Chicago White Sox star Jose Abreu and the Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman were crowned MLB MVPs of their respective leagues on Thursday.

Abreu (374) finished clear of the Cleveland Indians' Jose Ramirez (303) and New York Yankees' DJ LeMahieu (230) in voting for the American League (AL) MVP.

Another first baseman, Freeman was also a first-time MVP winner.

With 410 points, he beat Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts (268) and the San Diego Padres' Manny Machado (221) to the National League (NL) crown.

Abreu helped the White Sox reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

He had an AL-high 60 RBIs while hitting at .317, which ranked fourth, while his 19 home runs was the second most.

Abreu added the 2020 AL MVP to his three All-Star appearances, becoming the first White Sox player to win the award since Frank Thomas went back-to-back in 1993-94.

Freeman, meanwhile, guided the Braves to the NL Championship Series before they were edged by eventual champions the Dodgers.

His .341 batting average and 53 RBIs ranked second in the NL, while he also crushed 13 HRs, becoming the first Braves player to be named MVP since 1999.

Trevor Bauer became the first Cincinnati Reds pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in the National League (NL), while Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber earned American League (AL) honours.

Bauer beat out Chicago Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish (123) and New York Mets star Jacob deGrom (89) with 201 points as he made history for the Reds on Wednesday.

DeGrom had claimed back-to-back Cy Young awards but 2018 MLB All-Star Bauer led the NL in ERA (1.73), ERA-plus (276), WHIP (0.79), opponents' average (.159) and shutouts (two).

Bauer (100) only ranked second to DeGrom (104) in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings (12.3) as the Reds reached the NL Wild Card Series in 2020.

Cleveland's Bieber was the unanimous choice to win his first Cy Young title after finishing ahead of Minnesota Twins pitcher Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays star Ryu Hyun-jin in the AL.

Bieber received 210 points, well ahead of Maeda (92) and Ryu (51) to join Corey Kluber (2014 and 2017), Cliff Lee (2008), CC Sabathia (2007) and Gaylord Perry (1972) as the only other Cleveland winners.

Cleveland's four Cy Young recipients since 2007 are the most in the big leagues during that span.

The 25-year-old – who reached 100 strikeouts in the fewest number of innings (66.3) in MLB history – is the youngest Indians pitcher to clinch the award in franchise history.

Bieber dominated the AL, leading pitchers in wins (eight), strikeouts (122), ERA (1.63), batting average allowed (.167), slugging percentage allowed (.265) and strikeouts per nine innings (14.2).

The Indians advanced to the AL Wild Card Series.

Tampa Bay Rays boss Kevin Cash was named American League (AL) Manager of the Year for 2020, while Miami Marlins counterpart Don Mattingly reeled in National League (NL) honours.

Cash was crowned the AL's best after leading the Rays to their first division title since 2010 and first MLB World Series appearance in 12 years.

An AL Manager of the Year finalist in 2018 and 2019, Cash received 22 of the 30 first-place American League votes for 126 points, ahead of the Chicago White Sox's Rick Renteria (61) and Toronto Blue Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo (47).

"When I think about this award, it feels like a team award," Cash, whose Rays fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the showpiece clash, said. "I feel like it's an organisational award, because it's really your staff and your players have to buy in.

"We've taken our lumps for a couple years, and it looks like we're starting to turn the corner a little bit."

"I do think it's an organisational award," Cash, who became the second Rays skipper to win the award, joining Joe Maddon (2008 and 2011), continued. "But it certainly means a lot to me personally.

"When you look at these awards, there's only two that are given out every year, and to be recognised as one of the better ones on that given season means that a lot of things went your way."

In the NL, Mattingly and the Marlins capped a remarkable season with a managerial gong.

Mattingly received 20 of the 30 first-place votes after guiding the Marlins to their first playoff appearance in 17 years, despite a coronavirus outbreak that threatened to derail their campaign.

He became the third Marlins manager to receive the honour, along with Jack McKeon (2003) and Joe Girardi (2006), following Miami's run to the NL Division Series.

Mattingly is also the fifth individual to claim both the MVP Award and Manager of the Year title, joining Don Baylor, Frank Robinson, Kirk Gibson and Joe Torre.

"As I look back to the season, I think about all the people that paid the price for this," Mattingly, who beat Jayce Tingler of the San Diego Padres to the award, said.

"It starts at home with my wife and my little five-year-old. I didn’t see 'em for 110 days."

Alex Cora apologised and said he deserved his punishment for sign stealing after returning as manager of the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox re-hired Cora on a two-year deal last week following the conclusion of his year-long MLB suspension.

Boston mutually parted with Cora in January after the World Series-winning manager – who was bench coach for the Astros when they illicitly stole signs and went on to win the 2017 World Series – was named in MLB's findings.

The Red Sox were also stripped of their second-round pick in the 2020 draft for using video equipment to steal signs from opposing teams during their 2018 championship season.

Cora fronted the media on Tuesday, and he told reporters: "First of all, I want to thank my family back home [in Puerto Rico]. It's been a tough year. To spend time with you guys, it was amazing this year.

"But like I've been saying all along, I was spending time at home for the wrong reasons. For that, I want to apologise. I deserved what happened this year. It's something that, I'm not proud of it. But we went through the whole process with the commissioner's office, the department of investigations. At the end, I got my penalty and I served it."

Bench coach Ron Roenicke was elevated to the role of manager in 2020, overseeing a 24-36 record during the shortened season amid the coronavirus pandemic as the Red Sox finished bottom of the American League (AL) East.

"I knew I was going to miss the game," Cora said. "It's my passion. I've been around the game since I was four years old. I missed the game. At the same time, I made some bad decisions. You've got to take ownership.

"Just being able to be a dad, the kids, obviously they're still three, they don't understand what's going on right now, but some deep conversations with my daughter, with [my partner] Angelica, with my mom, with [my brother] Joey throughout the year about how wrong I was. The only thing I can do now is get better. I will be better. I'm going to be surrounded by a team that, they'll help me out and we’ll continue moving forward."

Cora added: "I want to make sure that everyone knows, this situation is part of who I am. For the rest of my career, as a man, I have to deal with it. I don’t want people to make it seem like it's a great comeback story.

"I don't want that. I'm actually going to use this bad experience to make people better, starting at home with [my kids] Xander, Isander and Camilla. The process started early in the year, and we're going to keep continuing it.

"I know there are a lot of people that I disappointed, and for that, I'm sorry. And also, I'm telling those people that, 'Hey, I'm still Alex. I made a mistake. I still love the game. I love what I do'. I promise you that from now on, I'm going to use this experience the right way. I'm not proud of it. I'm not happy about it. But we have to move on."

The Boston Red Sox have brought back Alex Cora as manager after the conclusion of his MLB suspension.

Boston parted with World Series-winning manager Cora in January amid allegations of sign stealing, but he has been re-appointed on a two-year deal, with a two-year club option for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Cora was handed a one-year ban, while the Red Sox were stripped of their second-round pick in the 2020 draft for using video equipment to steal signs from opposing teams during their 2018 championship season.

Bench coach Ron Roenicke was elevated to the role of manager in 2020, overseeing a 24-36 record during the shortened season amid the coronavirus pandemic as the Red Sox finished bottom of the American League (AL) East.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life," Cora said in a statement. " ... I am eager to get back to work with our front office, coaches, and especially our players.

"Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October."

Cora added: "This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognise how fortunate I am to lead this team once again.

"Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organisation was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organisation and its fans proud."

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said: "Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond. The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game.

"Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn't yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well.

"Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. ... He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance."

Los Angeles Dodgers star Justin Turner will not face punishment for leaving isolation to celebrate his team's World Series victory last month, despite testing positive for coronavirus.

The Dodgers were on the verge of winning the MLB World Series in Game 6 when third baseman Turner was removed from the game in the eighth inning due to the team receiving word that he had returned a positive COVID-19 test in October.

Turner was placed in a room with his wife Kourtney, where the couple watched Los Angeles clinch a 3-1 win and 4-2 series victory over the Tampa Bay Rays – the Dodgers' first World Series title since 1988.

During the celebration, Turner was seen on the field in close contact with team-mates, sometimes with his mask removed.

The MLB announced the end of its investigation into Turner's conduct on Friday, with commissioner Rob Manfred saying no further action would be taken.

"We all have made mistakes as we navigated these unprecedented challenges and have tried to learn from those mistakes so they are not repeated," Manfred said in a statement.

"With this in mind, I am closing this matter by applauding Justin for accepting responsibility, apologising and making a commitment to set a positive example going forward."

Despite Turner's behaviour – which he has since admitted was wrong and regrettable – MLB did take some responsibility and acknowledge other mitigating factors.

"Our investigation revealed additional relevant information that, while not exonerating Mr. Turner from responsibility for his conduct, helps put into context why he chose to leave the isolation room and return to the field," Manfred said.

Two Dodgers employees were stationed outside Turner's isolation room. When the 2017 All-Star left to return to the field to celebrate, he mistook the employees' inaction for permission.

Manfred conceded in his statement that a league employee should have been given explicit instructions to keep Turner in isolation or take him directly to the team hotel.

Many of Turner's team-mates thought they had already been exposed enough to him in the previous hours and days that isolation was pointless. Turner was also told by an unidentified person that some of his team-mates had also received positive COVID-19 tests, leading him to believe he was being singled out.

Due to this confusion – and Turner's contrition after the fact – Manfred decided not to punish the 12-year veteran.

"Mr. Turner has publicly recognised that his conduct was wrong and has expressed remorse for that conduct," Manfred said. "I have spoken to him personally and I know that he is extraordinarily upset by the incident.

"By all accounts, Justin is a leader in the clubhouse, a contributor to his community and a responsible person who was instrumental in the Dodgers diligently following the health protocols all season long."

Turner, a member of both Dodgers' teams that lost in the World Series in 2017 and 2018, was a candidate for World Series MVP, ultimately won by Corey Seager.

The 2017 National League Championship Series (NLCS) hit .320 with two home runs and four doubles in the World Series and is the franchise's career postseason leader in hits, runs, doubles, home runs and RBI.

"In hindsight, I should have waited until the field was clear of others to take that photo with my wife," Turner said. "I sincerely apologise to everyone on the field for failing to appreciate the risks of returning to the field.

"I have spoken with almost every team-mate, coach, and staff member, and my intentions were never to make anyone uncomfortable or put anyone at further risk."

Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts won the Gold Glove Award for a fifth straight year.

Betts, 28, helped the Dodgers win the World Series in 2020 – his first season with the team after joining from the Boston Red Sox.

He was named the Gold Glove winner for right field in the National League (NL).

Betts has won the Gold Glove in each of the past five seasons, with four of those coming with the Red Sox.

He had 11 defensive runs saved (DRS) in 2020 and it led all NL right fielders, according to

Kansas City Royals star Alex Gordon – who retired at season's end – won an eighth Gold Glove, while the Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado was awarded an eighth straight.

Gold Glove Award winners:

First base: Evan White (Seattle Mariners)
Second base: Cesar Hernandez (Cleveland Indians)
Shortstop: J.P. Crawford (Seattle Mariners)
Third base: Isiah Kiner-Falefa (Texas Rangers)
Left field: Alex Gordon (Kansas City Royals)
Center field: Luis Robert (Chicago White Sox)
Right field: Joey Gallo (Texas Rangers)
Catcher: Roberto Perez (Cleveland Indians)
Pitcher: Griffin Canning (Los Angeles Angels)

First base: Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs)
Second base: Kolten Wong (St Louis Cardinals)
Shortstop: Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs)
Third base: Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies)
Left field: Tyler O'Neill (St Louis Cardinals)
Center field: Trent Grisham (San Diego Padres)
Right field: Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Pitcher: Max Fried (Atlanta Braves)
Catcher: Tucker Barnhart (Cincinnati Reds)

Never before had there been a full-time female coach in MLB history.

Step forward Alyssa Nakken.

Nakken made history when she was appointed San Francisco Giants assistant in January, joining Gabe Kapler's coaching staff.

The 30-year-old has her first season under her belt, and reflecting on the historic campaign, Nakken told Stats Perform News: "There is a lot of emotions that come with it. Throughout the interview process, I was just really working towards that next step in my career. I wasn't thinking about making any sort of history or anything. I was just looking for that next opportunity in baseball, and specifically within the Giants organisation.

"So, that was my focus for a month and a half of a pretty intense interview process. Then at the end, when the offer was made, it sort of hit me. 'Okay, yay, I have this new job but wow there's this whole extra layer coming on top of it' in the form of being the first full-time female coach at the major-league level. It's an incredible honour that makes me so humble, then it also lights this other fire within me that is like 'okay, I have this additional responsibility to ensure that I continue to pave this path for many, many other women who are about to walk it soon after this'.

"What was difficult or just an interesting feeling, when the announcement was made, just an outpouring of love, support, respect and congratulations were thrown my way. Of course, I was so appreciative but I was also like, I still have a job to do, just like this hire. It's not like when you win a World Series or big game, and when people congratulate you, you can relax your shoulders a little and soak it all in. It was the exact opposite.

"I have a lot of work to do, a lot to learn, a lot of relationships to build, my life is going to look a little bit different than what it did in 2019, so here we go. But I'm incredibly honoured and humbled by this responsibility."

A former Sacramento State softball player and lifelong Giants fan along with her family, Nakken first joined the eight-time World Series champions as an intern in baseball operations in 2014.

"I was three weeks old when I went to my first Giants game," Nakken said with a smile. "I grew up about two hours away from San Francisco. My parents and family are just big Giants fans. It was a dream to come to graduate school in San Francisco, and then to get an internship with the team I grew up loving was beyond my wildest dreams. Then to just continue to move within the organisation and take steps forwards in my career, it is a dream come true.

"It does mean a little bit more that it's my 'hometown team'. There's also some added comfort in that. This organisation has felt like family for a really long time. To go on this journey with my family is a really special and huge benefit for me."

Nakken's first season as an assistant was far from routine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Initially scheduled to start in March, the 2020 MLB season was pushed back to July, with the regular season reduced from 162 games to 60.

The Giants (29-31) missed the playoffs, but there were signs of improvement in Kapler's first season as manager.

San Francisco arguably had the most improved offense in MLB, while their improvement in on-base plus slugging was one of the biggest by any National League team in the division era since 1969, per Stats Perform.

Brandon Belt (1.015), Mike Yastrzemski (.968) and Alex Dickerson (.947) all had an OPS of .900 or higher this year, marking the first time the Giants had three players with a .900-plus OPS in the same season (minimum 150 PA) since 2000 (Barry Bonds, Ellis Burks, Jeff Kent).

The Giants hit very well in clutch situations this year. Their .289 batting average in "close and late" situations was the second best in the majors, behind the San Diego Padres (.295).

"Close and late" is defined as the seventh inning or later with the batting team ahead by one run, tied, or with the tying run on base, at bat or on deck.

"A rollercoaster from the beginning," she said. "Back in March during Spring Training, we were really getting to that halfway point and really working our way up, starting to really get a feel for each other because it's a brand new staff for the most part and a lot of new players, we were getting into this nice rhythm of getting to know each other. Then all of a sudden, a complete shutdown.

"That three months of lockdown was full of emotions. You know when you're anticipating something, like the anticipation of going to the dentist and it scares you. When you're anticipating that, it causes some anxiety. For me personally, the idea of maybe having a season or maybe not, the anticipation of it was causing some anxiety. I just wanted to get in there and get going. When I'm thinking about something, I find myself overthinking and I spiral into some negative thoughts and it's not healthy for my mental game.

"Then you had the back-and-forth with the league and Players Association. For a while, we were like, 'Okay, we think we will be back in mid-May', and then it was nope, June 1st, nope, mid-June… this wild and range of feelings. On top of that, the extreme anxiety the whole world has faced with the global pandemic and wanting to make sure my family was okay and I remained healthy and did all I could to support those around me.

"Then we get into the season and it came with its own restraints and restrictions that no one has seen before. There's a benefit though for this season being your first because you have nothing to compare it to really, so I just rolled with it. The season itself, 60 games in 66 days – that's a lot of emotions, rollercoaster feelings. We went on a seven-game winning streak at one point, and at another point, we didn't have a great road trip. To go through that, it was pretty wild but I wouldn't change it for anything."

Before the season got underway, Nakken became the first woman to coach in an on-field capacity during an MLB game when she took over as Giants first-base coach in July's exhibition against the Oakland Athletics.

"It was such a special moment. In the moment, I knew I had to be prepared," Nakken added. "Antoan Richardson is our first-base coach, who I worked very closely with this season. Before the game, during BP [batting practice], he said hey be ready I'm going to bring you in to coach first in the seventh inning. I was like okay, there is no benefit in stressing about it or hesitating in saying yes. I was ready for it quite honestly. Having those three months of that shutdown and have some more time to learn from Antoan and connect with players in a different way than what we thought, and a very intense training game, it was extremely beneficial just for my development and growth.

"I felt nothing but ready for that moment. Stepping onto the field, there's no fans, but it was the first time we were playing against a team that wasn't ourselves. That was a really cool thing because it's like, 'man, a couple of months ago we weren't sure if this moment would happen and now it's here and we're playing against an opponent who are playing in a different colour uniform to us'.

"It also went through my head, okay cameras are here and I think the game is on TV, I don't think a female has ever coached on the field before in a MLB game, this might make a few headlines. Sure enough it made quite a few but I was just so locked-in into the game and moment, I was just focused on really knowing the signs, how the opposing pitcher controls the running game, just being a resource for our players when they got on base. Afterwards in the club house when I was able to have access to my phone, another outpour of respect and congratulations."

So, what is the ultimate goal for Nakken as she paves the way for women in baseball?

"It's so crazy and exciting to think about. What is exciting to think about is that there doesn't have to be an end goal, but there is so much to learn in the process to get to the next step of your career," Nakken said. "I experienced that through my time with the Giants. I think an assistant coach is the best job ever because I get to work alongside all our coaches in all aspects of the game and be a resource for our players in every aspect they may need.

"It's just a great learning opportunity for me and then when I do sit back and think because I know it's important to set goals and not get complacent, but my goal in the next couple of years is to really dominate this assistant coach role. I'm exciting to go into a full 162-game season with this added knowledge and be able to be a sharper resource. Kai Correa, he has been someone I've been learning from so much, I think that he is just a resource for me.

"I'm learning a lot about a bench coach role. There's some things that I really see that if I continue to develop my skills in this area, I could potentially become a bench coach in the future if future me wants that. I know a lot of bench coaches in the league are looking to become managers one day, so that just seems like a good path to journey along."

The use of data, machine learning and AI has helped revolutionise sport and MLB in recent years, as professional teams look for any advantage they can get.

Analytics goes way beyond recording basic stats such as home runs, RBIs and ERAs, the new metrics and data are able to more accurately quantify and predict player and team performance.

Stats Perform harnesses the true power of sports data by leveraging advancements in AI to generate the industry's richest insights.

"It's so important," Nakken said when discussing the role of data and analytics. "With our staff specifically, it's a foundation of what our coaching philosophy is. We work alongside our analysts every single moment of the day. We have a text thread that is just coaching staff and our analysts are on that. They had so much value to our roles and team, and to our game strategy. We lean on them so much.

"I can't speak for other organisations but we couldn't do our jobs without them. Any question we have about anything, they are able to answer it very quickly with data and research behind it. As coaches, we are involved in a lot of processes of developing the analytics, but it's really them who put the work into it and give us the reports. Then it's on as coaches to learn how to digest that and communicate it effectively to players so it's not an overload of information. Behind that nugget is a vast amount of work and research. Our analysts are incredible, the heartbeat of our organisation. It's on us coaches to put that nice art flair on it, not overwhelming for our players. Almost every decision made this season, there was a huge emphasis in analytics behind it to confirm why we were making a decision."

In a year where very little has gone as expected, it is perhaps fitting that a backfired strategy contributed to the end of the Tampa Bay Rays' otherwise remarkable 2020 season.

With one highly controversial – and very questionable – managerial manoeuvre, Kevin Cash became a strong contender for Public Enemy No. 1, with his ill-fated decision to remove ace Blake Snell after 73 pitches and 5 1/3 virtually spotless innings in Game 6 of the World Series drawing the ire of the Twitterverse. 

Everyone knows the outcome by now – a 1-0 Tampa Bay lead turned into a 2-1 deficit two batters into replacement Nick Anderson's stint, and the Los Angeles Dodgers would end the night celebrating their first championship in 32 years.

As unfathomable and unpopular as Cash's move was, the numbers – for the most part – do support it. Snell was as dominant as any pitcher during the truncated 2020 season in his first 50 pitches of a start, limiting hitters to a miniscule .149 average and a .498 OPS.

He was considerably less effective in pitches 51-75 and struggled substantially beyond that threshold, as opponents batted .321 with an .892 OPS off the left-hander after the 75-pitch mark.

The reality is that Cash has been consistently – and successfully – employing the very same tactic with Snell not only for this season, but for the past three.

Only 11.3 percent of Snell's batters faced in 2020 came during the third time through the lineup, the exact point when he was lifted in Game 6. That's the lowest percentage of any pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched this season.

Going back to his brilliant 2018 AL Cy Young Award campaign, only three pitchers with at least 300 innings faced a smaller percentage of batters during the third time in the order.

Lowest Pct. of Batters Faced – 3rd Time Through Lineup vs. Total Batters Faced Since 2018 (min, 300 IP)

Chase Anderson 13.0

Ryan Yarbrough 16.3

Wade LeBlanc 17.3

Blake Snell 17.7

So, was it the right move? The answer is no, only because it didn't work out. But no eyebrows were raised when Cash did the exact same thing in Game 1 of the Rays' opening round playoff series with Toronto, when Snell was yanked after 83 pitches with Tampa Bay holding a 1-0 lead with two outs in the sixth inning. The Rays went on to win 3-1.

The real takeaways from the series were twofold. First off, the Dodgers, with their parade of All-Stars past and present and cavernous financial advantages over the bargain-shopping Rays, were simply the better team like they were during the regular season, where their +136 run differential towered over the rest of baseball (in contrast, the Rays tied for the AL lead with a +60 differential). Secondly, the Rays didn't win in large part because they didn't hit.

The performance of overnight sensation Randy Arozarena notwithstanding, Tampa Bay's run production was abysmal for the majority of the six games as an offense that succeeded with patience and resourcefulness during the regular season morphed into a free-swinging, home run-dependent unit.

Rays hitters struck out in an astronomical 33.2 per cent of their plate appearances, the highest rate in World Series history, and reached base just 26.5 per cent of the time. Of Tampa Bay's 23 runs scored for the series, 13 came via the home run (56.5 per cent).

The Rays were the 37th team in World Series history with an on-base percentage of .265 or lower. Only six of those clubs wound up with the title, and three of them (the 1911 A's, 1939 Yankees, 1983 Orioles) had a higher OBP than their opponent.

Reliance on the long ball also hasn't historically been a recipe for World Series success, as only nine of 28 teams with over 50 per cent of their runs scored coming from homers went on to win a Fall Classic.

Tampa Bay were not that way during the regular season, as their .737 winning percentage (14-5) in games in which they failed to homer was by far the best in the majors. The Rays often offset that lack of big power by drawing walks, a part of their game that was too often non-existent against the Dodgers.

Tampa hitters induced free passes on 10.7 per cent of their plate appearances in the regular season, the fourth-highest rate in the majors. In the four games they lost in the World Series, the Rays walked a mere seven times in 132 appearances (5.3 per cent).

Now, the Rays were hardly an offensive juggernaut during the regular season, as they led the majors in strikeouts and ranked in the bottom third in batting average with runners in scoring position.

Tampa Bay were still able to produce the AL's best record due in large part to their terrific implementation of Cash's analytics-based strategy of "run prevention", utilising their deep pitching and strong defense to permit the fourth-fewest runs in the majors.

Those offensive shortcomings weren't exposed during the Rays' run to the World Series, mainly because their three earlier opponents (Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros) weren't good enough to do so (none of those teams finished higher than 12th in the majors in runs allowed).

The Dodgers, who yielded the second-fewest runs, were a far greater challenge, and that superiority in overall depth and talent ultimately proved to be too difficult an obstacle to overcome.

In essence, the Rays needed to be close to perfect to take the series. In Game 6, they simply weren't.

Justin Turner deserved the opportunity to celebrate the Los Angeles Dodgers' World Series success despite contracting coronavirus, according to the team's president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

Third baseman Turner was pulled from Tuesday's Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays to start the eighth inning.

It was later revealed the 2017 NLCS MVP had tested positive for COVID-19, with the result only returned after the game had started.

The Dodgers sealed a 3-1 win in Turner's absence, but the 35-year-old returned to the field to join his team-mates in celebrating their first World Series championship since 1988.

Friedman suggested Turner should be allowed to take to the field in a mask, yet the player - now a free agent - was pictured among his Dodgers team-mates without his face covered.

Images also showed Friedman sat next to Turner with neither wearing a mask, although the LA president later insisted he was "definitely wearing a mask" but recognised "if there were people around him without masks, that's not good optics at all".

"I get the questions, but a lot of this will be for another day," Friedman told reporters, with the majority of questions in his news conference focused on Turner.

"Post-game, I think having a mask on and staying socially distanced, he wanted to come out and take a picture with the trophy. I can't state strongly enough how big a role he's played in the success of this organisation.

"For him, being a free agent, not knowing how the future's going to play out, I don't think there was anyone that was going to stop him from going out.

"At least from my perspective - not watching it super closely with everything that was going on - I think he was mindful of other people, especially other people he hadn't already been in contact with.

"This is something we're going to wrap our arms around tonight, then in the morning figure out where we're going from here."

Pushed on the pictures without masks, Friedman suggested Turner had already made contact with those he was socialising with.

"I think the people that were on the field were people he had been around," he said.

"From his standpoint, having the chance to take a picture with the trophy was incredibly important and meaningful from him.

"From our standpoint, the contact tracing and working out who's been around him and the test results are incredibly important from this point moving forward."

Asked if the team would now have to quarantine, he added: "Not sure yet. We're going back [to the hotel] tonight. We're going to all take tests, figure out what the results are from that and go from there."

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash regretted pulling Blake Snell out of Game 6 of the World Series, a decision the pitcher thinks will require plenty of time to get his head around.

Cash controversially took out Snell after 73 pitches following a single by Austin Barnes at the bottom of the sixth inning, with the game quickly turning in the favour of the Los Angeles Dodgers as they went on to seal the championship series 4-2 with a 3-1 win.

Snell conceded two hits and one run with nine strikeouts through 5.1 innings, making him the only pitcher to have two World Series games with at least nine strikeouts and two or fewer hits allowed.

But a wild pitch from his replacement Nick Anderson allowed Austin Barnes and Mookie Betts to score in the sixth, leaving Cash to rue his decision.

"Yes, I guess I regret it because it didn't work out, but I feel like the thought process was right," said Cash.

"If we had to do it over again, I would have the utmost confidence in Nick Anderson to get through that inning.

"The only motive was that the lineup the Dodgers feature is as potent as any in the league. Personally, I felt Blake had done his job and then some. I totally respect and understand the questions that come with it.

"Blake gave us every opportunity to win. He was outstanding. They're not easy decisions. I felt it was best after Barnes hit the single, I didn't want Mookie or [Corey] Seager seeing Blake a third time.

"Everything we try to do, we're trying to put our team in the best position to win. And that's the reason I made the decision. And I totally understand and respect any opinion off of that.

"Blake could not have been better tonight... he put it all together for us in a big way."

Snell struggled to comprehend the decision but insisted he would not question what prompted Cash to make the call.

"I'm definitely disappointed, upset. I wanted the ball. I felt good and I felt I did everything I could to prove my case to stay out there. Then for us to lose, it sucks. I want to win and I want to win the World Series, and for us to lose, it just sucks," said Snell.

"I'm not gonna question him. He's a hell of a manager so I'm not gonna question him. I'll voice my opinion and I'll look forward to the offseason we have to get ready and I will be the best that I can be for next year.

"I get it's the third time through the lineup but I think I'm gonna make the adjustments I need to as I see them a third time. I just believe in myself. I believe in what I was doing.

"For most of that game I was dominating every outcome possible, and that lineup is so talented. I wanted to keep going. I felt so confident in how I adjusted a second time and what I was gonna be able to do a third time. I wanted to go that whole game.

"The hardest thing for me is I was rolling. I was in a groove. I just really felt dominant. I felt like I had them guessing. It's just tough for me. It's going to be tough for me for a while to accept that and accept losing the World Series."

Clayton Kershaw revelled in the Los Angeles Dodgers' drought-ending triumph after celebrating his first World Series championship.

The Dodgers clinched their first World Series since 1988 via Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 in Arlington, Texas.

Mookie Betts' eighth-inning homer helped end the Dodgers' 32-year wait for MLB glory following unsuccessful trips to the World Series in 2017 and 2018.

Kershaw had won almost everything heading into the 2020 showpiece – the future Hall of Famer boasting eight All-Star appearances, three National League (NL) Cy Young titles, NL MVP, Gold Glove and Triple Crown honours.

A World Series ring was the only thing missing until Tuesday and the 32-year-old pitcher, who set the record for most strikeouts in postseason history, told FOX: "I feel pretty good, man. It's hard to describe. You know, you work so hard.

"We've been to the postseason - I've been to the postseason, and I've lost every single year. ... And now, to look up, I wish it was Dodger Stadium but it feels like it right now with all these Dodger fans around. To get to see how happy these fans are, they've been waiting a long time, too.

"I just have a lot of emotions right now and it's just a special feeling, man. World Series champs, they can't take that away."

"I've been saying, 'World Series Champs' in my head, over and over again, just to see if it will sink in," Kershaw said. "I'm just so very thankful to be a part of this group of guys, and so very thankful that we get to be on the team that is bringing back a World Series to the Dodgers fans after 32 years.

"They've waited a long time, and to get to do that ... you couldn't ask for anything more, it's incredible."

Much had been said about Kershaw's ability to deliver in the playoffs, but he extinguished any doubt after going 4-1 this postseason with a 2.93 ERA in 30.2 innings.

Kershaw, who became just the third starting pitcher to earn two wins and strike out at least one-third of the batters he faced in a World Series, added: "I don't care about legacy. I don't care about last year.

"Those other years are done with. We won. Who cares about all that other stuff? It's all pointless. It doesn't matter. We won."

The Dodgers used a two-run sixth inning to rally past the Rays – Mookie Betts proving his worth with a homer in the eighth – after Tampa Bay's Randy Arozarena homered in the opening inning.

The Dodgers took control after Blake Snell's exit – a wild pitch from Nick Anderson allowing Austin Barnes and Betts to score in the sixth.

Betts – a high-profile arrival at the start of the season – homered in the Boston Red Sox's World Series-sealing win in 2018, and did the same against the Rays for the Dodgers, becoming the second player in MLB history to homer in a World Series-clinching victory for two different teams.

After the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title on October 11, Los Angeles is the first city in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history to win two championships in the same calendar month, per Stats Perform.

"These guys have been in the postseason so many times," Betts told FOX. "I just came to be a part of it, and I'm just happy I could contribute."

"It felt amazing," Betts said on his home run. "We're up 2-1 right there, we need to scratch across another run, so they’re not one swing of the bat away."

Los Angeles Dodgers star Corey Seager capped a memorable postseason by earning World Series MVP honours.

Seager helped the Dodgers to their first championship in 32 years following Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 6 amid the coronavirus pandemic and a shortened season.

After being crowned National League Championship Series (NLCS) MVP, Seager batted .400/.556/.700 with two home runs and five RBIs while drawing six walks as the Dodgers sealed a 4-2 series victory in the World Series.

Seager became the eighth player in MLB history to win MVP honours in both the NLCS and World Series in the same year, while the two-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger is the sixth shortstop to be named the World Series MVP and first since Edgar Renteria in 2010.

"Man, this was just awesome," Seager said. "What this team has accomplished this year, throughout the regular season, grinding through every series, we got down 3-1, came all the way back.

"The resilience, the effort, the energy -- everything that this team has done this year, it's just been fun to be a part of."

Seager ended the postseason with eight homers, two short of the MLB record for a single playoff campaign set by Rays star Randy Arozarena this year.

The 26-year-old Seager also had 20 RBIs and 20 runs scored for the Dodgers, who ended the regular season with the best record in baseball.

After the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title on October 11, Los Angeles is the first city in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history to win two championships in the same calendar month, per Stats Perform.

The triumph secured a seventh World Series for the Dodgers – who suffered back-to-back championship defeats in 2017 and 2018 – and sixth since relocating to Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers claimed their first World Series title in 32 years after overcoming the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 in Game 6.

Not since 1988 had the Dodgers celebrated a world championship, despite back-to-back trips to MLB's showpiece in 2017 and 2018.

But the Dodgers ended their drought after clinching a 4-2 series success against the Rays amid the coronavirus pandemic and a shortened season on Tuesday.

The Dodgers used a two-run sixth inning to rally past the Rays – Mookie Betts proving his worth with a homer in the eighth.

Betts – a high-profile arrival at the start of the season – homered in the Boston Red Sox's World Series-sealing win in 2018, and did the same against the Rays for the Dodgers, becoming the second player in MLB history to homer in a World Series-clinching victory for two different teams.

After the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA title on October 11, Los Angeles is the first city in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history to win two championships in the same calendar month, per Stats Perform.

The Rays – back in the World Series for the first time since 2008 and eyeing their maiden championship – made the perfect start in Arlington, where Randy Arozarena extended his MLB postseason record.

Arozarena homered off Tony Gonsolin in the opening inning, his 10th home run in the playoffs – the most in a single postseason.

With his three-plus homers in the American League (AL) Division Series, AL Championship Series and World Series, Arozarena tied the record for most postseason series with three-plus homers in an entire career with three. He matched Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Carlos Beltran and Jose Altuve.

Rays ace Blake Snell had been almost flawless before he was controversially dragged by Tampa Bay after giving up a hit.

Through 5.1 innings, Snell – the only pitcher to have two games in his World Series career with nine-plus strikeouts and two or fewer hits allowed – had conceded two hits and one run, with nine strikeouts to keep the Dodgers at bay.

The Dodgers took control after Snell's exit – a wild pitch from Nick Anderson allowing Austin Barnes and Betts to score in the sixth.

Betts added the insurance run in the eighth before Julio Urias struck out the remaining three batters to join Madison Bumgarner (2014) as the only pitchers to have four wins and a save in a single postseason.

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