When baseball went on hiatus back in March as the COVID-19 pandemic really started to shut things down across the entire country, nobody really knew what to do or what the future was going to look like. We had no idea how long the hiatus would last or if baseball would even come back at all. While there are questions about whether or not the season will finish, we do know that baseball is going to attempt their comeback starting this week with the first games on Thursday.
But while there was that uncertainty, we here at OTM decided to try to fill at least some of that void with our Fake Sox series. Every day we simulated a Red Sox game with the help of Out of the Park Baseball 21 to try and replicate the season that was not happening. It was an up-and-down first half for our Fake Sox, with some highs and division leads and some lows. They made some weird trades, including emptying the farm for Ken Giles, and got some surprising performances, including Jackie Bradley Jr. being their best player.
In all, we got through the unofficial halfway point of the year in our day-by-day simulation, with things stopping last week at the All-Star break. Now, with the real world baseball picking back up, I figured this was the time to sim through the rest of the year and share what happened.
For some context, when we stopped things at the All-Star break the Red Sox had been getting hot again, winning six of their last seven to get to a 52-43 record. They were four games behind the East-leading Yankees and a game and a half back in the wildcard race. We’ll start with that All-Star week, where the Yankees stole the show. Giancarlo Stanton won the Home Run Derby and Gleyber Torres was the All-Star Game MVP.
Once games got started again, the Red Sox kept up with their hot streak to close out the break and took advantage of a couple of series against the Yankees. They finished July by going 10-6 in the final 16 games after the All-Star break, and more importantly went 4-1 in five games against the Yankees. That gave the team a two-game lead in the division when the calendar turned to August, and the Red Sox decided not to make any more trades before the deadline.
Unfortunately, August was a brutal month for our Fake Sox. After closing July by winning two against the Yankees, they started August with two losses to New York to split the series and tie back up in the division. After those two games, Boston only continued to struggle and in all lost six of their first seven games in the month. The bad news is things never really got much better in the month and our Fake Sox finished August with an 11-16 record, for an overall record of 73-65. The good news is the Yankees never heated up and it was only a 2.5-game deficit in the division to start September.
Furthermore, the Athletics and the White Sox were both ahead of the Red Sox in the wildcard race at the All-Star break. However, by the time September rolled around injuries caught up to Oakland and they were at an even .500 record. Chicago, meanwhile, was still in front of Boston but it was only a two-game deficit for the Red Sox.
So we headed to September with our Fake Sox still in contention for a playoff spot. On the roster, not a ton had changed, but they did lose Andrew Benintendi to injury for most of September. They also got Dustin Pedroia back, though he didn’t play all that much. Other than that, it was business as usual trying to piece together that rotation.
The Red Sox started out hot by sweeping the Yankees in three games, but then lost three of five to the Tigers. That led them into another three-game set against New York, this time with Boston trailing in the division by three games. The Yankees won two of three, and that pretty much put all of the Red Sox attention on the wildcard.
Fortunately, Boston got hot again after that and won each of their next three series, putting their record at 83-73, trailing the White Sox by just a half game with six games left on the schedule. The Red Sox took two of three against the Blue Jays, tying them with Chicago with just three games left on the schedule. Boston won the first in 11 innings, but Chicago won that game as well. Then, both teams lost their final two games of the year, with Boston’s coming in heartbreaking fashion. They were leading 6-3 heading into the eighth, but Drew Pomeranz, Ken Giles and Ryan Brasier combined to blow it.
With both teams sitting at 86-76 after 162 games, we needed a 163rd to see who would have the pleasure of heading to California to take on the Angels in the Wildcard Game. It was Eduardo Rodriguez against Dylan Cease, with the Red Sox getting home field. Chicago took an early 1-0 lead in the first, but the Red Sox got a two-run double from Michael Chavis in the bottom of the inning to make it a 2-1 game. Boston then got five more in the second with Xander Bogaerts’s bases-clearing double being the big swing, and that was pretty much that. It ended up being an 8-4 victory for the Red Sox to officially make them the second wildcard.
They then got to travel across the country to take on the Angels, who spent most of the year leading the west but lost the division to the Astros in their own Game 163. After using Rodriguez in the Game 163, Boston was forced to use Brian Johnson in the Wildcard game against Andrew Heaney. The good news is Johnson was actually fantastic and pitched a complete game. The bad news is the offense couldn’t back him up and it was only an eight-inning complete game. The Angels took the Wildcard Game 2-1, and that was the end of the year.
All things considered, things went better than most expected for these Fake Sox as they did make the playoffs, but it was by the skin of their teeth and they lost in the Wildcard Round. As for the rest of the league, the Astros beat the Yankees in the ALCS while the surprising Reds took the NL pennant over the Cardinals. The Reds then won the World Series in seven games over the Astros with Phillip Ervin winning the World Series MVP.
As far as awards go, the Red Sox did have a couple of winners. J.D. Martinez won the Silver Slugger for American League DHs while Matt Barnes took home the American League Reliever of the Year, taking 27 of the 30 first place votes. In the Cy Young voting, Eduardo Rodriguez did get a lone down ballot vote. At the bottom of the page you can see the final season stats for all Red Sox players as well as the final playoff tree and final MLB Standings. But first, the major award winners are listed below.
Rookie of the Year: AL- Luis Robert; NL- Gavin Lux
Manager of the Year: AL- Joe Maddon; NL- David Bell
Cy Young: AL- Lance McCullers; NL- Jacob deGrom
MVP: AL- Yordan Alvarez; NL- Juan Soto