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Opting Out Last Year Has Improved Performance For Many Players in 2021


Sitting Out 2020 Has Given New Life to Buster Posey


Whether by choice or involuntarily, more than a dozen Major League players sat out the 2020 season. Most prognosticators agreed that missing an entire year of baseball, albeit only a sixty game schedule, would be detrimental for the player once he returned.

Actually, based on the first two months of 2021, the opposite has been true. Having missed the shortened 2020 season, in general players have returned to have an above average season so far.

None of them has enjoyed a revival quite like that of veteran Buster Posey, the perennial All-Star catcher for the San Francisco Giants. Posey is currently thirty points over his career average, eighty points over his mark from 2019. He has already hit ten home runs after managing only hit seven during the entire 2019 season.

Lorenzo Cain, the All-Star center fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers, is on pace to top the 18 steals he had in 2019 and equal his home run output. Unlike Posey he did come back to play a few games in 2020, but the extra rest seems to have benefited his performance.

A key figure in Washington's World Series title in 2019, Ryan Zimmerman chose to sit out during the COVID season. Already in his return back he hit as many home runs as he did for the entire 2019 season, and his .318 batting average is sixty one points higher.

Because the virus forced the cancelation of the minor league season, most Major League ready prospects did not play at all in 2020. Deprived of a chance to hone their skills on the diamond, most baseball people figured these youngsters would take a step back in their development.

Even these players, however, appear to have benefited from the year off, especially for a guy who has become an essential part of the first place Chicago White Sox. Yermin Mercedes, who has filled in superbly after injuries to Luis Robert and Eloy Jiminez, is batting .311 after getting just one plate appearance in 2020.

In the Central Division of the Senior Circuit is another example of a player benefiting from a one year layoff. Jonathan India, who did not take a single swing in 2020, seemed to provide the same spark for the Cincinnati Reds as Mercedes with the White Sox.

Jonathan India has cooled off some since a red hot April, but he is still on pace to top the home run mark from 2019. It was his last active competition, which he spent between double A and triple A.

In terms of pitchers, the verdict is still out as to whether the missed season will prove of benefit. Joe Ross of the Washington Nationals sat out last year and, in pite of a losing record, his earned run average is a half run better than in it was in 2019.

Veteran left hander David Price has returned after sitting out during 2020, when he was acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the deal that also brought Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox. Price had been limited so far, thus it is not yet known whether the long rest will have benefited him.

Most of the well-known hurlers who opted out in 2020 have not yet returned to the game, either through retirement or injury or lack of interest from teams. Among them are Tyson Ross, Mike Leake, and former Cy Young Award winner felix Hernandez.

The same can be said of several prominent position player, including the recently retired Ian Desmond and Nick Markakis. These veterans are joined by catcher Wellington Castillo, who has yet to sign on with any club in 2021.

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