As a lover of the Out of The Park franchise, I’ve spent hundreds of hours trying to master the game – build a year-in-year-out powerhouse, complete with an always-loaded farm system, while avoiding the urge to spend insane amounts of money on (what always turn out to be) bad, long-term contract extensions.
Without any MLB in 2020 (thus far – we can hope), I’ve simulated a few seasons as the Yankees, the Mets and the Padres, and I’ve played a few historical seasons, remembering names of players from old baseball cards hiding in my garage. Outlets like Fangraphs and The Athletic started offering written summaries of simulated 2020 MLB seasons, and that sounded like a fun thing to do, but I wanted to take a slightly different perspective.
Could I build a winning team if I didn’t know anything about the players besides what could be gained from their scouting reports?
To try and figure this out, I created a parallel version of the Major Leagues – 30 teams, 2 leagues, 6 divisions, but with made-up players. This way, I wouldn’t be swayed to draft Mike Trout, just because I know he is Mike Trout. (Turns out, one of the simulated players, named Steve Kirby, was the my games’ version of Trout AND Ty Cobb combined – he had 11.9 WAR and hit .394 in the 2020 simulation, but more to come on Kirby in later posts).
This was a really fun experience, because it challenged me to draft a team from scratch, without any biases based on what I already think I know as die-hard baseball fan. Side note: I also recommend starting a season and selecting the option to import players from any year, which randomly selects a group of players every year. So you might have Barry Bonds on the same team with Mickey Mantle, facing off against a pitching staff loaded with Cy Young, Jacob deGrom and Pedro Martinez.
Anyway, as the GM and Manager of the Laval Flying Tigers in the Best Baseball League (BBL), I looked forward to the challenge of winning the 2020 World Series with a team full of players I knew nothing about.
It turned out, I drafted something that resembled the Yankees of the early 2000s, loaded with talent but unable to win the championship. The 2020 Flying Tigers won 101 games, but lost in the Division Series to our division rival, the Boston Colonels. As disappointing as that was, there were so many wild outcomes to this simulation, it was fun despite the lack of a ring. If a season like this occurred in real life, there would be more baseball fans. A lot more. In the following posts, we’ll take a look at some of the cool things that happened.