Which of these 6 MLB records could be broken in a shortened 2020 season?

Which of these 6 MLB records could be broken in a shortened 2020 season?

Last summer, one of the many running jokes we had during Phillies games in the NBC Sports Philadelphia newsroom was that Scott Kingery was going to hit .400. Kingery, you may recall, was hitting .406 at the end of April and .347 on June 1 (in only 80 plate appearances).

Every time Kingery got a knock, our producer would yell over, "Scotty's assault on .400 continues!"

Fun can be had with small sample sizes. Of course, we all knew that Kingery wasn't going to hit .400 over a full season.

But what about a half-season?

We could see some MLB records "fall" in 2020. They would likely be accompanied by an asterisk, but tell me you wouldn't be interested in a player battling in the final weeks to hit .400, or a starting pitcher maintaining an ERA right around 1.00?

Batting average

The single-season record in the live-ball era (post-1920) belongs to Rogers Hornsby, who hit .424 in 1924. The last time anyone hit .400 was when Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941.

But did you know that in the final 81 games of the 2004 season, Ichiro hit .425? The 2020 season could end up being 82 games, and you don't even have to go back two decades to find the last time a player could have "set the record" in that many games.

Of course, there is no Ichiro in today's game. In fact, over the last five years, only 11 players have even hit .330 in a season, Bryce Harper being one of them in 2015. Jose Altuve is the only one to do it twice within the last five seasons. It's such a different game than in 2004 when Ichiro did his thing, mostly because strikeouts have skyrocketed and balls in play have plummeted.

The likelihood of anyone hitting .400 this season (and perhaps ever again) is remote, even in 82 games or 400 plate appearances. Last season, the closest anyone was to .400 through 80 to 82 games was Cody Bellinger at .346.


The modern record belongs to Bob Gibson, who had a 1.12 ERA in 1968, a putrid offensive season leaguewide. A year later, the mound was lowered by five inches.

Could a starting pitcher post an ERA below 1.12 in a shortened season?

If the season is 82 games, a starting pitcher could make a maximum of 16 regular-season starts. Starting pitchers will not be going as deep into games because they will not be built up the way they usually are. You'd think six-inning starts would be rarities, especially in the early going.

So let's safely assume that a starting pitcher will end up with around 90 innings. Posting an ERA below 1.12 would require allowing no more than 11 earned runs over those 90 innings. 

Doable? Yeah. Almost every year we see a starting pitcher dominate for a half-season. In 2019, Hyun-Jin Ryu had a 1.26 ERA through his first 14 starts and 93 innings. Two fewer earned runs would have had him at 1.06.

The year before, Jacob deGrom had a 0.90 ERA over a 70-inning stretch and a 1.28 ERA over a 100-inning stretch.

It could happen, though Dan Haren's got a good point.

You also have to consider the pressure of doing so. Pitching seven scoreless innings in July to lower your ERA to 1.06 in a normal year is not the same as needing to pitch seven scoreless at the end of an abbreviated season to have the lowest ERA in decades.

OBP and slugging percentage

Yeah ... no. Nobody is outslugging Barry Bonds' .863 from 2001. As amazing as Bellinger's 2019 was, he was slugging 160 points lower halfway through the season.

And nobody is going to come within 100 points of Bonds' record .609 OBP in 2004. My favorite part of that number is that Bonds' NON-on-base-percentage that year was .391, which would lead the league in OBP in most years itself.


The modern record is 0.73 by Pedro Martinez in 2000 at the height of the steroid era. Totally absurd. 

This is another record that could be bested in a shortened 2020 season. Justin Verlander had a 0.80 WHIP just last year, the second-lowest mark in the last 107 seasons.

Nobody really remembers who has the WHIP record, but it could fall this season based on how much less contact there is in the sport. The guys who miss bats and live in the strike zone like Verlander of Cliff Lee in his prime are the likeliest candidates. 

Had Verlander's 2019 season ended after 90 innings, he'd have been decimal points better in WHIP than Pedro in 2000.

Strikeout-to-walk ratio

The record belongs to Phil Hughes, who walked one batter for every 11.63 he struck out in 2014. He also posted this picture the other day.

In 2010, Cliff Lee's strikeout ratio was at 14.8 when he was traded from the Mariners to the Rangers. His season was 104 innings old. 

This baby could fall, though even one start with two or three walks would likely close the door for a candidate.

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Citing huge losses in revenue, Phillies make salary cuts

Citing huge losses in revenue, Phillies make salary cuts

Projecting losses of "substantially more than $100 million," Phillies ownership on Monday instituted salary cuts for its top-earning employees.

The cuts, effective immediately, apply to employees earning more than $90,000 per year. Employees making $90,000 or less are not subject to cuts.

"Our senior executives have made significant and deep non-payroll expense cuts across the organization, but even with their best efforts, the Phillies will lose substantially more than $100 million this year," managing partner John Middleton wrote in a letter that was emailed to full-time employees and obtained by NBC Sports Philadelphia.

"These staggering losses have forced ownership and senior management to make difficult but necessary decisions, as have other clubs and businesses confronted with the impact of Covid-19, to protect the financial viability of our organization and to ensure our future. All of us, beginning with me, must make sacrifices."

Employees making over $90,000 will have a percentage of their pay reduced on a graduated basis; the higher the salary, the bigger the cut. The reductions will continue through October 31, the end of the team's fiscal year. In his letter, Middleton stated that he would forego his compensation for the balance of the year.

"While I remain hopeful that we will see baseball at Citizens Bank Park this summer, any games played will almost surely be played without fans in the ballpark which is regrettable," Middleton wrote. "The absence of fans creates an enormous financial challenge, as approximately 40 percent of our total annual revenue is generated by attendance — tickets, food and merchandise concessions, parking and sponsorships. With no fans in the stands, these sources of revenue evaporate."

Middleton stated that employees would be treated the same, whether they were on the baseball side or the business side.

In recent weeks, Phillies ownership pledged it would not cut jobs or employee benefits through October. Employees from some other teams have not been so fortunate. 

The Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A's, Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays and Cincinnati Reds are teams known to have issued furloughs. Many other teams, including high-profile clubs such as the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers have instituted pay cuts. According to reports, 80 percent of Cubs employees have been subject to a 20 percent pay cut and Dodgers employees making over $75,000 have been cut up to 35 percent. Red Sox employees making over $50,000 have received cuts ranging from 20 to 30 percent.

"This salary reduction plan does not come close to eliminating our 2020 losses," Middleton wrote. "As a result of the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Buck and Middleton families must now invest an additional $100 million in the Phillies over the next year to ensure the continued stability of the club. During these uncertain and distressing times, our decision-making must address both short-term and long-term financial ramifications, especially since none of us knows when and how this pandemic will end. Our success historically has been defined by a culture of collaboration, and I am asking all of you to continue working with me to meet this challenge."

As the calendar turned to June on Monday, Major League Baseball and the players union continued to negotiate a way to bring the game back for a shortened season this summer. The sides remain apart on financial issues. A resolution must come in the next week or so if a season is to commence in early July.

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Phillies Talk podcast: MLBPA proposal, Roy Halladay documentary and 2008 Phils magic

Phillies Talk podcast: MLBPA proposal, Roy Halladay documentary and 2008 Phils magic

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman react to the MLBPA's latest proposal, the Roy Halladay documentary and recall some of their favorite moments from the Phillies' opening playoff series in 2008.

• Are players and owners closer to a financial resolution?

• It seems like the two sides are having completely separate conversation.

• What's more likely: 82 games or 114?

• Our takeaways from the Roy Halladay documentary.

• Halladay may have ended up coaching with the Phillies.

• 1-on-1 with Cole Hamels about 2008 playoffs.

• Best moments and memories of that 2008 NLDS vs. Brewers.

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