Few sports love to keep track of history and statistics as much as baseball. With that in mind, it's easy to keep track of record-breaking and trendsetting moments throughout years. In a feature from the Athlon Sports 2021 Baseball Annual, Sarah Langs breaks down all the firsts and records from the historic 2020 MLB season.
2020 was the first time that...
• Started players who were all sons of major leaguers in the first four spots in the lineup in a game (Blue Jays, July 24).
• Started players born in Cuba in the first four spots in the lineup in a game (White Sox, Aug. 1).
• Played a doubleheader in which both games were scheduled for fewer than nine innings in the modern era (Aug. 2, Reds/Tigers).
• Had four pitchers register a 10-strikeout game in the team’s first seven games of a season in the modern era (Indians).
• Used nine different starting pitchers in the first nine games of a season in the modern era (Marlins).
• Hit back-to-back home runs to lead off a game twice off the same pitcher in the same season (White Sox off Detroit’s Matthew Boyd, Aug. 12 and 17).
• Hit three straight homers, all from Cuban-born players (White Sox, Aug. 16).
• Hit a grand slam in four straight games (Padres, Aug. 17-20).
• Hit five grand slams in a six-game span (Padres, Aug. 17-22).
• Scored 18 or more runs in a game twice and were no-hit in a seven-game span (Brewers, Sept. 9, 13, 15).
• Started a lineup consisting entirely of left-handed batters in the modern era (Rays, Sept. 11).
• Crushed six or more home runs in three straight games (Yankees, Sept. 15-17).
• Finished a regular season undefeated in games against lefty starters (White Sox, 14–0).
• Made the postseason despite a sub-.500 regular-season record (Astros and Brewers).
• And its opponent were both scoreless through the first 12 innings of a postseason game (Reds and Braves, NLWC Game 1).
• Smashed five or more home runs from the sixth inning onward in a postseason game (Padres, NLWC Game 2).
• Was held scoreless in an entire postseason run in which it played multiple games (Reds).
• Did not score in its first 22 innings to start a postseason, the longest streak of scoreless innings by a team to start the playoffs (Reds).
• Used more than nine pitchers in a postseason game (Padres, 11, NLDS Game 3).
• Had a leadoff home run and walk-off home run in the same postseason game (Astros, ALCS Game 5).
• Crushed three home runs in the first inning of a postseason game (Dodgers, NLCS Game 3).
• Scored 11 runs in a postseason inning (Dodgers, NLCS Game 3).
• Had 15 or more runs through the first three innings of a postseason game (Dodgers, NLCS Game 3).
• Scored 10 runs with two outs in a postseason inning (Dodgers, NLCS Game 3).
• Started three different rookie pitchers in three straight postseason games (Braves, NLCS Games 2-4).
• Left 10 or more runners on base in three straight games in a single postseason and won all three games (Braves).
• Left 10 or more runners on base in three straight games in a single postseason and lost all three games (Astros).
• Recorded eight or fewer hits in 10 straight games in a single postseason (Rays).
• Struck out nine or more times in 10 straight games in a single postseason (Rays).
• Stranded each of its first 21 inherited runners to begin a postseason (Rays).
• And its opponent combined to score at least one run in eight consecutive half innings in a postseason game (Dodgers and Rays, WS Game 4).
• Turned a double play with an assist-putout combo of 5-2-5-6 in a postseason game (Dodgers, NLCS Game 7).
• Scored at least 67.1 percent of its runs via home runs in a single postseason, minimum 10 games (Rays).
• Had nine different players belt a home run in single World Series, breaking a tie with the 1989 Oakland A’s for the most different players with a HR in a single WS (Dodgers).
• Homered as the designated hitter for a National League team in its home ballpark (Yoenis Cespedes, July 24).
• Had three or more hits, accounting for all of his team’s hits, while batting ninth (Orlando Arcia and David Dahl, July 24).
• Had three or more hits, accounting for all of his team’s hits, on the same day that another batter did so (Arcia and Dahl).
• Hit a two-run home run to lead off an inning due to the new baserunner rule for an extra-inning game (Edwin Rios, July 29).
• Won two games via walk-off grand slam in its first 11 games of a season (A’s).
• Born in Aruba homered on the same day as another Aruban-born player (Xander Bogaerts and Chadwick Tromp: Aug. 2, Sept. 6).
• Hit a grand slam on a 3-0 count when his team led by seven or more runs since pitch counts have been tracked (Fernando Tatis Jr., Aug. 17).
• Crushed a walk-off home run in a game in which he was a visiting player (determined by venue, not who bats first) in the modern era (Amed Rosario, Aug. 28).
• Age 40 or older homered in each game of a doubleheader multiple times in a season in the modern era (Nelson Cruz, 3x).
• Age 21 or younger and a batter age 40 or older were tied for the MLB lead in home runs at any point at least five homers into a season in the modern era (Fernando Tatis Jr. and Nelson Cruz).
• Won an undisputed batting title in both leagues in the modern era (DJ LeMahieu).
• And another batter, each age 23 or younger, both had four or more hits in a postseason game (Gleyber Torres and Josh Naylor, ALWC Game 1).
• Notched nine total hits in his first three career postseason games (Tim Anderson).
• Faced a pitcher with the same name in a postseason game (Will Smith, NLCS Game 5).
• Knocked a home run off a pitcher with the same name in any regular or postseason game in at least the expansion era (Smith).
• Compiled 29 hits in a postseason (Randy Arozarena).
• Knocked 10 home runs in a postseason (Arozarena).
• Amassed 64 total bases in a postseason (Arozarena).
• With a 300-strikeout season on his resume faced another pitcher with such a season in an Opening Day matchup (Gerrit Cole and Max Scherzer, July 23).
• Reached 82 strikeouts in his first 50 innings of a season (Shane Bieber).
• Recorded 30 or more strikeouts before issuing his second career walk since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893 (Cody Stashak, 2019-20).
• Issued a go-ahead walk in the ninth inning of a postseason game (Sergio Romo to Jose Altuve, ALWC Game 1).
• Notched 12 or more strikeouts in a postseason outing with no walks or runs allowed (Trevor Bauer, NLWC Game 1).
• Allowed back-to-back home runs for the third time in a postseason career (Clayton Kershaw).
• And his opposing starter both threw fewer than two innings in a winner-take-all game start (Dane Dunning and Mike Fiers, ALWC Game 3).
• Made his first career MLB start in a postseason game (A.J. Minter, NLCS Game 5).
• Who had previously pitched in a winner-take-all postseason game with a teammate then faced that former teammate to start a winner-take-all game (Lance McCullers Jr. and Charlie Morton: ALCS Game 7).
• Finished top-three in Cy Young voting along with a fellow former teammate from the prior season on a different team (Hyun Jin Ryu and Kenta Maeda, ’19 Dodgers).
• Won a Cy Young Award in the same season as a former teammate from the prior season (Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer, ’19 Indians).
• Allowed back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in his debut (Roel Ramirez, STL, Aug. 16 at CHW).
• Starting pitcher and his opponent both made their MLB debuts in which each reached at least seven strikeouts in a game in the modern era (Casey Mize and Dane Dunning, Aug. 19).
• Pitcher taken in the top three of the MLB Draft made his debut against a starting pitcher who was also previously drafted in the top three (Ian Anderson vs Gerrit Cole, Aug. 26).
• Starting pitcher faced another rookie starter in a winner-take-all postseason game (Ian Anderson and Dustin May, NLCS Game 7).
(Source for some of this material: Elias Sports Bureau)
— Compiled by Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) for the Athlon Sports 2021 MLB Annual. At 224 pages, it's the largest on the newsstand and the most complete preview available today. Click here to get your copy.
(Max Scherzer photo courtesy of @Nationals)