As the end of RAB draws near, I figured I would give an ode to one of the site’s annual features: the Official RAB Offseason Plan. Back in November, Mike published the plan to fill the roster for 2019. I’m giving it life in an alternate universe: Out of the Park Baseball 20.
As a refresher, let’s compare his offseason plan to what actually occurred:
What the Yankees actually did looks a whole lot different than what Mike came up with. Two more things to note about how I set this up, aside from making the aforementioned roster changes. One, the only injuries the OOTP team started with were the ones the team already had entering spring training (like Didi Gregorius, for instance). That means Luis Severino, Aaron Hicks, et. al. all got a new lease on life. Second, I let the computer take total control after the I set the roster up. Didn’t want any of my personal input to be included whatsoever. Now, time for the simulation.
By the numbers
This hypothetical club was a juggernaut in OOTP’s world. It scored a remarkable 888 runs and hit 272 home runs to shatter the record the team set last season. The pitching was good, but the bullpen was not as great as one might think (9th in reliever ERA in the American League). Player statistics are embedded below and here is a link to the Google sheet as well.
I think the real life Yankees have already spent more days on the injured list than this pretend team did. Other than the pre-existing injuries, only Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Raimel Tapia, Gary Sanchez, Patrick Corbin, and Hyun-Jin Ryu spent time on the shelf.
Corbin proved to be a home run even though he missed a few starts. The lefty accumulated 4 WAR in just over 150 innings pitched. He also recorded a 2.67 postseason ERA in four starts, winning three of those ballgames. The other wise free agent decision was to bring back David Robertson. Houdini had a 2.78 ERA and his typical high strikeout rate.
Tapia was a successful acquisition as well, though his season came to a bitter end. After hitting .296/.325/.455 (107 OPS+), the outfielder ruptured his MCL in September, which ended his season. Another trade acquisition, Jurickson Profar, wound up being a good get too. The jack of all trades infielder netted 2.5 WAR and a 111 OPS+.
Wei-Yin Chen was an unmitigated disaster. That said, I wouldn’t blame Mike for it. Rather, the fault belongs to the computer for letting him pitch so much. Chen posted a 6.91 ERA in more than 80 innings which made him two wins below replacement level.
I don’t know if it’s fair to call the next two misses, but they weren’t necessarily good. Neil Walker was actually cut loose in May, though he only had six plate appearances to his name. He had an emergency appendectomy early in the season and was ultimately released. Ryu was decent, pitching to a 101 ERA+ (4.66 ERA). He suffered a severe ankle sprain and missed a big chunk of the season to boot.
Better off elsewhere?
As you can tell by the length of the “out” list, there are a number of current Yankees who played for other squads in the OOTP universe. Let’s see how they did:
- Brett Gardner (Cleveland): 512 PA, 79 OPS+, 1.3 WAR
- James Paxton (Seattle): 211 IP, 109 ERA+, 3.3 WAR
- Michael King (Texas, did not play in majors)
- Jacoby Ellsbury (Miami): 60 PA, 83 OPS+, 0.1 WAR
- Luis Cessa (Miami): 15.1 IP, 58 ERA+, 0.2 WAR
- Jonathan Loaisiga (Colorado): 20 IP, 82 ERA+, 0.1 WAR
- Troy Tulowitzki (Texas and San Diego): 448 PA, 73 OPS+, 0.9 WAR
- DJ LeMahieu (Angels and Minnesota): 623 PA, 107 OPS+, 3.0 WAR
- Mike Tauchman (Colorado): 651 PA, 108 OPS+, 3.0 WAR
- Zack Britton (Dodgers): 29 IP, 149 ERA+, 0.0 WAR
- Gio Gonzalez (White Sox, Dodgers, Cincinnati): 155.1 IP, 99 ERA+, 2.7 WAR
- J.A. Happ (Baltimore and San Diego): 187 IP, 109 ERA+, 1.8 WAR
- Adam Ottavino (Washington): 67.1 IP, 152 ERA+, 0.5 WAR
Standings and postseason results
The faux Yankees won 99 games and secured a Wild Card berth. Yes, the Red Sox were division champions once again, winning 104 games. Midseason acquisitions of Brian McCann and Justin Smoak helped put them over the top while their bullpen was surprisingly good. This year, however, the Yankees got the last laugh in the division series. In a rematch of last season, the Yankees toppled the Red Sox in five games. To backtrack for just a second, the Bombers knocked off the Angels in the Wild Card round before facing Boston.
The championship series was yet another rematch, this time against the team that eliminated the Yankees in 2017. It took seven games, but the Yankees outlasted the Astros to move on to the World Series. Didi Gregorius was the series MVP. He swatted three taters and reached base at a .516 clip. Nice to get revenge against the two franchises that knocked them out in the two seasons prior.
In the World Series, the Yankees took on the Rockies. Just as we all expect to happen! After an 11-1 victory in game one, things were looking good. Most notably, Giancarlo Stanton drove in five runs and hit his seventh (!) postseason home run. Things went downhill from there: the Yanks lost the next four games and thereby the series. Three of those losses were by one run and the bullpen blew two games. Chad Green coughed up the lead in game three and David Robertson did the same in game four. In the fifth and decisive game, Corbin tossed his only stinker of the postseason. The Rockies took home their first championship.
A few Yankees took home awards. Aroldis Chapman was named the American League’s best reliever. The lefty tallied 36 saves, 91 strikeouts, and a 2.35 ERA in 57.1 innings. No Yankees took home Gold Gloves, but a couple won Silver Slugger awards. Gary Sanchez took home the reigns at catcher after a monster season. 41 home runs for a backstop will do that. Meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton won as designated hitter. He blasted 53 dingers. Somewhat humorously, Aaron Boone won Manager of the Year. The Cy Young award went to Chris Sale, but Luis Severino finished in second.
You might be wondering about what trades the AI made midseason, if any. There are a myriad of deals that went down around the league, but the Yankees only made one trade: Austin Romine for Mark Canha. Why? I don’t really know.
So, would you sign up for a World Series loss right now if it meant postseason vengeance against Boston and Houston? It’s kind of hard to stomach losing the World Series to the Rockies, yet this hypothetical season kind of reminds me of 2003. The ALCS *felt* bigger than the World Series that year. Not that I didn’t care that the Yankees lost to the Marlins, but rather, the bigger memory was the seven games against Boston.
Roster speculation and be-the-GM type thinking always makes for fun discussion and debate. There are a million great things that RAB has done over the years, but I always enjoy Mike’s thought process about acquisition targets. One facet of that has been his offseason plans, and I figured it would be fun for OOTP to shine on a light on what could have been from his perspective.