Welcome back to another exciting edition of 1985 vs 2015. Previously in this series, we created a new OOTP game and added the best 4 NL and AL teams from 1985 and 2015. In the second and third updates, we played through the first and second halves of the season. In this final installment, we’ll simulate the post-season and wrap things up.
As I mentioned during the league setup, I used a best of 7-7-9 schedule for the playoffs simply because it seemed more interesting to play more playoff games. It also seemed like this was a way to even out the pitching environment for any 1985 playoff teams since they are not usually geared for the heavy reliever usage seen in modern post-season play.
Once you advance OOTP to the post-season, the standings page defaults to the Playoff Coverage screen which shows you a preview of the upcoming series. One thing of note is that OOTP will automatically cut its starting rotation to 4 pitchers in the playoffs and it will try to use its 3 best pitchers if the top starter’s stamina allows it to pitch him on short rest.
1985 Blue Jays vs 2015 Blue Jays
The ’85 Jays moved in to the playoff picture in the closing days of our season. They over-performed their Pythagorean record by 5 games, which you can pick up on by looking at their end-of season rankings on their team stats page. They finished 6th in runs scored and runs allowed in an 8 team American League but it’s possible they won quite a few games by clustering runs together as they finished 1st in extra base hits. The 2015 Blue Jays, on the other hand, were every bit the offensive juggernaut they looked like before the real life season and they received the bonus of several young starting pitchers working out better than they did in the real 2015 season.
In the end, the ’85 Blue Jays prevailed in 6 games, led by George Bell’s 1.280 OPS and Jimmy Key‘s 1.23 ERA in 14 innings pitched.
Moving on to a matchup that nearly happened in the real 2015 ALDS, the Rangers take on the 2015 Royals.vs.
Texas Rangers vs. 2015 Kansas City Royals
The Rangers finished 3rd in runs scored and allowed during a regular season in which Ryan Rua not only started every day but led the team with a 132 wRC+ while tying Adrian Beltre for the team lead with 26 home runs. The long awaited arrival of Jorge Alfaro occured on August 1st as he made the jump from AA to the majors. He finished with a 91 wRC+ with a 43.5 CS%, good for 1 WAR in 50 games. Interestingly, OOTP started using Joey Gallo, who posted a 103 wRC+ in 31 games, as the everyday 3rd baseman and benched Beltre for the final month of the season, but then did not put Gallo on the postseason roster (keep in mind I turned off the post-season roster rule that would have normally required Gallo to be on the 25 man roster as of midnight on August 31st).
OOTP also seems unimpressed with Alcides Esocbar, or at least it was with his pre-season projections, as he only started for fatigued players during the regular season. It didn’t seem to affect the team too much, though, as the Royals mirrored their real life contact hitting and defense oriented counterparts. They finished first in batting average and hits as well as defensive efficiency and their pitching staff led the league in runs allowed and finished second in strikeouts.
This was a fascinating series as the Royals found themselves facing a sweep after three games but rallied to win the next three games before finally succumbing to the Rangers. Prince Fielder was awarded MVP thanks to his herculean .417/.533/.875 slash line and 3 home runs.vs.
Cubs vs. 2015 Cardinals
The 2015 Cardinals cruised to 99 wins in the regular season with virtually no weaknesses. In a reversal of fortune, the Cubs managed to squeeze by the ’85 Mets to take a wild card spot in the playoffs. OOTP did not report any sightings of black cats near the Mets’ dugout down the stretch. The Cubs’ only real strength appears to be their bullpen, as their young hitters didn’t do nearly as well as they did in real life last season, but it’s clear that platoons were a huge part of their strategy since only Rizzo, Soler, and Bryant started almost every day. Jorge Soler, who was predicted by the game to be one of the best hitters in the league, finished the season with just a 96 wRC+.
The post-season ends in yet another disappointment for Cubs fans as the Cardinals came back at home from a 3-2 deficit to advance. Matt Adams crushed Cubs pitchers to the tune of a 1.199 OPS and Michael Wacha struck out 15 Cubs in 12.1 IP.vs.
2015 Dodgers vs. Pirates
It was probably unfair to the Dodgers that I moved the 2015 Cardinals to the NL West but it makes sense geographically considering the teams in the league and allowed me to balance the 1985 teams between the divisions.
The realignment is in part how the 96-win Dodgers ended up with the top wildcard spot in the league. This was a team for whom three pitchers finished the season with an ERA+ over 120 (Kershaw finished at 153), and for whom only one pitcher finished the season with an ERA over 4. The Pirates finished with a balanced offense, with Andrew McCutchen finishing at the top of the NL WAR leaderboard and Gerrit Cole finishing 8th in the league in pitcher WAR.
This makes 3 of 4 divisional round series that ended in 7 games, which my heart wants to chalk up to some sort of parity in the league, but my head knows it’s just small sample size striking again. Hector Olivera was named series MVP for the Dodgers while I’m naming Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez series goat. Alvarez was caught stealing second with the tying run on third and Josh Harrison at the plate in the 7th inning of game 7. Alvarez later struck out to end the game with the tying run on second.
AL Championship Series: 1985 Blue Jays vs. Rangersvs.
Given the fates of 1985 teams like the Cardinals and Royals, it was a small miracle that the 1985 Blue Jays made the post-season, let alone advanced to the LCS. Thanks to winning their series in 6 games, the Blue Jays were able to save their #1 starter, Dave Stieb, for game 1 while the Rangers went with their #2 starter, Alexander “Chi Chi” Gonzalez.
Jimmy Key was brilliant again in the ALCS, finishing with a 1.23 ERA, and Rance Mullinaks, who finished with a WAR just lightly higher than his 2015 counterpart, Josh Donaldson, finished with a 1.156 OPS. Doyle Alexander probably should have been sent home during this series as he allowed a 11.57 ERA while never managing to record an out beyond the 4th inning.
NL Championship Series: 2015 Dodgers vs. 2015 Cardinalsvs.
The miracle story for the 2015 Dodgers was that Brett Anderson found a way to stay healthy for an entire season (even though I realize I turned injuries off for this league). After recovering from Tommy John Surgery in 2011, Anderson pitched only 123 innings over the next 3 seasons. It looked like he was headed back to surgery with the way he pitched in this series. Anderson only pitched 6.1 innings for the Dodgers in the NLCS, however, as Cardinal hitters pummeled him with hits and home runs. Clayton Kershaw, on the other hand, was as dominant as ever in this series, striking out 26 batters in 21 innings, and the Dodgers were able to capitalize on all 3 of his starts with wins.
World Series: Texas Rangers vs 2015 Dodgersvs.
The Rangers were forced to live without Yu Darvish all season, since I didn’t retroactively reset injuries, and this matchup looks fairly lopsided without him. Luckily for Texas, the Dodgers were forced to use Kershaw in game 7 of the NLCS so they won’t face him until game 3. Also, this is a 9 game series, the likes of which have not been seen since 1921, so anything could happen?
Except, the inevitable happened and the Dodgers needed just 6 games to clinch the World Series. The Rangers put up quite a fight, though, winning game one in 15 innings and holding the Dodgers at bay for 16 innings until Yasmani Grandal hit a solo home run off of Yovani Gallardo. Zack Greinke entered the game in relief and held the Rangers scoreless in the top of the 17th inning to pick up his second win of the series, lower his series ERA to 1.29, and lock-up the series MVP. The stats spreadsheet has a tab for post-season stats that includes any player with 1 or more plate appearances or .1 or more innings pitched.
Awards and Wrap-Ups
OOTP uses an achievement system whether or not you play on Steam. What’s fun about taking control of all the teams in the league is that I was able to win all the available achievements this season.
Moving on to awards, Dwight Gooden and his 302 strikeouts and 9.6 WAR took home the NL MVP as well as the Cy Young. Rickey Henderson and Jason Vargas took home the hardware in the AL. Now is a good time to note that OOTP usually doesn’t end up with results as random as pitchers like Jason Vargas, whose ratings are just as poor as you’d expect them to be, winning awards but, as Dawes might say, “Things happen. It’s all they ever do.” Joc Pederson and Dalton Pompey are your NL and AL rookies of the year.
Jason Vargas is far from the strangest thing to happen this season, though. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this series, I had no clue that the 1985 Cardinals or 1985 Royals would receive such harsh ratings from OOTP. To make sure this wasn’t just a fluke or simply due to setting the game in 2015 rather than 1985, I loaded up the quick-play game I created with the league’s settings before the season started and switched the league’s historical year to 1985 (something that can only be done before the season starts). This changes some of the modifiers for stats and strategies in the league to make them a little more friendly to how the 195 teams were originally constructed. It didn’t change the outcomes of the league dramatically, though.
This at least makes me feel better that the original simulation results possibly weren’t due to some setting I screwed up or strange luck for the ’85 teams. OOTP simply doesn’t rate some of the players on teams like the ’85 Cardinals or ’85 Royals as highly as I thought it would when it reverse engineers the players’ stats in order to create the 1985 versions of themselves. OOTP might not be perfect but at least it’s consistent.
If we were playing in a normal league and advancing beyond this one season, the off-season would give us the chance to make trades, sign free agents, and shape-up our roster before the Rule V draft. If we were playing with the dynamic league evolution option turned on, OOTP might even throw us a curve ball and introduce a rule change like adjusting the reserve (40 man) roster size, adding expansion teams, or relocating a team. You can download my quick-start at this link, if you want to start this league from scratch and run with it (note that you’ll need to delete the international amateur free agents and set team controls like I did if you want to duplicate my experiment).
To recap my advice from earlier in the series, if you haven’t played OOTP before, I recommend just starting a new game, making yourself commissioner, and picking a good team to start with. Don’t make it too hard on yourself. You can also check the OOTP forums for lots of advice from other players. If you’d like a more robust experience, you can also check out an online league. Online leagues use the basic OOTP mechanics but evolve over time according to the whims of the league or the league’s commissioner. You can find leagues that start in earlier decades of MLB history, those that use completely fictional players, or leagues that use a combination of players from all eras and even some fictional players, as well as many more possibilities.Next post: The Problem With Cincinnati’s Halfway Rebuild
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