In case you missed it, Gamesided, a FanSided site dedicated to video gaming, used “MLB 15: The Show” to simulate the 2015 MLB season and posted the results here.
This wasn’t a simple “turn on the game and let it run” sort of simulation, either. A lot of attention was paid to the detail of team injuries and rosters prior to starting the regular season simulation.
"Using MLB 15: The Show’s Franchise Mode, I started a new game using the game’s current live rosters. The process is not absolutely perfect, as some modifications have to be made to ensure that players who are injured or demoted due to Spring Training results are reflected as such. Therefore, I corrected the team compositions of all 30 teams as best as I could, prior to the start of the in-game MLB 2015 regular season, in order to get things just right."
Of course, it’s not going to be perfect, but no simulation is. It was at least as accurate as could be hoped for.
So, what sort of results did the simulator predict for the Washington Nationals and the rest of the NL East? Let’s take a look!
National League East – Overall Standings
- Washington Nationals (105-57)
- y-Miami Marlins (86-76)
- Philadelphia Phillies (81-81)
- New York Mets (81-81)
- Atlanta Braves (77-85)
“y” denotes wildcard spot
Obviously, the thing that jumps out at first is the number of wins for the Nationals. While I’m sure there are plenty of fans who think, given the rotation that they’ve assembled, that isn’t enough, for most people, 105 wins is a lot.
There are plenty of teams who’ve won over 100 games, but it hasn’t been happening as often recently. In the last five years, only one team, the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies (102), has managed the feat. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a possibility for the Nationals, but with parity around the league and given all the injuries the Nationals have entering the season, it doesn’t seem too likely.
What about the rest of the NL East? The Braves coming in as the cellar dwellers doesn’t seem too surprising. After all, 2015 shows every sign of being a rebuilding year for the team. The Marlins as a wildcard team also doesn’t seem too farfetched. While Miami hasn’t made any monster acquisitions, they’ve added some key pieces while allowing their best young players, particularly in the outfield, to mature.
The biggest surprises are probably the Mets and the Phillies. The Mets may not be expected to fight for a division title in 2015, but they added Michael Cuddyer to the lineup and get Matt Harvey back from injury. By this mark, they’re only five games back of the wildcard Marlins, but I expected that race to be a little tighter.
Philadelphia, on the other hand, seems a team more likely to battle Atlanta for the basement spot in the division rather than a wildcard berth. Instead, the simulator has them somehow managing to reach .500.
The simulation has obviously been drinking the Kool-Aid when it comes to the Nationals rotation. Jordan Zimmermann was the biggest performer, but the rest of the staff didn’t fare too poorly. According to the simulator, four of the five starters pitched over 200 innings, with Taylor Jordan filling in for a few spot starts.
It’s also worth noting that the simulator had decent expectations for Jayson Werth coming off of his shoulder surgery. He’s predicted to contribute to a potent offense that also features a breakout season from Bryce Harper. Overall, the simulation seems to like the Nationals to be a balanced team in 2015, obviously centered around their spectacular rotation.
That’s all well and good, of course, but what does the simulator say when it comes to the part of the year that has caused the Nationals the most grief lately?
Good news, Nats fans! The simulator says 2015 is the year that Washington finally gets past the first round. In fact, the simulation actually has the Nats moving all the way to the World Series. The good news ends there, however, as it has the Nats losing the championship series to Boston in five games.
Obviously, it would be a disappointment to lose that way, especially given all of the expectations heaped on the team this season, but just getting there would be a huge step for a franchise that has yet to experience postseason success.
Sure, these sorts of simulations really don’t have too much accuracy when it comes to how the season will actually shake out, but they’re fun to look at and discuss, and it’s worth asking what we can glean from this.
If anything, the regular season predictions look as if they might be a little too rosy. While the rotation certainly could be dominant, having the sort of sustained health that the simulator seems to predict feels more of a “best case scenario” than anything. The simulation also doesn’t seem too concerned with Jayson Werth’s return from surgery. If the Nats can get the type of production that the simulator predicted, they’d have to consider themselves pleasantly surprised.
While I agree with the simulation’s notion that Bryce Harper will have his breakout season in 2015, I think 105 wins is setting the bar a little high. To me, a more reasonable expectation is somewhere in the mid-90’s, contingent on health. As for the postseason, it’s great to hope for success and the Nationals are built for it, but we all know how random the postseason can be. Any predictions should always be taken with a large grain of salt.
So, Nats fans, what do you think of the predictions? What are your expectations for this season?