- Nick Karros ’24
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting delayed start of the season, Major League Baseball has made several changes to the game, most importantly being the implementation of a new schedule. Instead of playing the usual 162 games, teams are now competing in only 60 games before the playoffs begin.
As one can imagine, this change will have many effects on baseball, including the fact that underdogs may be less disadvantaged this year. In a regular season, some clubs start strong and fade, while others start slowly before catching fire. The longer season allows for the stronger teams to come out on top because weaker teams with less skilled pitchers are not able to endure 162 games. An abbreviated campaign, on the other hand, narrows the sample size and widens the array of possibilities. And with just 60 games, some of the weaker teams may be able to sneak into the playoffs.
If the 2019 season was played among 60 games, last year’s World Series champions, the Washington Nationals, wouldn’t have even made the playoffs, as they started the season off with a 27-33 record. On the other side of the spectrum, the Philadelphia Phillies would have made the playoffs in a 60 game season with a record of 33-27, but over the next 102 games, they began to fall off the wagon. According to simulations performed by the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Dodgers made the playoffs 94% of the time during a full season. But during an abbreviated one, they only reached the playoffs in 70% of scenarios. The WSJ’s simulations also showed that teams such as the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox, who had 2019 records of 70-92 and 72-89, respectively, have a better chance of making the playoffs this season.
A shortened season also means there is an increased importance of each game. Statistically speaking, each game in the 2020 season is nearly 3 times as important as in the 2019 season, so teams will have to work harder and put more effort into every inning. This should certainly add to the excitement of the game, and with fewer matches being played, it should be harder for teams to fall behind in the playoff race, making for a more interesting end to an already chaotic season. All in all, the impacts of Covid-19 on the world are making for an unprecedented baseball season with many changes—some possibly for the better.