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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Historic Milestones Will Be Missed Without MLB in 2020

Any good argument supporting Ted Williams as the greatest hitter ever must mention the milestones he didn’t reach, in addition to all of his accomplishments.

Williams missed nearly five full seasons, including prime years from ages 24-26, while serving in the military. He easily would have reached 600 home runs and 3,000 hits. The lost seasons of Williams are tantalizing, their excellence surely would have rivaled the years of his two triple crowns, six batting titles and .406 batting average in 1941.

Now, we’re faced with the real possibility of a canceled 2020 season, which has been suspended indefinitely due to the coronavirus. If that happens, every player will be a year older when baseball returns—one year closer to the end of their careers.

That includes Mike Trout, the best player on the planet. As Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci wrote, the Lost Season of Trout “will forever leave a bittersweet ‘what if?’ aftertaste to his career.”

QLE Posted: April 21, 2020 at 12:49 AM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: 2020 season, albert pujols, jacob degrom, max scherzer, miguel cabrera, milestones, robinson cano

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   1. Jose Canusee Posted: April 21, 2020 at 10:31 AM (#5942632)
All the assumptions about Williams having three good seasons from 1943-45 omit the part in his autobiography "My Turn at Bat" where his late career friend keeps him interested in coming back each year by showing him where he is on the career leaderboard. He was one of the few players of that era who kept it up well after 40, so once he passed Foxx at 534 with the vast gulf before the Babe at 714 he might have hung them up as the #2 HR guy at age 37 with 552 or so with all his walks also leaving him shy of 3000 hits.
   2. pikepredator Posted: April 21, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5942639)
The optimist in me is hopeful that the long off-season might give some of these players a chance to heal. On balance they will still lose counting numbers, but maybe Pujols' 2021 (without a 2020) will be better than it would've been had he played in 2020. and maybe some pitchers (like Sale) have a better shot at coming back at full strength, with a more gradual rehab process.
   3. Jarrod HypnerotomachiaPoliphili (TeddyF.Ballgame) Posted: April 21, 2020 at 06:18 PM (#5942845)
All the assumptions about Williams having three good seasons from 1943-45 omit the part in his autobiography "My Turn at Bat" where his late career friend keeps him interested in coming back each year by showing him where he is on the career leaderboard. He was one of the few players of that era who kept it up well after 40, so once he passed Foxx at 534 with the vast gulf before the Babe at 714 he might have hung them up as the #2 HR guy at age 37 with 552 or so with all his walks also leaving him shy of 3000 hits.


Seems to me a guy who was motivated by his place on the career leaderboard, a guy further up the charts at an earlier age than the real Williams was, would be more likely to stick around in late career than less. But that's the fun of speculating.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: April 21, 2020 at 08:26 PM (#5942877)
the Lost Season of Trout “will forever leave a bittersweet ‘what if?’ aftertaste to his career.”

You never know but I would guess not. He'll probably still pass 3,000 hits and, even with this season, probably didn't have a real shot at 4,000 or the record. Obviously the big question is whether he would have Aaroned his way to the HR record. He was 32 ahead of Aaron (and 109 ahead of Bonds) through 27. But "just" 5th all-time and, even if he doesn't play this year, he'll be just 13 behind Aaron and still 63 ahead of Bonds. Obviously that's a lot worse than through age 27 so his chances are a lot worse but they probably weren't that great to begin with. Coming into this season, he still needed the 4th-best age 28+ HR total to pass Bonds (he needed to barely beat Palmeior's 474). (Bonds, Ruth and Aaron lead the way.) If he has none this year, he will need to be at least 2nd-best for 29+, barely finishing ahead of Ruth. If he had hit 40 this year, he still would have needed to be 4th, still just ahead of Palmeiro.

He's never had a big RBI season and is 24th through 27 ... fewer than Andruw Jones, Sierra and Juan Gone. He's 8th in runs and had a pretty good shot at that record I guess. (If he stayed 9th from 28+, he'd have just missed.)

I'd love to be wrong but I suspect Trout's counting numbers were gonna end up in Mays territory. The record he's most likely to miss is runs scored which is not one of the big ones. But sure, it could cost him the HR record.

Technically, the "big" issue is that his first appearance this year would have been his 10th "season" and he'd be a 100% lock for the HoF. Now he needs to avoid getting hit by a bus or a virus ... or the BBWAA will have to go to the trouble of waiving the requirement (which they obviously would but we'd rather not bother their pretty little heads with the decision). Assuming the HoF doesn't go bankrupt.
   5. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 21, 2020 at 08:43 PM (#5942880)

You never know but I would guess not. He'll probably still pass 3,000 hits and, even with this season, probably didn't have a real shot at 4,000 or the record.

I'd say he's at best 50/50 to get to 3,000 hits. With his recent durability issues, he's only averaged 136 hits over the past 3 seasons. He needs another 12+ seasons at that rate to get to 3,000, so he'll need to keep playing until he's 40. So missing this season might cost him 3,000.
   6. John Northey Posted: April 21, 2020 at 09:58 PM (#5942897)
The Favorite Toy (a tool Bill James made years ago which is silly fun) puts Trout's odds at...
if 2020 was a full season
500 HR: 93%
600 HR: 48%
763 HR: 14%
3000 H: 12%
4000 H: 0%
4257 H: 0%

if 2020 is a write off
500 HR: 20%
600 HR: 0%
763 HR: 0%
3000 H: 0%

Ouch. That 0 for this year really knocks down the projections. If I re-adjust it as if he hit the same HR/H this year as last (not adding to career totals, just adjusting for projecting future stuff) then...

500 HR: 93%
600 HR: 48%
763 HR: 14%
3000 H: 8%

The HR totals go up as I'm assuming a 'real talent level' that had 2 years of 45 HR in row preceded by a 39 vs the 45-39-33 levels the past 3 years for real. If I leave the past 3 years the same as they really are, but just up his age then...
500 HR: 83%
600 HR: 41%
763 HR: 10%

So for Trout it all depends on the HR for records and if his skills don't drop due to the long layoff then the HR record is still possible. Not easy, but there.

Fun to play with - no matter what his odds of 3000 isn't high. He basically needs to play a long time to get there with few injuries and hopefully no more partial or lost seasons.
   7. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 21, 2020 at 10:05 PM (#5942899)
Juan Soto was very well-represented on the Age-20 Career Leaderboard, and poised to move up for Age-21, but might fall out of the Top Ten in most categories if there is no 2020 season.
   8. TomH Posted: April 22, 2020 at 10:40 AM (#5943001)
where would Trout be on career Runs projections? Of the scorers of runs in MLB history,

Rank Player (yrs, age) Runs Scored
1. Rickey Henderson+(25) 2295
2. Ty Cobb+.......... (24) 2245
3. Barry Bonds....... (22) 2227
4. Hank Aaron+...... (23) 2174
Babe Ruth+...........(22) 2174
6. Pete Rose......... (24) 2165
7. Willie Mays+..... (22) 2062
8. Alex Rodriguez... (22) 2021

Trout is "ahead" of all of them at his age except for A-Rod.
   9. Darren Posted: April 22, 2020 at 02:04 PM (#5943074)

Seems to me a guy who was motivated by his place on the career leaderboard, a guy further up the charts at an earlier age than the real Williams was, would be more likely to stick around in late career than less. But that's the fun of speculating.


I agree with this. I suspect that Williams, finishing his age 34 season around 540 HR, 1,900 RBI, 1,900 R, 2,500+ H (see the excellent piece here by our very own Steve Treder: https://tht.fangraphs.com/war-begone/) sees the chance of posting some unbreakable records and carries on. He may even not have retired briefly in 1954. To put it another way, the guy who says he wants people to call him "the greatest hitter who ever lived" probably doesn't realize he's a solid #2 and hang them up.

(I also agree that this is the fun of speculating.)

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