Every year for I’m honestly not even sure how long at this point, we run a simulation for the upcoming season with Out of the Park Baseball to see how the game sees the year ahead going. I always want to be clear that this is not a paid ad or anything — I pay my own money for the game just like anyone else — but it is just about my favorite game in the world so I always like to throw in some good words. This year’s game, unsurprisingly, is fantastic.
Anyway, this year’s simulation is a little bit different because there may not be an actual season to be played out. We are going to be using this game every night starting tonight to sim the season game by game, and I’ll do little write ups for each game as well. That said, I also wanted to do our annual full-season sim. It usually gets a bit weird. This year was especially weird and incredibly sad. It’s never going to be a good thing that there may not be baseball this year but, well, based on this sim it could be worse. I’m going to try and shorten things up a bit this year, so I’ll just run some bullet points for each month rather than going into way too much detail in too many words.
- OOTP runs their own preseason projection, and they were fairly high on the Red Sox. Boston was projected for 86 wins, tying with the Yankees for the second wildcard.
- Things got weird in this sim fairly quickly. Despite being a pitching-needy team, Chaim Bloom traded Gilberto Jimenez, Cesar Puello and Alex Scherff to the White Sox for Edwin Encarnación. Putting aside that this is illegal because free agent signings can’t be traded before even playing a game in their new uniform, it’s a wild use of assets for a team with Boston’s roster.
- They also signed Clay Buchholz to a minor-league deal. This is more reasonable.
- Bryan Mata was in the Opening Day rotation in this world. It’s absurd, but he didn’t actually pitch in this spot. Collin McHugh was ready to return from injury before Mata had to start.
- The first month of the year was fine for the Red Sox. They went 18-16 and were just 1.5 games behind the Yankees in the division.
- Andrew Benintendi was an absolute monster in this month and was carrying the team. Through April, he was hitting .386/.444/.625 and was a very early candidate for AL MVP. Is it ridiculous to talk about MVP in April? For sure. But as you’ll see, things are going to get dire.
- In fact, Benintendi didn’t even make it through April. He was hurt on April 24 with a torn calf muscle. It kept him out until September. Brandon Workman and McHugh also suffered significant injuries in the month.
- Things started going downhill pretty quickly once the calendar flipped over to May. Boston went 11-17 over the month, heading into June with a 29-33 record, falling back to third in the division and sitting 4.5 out of first place.
- That’s really all that happened of note in that month. There were a couple of good performances, but key performers like Michael Chavis, Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez were all below replacement level at this point in the season. Not ideal! Ryan Weber was the defacto ace of the staff by the numbers.
- It only got worse in June, with the Red Sox going 9-16 on the month, dropping their overall record to 38-49. At the start of July they were down to fourth place and a whopping 12 games back.
- Despite the wheels falling off in May and not getting any better, Chaim Bloom was not going to let this season slip away without a fight. With the infield suddenly becoming depleted due to injuries to Rafael Devers and José Peraza, Bloom turned to Miami. He sent Jarren Duran, who had a 126 OPS+ in Portland at that point, along with minor leaguers Dalton Hurd and Trey Turner, both minor-league signings from late March, for Jonathan Villar. It was a bizarre trade given the state of the Red Sox.
- The draft was also this month. The Red Sox, presumably still waiting their sign-stealing investigation punishment in this fake world, selected Tanner Witt, a high school third baseman from Texas. In our real world, Witt is ranked 96th on Baseball America’s top 300.
- Meanwhile, Rodriguez continues to be an absolute disaster at the top of the Red Sox rotation and no one in the lineup was better than average in June by OPS+.
- July was about the same as June. Boston went 9-15 in the month for a 47-64 overall record. They remained in 14th place and were now 18.5 games back at the end of the month.
- The All-Star Game is of course this month. Weirdly, OOTP had a weird take on where the game is being played. In real life, the All-Star Game is supposed to be played in Los Angeles. In this fake life, the Home Run Derby was in Minnesota (Miguel Sanó beat Lourdes Gurriel) and then the game itself was at Fenway. In the game, Xander Bogaerts was the lone Red Sox representative. The American League won with Aaron Judge winning the MVP with a two-homer game. I’m sure the Boston crowd loved it.
- Boston made two small trades in this month. First, they traded minor leaguer Juan Carlos Arias for former Red Sox minor leaguer Williams Perez. Then they traded minor leaguers Michael Osinski and Caleb Ramsey for Iván Nova and minor leaguer Paul Richan.
- Rodriguez was finally average in this month, so that was neat.
- Alex Verdugo found himself on the IL for the third time of the year in this month. He of course started the year there just like in sort of real life (in which they got to play baseball when they were supposed to) and also suffered a minor injury in May that kept him out for two weeks. This one was a month-long PCL strain.
- A third straight month with basically the same level of play. The Red Sox went 10-17 in August, falling to 57-81, sticking in fourth place and going all the way back to 26.5 back. I’m going to be honest, I was about ready to end the sim at this point.
- Dustin Pedroia made his comeback in this month, which was cool. Obviously not realistic, but I’ll take whatever Pedroia I can get at this point, even the virtual one.
- Both Darwinzon Hernandez and Christian Vázquez suffered injuries in this month, with the former’s ending his season.
- Finally, it’s over. The Red Sox went 11-13 in the final month of the year and finished the year 68-94. They were in fourth place, though there was a legitimate battle between them and Baltimore for last place, and finished 31 games behind the first place Yankees.
- They also finished with in position to get the seventh overall pick in 2021. This is always where the Red Sox pick when they have bad seasons. They selected Trey Ball, Andrew Benintendi and Trot Nixon all with the seventh overall pick.
- Dustin Pedroia got hurt again, because even OOTP has to do this to us.
- Triston Casas, who was somehow ranked third in the farm system behind Jeter Downs and Tanner Houck at the start of the year, got a September call-up. He was actually solid, too, finishing with a 118 OPS+ in 18 games. Downs, for what it’s worth, got a two-game stint in the majors earlier in the year.
- Dylan Bundy, who got cut by the Angels at the start of September, was signed to a minor-league deal to make a few starts down the stretch.
- The AL division winners were the Yankees, Twins and Angels, with the Rays and Astros grabbing the wildcard spots. In the National League the division winners were the Braves, Cardinals and Dodgers with the Reds and Padres getting the wildcard nods.
- The World Series was an all-LA affair between the Dodgers and Angels. The Angels took a 3-1 lead, but then they blew it with the Dodgers finally getting over the hump in Game Seven. Cody Bellinger was the series MVP.
- Mookie Betts, for what it’s worth, was a six-win player with a 138 OPS+ while David Price finished with a 3.3 WAR with a 108 ERA+. He made 32 starts but only threw 157 2⁄3 innings.
- The Rookie of the Years were Austin Hays and Gavin Lux. The Cy Youngs were Shohei Ohtani and Noah Syndergaard (too soon). The MVPs were Mike Trout (who finished with 11 WAR) and Corey Seager.
Here are the final numbers for all Red Sox players from this nightmare of a fake season.