In today’s world of bad news, awful developments, global pandemic, self-quarantines, and general frustrated malaise, it would be wise to try to find a few good things with which you can optimistically look forward.
I hope you find them. I hope you find them in spades. This is not going to be one of them.
As the coronavirus continues its assault on normalcy, the MLB season continues to look more and more like a distant dream and nothing more. We’ve already missed Opening Day, and it’s become quite evident that getting games on the field at any point before our nation’s birthday is going to be an incredible stretch. That paired with the inevitability of cold weather come November means that perhaps the best thing we can hope for (from a baseballing perspective) is a modified, shortened 2020 regular season of some sort.
Baseball is a numbers game, of course. Round, shiny numbers and clubs are the kind of thing that have long been storied in this game’s robust history. There are a few that we were hoping we’d see eclipsed during 2020, but a season shortened to 120, or 100, or fewer games puts a few of those in pretty dire jeopardy - for this year, at least.
Here are some.
Joey Votto’s 300th dinger, 1000th Arby-eye
Our hero has seen his historic levels of production wane over the last two seasons down into mere mortal territory, and that’s been tough to stomach. The hope was with Turner Ward out, Alan Zinter in, and a rejuvinated lineup backing him, Votto would have a chance to ease into 2020 with less need to carry the entire lineup the way he so often has in his career.
Maybe even turn back the clock with some power again, even.
The fact is, though, that he bonked 12 and 15 dingers in mostly full seasons in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and sits at 284 for his career. His 944 career ribbies is 56 shy of the round milestone of 1,000, according to math, meaning he’d need 16 dingers and those 56 ribbies to notch a pair of flashy milestones. He has averaged 14 and 57 of each over the last two seasons, so in a shortened season he’d have to be more of the old Joey - young Joey, but you get my drift.
Wade Miley’s 100th victory
From RBI we move to another statistic that doesn’t really mean much aside from pride at this point - pitching wins.
Veteran lefty Wade Miley was brought in to shore up the Reds rotation for 2020 and reunite him with Derek Johnson, his former pitching coach while in Milwaukee. Miley, 33, has had an up and down career, but has managed to log a solid 85 victories in his time on the mound. Considering he was credited with 14 wins just last year, a big ol’ 2020 with the winning Reds would’ve maybe, maybe given him a chance to top that, or maybe even flirt with his career-best of 16 (from back in 2012 with Arizona).
That would’ve put him over the century mark, but as the 5th starter in a shortened 2020, that’ll be a tough number to reach.
Mike Moustakas’ 200th moose-blast
Veteran masher Mike Moustakas was probably the single most significant addition the Reds made to their roster over the winter. Nick Castellanos certainly might end up being that for the 2020 season, but with the opt-outs in his contract he could be gone before we really even get to know him.
With Moose, though, we know he’s going to grow old with the Reds. In the process, he and his fly-ball proclivity will hopefully maul a big pile of dingers, too.
He’s at 182 for his career, and given that he has averaged 34 a season over the last 3 years, 18 certainly doesn’t seem out of the question - if, that is, the Reds actually get to play more than half a season.
Of all the ones listed here today, this one’s the one I’m banking on seeing first.
Nick Senzel’s 100th double
The Legend of Senzelda only has 20 for his career.
The single-season MLB record for doubles is 67, and as our own Fred Regorter regorted earlier today, that came back in an era when doubles-a-plenty were much more common than in the modern game.
Nick Senzel is a doubles machine, and if ever a Red was going to threaten to replicate ol’ Earl Webb - or even the 58 posted by fellow Nick Castellanos just last year - it may well be Senzel.
This section is what sarcasm looks like when you’ve lost all ability to be funny.
To be fair, there are at least a handful of other milestones we might still see crossed even in a reduced 2020 season.
Sonny Gray, for instance, needs just 6 more punchouts to reach 1,000 for his career. If his 2020 goes anything like his 2019 did, that could well happen in his first 2 IP.
Raisel Iglesias has 98 saves to his name so far, and while that’s another stat that’s largely meaningless on an individual scale, I hope like hell he blows right past 100 quickly.
A bit farther off is the 1,000th hit of Castellanos’ career, as he sits at 930 at the moment. That’s one that’ll fall with even a half-season worth of games in 2020.
From a more Reds-centric perspective, Votto in particular could pass some big names on the all-time franchise leaderboard, too. 4 dingers would pass Tony Perez for 3rd most in team history, while a freaky-good run of doubles - 38, to be exact - would see him pass Barry Larkin for 2nd in team history. A nice 69 hits of any kind would vault him from 8th to 6th in Reds history, passing both Perez and Vada Pinson in the process.
In fact, let’s wrap this with an interesting could-be for Votto. We mentioned his dingers and ribbies earlier, and how he’s on the cusp of a pair of round numbers in those categories. You can add-in his career hits to that mix, too, as he sits just 134 shy of 2,000 for his career. Even if you replicated just the production from his down 2019 season - 137 hits, 15 dingers, 47 ribbies - Votto would have 2,003 hits, 299 dingers, and 991 ribbies, meaning he’s roughly one more ‘down Votto year’ away from maybe crossing all three. Of course, if Votto was able to turn back the clock - even to just 2017 - that’s the kind of production you saw from him in roughly 2/3rd of a year. While it would certainly be nice to see his dinger/ribeye production tick back up to a frequency where 15/47 come in much shorter-order than would all 137 hits, it’s not out of the question that he could cross all three milestones with one strong swing of the bat.