Earlier this week, I posted an article that used video game simulations to argue the Indians underachieved in their first 81 games. I have since simulated the rest of the season in all three games to see how the Indians fared in the second half. Remember that these are not meant to be completely accurate statistical examinations, but rather fun simulations done on three different baseball video games. Time to see if the games believe the Tribe will falter down the stretch or if there could be October baseball in fictional Cleveland.
MLB 14: The Show (PS3) – Second Half Record: 37-44 – Final Record: 80-82 (2nd Place)
These Indians were stuck in a three team dead heat when the halfway mark rolled around. At the All-Star Break, two Tribe players were selected for the All-Star game. Reliever Scott Atchison was named to the team with 7 wins and a 1.55 ERA in 64 first half innings pitched. As well as real life Atchison has performed in 2014, there’s no way he’ll be an All-Star. Joining him on the All-Star team was his battery mate, Yan Gomes. However, Gomes’s selection as an All-Star Game starter is more evidence of a poor catching crop rather than his elite performance, as he hit just .251 with a .291 on-base percentage. The Brazilian might have gotten a World Cup voting boost, though his great fielding stats and 11 homers help make up for his poor contact and on-base numbers.
The Indians entered the All-Star Break in a virtual tie with Detroit atop the AL Central. In their first post-ASG series, the Tigers swept the Tribe out of Comerica and the Indians went just 3-10 to close out the month of July. They turned it around in August, led by improved pitching from Danny Salazar, who won three important starts as the Tribe cruised to a 17-11 record in the penultimate month of the season. That said, Salazar’s season ERA still sits at 5.73, which is painful, especially in a video game.
As the season’s final month began, the Indians were just 2 games back of Detroit. If you thought the Tigers had the Indians’ number in 2013, the simulation saw the Indians finish 2-17 against their Motor City rivals. However, the Tigers couldn’t beat anyone else, finishing just 82-80. As the Indians failed to tread water, the Tigers knew the division crown was theirs, even if they won the AL Central by just two games.
Great fielding couldn’t save a team that stopped hitting after the All-Star Break and a starting rotation that couldn’t get consistent outings behind Corey Kluber (2.92 ERA) and Justin Masterson (3.40 ERA). There were no outstanding offensive performances as the team was led by Lonnie Chisenhall in batting average at .284, Yan Gomes and Asdrubal Cabrera with 20 home runs, and Jason Kipnis with 79 RBIs. No one took charge to stop the second half offensive skid and these Indians watched the Cardinals defeat the Rays (that joke would kill at our SweetSpot sister site, The Process Report) to win the 2014 World Series.
iOOTP Baseball 2014 (iPhone) – Second Half Record: 49-32 – Final Record: 97-65 (1st Place)
These Indians had three deserving All-Stars in Justin Masterson (11-5, 2.12 ERA), Nick Swisher (still funny; .309, 17 HRs), and Carlos Santana (.283, 22 HRs, 74 RBIs). However, these three could not prevent Kansas City from attaining the best record in the American League. That said, the Royals looked more like court jesters as the season wore on, giving up the Division lead to the Indians in mid-August. Once the Tribe took control, they did not look back, finishing the season with the best record in the American League.
This team was consistently above average all season, with a 48 win first half and 49 win second half contributing to a division title. Carlos Santana’s 117 runs batted in paced the American League while Nick Swisher led the AL with 102 walks. Danny Salazar and Justin Masterson finished 1-2 in wins with 20 and 18, respectively. Salazar’s wins led all of baseball while Masterson’s 2.27 ERA was the best in baseball.
In the ALDS, the Indians made an easy time of Oakland, winning in four games. This advanced the Tribe to the ALCS, where they faced off against the Yankees. After winning games 1-3, the Bombers took game four. The Indians finished the series in game five, earning a World Series berth. After asserting their dominance in the regular season, the Indians continued to do so in the postseason.
In the Fall Classic, Cleveland faced off against a St. Louis team that was the best in baseball, finishing with a record of 105-57. Though the Indians won game one, they lost Carlos Santana to a six game suspension. Without their best hitter, the Tribe could only muster up one hit in game two. The Indians scored just two runs apiece in games three and four, but they snuck away with a win in game three behind a great start from Corey Kluber. After dropping game five, Justin Masterson forced the deciding seventh game with 8 strong innings in a 6-3 Indians win.
Game 7 pitted Danny Salazar against Adam Wainwright. Salazar pitched just four innings, allowing four runs, but the Indians strung hits together to score five times against Wainwright. The Tribe bullpen pitched five scoreless innings and Cleveland was rewarded with its first pro sports championship since 1964 and the Indians’ first World Series title since 1948.
After the season, Jason Giambi retired, though he was not inducted into the Hall of Fame. Danny Salazar, with 20 wins and a 2.72 ERA, won the Cy Young award. Francisco Lindor played 113 games at shortstop, and though he hit just .240 with a .281 on-base percentage and .304 slugging percentage, his defense was good enough to earn him a gold glove. In leading the Indians to the World Series title, Terry Francona was named Manager of the Year.
Even with Lindor’s gold glove defense at short, the Indians were the worst fielding team in the American League. A top-5 offense and top-5 pitching staff made up for the fielding miscues for an Indians team that will go down in history as the team that broke the Cleveland sports curse.
Out of the Park Baseball 15 (PC) – Second Half Record: 40-41 – Final Record: 84-78 (3rd Place)
These Indians were the most lopsided in terms of hitting versus pitching with nearly half the lineup named to the All-Star team. Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Nick Swisher all made the trip to Target Field for the All-Star Game. The lack of off days must have affected them as the Indians fell to four games back of Detroit by the end of July. Cleveland gained back a game in August, led by the hot bat of Francisco Lindor, who hit .351 to claim Rookie of the Month.
As the final month of the season progressed, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Detroit were all bunched together and separated by just two games. The trio even spent some nights tied atop the AL Central. In the final weeks of the season, the Royals got hot and won the division outright, with a lead of four games over both the Indians and Tigers on the final day of the season. On top of that, the Indians and Tigers were tied for the second wild card spot.
On the final day of the season, the Indians faced off against the Tampa Bay Rays, the team with the best record in the American League. Needless to say, the Indians had their work cut out for them. The pitching was, as expected, subpar, with Carlos Carrasco and Cody Allen combining to allow eleven Rays hits and five runs. The normally great offense only mustered five hits and a single run as the Indians lost more than just the last game of the season that day. That loss kept the Indians out of the playoffs as they finished one game back of the Tigers for that second wild card spot.
These Indians watched their in-state rivals, the Cincinnati Reds, defeat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in game seven of the World Series. The Reds captured their first crown since 1990 and Bryan Price became the first rookie manager to win a World Series since Bob Brenly with the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks.
Carlos Santana led the league with 117 walks and Asdrubal Cabrera led the league with 47 doubles as the Indians ended up with the top offense in baseball. The team fielding was slightly below average, but not nearly as bad as the pitching, which couldn’t find a consistent second starter behind breakout star Danny Salazar. Carlos Carrasco was the worst of the starters with a 5.49 ERA.
I should repeat that Justin Masterson pitched a total of 1 2/3 innings all season due to injury. If I’d attempted this simulation again, he probably wouldn’t have gotten injured and may have helped lead the Indians to the postseason. But the Indians had to work with the hand they were dealt and Shapanetti didn’t improve the team well enough to put them over the top.
Conclusion – How will the Indians perform in the second half?
With two of the three video games predicting a second half collapse, the verdict should be a real life collapse. However, none of these games predicted a first half as bad as in real life. You have to post good numbers in order to properly collapse. Plus, this was not a legitimate and serious simulation, with just one sample from each game. A realistic and better prediction model would have many more samples and more accurate data. These simulations were done purely for fun.
Personally, I am hopeful and I believe in a turnaround that may have started with back to back road wins over a talented Dodgers team. After a day off today, the Indians return home for their final nine pre-All-Star Break games. At 7.5 games behind Detroit, a surge before the break would be a great morale booster, hopefully giving the team some momentum going into a four game series at Comerica right after the break ends.
The homestand begins tomorrow night at 7:05, when Josh Tomlin squares off against Yordano Ventura. Since it will be America’s birthday, shouldn’t all of Cleveland celebrate with America’s pastime? There will be patriotic-themed fireworks at Progressive Field.