Monday, 29 March 2021

Play Ball

MLB is back this week, with a full slate of matches scheduled for April Fools' Day. 

Due to the pandemic, the 2020 season was like no other, for example:
  • The normal 162 game schedule was shortened to just 60. 
  • Teams played just nine opponents all season, instead of the typical 19 or 20. 
  • The season didn't start until late July. 
  • The Blue jays played their home games in Buffalo. 
  • The play-offs were extended to 16 teams, and all post season games after the first round were held at neutral venues. 
  • The Designated Hitter (DH) rule was used everywhere, and the doubleheader rule was changed in mid-season after one had already been played under the normal rules. 
  • The extra innings rule was changed
All in all, it was a bit of a mess and a season that meant meaningful comparisons with previous seasons were pretty much impossible.

The Opening Day System was again profitable, but that was about it. The perennially profitable T-Bone System couldn't cope, registering its second losing season since 2010:
This strategy was profitable in matches hosted by American League teams versus a National League opponent, which were matches unaffected by the DH rule change. In fact 2020 was the best season for these matchups although it is a relatively rare scenario. 

'Hot favourites' managed the rare feat of consecutive losing months although July was a short month with just 22 qualifiers:
With some rule changes remaining in place, the big question is whether last season was a blip or whether longstanding inefficiencies have coincidentally corrected.

Seven-inning doubleheaders and runners on second base to start extra innings will return this season, but the universal Designated Hitter rule has been dispatched as has the expanded play-off format.

On a personal note, my wife is very excited about the prospects of her home town team (San Diego Padres) this season, as they are third favourites in the betting to win the World Series behind the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees. 

Last season they reached the playoffs for the first time since 2006 and were eliminated in the NLDS (aka Quarter-Finals) by the eventual winners - and local rivals - Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Fun facts: The Padres are the only team in MLB yet to throw a no-hitter, but on the other hand, last season they did become the first team in MLB history to hit a grand slam in four consecutive games. So there's that.

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