Heading into the 2013 MLB season, big expectations surrounded the Toronto Blue Jays. Blockbuster trades with the Miami Marlins and New York Mets had brought back veteran stars Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey to Toronto. The farm system was sacrificed but for the first time in two decades it appeared to most that the Blue Jays would be in a position to compete.
But as we all know far too well now, the season did not go to plan. It would probably even be fair to call it an outright disaster. As I write this, the Blue Jays’ record stands at 63-75. They are last place in the AL East by a wide margin. The Jays trail the division-leading Boston Red Sox by 18.5 games and the fourth place New York Yankees by ten and a half. Only the Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros have fewer wins than Toronto in the American League.
I can’t help but think to myself “the Blue Jays can’t really be this bad”. After all, the Bovada Sportsbook in Vegas listed the Jays as the early World Series favourites back in December, shortly after they acquired Dickey. (It’s worth noting that the Blue Jays odds to win the World Series were 35-1 when the 2012 season ended in October but skyrocketed to 15-2 after the Marlins and Mets trades.) At ESPN the Blue Jays were picked by 20 of 32 writers to win the AL East. Pretty much everyone was expecting big things from this video game dream team.
Daniel George, who you can find writing mostly at GameSided.com these days (check it out!), ran a simulation for us of the Blue Jays season using the very popular Playstation 3 game MLB 13: The Show back in April. His sim produced some promising results, which included a 93-69 record and a heart-breaking seven game loss to the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.
Unfortunately MLB 13: The Show didn’t prove to be a very good predictor of the type of misery that we be forced to endure this season as fans of the Toronto Blue Jays. Enter OOTP Baseball 14.
For those you are not familiar, Out of the Park Baseball 14 is about as real as it gets when it comes to baseball simulation games. Another fellow staff writer, Jay Blue, did a very thorough review over at Blue Jays From Away and since he’s a veteran of the game (as well as a slightly more logical individual than myself), I’d recommend checking out his review of the game’s features if you are considering making the purchase.
Rather than review the actual game itself, my mission was to run the Blue Jays season on auto-pilot and report my findings. My hope (as a Jays fans) was to find more promising results compared to the ones that were produced on-field this season.
The Blue Jays were 10-17 this April. How did they fare in OOTP 14? Slightly worse in my sim actually, ending the month 9-18.
At the end of May, the Blue Jays record stood at 23-32. In OOTP 14 it was a similarly poor 22-34. The difference in games played was due to the postponement in New York on May 19. I guess OOTP Baseball doesn’t have rain outs.
A 17-9 June, which included an 11-game winning streak, briefly resurrected the glimmer of hope for October baseball in Toronto. My OOTP Blue Jays weren’t as lucky but did have a winning month for the first time by going 14-13. At this point it’s about the small victories.
The OOTP Blue Jays decided it wasn’t time to get hot until after the All-Star break and they reeled off a season long 8 game winning streak the fourth week of July to climb to only one game back of .500 at 54-55. Glimmer of hope!! But it looks like one hot streak isn’t enough to save a season as I still trail the Boston Red Sox by 15 games. This game is too real…
The OOTP Blue Jays flirt with .500 for the remainder of the year, even climbing out of the cellar briefly, before finishing last place in the AL East with a mediocre 79-83. I feel like I just watched Groundhog Day.Credit: OOTP Baseball 14
Jose Reyes – .317/.365/.481, .359 wOBA, 186 hits, 29 doubles, 17 triples, 11 home runs, 74 RBIs, 101 runs scored, 38 stolen bases, 45 BB, .164 ISO
Jose Bautista – .243/.338/.562, .365 wOBA, 138 hits, 25 doubles, 2 triples, 51 home runs, 131 RBIs, 98 runs scored, 4 stolen bases, 88 BB, .320 ISO
Edwin Encarnacion – .267/.351/.493, .360 wOBA, 164 hits, 20 doubles, 1 triple, 39 home runs, 93 RBIs, 94 runs scored, 2 stolen bases, 67 BB, .226 ISO
Brett Lawrie – .267/.329/.344, .332 wOBA, 139 hits, 22 doubles, 7 triples, 19 home runs, 76 RBIs, 69 runs scored, 21 stolen bases, 49 BB, .179 ISO
Emilio Bonifacio – .274/.335/.344, .306 wOBA, 139 hits, 22 doubles, 4 triples, 2 home runs, 48 RBIs, 78 runs scored, 34 stolen bases, 44 BB, .071 ISO
Bonifacio was thankfully not traded for a PTBNL or cash considerations.
R.A. Dickey – 3.47 ERA, 14 wins, 10 losses, 30 games started, 220.2 IP, 9.42 H/9, 0.98 HR/9, 1.02 BB/9, 7.38 K/9, 7.24 K/BB, .264 opponents AVG, 3.34 FIP
Mark Buehrle – 4.48 ERA, 12 wins, 13 losses, 32 games started, 207.0 IP, 9.78 H/9, 1.17 HR/9, 2.13 BB/9, 4.61 K/9, 2.16 K/BB, .274 opponents AVG, 4.68 FIP
Brandon Morrow – 4.56 ERA, 10 wins, 13 losses, 33 games started, 197.1 IP, 8.57 H/9, 1.37 HR/9, 4.52 BB/9, 8.26 K/9, 1.83 K/BB, .274 opponents AVG, 4.83 FIP
Josh Johnson – 5.54 ERA, 9 wins, 16 losses, 193.1 IP, 10.57 H/9, 1.54 HR/9, 2.79 BB/9, 6.94 K/9, 2.48 K/BB, .289 opponents AVG, 4.82 FIP
All of this actually scares me. Especially when it comes to how accurate OOTP was in predicting Josh Johnson’s struggles in Toronto.
I should note that for the intents and purposes of this article, I only ran the simulation once. It could just be a fluke but the similarities of the actual Blue Jays season to my OOTP findings are eerie.
A big thanks to the good people at Out of the Park Developments who kindly provided us with a copy of OOTP Baseball 14 for this post. You can find all of their games at http://www.ootpdevelopments.com/.