The 60-game season is complete and one of the biggest takeaways from what we just witnessed is just how much can change in one week. That's always the case, obviously, but with every game so much more magnified, it could be a bit jarring.
Let's use the great city of Chicago as an illustration.
Just one week ago, the possibility of an All-Windy City World Series, as a Midwesterner who grew up a die-hard Cubs fan, had me ecstatic. How cool would that World Series be?
Given the respective histories of the franchises, that matchup would be a huge deal.
Both teams have but one World Series title since 1917. In the integration era (1947-present), the White Sox have appeared in the postseason just six times with two pennants. In that time, the Cubs have one pennant and 10 postseason appearances. The two teams have played in the World Series before in 1906. That's it.
In fact, for two large-market clubs that have been around forever, it's pretty amazing that 2020 marks just the second time (2008 being the other) that both Chicago teams have made the postseason since 1906.
Again, though, what a difference a week makes, right? The postseason does have both Chicago teams, but both are limping in. The Cubs won the NL Central, good for their third division title in the last five years, but they were a sub-.500 team after their 13-3 start. They lost three of four to the lowly Pirates this past week. After that series, they had lost five of seven and had scored just 10 runs in their previous seven games. Now, they did take two of three from the White Sox and the bats came alive, but they avoided Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel.
Oh, and about those White Sox ...
The South Siders closed what was mostly an incredibly fun season on a terribly sour note. Their last series win came against the Twins from Sept. 14-17. After that, they closed the season losing eight of their final 10 games. They had a shot at the AL Central title and even the top seed in the AL at one point. Instead, they are all the way down at the seven seed.
Hey, maybe things turn around for both teams and they get hot in October, leading to an All-Chicago Fall Classic (in Texas). In looking at the two teams as a microcosm of just how quickly things can turn on a dime, though, the main takeaway is that it should leave us incredibly excited for what is bound to be a very funky October. Let's get it on!
|Remember in Varsity Blues (an excellent guilty pleasure movie) when Coach Kilmer screams at his kids before the final game that everything they've done to this point "means nothing!" It's a jerky thing to say to high school kids who went through two-a-days in the Texas summer. For MLB players on the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020? Yeah, it applies. Congrats on having the best record in the 60-game regular season, Dodgers. It means nothing now. They need that World Series title.||--||43-17|
|The Rays close with nine wins in their last 11 games, but they've been white hot for a long time. After starting 6-8, the Rays went 34-12 the rest of the way.||--||40-20|
|It's a bummer to see such a fun upstart team suffer injuries to two of their playoff rotation arms right before October. Hopefully at least Dinelson Lamet is OK for a full-go start in the wild-card series. It seems like a tall order to expect the same from Mike Clevinger.||--||37-23|
|How about this Byron Buxton season? He struck out 36 times against just two walks in 135 plate appearances. He also homered 13 times in 130 at-bats. Add this up and you've got a .267 on-base percentage vs. a .577 slugging. Mercy!||2||36-24|
|My head already hurts thinking about the hot takes from the "Moneyball doesn't work in the playoffs" people if the A's finally win it all in a shortened, gimmick season.||--||36-24|
|With all the (rightful) MVP attention for Freddie Freeman, did anyone from the Central or West notice the amazing year Marcell Ozuna put together? He finishes at .338/.431/.636 and he wasn't far away from the Triple Crown.||2||35-25|
|Kris Bryant is now playing with a chain, has homered in two straight games and cussed in a post-game interview. What in the world is going on? #2020||2||34-26|
|Can they score enough to make a run? They absolutely have the pitching to win the title. It'll come down to if they can get the timely hits.||2||35-25|
|If they get things sorted out and can make a deep playoff run, an X-factor will be rookie left-hander Garrett Crochet. He was their first-round pick this year and so far has struck out eight in five scoreless innings. He hasn't walked anyone and has allowed just three hits (all singles).||5||35-25|
|A young offense with guys who get on base and hit for power? That's a sneaky playoff sleeper. The Rays are very tough, but this isn't a one vs. eight matchup to ignore.||7||32-28|
|The Yankees went 16-6, then 5-15, then 10-0 and closed with losses in six of their last eight games. Which team shows up in October?||4||33-27|
|Since losing to the Cardinals, 7-1, on Sept. 12, the Reds have gone 11-3. The Braves have their hands far more full than they should in a two vs. seven matchup.||2||31-29|
|Was Sunday the final game in Busch Stadium for Yadier Molina? It's possible. Let's hope not, because in his last at-bat he grounded into a triple play.||--||30-28|
|The Astros finish under .500 and with an incredibly underwhelming power-hitting season. Hmmm ...||3||29-31|
|What a season for them. What a story. Now we turn the page and note that the Marlins have never lost a playoff series. They are also returning to the scene of the crime from them shocking the Cubs in 2003.||--||31-29|
|The Brewers make the playoffs without having been above .500 for a single day the entire season. What if they win the World Series? What a legacy the 2020 season would have.||4||29-31|
|The Giants definitely overachieved this year (how about that offense?), but it had to be a big downer to lose three straight to end the season.||1||29-31|
|After hitting the hallowed 19-31 mark, the Nationals closed the season by winning seven of their last 10. I'm telling you, they just needed more time. They were totally going to repeat!||4||26-34|
|All the Phillies needed to do in their final eight games was win two. They only managed to win one. Now they go home for the fall/winter.||3||28-32|
|They have to love what they've seen from Ty France so far in his limited time (he came over in the Austin Nola trade).||--||27-33|
|It's a damn shame Alex Gordon didn't get to go out with a standing ovation in a packed Kauffman Stadium. He deserved better than an empty-ballpark send-off. Kudos to him on an admirable career and for getting to do it all with his childhood favorite team.||2||26-34|
|Last place. What a fitting way for the Wilpon family swan song. Bye, guys. Won't miss ya.||3||26-34|
|Jackie Bradley went 3 for 6 with a double and home run Sunday in what is likely his last game with the Red Sox. He heads to free agency with his Gold Glove, ALCS MVP and World Series ring.||1||24-36|
|Hopefully their new general manager can figure out how to surround Mike Trout with a playoff-caliber roster. It shouldn't be that difficult.||1||26-34|
|Madison Bumgarner got the win on Sunday. It was his first and only victory of the season.||3||25-35|
|This is something upon which we need to elaborate this offseason, but what a terrible situation the Rockies and Nolan Arenado face moving forward.||5||26-34|
|Jose Iglesias entered the season a career .273/.315/.371 hitter. This season, in only 150 plate appearances, mind you, he hit .373/.400/.556.||1||25-35|
|Taking three of four from the Astros to end the season had to be a nice feeling to conclude their first (and incredibly weird) season in Globe Life Field.||1||22-38|
|Jordan Zimmermann's contract is finally up. Cheers!||2||23-35|
|They closed the season by taking four of seven from the Cubs and Indians. They also held onto the number one overall draft pick. Quite a week for the Bucs.||--||19-41|