Looking Back at the Ultimate Simulated Baseball League and Looking Ahead to a Second Simulation with a New Twist
This past spring, I created the ultimate simulated baseball league, using the facilities of WhatIfSports.com. The league was based on real life seasons for players who spent time in the big leagues, I would look at a player and decide which season was his most productive and assign him to the appropriate team. Some long time franchises had too many players to choose from, while more recent franchises were more difficult to put together. So for instance, while the best statistical season for Miguel Cabrera was 2012 in Detroit prior to this season, I used an earlier season for Cabrera as a Marlin, since the Tigers had other options that did not exist for the Marlins.
WIS allows you to set a salary cap, as each player is assigned a dollar value based on a total statistical profile which includes defensive ability. The league cap was $160 million and yes the teams with lots of historic star power came closest to this mark, think Yankees anyone? All teams had over $110 million in payroll value.
The divisional alignment was based on the 1998-2012 model and the schedule used was based on a balanced approach used from 1998-2000.
While the division races ended up somewhat predictable, there were some surprises. The Yankees were dominant in the AL East, the Red Sox came in second claiming the wild card berth. The Orioles had a very hot start but they fell off and were third, the Rays and Blue Jays had horrible seasons. In the AL Central, all but the Royals showed signs of potential success at various stages, the Indians ultimately took the division leaving the White Sox and Twins behind, the tigers did not do as well as I thought they might and though the Royals finished last, the KC grouping had a respectable mark. The AL West was as most would have expected dominated by the Athletics with their large number of historically great player seasons going back into the Philadelphia days, the angels, Rangers, and Mariners were all well off the pace.
IN the NL, the most entertaining race was in the NL Central, all but the Brewers were contending past the half way mark and with 40 games to play, the Cubs, Reds, Cardinals, and Astros were all very much part of the race. Ultimately the Reds would finish just behind the Cubs who claimed the division crown. IN the East, the Braves were the class of the division, but the Nationals team which had many former Montreal Expos players did surprisingly well and when all was said and done, the Nationals and Reds ended up tied for the wild card. The Giants took the west in relatively easy fashion, the dodgers never truly contended which was shocking, the Padres were respectable and the two expansion clubs of the 1990’s struggled.
The league was set up like actual baseball in terms of the DH, so AL teams clearly had more offensive power, none more so than the Yankees. Teams played in their current ballpark, which sent Babe Ruth to more than 80 homers, Gehrig finished second in all of the league. Bonds and McGwire mean while did not even lead the NL, that race was a battle that McGwire did almost win, but he was edged out by two players in homer happy venues, hack Wilson of the Cubs and shockingly Vinnie Castilla of the Rockies took the top two spots. Castillo hit 46 homers in 1998, he hit 55 in the simulated league, far out distancing the effort put up by 1997 Larry Walker, who fell short of his actual performance during that MVP 49 homer season.
Several pitchers had very dominant seasons, but none more so probably than Greg Maddux of the Braves and Luis tiant of the Indians, both with 23 wins. Russ, not Whity Ford had a huge season for the Yankees, though his other stats were not as impressive and many Yankees earned wins on the strength of a powerful offense with Mantle clearing the 50 homer mark in addition to what was previously mentioned by Ruth and Gehrig.
IN the playoffs, the Reds clubbed the Nationals in the wild card playoff, then after losing the first two games against the Braves, Cincinnati came back and took the next three to claim one of the division series in the NL. The Giants had their way in sweeping the Cubs in the other series, which resulted in a Giants matchup with the Reds for the NLCS.
IN the AL, the Indians knocked out the Red Sox, while the Yankees took out the Athletics though the Oakland bunch took game 1.
Ohio did not do well in either LCS as the Giants took out the Reds and the Yankees did likewise to the Indians. The World Series on paper and statistically speaking when looking at season performance appeared to be a Yankee cakewalk. But ultimately the Giants would prove to be the best, taking the series in six games and shutting down the power plant that was the New York offense.
Now the 2013 season is done and that means some new players are available who had career years better than before, or in the case of players like Jose Fernandez of the Marlins, a new kid broke in with huge success. So in the coming days, a new league will be ran to see what results we get. But this time, it will be different in some respects.
IN the old league, teams were restricted to players who only played a given season for a single franchise. So Gabe white in 2000 who had a very good year as a relief pitcher was not a potential pitcher for the Rockies, even though all but a couple innings were pitched in the Rockies uniform. This next league will relax that rule, so that players who had very productive seasons split between two franchises can be considered. However, they will only be used based on one portion of their performance, not the total record. So take Rick Sutcliff of 1984, he would clearly have a spot on the Cubs team, but only his Cubs portion of the season would be chosen using the WIS database, not his entire season including his starts with Cleveland, because not all of that record would have been compiled with the Cubs.
Other changes, the league will have a lower cap of $135 million, which will even the field a bit more for the expansion era franchises. But most significant, given that sadly MLB is moving toward the DH in both leagues it would appear, all teams will use the DH in this league. Most radicle though will be the alignment, as I will experiment with a geographical alignment, which I will now explain.
The WIS system still does not yet offer a system that has the 6 divisions of five teams each, but it does offer what we had from 1998-2012, two divisions of five teams in each league, a four team division in the AL and a six-team division in the NL. Using that setup, here is the geographical alignment that will be used in this second simulation.
The AL West will become the upper Midwest division, featuring the Twins, Brewers, Cubs, and White Sox. The AL Central will be the southern or sunbelt division, featuring the Rangers, Astros, Braves, Rays, and Marlins. The AL East will be what one might call a rust belt division, featuring the blue Jays, Tigers, Reds, Indians, and Pirates. The NL West will be the California league consisting of the Giants, Athletics, Dodgers, Angels, and Padres. The NL Central will be used as the northeast corridor division, featuring the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Orioles, and Nationals. The NL East will be home to what is left, the Mariners, diamondbacks, Rockies, Royals, and Cardinals.
In the coming days, I will post the complete rosters for each of the 30 teams and at some point in late November or early December, I will formally put the league together and begin the simulation. The championship team of the league will be decided just before real life spring training opens for the 2014 baseball season.