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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New York Yankees
Yankee slugger Aaron Judge. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

Trout’s performance line also suggests the vast impact that injuries can have on a player’s value, especially over a short season. Two other cases provide stark illustrations of this unknown.

Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson won the American League batting title with a .335 average. But Anderson missed virtually the entire month of July with injuries. Looking purely at the 60 games the Sox played between May 20 and July 31, this is what they got from Anderson: Only 117 at bats, a .274 average and a .280 on base average.

Contrast that with what the White Sox got from Anderson toward season’s end. Beginning with his late July return and continuing into the season’s final week – a 53-game window —  Anderson batted .365 in 219 official at bats. During that window, his on base average peaked at .382

The Yankees had a similar experience with their slugger, Aaron Judge. He missed about two months between mid-April and mid-June with injuries. Superimpose the Aaron Judge of that 60-game window onto the short 2020 season and he is essentially worthless.

Once Judge returned in 2019, he gradually found his batting stroke. During the 60-game stretch between late June and late August, Judge batted .292 with a .393 on base average and .546 slugging average. Over the course of the full season, what the Yankees got from Judge was fundamentally what they might have expected: 447 plate appearances, a .27 2 average and .921 OPS.

The full course of a 162-game MLB season tends to contextualize injuries such as those sustained by Judge and Anderson.  But when injuries strike during a 60-game season, they can overwhelm context.