When the sports world closed down the week of March 10th, sports fans everywhere figured the shutdown would be short. Almost four excruciating months later and rewards for patience, hope, and concern to protect each other continue to make a difference.
The last day in July usually represents the MLB trading deadline, but this season it represents survival. Uncertainty surrounds the remainder of the season if additional players and staff around MLB test positive. The Marlins and Phillies both await the verdict of their seasons. Miami’s organization saw 19 members (17 players & two staff) test positive, while the latest round of testing done Thursday showed positive results for two Phillies staff members. On Wednesday, MLB announced Miami season paused through Sunday. MLB also quarantined the Phillies (Miami played at Philadelphia when the positive test came back) through the weekend. Both teams hope to resume Tuesday as they face each other in Miami.
Despite the uncertainty of facing MLB, here are my awards through the first week (I will add more as the day continues).
Best pitcher: Shane Bieber – Indians
While the Indians staff mows down their competition (MLB record four different pitchers recording starts with 10+ strikeouts in the first seven team games), Bieber stands tallest. Bieber tied Karl Spooner’s (1954 Dodgers) MLB record with 27 strikeouts in the first two starts of a season. Bieber’s retired 41 of the 50 batters faced this season.
|Most Strikeouts, MLB History|
|First Two Starts of Season|
|2020||Shane Bieber, CLE||27|
|1954||Karl Spooner, BRK||27|
|2002||Curt Schilling, ARI||26|
|2016||Vince Velasquez, PHI||25|
|1978||Nolan Ryan, CAL||25|
Best Hitter/Player: Mike Yastrzemski – Giants
The grandson of former Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski reached base in 17 of his 32 plate appearances, collected 11 hits, scored eight runs, and hit a walk-off HR against the team tied for most the wins (Padres). Yaz ranks first in the NL in OBP (.531), OPS (1.339), BA (.423), while leading the majors in runs scored (8), runs created (12), and WAR (0.7).
Jose Ramirez (CLE)
Christian Vázquez (BOS)
Most Impressive: JaCoby Jones – Tigers
The fifth-year OF entered the season with a career BA of .211 and .645 OPS. Through seven games, Jones leads the majors in OPS (1.367), while tied for third with 3 HR.
J.P. Crawford (SEA)
Dansby Swanson (ATL)
Best Pitching Staff: Cleveland Indians This wasn’t a tough choice. The Indians team WHIP through seven games stands at 0.78, setting an MLB record for fewest baserunners in the first seven games of a season. Cleveland’s 86 staff strikeouts also set an MLB record (2019 Blue Jays rank second with 80).
|Lowest Team WHIP|
|First Seven Games, MLB history|
|2019||Tampa Bay Rays||0.85||5-2|
|2019||Toronto Blue Jays||0.95||3-4|
|>>86 team strikeouts (also MLB record)|
Best Hitting Team: Chicago Cubs
Chicago’s north side team leads the majors in Runs PG (6.3), Slugging (.473), OPS (.813), and XBH (24-T).
Most Impressive Team: San Diego Padres
The Padres 5-2 start includes an exciting offense (averaging 6.2 Runs PG), which leads the majors in stolen bases (11). Their pitching staff ranks third in NL in ERA (3.43).