David Schoenfield, ESPN Senior Writer 22d

Real or not? End of regular season means real fun is about to begin

The final day of the regular season is always kind of a sad day. We've poured our hearts, time, and energy into our team all season and suddenly it's over for two-thirds of the teams. Postseason baseball is fun and intense, but if you have been following along here all season it also means you love the day-to-day grind of the regular season. We'll miss that.

Anyway, none of the games on Sunday affected the playoff races or home-field advantage in any of the matchups, but here's what happened on Sunday:

Giancarlo Stanton finishes with 59 home runs. Stanton went 2-for-5 on Sunday, including the hardest base hit of the season:

Stanton had given himself a shot at 60 with two home runs Thursday and he had five hits in three games this weekend. Alas, none cleared the fence. Moved up to the leadoff spot on Sunday, his final at-bat came in the ninth inning, but he struck out swinging on a 0-2 curveball from Arodys Vizcaino.

Still, a stunning season from Stanton. Most important, he missed only three games, the first time he has played 150 since 2011. Stanton finishes by leading the majors in home runs, RBIs, and slugging percentage and leading NL position players in both Baseball-Reference-WAR and FanGraphs WAR. Marlins fans were chanting "M-V-P! M-V-P!" It's going to be an interesting vote -- Buster Olney broke down all the candidates -- but Stanton is the one guy who I think all the voters will have in their top three. So while five or six different players might receive first-place votes, I think Stanton edges out Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Joey Votto.

Besides that, one of the biggest stories of the offseason: Will Derek Jeter trade Stanton? After the game, Stanton said he "doesn't know what is going to happen." Good luck, Derek.

Thanks for the memories. This just became one of my favorite clips of the season. It had to be a bittersweet moment for Royals fans when Ned Yost removed Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar from the game. All four are free agents, and the Royals will try to sign one or two of them, odds are all four will be signing elsewhere for more money in the offseason.

Those four, along with Salvador Perez -- who greeted them at the top of the dugout -- and Alex Gordon, helped turn the worst franchise in the game into World Series champs. The Royals had lost 100-plus games four times in the 2000s. In 2011, when Hosmer and Moustakas reached the majors, the Royals lost 91 games. They lost 90 in 2012 before finally climbing over .500 in 2013, just the second winning season in 19 years. Then came the heartbreaking World Series loss to the Giants in 2014 and then the season to remember in 2015. It was quite the ride, but like all families, eventually, the kids grow up and leave the nest.

Hosmer definitely went out in style. He received a standing ovation in his first at-bat and then hit a home run. Hosmer will be one of the more intriguing free agents. For the first time, he combined hitting for average (.318) with hitting for power (25 home runs). Was this real improvement or merely another player taking advantage of the lively ball? Teams weren't paying for first basemen last year, but Hosmer will turn 28 in October. If you give him $100 million, you're banking on more of these seasons. The bottom five teams in first base wOBA: Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, Angels, Mariners. The Phillies will have Rhys Hoskins, but those other four teams will certainly have interest.

Pablo Sandoval can't even win right. Sandoval hit a walk-off home run to beat the Padres. Awesome! Except the Tigers lost to the Twins, to give them the same major-league worst 64-98 record as the Giants. The Tigers own the tiebreaker, however, so Detroit will pick first in next June's draft and the Giants will pick second.

Max Scherzer update. Scherzer left Saturday's start because of a hamstring issue and the MRI showed nothing major. He told reporters that he can run and jump on it, but that he's not sure yet about his status for the division series opener. "We're not even 24 hours out," he said. "We're still trying to get all the doctors to take a look at this and make sure that we have the absolute correct diagnosis. But we have a really, really good idea of what we've got here."

Other playoff news.

  • As expected, it will be Ervin Santana versus Luis Severino in the AL wild-card game between the Twins and Yankees on Tuesday.

  • Miguel Sano was the DH again for the Twins on Sunday and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Sano went 1-for-8 in his return with three strikeouts. I predict he comes off the bench in that game with Robbie Grossman getting the start at DH.

  • Bud Black confirmed that Jon Gray will start the NL wild-card game for the Rockies against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.

  • Note that Robbie Ray started for the Diamondbacks on Sunday. While he would be the projected Game 1 starter in the division series against the Dodgers, he threw only 23 pitches, leaving open the option to use him in relief of Zack Greinke if needed against the Rockies.

  • The Dodgers haven't announced their playoff rotation yet, but Dave Roberts said Sunday he doesn't envision using Clayton Kershaw on short rest in Game 4 of the division series. In each of the past four seasons, Kershaw did start Game 4 on three days' rest but given his back issue earlier in the summer and a 3.48 ERA in six starts since returning from the DL, this is the season it makes sense not to push him. Plus, if you're down 2-1 in the series, you need to win two games anyway.

A stat that will absolutely blow your mind. Padres pitcher Luis Perdomo hit his fourth triple of the season. That's pretty amazing since he has only five hits. He's the first pitcher with that many triples since Robin Roberts in 1955. But that's not the amazing statistic. This is:

OK, so it's not that Statcast goes back to Tim Raines and Rickey Henderson. Still, that means a pitcher has the fastest triple of the season. That's right, Perdomo might be the fastest player in baseball! Billy Hamilton, what do you say?

Play of the year. Austin Jackson's catch was named ESPN's Web Gem of the Year:

But what about Gordon Beckham's diving catch over the tarp and double play?

Then there's my personal favorite, Kevin Kiermaier from a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, maybe you prefer a Byron Buxton play ... or a Nolan Arenado play ... or an Andrelton Simmons play ...

^ Back to Top ^