Atlanta Braves: if only the 2020 season had unfolded like this

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A practice baseball used at batting practice awaits the the Atlanta Braves last February. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

We'll never know how things really would have transpired, of course, but at least one game simulation REALLY likes what the Atlanta Braves are set up to do right now.

Out of the Park Developments (OOTP) touts their baseball game simulator as having the "most realistic game engine" available.  While we're not here to sell their products (that's just a courtesy link), we are here to note that they like the Atlanta Braves 2020 lineup.

Baseball-reference.com is using this simulator to do what a lot of others are doing this Spring -- play some simulated games and see how things might have turned out.

If any of this is even close, the Atlanta Braves would be sitting pretty.

Mind you, the early portion of the Braves schedule did look fairly easy.  We had noted multiple times before the stoppage that it would be good for them to take advantage of that and jump out to a good early start.

As of Tuesday morning, that's exactly what has happened on the baseball-reference standings page:

  • Atlanta Braves:  33-16 record
  • 7 game lead in the NL East (Washington 25-22)
  • 2nd best NL record (Dodgers 33-14)
  • 2nd best MLB record (Cleveland is best in the AL at 33-17)

So how has this come about?

There are some fairly crazy numbers,  to be sure... after all, this is a video game.  So what we should look for are the trends rather than things like Pete Alonso leading the world in homers with 18 with less than 1/3rd of the "season" complete.

BRAVES BATTING

  • Among qualifiers, Ozzie Albies has the best batting average:  .370.
    • 8 HR, 32 RBI, a .398 OBP, and a .991 OPS
  • Most homers:  Marcell Ozuna with 11
    • Given his bad spring numbers, this is difficult to process.  He did get credited with a homer in the most recent game vs. St. Louis, though.
    • OOTP also pegs him with 33 RBI.
  • Most RBI?  Ronald Acuna Jr.with 39.
    • He's done this without the benefit of a lot of dingers, too:  "only" 9 so far with an .825 OPS.  Obviously he's been clutch when it counted.
  • What about Freddie?  A somewhat slow start, by his standards:
    • .278 average, .853 OPS
    • 37 RBI from 7 HR means he's also been hitting clutch.
  • Camargo?  .304.  Riley?  .185.

There are some relative absurdities, too:

  • Shane Greene:  4 plate appearances, 1.295 OPS (2 for 3 with a run scored).
    • I doubt he gets 4 more plate appearances in his life, much less over 2 months of the season.
  • Darren O'Day and Grant Dayton are being credited with 2 PA's apiece.  Also not likely.
  • Cristian Pache was apparently called up because... I guess 7 outfielders isn't too many

 

BRAVES PITCHING

  • Max Fried is a simulated 5-2.  A 2.81 ERA is about what we might have been hoping for at this stage of the season.
  • Bryse Wilson is 5-3.  We don't know why he's thrown 56.2 innings with 9 starts, but there ya go.  He's also supposedly leading the staff with a 2.54 ERA.
  • Mike Soroka is 4-2 with 61 innings already.  His ERA is right behind Wilson's at 2.64
  • OOTP thinks Kyle Wright has been doing well also.  His record is 1-3, but a 3.26 ERA suggests some bad luck.

The simulator has ignored the notion that Mark Melancon would be starting as the Atlanta Braves closer, and given the job to Will Smith.  He's been a little shaky at times (3.63 ERA over 18.1 innings), but 13 saves is tied for 2nd in the majors.

Melancon, for his part, is leading the relief corp with a 2.28 ERA with A.J. Minter right there at 2.33.

The simulation only barely has Cole Hamels back on the team - he's thrown just 3 innings at this point.

 

So I said we want to look for trends... is this telling us anything?  Here's a few opinions:

  • The belief is that these Braves will score a lot.  OOTP is seeing this even without 'big' numbers from Freeman and Acuna (though perhaps Ozuna and Albies are making up for that).
  • The belief is that the Braves are pitching very well, too.  That might be overblown here, though if you take out "Wilson" and insert "Hamels" -- with the same stats -- I don't think any of us would be surprised.
  • So on balance... the numbers do seem relatively fair.  June is (was) a tough schedule month, so things will come back a bit, but as noted at the top, this is what we hoped Atlanta might do to start 2020: get out running and take advantage of the early schedule.
Next: Speaking of great early starts...

Hopefully, these are trends that will play well for real, come July.