With the first-ever Wild Card Series concluding this weekend, let’s look back at some key performances and stats in our inaugural MLB Playoffs Wild Card Round – by the Numbers!
The number of Wild Card series that ended in a sweep. Only 2 of the 8 Wild Card series went the distance – 3 games. We saw the Yankees, Astros, Dodgers, Braves, Marlins, and Rays sweep in this unprecedented Wild Card round of the 2020 MLB Playoffs.
The difference in regular season wins between the Twins (36-24) and Astros (29-31). The Astros swept the Twins in two games.
The 6-seed Astros headed to Target Field as underdogs to the 3-seed, division-winning Twins. Minnesota ended the regular season on a heater – storming ahead of Chicago and fending off Cleveland to take the division by 1 game. The Twins were 36-24.
Houston was the beneficiary of a weak division – sneaking into the 6-seed as the 2nd place team in the AL West despite a losing, 29-31 record. This was Houston’s first losing season since 2014.
Minnesota underwhelmed in Game 1. The Twins chased Houston starter Zack Greinke after just 4 innings but then could not solve Framber Valdez. Valdez completed the game for the Astros, firing for 5 innings strong – allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks while keeping Minnesota off the scoreboard.
Their backs against the wall in Game 2, Minnesota could muster just 1 run for the second game in a row in a 3-1 loss. This time it was a combination of Jose Urquidy, Brooks Raley, Cristian Javier, and Ryan Pressly keeping Minnesota suppressed.
The Astros now move on to face the AL West-winning Oakland Athletics in a best-of-5 American League Division Series.
The run differential in the Rays-Blue Jays Wild Card series. Tampa swept Toronto by scores of 3-1 and 8-2.
The Rays entered postseason play as the top seed in the American League while the Blue Jays were in with the 8 seed. Tampa won 8 of their final 10 regular season games – finishing an American League-best 40-20.
The Blue Jays had no one breathing down their necks in the standings and were able to comfortably claim the 8 seed. A playoff race might have been good for Toronto who seemed to be a little sluggish in the always-dead Tropicana Field.
Toronto squandered excellent pitching performances by Matt Shoemaker and Robbie Ray in Game 1. The two combined for 6 innings – allowing just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run scored while striking out 7.
Blake Snell – the Rays starter – was just as good. Snell pitched into the 6th inning with a shutout, allowing just 1 hit and recording 9 Ks. Only 4 different Blue Jays picked up hits in Game 1. Toronto needed to win this game as it would take a lot more than 4 runs to win Game 2.
It didn’t take long for Tampa to break Game 2 open. Hunter Renfroe slapped a Hyun-jin Ryu offering over the fence in the 2nd inning for a grand slam – increasing the Rays lead to 7. Tampa would go on to win without having to sweat late, 8-2.
The on-base percentage by Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts in LA’s 2-game Wild Card series sweep over Milwaukee.
The LA-newcomer led the Dodgers offensively in their 2-game sweep over the 8-seed Brewers. Betts was 3 for 7 from the dish with 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, and 3 runs scored.
This performance is fresh off a regular season in which Betts hit .292 with 16 homeruns, 39 RBIs, 47 runs scored, and 10 steals. Over a full season of work, these numbers equate to a line of .292/ 43 HR/ 105 RBI / 127 R / 27 SB.
The number of runs scored by the Cincinnati Reds in their Wild Card series versus Atlanta.
The Reds collected 11 hits in the 13-inning Game 1 but could not score – losing 1-0. Cincinnati left 13 runners on base and were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos recorded the only extra-base hit on the day for Cincinnati – a 2-out double in the 11th inning. Walks by Votto and Suarez loaded the bases for Mike Moustakas. This was Cincinnati’s best scoring opportunity of the game. 11th inning, bases loaded, veteran hitter up … he struck out.
Freddie Freeman would go on to win the game for Atlanta with a walkoff single in the 13th inning scoring outfielder Cristian Pache.
In Game 2, the Reds squeaked out just 2 measly hits – wasting an excellent start by Luis Castillo in which he allowed just 1 earned run over 5.1 innings while striking out 7.
It was Max Fried who handcuffed Cincy in Game 1. Game 2 was all about Ian Anderson. Anderson lasted 6 full innings, surrendering just 2 hits and striking out 9. Will Smith, Chris Martin, and Mark Melancon each pitched a perfect inning of relief – sealing the series sweep.
The number of RBIs by Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. in San Diego’s 3-game series win over St. Louis.
Tatis shone bright in his first postseason series – going 5 for 11 from the dish with 2 homers, 5 RBIs, and 5 runs scored.
The 21-year-old budding star struggled in his first several plate appearances of the series – leaving 10 runners on base. That all changed in the 6th inning of Game 2. With 2 men on, down by 4, Tatis delivered a 3-run bomb. These were his first RBIs of the series and they drew the seemingly-dead Padres back to within 1 run.
This series was a continuation of Tatis’ excellent season from the dish in 2020. Tatis hit .277 with 17 homeruns and 45 RBIs, scoring 50 times. Extrapolating these numbers out over a full season would give the younger slugger a line of .277/46 HR/122 RBI/135 R.
San Diego does not have the more talented roster heading into the National League Divisional Series with the Dodgers, but the Padres do have the best player in the series in Tatis.
The slugging percentage by Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena in Tampa’s 2-game Wild Card series sweep over Toronto.
Not widely known around the league, Arozarena has been anchoring the heart of the Rays order down the stretch and excelling in his role.
The 25-year-old Cuban outfielder was for 4-8 from the plate in 2 games against Toronto – recording 2 doubles, a triple, and 3 runs scored. His 3 extra base hits in 8 at-bats results in a lofty slugging percentage of 1.000.
In the 2020 regular season, Arozarena hit .281 with 7 bombs, 11 RBIs, 15 runs scored, and 4 steals in just 23 games.
The number of runs scored in the 2-game Wild Card series between the Yankees and Indians.
The Yankees-Indians Wild Card series only went 2 games but the clubs combined for enough runs to fill a 7-game series. New York jumped all over probable Cy Young winner Shane Bieber in Game 1 – clobbering Cleveland 12-3. The Yanks kept their foots on the pedal in Game 2 – winning 10-9 in a crazy, back-and-forth affair.
Cleveland entered play with the best team ERA in the American League, but their starting pitching let the team down this series. Game 1 starter Shane Bieber entered play at 8-1 on the season with a league-best 1.63 ERA and an 0.87 WHIP. Bieber could not even get through the fifth inning as the Yanks pounded him for 9 hits and 7 earned runs.
Game 2 starter Carlos Carrasco did not fare much better. The 33-year-old vet stuck around for only 3 innings, surrendering 4 earned runs on 2 hits and 3 walks.
Batting average by White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson in Chicago’s 3-game Wild Card series loss to Oakland.
The Sox 3-game loss to Oakland definitely wasn’t the fault of shortstop Tim Anderson. Anderson continued his prolific 2020 season by going 9-14 at the plate with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored against A’s pitching.
Having your leadoff hitter get on at a .643 clip is a good recipe for success, but Chicago couldn’t drive Anderson home once he got aboard. Maybe next year, Tim.