With Major League Baseball’s originally scheduled opening day officially behind us, speculation has begun about how the league will fit its long season into a much smaller time frame.
Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Ross Atkins has not been shy about publicizing the idea of a shortened 81-game season or seven-inning doubleheaders, both of which would be firsts.
Despite having to cancel games in other seasons due to lockouts or World War I, the league has never faced a cancelation of this size due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Each of the lockout seasons that led to games being canceled were resumed with teams playing schedules of 107 (1981) and 144 (1995) games.
How does the current postponement of the season affect the Kansas City Royals? A positive that comes to mind is it allows Adalberto Mondesi and Salvador Perez to continue recovering from their respective surgeries before beginning the daily grind of the season. On the other hand, it means there will almost certainly be fewer baseball games at Kauffman Stadium this year.
In terms of performance, the Royals were projected to win just 68 games this season by PECOTA after losing 103 last season. In an 81-game season, that would mean a record of 34-47, nowhere near the playoffs. While a record close to that projection is the most likely outcome, there is always room for improvement, but a lot less room for error. So, if the Royals got hot for a couple of weeks during a shortened season, it could change their trajectory completely. In a full 162-game season, the win streaks of seven or eight games are not nearly as impactful as they would be in a shortened season.
I am not very interested in the idea of seven-inning doubleheaders to make up for potentially lost games. MLB cares just as much about putting out a presentable product as it does getting baseball games played. There’s still much to be discussed and decided in terms of how much more COVID-19 will affect MLB and other leagues and none of them should be in any kind of rush to start up again.
Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org