Today is the opening of the 2021 Major League Baseball Season. As such, we provide this piece from MLB on “News & Notes” that we believe our baseball readers would find quite interesting.
Enjoy Welcome Back Fans: Following an unprecedented season with no fans attending any 2020 regular season games, Major League Baseball is thrilled to welcome fans back to Major League ballparks under local government laws, and with health and safety protocols in place.
- While a limited number of fans were able to attend the 2020 World Series and National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field, this year fans will be able to enjoy the Rangers at their new ballpark for the first time.
Competitive Balance: For the last two decades, competitive balance has been a hallmark of Major League Baseball, which has seen 14 different World Series Champions over the last 20 seasons, marking the most variety of champions in professional sports during that span. Since 2000, no club has repeated as a World Champion, marking an active streak that is the longest in the history of not only MLB, but all professional sports.
Diverse Rosters: The diversity of MLB’s stars spans the globe, including more than 20 countries and territories. In recent years, a sampling of MLB’s most accomplished players have represented Aruba (Xander Bogaerts); Australia (Liam Hendriks); Canada (Joey Votto); Cuba (José Abreu); Curaçao (Ozzie Albies); the Dominican Republic (Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., Albert Pujols); Germany (Max Kepler); Japan (Shohei Ohtani, Yu Darvish); Puerto Rico (Francisco Lindor, Javier Báez, Carlos Correa, Yadier Molina); South Korea (Hyun-Jin Ryu); and Venezuela (Ronald Acuña Jr., Gleyber Torres, Miguel Cabrera).
Ng Embarks on First Season as GM: Kim Ng is set to begin her first season as general manager of the Miami Marlins. Ng, who has more than 30 years of experience throughout the industry, including 21 in the front offices of the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, was hired by the Marlins in November as the first female general manager by any professional men’s team in North American sports.
Star Power: MLB enters the 2021 season with a group of star players on historic tracks.
- Mike Trout, a three-time MVP Award winner, is still not even 30 years old, which he will turn this August 7th.
- Last season, Trout became the Los Angeles Angels’ all-time home run leader when he hit his 300th career homer on September 5th, surpassing Tim Salmon (299).
- Trout also earned his eighth career Silver Slugger Award, becoming the first player to win the award eight times by his age-28 season.
- Fernando Tatis Jr. signed the longest contract in MLB history this off-season, inking a 14-year deal with the San Diego Padres.
- Through his first 100 career games, Tatis Jr. became the first shortstop in the modern era (since 1900) to record at least 30 home runs, and the first player ever to have at least 30 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Overall, he became just the ninth player in Major League history to collect at least 30 home runs in his first 100 games.
- During the offseason, Tatis Jr. signed a new deal with Gatorade and Hyperice, was named the cover athlete for Sony’s MLB The Show, was the #1 card in the 2021 Topps set and was the most-searched player on MLB Film Room Powered by Google Cloud.
- Mookie Betts of the Dodgers became the first player in Major League history to have a three-year period in which he won the World Series with two different Clubs while also earning an MVP during the span.
- In 2020, Betts collected his 1,000th career hit and also became just the third player in MLB history to amass six games of at least three homers when he went deep three times against the Padres on August 13th. Betts, who enters the 2021 season as the most popular player jersey, joined only Hall of Famer Johnny Mize and Sammy Sosa as the players to accomplish the feat.
- Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves became the only player in MLB history with 75 home runs and 50 stolen bases in the first 300 games of his career.
- Acuña Jr. has already amassed 19 career first-inning leadoff homers, the most in franchise history, eclipsing Felipe Alou’s mark of 17. Alou led off for Atlanta in 633 games, while Acuña Jr. broke the record in his 210th game atop the Braves lineup. The game marked his 293rd career game and no player in MLB history had more leadoff homers through their first 300 career games.
- Additionally, his 19 leadoff homers through his first three seasons surpassed the previous record of 16, set by Barry Bonds (1986-88).
- Juan Soto, at age 22, is already a World Series Champion and the youngest Batting Champion in National League history.
- Soto, who led the Majors last season in slugging percentage (.696), OPS (1.185) and on-base percentage (.490), hit .351 for the Washington Nationals in 2020 and won the NL batting title at 21 years old, eclipsing Pete Reiser, who was 22 when he won the award in 1941.
- Also recorded two multi-homer games last season, giving him seven for his career, just one shy of Mel Ott’s MLB mark of eight before turning 22 years old.
Opening Day Tidbits: For the fourth consecutive season, all 30 MLB Clubs are scheduled to play on traditional Opening Day presented by Chevrolet (including 2020’s original regular season schedule). This year is scheduled to mark the first time since 1968 that every team across the Majors plays their first game of the season on the same day.
- Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals has made 16 straight Opening Day starts at catcher (2005-20), the most ever by a Cardinals backstop.
- The 16 consecutive starts are a record for the most consecutive Opening Day starts at a single position in Cardinals history, and his streak is currently second-longest in franchise history overall, behind Hall of Famer Stan Musial (18, 1946-63).
- Molina is the only catcher in Major League history to make 16 Opening Day starts with only one team.
- With a start behind the plate on Thursday, Molina will become just the second catcher ever to start at least 17 Opening Day contests, joining Hall of Famer Ivan Rodríguez (20).
- Reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman has started 10 consecutive Opening Day games for the Braves, a modern era franchise record for a first baseman.
- Freeman is just the third player in the franchise’s modern era to start 10 consecutive Opening Days at a single position, joining Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews (15 straight at 3B, 1952-66) and Andruw Jones (10 straight at CF, 1998-2007).
- With a start at first base on Thursday, Freeman would become just the second player since the organization moved to Atlanta in 1966 to start at least 11 Opening Days at a single position, joining former teammate and Hall of Famer Chipper Jones (13 at 3B).
- Mike Trout is the only player in Angels history to make eight Opening Day starts in center field (2013-20). The club record for consecutive Opening Day starts at any position is held by Tim Salmon, who registered 11 consecutive Opening Day starts in right field from 1993-2003.
- Albert Pujols has made nine consecutive Opening Day starts for the Angels (2012-20). With a start on Thursday, Pujols would become just the fifth player in Angels history to start at least 10 consecutive Opening Day contests, joining Garret Anderson (13), Tim Salmon (12), Brian Downing (11) and Darin Erstad (10).
- Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to make his ninth career Opening Day start on Thursday. Among active hurlers, only Justin Verlander (12) has made more. With the start, Kershaw will climb to within one of joining a group of just 20 pitchers in MLB history to start at least 10 times on Opening Day.
- Reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber of the Cleveland Indians will make his second consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday at Detroit. Since 2012, Cleveland has used just three different Opening Day starters, with Bieber joining Justin Masterson (2012-14) and Corey Kluber (2014-19).
- In 2020, Bieber became the first pitcher in franchise history, and the first pitcher since Johan Santana in 2006, to win MLB’s pitching “Triple Crown”, leading the entire league with eight wins (tied with Yu Darvish), a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts.
- San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford has made nine straight Opening Day starts, which are the most by a Giants shortstop since the team moved to San Francisco in 1958. Overall, his nine Opening Day starts are tied for seventh-most by any player in the San Francisco era. His streak is also the longest active streak by a shortstop for a single team.
- Xander Bogaerts has made seven consecutive starts at shortstop on Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox (2014-20). With a start at shortstop on Thursday, Bogaerts will match Everett Scott (8, 1914-21) for the most consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop in Red Sox history.
- Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies and Corey Seager of the Dodgers are each expected to make their sixth consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop for their respective Clubs (since 2016). In doing so, Story will become the seventh player in Rockies history to make at least six straight Opening Day starts, and the second shortstop joining Troy Tulowitzki (nine straight, 2007-15). Among Major League shortstops expected to start for their clubs on Thursday, only Crawford and Bogaerts have a longer active streak of consecutive Opening Day starts for a single Club. Story was one of just six players in the Majors to collect double-digit totals in home runs and stolen bases in 2020 (also José Ramírez, Fernando Tatis Jr., Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Trent Grisham), while Seager led the Dodgers in hits, doubles and RBI, and matched Trea Turner for the Major League lead with 22 multi-hit games.
- Madison Bumgarner is scheduled to make his third consecutive Opening Day start and his seventh career Opening Day start overall when the Arizona Diamondbacks visit the Padres on Thursday. Bumgarner, who started San Francisco’s 2019 opener against San Diego, as well as 2020’s opener for the D-backs against the Padres will become just the 16th pitcher in Major League history to start at least three consecutive Opening Day games against the same Club, and the first since Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers also matched up against San Diego on Opening Day from 2015-17. Félix Hernández (vs. Oakland from 2010-13) and Kevin Appier (vs. Baltimore, 1994-97) are the only pitchers in Major League history to face the same team on four straight Opening Days.
- Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Brandon Woodruff is expected to start the club’s opener on Thursday. Woodruff, who also started the 2020 opener, would become the first Brewers hurler since Yovani Gallardo (2013-14) to make multiple Opening Day starts. In the interim, other Brewers Opening Day starters have included Jhoulys Chacín (2019); Chase Anderson (2018); Junior Guerra (2017); Wily Peralta (2016); and Kyle Lohse (2015).
- Texas Rangers starter Kyle Gibson is scheduled to start Thursday’s opener against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Gibson will be the 12th different pitcher to start an opener for Texas in the last 13 seasons, beginning with 2009. During that span, only Cole Hamels (2016 and 2018) was a two-time Opening Day starter for Texas. This year marks the first time that the Rangers and Royals will ever play on Opening Day.
Opening Day Meeting of Cy Young Award Winners: On Thursday, two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets will square off against 2017 NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer of the Nationals at Nationals Park in Washington. The matchup is a rematch of the duo’s 2019 Opening Day meeting in Washington, which marked the second time that consecutive Cy Young Award winners pitched against each other on Opening Day. The first occurrence came in 1974, when 1973 NL Cy Young Award winner Tom Seaver of the Mets faced off against 1972 NL Cy Young Award winner Steve Carlton of the Phillies.
Opening Day Active Leaders: Below are the active leaders on Opening Day in a variety of categories:
- Home Runs: Bryce Harper (5); Albert Pujols (5); Nelson Cruz (4); Khris Davis (4); Evan Longoria (4); Yadier Molina (4); Mike Moustakas (4); Giancarlo Stanton (4)
- RBI: Albert Pujols (15); Miguel Cabrera (12); Giancarlo Stanton (12); Evan Longoria (10); Yadier Molina (10); Joc Pederson (10); Nelson Cruz (9); Jake Lamb (9)
- Games Started: Justin Verlander (12); Clayton Kershaw (8); Jon Lester (8); Madison Bumgarner (6); Julio Teheran (6); Johnny Cueto (5); Corey Kluber (5); David Price (5); Chris Sale (5); Max Scherzer (5); Adam Wainwright (5)
- Wins: Clayton Kershaw (5); Justin Verlander (5); Dallas Keuchel (3); David Price (3); Chris Sale (3)
Postseason Matchups Revisited
- In a rematch of the 2020 National League Championship Series, the Dodgers will visit the Braves for a three-game set beginning on Friday, June 4th. The Clubs will meet again in Los Angeles for a three-game series beginning on Monday, August 30th.
- Following their thrilling seven-game American League Championship Series, the AL Champion Tampa Bay Rays will host the Houston Astros for a three-game series beginning on Friday, April 30th before the Clubs square off again in Houston for three games beginning on Tuesday, September 28th.
So-Cal Rivalry: The NL West rivalry between the Dodgers and the Padres, which was amplified by the Clubs’ meeting in the 2020 Division Series, has sparked comparisons to the intensity of the Yankees-Red Sox in 2003-04.
- The Dodgers, led by a plethora of stars, will bid to become MLB’s first repeat Champions since the 2000 Yankees. Featuring a deep starting rotation led by three Cy Young Award winners, including franchise stalwart Clayton Kershaw and newcomer Trevor Bauer, along with impressive young arms, led by All-Star Walker Buehler, the Dodgers will also have four-time All-Star and 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts for a 162-game season for the first time.
- The Padres’ superstar left side of the infield, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado, will play behind a revamped rotation that includes four-time All-Star Yu Darvish, who finished second in 2020 NL Cy Young Award voting, and 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell.
Returning to the Field: After missing the entire 2020 season while fighting Stage 3 colon cancer, the Baltimore Orioles will welcome back outfielder Trey Mancini. The 29-year-old posted career-bests in 2019 with 35 home runs, 97 RBI, 38 doubles, 175 hits and 106 runs scored.
- Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani will return to the mound in 2021 after missing most of the last two seasons as a pitcher following Tommy John surgery. The 2018 AL Rookie of the Year went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA on the mound over 10 starts in 2018, fanning 63 batters in 51.2 innings pitched. The 26-year-old has recorded 47 home runs, 47 doubles and 147 RBI while hitting .269 over his last three seasons at the plate.
- A number of notable players who chose to opt out of the 2020 season (or part of the season) due to the global pandemic will return to the field in 2021, including 2012 NL Most Valuable Player and six-time All-Star Buster Posey of the Giants; 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner and five-time All-Star David Price of the Dodgers; two-time All-Star Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals; two-time All-Star Lorenzo Cain of the Brewers; 2019 All-Star Marcus Stroman of the Mets; pitcher Jordan Hicks of the Cardinals; pitcher Michael Kopech of the White Sox; pitcher Collin McHugh of the Rays; and pitcher Joe Ross of the Nationals.
Take Two: The 2020 season saw an impressive crop of young players make a significant impact at the Major League level. Led by Rookie of the Year Award winners Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Devin Williams of the Brewers, a number of exciting young players will look forward taking the next step in their young careers, including: Jo Adell of the Angels; Ian Anderson of the Braves; Randy Arozarena of the Rays; Alec Bohm of the Philadelphia Phillies; Willi Castro of the Detroit Tigers; Jake Cronenworth of the Padres; Andrés Giménez of the Cleveland Indians; Tony Gonsolin of the Dodgers; Ke’Bryan Hayes of the Pittsburgh Pirates; Cristian Javier of the Astros; James Karinchak of the Indians; Jesús Luzardo of the Oakland Athletics; Dustin May of the Dodgers; Ryan Mountcastle of the Orioles; Sean Murphy of the Athletics; Luis Robert of the White Sox; Sixto Sánchez of the Marlins; Brady Singer of the Royals; and Jared Walsh of the Angels.
The Machine: Angels first baseman Albert Pujols will begin his 21st Major League season on Thursday, which marks the final season of his 10-year contract signed with the Angels prior to the 2012 season.
- The 41-year-old will become just the 108th player in MLB history to appear in at least one game in 21 different seasons. Overall, Pujols ranks 16th all-time on the all-time games played list with 2,862. With a full season, Pujols has the potential to move up to eighth all-time, eclipsing Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson (2,896), Adrián Beltré (2,933), Rusty Staub (2,951), Omar Vizquel (2,968), Hall of Famer Dave Winfield (2,973), Barry Bonds (2,986), Hall of Famer Willie Mays (2,992) and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. (3,001).
- The 10-time All-Star ranks fifth all-time with 662 career homers, just 38 shy of becoming the fourth player ever to reach 700. Only Barry Bonds (762), Hall of Famer Hank Aaron (755), Hall of Famer Babe Ruth (714) and Alex Rodriguez (696) have more homers.
- The three-time MVP Award winner currently ranks 14th all-time with 3,236 hits. Pujols is just 78 hits shy of 3,314, which would put him in the top-10 all-time.
- Pujols currently sits 31 doubles shy of 700 with 669 career doubles, which ranks fifth all-time. Hall of Famer Ty Cobb ranks fourth on the list with 724.
- With 2,100 career RBI, Pujols is one of three players to ever eclipse the 2,000-RBI mark, behind all-time leader Hank Aaron (2,297) and ahead of Alex Rodriguez (2,086).
- Pujols is just 57 runs shy of reaching 1,900 for his career, which would place him 11th all-time. He currently ranks 15th on the all-time list with 1,843 and needs 81 runs scored to move into the top-10 all-time.
Miggy Closing in on Milestones: Two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers sits 13 home runs shy of becoming the 28th player in Baseball history to reach 500 home runs. Among the current players who have reached the plateau, Cabrera’s current career batting average of .313 would rank fourth, behind only Hall of Famers Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx.
- Cabrera is also just 133 hits away from reaching 3,000 career hits and becoming just the 33rd player in Major League history to accomplish the feat. He is currently tied with Hall of Famer Harold Baines for 47th all-time with 2,866.
- The 37-year-old is also just 19 doubles shy of 600. He would become just the 18th player to ever reach the mark, and currently ranks 22nd all-time with 581 career doubles.
- Among other milestones, Cabrera is 43 runs shy of 1,500 (currently 80th all-time with 1,457) and 71 RBI shy of 1,800 (currently 21st all-time with 1,729).
Sonny Gray’s Impressive Streak: Cincinnati Reds starter Sonny Gray enters the 2021 season with an active streak of 44 consecutive starts without allowing more than six hits. The streak, which dates back to August 25, 2018, includes all of his 42 starts for the Reds, and it is the longest such streak in Major League history (excluding “openers”). In the 44 starts, Gray is 17-12 with a 3.03 ERA, permitting 81 earned runs in 240.2 innings pitched with 98 walks and 286 strikeouts.
Rocco’s Success: Minnesota Twins manager Rocco Baldelli is entering his third season at the helm, and enters with a career managerial record of 137-85 (.617) following two consecutive AL Central Division titles. The 2019 AL Manager of the Year has amassed the best winning percentage in MLB history among managers with at least 200 career games. Since 2019, Baldelli has led the Twins to the second-most wins in Baseball, trailing only the reigning World Champion Dodgers (149-73).
Other Statistical Milestones In Reach: Additionally, several other individual statistical milestones are in reach during the 2021 season:
- Nationals starter Max Scherzer is 216 strikeouts away from becoming the 19th pitcher in history to reach 3,000 for his career, while Houston’s Zack Greinke sits 311 strikeouts away from the same mark.
- Scherzer’s new rotation-mate Jon Lester is 103 strikeouts away from becoming the 40th pitcher in MLB history to reach 2,500 strikeouts.
- Chicago Cubs closer and seven-time All-Star Craig Kimbrel currently ranks 12th all-time with 348 career saves and is within striking distance of surpassing Troy Percival (358), Jeff Reardon (367), Jonathan Papelbon (368), Joe Nathan (377) and Dennis Eckersley (390).
- Yankees closer and six-time All-Star Aroldis Chapman is 24 saves away from becoming the 31st pitcher to reach 300 career saves.
Familiar Faces in Different Places:
- All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado is scheduled to make his Cardinals debut on Thursday against the NL Central-rival Reds at Great American Ball Park. Arenado, who played the first eight seasons of his career for the Rockies, will face his former squad for the first time in a three-game series at St. Louis beginning on Friday, May 7th. Arenado will make his return to Colorado for a four-game set beginning on Thursday, July 1st.
- Reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer is scheduled to make his first start in a Dodgers uniform on Friday at Colorado. Bauer’s first opportunity to pitch against his former Reds’ teammates will come during a three-game series at Dodger Stadium beginning on Monday, April 26th. The Dodgers will visit the Reds for three games beginning on Friday, September 17th as Bauer makes his return to Great American Ball Park.
- All-Star outfielder George Springer, who played his first seven seasons for the Astros, will make his Toronto Blue Jays debut this season. Springer, the 2017 World Series MVP, will return to Minute Maid Park for the first time when the Blue Jays visit for a three-game series beginning on Friday, May 7th.
- All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor is scheduled to make his Mets debut on Thursday against the NL East-rival Nationals at Nationals Park.
- The Padres will show off their new and improved starting rotation during the opening series of the season against Arizona when they send 2020 NL Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish to the mound on Thursday and 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell on Friday for their respective debuts. Darvish could square off against his former Cubs’ teammates in a return to Wrigley Field for a three-game series beginning on Monday, May 31st.
- Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber is scheduled to make his Yankees debut on Saturday against the Blue Jays. Kluber, who spent the first nine years of his career in Cleveland before pitching in Texas last season, will return to Progressive Field in Cleveland during a four-game series beginning on Friday, April 22nd. The 34-year-old will have a chance to see his former Rangers’ teammates during a four-game series at Globe Life Field beginning on Monday, May 17th.
- After eight seasons with the Red Sox, 2016 All-Star outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is scheduled to make his Brewers debut on Thursday afternoon against the Twins at American Family Field. Bradley Jr. will combine with Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain to form one of the most dynamic outfields in the game.
- Three-time World Series Champion and five-time All-Star Jon Lester is scheduled to make his Nationals debut later in the week, while outfielder Kyle Schwarber could debut for the Nationals on Thursday against the Mets at Nationals Park. After spending each of the last six seasons with the Cubs, the duo will return to Wrigley Field for the first time for a four-game series beginning on Monday, May 17th.
- Following an offseason trade from Boston, outfielder Andrew Benintendi will make his Royals debut on Thursday against the Rangers at Kauffman Stadium. Benintendi will return to Fenway Park and square off against his former team for the first time for a four-game series beginning on Monday, June 28th.
- Right-hander Lance Lynn, who led the Majors with 84.0 innings pitched in 2020, is scheduled to make his White Sox debut on Saturday against the Angels in Anaheim. Lynn, a 2012 NL All-Star, spent the last two seasons pitching for Texas, and could match-up against his former team when the Sox host the Rangers for a three-game series beginning on Friday, April 23rd. Lynn will return to Globe Life Field for a three-game set beginning on Friday, September 17th.
- Veteran right-hander Charlie Morton, who helped the Rays to the AL Pennant in 2020, is expected to make his Braves debut on Saturday against the Phillies in Philadelphia. The two-time All-Star, who spent the last two seasons with Tampa Bay, could have an opportunity to pitch against his former Club when the Rays visit Atlanta for a three-game series beginning on Friday, July 16th.
- An All-Star in 2019, right-hander Jake Odorizzi will debut for the Astros in 2021. The 30-year-old pitched the last three seasons for the Twins, and will return to Target Field for a three-game series beginning on Friday, June 11th.
Modernized Player Development: The reorganization of the Minor Leagues will help players, who will receive better salaries, improved working conditions and reduced travel, while more Clubs will benefit from a regionalized system.
- The new system allows MLB to bring many people under the same roof for the sport and share resources together, which are vital elements to help the game’s overall growth.
- Baseball has a tremendous presence across the U.S. and Canada with 211 teams across 19 leagues in 44 states and four provinces.
Creative Footwear: Players will again have freedom to express themselves and showcase their personalities by incorporating creative designs on their cleats. Cleat designs expanded last year and will continue to allow messages, illustrations, and any colors.
MLB Originals Returns: Now in its second season, MLB Originals returns with a new programming slate aimed to engage younger fans and promote MLB’s biggest stars on YouTube with fun personality-driven content. In its inaugural year and despite the pandemic, MLB Originals debuted more than 30 pieces of unique content bringing fans behind the scenes and closer to MLB’s top players. MLB was successful in reaching younger fans as 79% of MLB Originals audience was in the age range of 13-34.
“Home Means Everything” Campaign: On Opening Day, loanDepot, the new Official Mortgage Provider of MLB, will amplify the “Home Means Everything” campaign by donating $250 for every RBI to Boys & Girls Clubs. With an average of 100 RBI on any given day when all 30 teams play, loanDepot could donate approximately $25,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs of America after the first day of the season is complete.
- Ball Tracking: In its second year, the new Hawk-Eye Tracking System will be tracking the ball seams in flight to observe spin axis and seam orientation enhancing Statcast powered by Google Cloud. Players and Clubs are using this information to better understand ball movement and advanced topics like Seam-Shifted Wake (SSW).
- In-Game Video: In-game highlights will be supplied to custom Apple iPads in the dugout and bullpen for use during games for the first time. Clips will begin after signs have already been shown using MLB’s Emmy Award-winning video system Sporty Bot.
- Statcast 3D: MLB will introduce new enhancements for Statcast 3D powered by Google Cloud providing national and regional broadcasters with augmented reality, real-time pitch replays and historical Statcast data integration.
- Personalization: MLB is increasing the personalization of its digital fan offerings with a redesigned MLB.com home page, a redesign of the MLB app, and MLB.TV offerings.
- MLB.TV Expanded Content: MLB.TV, the longest-running live-streaming sports product, is significantly increasing its offerings beyond live out-of-market games to now feature more than 300 new on-demand content offerings including new live programming, documentaries, historical features and custom video content. More than 240 hours of content has been added since the completion of the 2020 World Series.
- Full Year of Film Room: 2021 will mark the first full season of fan access to MLB Film Room powered by Google Cloud, a first-of-its-kind online sports library which unlocks MLB’s archives of more than 5 million highlights for fans to search, watch, create custom highlight reels and share to their personal social media accounts. Highlights available to fans include nearly every pitch of the last five seasons, great moments in history dating back to 1926, thousands of standout plays from the last two decades and content that can all be filtered by 40 unique search categories.
- Rally App: MLB will offer four free-to-play prediction games, including the return of Beat The Streak after its hiatus last year, as part of Rally presented by BetMGM, which made its debut on app stores in 2020. The median age of Rally players during its inaugural season was 33 years old.
- 3D Visualization: MLB will launch this season a second generation 3D Visualization feature, supported by Statcast graphics, which can provide fans with impossible angles including aerial, player and 360 degree views.
**Special thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau for research and assistance**
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