The Effectively Wild podcast spends hours discussing the nuances of professional baseball players, causing them to become living memes in the eyes of the show’s listeners. I thought to myself: what if reality reflected fantasy? What if these players all ended up on the same team?
With the help of the Effectively Wild Facebook group, I created a team in Out of the Park Baseball 18 (look for a review on this site soon). There are EW mainstays like Mike Trout, Rich Hill, Rich Hill, and Rich Hill. The team also has several former Sonoma Stompers – Fehlandt Lentini, Dylan Stoops & Santos Saldivar. NPB favorites Shohei Otani and Takuya Nakashima also made the cut.
Using the OOTP18 engine, I simulated the 2017 season. Here are the results (images can be clicked to enlarge, most can be scrolled):
BRING ON THE MAJOR LEAGUES
I’m not touching the team at all, leaving it up to the team’s computer manager to set the lineups. On the surface, the team doesn’t look bad offensively. Depth, however, is a real concern – the bottom of the order is questionable, and the team expects big contributions from players like Adam Lind and Brandon Guyer.
The pitching staff is the most glaring hole. Outside of Kershaw, the team is full of players that are either too young or too old. In traditional EW fashion, the team does have a set of clones in the Andrew Millers, who hope to anchor the bullpen. The Ryan Webb-Matt Albers collective is an essential bullpen selection.
Here are the preseason predictions. 71-91 seems like a fairly respectable record for the team, especially with the lack of a solid rotation. This screenshot shows that the EW team has replaced the Rays. I almost picked the Reds, but I think the team was better suited to the AL. The team will play its home games in Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer, Oregon – site of the 2017 Eclipsefest, site of the upcoming Effectively Wild/FanGraphs meet up.
HARNESS YOUR HOPES
The first game set the tone for the rest of the season. Clayton Kershaw was the starter, but he gave up 5 earned runs and lasted just 2 innings. The good news is that the offense performed well, although it was not enough.
Here are the team’s opening day stats. Jeff Sullivan favorite Keon Broxton had a solid performance, and Matt Albers predictably ended the game in a non-save situation.
Through April, the team is failing to meet even the lowest of expectations. Brandon Guyer is the offense’s best player by WAR. Mike Trout is somehow in fourth place, although he has hit seven home runs up to this point.
Here are the pitching stats through April. Despite his disastrous opening day, Kershaw is easily leading the team in WAR. Shohei Otani is clearly not ready for the majors, at least in OOTP. He does have a high potential rating, but he’s not there yet in the game.
Effectively Wild favorite Rich Hill is probably the most disappointing player thus far, striking out just 18 in 28 innings.
After April, the team is in last place. However, they’re staying relatively competitive – just one game behind the division favorite Boston Red Sox.
Four months later, heading into September. The offensive numbers are equalizing, and now at more expected levels (or worse). Noted trampoline user Garrett Stubbs is a pleasant surprise – he is having a great season for a player pulled up from the minors way before he’s ready. Are trampolines… actually good?
Through August, the pitching staff has failed to live up to even the lowest of expectations. Kershaw is having a mediocre season by his standards, while Rich Hill and Bartolo Colon look like players on their last legs. The bullpen is awful, outside of the Andrew Millers. Maybe the team needs another clone or three.
At one point, the team was keeping pace with the Orioles. At the end of August, they have no chance of a respectable record.
EVERYTHING’S ENDING HERE
Here are the final batting stats. Trout had his worst season, although he did manage to hit 40 homers. Broxton and Stubbs were pleasant surprises. Takuya Nakashima was not good, although he did manage to start almost every game.
As mediocre as the offensive numbers look, the final pitching stats are even worse. Outside of Kershaw and the Millers, there’s nothing good to talk about. Even Kershaw had a bad season by his standards.
The team finishes 62-100, 15 games behind the Orioles for 4th place and 34 games back from the division leading Blue Jays. However, the team was not the worst team in the league this season – they did finish with a better record than the 56-106 Milwaukee Brewers.
Here are the final team batting stats. While they did manage to hit more home runs than the Red Sox, they managed just a .238 team batting average.
The team ERA was nearly 6. Perhaps that number would’ve been fine in 2002, but it’s awful in 2017.
The financial numbers might be the most woeful of all. Apparently having a major league team play in a minor league stadium with a capacity of less than 5,000 is not a good move.
Team owner Stuart Sternberg was less than impressed with the team’s performance. It’s tough to blame him, though. The team did suck pretty completely. The long term goals seem unreachable, especially considering the club’s financial situation.
Sternberg expects a player payroll of 18,000,000 in 2018. It’s currently over 100,000,000.
Even the Andrew Miller clones are fighting over the closer position. I give up.
Here’s a look at fan interest and loyalty after an awful season.
A few players are rightly disappointed with the team’s performance. Overall, though, they’re pretty content. Silver linings.
FIGHT THIS GENERATION
Keep an eye out for the sequel, in which players throughout history are used. Can Barry Bonds save this team? Will Ned Garver perform in the modern MLB? Post your suggestions for historical players in the comments.Next post: Larry’s Angel: An Alternate History of the Rockies at Sea Level
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