We are nearly through the first full month of the 2020 MLB season. Our darling Orioles, Tigers, and Marlins are beginning to fade while the league’s best teams – the Yankees, Dodgers, Rays, and A’s – are rising to the top.
We’ve seen familiar faces continue to dazzle and newcomers prove that they belong at the highest level of the game. The accomplishments of 2020 can be summarized with several key numbers.
Here is the 2020 MLB season by the numbers.
This is the number of players hitting above .400 at the end of August. DJ LeMahieu leads baseball with a .411 batting average but is currently not eligible for the batting title with just 79 PA in 29 Yankees games. In order to be a qualified hitter you must accrue 3.1 plate appearances per team games played. LeMahieu is a little short because he has been held out with a bad thumb sprain. Reports say that DJ should be back within a week which will allow him enough time to earn batting title eligibility. LeMahieu needs 3.6 to 3.7 plate appearances in each of the Yankees remaining games in order to get there.
LeMahieu is looking to become the first player since Ted Williams in 1941 to finish the regular season with a batting average of .400 or better. DJ would be the first player since Chipper Jones in 2008 to hold his average north of .400 through his team’s first 60 games.
The Dodgers are the heaviest favorites in baseball with an average moneyline of -208. The Dodgers are not that great of a bet this year despite owning the best record in the MLB. Because they must win at such a high rate to profit as -208 favorites, LA has profited just $90 on $100/game moneyline bets, which ranks 14th in baseball.
Dodgers bettors should be used to putting large amounts of money on the line by this point. LA was the second-heaviest favorite in 2019 at -182. The team was the 4th-heaviest favorite in 2018 with a -164 average moneyline.
The Los Angeles Angels are the biggest moneyline losers of 2020. $100/game bettors on the Angels are down $1520 as the team has posted the 3rd-lowest winning percentage in the MLB despite being given an average line of -115. The books thought LAA was going to be good this year. So did I. I even had the Angels as my AL West winner during preseason predictions. One of their starting pitchers – Andrew Heaney – was my dark horse AL Cy Young pick. Things haven’t played out very well for Mike Trout and the boys. Maybe manager Joe Maddon is losing his touch …
With moneyline earnings of $829, the A’s are the most profitable team in baseball – ahead of the White Sox, Marlins, Giants, and Orioles. Oakland owns an excellent 22-10 record which is first in the American League and second only to the Dodgers. Even a big average line of -139 cannot stop A’s bettors. 2020 marks the second-straight season in which the A’s are the most profitable moneyline bet. In 2019, Oakland bettors took home over $2200 as the A’s won 90+ games with an average line of -127. Oakland was the 2nd-most profitable team to put money on in 2018. Combining both the regular season and playoff games since 2018, $100/game bettors on the Oakland moneyline would be up over $6500.
The Seattle Mariners – the anti-Dodgers – are the biggest dogs in baseball with an average moneyline of +171. The M’s 13-21 record is awful but $100/game bettors have lost just a measly $60 because they are getting such great odds on each game.
This is the number of homeruns Fernando Tatis Jr of San Diego is on pace for in 2020. Tatis has 13 right now through 34 team games. He has played in every Padres game this season. 23 would be the most homeruns through the first 60 games of a season since Albert Pujols swatted 25 dingers in the first 60 games of the 2006 season.
Miguel Sano’s K rate – the highest in the MLB among qualified hitters – is an eye-popping 42.1%. Sano is hitting .247 and walking at a 13.1% rate. His OBP is .346 which isn’t bad. He has 6 HR, 18 R, and 14 RBIs in 2020 – good numbers. Sano has always been a high-strikeout guy. His career K% is 36.6% and he has never had a season below 35%.
Six is the number of wins for MLB wins leader Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians. The 25-year-old Bieber is 6-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 14.46 K/9. Bieber’s K/9 rate is the best in baseball while his sterling ERA is the best in the American League and second only to Max Fried of the Braves among qualified MLB pitchers.
Ten is the number of saves for MLB saves leader Liam Hendriks of the Oakland A’s. Hendriks is 10 for 11 in save opportunities this year. His record is 2-0 (meaning Oakland didn’t even lose the one game Hendriks blew) and he possesses a dominant ERA of 1.10. Opponents are hitting just .143 off Liam. Hendriks’ ability to slam the door late has propelled Oakland to the top record in the American League.
The Chicago White Sox hold the highest team batting average in baseball at .271. The only team from last season who sustained a batting average higher than .271 was the Houston Astros who ended the regular season at .274 to lead the MLB. Chicago finished 8th last season in team batting average at .261.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lead baseball in homeruns hit with 63 over 34 games played. The Dodgers have also scored the most runs in baseball with 190. This averages out to 1.85 homeruns hit per game and 5.59 runs scored per game in 2020. With stellar hitting and pitching – it is no wonder we see the Dodgers atop the MLB standings at 24-10. They are the only team playing above .700 at this point in the year. LA is even top-10 in defense as their team Def is tied for 8th in the MLB.
The numbers of teams with negative Def scores at this point in 2020. The A’s, Twins, Indians, Cubs, Blue Jays, and White Sox have all saved runs and gotten out of jams with incredible defensive efforts. A Def above 0 represents an above average defensive ballclub.
All other MLB teams have negative Def scores which means they are hurting themselves with the gloves. Which club owns the lowest Def? The hungover Washington Nationals at a dismal -13.2. According to FanGraphs, 10 runs of Def equals one win. This means the Nationals have cost themselves between 1 and 2 wins this year because of their awful defense.
The Cleveland Indians lead all of baseball in hitter walk rate at 11.8%. This high walk rate has helped Cleveland offset a low team batting average to pull their OBP up to .330 – which is tied for 10th in baseball. Cleveland is tough to beat because their hitters draw free passes but their pitchers don’t allow them. Indians pitchers are allowing 2.45 BB/9 in 2020 – the lowest rate in the MLB.
The Detroit Tigers own the highest hitter K% in baseball with 27.5%. The Tigers began the 2020 season 9-5. The strikeouts began to catch up with Detroit and now the Tigers find themselves in 4th place in the Central with a 13-16 record – losers of 6 of their last 10. Tigers fans aren’t shocked to see their team striking out so much as Detroit led all of baseball in K% in 2019 with a 26.4% rate.
It is no wonder the Tigers can’t hit the ball. Their approaches at the plate are generally horrible. The Tigers have the 4th-highest O-Swing% and the lowest O-Contact% in baseball. This means Detroit hitters leave the zone with regularity and hardly ever make contact.
The Baltimore Orioles have the highest O-Swing% in baseball at 35.6%. This is not a stat in which you want to be leading the league. O-Swing% is the percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone your hitters swing at. For reference, the Dodgers and Padres are two of the games’ best offensive teams and hold O-Swing rates around 25%. The Orioles chase 10% more pitches than these teams – which really adds up over the course of a game or series.
The one saving grace for Baltimore is that their hitters rank 8th in the MLB in O-Contact% which is the percentage of those chased pitches which result in contact. They may leave the zone a lot but at least they are hitting the ball a decent amount of the time.
The number of times a Cubs hitter has been hit by a pitch this season – the most in baseball. We all thought Houston was going to receive a steady diet of beanballs this year but the Astros have been hit just 14 times – right in the middle of the pack. The Cubs, Mets, A’s, DBacks, Dodgers, Indians, and Reds have each been plunked at least 20 times. I’m sure Houston hitters have been spared in part because of the harsh penalties handed out to anyone bold enough to tangle with the ‘Stros.