely to point out the small sample size not being legit.

    John Bonnes: Yes.

    Nash Walker: Yes! 100% yes from me. As others have pointed out, overcoming the obstacles of a global pandemic and delayed season is more impressive than a regular year. It’s gonna be different, but legitimacy won’t be a question for me. Whoever takes the cake will have earned it during an unprecedented time.

    Cody Christie: I think it is a strange proposition because there have been previous shortened seasons, but none that have been in the 80-game range. I think fans of the winning club will view it as legitimate, especially if it isn’t the Yankees or the Dodgers.

    Tom Froemming: Absolutely, assuming there aren’t any major alterations to shorten the postseason format.

    Matt Braun: The championship was won under the rules set forward by MLB and the players association. Yes, it would be an unusual World Series victory, but the team accomplished what they did legitimately with the same parameters as every other franchise.

    Cooper Carlson: While I understand there will always be an asterisk for the 2020 World Series champion, I still believe the champion will be legitimate. 82 games is enough to weed out who the best teams are and provide a solid group of playoff teams. After 82 games last year, the playoff teams would have been the Yankees, Twins, Astros, Dodgers, Braves, Cubs, Rays, Rangers, Brewers and Phillies. That group truly only has one outlier (sorry Texas) so I think 82 games will work. While 82 isn’t ideal, it’s the best we’re going to get in 2020 and that’s alright.

    Andrew Thares: Yes, since playoff performance isn’t as heavily correlated to regular season performance as most people think, and that is already what determines the World Series champion.

    Matthew Lenz: Yes, same rules and chances for every team. Teams may inadvertently be better built for an 82-game season but I still think that’s a big enough sample to figure out which team is the best.

    What do you think? Is the winner of a World Series in an 82-game season legit? Leave a COMMENT and continue the discussion.

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    • May 25 2020 06:57 PM
    • by Cody Christie
  2. Despite Research that Shows Otherwise, MLB Insists There Were No Changes to Postseason Baseballs

    Data scientist and former FiveThirtyEight journalist Rob Arthur wrote a piece today for Baseball Prospectus. The premise was that the baseball teams played the game with all season is now gone, and that’s quite a damning revelation. If you don’t have access to a subscription at Baseball Prospectus, he did a nice job breaking it down to a bite-sized Twitter thread. The ball itself is causing more drag than it has at any point since 2016. Home runs are down more than 50%, and the playing field established for 162 games has now been abolished.

    Arthur went on to clarify that weather is not the culprit for these outcomes. He stated that drag factors in both temperature and pressure, while also noting conditions have been more optimal than normal and don’t have a significant overall impact. Considering the research he provided, and the comments offered up by Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, I began to think of specific examples.

    Earlier I mentioned thinking that something seemed off about that Dodgers and Nationals game to close out the National League Division Series. I didn’t dig in enough to see the amount of wall scrapers typically present on a game-by-game basis, but it certainly seemed abnormal. I did however consider that Will Smith at bat in the bottom of the 9th. His 100 mph exit velocity and 26-degree launch angle resulted in a fly out. During the regular season there was 75 similar occurrences of those inputs, and they resulted in 44 homers with an 83% base hit rate.

    This is a Minnesota Twins website, so let’s bring things full circle here. Parker Hageman immediately turned to Monday’s game against the Yankees. I remembered thinking it was odd to see Gleyber Torres barely get out on a well struck ball, but it was Marwin Gonzalez’s blast that immediately looked gone and fell way short that got me. As Parker notes, the Twins 1B had his well struck ball become a pretty small outlier.

    If we think back to game one, there were homers hit by both Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz that struck me as odd. Although the ball went out to the opposite field, power sluggers like those two rarely need every extra inch to reach the seats. In doing some research through MLB’s own Statcast service, the balls that left the yard in the Postseason traveled an average of 70 feet shorter than they same circumstances produced during the regular season.

    All along, the expectation should’ve been that the sport would walk the baseball back. Despite the home run providing a level of excitement to the game (one that pace of play changes would seemingly be geared towards), Rob Manfred has publicly stated that inquiries would be made too many times for tools of the trade to go untouched. What strikes this writer as irresponsible, unfair, and downright disingenuous is to make these wholesale changes during the season.

    The point isn’t to suggest that the Twins or any other team is getting a raw deal because of the deadened baseball. What is fair is for players across the league, most importantly hitters, to have a level of frustration aimed at the governing body of their sport. As former pitcher Dallas Braden puts it, “The guy that deflated footballs in the NFL was drug over the coals by the commissioner of the NFL for altering the sports’ ball. What do WE do when it’s THE COMMISSIONER altering balls like some MAD plastic surgeon? Let the man snip & shape as he sees fit, no issues?”

    I’ll never have a problem with seasons being analyzed separately as not all factors remain the same as the calendar changes. I do think you’ve got a significant problem when the integrity of a collective season is being manipulated at the drop of a hat.

    Because of this uproar Major League Baseball has now issued a statement on the situation. Unfortunately it does little to address any of the actual problems and avoids any statements that point to real reasons why there's such drastic changes in results.

    • Oct 10 2019 05:52 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler