It is the most magical time of year.
The leaves are returning to their homes. The days are getting longer. The NCAA Tournament, at least by the time this has been published, will be in full swing.
And, of course, Spring Training.
Spring Training also means another tradition: the impending release of Out of the Park Baseball. OOTP17 will hit digital shelves soon. It also means I get to write one of my favorite pieces of my year:
The 2016 Season, According to Out of the Park
This year’s version of Out of the Park Baseball has several additions and changes. One of those, of course, is the game’s artificial intelligence. This is always a yearly battle, to find balance and please casual gamers with the hardcores, the fictional, and the historical cranks.
For this year’s version, Markus and Matt (no, NOT M&M) focused on many things. I asked them what areas they looked at this year. Their response included the following:
Player Evaluation: The way players are valued by the AI has been improved.
In-Game: Pinch-hitting and pitching changes have been adjusted.
Rosters: Promotions and demotions are handled more realistically (i.e., age has a bigger role); the offseason now has fewer roster moves than before; better handling of the 40-man roster.
Trading: The AI here has been upgraded to support the new trade needs feature; a better balance the quantity of trades during the year.
A big change comes in scouting, one rooted in common sense.
“The core scouting algorithm was changed a lot,” said Markus, “so that now players with a lot of pro playing experience are scouted more accurately and those with no or low experience (i.e., players in the first-year player draft) are overrated more often.
“This leads to a more realistic feeling draft pool, for example.”
For instance, this is the view of my run through the 2016 season, through the eyes of Phillies GM Matt Klentak. Here is Klentak in this universe:
And this is how he views the draft pool…at least at first glance:
There will undoubtedly be a change in view throughout the season, especially as the draft nears and he scouts more and more. However, you can see just how much more scouting and judgment you have to invest in the time leading up to the draft. Otherwise, it will be that much harder to have a successful time.
There has also been a lot of shifting within the game, figuratively, and somewhat literally. When playing out a game, there are many new shift options. You can actually decide just how far to move your fielders. So, if David Ortiz is up, you can create a heavy shift. For someone who is a pull hitter, though not as extreme, you can lessen the shift. The option is yours.
In 3D mode, you will actually see this at work. Don’t believe for a second that this is purely cosmetic; the defensive engine has been revamped, taking into account just how you position your fielders. Will you be as adept as the Pittsburgh Pirates of the past few years? Or will you not abide by the analytics, and eventually end up as an American League base coach?
The shifting within OOTP does not end at the baselines. Each GM now has approximately a dozen new ratings, which will create individual personalities across the league. These new settings will drive how these general managers set about their work, from setting their draft strategies, to how they set their budgets. In the past, these settings were more static, and based on the owner. This will affect how you trade throughout your league, or even how you view players. Each GM you encounter will be varied, adding to immersion, and giving an added challenge.
Changes have also been sent to the coaching staff: now, individual coaches can affect how a player develops. Managers can also have varied relationships with players, which could benefit that player, or work to that player’s detriment.
You can also judge how a manager would utilize prospects within your franchise, by asking how that manager would utilize a potential addition to the team. As a GM, this can become a valuable tool. Is your manager losing his team? Look at the strength of his relationships. Is he good with the kids? Review how players are developing under him. This could precipitate a change at the helm, or cause you to stick with a man floating on what appears to be a sinking ship.
Here, Buck Showalter discusses the addition of LF LJ Hoes, currently in AAA. He would apparently use him (as the new leadoff hitter).
With all of that to look forward to, I present, to you, the Pretty Definitive Guide to the 2016 Season!
The Red Sox have a 16-9 record, leading Baltimore by a 1.5 games. The Angels lead Houston by half-a-game, and could stand to do better. Ken Giles literally shot himself in the foot on April 25, costing him a month of game action.
That might not even be the weirdest injury of the month. In an incident that will surely fuel the DH-only proponents, Mets’ starter Steven Matz suffered a concussion when a pitching machine went high-and-tight on him. Yoenis Cespedes, speaking from a robotic bull he rode to Citi Field, said, “Steven just needs to watch himself. I think that pitching machine has it out for him!” Matz missed only three days with a concussion, and is 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA thus far. The Mets led the surprising Marlins by a half-game in a chalk-filled NL. Only the Marlins, at 14-9, are a surprise thus far. Perhaps the Braves and Phillies, with matching 11-13 marks, are added to that list.
Meanwhile, the Giants forgot it is an even-numbered year, and have started out 9-16.
Stephen Strasburg has been dominant so far, even though, typically, his record doesn’t show it. On April 24, he one-hit the Minnesota Twins; Danny Santana’s single to open the fourth was the only safety for the Twins. Strasburg walked one, and struck out nine. He is now 1-3 on the season, but with a 1.78 ERA.
The Red Sox stayed hot through early May. This highlights another small, yet incredibly immersive addition to the game. Game recaps. Now, a small article may appear for certain games. For instance, here’s one from Boston’s 6-5 win over Chicago, on May 3rd. You can tell if a game has a recap if there you see a boldfaced byline atop the box score while viewing the scores screen.
And here’s an in-game screen from that same game, after a double that plated a run for the Sox in the second:
Boston maintained its lead over the Yankees, while the Blue Jays can’t seem to get going. And Houston had a great month, overtaking the Angels in the AL West. But the story here is Cleveland, who sits at 34-17, on the strength of their pitching. Their starters ERA is second in the league, and their bullpen, led by Cody Allen, is atop the circuit. They don’t hit for average, but employ something of a 1950s-style offense: hope to get two guys on, and hit a three-run jack.
The story in the NL is Miami, who leads the Mets by 4.5 games. The Marlins are getting a simply otherworldly experience out of Jose Fernandez so far.
The starters, with the help of recently-acquired Jake Odorizzi, lead the league in ERA. The bullpen (9th) may miss Carter Capps more than they realize. This may come back to hurt them, if they don’t make any moves.
The Mets have been done in by their hitting, primarily from Lucas Duda (.185-12-23) and Yoenis Cespedes (.170-7-11 in just 118 AB). In fact, Juan Ligares has become the primary CF in New York, as the Mets try to right Cesepedes’ ship.
The Mets also jettisoned Curtis Granderson to the Cubs, getting Pedro Strop and a minor leaguer in return. The Indians, sensing they could be there at the end, went and picked up Tyson Ross from the Padres, in exchange for three minor leaguers. Tyson’s numbers in San Diego were impressive: 61.2 IP, 38 H, 70 K, 26 BB. In Cleveland, he’ll still have the same control problems, but he should be fantastic with that defense.
On the same May 2nd as that Boston/Chicago game, Garrett Richards took a no-no into the ninth. However, with the Angels and Brewers still scoreless through eight, he had a short leash. Sure enough, when he hit Jonathan Lucroy with a pitch, he was lifted for Huston Street. Enrique Hernandez comes up, and on a 1-2 pitch, singled to right. The Angels eventually won, 1-0, in 12…with the Brewers collecting just three safeties on the day.
Houston (51-28) has taken over the best record in the AL, even though Ken Giles, the victim of a self-inflicted shot to the foot earlier this season, has not rebounded. He has an 0-3 record, with a 5.95 ERA, and eight saves. He has given up 22 hits in 19.2 IP, which should improve as he gets back on his feet.
The rest of the AL held through the month, with Cleveland and Boston maintaining their leads. There is a wonderful race shaping up for the wild cards, however. The second half of the season should be excellent.
In the NL, rather predictably, the Los Angeles Dodgers are the class of the circuit. The Dodgers are led by Clayton Kershaw, of course. He might not be the best pitcher on the staff at the moment, however. “Rookie” Kenta Maeda has been amazing.
So has the offense, scoring 422 runs (allowing 277) and blowing through everyone. They rank first in all major offensive categories. Joc Pederson has rebounded from his putrid second half last year to hit .274, with 22 homers and 47 ribbies. Corey Seager (.289-13-62) and Yusiel Puig (.308-14-52) have formed a fantastic #3/#4 duo in the lineup.
The Cubs and Marlins continue to lead, though the Fish lead the Mets by only half a game. The Mets added former Boston reliever Carson Smith, and added Jeruys Familia to their staff. Rebuilding their pen through Smith and Pedro Strop (14 IP, 4 H, 21 K since coming to the Mets) has been a boon to their resurgence.
The Blue Jays are starting to wake up, throwing themselves into the heart of the wild-card race. They are currently a half-game behind Chicago for the second spot. However, within their own division, they sit nine behind Boston. In fact, as of now, all of the divisional spots appear secure; the Red Sox hold the smallest lead among the current leaders. But that wild card race…with ten teams within six games of the second spot, it should be a frantic final two months.
In the National League, the Mets have overtaken the Marlins, and sit 3.5 up. It is owed, in big part, to Lucas Duda. He was terrible in April and even worse in May. Since then, he has hit at least .290, with 14 homers and 33 runs batted in. On the season, he’s at .242-25-56, with a .838 OPS. Nobody will mistake them for any team with any discernable offense…but this group does have some mashers on it.
The Giants, meanwhile, flew under-the-radar after that 9-16 April; they went 23-6 in May, and 19-8 in June, and sit at 61-44, just six back of the Dodgers, and atop the wild-card chase.
The Dodgers and Cubs have comfortable spots atop the standings.
Since it is August 1st, we can take a look at the trading deadline. Some of the more interesting moves involve the Dodgers trading Scott Kazmir to the Cardinals, in exchange for Kolten Wong. The Rays unloaded some players, sending both Drew Smyly and Steven Souza, Jr. to Boston. Rick Porcello, and a couple of minor leaguers, came back in return. This is what happens when you’re in last place.
The Yankees, meanwhile, had enough of Starlin Castro. He was sent to the minors, then traded to the Angels for Joe Smith and a minor league reliever. Castro hit .250, with two homers and 13 RBI, as a Yankee. His OPS of .632 simply wouldn’t cut it for the Yanks. Some inside the clubhouse remarked that he “could swing a bat across a Yankee jersey, and not hit a single pinstripe.”
On July 8th, Felix Hernandez offered the most dominant performance of the season, striking out fourteen Royals, against just four hits and no walks, in Seattle’s 4-0 win over the scuffling Royals. The defending champs are in the wild-card hut, at 52-53, but can’t seem to get onto a roll. They are simply average in everything they do this year. Not having Lorenzo Cain hasn’t helped. He has been hurt on three separate occasions this season, each for weeks at a time. He hurt himself again on July 31, and will miss three weeks.
Is this not the most indicative line for Stephen Strasburg: 9-9, 2.79 ERA, 154.2 IP, 120 H, 165 K, 37 BB, 16 HR? The homers have killed him. He has an unbelievable WHIP, but those homers…Washington was disappointing until July, going 18-7 to pull themselves into the wild card race. Again, the offense is horrible, ranking in the bottom fourth in nearly everything. Not having Bryce Harper (elbow surgery) will do that, even though he was just at .266/.399/.498 for the year. So I guess Washington is finding a way to overachieve?
We have to shift away from the American League, and focus on the NL. Miami has faded hard, and sit at 66-67, ten games back of the pace. The Phillies, while giving this fan more excitement at any season’s start since 2011 (everyone saw the writing on the wall in Game 5 of the NLDS, save for perhaps a first base coach in Boston), are dreadfully in last.
That leaves the Mets, who are 76-57. And the Nats, who are 73-60, three games back.
And they’re in third.
The Atlanta Braves are the darlings of this baseball season, currently two games back of the Mets, and owning the second Wild Card spot as we head into September. How they are managing this, I’m not sure. I guess through the bullpen and a potential MVP candidate in Freddie Freeman. This is the beauty of OOTP, and, really, baseball…which is, in turn, the beauty of OOTP. Here come some kids who catch fire (35-18 since July 1), and suddenly, despite an offense that anyone who has ever held a bat would find deplorable (you thought I was going to say offensive), and rather mediocre team pitching stats, are finding a way to win. Chalk it up to a 35-14 record in one-run games.
The NL Wild Card is down to the Braves and Nats, and virtually every other race is decided. So, what about the American League? The divisional races are all but finished; Houston leads by 20, Cleveland by 12.5, and Boston 11.5 games. The Wild Card has Chicago out in front, with the Yankees leading Detroit by half a game. Baltimore is 4.5 back, as is Toronto; the Blue Jays had turned things around, then turned around once more and decided to run away (think of King Arthur running away from the French livestock assault in Monty Python and the Holy Grail). The Angels and Twins all have changes, while the rest, at seven games or more back, are simply waving goodbye at this point.
The Royals, meanwhile, are heading from penthouse to basement quickly; they are 61-73, and last in the Central.
September: The Mets visit the Braves on September 9, then the Nats on the 12th. A lot of this race could be settled by the end of it.
Before ANY of that, though…this:
9.9: The Mets show up at Turner Field, up by three games. They gain a 10-6 win, taking a four-game lead. Lucas Duda hit his 29th homer, while Michael Conforto hit his 25th homer of the season.
The Phillies beat the Nats, sending them to four back of the Mets.
9.10: Atlanta got one back, as Jacob Barnes beat Matt Harvey, 6-2. Rookie Adonis Garcia hit his 13th homer, a first-inning, two-run shot that sent an early shock to the Mets and Harvey. Barnes didn’t need the help, giving up just two hits and striking out eight in 6 1/3.
The Phillies won again, taking three straight from the Nats. They are now five games back, and two back of the final Wild Card spot.
9.11: Atlanta pulled to within two games of the Mets, beating them 5-3. The Nats finally beat the Phillies, 4-2. The Mets now head to Washington, up two on Atlanta, and four on Washington.
Meanwhile, the Yanks (74-68) and White Sox are holding onto the wild card spots, four games up on Detroit, and 4.5 up on Baltimore and Oakland. Fading Toronto now sits 6.5 back.
9.12: Washington beat the Mets, 5-4, handing New York their third-straight loss. The Nats pulled to within one of Atlanta, who fell in Miami, 9-2. Meanwhile, in Houston, Colin McHugh struck out nine, and gave up just two hits, in the Astros’ 12-1 win over Texas. Sonny Gray was actually better, tossing a one-hitter against Kansas City (5 K, 1 BB), but lost 1-0 in ten innings. Gray actually threw nine no-hit innings, but gave up a single to Ryan O’Hearn, after Eric Hosmer reached on an error. Liam Hendicks came in, and got two outs, before Salvador Perez’ single scored Hosmer for the game-winner.
9.13: The lead is one…and two. Washington beat New York, 3-1, to pull to within two games. Jayson Werth’s homer in the seventh offered an immediate response to the Mets’ only run of the game. It also seemed to give life to the Nats, as well as the home crowd. They would plate two more in the inning.
Atlanta beat Miami, 5-1, to get to within a single game.
San Francisco won, keeping their top wild card lead at 4.5 games. They trail Los Angeles by five in the West.
9.14: The Mets’ streak is now five games in the wrong lane; Washington swept the Mets, 9-6, in an incredible fashion. Tyler Moore hit a pinch-hit, three-run homer off Antonio Bastardo to tie the game, 6-6, in the ninth. In the tenth, Danny Espinosa hit a two-out, three-run shot off Zach Wheeler to grab the win.
The stunning win pulled Washington to within a game of New York…and Atlanta, who beat Miami, 2-1, in 11 innings. Heading into the 15th, this is where we sit, per the Pennant Chase feature within OOTP:
Now it’s the Braves and Nats who get to face the fire.
In Houston, Carlos Correa is having a historic season. He leads the majors in average, slugging, OPS, WAR, hits, runs, RBI, and total bases. He is second in OBP, and tied for third in home runs.
Okay, back to the East Coast bias.
9.16: The Nats won their fifth straight, and second in amazing, thrilling fashion. This time, it was Wilson Ramos’ turn. Pinch-hitting against Arodys Vizcaino, Ramos hit a grand slam (on a 2-0 count, dead red fastball I’m sure), with two outs in the ninth, giving the Nats a 7-6 shocker over Atlanta.
The Mets were able to stop their bleeding, beating Minnesota, 3-0. The lead is now two over both.
9.17: This time, it was Atlanta’s turn. Erick Aybar hit a walk-off single off Felipe Rivero, giving the Braves a 2-1 win over the Nats.
It was also the Mets’ turn. Down 3-2 to the Twins, Brandon Nimmo’s triple plated Lucas Duda with one out in the ninth to tie the score. After Alejandro De Aza was intentionally walked, David Wright came up as a pinch-hitter, and took a single to right, scoring Nimmo and giving the Mets a breathtaking 4-3 victory. That gives the Mets a one-game lead over the Braves, and keeps the Nats at two behind.
In the AL, the Tigers have moved to within 3.5 of the Yankees.
9.18: Atlanta beat Washington, 6-3, with Nate Freeman’s pinch-hit, three-run blast giving the Braves an apparently necessary 6-1 lead in the eighth. Jake Marisnick hit a two-run shot in the ninth, but that was all the Nats could muster.
This allowed the Braves to keep pace with the Mets, who swept Minnesota, 4-3, in 13 innings. Eddie Rosario gave the Twins a 3-2 lead in the 12th, but Neil Walker’s single scored Kevin Plawecki to tie it in the bottom half. Plawecki returned in the bottom of the thirteenth with a walk-off single, scoring Dilson Herrera to win the game.
Atlanta heads to New York, down one game. The Mats get Miami for three, in South Florida. Meanwhile, the Giants lead on the first Wild Card is down to just two games. This is not over.
9.19: New York rolled over the Braves, 5-1, to get a two-game lead. The loss, coupled with Washington’s 8-1 win over the Marlins, puts the Nats one game back of Atlanta for the second Wild Card. San Francisco also lost, but dodged a bullet.
9.20: Jacob deGrom went to 16-4 on the year, tossing eight innings of three-hit ball, as the Mets blanked Atlanta, 2-0. deGrom struck out 10 and walked nobody. Miami beat Washington, 2-1, meaning the Mets lead is three on the Braves, and four on the Nats. The Nats should be kicking themselves right now; they sit one back, and could have made up ground on both Atlanta and San Francisco.
9.21: Atlanta beat the Mets, 6-2, and Washington came from behind to beat Miami, 5-4. The Dodgers swept the Giants, meaning the NL East, and both Wild Card spots, will be contested to the wire. The Mets lead is now two on Atlanta, and three on Washington. San Francisco’s lead is one on Atlanta, and two on Washington. The Giants get four with the Padres, while Atlanta goes to Miami for four. Washington gets Pittsburgh for three. All three have ten games left, the majority of which for each are at home.
9.22: With Washington off, the Mets won, 2-1 over Philly. Miami crushed the Braves, 9-3, while San Francisco won, 10-4. The lead for Atlanta is now just half-a-game over Washington, while the deficit to the Mets now sits at three.
9.23: The Mets were blitzed by the Phils, 7-1. Meanwhile, Atlanta made Freddie Freeman’s 27th home run stand by itself, as Jacob Barnes blanked Miami, 1-0. Washington beat Gerrit Cole and Pittsburgh, 6-1. And San Diego walked-off San Francisco with two in the bottom of the ninth, gaining a 3-2 surprise.
NL East: Mets +2 on Atlanta, +2.5 on Washington
Wild Card: San Francisco +1 on Atlanta, +1.5 on Washington
Meanwhile, Detroit is now within 2.5 games of the Yankees for the final Wild Card spot in the AL.
9.24: The Mets beat the Phillies, 2-0, using seven innings of two-hit ball by Jeruys Familia. He struck out nine and walked three. Washington blanked Pittsburgh, 6-0, on Max Scherzer’s seven-inning, three-hit outing. The Giants also won, beating San Diego, 8-4, on the strength of a five-run ninth.
The Braves, however, lost to Miami, 6-3.
They are now on the outside looking in. The Giants, meanwhile, are now up by 1.5 games on Washington for the first Wild Card spot.
9.25: This is a great day to be a Giants fan. They beat San Diego, 6-3, while everyone else that mattered lost. Miami beat Atlanta, 3-1. Pittsburgh blanked Washington, 9-2. That gives them 2.5 games of breathing room.
All is not lost for the Braves and Nats, though. The Mets lost, 6-3, giving up four in the ninth to the Phillies.
Meanwhile, the Yankees lost in Toronto, 6-2. Detroit walked off Kansas City, 8-7. The lead is down to a game-and-a-half.
9.26: The Giants and Braves have the day off, while the Tigers play two against Cleveland. First, the Nats blew a huge opportunity, falling to Arizona, 8-1. That puts them back into a tie with Atlanta for the second Wild Card spot, and gives the Giants a three-game lead. The Mets beat Miami, 5-1, all but handing them the NL East. They lead by 3.5 over both Atlanta and Washington.
In the AL, Cleveland swept Detroit, 4-2 and 6-4. New York’s 5-3 win over Toronto gives the Yankees a 2.5 game lead over the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot.
On this day, the landscape shifted considerably in the American League, and all but locked up the playoff participants.
9.27: Washington, Atlanta, and New York all won. So did San Francisco. As well as the Yankees. Nothing changed, but everything got easier for the Mets, Giants, and Yankees.
9.28: The Mets lost, 3-1, in Miami. The Nats and Braves both won. While they’re on life support in the NL East, they are not flatlining yet. The lead is now 2.5 for the Mets, over both the Braves and Nats. The Mets finish with the Phillies, in Philadelphia. It is likely that the Mets will clinch quickly.
The Giants also lost. The lead in the NL Wild Card is down to two. All teams have four left.
The Yankees lead by 2.5 over the Angels now, as the Tigers have slipped to three back. Here is how everything looks.
9.29: The Mets were off, and the Braves and Nats took advantage. Both won: Atlanta, 5-4, on AJ Pierzysnki’s walk-off, pinch-hitting double, and the Nats, 3-0 over Arizona. Colorado beat the Giants in explicable fashion: Ben Paulsen tied the game at 1-1 on a home run off Hunter Strickland with one out in the ninth. In the 11th, rookie Raimel Tapia hit a two-run blast off Sergio Romo, giving the Rockies a 3-1 lead. That would be the final.
The Mets lead is two on both Atlanta and Washington, with three to go. The Giants lead on both Atlanta and Washington is at one. It is conceivable that all three win 90 games, and one of them doesn’t get to the postseason.
In the American League, New York lost, while Detroit won. The Tigers and Angels are two off the pace, with three to go. Even the White Sox, who are one up on the Yankees, are not settled into the postseason just yet.
9.30: The Mets fell, 4-3, in Philadelphia. The Nats beat Miami, 4-1, while Atlanta scored their only runs in the ninth to shock Detroit, 2-1. Ender Inciarte was the hero, singling home Erick Aybar with the winner. That puts the Mets’ lead to just one game.
The Giants blanked the Dodgers, 6-0. That preserves the Giants’ postseason spot, at least for a day.
In the American League, the White Sox lost, 4-3 to the Twins. That loss, coupled with the Yankees’ 5-0 win over Baltimore, ties the two teams for the two Wild Card spots. That will be good enough, though, as Houston beat Los Angeles, 3-2, and Detroit fell. That gives the White Sox and the Yankees the two Wild Card spots, and settles the American League question.
The National League, meanwhile, has nothing settled.
10.1: The Amazins plated eight in the top of the ninth to shock and decimate the Phillies, 9-6. The young Phillies imploded, and Lucas Duda (2-run HR) and Kevin Plawecki (3-run HR) did the damage. The Nationals, meanwhile, got a two-out, pinch-hit, game-tying homer from Jake Goebbert with two outs in the ninth inning. That made the score 4-4 with Miami, and sent the game to extra innings. In the 11th, Daniel Murphy’s single with two outs scored the winning run, giving the Nats a heart-stopping 5-4 victory.
The Giants tied up the Dodgers, at 2-2, on Denard Span’s pinch-hit single with two out in the bottom of the ninth. But two by the Dodgers in the 11th sank San Francisco. Detroit, now in the role of spoiler, did just that, beating Atlanta, 2-1.
The combination of events give the Mets the a playoff spot. It may not be the NL East; they lead Washington by a game. Atlanta is eliminated from the divisional race, but trail the Giants and Nats by a game in the Wild Card chase.
10.2: The games were thrilling. San Francisco gained entry to the posteason by beating Los Angeles, 1-0. Madison Bumgarner threw 8.2 innings of one-hit ball, striking out 12 and walking nobody. And in an unbelievable turn of events, Clayton Kershaw was injured on the final day of the season. He may not miss a start, as it’s just shoulder inflammation…but this is huge for the Dodgers.
Washington got a one-hitter from Stephen Strasburg, who served it over seven innings, and the 14th hold of the year by setup man Jonathan Papelbon (oh, and the 22nd save by Shawn Kelley), as they beat Miami, 2-0, and punched their ticket to the fall. They wouldn’t have to wait long to see as what; the Mets beat Philly, 6-1, and clinched the NL East.
2016 Final Standings
10.4.16: San Francisco at Washington: San Francisco got to a 3-0 lead after half-an-inning. But having to throw Madison Bumgarner just to get into the postseason took a toll. The Nats came back, and then some, beating the Giants, 8-6. The Even-Yeared Phenomenon is over. Midseason acquisition Avisail Garcia went 3-5, and Michael Taylor hit a grand slam off Matt Cain, to lead the Nats.
10.5.16: The White Sox got out to a 5-0 lead after an inning against the Yankees, all of which came on line drives all over the field. The home runs came in the second (Melky Cabrera) and third (Jose Abreu). By then, it was 9-0. The White Sox rolled, 10-1.
Here is the playoff tree:
There was only one real surprise: the Nationals beat the Dodgers, 3-1. In the pivotal Game 3, Stephen Strasburg, and a dominant bullpen, outdueled Clayton Kershaw (8 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 11 K), as the Nats won, 2-0. They would win the series the next day, 2-1, on Michael Taylor’s walk-off solo shot to open the tenth inning.
The Cubs swept the Mets, who faltered down the stretch, while the Indians beat Boston in four. Houston and Chicago went the full five games, alternating wins throughout the series. All five games were hotly contested; the final three were one-run games, while the first two were separated by two each.
League Championship Series
Neither of these lasted too long. The Astros’ progression continues on a gradual incline…but it will fall short this year. Cleveland ousted them in five games, taking a 3-0 lead, before Cleveland closed them out, 3-2 at Progressive Field. Series MVP Francisco Lindor hit .421-1-4.
The National League Championship Series saw a quick end, too. The Washington Nationals, one season removed from being a laughingstock and without their best player, are into the World Series. Despite a 2-5 record against the Cubs in the regular season, they won four straight against the Cubbies here. The torment for the North Siders continues at least one more season.
2016 World Series: Cleveland Indians vs Washington Nationals
The series was hard fought, and went the full seven games. Included were a furious six-run comeback from the Indians in Game 6, down 5-0 in the bottom of the ninth.
Game 7 was Stephen Strasburg against Corey Kluber. As you may expect, there were a lot of zeros and K’s. In the end, Kluber’s K’s were more dominant; he rang up 17, against just two hits, in a 1-0 Cleveland victory. Strasburg struck out 15, and gave up just one hit: an eighth-inning home run to Jason Kipnis.
2016 World Champions: Cleveland Indians
2016 Awards: Take These to the Bank
deGrom won both Cy Young and MVP in the NL, which isn’t all that much of a surprise. The NL seemed to lack a dominant player, especially with the absence of Mr. Harper for a full season. Here are the batting and pitching leaders for each circuit:
Batting Leaders (American, National)
Pitching Leaders (American, National)
And there you have it. The Pretty Definitive Guide to the 2016 Season. Consider the season over. You know what’s going to happen. Though, you can play your own in Out of the Park 17, just to be sure.
Out of the Park 17 is available for release (PC and Mac, Steam) on March 22nd. It is available for $39.99. For more information, please visit http://www.ootpdevelopments.com .