As soon as a 60-game baseball season was made official, the consternation began over how to handle teams playing 102 fewer games than they would in a normal year. What would the leaderboard look like? What would happen if records were broken? Would they even be able to get through all 60 games?
With the regular season having wrapped up on Sunday, we finally have some answers, and a few things to debate. How we interpret these numbers going forward is up to each individual fan — though, it should be noted, baseball emphatically does not deal in asterisks.
To help give some context to a leaderboard that is a bit hard to reconcile, here is a breakdown of some of the more interesting accomplishments of the season, many of which are adjusted to what they might have looked like in a full season.
Shane Bieber led everyone in everything.
After people spent an inordinate amount of time discussing what would happen if a player were to hit .400, Shane Bieber, a starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, did something just as rare: leading the major leagues in wins, E.R.A. and strikeouts — the pitching triple crown.
While 32 pitchers have led their individual league in all three categories since the American League began play in 1901, just 12 led the majors in all three before Bieber, which was one fewer than the 13 qualified batters who hit .400 or better in that span.
Bieber’s line looks far different than that of the other players on the list, as he had eight wins, a 1.63 E.R.A. and 122 strikeouts. But his feat stands, and he joined Johan Santana (2006) and Dwight Gooden (1985) as the only players to do it since Sandy Koufax’s retirement in 1966. And Bieber will almost assuredly join Santana and Gooden in winning the Cy Young Award, as well.
A master of both leagues.
Charlie Blackmon, the Colorado Rockies outfielder, didn’t hit .500. Or .400. He barely hit .300. After pulling his average to an even .500 on Aug. 11, he absolutely cratered, hitting .216 the rest of the way to finish at .303.
But that didn’t make this year’s batting race any less significant, as D.J. LeMahieu of the Yankees became just the second player in major league history to win a batting title in each league, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
LeMahieu, who led the A.L. with a .364 average this season, and the N.L. with a .348 average in 2016, joined Big Ed Delahanty — one of the legends of the late 19th century — in this unusual feat. There is even some debate as to whether LeMahieu should be recognized as the first player to do it, as some researchers outside of Elias believe Nap Lajoie should be considered the 1902 A.L. champion, rather than Delahanty, because of a different standard at that time for how a player qualified for the title.
Either way, LeMahieu may want to avoid trains and water for a while. Delahanty won the N.L. crown in 1899 and the A.L. one in 1902, and just a year after his second batting title, he was kicked off a train near Niagara Falls and plunged to his death from the International Railway Bridge in a mystery that has fueled speculation for years as to whether he fell, jumped or was pushed.
Luke Voit’s 59*-homer season.
Jimmie Foxx spent years telling people that his 58-homer season in 1932 should have had 60 or more if not for a series of ballpark quirks in Philadelphia that cost him what would have been legitimate home runs in any other stadium. Luke Voit, a first baseman for the Yankees, might understand Foxx’s pain, as Voit’s 22 home runs in 60 games this season are the equivalent of 59 in a 162-game season. Voit was the only player this year to have more than 20 — Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox was second with 19 — and his rate of one home run per 9.68 at-bats has been beaten only by Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Babe Ruth, Sammy Sosa, Jim Thome, Mickey Mantle, Hank Greenberg and Roger Maris. That’s fairly good company to keep.
Running away with the stolen base title.
There was never any question that shortstop Adalberto Mondesi of the Kansas City Royals had the speed to lead the majors in steals. The only thing in doubt was whether he could stay healthy.
He managed to play in 59 of his team’s 60 games, and was as dominant as expected on the base paths. He led the majors with 24 stolen bases — the equivalent of 64 in a full season. He had eight more than any other player, and while that may not sound like a wide gap, a player with eight steals this season would have tied for the 16th-most in the majors.
Not all statistical feats are good.
Miguel Sano, a first baseman for the Minnesota Twins, did not set a single-season record, and he may have the shortened season to thank for that. His 90 strikeouts were the equivalent of 243 in a full season, a pace that would have shattered Mark Reynolds’s major league record of 223 set in 2009. He will keep his ignominy, but Reynolds, a power-hitting third baseman, struck out in just 33.7 percent of his plate appearances that season. Sano was crushing that figure, striking out in 43.9 percent of his 205 trips to the plate.
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