With the MLB season only spanning 60 games in 2020, a lot of parts of the game will be different. Notably, "full season" stats won't look like they usually do.
During a 162-game campaign, trends level out and a player's full body of work can look good even if some slumps are experienced. That won't be the case this year, as it will all be about getting off to a hot start and maintaining it.
For some, namely veterans and streaky players, the shortened season could actually benefit their performance. For others, a slow start may be something that they never recover from. Think about if Chris Davis didn't have 162 games last season.
Because a 60-game season is uncommon, it's somewhat hard to quantify what players are putting up big numbers. 20 home runs could lead the league, which seems strange given the context of a normal year. However, looking at some of the best performances during the first 60 games of a season can help put it in perspective. Here are the best from the Nationals, Orioles and Major League Baseball as a whole.
Nationals records through team's first 60 games (2005-present):
*stats via Baseball-Reference
Home runs - Alfonso Soriano with 22 (2006)
Note about season: Soriano would go on to join the 40-40-40 clubs with 46 home runs, 41 stolen bases and 40 doubles
Batting average - Daniel Murphy hit .374 (2016)
Note about season: Murphy nearly won the batting title with a .347 average for the entire season, but fell one point behind DJ LeMahieu (who sat out most of the last week of the season). Murphy did lead the league in slugging and on-base plus slugging. His hot 60-game stretch was also a carry over a dominant 2015 postseason run with the New York Mets.
RBI - Ryan Zimmerman with 49 (2017)
Note about season: A year of resurgence for Mr. National, he was the starting first baseman for the NL in the All-Star Game and voted Comeback Player of the Year. He finished with 108 RBI.
Stolen bases - Trea Turner with 21 (2017)
Note about season: Turner finished third in the MLB in stolen bases in 2017 with 46.
OPS - Bryce Harper at 1.171 (2015)
Note about season: Harper was the NL MVP in 2015 and would end up leading the entire league in OPS at 1.109, so there was no real drop off after 60 games.
Strikeouts - Max Scherzer with 133 (2018)
Note about season: Mad Max at his finest. He would lead the major leagues in strikes with 300, the third straight year he took the crown. He also started the All-Star Game in his home ballpark. Scherzer finished second in Cy Young voting behind Jacob deGrom.
Saves - Matt Capps with 20 (2010)
Note about season: Capps was actually traded during this season to the Minnesota Twins. He would finish with 42 saves.
ERA - Max Scherzer at 1.95 (2018) – min. 50 IP
Note about season: Scherzer finished with a 2.53 ERA.
Wins - Max Scherzer with 10 (2018)
Note about season: Scherzer would end the season with 18 wins, the most in the National League.
Orioles records through first 60 team games (1954-present):
*stats via Baseball-Reference
Home runs - Nelson Cruz with 21 (2014)
Note about season: Cruz made his one year with the Orioles count in 2014, as he would go on to lead all of Major League Baseball in home runs with 40.
Batting average - Roberto Alomar hit .397 (1996)
Note about season: Alomar finished the 1996 season hitting .328, which didn't even land him in the top 10 at the end of the year. However, he did earn All-Star, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger honors for his performance.
RBI - Frank Robinson with 56 (1967)
Note about season: A year after leading the majors in RBI with 122, Robinson's hot start in 1967 did not lead to him beating that number. The Orioles legend would finish with 94 RBI.
Stolen bases - Luis Aparicio with 31 (1964)
Note about season: Aparicio would go on to lead the majors in stolen bases for that year with 57, his career-high. A force on the basepaths, it was the fifth time in six seasons that he finished first in that category.
OPS - Chris Davis at 1.168 (2013)
Note about season: The most dominant season of Davis' career, he would fall just behind Miguel Cabrera for the highest OPS for the entire 2013 campaign. His 1.004 OPS combined with 53 home runs and 138 RBI helped him finish third in AL MVP voting.
Strikeouts - Erik Bedard with 95 (2007)
Note about season: An overall successful campaign for Bedard, he finished with 221 strikeouts and landed fifth in the AL Cy Young race.
Saves - Lee Smith with 24 (1994)
Note about season: Smith led baseball with 33 saves, but clearly was absolutely lights out to begin the season. He also finished fifth in the AL Cy Young voting.
ERA - Hoyt Wilhelm at 1.61 (1959) – min. 50 IP
Note about season: Making 27 starts in 1959, Wilhelm would go on to lead all of baseball in ERA at 2.19.
Wins - Tie at 11 between Jim Palmer (1975) and Mike Cuellar (1971)
Note about season(s): Palmer finished first in MLB with 23 wins while also leading baseball in ERA (2.09) and shutouts (10). He would collect his first of two straight Cy Young Awards. As for Cuellar, he would go on to win 20 games in 1971 just a year after leading the majors with 24.
MLB records through first 60 team games (1900-present):
*stats via Elias Sports Bureau
Home runs - Barry Bonds with 32 (Giants, 2001)
Note about season: Bonds pace through 60 games was a sign of things to come, as 2001 was his record-breaking campaign where he set the new mark for single-season home runs with 73. It was his first of four-straight NL MVP seasons.
Batting average - George Sisler hit .445 (St. Louis Browns, 1922)
Note about season: Sisler's 1922 MVP campaign included leading all of baseball in batting average, as he hit .420.
RBI (since 1920, when RBI became an official statistic) - Jimmie Foxx with 78 (Red Sox, 1938)
Note about season: Foxx would finish the year with 175 RBI, an absolutely insane number. 78 RBI is an average total during the 162-game season, and he did that in just 60 games. RIghtfully so, he took home AL MVP honors that season.
Stolen bases- Rickey Henderson with 58 (Athletics, 1982)
Note about season: Again with the eye-opening numbers. Henderson had 58 in 60 games, Mallex Smith led baseball with 46 for the entire 2019 MLB season. Henderson would finish with 130 stolen bases in 1982, the second-best single-season mark of all-time.
OBP - Barry Bonds at .626 (Giants, 2004)
Note about season: Bonds could mash home run, but he was also incredible at getting on base. 2004 demonstrated that once again, as he would lead baseball in OBP (.609) as well as OPS (1.422), walks (232) and intentional walks (120). Bonds almost tripled the amount if intentional walks he had compared to strikeouts in the '04 season (41). His NL MVP award capped off a four-peat.
Strikeouts - Nolan Ryan with 167 (California Angels, 1977)
Note about season: Ryan finished with 341 strikeouts, the best in baseball. It was the fifth time in six seasons he had recorded at least 300 strikeouts.
Saves - Mariano Rivera (Yankees, 2004) and Danny Graves (Reds, 2004) with 26
Note about season: It wasn't quite the home run battle of 1998, but both Graves and Rivera got off to hot starts in 2004 in terms of games saved. Rivera continued to push the pace and would finish with an MLB-best 53 saves. Graves slowed down slightly, finishing with 41 saves.
ERA - Dana Fillingim at 0.78 (Red Sox, 1918)
Note about season: Fillingim finished with a 2.23 ERA.
Wins - Jack Chesbro with 18 (New York Highlanders, 1904)
Note about season: Chesbro would go on to win an MLB-best 41 games during the 1904 season. He started 51 games and went the distance in 48 of them.
So, what does all this say about what is to come in 2020? Essentially, if any player approaches these numbers through 60 games they are having an incredible season, even if it looks strange as their final stat line.
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