No undefeated teams to start to the 2020 MLB season, but a quick beginning does not assure a World Series title in the end.
In a season where the unexpected is expected, the 2020 MLB season will be known for, among many other things, a baseball anomaly. No team began the season 3-0 for the first time since 1956.
In 1955, the Dodgers started the season 10-0 and went on to bring the only World Series title to Brooklyn with a seven-game victory over the cross-borough New York Yankees. But a quick start does not assure a World Championship.
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The 1982 Atlanta Braves, with Joe Torre at the helm, won their first 13 games (eight on the road) but eventually lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. The 1987 Milwaukee Brewers, led by Hall of Famer Robin Yount, also won the first 13 games of the season, only to finish in third place in the (then) AL East.
The 1991 Seattle Mariners finished April 20-5, on their way to 116 wins, but lost 4-1 in the ALCS to the Yankees. The 1981 Oakland A’s, playing “Billy Ball” coined after manager Billy Martin, started the season 11-0 but were swept by the Yankees in the ALCS during a strike-shortened season.
As of July 28, 2020, the most impressive starts in the American League’s opening weekend plus one day were by the 3-1 Tampa Bay Rays and the A’s. The Rays took two of three from the Toronto Blue Jays, then routed the Braves 14-5.
Oakland bested Mike Trout and the rival Los Angeles Angels. The A’s bullpen was phenomenal, as no starter went past five innings. The Houston Astros are 3-1, but played against the lowly Seattle Mariners and are facing serious issues with their starting pitching.
The Chicago Cubs started an impressive 3-1 in the National League with victories over the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds. The San Diego Padres could have been baseball’s only 4-0 team but gave up four runs in the last two innings on July 26 to lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3.
All of the 3-1 teams began their seasons at home.
Is it because of property preference, the pandemic, pitching, or parity? Probably a combination of all four. The surprise Miami Marlins started an impressive 2-1 with wins over the Philadelphia Phillies, but have lost many players recently to positive coronavirus tests.
Pitching staffs, possibly being asked to deliver too much too soon, have already seen the loss of former Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, and Corey Kluber to injury for a significant amount of time.
To keep things in perspective, all 30 teams remain within two games of first place.
At the beginning of the season, all clubs start in first and a fast start to the season is critical especially in the shortened 2020 MLB season. Fans cry “Let’s win them all!” That impossible dream ended on July 27.