2020 Major League Baseball Season
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2020 Major League Baseball Season

2020 MLB season
LeagueMajor League Baseball
SportBaseball
DurationJuly 23 - October 27, 2020
Number of games60
Number of teams30
Draft
Top draft pickSpencer Torkelson
Picked byDetroit Tigers
Regular season
League Postseason
AL championsTampa Bay Rays
  AL runners-upHouston Astros
NL championsLos Angeles Dodgers
  NL runners-upAtlanta Braves
World Series
ChampionsLos Angeles Dodgers
  Runners-upTampa Bay Rays
World Series MVPCorey Seager (LAD)
MLB seasons

The 2020 Major League Baseball season was a season in American baseball. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the season was reduced to just 60 games. The full 162-game regular season was originally scheduled to begin on March 26. However, the pandemic caused Major League Baseball (MLB) to announce on March 12 that the remainder of spring training was canceled and that the start of the regular season would be delayed by at least two weeks.[1] On March 16, MLB announced that the season would be postponed indefinitely, following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to restrict events of more than 50 people.[2] This was the first time that MLB games have been put on hold since the 2001 season, when the season was paused for over a week after the September 11 attacks.

Spring training resumed on July 1 and was rebranded as "Summer Camp".[3] Each team was scheduled to play 60 regular season games, which began on July 23 and ended on September 27. On July 3, the All-Star Game was canceled because of the delay to the regular season. Dodger Stadium, which was set to host the game, will now host the 2022 All-Star Game.[4]

On July 18, the Canadian federal government denied permission for the Toronto Blue Jays to play their home games at Rogers Centre this season on grounds that repeated cross-border trips by both the Blue Jays and their opponents would be a major risk due to the higher spikes in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. compared to those in Canada. The Blue Jays then chose to play their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, home of their Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons.[5]

An expanded 16-team postseason tournament began on September 29, with games of all but the first round being played at neutral sites. The World Series began on October 20 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, and ended on October 27, with the Los Angeles Dodgers defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to win their first title since 1988.[6][7][8]

Schedule

The 2020 schedule greatly differed from the normal 162-game schedule. In an effort to reduce travel, each team played only nine opponents during the regular season instead of the usual 19 or 20. Teams were scheduled to play 10 games against each of their four division opponents. The remaining 20 games of the 60-game schedule were interleague contests. To reduce travel, the interleague division match-ups were AL East vs NL East, AL Central vs NL Central, and AL West vs NL West.[9] At 60 games, this was the shortest regular season since 1878.[10]

Several international and neutral-site games originally scheduled for the season were canceled due to COVID-19:

March agreement between MLB and MLBPA

On March 26, MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) reached an agreement on multiple considerations related to the start of the season being delayed, including:[16]

  • The 2020 MLB draft was to be held by July 20 and reduced from 40 rounds to five rounds.
  • Player salaries were pro-rated, based on the length of the regular season.
  • Players will receive full service time for the season, regardless of the length of the season
  • Roster moves were frozen as of March 27, until the season began.

Possible schedules

The indefinite delay of the season caused MLB to internally consider a number of scenarios for playing the season, as well as analysts suggesting ways it could be done. A shortened regular season, a season with many doubleheaders, and a postseason extending into late November with a World Series at an indoor or warm-weather neutral site were suggested.[17][18]

In early April, Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that MLB was "increasingly focused on a plan that could allow them to start the season as early as May and has the support of high-ranking federal public health officials".[19] The plan would have involved all 30 teams playing games with no fans in stadiums around the Phoenix metropolitan area, including Chase Field and spring training complexes. Players would have lived in isolation at local hotels.

Another report from USA Today baseball writer Bob Nightengale detailed another MLB proposal utilizing the Phoenix metro sites, but with the additional use of spring training sites in Florida, Marlins Park in Miami, and St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field. In addition, the 30 teams would be re-aligned for the season depending on their spring training sites into six divisions based upon their locations in Arizona and Florida and agnostic to the usual AL/NL demarcations and traditional geographic rivalries, effectively making the spring training Cactus League and Grapefruit League regular-season leagues.[20] No interleague play would take place and the designated hitter rule would be utilized for all 30 teams, with the World Series occurring in November utilizing the larger MLB sites.[21]

Disagreement over plans for a shortened season

During May and June, MLB and Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) were unable to agree on a specific plan for a shortened season.

In mid-May the MLB owners proposed a schedule of 82 games, to begin in July, with games to be played without fans in attendance. To minimize travel, teams would play only against other teams in their geographical division, plus interleague games against teams in the corresponding division of the other league. A team would play 13 games against each division rival and six games against each team in the other league's division.[22] Postseason play would be expanded from 10 teams to 14, with each league fielding three division winners and four wild card teams. A designated hitter would be allowed in all games. Teams would have 30-man rosters available for each game. The proposal also outlined safety measures for health of players and staff and a modified compensation plan for players.[23][24][25]

On June 1, the MLBPA countered with an 114-game proposal, with a regular season running from June 30 to October 31, a November postseason, giving players the right to opt-out of participating, a salary deferral plan in the event the postseason has to be canceled due to a second wave of the virus, and a $100 million advance during the second spring training, among others.[26]

Owners then submitted a 76-game proposal to the players on June 8, with the regular season ending on September 27, the postseason ending in October, 75 percent prorated player salaries, and playoff pool money, among others.[27] The MLBPA responded one day later with an 89-game plan with full prorated player salaries.[28] The owners then sent a 72-game plan with 70 percent prorated player salaries, to which the MLBPA replied in a statement on June 13, "Further dialogue with the league would be futile. It's time to get back to work. Tell us when and where."[29] However, the week of June 15 saw the owners propose a 60-game season while MLBPA counter with a 70-game season,[30] which on June 19 was rejected by the owners.

Amid an increase in cases in Arizona and Florida, including positive cases among staff of the Phillies, and a Blue Jays player showing signs of symptoms, it was reported on June 19 that all spring training sites would be temporarily closed for deep cleaning, and all players would be required to test negative for COVID-19 before entering.[31] It was then reported on June 20 that almost all MLB teams had elected to re-locate their training camps back to their home cities.[32]

On June 22, hours after the MLBPA rejected the MLB's offer to play a 60-game season, MLB owners voted unanimously to impose the 60-game plan.[33] By allowing the owners to unilaterally implement such a plan without the MLBPA, both sides retained the right to file a grievance against the other for not negotiating in good faith.[34] On June 23, both sides agreed to health and safety protocols. Players reported to training camp July 1.[35] Due to concerns related to the pandemic, several players chose not to play the season.[36]

Revised 60-game schedule

On July 6, MLB released the revised schedule for the shortened 60-game season.[37] In the new schedule, teams play 10 games against each of their four divisional opponents in three series, with an unequal number of home games against each opponent. Each team will have 20 home games for division opponents.[37]

Interleague play will comprise the other 20 games of the schedule, all against the division of the opposite league, temporarily suspending the yearly rotation of which divisions play each other. Like normal seasons in which corresponding interleague divisions play each other (e.g. 2018), teams play six games against their "natural rival" and three or four games against each of the other four teams in the division.[37] However, for this year only, the Cleveland Indians were paired with the Pittsburgh Pirates instead of their normal rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Detroit Tigers were paired with the Reds instead of the Pirates. This was done to reduce travel for all four teams.

The season started on July 23, with two games: New York Yankees at Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers. The remaining 26 teams opened the season on July 24.[37]

On July 23, MLB and MLBPA announced that the postseason will be an expanded 16-team playoff tournament for 2020 only, instead of the normal 10-team tournament. All first and second place teams in the six divisions will qualify for the playoffs. The final two spots in each league will go to the remaining teams with the best win-loss records. The teams in each league will be seeded by division winners (1-3), division runners-up (4-6), and best teams remaining (7-8). Seeding ties will be resolved by head-to-head record, intra-league record, and record in final 20 intra-league games, to remove the necessity for additional games. The first round of the playoffs will be a best-of-three series called the Wild Card Series, with all games to be played at the home of the higher seeded team. After that, the postseason will follow the usual pattern of five-game Division series, seven-game League Championship Series, and a seven-game World Series.[38][39]

Postponed games

COVID-19

COVID-19 outbreaks among the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals, as well as positive tests on the Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, Oakland Athletics, and San Francisco Giants, resulted in the postponement of a total of 40 games.

Miami received confirmation that starting pitcher José Ureña had tested positive and would not be available on July 26, but the team decided to play the third and final game of their scheduled series against the Philadelphia Phillies at the direction of Major League Baseball. After additional Miami players and coaches tested positive, MLB postponed Miami's four-game home-and-home series with the Baltimore Orioles, and Philadelphia's four-game home-and-home series with the New York Yankees, both originally scheduled from July 27 to 30.[40] In order to allow for some flexibility in making games up, the Yankees and Orioles played two games against each other in Baltimore July 29 and 30, moving them up one week from their originally scheduled dates of August 3 and 4. The Marlins later confirmed that 21 players and coaches tested positive.[41] The next series for both teams, Miami's home series against the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia's series at the Toronto Blue Jays, were postponed. Both series would have taken place from July 31 to August 2.[42]

St. Louis had six positive tests resulting in the postponement of three games at the Milwaukee Brewers from July 31 to August 2.[43] Four additional games, a home-and-home series against the Detroit Tigers originally scheduled for August 3 to 6, were also postponed after an additional seven positive tests were reported.[42] After continued positive tests throughout the next week, St. Louis's three-game series against the Chicago Cubs, originally August 7 to 9, and their three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, originally August 10 to 12, were postponed. A doubleheader against Detroit on August 13 which would have been made up games from August 3 and 4 was also postponed and later canceled.[44][45]

Cincinnati had a player test positive resulting in the postponement of two games against Pittsburgh on August 15 and 16.[46] Cincinnati's game against the Kansas City Royals on August 18 was postponed as well.[47]

The New York Mets had a player and staff member test positive resulting in the postponement of their August 20 game against Miami and their three-game series against the New York Yankees on August 21 to 23.[48][49]

Oakland had a positive test resulting in the postponement of their August 30 game against the Houston Astros.[50] As a precaution, Oakland's three-game series against the Seattle Mariners on September 1 to 3 was postponed.[51]

San Francisco had a positive test resulting in the postponement of two games against the San Diego Padres originally scheduled for September 11 and 12.[52]

All postponed games were made up except for two games between the St. Louis Cardinals and Detroit Tigers as these game had no bearings on the playoff teams.

Shooting of Jacob Blake

Player protests in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin resulted in the postponement of 11 games.

The Milwaukee Brewers announced that they would not play their August 26 game against the Cincinnati Reds in the wake of the shooting, following three NBA playoff games that were postponed the same day. Two additional games were postponed that day.[53] Seven games on August 27 and one game on August 28 were also postponed.[54]

Standings

Postseason

MLB announced the playoff bracket on September 15, consisting of eight teams from each league: the top two teams from each division, plus the teams from each league with the next two best records. The Wild Card Series was a best-of-three series, while the Division Series, League Championship Series, and World Series were their normal lengths. The Wild Card Series games were played at the home field of the higher seeded team. The division and league championship series were played at neutral sites, similar to those used for both the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League playoffs, to limit the possibility of another COVID-19 outbreak that could both disrupt the schedule and affect competitive integrity.[55] The American League played at the San Diego Padres' Petco Park and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Dodger Stadium, while the National League played at the Texas Rangers' Globe Life Field and the Houston Astros' Minute Maid Park. The World Series then took place at Globe Life Field.[56]

The Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros became the first teams to make the postseason with a record below .500. Both clubs went 29-31 (.483) in the regular season. The Astros became the first team with a record below .500 to win a playoff series, as they defeated the Minnesota Twins in the Wild Card Series and the Oakland Athletics in the Division Series, before losing the American League Championship Series to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Bracket

  Wild Card Series
(ALWC, NLWC)
Division Series
(ALDS, NLDS)
League Championship Series
(ALCS, NLCS)
World Series
                                     
1 Tampa Bay 2
8 Toronto 0
1 Tampa Bay 3
5 NY Yankees 2
4 Cleveland 0
5 NY Yankees 2
1 Tampa Bay 4
American League
6 Houston 3
3 Minnesota 0
6 Houston 2
6 Houston 3
2 Oakland 1
2 Oakland 2
7 Chi White Sox 1
AL1 Tampa Bay 2
NL1 LA Dodgers 4
1 LA Dodgers 2
8 Milwaukee 0
1 LA Dodgers 3
4 San Diego 0
4 San Diego 2
5 St. Louis 1
1 LA Dodgers 4
National League
2 Atlanta 3
3 Chi Cubs 0
6 Miami 2
6 Miami 0
2 Atlanta 3
2 Atlanta 2
7 Cincinnati 0

Rule changes

Permanent changes announced prior to season

The following changes, effective for the 2020 season,[57][58][59] were officially announced by MLB on February 12:[60]

  • The size of the active roster expands from 25 players to 26 players, through August 31.
    • During this time, and during the postseason, clubs can carry a maximum of 13 pitchers.
    • Any team that is playing the second game of a doubleheader or a scheduled neutral-site game (such as the MLB Little League Classic), may carry a 27th player for that game only. This player can either be a position player or pitcher.
  • The size of the expanded roster in September is reduced from 40 players to 28 players.
    • During this time, clubs can carry a maximum of 14 pitchers.
  • Teams must designate players as either "position players" or "pitchers" before the start of the season.
    • Only players designated as pitchers will be allowed to pitch in any regular-season or postseason game, with limited exceptions (such as one team leading by at least seven runs, or the game going into extra innings).
    • Once a position player has pitched at least 20 innings and made at least three plate appearances as a position player or designated hitter in each of 20 games, he earns the status of "two-way player" for the remainder of the season plus all of the next season. Players with this status may pitch at any time during a game. For this season only, any player who met the above requirements in either the 2018 or 2019 season qualifies for two-way status.
    • Players designated as pitchers, if placed on the injured list, must spend a minimum of 15 days on the IL prior to being eligible for activation. Position players may be activated after a minimum of 10 days on the IL. Two-way players are subject to the rules for pitchers. The seven-day minimum on the IL for concussions remains unchanged.
  • Pitchers and two-way players optioned to the minor leagues must remain there for at least 15 days before being eligible for recall to the major league club, rather than the previous 10-day minimum. The minimum option period for position players remains 10 days.
  • A pitcher must face at least three batters unless the inning ends or the pitcher is injured.
  • Managers now have up to 20 seconds to challenge a play (reduced from 30 seconds).

Temporary rules for shortened 2020 season

The following temporary rules for the shortened 2020 season were announced on June 24. Note that some of these additional changes supersede the rule changes which were announced in February. [61]

  • Each club could invite up to 60 players to its July training camp. The 60-man pool is comprised of players on the 40-man roster and players currently signed to minor league contracts. Clubs were not required to include all members of their 40-man roster in the 60-man pool. The transaction freeze in place since March 27 was lifted on June 26. Only players eligible to play in the 2020 season could be invited to July camp, and only the 60 players included on the list submitted to the league office may be used by the team in regular season and postseason games for the 2020 season. If a player is added to the 60-man pool via trade, free agent signing, or other transaction, a corresponding transaction must be made to keep the total number of eligible players at 60. Players in the 60-man pool who were not on a club's 40-man roster at the start of July camp must be added to the 40-man and active rosters in the usual fashion before they may play in regular season or postseason games. Those not on the active roster train at an alternate training site.[62]
  • The designated hitter would be used in both the American and National Leagues.
  • Teams could have up to 30 active players on their opening day rosters. The active roster was reduced to 28 after the first two weeks of the season. Originally, the roster was set to reduce to reduce to 26 players after four weeks, but this reduction was eliminated on August 4.[63]
  • The minimum option period for players optioned to their club's training site is 10 days for both pitchers and position players. The provision requiring pitchers to remain in the minor leagues for 15 days is not in effect this season.
  • The trade deadline was August 31 (moved from July 31).
  • To be eligible for the postseason, a player must have been added to a club's 40-man roster by September 15.
  • Clubs were permitted to carry a taxi-squad of players for away games. Originally, the squad was limited to three players. On August 4, the squad was expanded to five players. The original rule stipulated that if three players were carried, at least one had to be a catcher. It is unclear if that restriction remains under the new rule.[63]
  • In regular-season games, each half-inning of an extra inning automatically started with a runner on second base. The runner was the player in the batting order position immediately before the lead-off batter for the inning (or a pinch-runner, subject to the usual substitution rules). Should this runner score, it was considered an unearned run. This rule does not apply to postseason games.
  • There was a 10-day injured list for both pitchers and position players. The 60-day IL was reduced to 45 days.
  • A separate IL exists for players who test positive for, have symptoms of, or have confirmed exposure to COVID-19. There is no maximum or minimum number of days for this IL.
  • There are no limitations on eligible pitchers. The "two-way player" provisions announced in February do not apply for this season.
  • If a game cannot continue because of inclement weather and it is not an official game (trailing team has played less than five innings), the game will be declared a suspended game, continuing from the point of interruption instead of completely restarting.
  • The postseason was expanded to include eight teams from each league. The first round is a best-of-three series with the better seed hosting all three games.
  • The final three rounds of postseason will be played at neutral sites.
    • Globe Life Field and Minute Maid Park were chosen to host the National League playoffs; each stadium would host one Division Series and Globe Life Field would host the National League Championship Series.
    • Petco Park and Dodger Stadium were chosen to host the American League playoffs; each stadium would host one Division Series and Petco Park would host the American League Championship Series.
    • The World Series will be held at Globe Life Field.
  • Clubs were required to have an expanded dugout in order to practice social distancing.
  • Celebrations (such as those after a walk-off hit) must be socially distanced.
  • Pitchers were allowed to use wet rags.
  • In the postseason, alcohol is banned from playoff celebrations. Celebrations must be done on the field, at least six feet apart, and not in the clubhouse. Champagne is also prohibited.
  • No physical lineup cards were exchanged. Instead, lineups were exchanged through the MLB app.

The following temporary rule was announced on July 30, to be effective on August 1.

  • Doubleheaders consisted of two seven-inning games. One doubleheader, which was played on July 28 before the rule change, featured two nine-inning games.

Players opting out

Key
* Opted out after playing during the 2020 season
** Player subsequently opted back in
Players who opted out of the 2020 season[64]
Player Position Team
Lorenzo Cain* Outfielder Milwaukee
Welington Castillo Catcher Washington
Yoenis Céspedes* Outfielder New York Mets
Tim Collins Relief pitcher Colorado
Ian Desmond Outfielder Colorado
Isan Díaz** Second baseman Miami
Félix Hernández Starting pitcher Atlanta
Jordan Hicks Relief pitcher St. Louis
Michael Kopech Starting pitcher Chicago White Sox
Mike Leake Starting pitcher Arizona
Francisco Liriano Relief pitcher Free agent
Nick Markakis** Outfielder Atlanta
Shelby Miller Starting pitcher Milwaukee
Collin McHugh Starting pitcher Boston
Héctor Noesí Relief pitcher Pittsburgh
Buster Posey Catcher San Francisco
David Price Starting pitcher Los Angeles Dodgers
Joe Ross Starting pitcher Washington
Tyson Ross Starting pitcher Free agent
Andrelton Simmons* Shortstop Los Angeles Angels
Kohl Stewart Starting pitcher Baltimore
Marcus Stroman Starting pitcher New York Mets
Mark Zagunis Outfielder Chicago Cubs
Ryan Zimmerman First baseman Washington

Managerial changes

General managers

Offseason

Team Former GM Reason For Leaving New GM Notes
Boston Red Sox Dave Dombrowski Fired Brian O'Halloran Dombrowski, whose title was President of Baseball Operations, was unexpectedly fired on September 9, 2019, less than one year after the Red Sox won the World Series.[65]
On October 25, 2019, the Red Sox hired the 36-year-old Chaim Bloom as Chief Baseball Officer, succeeding Dombrowski as head of their baseball operations, with Brian O'Halloran named general manager and reporting to Bloom.[66]
Pittsburgh Pirates Neal Huntington Ben Cherington Huntington was fired on October 28, 2019. Huntington had been the longest-tenured general manager in the National League, as he was hired in September 2007. The Pirates made the playoffs three times during Huntington's tenure after the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons.[67] Ben Cherington was hired as the new general manager of the Pirates on November 18, 2019.[68]
Houston Astros Jeff Luhnow James Click On January 13, Luhnow was suspended for the 2020 season after the Houston Astros were involved an investigation over the use of technology to steal signs during their 2017 championship season. He was then fired by the Astros organization.[69] James Click was named the new GM on February 3. He has spent the past 14 years in the Tampa Bay Rays front office.[70]

Field managers

Offseason

Team Former manager Interim manager Reason for leaving New manager Notes
San Diego Padres Andy Green Rod Barajas Fired Jayce Tingler On September 21, 2019, Green was fired after four seasons with a record of 274-366 (.428) with no playoff appearances. Bench coach Rod Barajas was named the interim manager of the Padres for the rest of the season.[71]

Tingler was named the new manager on October 28, 2019. Tingler had spent the previous five years in the Texas Rangers organization as a coach and a front office executive.[72]

San Francisco Giants Bruce Bochy N/A Retired Gabe Kapler On February 18, 2019, Bochy announced he would retire following the conclusion of the 2019 season after 13 seasons. He led the Giants to three World Series championships in four playoff appearances. Bochy finished his Giants career with a record of 1052-1054 (.500).[73]

On November 12, 2019, Gabe Kapler, who managed the Philadelphia Phillies for the past two seasons, was announced as the new manager.[74]

Kansas City Royals Ned Yost Mike Matheny On September 23, 2019, Yost announced that he would retire at the end of the 2019 season. He led the Royals to consecutive World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015, winning the championship in 2015. He had been the manager since May 2010. Yost finished his career in Kansas City with a 746-839 (.471) record.[75]

On October 31, 2019, Mike Matheny, who spent last season as the special advisor to Royals general manager Dayton Moore, was named the new manager of the Kansas City Royals. Matheny managed the St. Louis Cardinals from 2012 through mid-July 2018. He had a career record of 591-474 (.555). He led the Cardinals to the postseason in his first four seasons as manager and won the National League pennant in 2013.[76][77]

Chicago Cubs Joe Maddon Contract not renewed David Ross On September 29, 2019, the Cubs announced that they would not offer Maddon a contract extension following this season. He led the Cubs to four playoff appearances in five years, including the 2016 World Series championship, the Cubs' first since 1908. Maddon finished his tenure with the Cubs with a record of 471-339 (.581).[78]

Ross, who spent the 2015 and 2016 season with the team as a player, was named the new manager on October 24, 2019. Ross spent the last three seasons as the special assistant to baseball operations for the team as well as a baseball analyst for ESPN.[79]

Pittsburgh Pirates Clint Hurdle Fired Derek Shelton On September 29, 2019, the Pirates announced that they dismissed Hurdle after nine seasons with a record of 735-720 (.505) with three playoff appearances.[80]

On November 27, 2019, Shelton, who spent the previous two seasons as the bench coach for the Minnesota Twins, was named the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.[81] He also spent time as a hitting coach for the Cleveland Indians from 2005 to 2009 and a hitting coach for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2010 to 2016 while also serving as a quality control coach for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017.[82]

Los Angeles Angels Brad Ausmus Joe Maddon On September 30, 2019, Ausmus was fired after one season with a record of 72-90 (.444). Ausmus served as a special assistant to the Angels general manager Billy Eppler in the 2018 season.[83]

Maddon was hired by the Angels on October 16, 2019.[84] Maddon had spent 31 years in the Angels organization (12 years as a coach) before managing the Tampa Bay Rays for nine years and the Chicago Cubs for five years.

New York Mets Mickey Callaway Carlos Beltrán On October 3, 2019, Callaway was fired after two seasons with a record of 163-161 (.503) with no playoff appearances.[85]

On November 1, 2019, Carlos Beltrán, who played for the team from 2005 to the middle of the 2011 season, was named the new manager of the team. Beltrán was a special adviser to the New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman last season.[86]

Carlos Beltrán Mutual Decision Luis Rojas On January 16, Beltran and the Mets agreed to part ways before managing a game for the Mets, in light of his reported involvement in the Astros using cameras to steal signs.[87]

The Mets hired Rojas on January 22. He has spent the last 13 years in the Mets organization.[88]

Philadelphia Phillies Gabe Kapler Fired Joe Girardi On October 10, 2019, Kapler was fired after two seasons with a record of 161-163 (.497) with no playoff appearances.[89]

Girardi, who served as an baseball analyst for the MLB Network the last two seasons, was hired as new manager on October 24, 2019. Girardi previously managed the Florida Marlins for the 2006 season and the New York Yankees from 2008 to 2017.[90]

Houston Astros A. J. Hinch Dusty Baker On January 13, Hinch was suspended by MLB for the 2020 season as part of an investigation against the Astros using hidden cameras to steal signs during their 2017 championship season; he was fired by the Astros shortly after the suspension was announced. Hinch had a regular season record of 481-329 (.594) with a total of four postseason appearances compiling a record of 28-22 (.560), two World Series appearances, and a World Series championship in 2017, throughout his tenure as Astros manager.[69]

On January 29, the Astros hired Dusty Baker to replace Hinch. He managed the San Francisco Giants from 1993 to 2002, the Chicago Cubs from 2003 to 2006, the Cincinnati Reds from 2008 to 2013, and the Washington Nationals during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. His overall managerial record is 1863-1636 (.532) in the regular season, and 23-32 (.418) in the playoffs, losing the 2002 World Series.

Boston Red Sox Alex Cora Ron Roenicke Mutual Decision Ron Roenicke On January 14, the Red Sox and Cora officially agreed to part ways with each other after two seasons. Cora had been under investigation by MLB over the Houston Astros' use of hidden cameras to steal signs during that team's 2017 championship season (while Cora was the bench coach) as well as under investigation of allegations that the Red Sox engaged in impermissible electronic sign stealing in 2018 (while Cora was the manager). In his two seasons as Red Sox manager, he compiled a record of 192-132 (.593), winning the 2018 World Series.[91]

Roenicke was promoted from bench coach to interim manager on February 11. A longtime coach, his only managerial experience was with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2011 to 2015, compiling a record of 342-331 (.508), with one playoff appearance and a 5-6 (.455) record in the postseason.[92] On April 22, the "interim" tag was removed from Roenicke's title, following MLB's findings about the 2018 Red Sox, which focused on the team's video replay operator.[93]

In-season

Team Former manager Interim manager Reason for leaving New manager Notes
Detroit Tigers Ron Gardenhire Lloyd McClendon Retired A. J. Hinch On September 19, Gardenhire announced his immediate retirement due to health concerns. Lloyd McClendon was named interim manager for the rest of the season. Gardenhire finished his almost three-year tenure with a 132-241 (.354) record and no playoff appearances.[94]

League leaders

American League

National League

Milestones

Batters

  • Aaron Judge (NYY):
    • Became the first player in Major League history to hit five go-ahead home runs in his team's first eight games.[95]
  • Luis Garcia (WAS):
    • Became the first Major League player born in the 2000s to hit a home run. He accomplished this feat on August 17 against the Atlanta Braves.[97]
  • José Abreu (CWS):
    • Abreu hit home runs in four consecutive at-bats over two days to tie the Major League record. Abreu hit home runs in his last three at-bats on August 22 against the Chicago Cubs and then connected on his first at-bat on August 23. Abreu's feat was the 43rd in league history.[98]
  • Marcell Ozuna / Adam Duvall (ATL):
    • With Ozuna's three-homer game on September 1 and Duvall's on September 2, they became the first pair of teammates to ever produce three-homer performances in consecutive games. Both games were against the Boston Red Sox.[101]
  • Juan Soto (WAS):
    • Became the youngest player to win the National League batting title with a .351 average.[103]
  • DJ LeMahieu (NYY):
    • Became the second player in Major League history to win a batting title in both leagues. LeMahieu won the title with the Colorado Rockies during the 2016 season. Hall-of-Famer Ed Delahanty also accomplished this feat. [104]
  • Alex Kirilloff (MIN):
    • Made his Major League debut against the Houston Astros on September 30 during the Wild Card Series. This marks the first time a player has made his debut by starting a postseason game.[106]
  • Josh Naylor (CLE):
    • Became the first player in Major League history to record a hit in each of his first five postseason plate appearances. Naylor went 4-for-4 in Game 1 against the New York Yankees and doubled in his first at-bat in Game 2, but then flied out in his next at-bat to end the streak.[107]
  • Tim Anderson (CWS):
    • Became the first player in Major League history to record at least three hits in his first three postseason games against the Oakland Athletics in the American League Wild Card Series. Anderson is one of two player in history to have three hits in three consecutive postseason games as Lou Brock accomplished this in the 1968 World Series.[108]
  • Ronald Acuña Jr. (ATL):
    • The 22-year-old became the youngest player to hit a leadoff homer in the postseason against the Miami Marlins in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on October 6.[110]
  • Will Smith (LAD):
    • With his five-hit performance on October 8 in Game 3 against the San Diego Padres in the National League Division Series, Smith became the youngest player in Major League postseason history to accomplish this feat. This was also the ninth time that a five-hit game was achieved in a postseason game.[111]
  • Randy Arozarena (TB):
    • Hit his seventh home run of the postseason in Game 7 against the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series (ALCS) which set a Major League record for most home runs in the postseason by a rookie. Arozarena also won the Most Valuable Player of the ALCS and became the first rookie position player to receive the honor.[112]

Pitchers

No-hitters

  • Alec Mills (CHC):
    • Threw his first career no-hitter, and the 16th in franchise history, by defeating the Milwaukee Brewers 12-0 on September 13. Mills struck out five and walked three, throwing 114 pitches with 74 of them being strikes.[114]

Other pitching accomplishments

  • Shane Bieber (CLE):
    • Tied the Major League record for most strikeouts in his first two starts of a season after his performance against the Minnesota Twins on July 30. His 27 strikeouts tied the record that was set in 1954 by Karl Spooner of the Brooklyn Dodgers.[115]
    • Set the modern Major League record (since 1900) for starters for the fewest innings to record 100 strikeouts, doing so in 62​ innings. The previous record was 63, set by Max Scherzer in 2018.[116]
  • Tyler Alexander (DET):
    • Set the Major League record for relievers and tied the American League record for any pitcher by recording nine consecutive strikeouts against the Cincinnati Reds on August 2. He tied the American League record set by starter Doug Fister during the 2012 season.[117]
  • Zac Gallen (ARI):
    • Set the Major League record for most consecutive starts starting a career giving up three earned runs or less in each game at 22 with his outing on August 28 against the San Francisco Giants. He broke the record that was set by Aaron Sele.[119] His streak came to an end at 23 games after giving up four earned runs on September 7 against the San Francisco Giants.[120]

Miscellaneous

  • Toronto Blue Jays:
    • Became the first team in Major League history to lose a game in which they recorded at least 18 hits and seven home runs on August 12 against the Miami Marlins.[124]
  • San Diego Padres:
    • Became the first team in Major League history to hit at least one grand slam in each of four consecutive games from August 17 to 20. All such grand slams were made against the Texas Rangers.[127]
  • Joe Girardi (PHI):
    • Recorded his 1,000th win as a manager when the Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals on August 26. Girardi became the 65th manager to reach this mark. He did so in 1,808 games.[128]
  • Los Angeles Dodgers:
    • Set the National League record for most home runs in a month by hitting their 57th during August against the Texas Rangers on August 30.[129]
    • Set the Major League record for most runs in a single inning in a postseason game by scoring 11 runs in the first inning of Game 3 of the 2020 National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves on October 14.[130]
  • Atlanta Braves:
    • Set a National League record for runs scored in a game in the modern era (since 1900) with a 29-9 win over the Miami Marlins on September 9. The Braves broke the record of 28 that was set in 1929 by the St. Louis Cardinals.[131] Among these runs, 18 were home runs, tying the Major League record.[132]
    • Set the Major League record for consecutive scoreless innings to begin a postseason series at 22 innings with their 13-inning Game 1 shutout and Game 2 series-clinching shutout.[133]
  • New York Yankees:
    • Became the first team in Major League history with six or more home runs in three consecutive games from September 15 to 17 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Their 19 home runs in that same span is also a record.[134]
  • Dusty Baker (HOU):
    • With the Astros making it to the postseason, Baker became the first manager in Major League history to lead five different teams to the playoffs.[135]
  • Cincinnati Reds / Atlanta Braves:
    • The Reds-Braves Game 1 scoreless duel through 12 innings set a Major League record for the longest postseason game without either team scoring a run. It broke the record of ten innings that was achieved on four separate occasions.[136]
  • New York Yankees / Cleveland Indians:
    • Game 2 of their American League Wild Card Series on September 30, which the Yankees won 10-9, lasted four hours and 50 minutes (not counting the two rain delays), making it the longest nine-inning game in Major League history.[137]
  • Tampa Bay Rays:
    • Set a Major League postseason record of strikeouts in a nine-inning game by fanning 18 New York Yankees in Game 2 of their American League Division Series on October 6.[138]
  • Houston Astros / Oakland Athletics:
    • Set the Major League record for most postseason home runs in a series of five games or fewer by hitting 24 in their American League Division Series.[139] Each team hit 12 home runs, also a division series record.[140]
  • Houston Astros:
    • Became the first team in postseason history to hit a leadoff home run and walk-off home run in the same game, with the former hit by George Springer and the latter by Carlos Correa. They beat the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.[141]
    • Became the second team in Major League History to force a Game 7 after losing the first three games. Houston lost the first three games of the ALCS to the Tampa Bay Rays, before forcing Game 7. The 2004 Boston Red Sox accomplished this in the ALCS against the New York Yankees and won Game 7.[142] However, the Astros were not able to duplicate the Red Sox.[143]

Awards and honors

Regular season

All-MLB Team

Players are selected through fan votes (50%) and votes from a panel of experts (50%). The winners are selected based on merit, with no set number of nominees per position and no distinction between leagues.

All-MLB First Team (announced Dec. 9)
Position Player (Team)
Starting pitcher
Relief pitcher
Designated hitter
Catcher
1st Base
2nd Base
3rd Base
Shortstop
Outfield
All-MLB Second Team
Starting pitcher
Relief pitcher
Designated hitter
Catcher
1st Base
2nd Base
3rd Base
Shortstop
Outfield

Other awards

Fielding Bible Awards[144]
Position Player
Pitcher Max Fried
Catcher Roberto Pérez
1st Base Matt Olson
2nd Base Kolten Wong
3rd Base Nolan Arenado
Shortstop Javier Báez
Left Field Tyler O'Neill
Center Field Kevin Kiermaier
Right Field Mookie Betts
Multi-position Kiké Hernández

Monthly awards

Uniforms

On January 25, 2019, MLB announced that Nike would become the new exclusive uniform supplier for all MLB teams, under a 10-year deal beginning in 2020. Under Armour backed out of its existing supply agreement as a cost-cutting measure.[145]

Anniversaries and special events

Team Special occasion
All Teams #42 patch for Jackie Robinson Day (scheduled for April 15; tribute converted to virtual experience on MLB.com/MLB Network; held August 28)[146]
100th anniversary of the Negro Leagues (August 16)
Gold Ribbons for childhood cancer (August 28)
Patches for Black Lives Matter (Opening Day)
Chicago White Sox "Farmio" patch in memory of radio broadcaster and former pitcher Ed Farmer
Detroit #6 patch in memory of Al Kaline[147]
Kansas City "DG" patch in memory of former owner David Glass
Milwaukee 50th Anniversary in Milwaukee
Minnesota 60th season in the Twin Cities
"RC" patch in memory of Minor League player Ryan Costello (July 24)
New York Mets #41 patch in memory of Tom Seaver
New York Yankees "HGS" patch in memory of Hank Steinbrenner
#16 patch in memory of Whitey Ford (October 9)
St. Louis #20 patch in memory of Lou Brock
San Francisco "20 at 24" 20th anniversary of Oracle Park (24 refers to the address of the park, 24 Willie Mays Plaza)
Texas First season at Globe Life Field
Toronto #1 patch in memory of Tony Fernández
Washington 2019 World Series championship (July 23, initially scheduled for April 2)

Wholesale changes

Arizona tweaked their uniforms, including removing the darker away uniforms and the diamond pattern on the uniforms.[148]

Cincinnati added a new alternate jersey and a new spring training jersey.[149]

Milwaukee introduced new uniforms, including a return to the ball-in-glove logo used as their primary logo from 1978-93. They also switched out their gold color to yellow.[150]

Minnesota added a new alternate uniform, utilizing its powder blue 1973-1986 road uniform design.[151]

Pittsburgh brought back the script "Pittsburgh" from the 1990s on new alternate and road uniforms, along with a gold outlined "P" on their caps.[152]

Texas introduced a new powder blue jersey along with a powder blue hat. It also changed the "Texas" wordmark to "Rangers" wordmark on the white jersey and revealed a new red hat with the state of Texas on it with "TX." [153]

Toronto added a new alternate based on its 1979-1988 powder blue road jerseys.[154]

Washington added two new alternate hats and one alternate white jersey.[155]

San Diego changed its primary colors from navy blue to brown and gold, the team's primary colors from 1969-84.[156]

St. Louis made changes to its logo as it appears on the caps.[157]

Throwbacks

The Cardinals and Royals wore Negro Leagues throwbacks September 22. The Cardinals wore 1930 St. Louis Stars uniforms, and the Royals wore 1945 Kansas City Monarchs uniforms.[158]

Venues

This is the Texas Rangers' first season at Globe Life Field, replacing Globe Life Park in Arlington where they played from 1994 to 2019. Their first game was July 24 against the Colorado Rockies.[159]

The Miami Marlins converted Marlins Park from a natural grass surface to Shaw Sports B1K artificial turf and the field's fences will be moved in closer.[160]

The Atlanta Braves' SunTrust Park was renamed Truist Park after SunTrust Banks's merger with BB&T Bank into Truist Financial.[161]

Temporary relocation of the Toronto Blue Jays

On July 18, the Canadian federal government denied the Toronto Blue Jays exceptions to the Quarantine Act to play regular season home games at Rogers Centre this season. Although they were allowed to conduct training camp with stricter protocols than those mandated by MLB, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marco Mendicino cited that repeated cross-border travel by players would carry a major risk due to the higher number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.[162] Mendicino did not rule out the permission being granted for postseason games, depending on the status of the pandemic in the U.S. by then, however the Blue Jays would not have any home postseason games.

On July 20, the Pittsburgh Pirates offered the use of PNC Park as a site for Blue Jays home games.[163][164] However, health officials in Pennsylvania denied permission for this arrangement, citing concerns over additional travel to and from Pittsburgh amid an increase in local cases.[165]

On July 24, the Blue Jays announced that they would play the majority of their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, home of the Jays' AAA affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons.[166][167][168] The Jays' first game in Buffalo was August 11 against the Miami Marlins. The Jays' first two home series against the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies were relocated to the visiting teams' venues, Nationals Park and Citizens Bank Park, respectively, with the Jays as designated home team.[166][168][169] However, the Phillies series was postponed and made up in Buffalo.[170]

Broadcast rights

Television

National

This is the seventh year of the current eight-year deals with Fox, ESPN, and TBS. Fox was to televise the MLB at Field of Dreams game on August 13. FS1 televised games on Tuesday nights and on Saturdays both during the afternoon and night. ESPN televised games on its flagship telecast Sunday Night Baseball as well as Monday and Wednesday nights. Fox and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecasts were exclusive; all other national telecasts were subject to local blackout.

TBS televised one AL Wild Card Series, both American League Division Series matchups and the American League Championship Series. ESPN televised seven of the eight Wild Card Series with live look-ins and alternate broadcasts on ESPN+.[171][172][173] On September 28, it was announced that ABC would broadcast at least four of ESPN's Wild Card Series games, marking the first time a national MLB game had aired on the network since 1995 (via the ill-fated The Baseball Network arrangement).[174] FS1 and MLB Network will televise both National League Division Series matchups. Fox and FS1 televised the National League Championship Series, and the World Series was be on Fox for the 21st straight year.

Local

Radio

National

Local

  • The Oakland Athletics were briefly the first MLB team to abandon terrestrial radio in their primary market in favor of internet radio; the team initially carried games on TuneIn via the "A's Cast" channel, with plans for some games to be aired without commercial interruptions. The decision was prompted by competition with other local sports teams for time on stations, resulting in frequent pre-emptions and lowered priorities, and conflicts with regular station programming. The broadcasts were still carried on some terrestrial radio stations outside the Bay Area (with the closest being Sacramento's KHTK).[181][182] However, on July 30, 2020, it was reported that the team had backed out of the arrangement and signed with iHeartMedia to make 960 KNEW the team's flagship station (with its streaming platform shifting to iHeartRadio), beginning July 31. Team owner Dave Kaval cited people having become "budget-conscious" due to the pandemic as having influenced the decision.[183]
  • Entercom's KMNB/Minneapolis will join WCCO as the FM flagship for the Minnesota Twins in an extension of rights until the 2023 season.[184]
  • Chicago White Sox radio play-by-play announcer Ed Farmer, a former pitcher for the team who had been part of the team's radio broadcast staff since 1991, died on April 1 after a long-term battle with polycystic kidney disease.[185] On June 30, the team and its radio network named Andy Masur (the former pre-game host) as Farmer's successor.[186]

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on production

Cutout images of Washington Nationals fans placed in Nationals Park seats in August 2020

In order to reduce avoidable travel and the amount of personnel on-site for each game, most MLB broadcasters commentated away games remotely from either their broadcaster's studio, or their home stadium's broadcast booths. MLB safety protocols mandated remote broadcasts for away games on television, but radio broadcasters were allowed to be present on-site for away games if they so chose.[187] Some teams had their commentators on-site for home games only, and called away games from their studio.[188][189]

Furthermore, the home team's local television rightsholder served as the host broadcaster for each game, providing a neutral video feed to media partners (including the away team's local rightsholder, and in some cases, a national broadcaster), which added commentary, graphics, and other surrounding coverage for their audience.[190][191]MLB Network assisted with providing and using existing infrastructure for this arrangement.[192] Audio from Sony Interactive Entertainment's MLB: The Show video game franchise was used as artificial crowd noise for all games, and was played over the stadiums' audio systems on-site.[191]

Fox announced plans to use augmented reality "virtual fans" in its games,[193] while ESPN leveraged experience from its remote broadcasts of KBO League games over the suspended pre-season.[194][195]

The pandemic also led to changes in broadcast arrangements for several teams:

  • Due to health risks, the Baltimore Orioles announced that Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer could not call its games for MASN this season.[196]
  • Sportsnet's Toronto Blue Jays color commentator Pat Tabler (who is a U.S. citizen) took on a reduced analyst role this season, leaving the team's alternate commentary team of Dan Shulman (play-by-play) and Buck Martinez (color; he normally performs play-by-play on games where Shulman is not present) for all regular-season games.[188][197] Due to his commitments to ESPN Radio, Shulman was replaced by Joe Siddall for Toronto's Wild Card Series games.[198]
  • Prior to the pandemic, the San Francisco Giants and NBC Sports Bay Area had already planned to have color commentator Mike Krukow broadcast 22 NL West road games remotely from the network's studios (with his play-by-play partner Duane Kuiper commentating on-site as normal), since his inclusion body myositis had made him unfit to travel. The need for this arrangement was ultimately rendered moot, with Krukow and Kuiper calling all Giants' games together from booths at Oracle Park.[187][199]
  • On July 31, Texas Rangers radio voice Matt Hicks tested positive for COVID-19. His partner Eric Nadel subsequently opted out from broadcasting that weekend's games.[200] After television voice C. J. Nitkowski tested positive in mid-September, Fox Sports Southwest switched to using a simulcast of the radio broadcast.[201]

Retirements

The following players retired during the 2020 season:

Retired numbers

Due to the delayed start of the season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the following retirement ceremonies have been postponed. They will be rescheduled.

Major League Baseball teams revenue losses for 2020

For 2020 Team Marketing Report has calculated $5 billion in game day losses for Major League Baseball as a result of not having fans.[219]

See also

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