MLB has announced that they are continuing to evaluate the ongoing events and are preparing for a variety of contingencies regarding the 2020 regular season. Could the shortened season impact the Kansas City Royals’ playoff chances?
It’s worth trying to understand what contingencies are available and then think about which one could provide the best opportunity to help the Kansas City Royals make the postseason.
It’s a forgone conclusion that the delay of Opening Day will extend beyond the initial optimistic two-weeks, especially after Sunday’s announcement that a Yankees Minor League player has tested positive for the coronavirus.
Let’s consider a couple “contingencies” based on if the 2020 MLB season can get started on May 26th. Why May 26th? We need to pick an estimate of when the actual expiration date of the CDC’s recommendation to restriction of events of more than 50 (and shrinking) people. Officially it sets at eight weeks. MLB announced it will be moving their start back at least eight weeks on Monday.
MLB will want to do an abbreviated two-week second spring training for players to once again quickly get back into game shape, so Opening Day should theoretically take place on May 26th, which is exactly ten weeks from now.
The biggest thing this delay gives the Royals on Opening Day is a healthy Adelberto Mondesi at shortstop. This immediately places the Royals in a better position to start a season.
Scenario 1: Try to have a 162 game season
This will be the least likely to happen, but it still needs to be considered. For MLB to get a full schedule in would require the regular season to either extend all the way through the middle of November or have double headers to cover the roughly 50 games missed.
That means teams would have to make up those games over 16 weeks. For this to happen, MLB would have to allow teams to expand their rosters because otherwise pitching across the league would be exhausted by this point. With the Royals coming off last season’s pitching woes, this would be the worst scenario for them to have.
The other option to get all 162 would cause MLB to shift the season completely to the right. Thus the season would end somewhere around Thanksgiving. Once again this most likely won’t happen, but it is an option.
The Royals’ chances would actually go down if this were to happen.
Scenario 2: Reduce the season to 112 games with some changes
This will most likely be how MLB would attempt to play a season, but how it is executed will be interesting and should require a revamped scheduled.
First off, interleague games should be eliminated for this season. That places both the AL and NL teams back on even playing fields to get to the postseason. In the AL, there are 15 teams total, so the Royals and other teams would only face 14 teams. In the Royals’ case, they have four other teams to compete with in the AL Central and that leaves ten other teams to play in the AL exclusive season.
If the Royals had to play both a three-game home and three-game away series with teams other than the AL Central, that would place them at 60 games. That leaves 52 games to be played within the AL Central. This would equate into 13 games each for the Twins, White Sox, Tigers and Indians. Basically it would be two road and two home series.
The math simply adds up.
Now the question becomes would the Royals benefit from this type of schedule? If all other key dates remain the same, it could turn into one of the most competitive seasons the team has had in years.
By going to the shorter season, it becomes a sprint to October. Yes, a baseball purest would argue with the stats, but nobody is going to break a single season record based on the limited amount of at bats. If someone randomly hits .400, there would be an asterisk next to that season. Who would really care as a fan about that?
Hopefully MLB would keep the trade deadline the same; Leaving it at July 31st pretty much puts it midway through this proposed 2020 season.
There should be a significant amount of teams positioned to make a run at the playoffs at this time. This would include the Royals if they could start the first 60 games at .500. Teams would really have to think about player moves and understand if they truly think they could make a World Series run by making that blockbuster trade.
For the KC Royals, this would position them well as both a buyer and a seller. There will be a point in those first 60 games where the Royals will go on an 8-10 game streak. The type of streak (winning or losing) will determine the outcome of the season and what Dayton Moore decides to do at this trade deadline.
Needless to say there will be several teams we haven’t seen in a while positioned to win their division. Let’s just say that believe it or not, the Kansas City Royals could find their way into the postseason if this season is indeed shortened.