OOTPirates Notebook: The Value We Can Get From These 2020 Pirates Simulations

The following is part of our simulation of the 2020 Pittsburgh Pirates season, using Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP). We simulate the season each day, as it was originally scheduled, and with no input from any of us, all to give you a Pirates team to follow this year. You can follow the simulation by inning and make it seem like a game, or you can skip to the end and find out what happens.

We’ve got an unexpected off day in the OOTP simulation, as the Pirates and Brewers were rained out. The two teams will play a double header tomorrow, with the first game getting posted on the site at 1:05 PM EST and the second game going up at 4:05.

With the off day, I thought I’d give an update on the simulations, while responding to some of the ideas from Monday’s article.

Behind the Scenes at P2/PBN

Before getting to the OOTP stuff, I’ll provide a brief update of the behind the scenes work. We’re currently working on finalizing the 2020 Prospect Guide, with the hope to release the final copy next week.

If you haven’t purchased the eBook yet, you can get the current version here, which includes our most recent top 50 prospect report.

Anyone who purchases the eBook at any time will get all future updates to the book, including the full copy when it is released.

Once the Guide is completed, I’ll be finalizing the launch of Pittsburgh Baseball Network.

That launch has been delayed a bit due to COVID-19, and due to the OOTP-related changes to the site. We’ve launched a lot of new features on this site in the last few weeks. Those features will soon be split up between No Quarter, Pirates Prospects, and Pittsburgh Baseball History.

My focus as we’ve launched these features has been to find the best way to display them on the new site. At first, this will make things much more organized. I’m hoping to add more interactive features for you guys to follow along the way.

Also, the 2025 OOTP simulation will resume when PBN launches.

The Purposes of the OOTP Simulations

There’s an obvious reason we’re doing these daily simulations: There is no actual baseball.

I’m not anticipating baseball in any form in the year 2020. I’m skeptical that they will start on time in 2021, and that’s only focusing on COVID-19 related delays. It has nothing to do with potential Collective Bargaining Agreement delays.

I hope for the best, and hope baseball will return much sooner. Our site is based on having baseball content to write about, and that’s obviously difficult with no baseball being played.

I also prepare for the worst, which is why I’m making plans for no baseball through 2021.

The OOTP simulations don’t just provide a fake version of events, even though that is the big appeal for those of you who want something to follow along the way.

They also provide us with chances for analysis. I’ll be digging into that more with articles on the simulations after PBN launches.

Those articles will be aimed at bridging the gap between the simulations and real life.

Unrealistically Realistic or Realistically Unrealistic?

You can pick and choose which individual moves don’t seem likely to happen. Stepping back, the Pirates are 11-12, thanks to strong pitching, a monster offensive start from Josh Bell, great numbers on both sides of the ball from Kevin Newman and Adam Frazier up the middle, and all despite Bryan Reynolds struggling and having massive strikeout issues.

If I told you that would be the case for the real season, you’d probably believe it.

Their 3.80 ERA is the best in the NL Central right now by far. Only three NL teams (Padres, Braves, Dodgers) have better team numbers.

Their .700 OPS is the worst in the NL Central by far, and second worst in the NL (behind the Braves).

Their +6.9 zone rating is the best in the NL and second best in the MLB.

We could discuss the probability of these things happening. We could discuss whether these things will all continue throughout the rest of the simulated season.

I think what we’d agree on is that the most likely path for the real life Pirates is this path, where they win thanks to pitching, defense, and just enough help from the offense.

Watching this simulation on a daily basis has been fun. This simulated team is much better so far than what I expected from the real team.

Could the real Pirates do the same? Unfortunately, we probably won’t find out this year. In its place, we’ll get a simulated version of that real life team, hopefully showing the path the Pirates could take to winning again.

Other OOTP Notes

Responding to a few ideas and suggestions from Monday:

**I’d like to have season stats, leaders, rosters, etc on PBN as part of the expanded information from the simulation.

**There was a suggestion for periodic updates of other relevant players. That would probably be a monthly thing, although you can ask in the comments at any time for a season update on any player.

**Finally, there were a few comments about the realism of the simulation. The simulation isn’t going to seem realistic based on what we knew in early Spring Training.

In a way, that’s the most realistic part of this simulation.

Yes, you could argue that Ke’Bryan Hayes wouldn’t have come up so early. Nick Burdi wouldn’t have gotten the closer’s role out of Spring Training. Bryan Reynolds wouldn’t be struggling this bad. Chris Stratton wouldn’t be a starter over Derek Holland, and wouldn’t be doing this well.

In my decade-plus of covering the Pirates, I’ve seen every one of those situations play out in real life in some form or another. I’ve written countless jokes about how we didn’t see a certain thing coming in early Spring Training. We’ve had tons of players we’ve analyzed during those years, trying to figure out why they are struggling so unexpectedly, or whether their unexpected strong start is sustainable.

We’ve got all of that with this simulation. It’s unrealistic, based on the Spring Training expectations, and for that reason, it’s probably the most realistic thing we have to replace the real thing. For that reason, I’ll be selling out to this completely and covering it with some fun articles, treating it like it’s a real season.

With that said, I open up the discussion to you guys. I’m currently not making any moves in the simulation, and I’m just an observer, like you. My questions:

  1. Should I have any input in the simulation and why or why not?
  2. If so, how much input should I have and what should the decision to go against the simulation be based on?