As promised from earlier in the season, here is a look at how MLB Pro’s 2020 regular season compares to recent trends in Major League Baseball.
[I’m going to try and start in a more general manner before diving into a more specific look with individual stats included later on.]
Style of Play: 162 games for each of the 30 teams leads to 4,860 total regular-season games being played. MLB Pro 2020 was within 1% of both the three-year average of the last three full MLB seasons and the most recent three seasons when projecting 2020 out to a full 162 game slate. In terms of at-bats, MLB Pro was within a 1% range from the 2017-2019 and 1.9% ahead of the three-year average with 2020 included. Quite simply, the style of play from this regard is spot on.
Hits and Hit Types: Offensive production can be looked at through several different scopes, the first look into this will focus on hit types.
MLB Pro had an increase in 965 at-bats from its 2019 season to the 2020 season. In that, we had an increase of 303 hits, 74 fewer doubles, 84 more triples (Ryan Nash!), and 707 more home runs. Home runs went from 4,801 to 5,508. The increase with OOTP 20 put us much more in line with the recent trends of a real-life output. Compared to 2017-2019, our offensive production is again, pretty inline with reality outside of the home-run boom (and that was cut down dramatically from OOTP 18.) as well as when compared to 2018-2020. Our batting averages and on-base percentage are well in line and the slugging/OPS drop-off again is directly tied to the 600+ fewer home-runs that were hit in our universe.
On The Mound: MLB Pro pitchers had an increase of 3,093 strikeouts in 2020 from 2019, while walks (of the regular variety) dropped by 556. Overall, MLB Pro pitchers gave up 17,155 “free passes” (BB+IBB+HBP) in 2020. This is 92% of the total MLB had from 2017-2019 and 91.2% of the total from 2018-2020. While this is a bit low, when balanced with our increased number of hits, MLB Pro pitchers have maintained a WHIP that is nearly identical to their real-life counterparts.
Base Running and Fielding: MLB Pro men on base tend to attempt more stolen bases when compared to their real-life counterparts. While they are attempting more, they are being thrown out at slightly higher rate, but well within reason. Our attempts can be higher as a result of a handful of things including team and managerial strategy, as a result, there is no concern on this. Likewise, our fielders are more efficient in some ways than they are in real-life. We saw roughly 20% fewer errors in 2020 compared to what has been the norm in real-life. Our error total actually dropped in 2020 from 2019 and OOTP 18 where we had 2,464 errors. While we are seeing fewer errors, we also saw fewer double-plays turned (89% and 92.5% of the 3-year average rates).
Position Players: This season in MLB Pro, 6 players played in 160 or more games, 86 in 150 or more games, and 182 in 125 or more games. In the 2019 MLB season, 12 players played in 160 or more games, 55 in 150 or more games, and 163 in 125 or more games.
In 2019, Marcus Semien led all hitters with 747 plate appearances. He was one of nine players with 700 or more PA’s. There were 41 with 650 or more, 70 with 600 or more, and 137 with 500 or more plate appearances. This season in MLB Pro, Dave Allen led the way with 748 plate appearances. He was one of 14 players with 700 or more PA’s. There were 59 with 700 or more, and 167 with 500 or more plate appearances.
Starting Pitchers: This season in MLB Pro, four pitchers made 35 starts, 42 made at least 32 starts, 74 made 30 or more, and 100 made 25 or more starts. In 2019, seven pitchers tied for the league lead at 34 starts. 35 pitchers made at least 32 starts, 59 made 30 or more starts, and 90 made 25 or more starts.
In MLB Pro this season, Ed Reith led the way with 218 innings pitched. He was one of 9 pitchers to eclipse 200 innings. 21 pitchers pitched in 190 innings or more, 49 in 175 or more, and 84 in 150 or more innings. Last season in MLB, Justin Verlander led the way with 223 innings pitched. He was one of 15 pitchers to eclipse 200 innings. 22 pitchers pitched in 190 innings or more, 41 in 175 or more, and 76 in 150 or more innings.
In MLB Pro, among the 84 pitchers that threw at least 150 innings, they threw an average of 5.76 innings per start. In 2019, of the 76 pitchers that threw at least 150 innings, they averaged 5.84 innings per start.
In MLB Pro in 2020, no SP threw more than Ed Reith’s 3,311 total pitches. He was one of 11 SP with 3,000 or more pitches thrown. The average number of pitches thrown amongst the top 20 SP (by pitch count) was 3,045. Among the top 50 SP it was 2,901 pitches. Only two MLB Pro SP averaged 100 or more pitches per game, while 32 averaged 90 or more pitches. In MLB’s 2019 season, Trevor Bauer led the way with 3,687 pitches thrown. He was one of 29 pitchers with 3,000 or more pitches thrown. The average amongst the top 20 was 3,304 pitches.
Relief Pitchers: This season, Aroldis Chapman’s 87 games was the most of any pitcher. He was one of eight pitchers with 80 or more appearances, there were 16 with 75 or more, 26 with 70 or more, 48 with 65 or more, and 76 with 60 or more appearances. In MLB’s 2019 season, Alex Claudio’s 83 games led the way. He was one of three with 80 or more appearances, there were 8 with 75 or more, 31 with 70 or more, 62 with 65 or more, and 91 with 60 or more appearances.
In MLB Pro this season, Pat Crosby led relievers with 118 innings pitched. He was one of five relievers (in purely relief appearances) with 100 or more innings pitched. There were 11 pitchers with 90 or more innings pitched, 16 with 85 or more, 28 with 80 or more, 56 with 70 or more, and 103 with 60 or more innings pitched. In MLB last season, Sam Gaviglio led the way with 95 2/3 innings pitched. There were no relievers with 100 or more innings pitched. There were just two with 90 or more innings pitched, just two with 85 or more innings pitched, 11 with 80 or more, 31 with 70 or more, and 81 with 60 or more innings pitched.
What does it all mean?
It’s difficult to pinpoint some of the above when it comes to fatigue to the fatigue settings vs. team strategy. It appears as though fatigue/injuries have our position players playing an appropriate number of games. I would say the same is true for starting pitchers. When it comes to relievers, again, is it strategy or is it setting that has some of our pitchers going more innings — it’s impossible to say. I would say the implementation of the “stopper” role in OOTP has played a role in more use for some, but overall, I think it balances out fine.
–PRODUCTION AND COUNTING STATS–
[All of the following using Qualified Players unless otherwise noted.]
Hits and Batting Average
In 2020, Nick Williams led MLB Pro with 205 hits. He was the only MLB Pro player to do so. There were 7 players with 195 or more hits, 16 players with 180 or more hits, 26 players with 170 or more hits, and 74 players with 150 or more hits.
In 2019, Whitt Merrifield led MLB with 206 hits. He was one of two MLB players to eclipse 200 hits. There were 3 players 195 or more hits, 11 players with 180 or more hits, 28 players with 170 or more hits, and 59 players with 150 or more hits.
When looking at batting averages, MLB Pro’s league leader Anthony Kerr hit .345. There were 2 players to hit above .340, 3 that hit .330 or better, 10 that hit .310 or better, 19 that hit .300 or better, 30 at .290 or better, 63 at .275 or better, and 123 at .250 or better. Among qualified batters, MLB Pro had 14 batters hit .225 or under. The average batting average of all qualified MLB Pro batters in 2020 was .267.
In MLB’s 2019 season, Tim Anderson led the league with a batting average of .335. There were no players to hit above .340, 1 that hit .330 or better, 13 that hit .310 or better, 19 that hit .300 or better, 36 that .290 or better, 68 at .275 or better, and 112 at .250 or better. Among qualified batters, MLB had 6 batters hit .225 or under. The average batting average of all qualified MLB batters in 2019 was .273.
Extra Base Hits
Chris Fletcher’s 49 doubles led MLB Pro in 2020. He was one of 12 players with 40 or more doubles. MLB Pro had 33 players with 35 or more doubles, 66 with 30 or more doubles, and 147 with 20 or more doubles. When it came to triples, Ryan Nash far and away led the league with 18. MLB Pro had six players with 8 or more triples and 44 players with 5 or more triples. With home runs, David Chester’s 48 led the league. He was one of three players with 45 or more bombs. There were 9 players with 40 or more, 18 had 35 or more, 34 with 30 or more, 62 with 25 or more, and 89 with 20 or more. 12 qualified MLB Pro batters hit five or fewer home runs.
Nicholas Castellanos led MLB in 2019 with 58 doubles. He was one of 15 players with 40 or more doubles. MLB had 32 players with 35 or more doubles, 73 with 30 or more doubles, and 182 with 20 or more doubles. When it came to triples, MLB had four players tie for the league lead with 10. MLB had seven players with 8 or more triples, and 38 players had 5 or more triples. Their home run leader was Pete Alonso with 53. He was one of five players with 45 or more homers. There were 10 players with 40 or more, 28 with 35 or more, 58 with 30 or more, 80 with 25 or more, and 130 with 20 or more. Two qualified MLB players hit five or fewer home runs.
The shortened MLB 2020 season which included the league-wide DH had 2,304 homers hit. Over a full season, this comes out to 6,235. This would have been some 500 homers less than the 2019 season. This projected total is much more in line with 2018 and 2017. As such, I am of the belief that our offensive numbers in this category are in line, despite appearing to being behind the 2019 output of MLB.
Patience At The Plate…And A Lack Thereof
MLB Pro had 5 players with more than 100 walks, with Gary Copeland leading the way at 111. 15 MLB Pro batters had 80 or more walks, 28 had 75 or more walks, 35 with 70 or more, 56 with 60 or more, and 93 with 50 or more. The average among all qualified MLB Pro batters was 53.7 walks.
MLB had 7 players with more than 100 walks, with Alex Bregman leading the way at 119. In 2019, 19 MLB batters had 80 or more walks, 25 had 75 or more walks, 38 with 70 or more, 55 with 60 or more, and 90 with 50 or more. The league average per 600 PA league wide was 51 walks.
When it came to striking out, no one did it more than Miguel Sano with 209. He was one of two MLB Pro batters with more than 200 K’s. Our league had 4 players with 190 or more, 9 with 180 or more, 19 with 170 or more, 32 with 160 or more, 49 with 150 or more, and 102 with 125 or more. MLB Pro had 140 qualified players with 100 or more strikeouts.
In the 2019 MLB season, Eugenio Suarez led the league with 189. There were 3 players with 180 or more, 9 players with 170 or more, 16 with 160 or more, 31 with 150 or more, and 78 with 125 or more. MLB had 161 players with 100 or more strikeouts.
Among the 20 MLB Pro players who struck out the most, they averaged a strikeout every 3.62 plate appearance. Among the 20 MLB players who struck out the most, they averaged a strikeout every 3.67 plate appearance.
ON THE MOUND…
MLB Pro’s 2020 season saw 9 pitchers give up 30 or more home runs, with Kyle Cody’s 34 being the most. There were 18 pitchers who gave up 28 or more, 38 with 25 or more, 76 with 20 or more, and 141 who gave up 15 or more homers.
In the 2019 MLB season, 19 pitchers gave up 30 or more home runs, with Mike Leake’s 41 being the most. There were 34 pitchers who gave up 28 or more, 51 pitchers who gave up 25 or more, 113 with 20 or more, and 160 who gave up 15 or more homers.
Among the 76 MLB Pro pitchers who gave up 20 or more homers, the average amongst these pitchers was surrendering a homer every 6.76 innings pitched. Among the 113 MLB pitchers who gave up 20 or more, they averaged giving up a homer every 6.05 innings pitched.
Among the 76 MLB Pro pitchers who gave up 20 or more homers, no one gave up the long ball at a higher rate than Anthony Fernandez who gave up a homer every 3.27 innings pitched. There were 8 pitchers who had an IP/HR rate of <5 IP. There were 22 pitchers who had a rate of IP/HR of <6 IP. Among these 76 pitchers, there were 15 pitchers who had a IP/HR rate of >=8.0.
Among the 113 MLB pitchers who gave up 20 or more homers, no one gave up the long ball at a higher rate than Dan Straily who gave up a homer every 2.15 innings pitched. There were 35 pitchers who gave had an IP/HR rate of <5 IP. There were 55 pitchers who had a rate of IP/HR of <6 IP. Among these 113 MLB pitchers, there were 14 pitchers who had a IP/HR rate of >=8.0.
During the season, there were three pitchers I can recall who had their HR rate brought up. These pitchers were Kyle Cody, Bill Black, and Shawn Stephens. Kyle Cody finished the year allowing 1.9 HR/9 IP. Some of this appears to be a factor of his home park where he allowed 21 HR in 81 1/3 IP vs. 13 homers in 79 1/3 IP on the road. Bill Black had allowed 11 homers in his first 13 starts of the year, including five over a two game stretch. For the rest of the year, Black allowed just five homers, finishing the year with 16 in 166 2/3 IP. This 0.9 HR/9IP was a career high, but well within reason. Shawn Stephens allowed 11 homers across six April starts (29 2/3 IP). Over the next 118 IP at the big league level, Stephens allowed 20 homers. The final 118 innings yields a HR/9IP of 1.52, much, much lower than the 3.4 HR/9IP allowed in April. Did he have a bad season relative to last year? Yes, he did. But did things balance out over the course of the season? They did. This is not to call out Jonathan or Ayden, these players just happen to be those that stand out and are good statistical examples of sample size. The same can be said for countless players in MLB Pro and MLB, but nearly anything is possible when it comes to player variance and performance when comparing year to year success and misery.
Clayton Kershaw took home the MLB Pro strikeout championship in 2020 with 258 K’s. He was 1 of 3 pitchers with 225 or more K’s. There were 13 pitchers with 200 or more, 25 with 185 or more, 42 with 170 or more, 69 with 150 or more, and 101 with 125 or more.
Gerrit Cole took home the MLB strikeout championship in 2019 with 326 strikeouts. He was 1 of 2 pitchers with more than 300 K’s. There were 17 with 225 or more, 24 with 200 or more, 29 with 185 or more, 32 with 170 or more, 55 with 150 or more, and 89 with 125 or more.
Among the 69 MLB Pro pitchers with 150 or more strikeouts, they averaged 9 K’s per 9 IP. Among these pitchers, there were 13 who averaged 10 or more K/9, 31 who averaged 9 or more K/9, and 54 who averaged 8 or more K/9.
Among the 55 MLB pitchers with 150 or more strikeouts, they averaged 9.8 K’s per 9 IP. Among these pitchers, there were 23 who averaged 10 or more K/9, 37 who averaged 9 or more K/9, and 52 who averaged 8 or more K/9.
AGAIN, WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN?!
Overall, I think MLB Pro is in a good place when it comes to league totals, statistical output, and style of play we are seeing. We are within a reasonable +/- in nearly every category. OOTP 20 saw some changes from OOTP18, there is no denying that, but these changes did not lead to unrealistic play across the league when looked at in a statistical manner. Just as the likes of Cody Bellinger, Jose Altuve, Yelich, Alonso etc. struggled in real life this season, we had guys who slumped in 2020. Just as there were guys in real life who found new sources of production in one area or across their game, so did we.
While team strategy, team decisions with roster building and option year manipulation might, injuries, and of course, random chance all play a role in output, I believe that 2020 again shows the power and magic of OOTP.
If there are any questions, concerns, comments, or anything related to this, or on something that I did not dive into, reach out to me in PM first. I’d be happy to go over anything or discuss this further with you.
–Information from the MLB Pro League Office