A major league season is a lie detector test. You can fake a week, a month, perhaps even a few months. But 162 games reveal a club, exposes if it has both depth of players and character.
A 7-9 NFL team can become 9-7 with a few bounces of a weirdly shaped ball going one way or the other. But 71-91 can’t become 91-71 in the majors. Randomness is diminished with volume. The more games, the greater likelihood that the best will emerge. Upsets are easy on singular days or in short series, but become less probable over a long season.
So what happens if — as proposed by the Commissioners Office — a major league season shrinks to 82 games, the same length as the NHL and NBA seasons?
“An 82-game schedule means it is not a marathon any more,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said by phone. “In the past, a team had a rough month, it still had the ability to make up for it over time. You are not really going to have that luxury this year.”
So this is where we begin. Let’s pretend this season, as planned by MLB, is going to be played. What is going to be important:
1. A good start matters. The Nationals began last year 19-31 and had enough time in a standard season to…