Here's what's at stake on season's final day

September 26th, 2020

It's been a wild two months in the Major Leagues, and now that we've reached the final day of the regular season, it's time to have a look at what's at stake around baseball. In addition to the question of which teams will claim the remaining postseason spots up for grabs, who will top the statistical leaderboards? Who will take home the hardware this awards season? What individual and team records are on the line?

Here's a look at what's at stake today in the final regular-season games of this wacky 60-game campaign.

Statistical races

Batting average titles

The Yankees' DJ LeMahieu has wrapped up the American League batting average crown after tallying four hits against the Marlins on Saturday, entering play today batting .359, 31 points ahead of last-year's winner, Tim Anderson of the White Sox. LeMahieu will become the first player since Ed Delahanty in 1902 to win a batting average title in both leagues -- LeMahieu hit .348 for the Rockies in 2016 to win the National League batting crown.

In the NL, it's a different story -- Nationals slugger Juan Soto enters the final day of the regular season with a league-best .346 batting average, but that's only three points higher than Most Valuable Player candidate Freddie Freeman of the Braves. Soto and the Nationals are scheduled to face Mets right-hander Seth Lugo, while Freeman and the Braves are slated to see Red Sox righty Nick Pivetta.

Home run crowns

Yankees slugger Luke Voit may have clinched the AL home run title when he launched a three-run homer in the sixth inning of New York's 11-4 victory over the Marlins at Yankee Stadium on Saturday for his 22nd of the season. White Sox slugger José Abreu has an outside chance to tie Voit, but that would mean smashing three homers against the Cubs today. If Voit does win it, he and DJ LeMahieu will be the first pair of teammates to win the batting average and home run titles in the same season since 1959.

On the NL side, it's a real possibility that we could see a three-way (or greater) tie atop the home run leaderboard as the regular season comes to a close. Padres superstar and MVP candidate Fernando Tatis Jr. belted his 17th homer of the year against the Giants in San Francisco on Saturday, tying him with Atlanta's Marcell Ozuna for the league lead. But right behind them are Mookie Betts, Manny Machado and Adam Duvall with 16 apiece.

If any of these players, both in the AL and NL, win the home run crown, it would be their first.

Strikeout leaders

With his record-setting performance in this shortened season, Indians right-hander Shane Bieber has the strikeout title locked up in the AL, finishing the campaign with 122 punch-outs over 12 starts. Overall, he struck out an incredible 41.1 percent of the batters he faced, setting a new single-season record for a qualified pitcher. Along the way, he also tied the record for most strikeouts over a pitcher's first two starts of a season (27), became the fastest pitcher to get to 100 strikeouts in a season, and claimed the second-longest streak of starts with eight or more strikeouts to begin a season, with all 12 in 2020.

In the NL, the strikeout title will belong to the defending two-time Cy Young Award winner, Jacob deGrom, who surpassed Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer by striking out 10 Nationals on Saturday to finish his season with 104. Unless he comes into today's Reds contest against the Twins in relief, Bauer will finish the season with 100 punch-outs.

ERA leaders

Although it was pretty much a foregone conclusion entering play Thursday, Shane Bieber locked up the AL ERA title with a 1.63 mark after White Sox left-hander Dallas Keuchel completed his regular season with six strong innings against Bieber's Indians to finish with a 1.99 ERA.

As for the NL, Trevor Bauer will win his first ERA title with a 1.73 mark. Runner-up will be Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish (2.01), and the Padres' Dinelson Lamet (2.09), the Brewers' Corbin Burnes (2.11) and the Mets' Jacob deGrom (2.38) round out the top five.

Wins leaders

In the AL, you guessed it, Shane Bieber wrapped up at least a share of the crown in this category by winning his eighth game of the season on Wednesday. He finishes with a record of 8-1. Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales, however, is sitting on seven wins and is slated to start Seattle's season finale at Oakland today.

In the NL, the Cubs' Yu Darvish picked up his eighth victory of the season with seven scoreless innings in a 10-0 win over the White Sox on Friday, clinching the best win total in the league for 2020. The Padres' Zach Davies finishes with seven victories after getting a no-decision in San Diego's 6-2 win over the Giants on Saturday, the Braves' Max Fried also finishes with seven victories, and Darvish's Cubs teammate, Kyle Hendricks, will finish with six.

Stolen base leaders

The Royals' Adalberto Mondesi, while extending his streak of consecutive times reaching base to 11 on Saturday against the Tigers, also swiped two more bases to increase his 2020 total to 24 and put the finishing touches on his stolen base title. The next closest players heading into into the final game of the regular season are teammate Whit Merrifield, the Mariners' Dylan Moore and the Rays' Manuel Margot, each with 12.

As has been the case in many statistical categories, the NL side of things is tighter, though it would take three steals to tie the frontrunner. The Rockies' Trevor Story currently leads the league with 15, and the Nationals' Trea Turner and Phillies' Roman Quinn each have 12.

League Awards


Mike Trout for the AL, right? Not so fast. While Trout is certainly right in the thick of the race, per usual, the three-time MVP has some stiff competition from the likes of José Ramirez, José Abreu, Angels teammate Anthony Rendon, DJ LeMahieu, Nelson Cruz and Salvador Perez -- Cruz continues to rake at age 40 and Perez is having a mid-career breakout season.

The NL MVP race is wide open, too, with the Braves' Freddie Freeman, the Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, and the Dodgers' Mookie Betts all putting forth sparkling resumes as the season enters its final day.

Freeman has distinguished himself lately, and after his home run heroics Friday, when he launched a walk-off shot to beat the Red Sox and clinch the NL's No. 2 postseason seed for Atlanta, as well as a double and two walks Saturday, he's batting .343 with a 1.113 OPS.

The player who ranks first in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging has an intriguing MVP case himself -- though he's only played in 46 games in 2020, Juan Soto has been, pound-for-pound, the best hitter in the NL, with an MLB-best 1.178 OPS. And don't forget about Marcell Ozuna, who is enjoying a resurgent year at the plate, tied for the NL homer lead while posting a 1.055 OPS.

Cy Young

Indians right-hander Shane Bieber has had such a tremendous 2020, it's hard to see anyone else winning the AL Cy Young Award this year. Bieber leads the league in ERA (1.63), ERA+ (281), FIP (2.05) and strikeouts (122). He's also made history in this truncated campaign, becoming the fastest pitcher to reach 100 strikeouts in a season and setting a new Major League record by striking out 41.1 percent of the batters he faced.

The NL race is -- you guessed it -- a tight one. There are several great candidates, but the top five right now appear to be Reds right-hander Trevor Bauer, two-time defending winner Jacob deGrom, Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish, Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes and Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet.

Bauer is leading the league in ERA (1.77), ERA+ (277), complete games (2) and WHIP (0.79). deGrom's ERA went up in his last start of the season Saturday, from 2.14 to 2.38, though he surpassed Bauer by running his strikeout total to 104. He also has a significantly lower FIP than Bauer (2.25 to Bauer's 2.86). Darvish's ERA stands at 2.01 (with a FIP of 2.22) after he threw seven scoreless innings against the White Sox on Friday.

While Burnes had a setback Thursday, when he surrendered three runs and had to leave his start against the Cardinals in the fourth inning with lower back discomfort, he nevertheless owns a 2.11 ERA on the season along with a second-ranked 36.7 percent strikeout rate. Lamet has been a revelation for the upstart Padres, though he had to leave his Friday start against the Giants with tightness in his right biceps. The right-hander finishes the regular season with a 2.09 ERA and 93 strikeouts to just 20 walks in 69 innings.

Rookies of the Year

Though White Sox rookie Luis Robert wowed us with his prodigious power at the plate and tremendous speed in the outfield, Mariners center fielder Kyle Lewis is the front-runner to win the 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Award. The 25-year-old is hitting .266/.366/.443 with 11 home runs, and has flashed some brilliant defense in center.

A trio of rookies stand out in the NL this season -- Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth, Phillies infielder Alec Bohm and Brewers reliever Devin Williams. Dodgers right-hander Tony Gonsolin and Braves righty Ian Anderson were each very impressive in their debut seasons, but are honorable mentions here.

Cronenworth has had a tremendous season at the plate for San Diego, contributing in a big way to the club earning its first postseason berth in 14 years. The 26-year-old enters the season's final day hitting .292/.362/.488.

Bohm was called up midseason, so he's played in fewer games than Cronenworth (43 to Cronenworth's 53), but has been impressive nonetheless, slashing .340/.403/.481 for Philadelphia.

Williams has been phenomenal in his first taste of the big leagues -- the 26-year-old right-hander owns a 0.33 ERA in 22 appearances for Milwaukee (27 innings pitched), and has struck out an incredible 53 percent of the batters he's faced (53 of 100).

Team and personal records

Home cooking in Minnesota

The Twins enter their final game of the regular season with a 24-6 home record, which translates to an .800 winning percentage. So when they play the Reds at Target Field today, a victory would mean setting a new single-season record for best home winning percentage. If the Twins do win, they'll finish with an MLB record .806 winning percentage at home for the year, which would break the 1932 Yankees' record by .001 -- that club posted an .805 winning percentage at Yankee Stadium.

Records reached

Dodgers clinch historic winning percentage

The Dodgers enter play today with a win-loss record of 42-17, which translates to a .712 winning percentage, guaranteeing they will eclipse the franchise's all-time single-season record of .682 (1953). Friday's victory over the Angels assured the Dodgers of setting a new mark.

Dodgers set single-month homer record

The Dodgers launched 57 home runs in August to set a new NL record with three homers against the Rangers at Globe Life Field on Aug. 30 -- Corey Seager and Will Smith went deep before Cody Bellinger hit the record-breaking homer to eclipse the 1999 Reds (56 homers in September of that year).

Slam Diego makes history

Little did the Padres know when they entered the 2020 season that the name of their city would be ripe for a pun that would, in many ways, define their year. With a loaded lineup, San Diego became "Slam Diego" when the Padres launched a grand slam in four consecutive games, something that had never been done before in MLB history. Fernando Tatis Jr., Wil Myers, Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer smashed slams in successive games from Aug. 17-20, and an unforgettable record was set (not to mention that an unforgettable nickname was born).

Bieber sets multiple strikeout records

Shane Bieber struck out 41.1 percent of the batters he faced in 2020, or 122 out of 297, to set the all-time single season record for strikeout percentage by a qualifying pitcher. He also became the fastest pitcher to reach 100 strikeouts in a season when he struck out the Twins' Ryan Jeffers in the fifth inning of his Sept. 11 start at Minnesota -- Bieber fanned 100 batters in 62 1/3 innings, eclipsing the mark held by Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer, who reached 100 punch-outs over his first 63 innings in 2018.

Braves score 29, Duvall has another HR hat trick

The Braves routed the Marlins, 29-9, on Sept. 9 in Atlanta, setting a modern era (since 1900) NL record for runs scored in a single game. During Atlanta's scoring barrage, slugger Adam Duvall launched three homers for the second time in an eight-day span, becoming the first player in franchise history to have two three-homer games while wearing a Braves uniform. The 29-9 score was also the first such score in MLB history.

Gallen golden in 22 straight starts

D-backs right-hander Zac Gallen set a new MLB record by giving up three earned runs or fewer in his first 22 career starts dating back to his big league debut in 2019. That surpassed the 21 straight by Aaron Sele from 1993-94.

Hader a hitless wonder

Brewers closer Josh Hader set a record by recording 12 consecutive hitless appearances to open the season. That broke a record previously held by the Tigers' Justin Wilson (2017), the Phillies' Scott Aldred (1999), and the Reds' John Franco (1987).