Here’s a prediction: 2020 MLB season will be unpredictable

CHICAGO - JULY 06: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox looks on while wearing a face mask during summer workouts as part of Major League Baseball Spring Training 2.0 on July 6, 2020 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images)
CHICAGO - JULY 06: Tim Anderson #7 of the Chicago White Sox looks on while wearing a face mask during summer workouts as part of Major League Baseball Spring Training 2.0 on July 6, 2020 at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ron Vesely/Getty Images) /
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MLB Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Angels Anthony Rendon. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

The Rendon Effect

To gauge how much a MLB player’s performance can vary almost haphazardly during a season, it is only necessary to look at the actual performances of some of the game’s brightest stars. At periods during the season, they appear unbeatable. At different periods, you may wonder what they’re being paid for. And depending on which 60-game season they deliver in 2020, the fortunes of their teams may rise or fall equally dramatically.

The performance line of Anthony Rendon, now with the Los Angeles Angels, but, at the time, leading Washington to a World Series victory, illustrates the almost random nature of short-stretch production.

Rendon’s season-long numbers were impressive. He batted .319, had a 1.010 OPS, hit a league-leading 44 home runs, drove in a league-leading 126 runs, and finished third in the MVP voting.

But Rendon’s season was far from uniform. Considering only the 60-game portion from April 14 through July 5, he was at best just a decently productive player. Rendon batted .279 with 44 RBIs and a .905 OPS. Those numbers are perfectly acceptable, but they would not elevate him into the MVP discussion.

But then consider Rendon’s performance during the 60-game stretch from July 12 through Sept. 16. During that period, he batted .370 with 57 RBIs and a 1.011 OPS.

From his worst 60-game stretch to his best, the variance in Rendon’s batting average amounted to 91 points. His OPS moved by 206 points.

If you’re the Angels, all you are reasonably sure of regarding Rendon in 2020 is that he’s going to land somewhere between .279 and .370 in batting average, and between .905 and 1.011 in OPS. That’s a large discrepancy, and it’s due to the unpredictability of the shortened season.