MLB The Show 20's April simulation
There's no real baseball being played right now, so we at theScore decided to fill that void by simulating the first month of the season using MLB The Show 20. Please join us in this frivolous and delirious enterprise as we attempt to look forward to sunnier days.
Here's how March and April shook out:
American League East
Red Sox: Sans Mookie Betts and Chris Sale, Boston stormed out of the gate with the most runs scored in the AL to secure the top spot in the division after the opening month.
Yankees: While not far behind, this would have been a somewhat disappointing stretch for the Bombers. The silver lining is that they opened with a winning month despite some injury concerns.
Rays: Did all the wheeling and dealing by the front office this offseason backfire? They were supposed to be the chief competitor for the Yankees' throne, but the pitching staff allowed the most runs in the division.
Blue Jays: Being nine games below .500 after April would have killed any optimism the fan base was clinging onto. They were bad on both sides of the ball.
Orioles: While it isn't surprising the Orioles are circling the drain of the division, the optimistic outlook would be that they're only a win away from surpassing the Blue Jays.
American League Central
White Sox: Early returns suggest the rebuild has mercifully yielded fruit! If the youth movement does anything remotely close to this, it will be a major turning point.
Indians: Cleveland making a habit of slashing payroll did not impact its simulation. Only the Astros allowed fewer runs in the AL, and outfielder Franmil Reyes emerged as an early MVP candidate.
Twins: Fresh off the Josh Donaldson signing and Kenta Maeda acquisition, Minnesota would be in panic mode being five games back after a single month. Scoring only a solitary run more than the Tigers is also not something you want to see from an offense that set the single-season home run record a year ago.
Royals: Through the simulation, the poor, pitiful Royals were the only team not to score 100 runs in the month of April.
Tigers: Despite Kansas City's anemic offense, the Tigers landed in the division's basement due to miserable pitching.
American League West
Astros: Losing Gerrit Cole didn't appear to greatly impact the rotation as the Astros allowed the fewest runs in the AL, and second fewest in the majors. This is the statement the club needed following the sign-stealing scandal.
Angels: Anaheim posted a winning record, but finds itself out of a playoff spot very early on. Maybe the addition of Anthony Rendon may not be enough - at least to The Show - to make Mike Trout a contender.
Rangers: Texas was able to debut the digital version of Globe Life Field to relatively decent success, though their negative run differential suggests a fall is coming.
Athletics: Oakland's losing record is perhaps the biggest surprise considering it only improved on paper with the arrival of lefty Jesus Luzardo.
Mariners: The hot start from 2019 seems like a very distant memory. No team in the AL allowed more runs, and it wasn't even close.
National League East
Nationals: No Rendon, no problem. The Nationals apparently only get better when their star hitters leave via free agency, at least within the confines of a video game.
Braves: The run differential puts Atlanta on slightly more solid ground than the Mets, but it looks like there will be a dogfight atop the NL East.
Mets: Not a bad start without Noah Syndergaard, but if another injury befalls the rotation, it could be tough sledding.
Phillies: The addition of Zack Wheeler was apparently not enough to address the biggest problem facing the team: pitching. While they scored more runs than anyone else in the division, the Phillies also allowed the most.
Marlins: It's business as usual in Miami as the club comfortably occupies the basement once again thanks to one of the league's worst offenses.
National League Central
Cubs: Cubbies fans, rejoice! No team in the majors scored more runs in the first month, and that led to baseball's best record. Thanks, Grandpa Rossy.
Brewers: Milwaukee jumped out of the gate fairly impressively as well thanks to one specific contributor on offense. More on him later, and no it's not Christian Yelich.
Reds: At .500, it's wasn't an ideal start for the would-be contenders, but it's also not a nail in the coffin. Occasionally, it takes time for a roster with this much turnover to coalesce.
Cardinals: With no major free-agent moves, the Cardinals were relying on rebounds from several key contributors. The simulation was apparently not confident in their collective abilities to do this.
Pirates: Pittsburgh secured the worst overall record in the majors, further solidifying its descent into the league's catacombs. Only the Phillies and Mariners allowed more runs in the month.
National League West
Dodgers: Thanks mostly to the best pitching staff, the Dodgers were top dog in the NL West in April. They were the only team not to allow 100 runs, and it wasn't even close in their own division.
D-Backs: Arizona can find little solace in being the best of a bad group, but at a single game below .500, there is room to grow.
Giants: It will be interesting to see if this version manages to sell off the veterans who are performing well at the virtual trade deadline in hopes of restocking the farm system.
Padres: San Diego's inability to make progress, even in the realm of video games, is disheartening. Friars faithful will have to hope the sim got it extremely wrong when baseball returns ... whenever that may be.
Rockies: Can't imagine this is the kind of start that would change Nolan Arenado's mind about wanting to be traded. Yikes.
Hiura is the primary reason Milwaukee is challenging the Cubs for the NL Central's top spot, living up to and exceeding expectations set up by an impressive rookie campaign. Could a batting title be in his future? Not only that, but Hiura finished top three in homers, RBIs, OPS, and WAR.
Not quite record-setting, but some serious thump was on display, which should only increase as the temperatures rise. Martinez and Reyes each finished one homer shy of tying Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols for most in the month of April.
Here we go. Reyes was the driving force behind the Indians' surprising offense in our sim, setting the record for most RBIs in the month of April in the process. Juan Gonzalez held the previous mark thanks to the 35 he drove in back in 1998.
One of the benefits of doing this kind of exercise is seeing the superstar potential from the young players. Hiura is the future of the Brewers' infield, and Conforto has been on the bubble of stardom for years. He was going to miss some time in April due to injury, so this acts as a do-over.
|T-2||Ronald Acuna Jr.||ATL||1.9|
Trout didn't take the month off. Though he didn't appear in any of the other top lists, he continued with his balanced approach both at the dish and in the field.
Some veteran magic on display here. Samardzija is a prime trade candidate pitching for the Giants, and this kind of performance only boosts his value to needy teams. It looks like Martinez slid smoothly back into his role as a starter for the Cardinals, which is something the team will desperately need later this summer.
Cole and deGrom are not shocking here, for obvious reasons. Boyd made strides with his K rate last year even if he did fall off a cliff down the stretch. Also, his curveball in this game is disgusting.
It looks like Kimbrel is back to his old self, which would certainly bode well for a bullpen that didn't look like a strength entering the season.
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