What Could Have Been: A Look Into Baseball Reference/OOTP’s Simulated Season
Image courtesy of © Kelley L Cox - USA TODAY SportsThings haven’t exactly gone swimmingly for the Twins as they’re currently sitting 3.5 games behind Cleveland with a record of 36-28 and trail the Houston Astros for the final wildcard spot. Minnesota’s been exceptionally streaky as the year got off to a terrible start with a four-game sweep in Oakland and has included two additional three-game losing streaks. Fortunately they’ve countered those losing streaks with six-, five- and four-game winning streaks along with three three-game winning streaks (and they’re currently on a four-game streak).
The offense has been a big part of the problem and losing Luis Arraez after just six games to injury hasn’t helped. Simulated Rocco Baldelli (Robo Baldelli?) has apparently replaced his affinity for Phish with Ehire Adrianza, as the former utility-man has started in all but one game and taken over Arraez’s hole at second base despite hitting just .254/.305/.379. Meanwhile Marwin Gonzalez has slashed a superior .385/.468/.558, but hasn’t been freed from the super utility role and has appeared in just 24 games (15 starts).
Other than Gonzalez, the lone bright spot on offense has been catcher Mitch Garver who has hit .328/.400/.648 but gotten just 35 starts as Baldelli has remained committed to rest (unless you’re named Ehire). Backup catcher Alex Avilla’s bad 2019 second half carried over into 2020 as he slashed just .146/.283/.220 but managed to get 25 starts before Derrek Falvey/Thad Levine ran out of patience and released the veteran backstop on June 1st. Fan favorite Willians Astudillo has filled in admirably in his first five games, as he’s 5-for-16 with two doubles.
Two-thirds of the outfield have also played pretty well as Byron Buxton and Max Kepler have both been healthy and fairly productive. Buxton is slashing .250/.310/.433 with 20 stolen bases (23 attempts) and leads the team with 2.4 WAR. Kepler leads the team in bombas with 17 (next highest is Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz with 13) and has a respectable .825 OPS. Left fielder Eddie Rosario has presumably dealt with injuries as he’s appeared in just 16 games and slashed .241/.281/.370. Unfortunately his replacement, Jake Cave, hasn’t fared much better hitting .225/.273/.394. More Marwin please.
39-year-old Nelson Cruz hasn’t been able to reproduce his 2019 magic, but has at least been decent (.256/.348/.474) and the same could be said for Jorge Polanco (..286/.324/.412). Newcomer Josh Donaldson (.238/.350/.418) and the recently extended Miguel Sano (.209/.311/.422) haven’t exactly been the force Twins fans were hoping for at the corners either. All in all the offense would have to be considered a disappointment.
The picture doesn’t get a whole lot rosier with the starting rotation. On the bright side, Jose Berrios has been really good with a 3.10 ERA and .954 WHIP in 87.0 IP. Jake Odorizzi has also been at least serviceable with a 4.14 ERA and 1.351 WHIP but Kenta Maeda (5.77 ERA), Homer Bailey (5.62 ERA) and Randy Dobnak (4.83 ERA) haven’t filled out the rotation as we would’ve hoped.
Michael Pineda’s return sent Dobnak to the ‘pen and Pineda has pitched relatively well in his first three starts (4.09 ERA and 1.045 WHIP in 22.0 IP). The return of Rich Hill could spell the end of the Homer Bailey experience.
The bullpen has definitely done it’s part to keep this team in contention. Tyler Duffey (2.05 ERA), Trevor May (3.26 ERA) and Taylor Rogers (2.57 ERA) have done their job to close out games (although Rogers has a 1.619 WHIP and 1.64 SO/Walk ratio) and the Twins have kept the roles fluid with five different relievers collecting saves (Rogers and Duffey have the majority with 10 and five saves respectively). Zach Littell (2.61 ERA, 10.2 K/9) and Matt Wisler (3.09 ERA, 13.5 K/9) have been the saviors of the ‘pen by pitching 38.0 and 32.0 innings respectively.
Not all is well however, as the senior members of the relief core have really struggled. Both 35-year-old Tyler Clippard and 37-year-old Sergio Romo have struggled mightily with respective ERA’s of 8.00 and 5.40. Strangely, some guy named Dustin “Half Moon” Molleken has pitched 17.0 innings with an ERA of 4.24 but has managed to rack up 19 strikeouts. His only other MLB action came back in 2016 when he pitched 8.1 innings for Detroit. With a nickname like Half Moon he deserves another chance and I’m glad this simulated world has given it to him (this alternate reality has also brought Hanley Ramírez to Minnesota on a minor league contract and he’s been called up).
While it’s fortunate this is just a simulation, it’s unfortunate that we still don’t have any baseball to watch. That could change soon, but this “fake” season is a good reminder that as with the world at large, in baseball there’s always a lot that can go wrong (especially in a shortened season). Still, I’ll continue to look at the moon as half full.
MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
— Latest Twins coverage from our writers
— Recent Twins discussion in our forums
— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email