Major League Baseball was supposed to launch the 2020 regular season six weeks ago, on March 26. The spread of the novel coronavirus, however, forced MLB to delay Opening Day to some unknowable future date that is dependent on the effectiveness of the containment strategies imposed across the country in recent months.
Because we could all use a distraction these days, we've decided to pass time by simulating the season on Out of the Park Baseball 21. Along the way, we'll be providing updates on what's happening in our fictional league, similar to what we did on Opening Day.
With that in mind, here are the would-be standings and five developments to be mindful of from the week that was (and wasn't).
1. Dodgers remain unbeatable
The Dodgers have played only 36 games so far, and it's important to not read too much into the results. Still, they're 29-7 after winning their last nine, and they're now on pace to win 130 games on the season. Obviously they won't meet that prorated amount, but it'll be interesting to see if they can give the single-season record (116) a real run for its money.
2. Tatis Jr. to miss a month
Here's some disappointing news: Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres' star shortstop, will miss a month due to a fractured finger. The Padres, who have lost 10 games in a row, will attempt to replace him in their lineup with the middling veteran combination of Greg Garcia and Gordon Beckham. Tatis had been hitting .255/.328/.427 with three home runs and six stolen bases.
3. Moncada pursuing slash line triple crown
Yoan Moncada is building off his breakout 2019 by threatening for the slash line triple crown. Thus far, Moncada leads the majors in batting average (.390) and on-base percentage (.461), and is third in slugging percentage (.658), trailing Paul DeJong by 25 points. Moncada also leads the majors in OPS and in Wins Above Replacement, with 3.2. It's still early, but the White Sox are within striking distance of a wild card spot thanks in part to Moncada's brilliance.
4. Rangers defense off to poor start
You have to feel bad for the Rangers' pitching staff whenever a ball is hit to the left side of the infield. That's because Texas employs both Todd Frazier and Elvis Andrus, who currently rank first and second in the majors in errors committed. Frazier leads the way with eight, and Andrus is just a booted ball away with seven. Perhaps predictably, the Rangers have the majors' worst defensive efficiency, converting just 63.4 percent of balls in play into outs. No other team is below 64 percent.
5. Cubs swap outfielders
The Cubs are closer to last place than first, and this week they decided to alter their roster by designating Steven Souza Jr. for assignment. In Souza's place, the Cubs claimed Hunter Pence off waivers. (The Giants had recently waived him.) Souza had received a limited opportunity with the Cubs, appearing in just five games before meeting his demise. Pence, for his part, had hit well in a small-sample size with the Giants: .294/.368/.588 with two extra-base hits in 17 at-bats. The Cubs are hoping he can keep that up, and perhaps energize their clubhouse.
Hitting performance of the week
We've featured some surprising names in these last two sections before, but White Sox infielder Danny Mendick takes the cake for the most obscure player to turn in a notable performance. Mendick went 3 for 3 with two home runs and two walks against the Rays as part of a White Sox victory. Both of his home runs came against Yonny Chirinos.
Pitching performance of the week
Gerrit Cole had his finest pitching performance as a Yankee to date, striking out 14 Pirates over 7 1/3 shutout innings as part of a pitcher's duel with Chris Archer. Cole permitted three hits and a walk on 113 pitches. The Yankees needed Cole to be every bit as good as he was in order to pull out a 1-0 victory.