That four-game losing streak was rough, but it looks like the Boston Red Sox have figured out some things. They won five of their last six games, and entered Saturday’s game at Seattle just a game and half behind the New York Yankees in the American League East.

It’s all fantasy of course, a simulation of the 2020 season run by the gang at Baseball-Reference.com and the creators of the game Out of the Park Baseball 2021. But it’s something, and for now, it’s all we’ve got.

Baseball-Reference.com and Out of the Park Baseball disabled the injury function in the game for this simulation. If a player was lost before the season in real life, Chris Sale, for instance, he is not in the simulation. But who wants to see a simulated Mike Trout tear and simulated hamstring, or simulated Clayton Kershaw need simulated Tommy John surgery?

The game’s artificial intelligence will make trades during the season. We should monitor these moves and see if they’re better than what the real general managers come up with.

The Sim Sox entered Saturday’s game at Seattle with an 8-7 record. For a team that had more questions than answers when it left spring training in Fort Myers, Florida, a game above .500 midway through the first month of the season is encouraging.

Rafael Devers is building off his breakout 2019 season with a strong start. Boston’s third baseman has six simulated home runs, including a solo shot to lead off the top of the fifth inning in Friday’s 8-6 win at Seattle. Devers has 10 runs batted in and a .306 batting average.

Xander Bogaerts is also off to an impressive start, with a .362 average, three home runs (Bogaerts smacked a two-run blast in the seventh inning Friday, giving the Sox the lead for good) and 16 runs. Bogaerts leads the majors in runs scored, and is second in the majors in doubles, with eight. I don’t think it’s too early to toss Bogaert’s name into the simulated MVP discussion.

At least in the simulation, we don’t need to stay up late to see the results of these West Coast games. Baseball-Reference.com usually has the day’s results posted in the afternoon.

JD Martinez is struggling. Martinez has two home runs, but just five runs batted in and a lowly .190 batting average. Let’s hope it’s just a minor slump, not a trend, and he improves as the simulated weather heats up.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. is hitting his typical .200, but has made some amazing simulated catches and is well on his way to a simulated Gold Glove.

Pitching was Boston’s question in real life, and it’s been the concern in this simulated season, too. While Sale on the shelf after Tommy John surgery and David Price now pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Eduardo Rodriguez is the early ace, as expected. With a 3.72 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings, ERod is showing 20119 was a real season of growth and not a one-season wonder.

Other starting pitchers are struggling. Nathan Eovaldi earned run average is pushing 8.00. If this simulation had a disabled list we’d be waiting for Eovaldi to end up on it. Ryan Weber’s ERA is 10.67, and Weber has teed up 23 hits in 14 1/3 innings pitched.

In the bullpen, Matt Barnes is a pleasant surprise. Barnes has yet to allow a run and has 11 strikeouts in six innings. With three saves, perhaps Barnes has the inside track on the simulated closer’s job, although Brandon Workman picked up the save Friday.

At 9-5, the New York Yankees have the early division lead, but haven’t built an early cushion. The Tampa Bay Rays sit a half -game behind the Sox in third place. The Chicago White Sox and Oakland A’s have the leads in their divisions. In the National League, the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and Los Angeles Dodgers are off to strong starts.

Ah, those Dodgers. How is Mookie Betts doing? Four home runs, 15 RBI, and a .293 average. Mookie doing Mookie things, only now on the West Coast. I wonder if Red Sox owner John Henry sees Betts’ stats and gets simulated heartburn.

Maybe the Sim Sox will get hot and overachieve. Maybe they’ll shock us all and make a simulated playoff run and we’ll warm up the simulated duck boats for the simulated parade. The suspense is simulated nerve-wracking.

The simulation is a nice distraction from the continuous nothing in the sports world at this time, but it’s a pale imitation. It feels like a copy of a copy. Stay home, ride this out, and with some patience and luck we’ll get to see the real thing soon.

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM


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