Call Them World Champions — Yet Again
A simulated season on Out of the Park Baseball 11 (www.ootpdevelopments.com) determined that the New York Yankees will win the 2010 World Series over the Philadelphia Phillies. The title would be the 29th in franchise history, but the first one via wild card for the Bronx Bombers, who finished second to Tampa in the American League East with a 95-67 record.
Manager Joe Girardi’s team swept AL Central champ Minnesota (87-75) in the division series before flooring a 105-win Rays team with a surprising four-game sweep in the ALCS. The Yankees appeared to be on the way to a perfect postseason when they took a 3-0 lead on the Phillies, but Philadelphia rallied for three straight wins to force a Game 7. New York squelched any chance of a collapse similar to the 2004 ALCS by routing the Phillies 10-1 in the deciding contest.
The Phillies (95-68) needed a one-game playoff win over Atlanta to claim their fourth straight National League East crown. Once in the division series, Philadelphia topped NL West champ Colorado in four games and dispatched St. Louis (98-64) in a seven-game NLCS classic.
Out of the Park Baseball’s deadly accurate simulation did produce one huge surprise: the rise of the Washington Nationals, who stayed in the wild card chase into the final week en route to finishing with a 90-72 record that earned Jim Riggleman National League Manager of the Year honors. The Nats’ shocking season was achieved despite having only one starter with a double-digit win total (Scott Olsen, 10).
Highly touted rookie hurler Steven Strasberg made his debut in early May and finished 9-8 with a 3.98 ERA in 27 starts before shoulder inflamation shut him down in September.
A division-by-division recap:
American League East
Tampa Bay had all five members of its starting rotation win at least 14 games as they ran away from New York and Boston with a 20-9 August. Evan Longoria swatted 35 homers and drove in 122 runs to pace the offense. AL Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia (22-4, 2.98) anchored the Yankees rotation, which benfited from a thunderous lineup that produced three 30-home run hitters (Mark Teixeira 41, Alex Rodriguez 37 and Nick Swisher 35).
Boston (91-71) was done in by a shocking lack of power in the outfield (no one hit more than 9 homers) and a pitching staff than finished seventh in the AL with a 4.32 ERA. Both Baltimore (59-103) and Toronto (58-104) finished with 100 losses.
American League Central
With an 87-75 mark, Minnesotaâ€”despite finishing 27-31 after August 1â€”was the only team in the division with a winning record. Joe Mauer (.324-19-84) and Justin Morneau (.305-36-132) were the offensive lynchpins that helped the Twins lead the AL in hitting with a .283 mark. Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera had a monster season (.289-43-126) while Ryan Rayburn put together a surprising .263-34-116 line, but a poor season from ace Justin Verlander led the Tigers to an 80-82 record.
Kansas City (78-84) claimed the league’s batting champion in Billy Butler (.341-24-114); Zack Greinke recorded a 3.10 ERA, but finished with a 12-11 record. Cleveland (73-89) struggled offensively but did find a staff ace in Justin Masterson (10-9, 3.25). Everything went wrong for Chicago (66-96), which saw only Alexi Ramirez finish with a batting average above .266.
American League West
Felix Hernandez’s 16-6, 2.33 mark ignited Seattle to a 94-win season. Rookie of the Year Adam Moore (.260-21-70) gave the Mariners stability behind the plate, while closer Brandon League saved 40 games with a 1.93 ERA. Oakland had no one hit more than 17 homers, but the Athletics finished 90-72 on the strength of a pitching staff that had the league’s third-best ERA.
Nelson Cruz went .282-36-104 for a Texas (80-82) squad that fell apart after 3B Michael Young missed the last six weeks of the season with a strained left quad. Impressive seasons from 1B Kendry Morales (.293-36-113) and SP Joel Pinero (17-5, 3.64) could not help Los Angeles (78-84) overcome their worst season in a decade.
National League East
A ruptured Achilles took out SS Jimmy Rollins in late July, while 1B Ryan Howard missed 40 games with an assortment of injuries, but Philadelphia maintained its dominance in the division behind a career-year from Roy Halladay (23-6, 2.42). Chase Utley (.293-31-108-20) and Jayson Werth (.258-31-101-23) picked up the offensive slack, while closer Ryan Madson recorded 40 saves. Atlanta’s Chipper Jones ended his career in style (.300-32-116) as the Braves got 18 wins from Jair Jurrjens while OF Jason Hayward began living up to his potential (.329-19-86).
David Wright tore his ACL in early May, which signaled New York’s exit from the playoff chase. Johan Santana (15-11, 3.92) continued his decline as the Mets finished 79-83. Considered a playoff sleeper at the start of the season, Florida (68-94) got nothing from its young pitching staff, SS Hanley Ramirez had two stints on the disabled list and the outfield was so shaky that the club brought back Gary Sheffield (.263-13-42).
National League Central
The Cardinals made a mockery of the division, winning by 21 games. Albert Pujols hit “just” .303, but added 48 homers, 122 RBIs and 140 runs scored en route to his third straight NL Most Valuable Player award. St. Louis lost RF Ryan Ludwick (broken ankle) before the All-Star break, but the early-season signing of Elijah Dukes paid off as the talented yet troubled slugger hit 17 homers and drove in 80 runs. Cris Carpenter (17-7, 2.80) led a pitching staff that had the league’s best ERA (3.48).
Michael Bourn’s 86 steals wasn’t enough to offset Houston’s (78-84) league-worst offense. Cincinnati (76-86) lacked offense outside of 1B Joey Votto (.300-32-111). Injuries to OFs Alfonso Soriano (broken ankle) and Marlon Byrd (two concussions) short-circuited yet another season for Chicago (74-88). Injuries were also the story for Milwaukee (73-89), which lost 1B Prince Fielder and LF Ryan Braun for extended periods. Pittsburgh shared the bottom of the division with the Brewers, earning the Pirates an 18th straight losing campaign.
National League West
Colorado didn’t hit with their usual authority, but their pitching staffâ€”anchored by Aaron Cook (14-10, 3.61)â€”made up for it. The Rockies held off San Francisco and NL batting champion Pablo Sandoval (.352-35-108). Tim Lincecum battled Halladay for the Cy Young, finishing with a 20-7 record and a 2.33 ERA. Los Angeles (80-82) got lights-out numbers from closer Jonathan Broxton (38 saves, 1.91) but less-than-stellar numbers from Matt Kemp (.276-19-75), and a late season fade from Manny Ramirez (.263) doomed the Dodgers.
San Diego (73-89) hit a major league low .242. Arizona’s season ended after 20 games when RF Justin Upton tore his labrum; without their young slugger, the Diamondbacks limped to a 72-90 finish.
MVP: Mark Teixeira, 1B, New York (.334-41-138).
Cy Young: C.C. Sabathia, New York (22-4, 2.88 ERA)
Rookie of the Year: Adam Moore, C, Seattle (.260-20-71)
Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay (105-67, won AL East)
MVP: Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis (.303-48-122)
Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia (23-6, 2.42 ERA)
Rookie of the Year: Jason Hayward, OF, Atlanta (.329-19-86)
Manager: Jim Riggleman, Washington (90-72, second in NL East)
Since 1990, Brandon has been in sports media in a variety of roles, including sports editor of The Galveston County (TX) Daily News and general assignments/sports for the Houston Chronicle. His work has also appeared on foxsports.com, sportingnews.com and footballoutsiders.com. He co-authored the 2004 edition of the Pro Football Forecast along with Sean Lahman and Todd Grenier. He also worked as a transmissions administrator for Fox Sports Net.Â You can follow Brandon on Facebook and Twitter (BCWilliams71).