Baseball has been postponed for the foreseeable future amid the coronavirus outbreak. But that didn’t stop the release of “MLB The Show 20” — and for good reason.
For baseball fans, last week’s release was perfectly timed. The MLB season was supposed to begin Thursday before being put on hold, along with all other sports, but virtual baseball lives. So what better way to make up for not being able to watch baseball than by virtually playing it yourself while you’re staying home?
For Seattle fans, though, playing as the Mariners ahead of what is (was?) set to be a … challenging season might not sound like much fun. Either the 2020 Mariners’ weaknesses are clear every time you take the field, or you’re crushing homers in every at-bat and that voice in the back of your head keeps telling you that it’s all too good to be true.
Come to think of it, the latter sounds pretty fun actually. But because we’re all about accuracy here at The Seattle Times, we wanted to know exactly what type of Mariners season “MLB The Show 20” thinks we’re missing out on with a straight simulation.
Turns out it could be a record-setting one — just not in the way fans would hope.
Our simulated Mariners sputtered to a 56-106 record, securing the most losses in franchise history.
Worst of all — save for one — the kids were not all right.
After the game forced us to promote Shed Long, J.P. Crawford and Kyle Lewis to starters on opening day ourselves, the sim proved why it didn’t even have them in the big leagues to begin with.
After missing a month with a broken hand early in the season, Long slashed .220/.299/.333 across 327 at-bats. Crawford posted 60 RBIs, but hit for a .232 average. And Lewis only hit five homers somehow, slashing .220/.281/.315 before tearing his MCL in late July.
As Seatte’s fourth starter, Justus Sheffield struggled. He posted a 2-19 record with a 6.14 ERA and 1.77 WHIP across 32 starts.
And of course, we had to promote Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert in September. Those debuts didn’t go well either.
Kelenic went hitless his first two games, batting .138 with three home runs across 21 games. Gilbert allowed 15 earned runs across four starts, to the tune of a 10.38 ERA and 2.62 WHIP.
Other than an early draft pick in 2021, the biggest silver lining for our Mariners team came in the form of AL Rookie of the Year Evan White.
White totaled 19 homers, 81 RBIs, 52 runs and 15 steals (!), while batting .294/.353/.491. He didn’t earn his first career Gold Glove this season, but we’re sure he flashed his defensive potential all season, as well.
So maybe Mariners fans want to turn to another form of entertainment before baseball returns. Might we suggest books?
Here are a few more takeaways from the simulation, followed by notable stat lines:
- In addition to keeping the young guys in Triple-A, there were some unavoidable roster conditions. Despite loading live rosters, the game insisted that Mitch Haniger was not injured and proceeded to play him all season. That probably makes the record look even worse, in hindsight. Also, for some reason, Kendall Graveman is not in the game at all. That left us with Nick Margevicius as the fifth starter, for better or worse.
- Ten games into the simulation, the game presented us with the option to jump into a key moment late in a game to potentially turn the tide for the Mariners. Naturally, we immediately took that first chance, entering a road game against the White Sox on April 6. The Mariners were leading 3-2 with Carl Edwards Jr. on the mound, a runner on third and Jose Abreu up to bat. We got Abreu to hit a weak groundball to short … and then promptly threw White off first base to allow the runner to score. We walked the next batter on four pitches and allowed the White Sox to walk it off on a line drive by Leury Garcia. We are so sorry.
- Long broke his hand the first week of April and missed two months.
- Kyle Seager was the Mariners’ representative in the All-Star Game over Haniger. He injured his knee two days before the trade deadline.
- About halfway through the season, we checked the team’s “morale.” Yoshihisa Hirano and Dee Gordon were listed as “angry” at the record because their expectations were for the Mariners to be “contenders.” Sure!
- In early July, the Blue Jays offered Trent Thornton for Haniger. We declined.
- Yusei Kikuchi was our rotation’s bright spot. He improved his ERA by nearly a run and a half in 30 more innings.
- The season wasn’t a disappointment for the Mariners’ organization as a whole. The Double-A Travelers finished 41-29 and won both their division and the Double-A championship. And they didn’t even have a key player for the stretch run because …
- We promoted Gilbert and Kelenic to the bigs for September! Kelenic went 0-for-4 with a walk in his debut against the Padres and 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his second game. His first hit came against Lance McCullers and the Astros a game later, as he went 1-for-4 with a walk, a strikeout and his first career RBI. Gilbert debuted against the Padres in San Diego on Sept. 2. He did not make it out of the first inning, allowing six runs on three hits and three walks with one strikeout.
- The Astros won the AL West by a game over AL MVP Mike Trout and the Angels. In the postseason, the Dodgers finally got their World Series, beating the Red Sox (led by former Mariner Ketel Marte, who was apparently traded to Boston from Arizona at some point during the season) in six games.
Mitch Haniger: 603 AB … 79 R … 31 HR … 74 RBI … 8 SB … .249/.328/.453
J.P. Crawford: 513 AB … 56 R … 15 HR … 60 RBI … 10 SB … .232/.324/.363
Mallex Smith: 570 AB … 60 R … 12 HR … 51 RBI … 20 SB … .258/.331/.393
Evan White: 507 AB … 52 R … 19 HR … 81 RBI … 15 SB … .294/.353/.491
Shed Long: 327 AB … 28 R … 7 HR … 31 RBI … 7 SB … .220/.299/.333
Dee Gordon: 364 AB … 26 R … 1 HR … 18 RBI … 24 SB … .223/.279/.291
Kyle Lewis: 327 AB … 25 R … 5 HR … 36 RBI … 5 SB … .220/.281/.315
Kyle Seager: 337 AB … 46 R … 12 HR … 48 RBI … 5 SB … .240/.317/.392
Jarred Kelenic: 87 AB … 6 R … 3 HR … 13 RBI … 2 SB … .138/.174/.264
Yusei Kikuchi: 10-12 … 33 starts … 191 1/3 IP … 57 BB … 109 K … 3.95 ERA … 1.25 WHIP
Marco Gonzales: 5-18 … 33 starts … 182 1/3 IP … 55 BB … 110 K … 4.89 ERA … 1.52 WHIP
Taijuan Walker: 3-14 … 33 starts … 191 IP … 82 BB … 151 K … 5.04 ERA … 1.48 WHIP
Justus Sheffield: 2-19 … 32 starts … 143 2/3 IP … 84 BB … 126 K … 6.14 ERA … 1.77 WHIP
Logan Gilbert: 0-2 … 4 starts … 13 IP … 15 BB … 8 K … 10.38 ERA … 2.62 WHIP