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20 for 2020

By: Graham Bell

In many ways, 2020 has been forgettable. In the sports world, at least we can pinpoint some moments that were no doubt unforgettable.

The Lakers and Dodgers sent Los Angeles into rapture as they ended their wait for glory. Tampa Bay caught Lightning in a bubble. And back when stadiums were full, the Kansas City Chiefs rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to end 50 years of disappointment.

Those are the big moments, but what about all the little details that went into making the year what it was? Here are some of the numbers you may have missed…

0-18

The start of 2020 really sucked for many – but none more so than Evansville who concluded a winless Missouri Valley slate against Illinois State on Feb. 29.

The Purple Aces’ victory over No. 1 Kentucky in November 2019 seemed a distant dream as they became the first team in NCAA history to beat the AP No. 1 team and lose all their league games in the same season.

.212

Despite posting the lowest team batting average since the 1910 Chicago White Sox, the Cincinnati Reds somehow made the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

Their offensive woes continued in the postseason as they were quickly ousted after setting a record by failing to score a run over 22 innings.

1.09

Dustin Johnson’s Strokes Gained Per Round on long par 4s after adjusting for course and field strength. The 2020 Masters champion was also the only PGA player to average more than a full stroke gained per round on any type of hole during the 2020 calendar year.

3

If you want to ensure longevity of success within a franchise, the answer appears to be ‘hire Terry Francona.’

Cleveland Indians finished the shortened season 35-25, making ‘Tito’ one of three head coaches/managers in the four major sports to coach two different teams for seven-plus seasons and never finish with a losing record.

Alternatively, pick the ‘LeBron James’ option in the NBA. The Lakers’ star became the first player in four major sports to win the championship MVP with three different teams.

4

AL MVP Jose Abreu became the fourth player in big-league history to lead the AL in both hits and RBIs in the same season. For every four plate appearances, the Cuban was able to deliver an RBI hit for the Chicago White Sox.

There was also an incredible four-game stint for Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder as he totaled 886 passing yards, 398 rushing yards, eight passing touchdowns and nine rushing scores – the first FBS player to reach those numbers over a four-game stretch since 2016.

6.1

Of course, there would be plenty of COVID-related records broken throughout the course of the truncated baseball season – but July 26th brought a unique situation.

Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin both produced the longest starts of the day, making it the first time in MLB history that every team was in action on a given day and no starting pitcher completed seven innings.

And they said the opener would be bad for baseball.

7

It wasn’t seventh heaven for the Philadelphia 76ers in February following their 108-94 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

They became the first team in league history to lose seven straight on the road by double digits while having an overall winning record.

7.02

This might have only been the fourth-best Adjusted Team Rating for the entire 2019-20 NBA season, but it couldn’t stop the Lakers from claiming the crown.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Co. hit their stride in the postseason, winning 16 of their last 20 games on the way to an all-time record-tying 17th championship.

11-0

The Baltimore Orioles have been on the wrong end of heavy defeats in recent years, but they were able to flip the script against Washington Nationals on Aug. 7.

It was the largest shutout win by a team coming off a 100-loss season against a defending World Series champion in MLB history. The Orioles had lost 108 games in 2019 but finished above the Boston Red Sox in the AL East this year.

13

After the Denver Broncos’ three quarterbacks were sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols, wide receiver Kendall Hinton was forced under center and delivered just 13 passing yards in a 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 29.

It was the 12th fewest passing yards in the Super Bowl era and the worst since the San Diego Chargers managed just four in a 23-7 loss to Kansas City in 1998.

18

Cam Newton’s first season in New England challenged him in different ways. That was apparent in the Patriots’ win over the New York Jets on Nov. 9.

The former MVP completed 18 passes to undrafted wide receivers – the most by a victorious quarterback in the Super Bowl era. The Patriots, though, will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

19-15

Jordan Brown made up for lost time in his debut for the Arizona Wildcats, having been forced to sit out a year following his transfer from Nevada.

The 6-foot-11 standout became only the third player in the past 25 years to post at least 19 points and 15 rebounds in his Pac-12 debut on Nov. 28.

61

In what was a shortened 60-game regular season, Starling Marte was the only player to find himself in the lineup for 61 games.

Marte started the season in Arizona before being traded to Miami at the deadline. The Marlins were playing doubleheader catch-ups after several COVID-related postponements.

99

Randy Arozarena stole the headlines for the Tampa Bay Rays during the postseason, but he had limited experience prior to winning the ALCS MVP.

In fact, his 99 career regular-season plate appearances were the fewest for an LCS MVP (non-pitcher) all time by nearly 600. Arozarena went on to set an all-time single postseason record for hits (29) and home runs (10).

102

Having declared, and then withdrawn himself from the 2020 NBA draft, Iowa’s Luka Garza made an impact in the first three games of the season with 102 points on 75.0% shooting.

He became the only Division I player in the past 25 years to score more than 100 on 75% shooting over a three-game span.

105

New York, New York, New York. It was so good on Aug. 11 that it made MLB history.

The Yankees, Mets and nomadic Toronto Buffalo Blue Jays played home games at three different ballparks within the state on the same day for the first time in 105 years.

128

Aaron Nola found himself the king of curveball command during the 2020 season.

The Philadelphia Phillies right-hander’s Command+ rating was the highest mark in the majors among pitchers who threw at least 300 breaking balls.

133

The pandemic really knocked the wind out of the sails of pro sports, with fans having to wait this many consecutive days for any action across any of the four major North American sports.

This was the longest such stretch since the 1916-1917 MLB offseason – which was before the NBA, NFL or NHL existed.

140

And strike off another record thanks to coronavirus.

The first Memorial Day without an MLB game since 1880 – a span of 140 years – took place on May 25. Let’s hope that the action will return next year.

173

He might have led the AL in Raw Value+, but Mike Trout wasn’t a finalist for the MVP award during a disappointing campaign for the Angels.

However, he did finish in the top five of the voting for an AL-record ninth consecutive season. He also surpassed Tim Salmon as the franchise’s all-time leading home run hitter.

Fancy testing your sporting knowledge of 2020? Try our 2020 quiz here.

Taylor Bechtold and Evan Boyd also contributed. 

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