Last week, San Diego Studio dropped MLB: The Show 19. It’s my personal favorite video game every year and I spend WAY too much time rebuilding a franchise that, in reality, I will never influence in the slightest. But dammit do I love it.
Similar to Michael Augustine running us through a 2019 simulation using OOTP, I ran the simulation in MLB: The Show’s franchise mode for the year to spoil it for all of us (You. Are. Welcome.).
Preseason Roster Roundup
Going into the year, the default player ratings were VERY poor. Whit was at a 90, Brad Keller was an 83, Salvy was an 81, and that’s the complete list of everyone above an 80. Off to a very rough start but (digital) Ned Yost knows how to get the most out of his (digital) guys.
To keep the simulation as close to real as possible, Salvy was optioned to AAA. Homer Bailey (buried in AA with a 68 rating) was selected to be a key piece to the rotation. Ian Kennedy and his large contract were sent to the bullpen. The roster was made to match what I believe the actual lineup will look like for the majority of the year:
Duda DH/Owings RF
That lineup will change with the ebbs/flows throughout the season but I think that’s where they sit most games.
I also used the new feature of extending players currently under contract to lock up 2 of Mondesi’s free agent years. In the end, it was 7 years for $85M and I back-loaded it, which is also a new aspect and is neat. Isn’t it neat? It’s pretty neat.
End of April
Look out! The Royals came out of the gate sprinting. Maybe it was a result of a weak schedule or the boys just feeling themselves, but they got out to a 19-11 record. Hot damn! Like we all saw coming, Lucas Duda led the position players in WAR as a DH. I imagine Kansas Samplers and Rally Houses struggle to keep Duda shirseys in stock. Jakob Junis produces the most WAR among pitchers and someone coins the term “Jakob Smear-nov” to describe the pitcher’s plus slider. That person becomes a millionaire when Uncle Hud gets word of it and refuses to stop saying it. The Royals lead the AL Central by 2 games.
End of May
All good things come to an end. May was really tough on the Boys in Blue. When the calendar turns over to June, the Royals are 27-30 after going 8-19 for the month, and 4 games out of the division lead. Billy Hamilton takes over as the best position player and his .283 average and 16 stolen bases are putting the haters in their place. Cyber-Ned refuses to put him higher in the lineup because “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Junis continues to deal and lead the team, but the pitching all around had a very bad month. When asked about the Royals’ pitching struggles, Stephen A. Smith says “Well what do you expect? They’re still marching Bret Saberhagen and Jeff Montgomery out there! Those guys don’t have any business being on the field!” How true that is...
End of June
More of the same and the descent into the cellar begins, as do the Dog Days of Summer. The Royals put together a 12-15 month, bringing their total to 39-45. The whole AL Central struggles though and the Royals only lose 2 more games from the division-leading Indians. Whit takes his rightful place on top of the positional WAR leaders while Junis keeps the throne for the pitchers. In the draft, I picked a college SS with 80 grade upside that will be ready for the majors by 2021 (Bryson Stott maybe?) that will fit in nicely with the coming wave of talented prospects. The rumor mill for trades has begun turning and anyone on their last contract year is placed on the trade block. Dave Dombrowski calls me about Ian Kennedy and his 3.56 ERA, but then asks me if my refrigerator is running. Go to Hell, Dave.
End of July
The roller coaster season continues and this time the track starts running up... errr... down... things start going well. The good guys go 15-11 and are now only 2 games under .500 at 54-56. The WAR leaders remain to be Whit and Junis. Whit, Boxberger, and Hamilton are voted into the All-Star game. Any squad that features that trio is destined for good things 99 times out of 100. This year was that lone lost outcome, as the NL defeats the AL 15-6. By the end of the month, Hamilton, Owings, Duda, Boxberger, Diekman, and Maldonado are traded for prospects, and some solid prospects were in the haul. Another noteworthy trade was proposed by the computer. Digital Theo Epstein wanted Brett Phillips so badly that he offered David Bote straight up. I love me some Brett Phillips upside, but that deal is juicy and is completed. I drive to Omaha to back his bags myself and, through tears, I watch him board the plane. “Brett!” I yell before the door closes. He turns to me. “Yes?” “I just wanted to get another look at you.”
End of August
Another month, another 12-15 record taking us to the final stretch at 66-71. Whit and Junis seem to be locks to stay atop the WAR leaderboard. Home crowds are starting to dwindle despite the team overachieving as a whole. Slugerrr falls into the visitor dugout during the Cardinals series. His costume head fell off in the fall and the Cardinals players proceeded to tear it apart. To the horror of KC children, they began eating it like it was monkey bread. They kept saying it was “St. Louis style” but the rest of the world just called them assholes.
End of September
Holy schnikes! The Royals, with a horrid lineup and rotation, go on a crazy run in their final month. They ride a 16-9 September to get 2 games above .500 at 82-80. They miss the division championship by 9 games and the last AL Wild Card spot by 10, but not a single person in KC is complaining. In fact, Ned Yost is paraded through the streets in the back of a Chevy pickup all the way to his new statue at the Urban Youth Academy. Both the AA and AAA teams make the playoffs. NWA is eliminated in the first round while Omaha loses in the championship. Whit doesn’t lead the league in hits or stolen bases, but he does lead the league in doubles. Mondesi has a strong year and remains electric while leading the league in triples.
Mike Trout and Rhys Hoskins win their respective league MVP awards while Yusei Kikuchi and Aaron Nola bring home Cy Young honors. The AL playoff teams are the Indians, Mariners, Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros. The NL is represented by the Cardinals, Phillies, Dodgers, Nationals, and Braves. In the end, the Indians defeat the Phillies in the World Series despite Trevor Bauer ramming his drone into the hands of the entire pitching staff. It was quite a display of grit. Respect, Cleveland.
There you have it. The entire 2019 season wrapped up in a bow and placed in your laps. The Royals competed, helped rebuild the farm system, and nailed the draft. I’d call that a very successful season.