The teams are drafted, the managers are hired, the schedule is set, and we’re finally ready to see what our writers’ historical Phillies teams can, uh, “do.” Welcome to the first month of OOTPhight action.
Back when we first kicked this idea off, the baseball landscape was a bit different. Now, given that sims and classic game replays are basically all we’ve got for “new” baseball at this point, you might even be a bit awash in things like this. Totally get it. Still, we want to see this idea through, and the other sims we’re cranking out are all fun escapes in their own ways!
I’ll take you through this league sim month by sim month. The TGP team owners will have the same intervals to adjust their lineups, rotations, and strategies based on how their teams are doing.
In a league where nearly 30 seasons are being mashed together, normalizing ratings and performance for every player could end up being a bit...tricky. Remember, baseball in 1993 is a far cry from baseball in 2000, which itself a far cry from baseball in 2019. Home runs, strikeouts, even defense; all of it is subject to a bit of weirdness and unexpected happenings when trying to imagine all of these numbers being played in one single environment, the composition of which is unique in and of itself.
The predicted records above don’t really look too far afield from the kind of records you might expect in any normal baseball season. Only one team is projected to win 100 (Jay), none are projected to lose 100 (Allie is the only one to get even 90-plus losses forecast, unfortunately), and nine of the 15 teams are slated for somewhere between 83 and 78 wins. That seems like parity!
But the wholes may be obscuring their parts. With totally flat park effects across every team’s home ballpark, some players’ abilities might be magnified. Scott Rolen and Chase Utley potentially posting 50-homer seasons would fall into that category. You can see in the Top Pitchers section that, um, the good starting pitchers might go on a bit of a rampage, too. Curt Schilling might push 500 strikeouts! A fully non-DH league and a relative dearth of positional depth could lead to some SP feasting...at least, when the big boppers aren’t taking them deep. It almost looks like reality’s three true outcomes trend had its dial pushed past 11 and onto 12.
Spring Training was skipped. Don’t need it, these boys are ready to rumble. Just as a refresher: This is a 162-game schedule with injuries off and fatigue on. No free agents, no trades, no minor leagues. The schedule is a bit imbalanced, and some off days are more like off series, with three and sometimes four days of rest at a time. It’s a bit of a necessary evil in order to keep a season structured around smaller series. I imagine you’ll forgive us.
To the games!
In keeping with the engine’s predictions, Jay’s squad has come out of the gate hot. His squad leads the league’s toughest division by three games, and has the run differential to back it up.
The other theme, parity, is fully present through this season’s first month. The entire league is separated by 7.5 games (19-9 to 10-15) and no team is six-plus back in the division. Things may begin to separate as the season wears on and fatigue sets in, but for now, everyone’s clumped.
Hitter of the Month: 1994 Lenny Dykstra (Ryan)
.404/.458/.652, 4 HR, 21 RBI
One thing is becoming clear: There are gonna be some massive offensive numbers in this league. Dykstra got the nod from the game engine, but the award could just as easily have gone to Allie’s 2008 Chase Utley (.361/.400/.657) or David’s 2005 Jason Michaels (.375/.486/.602).
Pitcher of the Month: 2011 Roy Halladay (Ethan)
6 GS, 51.1 IP, 66 K, 7 BB, 0.70 ERA
If your team has one of the Phils’ scant elite SP seasons, you’re in luck. The top-tier guys are the ones keeping pitching staffs afloat in this madness. Doc gets the award for April for run prevention, but definitely keep an eye on the Schillings; Jay’s 1997 Schilling already has 90 strikeouts in 50 IP.
(Please forgive the facegen; we’re also certain Bobby Abreu does not look like that)
You can view a full spreadsheet of player stats through April here.
Next time, we’ll go through May and check in to see if there’s been any separation. The closer we get to the playoffs, the more frequently managers will be able to adjust their strategies.