Sometimes, 162 games just isn’t enough.
In this case, there are two divisional battles that just couldn’t sort themselves out over the course of a full 162-game season. Onward we go -- to Monday!
Since 1995, there have been seven other instances in which a tie forced an extra regular season game to sort things out before the real postseason begins. Never before, had two such games occurred in the same season. It’s the first time that such a tiebreaker has been needed since the Rays and Rangers played for the Wild Card in 2013.
All four squads that entered play on Sunday tied for their respective division leads certainly came to play.
In the National League West, the Dodgers spent the afternoon demolishing the Giants 15-0 behind seven shutout innings from Rich Hill. Matt Kemp led the offensive charge in that one with three hits and three RBI while Max Muncy, Brian Dozier and Austin Barnes each homered.
On the other side of that divisional battle, the Rockies busted out their whooping sticks, clobbering the Nationals 12-0 in Colorado. Nolan Arenado homered twice in the game, taking the lead in the chase for the National League home run crown with 37. David Dahl, and Trevor Story also left the yard for the home team, while Charlie Blackmon hit for the cycle. On the mound, Tyler Anderson fired 7 ⅔ scoreless innings.
Neither team in the National League Central faced any serious worry either. The Brewers wrapped up a three-game sweep over the Tigers with an 11-0 victory. Gio Gonzalez fired five shutout innings in that one, while Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw knocked balls out of the park.
Unlike the other three teams, the Cubs allowed the opposition to score in their regular season finale, though they still triumphed over the Cardinals 10-5. Willson Contreras homered and drove in a pair of runs while Anthony Rizzo went 4-for-4 with three runs scored.
The Brewers and Cubs will get things started at Wrigley Field at 1:05 PM Eastern on Monday. Jose Quintana will take the hill for the Cubs, looking to continue his season-long domination over the Brewers. In his six starts against his division foe this season, Quintana has posted a 2.17 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 33/10 K/BB ratio over 33 ⅓ innings. The Brewers have yet to announce who will be opposing Quintana in that start.
For the Dodgers, it’ll be rookie right-hander Walker Buehler taking the hill. He had been scheduled to pitch on Sunday, but the Dodgers opted instead to use Rich Hill on Sunday (which worked out masterfully), saving Buehler for the do-or-die game on Monday in Los Angeles.
Opposing him, will be Rockies’ right-hander German Marquez. The 23-year-old hurler has had an exceptional season, but has been absolutely dominant over his last 16 starts. Over that stretch, dating back to June 30, Marquez has gone 9-2 with a 2.41 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 137/20 K/BB ratio across 108 1/3 innings. Hes' 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 22/5 K/BB ratio over 21 innings in his three starts against the Dodgers this season
Model of Consistency
There’s something to be said about being consistent.
Many risk-averse fantasy owners tend to lean toward players that they can trust. Players that they know will deliver consistent results year-in and year-out. There isn’t a more consistent hitter in all of baseball right now than Athletics’ slugger Khris Davis.
Davis went 0-for-2 in his regular season finale against the Angels on Sunday, finishing the season with a .247 batting average.
That’s notable, because it’s the same average that he has finished each of the previous three seasons with as well.
In doing so, Davis became the first player in MLB history to hit for the same batting average, rounded to three decimal places, four seasons in a row.
Overall, here’s how Davis’ fantasy production has stacked up across his last four seasons:
2015: .247/.323/.505, 54 R, 27 HR, 66 RBI, 6 SB in 440 plate appearances
2016: .247/.307/.524, 85 R, 42 HR, 102 RBI, 1 SB in 610 plate appearances
2017: .247/.336/.528, 91 R, 43 HR, 110 RBI, 4 SB in 652 plate appearances
2018: .247/.326/.549, 98 R, 48 HR, 123 RBI, 0 SB in 654 plate appearances
One thing is for certain. When I go around the league and make my initial projections in advance of a draft I have that begins next week, Davis will be penciled in right at .247.
Aside from the oddity in finishing the season with the same .247 batting average, Davis also achieved something more impressive on Sunday, locking up his first home run crown. His 48 long balls paced all players in both leagues, finishing five ahead of Red Sox’ slugger J.D. Martinez for the top spot in baseball.
Nice Round Numbers (Redux)
In this space two weeks ago I took a look around the league at players that were one or two stolen bases shy of of achieving a nice round number in the category before season’s end. This is the first time that I have checked back on that data, and thought it would be fun to see how many of them, if any, actually came to fruition. Or at least showed increased opportunity to try to get it done.
Here’s the list of potential thieves that I pointed out last time, and how they fared over the season’s final two weeks:
Mookie Betts (28 SB) - Given the cache that comes along with a 30/30 season, everyone knew that Betts was going to swipe another two bases to lock in that personal achievement. He didn’t attempt another steal after locking in his 30th bag on Wednesday.
Lorenzo Cain (28 SB) - I said that I would be shocked if Cain didn’t reach the 30-steal plateau, and what do ya know, he picked up his 30th stolen base on the same day that Betts did. Like Betts, he didn’t attempt another steal afterwards, finishing the year with 30 bags.
At the next level, there were three players that were sitting on 19 steals with two weeks remaining. Here’s how they fared:
Christian Yelich (19 SB) - While he was lighting the world on fire en route to locking up the National League MVP award, Yelich found the time to swipe not one, but two more bases, matching his career high with 21 on the season.
Ian Desmond (19 SB) - Desmond wasted no time trying to get his 20th stolen base, attempting two steals, achieving once, last Tuesday. Once reaching the 20-steal plateau, Desmond did not attempt another stolen base over the final 10 games of the season.
Rajai Davis (19 SB) - This one I knew was going to be tricky, as Davis is a part-time player, so opportunity may have been hard to come by. Like Desmond, Davis went out last Tuesday and nabbed his 20th base, marking the 11th time in his career he has netted 20 or more swipes. He added one more steal on three attempts the rest of the way.
After that, there were two players sitting on 18 steals with two weeks to go. Did they reach the promised land like their predecessors?
Amed Rosario (18 SB) - The Mets’ 22-year-old shortstop maintained his fresh legs throughout the season, swiping an additional six bases in seven attempts to finish the season with 24.
Cesar Hernandez (18 SB) - Last, but not least, Hernandez is the one that I noted may be the hardest to reach the 20 steal total. He had stolen only two bases in four chances over his previous 24 games heading into the season’s final two weeks. I did think that his attempts would at least rise though as he chased the round number. Survey says? This was our lone failure. Hernandez did steal his 19th base of the season with plenty of time to go, but attempted only one other swipe over his final 11 games and was unsuccessful in doing so.
Not that I’ll ever have a voice in actually deciding how the awards will be dished out at the end of the season, but here’s how I see everything playing out and who I would’ve thrown my support behind:
American League MVP - Mookie Betts - You can get into semantics here over the definition of the award, and whether it is supposed to be given to the league’s best player, or the most valuable to his club. I think that teammate J.D. Martinez is deserving of the award as well, and is probably the most valuable to his team as it was his addition that transformed the Red Sox’ lineup into the juggernaut that it was this season. Still, Betts slashed a ridiculous .346/.438/.640 while going 30/30 and playing Gold Glove caliber defense in the outfield.
National League MVP - Christian Yelich - This one should be unanimous. His unbelievable second half has powered the Brewers to a playoff berth and potentially a division title if they can triumph over the Cubs in Chicago on Monday. He has already locked up the batting title, is one homer behind Nolan Arenado for the league lead and just two RBI behind Javier Baez for the league lead there. While unlikely, there’s still a chance that he could win the Triple Crown. Javier Baez has had a terrific season in his own right, but he’s a clear runner-up behind Yelich in my mind.
American League Cy Young Award - Blake Snell - To me, this one isn’t particularly close either. Some detractors will argue that Snell only threw 180 ⅔ innings on the season, but that’s not a valid reason to deny him of the award. He led the league in wins (21) and ERA (1.89) while posting a 0.97 WHIP, .178 batting average against while striking out 221. Corey Kluber will get some votes and Blake Treinen had a season for the ages out of the A’s bullpen, but Snell is my guy here.
National League Cy Young Award - Jacob deGrom - Despite what his 10-9 record tells you, deGrom was the best in a fantastic bunch of National League hurlers this season. He owns a jaw-dropping 1.70 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 269/46 K/BB ratio over 217 innings. He finished the season with 24 consecutive quality starts. He allowed more than three earned runs once the entire year, and that was giving up four runs in six innings during his third start of the season. Max Scherzer, Kyle Freeland, Miles Mikolas, Mike Foltynewicz and Aaron Nola had fantastic seasons. This should be deGrom’s award.
American League Rookie of the Year - Shohei Ohtani - I don’t care who you are, you have to marvel at what Ohtani was able to do this season, both on the mound and at the dish. Before suffering a season-ending elbow injury, Ohtani dazzled in 10 starts, going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 63/22 K/BB ratio over 51 ⅔ innings. When you add to that, the fact that he slashed an extremely impressive .285/.361/.564 with 22 homers, 61 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 367 plate appearances, I don’t see how there’s any way he isn’t the most deserving of the award. Miguel Andujar had a fantastic season, and in most years he would’ve run away with the award, but Ohtani is more deserving this season.
National League Rookie of the Year - Ronald Acuna - Ugh. Can there be Co-Rookies of the Year? Both Acuna and Juan Soto are very deserving of the honor. I give the nod to Acuna, who hit .293/.336/..552 with 26 homers, 78 runs scored, 64 RBI and 16 stolen bases in only 487 plate appearances as a 20-year-old. Soto, put up equally as impressive numbers, slashing .292/.406/.517 with 22 homers, 77 runs, 70 RBI and five stolen bases as a 19-year-old who basically jumped to the show from A-Ball. You can’t go wrong with either pick here, but Acuna should bring home the hardware.
American League Quick Hits: Major League Baseball has suspended CC Sabathia five games for intentionally hitting the Rays' Jesus Sucre with a pitch during Thursday's game. He’ll appeal the suspension, which won’t take place until the 2019 regular season… Rays’ hurler Andrew Kittredge got three games for throwing at Austin Romine in the same game… Christin Stewart will be examined by Dr. William Meyers next week to make sure his abdominal strain isn't something worse… Adrian Beltre said Sunday that he's torn down the middle as to whether continue his playing career or retire…. The Royals signed manager Ned Yost to a one-year contract extension through 2019… Indians manager Terry Francona announced Sunday that Corey Kluber would start Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Astros and Carlos Carrasco would start Game 2… MLB.com's Jane Lee writes that "all signs point" to the Athletics using Liam Hendriks as their opener for Wednesday's Wild Card Game against the Yankees…. Charlie Morton struck out four over three shutout innings against the Orioles on Sunday, but most importantly felt no lingering shoulder soreness… Taylor Ward blasted a walk-off two-run homer to beat the Athletics… Whit Merrifield swiped his major league-leading 45th base in a loss to the Indians. He also paced both leagues with his 192 hits on the season… Angels' manager Mike Scioscia announced Sunday that he will not return to manage the team in 2019… J.D. Martinez clubbed a three-run homer, his 43rd of the year, in a rout of the Yankees…
National League Quick Hits: Yoenis Cespedes will undergo surgery on his left heel on October 23. He won’t be ready to resume baseball activities until late February and is expected to miss a chunk of the 2019 season… Dansby Swanson felt discomfort in his injured left hand while taking dry swings Saturday…. Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo revealed Sunday that Joaquin Benoit was never healthy enough to pitch this season because of a right shoulder injury…. The Giants are viewing Steven Duggar as their Opening Day center fielder for 2019…. The Giants plan to have Buster Posey remain behind the plate for the 2019 season… Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said Sunday that if Jung Ho Kang returns next season, it will be only as a third baseman… Sandy Alcantara struck out a season-high 10 batters over seven innings in a loss to the Mets on Sunday… Noah Syndergaard tossed a five-hit shutout in a complete-game victory against the Marlins in his final start of the 2018 season on Sunday… Starling Marte hit his career-high 20th homer in a win over the Reds… Manuel Margot went 3-for-5 with a homer, triple and stolen base in an extra-inning win over the Diamondbacks…