A few weeks (years?) back, I took a look at how the Cardinals are performing in some of the various simulations of the 2020 season going on. With nearly 25% of the season complete in many of these leagues (and some further along), I thought I’d check back in.
Yes, these are just simulations, etc., etc. But most of these are built on quite sophisticated statistical models, so while they may not be able to PREDICT THE FUTURE, you’d rather the models show your team doing well than not.
The Athletic Alternate Universe
Out of the Park Baseball
The Athletic is one simulation that is accelerating beyond the normal pace of a season. In their alternate universe, the Cardinals have a 3-game lead on the Pirates and a 4.5-game lead on the Cubs with 41% of the season complete. Across the entire NL, the Cardinals are in 3rd place in terms of record and tied for 2nd in run differential.
That’s a good portion of the season in the books, but there’s still room for weirdness in the standings. In the NL West, the Diamondbacks are in first with a -1 run differential, while the Dodgers are a game back with a +103 run differential.
Who’s doing well? Adam Wainwright is sporting 1.97 ERA, that is no doubt generating fawning articles about his renaissance, while simulated VEB posts point out that his 5.89 xFIP suggest this is all an illusion. A Kolten Wong with a 122 wRC+ is something I would very much like to request for the actual season.
Who’s doing poorly? That 94 wRC+ from Paul Goldschmidt is not going to cut it. Tyler O’Neill has played his way out of the mix with a 66 wRC+, but that has paved the way for Dylan Carlson. Through 5 games, Carlson is holding his own with a 99 wRC+.
Baseball Reference 2020 Season Simulation
Out of the Park Baseball
This is one I didn’t look at last time, but it is clearly the best simulation going because 1) the Cardinals lead the division by 4 games and 2) the Cubs are in last place, 9 games off the pace.
Unlike The Athletic, the Baseball Reference simulation (and Strat-o-Matic below) are moving at the pace of a regular season, so they are just under 25% complete on their seasons.
Who’s doing well? Harrison Bader and Tommy Edman, who are both also performing very well at The Athletic, are among the team WAR leaders here. Edman has an OPS north of 1.000 and a line that generally looks like Peak Barry Bonds. Joining them is Paul Goldschmidt, whose .865 OPS is 2nd on the team and much more in-line with what we’d hope to see.
Who’s doing poorly? Matt Carpenter seems to have lost his starting spot, and his .217 / .288 / .400 line shows why. This league has correctly put Carlos Martinez in the rotation (where he is doing well), but the bullpen is a bit of a mess, with poor performances thus far from Giovanny Gallegos and John Brebbia.
2020 Season Simulation
These tabletop Cardinals are more middling, but still in 2nd place in the division, 3 games behind the Cubs. The underlying engine of Strat-O-Matic is different, but their website also reports out fewer of the more advanced stats we might normally look at.
Who’s doing well? Tommy Edman is again at the top, joined by Carpenter, Goldschmidt and a great start by Yadier Molina - likely trying to goose the team into that extension he wants.
Who’s doing poorly? In the Strat-O-Matic world, Harrison Bader looks to be playing himself out of the lineup with just a .181 batting average and more than double the strikeouts to walks.
MLB The Show Player’s League
MLB The Show (PS4)
The MLB The Show video game tournament, in which Matt Carpenter was playing on behalf of the Cardinals, ended over the weekend. Blake Snell, who is young and owns one of those fancy video game chairs, was the winner. Matt Carpenter, who is an old guy without a fancy video game chair, finished in the bottom third of the league.