With the season shortened to only 60 games, 2020 was a historic year for baseball. However, the effects of COVID weren’t the only things that made 2020 different. Records were broken, rookies performed better than ever before, and the Dodgers came out with their first World Series win in over thirty years.
The Brunswickan contacted Jacob MacDonald, a St. Thomas University student who runs a successful sports podcast, for comments on the World Series.
“I’m of the belief that, if a sports team can win a championship during a global pandemic, they’ve truly earned their title,” said Jacobs. “Not only did the Los Angeles Dodgers do this, but they did it under immense pressure from their fanbase – the last title won by the Dodgers was in 1988. Even though I’m a Yankees fan, I’m extremely happy to see their team win this year. It has definitely been a long time coming.”
While the series didn’t go to game seven, there were amazing performances by both the Dodgers and the Rays.
“In terms of pitching performances, I think both teams played exceptionally well,” Jacobs explained. “The Dodgers might have had an advantage over the Rays, because Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw threw a couple of gems… I was really happy to see Kershaw pitch well, because a lot of people have labeled him as someone who hasn’t pitched well in high-leverage playoff games in the past.”
Additionally, there were multiple records broken during this postseason – overall, franchise, and rookie records were reset this year. This is interesting, especially considering that spring training was delayed until summer. The rookie performances were perhaps the most remarkable.
“A lot of lower-tier rookies blew up this year when nobody expected them to, and maybe their success can also be attributed to the calmer environment of an empty stadium,” said Jacobs.
“Two great examples of this are Randy Arozarena of the Tampa Bay Rays, and Jake Cronenworth of the San Diego Padres. Will these rookies and record-breakers play the same kind of baseball when an entire stadium of fans is allowed to watch them play again? Maybe. Maybe not.”
Jacobs noted that this interesting increase in broken records for the 2020 postseason may have been affected by the absence of fans in the stands for the majority of the games.
“Records were broken, but stadiums were also a very different place to play in this year. I think the presence of fans has a big impact on the way professional athletes perform, and these broken records are somewhat proof of that.”
When talking about baseball these days, it’s impossible not to mention Mookie Betts – and this year he was playing in a Dodgers uniform. This is an interesting change.
“When the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers as he was entering the final year of his contract, Red Sox fans assumed it was only temporary, and that he would be back in 2021 to sign a long-term deal in Boston,” Jacobs explained. “They thought wrong.”
Mookie Betts signed a 12-year deal with Los Angeles, and in his first year with the franchise they took home a World Series title. Jacobs believes that, “This addition of Mookie to the Dodgers’ roster will definitely keep them competitive for the foreseeable future.”
Although Mookie Betts is, arguably, the best baseball player in the league, it would be shameful not to mention Randy Arozarena’s breakthrough performance. ]
Jacobs said that Arozarena, “was obviously some sort of lab-created secret weapon the Rays had created for the playoffs this year.” He was calm, collected, and though the Rays may not have won the World Series, Jacobs argued, “they came awfully close.” He also believes that, “their success wasn’t a fluke, either. They have a young team with a lot of potential, so keep an eye on them in the next few years.”
To continue on thoughts for next year, with Mookie Betts being the unstoppable force he is, it sounds nearly impossible that any team will be able to come out on top of them in the near future.
But as for what teams will make it to the World Series next year, Jacobs said, “In the National League, I think the Dodgers are still really dangerous, the Braves have a great young team, and the Padres are on their way to being a World Series contender.”
In the American League, Jacobs suggests the White Sox have assembled a good group of players, and noted that, “the Yankees have potential if they stay healthy, and the Rays are a young team with World Series experience already under their belt.”
All in, it looks like the postseason was exciting – even though it was shortened – and that 2021 might be a good year for a repeat Dodgers win.