It’s not a secret to many: I’m a big video game guy. I also really like baseball. Both of these things come into play in MLB 19 the Show, which is the latest installment in my absolute favorite series of video games.
This year’s version added a few modes, and starting today franchise mode is viable thanks to the “Full Minors” project being complete and in the roster vault. While I didn’t use the roster set for this simulation (primarily because I simulated it a couple weeks ago, and didn’t want to re-record everything a second time), it is worth a download if you love the games and love prospects.
But lest this become a dreaded advertisement, it’s time to get to the meat of the matter: The simulation of the 2019 MLB season. Here are a few rules I followed for the simulation:
- I let the computer make EVERY decision. Lineups, free agents, trades, etc. I put this on for every team. All I did was push simulate, and occasionally check numbers, transactions and records.
- I left injuries on, because it’s important that this be as close to real life representation of the sport.
- In the spirit of the above, I also didn’t play a single game! Or alter any results. Or do basically anything! This article is actually the most work I put into the whole thing.
So how do the Red Sox do?
I’ve chosen to skip over Spring Training for the most part. Other than Mookie Betts being a beast, nothing was really notable. OK, that’s that. April was a surprising month for the Red Sox. They started 3-7 (Ed. note: Sounds familiar?) before rattling off a string of wins. These victories were largely thanks to the contributions of Eduardo Nunez (who hit 6 HR this month) and the ace tandem of Chris Sale and David Price (who actually had their worst months of the season in April). Rick Porcello was the biggest negative, with his 7.27 ERA leading to 5 of the 12 losses the Red Sox would suffer over the course of the month. Much like the real life bullpen, the Fake Sox pen was incredible(?) and held enough leads to end the month at 19-12. At this point in time, the closer was Carson Smith (what), and Matt Barnes was the worst pitcher in the bullpen.
League-wide, things weren’t terribly interesting either. The Red Sox did manage to acquire Martin Maldonado from the Royals for a third base prospect of little note, as well as Hector Rondon from the Astros for a RP prospect with some potential. The Red Sox did end up losing Sam Travis to the Braves on waivers, but this represented the biggest loss of the month.
May brought the first true signs that the 2019 Red Sox could be as special as the 2018 ones. J.D. Martinez crushed 10 HR, and Chris Sale and David Price began to duel for the title of staff ace. The former had a 2.37 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 91 innings pitched, while the latter had a 2.47 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 87.1 innings. Despite this, the team lost ground in the divisional race and ended the month 9.5 games back, largely because of the poor bullpen as well as Eduardo Rodriguez being absolutely terrible. They ended the month at 35-24, and were leading the wild card at least, trying their best to hold off the Houston Astros (at this point, the Angels were winning the division).
Rick Porcello bounced back from his awful start to the year well in May, and June brought continued improvement, as he was finally below a 4.00 ERA and beginning to look like a pitcher in the midst of a contract year. The bullpen was still absolutely dreadful, but the offense was hitting at a legendary pace. They got production from all nine spots in the lineup on a nightly basis. Martinez, Betts, and Mitch Moreland hit a combined 22 dingers over the course of the month, and it led to the Sox making up four games in the division, finishing at 52-33 and only 5.5 games back of the Yankees.
The Red Sox pulled off four(!) trades this month. Martin Maldonado did not last long, being traded to the Padres for Travis Jankowski (who spent 90% of the season in the minor leagues). Tony Renda was also traded (to the Brewers) for Alex Claudio in an effort to shore up the bullpen. They also traded two high level prospects for Orioles catcher Austin Wynns (I have not mentioned this, but the Red Sox continued their three catcher experiment this season), and traded their top prospect, a first baseman, for Leonys Martin of the Indians.
July brought a huge push. But unfortunately for the home team... every team in the race also made a push, and few made up any ground in any divisional races. At the All-Star Break, three players were named to the game from the Sox: Betts, Sale, and Price, the latter of whom started the game. Martinez hit eight more dingers, and Swihart was named the starting catcher, largely because he was the only one who could hit at all. The season-long duel between Sale and Price continued, too. Sale’s ERA dropped to 2.04, and he was up to 184 strikeouts in 167.1 innings. Price, on the other hand, was down to a 2.12 ERA, with 179 strikeouts in 161 innings. The bullpen was bad, but Matt Barnes and Carson Smith were truly awful and it was at this time that Smith was removed from the closer role, in favor of Alex Claudio.
As for the trade deadline, the Red Sox acquired yet another catcher. In this deal, the Twins traded Willians Astudillo to Boston for two meh prospects (yes, he is our 5th catcher on the 40 man roster).
Nothing happened of note in August. The Red Sox won a lot. The ace-off continued. The Sox finished the month at 87-49, 4.5 back of the Yankees.
I’m going to cut right to the chase. The Red Sox win 12 straight games to end the season. They finish at 107-55. Get hyped. They also lose the division by a single game to the Yankees. It happens.
The Red Sox faced the Angels in the wild card game. It was a total blowout. They crushed Shohei Ohtani. The end. We have a word count we’re trying to stay under. Moving on.
In the ALDS, the Red Sox drew the Yankees, because of course. Game One was a six-hit shutout of the Bronx Bombers, led by none other than David Price. The bullpen was well rested, and the Yankees were in shambles. It looked like it could be a quick series. But then Hector Rondon blew an easy hold, and the Yankees took control. In a pivotal Game Three, Dustin Pedroia hit a 9th inning grand slam to propel the Sox to the win, 7-2. Game 4 brought back the pain, as Rick Porcello gave up 4 runs in 5 innings, and the Sox offense decided to take the day off. In Game 5, with the season on the line, David Price pitched 6 innings, 3 ER ball that was immediately ruined by Hector Rondon again. Matt Barnes also pitched terribly. But the Sox offense didn’t quit, and scored 5 runs on paper cut offense against the Yankees bullpen, finishing it against Shane Greene (who the Yankees acquired at the deadline).
In the ALCS, it was a 2018 rematch between the Sox and the Astros. It was pretty anti-climactic, to be honest. Here’s the cliff notes: Xander got five RBI off Gerrit Cole, E-Rod struggled, Rondon struggled (again), and Martinez hit a massive grand slam against Justin Verlander that knocked him out and spurred on an eight-run seventh inning that tied the series. Then Martinez hit two more homers for good measure to win Game Five. In Game Six, Sale completely shut down the Astros by himself. The Sox were back in the World Series. Facing the Dodgers. Again.
The World Series was an epic. In game one, Sale pitched on short rest for some reason. He also got completely destroyed. The Dodgers won 12-8 in a game that was never as close as the score indicated. All the Sox runs were scored in the last two innings. In game two, Price and Walker Buehler had an ace-off. Buehler won the battle, but Price won the war thanks to Joe Kelly blowing a save. With the series knotted up, the Dodgers turned to Kenta Maeda, who shut out the Red Sox. The Sox needed a big Game Four, but they didn’t get it. It went 12 innings, and the Red Sox lost because Matt Barnes let the Dodgers walk it off. The series was on the verge of ending, with the Dodgers up three games to one. With the Red Sox pen exhausted, naturally, game 5 ended up going sixteen innings. The bullpen pitched 8 1⁄3 of those innings and allowed just one earned run. The Red Sox scored more though, keeping hope alive. The Sox turned to David Price one last time, and he delivered in Game Six, turning in a seven-inning gem in which he allowed just two earned runs, setting up a Game Seven.
This one deserves its own paragraph because it was almost too perfect. A back and forth duel ensued. Rick Porcello, in his last chance to establish value as a free agent, faced off against Walker Buehler, who had already dueled Price to a standstill. Neither one blinked. The bullpens came into play, and instantly the flood gates opened with each team scoring in each of the next three innings. It was a see-saw affair that saw the Dodgers leading 4-3 entering the bottom of the 9th inning. Enter Kenley Jansen. One out. Two outs. With the season on the line, against all odds, Eduardo Nunez drew a walk. Shortly thereafter, Dustin Pedroia parked a ball deep. It was a walk-off HR, and the Red Sox were World Series champions yet again. And yet again, the Dodgers were victims of an onslaught from the better league.
The season ended, and retirements were in the books. Dustin Pedroia was among those to retire. It was fitting, there was no way to top his final season, and he wanted to go out on top, I guess. There’s a lot of off-season and awards stuff to go through, but I’ll post all of that in the comments sometime after this post goes live. What matters is the end result.