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Coronavirus will determine the success or demise of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2020

The ability to avoid positive tests for COVID-19 could be the factor in winning and losing in 2020

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Today is COVID-19 testing day for MLB. Every team will have their players and staff tested for the virus as they report to “Summer Camp” to prepare for the 2020 MLB regular season. Prior to scheduled team workouts on Saturday, we should know if any players tested positive.

There will be a great deal of talk prior to and at the beginning of the shortened 2020 season about how good the Brewers are compared to other teams across the National League Central. That will actually be the case for every team and its fanbase. In most seasons, a team’s player personnel, chemistry, coaching staff, depth, and luck with injury determine the results of any given team.

In 2020, players testing positive will have a major impact on a team’s performance. Just think about how an outbreak in a clubhouse to begin the season will impact a team’s start. Even worse — think about a team in playoff contention or in the playoffs that has an outbreak in the clubhouse.

We already know the shortened nature of the 2020 season will certainly have an impact for teams. In the case of the Milwaukee Brewers we really do not know how things that should be an asset in normal circumstances will unfold. The team’s depth and use of pitchers might translate even better, or the advantage might be neutered as the team has less time to sort through their multitude of personnel options. Yet what will have the most profound effect for Milwaukee and every other team in baseball is the number of players that test positive prior to scheduled team workouts as well as those players that test positive throughout the season.

Not only will the numbers of players that test positive impact teams, but the quality of player that tests positive will too. What happens if Christian Yelich, Keston Hiura, Josh Hader, or Brandon Woodruff test positive? What if they test positive around the same time? That potential creates a major issue for the hopes of Milwaukee or any other team that might have that kind of bad luck.

Already the Philadelphia Phillies have had 12 players and staff test positive. As a result of this and the increased number of cases to the general population in Florida and Arizona, MLB shut down all Spring Training facilities for all 30 teams. It was also reported late in June that the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and Seattle Mariners had positive cases of coronavirus within their organizations. The Milwaukee Brewers announced that members of their organization had tested positive a day or two later. Other teams have also come forward with announcements of positive tests. The only high-profile player that we know that has test positive is Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies.

While players and staff getting sick from COVID-19 is a major concern, it does not have to reach the level of illness to impact wins, losses, and playoff hopes for teams. While there are several precautionary guidelines for teams to follow like no spitting and high-fives, if a team has one player who is positive, it could spread through that team like a wildfire.

Even if everyone that tests positive is asymptomatic or has mild symptoms, the nature of this virus is that it takes a long time to leave the system. Right now it is thought that incubation time is at least 14 days for asymptomatic and mild cases. There have been reports of longer periods.

Beyond this it has been suggested that players that have even mild symptoms should be monitored and treated carefully. Doctors say that coronavirus affects the heart more than other viruses do. For example in hospitalized patients, a third of them will have cardiac injury from COVID-19. Players are understandably fearful of what could happen. Ryan Braun recently spoke about it in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

Whatever the case, a player or member of a team’s staff must test negative twice before returning. While there is no minimum or maximum time period set out by the league, the reality of a positive test will be the absence of players for significant periods of time.

Obviously a significant outbreak could halt or end a 2020 season before it ever begins. Even if it does not, it will be a huge surprise if the coronavirus does not affect the season in a dramatic way.

As the team looks right now, a healthy and intact Milwaukee Brewers should be competitive and they could be good enough to make a run into the postseason. Unfortunately if one of the Brewers’ star players or a large number of players test positive at some point in the season, it would diminish the hopes for Milwaukee significantly. The same holds true for every team though. With that in mind, the most successful teams in 2020 might just be the teams that have a medical and coaching staff that best protects its players from this dreadful pandemic. How they do that is anyone’s guess.