Two-time World Series winner Hunter Pence and Juan Soto of the reigning champion Washington Nationals are among 30 Major League Baseball players who began an online tournament Friday.
“MLB The Show” features five World Series champions and 11 All-Stars in the lineup, with one player from every MLB team playing each of his rivals over about three weeks and the top eight advancing to the virtual league’s playoffs.
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MLB shut down real pre-season games last month and delayed the scheduled March 26 start of the 2020 campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The five who played on World Series champions include San Francisco Giants outfielder Pence, a member of their 2012 and 2014 title teams, and Soto, a 21-year-old Dominican outfielder who sparked Washington over Houston in last year’s seven-game championship showdown.
Three World Series champion pitchers are also entered — Houston’s Lance McCullers from the 2017 champion Astros, Venezuelan Eduardo Rodriguez of 2018 champion Boston and Seattle’s Carl Edwards, who won a 2016 World Series title with the Chicago Cubs.
Playoffs are set to begin April 30 with best-of-three first and second rounds setting up a best-of-five virtual World Series.
Games will be streamed over MLB social media. Each will be only three innings rather than the nine real teams would play, allowing online players to compete in multiple games in a day.