Recently, Eric Chesterton proposed to answer, on these hallowed pages, the great question of our time: namely, is Darin Ruf better than Ryan Howard? He did so via a Playstation, a copy of MLB: The Show and some Socrates quotes. To whit, he cloned Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf enough times to fill a pair of rosters, and played a game. The Rufs won, 12-4, clearly winning the scenario. However, this does tend to beg the question: was this too small a sample size? I mean, in one game, even the current Philadelphia Phillies could beat the 1927 Murderer's Row Yankees, if luck broke their way and they weren't eaten by the clearly zombified Yanks.
But I digress. The problem, of course, is one of scale, and in my limited experience, MLB: The Show is not well-equipped to construct detailed simulations of the type required for this exercise. Enter Out of the Park Baseball.
If you've read the previous episodes of Out Of The Phight, you have probably figured out where this is going: let's take this Howard v Ruf experiment, and turn the volume up to 11. A full season. Four teams. One champion.
This is a four-team league, but we're keeping the 162 game schedule, so each team will play their rivals 54 times each. This should be the sample size we need to clearly answer the question above, plus some others that no one would ever ask because they're stupid questions.
Each team was outfitted with a full 25-man roster of Utleys, Rufs, Howards or Hamels, respectively; plus an additional 15 of the same on a reserve roster, for a full 40-man list. For the first three teams, six men from each were tabbed as starting pitchers and a further six as relievers; with the lineup left to the managers; while for the Hamels squad, all eight field positions were filled, with the pitching staff left alone.
While I was tempted to delegate managing duties to additional clones, I figured actual managing experience would be needed to steer these insane asylums, and who better than Ryne Sandberg, Terry Collins, Mike Redmond and Matt Williams.
Let the lunacy begin.
On Opening Day, the Howards hosted the Utleys, while the Hamels hosted the Rufs, and the insanity I was wreaking became apparent.
What have I done.
One thing becomes immediately, and abundantly, clear. The Hamels have an insane advantage: actual pitchers. While their hitters are pitchers hitting, they will essentially be hitting batting practice; meanwhile the position players pitching for the other teams are essentially pitching batting practice. This could get ugly.
Let's skip ahead to the All-Star Break.
Like I said. There's a clear favorite here, and an also-ran. Then there's 50 feet of crap and two other teams. But, like a wise man once said, "Great, kid, don't get cocky." There's a lot of season left.
Let's push on and finish this up.
Pretty much as we predicted. In fact, the Hamels kept their winning percent exactly the same. Coincidentally, 907 is also Alaska's one Area Code. #AKPride
There's really no question what the order is, though. Hamels is clearly the best player of the four, followed not particularly closely by Utley, and more distantly by Howard and Ruf. To the original question, we must add that Ruf is decidedly the loser.
More importantly, how did a full season of completely bonkers games turn out?
Yeesh, that is a lot of runs. There's a lot of other weirdness there, too. Look at the Howards stolen base totals, for example. #wut Clearly the Hamels were the weakest offensively, with their 1.106 team OPS, but that was more than made up for by their dominating pitching.
In fact, a rotation of five Cole Hamels, plus 12 more Hamelses in the bullpen is probably the best pitching staff since someone stuffed a baseball in a howitzer.
This box score:
This sac bunt in the ninth inning of a 26-5 game:
The two players with the most base hits:
The top eight players by WAR (also LOL at "SS Ryan Howard"):
This pitching staff:
This hitting streak:
These Gold Glove winners:
The insanity goes on endlessly, but as even the internet lacks infinite space, in conclusion, we must finally answer the question of who should play first base for the Phillies: Darin Ruf or Ryan Howard. The answer, of course, is Cole Hamels.
And second. And third. And every other position. Simultaneously.
Author's note: I did not modify any of the character attributes for this episode, nor did I control any part of the simulation, beyond that required to set it up. The results produced are wholly the result of Out Of The Park Baseball being put through an insane hellscape no simulator should ever have to deal with. TGP's Out Of The Phight will return to its normal rotation next weekend.