What the 2020 Season Will Look Like: Crowdsource Results Round 3

Last week, readers answered the survey questions regarding what the upcoming season will look like that I have posed several times since the end of March. In late March, nearly 72% of respondents believed some sort of major league baseball would be played this year. That number dipped slightly two weeks ago, and with another 1,500 or so votes, the confidence level has dropped further.

This is how the results look over time:

Fewer readers believe major league baseball will be played this season, but a majority still fall on the optimistic side of the fence. As for how many games will be played…

The number of people expecting more than 100 games has fallen by half in a month’s time, while for the first time since this project began, a minority of respondents now expect that at least half a season will be played:

Here is when respondents believe the season will start:

July has held strong at right around 40% in every iteration of this poll. The big change has come in the drop in those expecting an early start to the season. At the end of March, more than a third of readers expected a May or June start (30% June). A few weeks later, it had dropped close to three percentage points, and in this most recent round of polling, it dropped 10 percentage points to under 20%.

As for whether regular season games will be played in spring training venues, the results have remained relatively constant poll to poll, but while “Arizona, only” topped the last poll at 44%, that mindset has shifted since more plans involving Florida have been leaked:

As for the number of regular season games without fans, the data is difficult to analyze:

I probably could have phrased this question more clearly, but given the number of people who answered zero in both this question and question concerning the number of regular season games, we might be able to assume that nearly everyone thinks there will be fanless games, though as “76-100” has around 10 percentage points fewer responses here and “1-50” has about 10 percentage points more respondents here than in the regular season games question, there are some people who believe that there will be fans in the stands at some point this season.

When it comes to playoff structure, the number of people who believe the postseason will retain the standard structure is still around 40%; “Fewer rounds/teams” has moved into second place, though both that option and “More rounds/teams” are still close to the 30% mark.

Finally, when will the season end?

“No season” jumps up a bit, mostly taking from the “October” and “November 1-15” predictions; “November 16-30” is still the most popular choice, with nearly 40% of responses.

As more time passes without concrete news on the season’s start, the number of people expecting baseball to happen this year has dropped quite a bit. But even with that drop, a clear majority still expect baseball at some point this year, allowing us to enjoy at least a couple months of regular season baseball.





Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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dl80
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dl80

This is really interesting stuff. I moved from the 76-100 answer the first two times to “no season” this time. I just don’t have a good answer for what they will do once a player tests positive. And if the answer is anything other than “do nothing and hope it goes away” I don’t see how the season would continue at that point.

The Stranger
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Member

This is what I keep coming back to. I don’t think it’s realistic to think that the prevalence of the virus in the community will subside soon to the point where it’s unlikely for a player to test positive, and even with all the testing in the world there’s no answer to a positive test other than shutting things down. Until that changes, how can you play baseball?

Also, we talk about a player testing positive, but the same logic applies to coaches, medical staff, umpires, batboys, and anybody else that comes into contact with enough players that a positive test would mean many players were potentially exposed. That probably almost doubles the number of people we need to be thinking about.

Joe Joe
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Joe Joe

Hoping MLB goes with teams playing only one other team each week. If a player tests positive, 4 teams at most would need to go in a 2-week quarantine.

The Stranger
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Member

I agree that’s a good plan, but I’m not sure it really helps unless MLB is willing to accept the mother of all unbalanced schedules. How would playoff races work with teams likely playing a different number of games? What if one of those positive tests happens in the playoffs?

I think it’s feasible to play exhibition baseball this year because none of that matters. It’s harder to see how a competitive season happens. And is an exhibition season (or a season so disrupted that it might as well be) worth the cost in both money and health risk?

Joe Joe
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Joe Joe

Winning percentage would determine playoff seeding, not wins. For postseason, it would extend it two weeks.

On health risk, I doubt most players are in as controlled environment as MLB games when they aren’t playing. As such, provided season doesn’t start until testing is widely available and cases have dropped to containment levels, I would not see games as much a health risk without fans.

On money, playing some games without fans is probably better than not playing games as MLB has fixed costs it needs to cover (even if only partially).

Goms
Member

But that would still mean games were played…

pepper69fun
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pepper69fun

My first assumption is that highly regular testing of everyone is being conducted. if they detect a player as positive, then THAT player will get pulled and not allowed to play until he tests clean. I liken that to an injury, although that’s not a perfect analogy, of course. As long as everyone around him continue to test negative, why would you shut it down? You pull the infected guy and carry on. That’s my best guess. I’ve been a “no season” guy for a long time. but that’s also because I didn’t think we’d get enough testing to really check players, etc, regularly. By end of May, we’ll have a better answer on that front. 50/50 right now.

sadtrombone
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sadtrombone

This the most intractable problem. Not a single leaked plan has come up with an answer for this. I cannot think of a solution that does not seriously undermine public health.

But it’s also a second-order problem, because the first problem is: How are you going to actually have enough tests to diagnose the player? Let’s be real: Not a single state where they’re talking about doing this is going to have enough testing available test enough to make whatever plan they do come up with feasible. Some of the states in the northeast might. Utah might. The rest are not going to happen.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Florida or Arizona (or the federal government) say they’ll make enough tests available to make MLB feel comfortable with their second-order problem, and then they’d just shortchange the rest of the state. Would MLB actually feel comfortable with that, knowing they might invite a backlash by redirecting tests away from residents?

Are these plans contingent on the MLB running a shadow government, where they are running their own testing scheme? Would they give up on spring training sites and run whole season in Utah/ on Cape Cod?

pepper69fun
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Member
pepper69fun

testing is the first key. hypothetically and optimistically, perhaps May sees a massive ramp-up of testing nationally. IF that is the case……….and I agree that’s a big if……. if we have sufficient testing to test all players daily, then one positive test shouldn’t be shutting down the whole enterprise. assuming a roster size of 35 per team, let’s say 70 players get tested on a Monday morning. 69 are negative and 1 is positive. The positive player is pulled at that time. you don’t pull the others as they aren’t actually sick and you just tested them to verify they aren’t sick. Tuesday, you test those same 69 again. if you get another positive, then you pull them. but pulling the one sick guy on Monday greatly lowers the risk of further infection/spread. That’s why you test. If every player was negative on days 1, 2, 3, 4……15, 16, 17….and on day 18, one guy pops as a positive, then you shouldn’t have a big spread. He cannot spread until he has it and he didn’t have it, which your testing has already proved. but this all assumes a LOT of testing and we don’t have the tests available to do that right now.

RoyalsFan#14321
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RoyalsFan#14321

Your last sentence is the only issue to be considered. There needs to be a plan – but unless it leans strongly towards “do nothing and hope it goes away” there is no chance for a season. At all.