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Nationals’ Juan Soto, 21, youngest ever to win NL batting title

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WASHINGTON — Nationals outfielder Juan Soto became the National League’s youngest batting champion on Sunday, as Washington closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category.

The 21-year-old Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser as the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

Soto held off Atlanta teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the major league lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Soto was also named Washington’s player of the year in voting by local media.

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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World Series Daily – Can Blake Snell stop Dodgers, even series for Rays?

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After all the oddities of the MLB regular season and postseason, the 2020 World Series pits baseball’s top two teams against each other, which is something that doesn’t happen every year. And while we’ve grown accustomed to seeing the Dodgers playing for the championship, this is the first Fall Classic for the Rays since 2008 and only the second in franchise history.

After the Dodgers’ 8-3 win in Game 1 on Tuesday evening, here’s what you need to know for Game 2 on Wednesday night, including a look at the pitching matchup, predictions, odds, other key numbers and more.

Key links: Viewers guide | Schedule | Playoff Baseball Classic

What’s on tap

World Series Game 2: Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (TBD), 8:08 p.m. ET in Arlington, Texas

The last time we saw Blake Snell pitch, he was unhappy after Kevin Cash removed him from Game 6 of the American League Championship Series in the fifth inning while he was still spinning a shutout (although he had allowed a walk and a single to start the inning). Look for a similar quick hook in this game, no matter how well Snell is pitching, given the Rays didn’t use any of their top three relievers (Nick Anderson, Diego Castillo, Peter Fairbanks) in Game 1 — especially considering Cash’s curious decision to let Tyler Glasnow throw 112 pitches, the most of any Rays starter this season.

Look for the Dodgers to take the same approach against Snell that they did with Glasnow, making him throw strikes with his fastball and spitting on the breaking ball. The difference is that while Glasnow is just a two-pitch pitcher, Snell has four offerings with his four-seamer, curveball, slider and a changeup that he throws exclusively to right-handed batters. Snell has a 3.20 ERA with seven runs over 19⅔ innings in the postseason, but his fastball command has been shaky, and he has run up high pitch counts and walked 10 batters. In the regular season, his fastball was located in the strike zone 58% of the time, but in the playoffs, that has dropped to 49%. Maybe that adds up to only a few strikes over one start, but a 1-0 count instead of 0-1 can be a huge factor.

Watch that first-strike percentage for Snell. Also keep in mind that the Dodgers have been crushing lefties in the postseason — posting a .990 OPS while homering every 14.7 at-bats — and 11 of their 20 postseason homers overall have been off southpaws. The key for the Rays will be getting the ball to Anderson, Castillo and Fairbanks with a lead. With the off day and trailing in the series, Cash will certainly allow all three of those guys to get more than three outs, as needed.

For the Dodgers, Tony Gonsolin is starting, but this looks like a bullpen game. Gonsolin has pitched just twice, with one start, for a total of 6⅓ IP. Maybe Dave Roberts will see if he can get a few innings from Gonsolin before he turns the game over to the bullpen, but he doesn’t have to go too far with Gonsolin. The wild card would be Julio Urias, who finished off Game 7 of the National League Championship Series with three perfect innings. He only threw 39 pitches in that outing, but that came on three days of rest after throwing 101 pitches in Game 3. Roberts might want to preserve Urias for a Game 4 start. (Walker Buehler goes in Game 3.) That leaves Gonsolin and Dustin May as the likely options to get the game to the shorter-stint relievers. But given the Tampa Bay lineup, look for a lot of mixing and matching from Roberts between the lefties and righties in the pen and forcing Cash to counteract with his own lineup moves. — David Schoenfield


Running World Series odds

Dodgers 80.9%; Rays 19.1%


Game 2 predictions

David Schoenfield: The Dodgers showed everything in Game 1: great approach against Glasnow, power, speed and defense. They became the first team since the Minnesota Twins in Game 1 of the 1991 World Series to hit at least two home runs and steal three bases. We can analyze many ways, but maybe it comes down to this simple fact: The Rays’ cleanup hitter batted .156 in the regular season. (Granted, the Dodgers’ cleanup hitter also hit under .200. Baseball in 2020!) Anyway, this game comes down to Snell having to hold down the Dodgers and then handing the ball to the shutdown part of the Tampa Bay bullpen. Unfortunately, I think Snell’s control will be a problem and the Dodgers will get to him for a few runs, while seven L.A. pitchers do shut down Tampa Bay. Dodgers 4, Rays 2

Alden Gonzalez: The Dodgers, who taxed their pitching staff through the tail end of a seven-game NLCS that didn’t end until Sunday night, will have to stage some semblance of a bullpen day in Game 2. And their bullpen hasn’t been great this month. Also: Mookie Betts has surprisingly struggled against lefties this year, and the Dodgers’ offense doesn’t function as efficiently when he isn’t producing. Rays 6, Dodgers 2

Dan Mullen: The Rays are starting a former Cy Young winner in Game 2. The Dodgers are throwing up a shrug emoji in Game 2. Tampa Bay needs to win this game or this series could be over in a hurry. And I do think the Rays will get this one with Snell able to get deeper into the game than Glasnow did and an offense that hit the ball hard after Clayton Kershaw exited. Rays 5, Dodgers 3


Stat of the day

Betts joined Chase Utley as the only players in World Series history with a home run and two stolen bases in a World Series game. Utley did it in Game 1 of the 2008 World Series — also against the Rays.


Social media post of the day


Best moment of the MLB playoffs to date

Cody Bellinger managed to one-up … Cody Bellinger. The Dodgers outfielder had held this crown since he robbed Fernando Tatis Jr. of a home run in a thrilling Dodgers-San Diego Padres NL Division Series Game 2; but his NLCS-deciding Game 7 home run to put Los Angeles in the 2020 World Series was just enough to take over the top spot.


The running MLB playoffs MVP

Randy Arozarena has gone from an unknown outfielder to this October’s breakout star. Going into the playoffs, you might have been asking, “Who is this guy?” But the Rays’ trade for him has been a huge factor in their postseason run. And while his MLB-high seven long balls have made a big impression, Arozarena also leads all hitters in the postseason with 47 total bases (and is leading in hits and tied for the lead in runs). Also, he has been flashing some leather in the outfield and some sweet celebration dance moves on the field.



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Tampa Bay Rays’ Randy Arozarena joins Magic Johnson, Patrick Roy, Fernando Valenzuela among top rookie playoff performers

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The Tampa Bay Rays lost Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’re playing in only their second World Series appearance in franchise history, last losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2008 series.

The Rays’ 2020 run to winning their division and then the American League has been aided by the breakout performance of rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena.

Arozarena already has a number of postseason accomplishments, including seven home runs — the most by a rookie in a single postseason and tied for the second-most all-time by any player in a single postseason.

  • First rookie position player (fourth rookie overall) to win LCS MVP (Michael Wacha, Liván Hernández, Mike Boddicker).

  • 47 total bases are tied for the second-most in a single postseason in MLB history, trailing only David Freese (50 in 2011).

Can the Rays and Arozarena’s magic carry them to a World Series win?

Great rookie postseason performances are always worth celebrating. Here are some notable rookie playoff runs:

Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) was the star of the Bucks in only their second season as a team. In the 1970 postseason, his stat line was jaw-dropping: 35.2 PPG, 16.8 RPG and 4.1 APG. Despite dropping nine straight 30-point games in the postseason — he only played 10 games — the Bucks did not make it out of the second round. His 352 points are still a rookie playoff record, and a reminder that he accomplished that playing in only 10 games. The Bucks would win an NBA title the following season.

With a stuffed stat line of 18.3 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 9.4 APG in 16 games, Johnson nearly averaged a triple-double in his first postseason. The postseason run is remembered for Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers. With Abdul-Jabbar out with an injured ankle, Johnson filled in at center. He went for 42 points (a rookie record), 15 rebounds and 7 assists in the series-clinching game. In winning his first of five NBA titles, Johnson became the first rookie in NBA history to ever win finals MVP.

Hello Fernandomania! Valenzuela became the first player to win both the Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young award in the same year. In pitching a rookie-record 40 2/3 innings with a 2.21 ERA in five postseason starts, he went 3-1. That included a complete-game, four-hitter to prevent elimination in Game 4 of the division series and a 147-pitch, complete game in Game 3 of the World Series. The Dodgers won the 1981 World Series against the New York Yankees in six games after losing the first two.

Just 20 years old, Roy became the youngest player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1986, awarded to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Final. He went 15-5 with 1.93 GAA — pushing the Canadiens to a surprising Stanley Cup title win over the Calgary Flames. Considered one of the greatest goaltenders of all time, Roy won two Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and two with the Colorado Avalanche.

At the age of 23, Smith set a rookie playoff record with 342 rushing yards — 204 of which came in Washington’s 42-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII. That is the most rushing yards by any player in Super Bowl history. Wildly enough, Smith’s first career start came in Super Bowl XXII, in which he also punched in two touchdowns.

Derek Jeter (1996 New York Yankees)

At the age of 22, Jeter won the AL Rookie of the Year award in 1996 and, in the playoffs, turned in a rookie-record 22 hits. Hitting leadoff in the playoffs, Jeter batted .361 in 15 postseason games and the Yankees won the World Series.

Murray won two Stanley Cup titles — and was considered a rookie both times. In 2016, he appeared in just 13 regular-season games with the Penguins but was the starting goaltender throughout the playoffs and started every game of the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals. The Penguins won again in 2017. In the 2016 postseason run, he posted a .923 save percentage and 2.08 GAA. Murray also has the rookie record for wins by a goaltender with 22.

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San Diego Padres’ Luis Perdomo has Tommy John surgery

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San Diego Padres reliever Luis Perdomo will miss the 2021 season after opting to have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Perdomo, who is eligible for arbitration this offseason, was found to have a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament after the season.

The 27-year-old reliever, who missed time this season due to forearm inflammation, gave up 11 earned runs in 17.1 innings over 10 games for a 5.19 ERA. He had 16 strikeouts and 10 walks.

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