MLB short season could create some big surprises

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We’re going to have baseball this summer after all, although the season will be only 60 games long — a little more than a third of a normal campaign.

We might see some surprise statistical leaders, given the relatively small sample size, which got us thinking: What happened the last time the Major League Baseball season was shorter than usual? That was in 1994, when the season ended prematurely because of a strike.

Frank Thomas and Jeff Bagwell were named the American League and National League MVPs that season, and both are now members of the Hall of Fame.

But Matt Williams was actually the major league leader in home runs when the season was stopped, with 43. Ken Griffey Jr. was second with 40, with Bagwell (39) and Thomas (38) right behind.1

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Williams played in 112 of his team’s 115 games, putting him on pace to play in 157 of 162 games in a full season. At that pace, he would have finished with 60 home runs — just one shy of Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61, five years before Mark McGwire eventually broke it. Williams and Griffey remain the only two players to hit 40 or more homers in a season in which they played fewer than 115 nike nfl jersey

By the way, another Hall of Famer led the majors in batting average that year — Tony Gwynn at .394, the closest someone has come to hitting .400 since Ted Williams finished at .406 in 1941.

Maybe somebody will challenge that .400 barrier in 2020? Although surely it will come with an asterisk.

Regarding other sports, the NBA regular season was most recently shortened in 2011-12, to 66 games, because of a lockout. And the NHL played just 48 games in 2012-13 for the same reason.

LeBron James won his third NBA MVP award in 2011-12 en route to winning his first league championship. Kevin Durant, then with the Oklahoma City Thunder, was the league’s leading scorer (28 PPG). Alex Ovechkin won his third Hart Trophy in 2012-13, also leading the league in goals scored with 32.