The Miami Marlins are heading into the 2016 season with a lot of expectations placed by themselves on themselves. The pundits have them at varying levels of "meh" heading into this season. Truthfully, it is sometimes hard to say where exactly this team will end up.
Sometimes, you just want a computer to tell you the answers, and with Out of the Park Baseball 17, you can!
OOTP 17 is the latest installment of the series that is well-regarded as the single best simulation game in all of baseball and perhaps all of sports. I have had the pleasure of getting a copy of each year's release for the past few seasons and have never been disappointed in the results (disappointment in the Marlins' results, on the other hand, has happened). OOTP 17 appears to be no different. OOTP brings some hard-hitting new features in for their latest edition, most notably a license with the MLB Players Association to go along with their established licenses with MLB.com and MiLB.com. Now, not only can OOTP provide you with actual team names (legally from the onset!) and team logos, but they can also provide you realistic player faces for each of the guys.
The realism of these faces can vary. Babyfaced Christian Yelich does not look all that different at all!
However, Dee Gordon's picture has lost some of his real-life charm, I feel.
Nevertheless, this is a great addition to an already fantastic game. Rosters are fully stocked with all the right players, and a number of other features are notable in the game. It is a must-purchase for any baseball simulation fan!
As far as the Marlins and simulation goes, we decided to take two approaches to simulating games for the 2016 season. In this first approach, we are going to simulate an entire year of the Marlins as the real team has built them, with the only exception being the inclusion of Kyle Barraclough (rated way too high by our scout in this game to drop off of the Major League roster) in the bullpen. All players will have the same roles, and we will even use the same batting lineups and rotation, right down to the notorious switch for Jose Fernandez. Trade decisions will only be made if offered by other teams; I will not insert my own trade offers to avoid my own management getting in the way. Similarly, I will only adjust the roster as needed for injury.
We simmed the entire year, and what follows is the recap for the 2016 Miami Marlins season!
2016 Miami Marlins Season Recap: OOTP 17 Edition
The preseason rankings for the Marlins were as expected. In the NL East, the Nationals were expected to win 91 games and take the division, with the New York Mets, defending NL champs, at 84 wins. Miami was placed third with 81 wins to their name. The team landed a top-ten expected NL hitter in Giancarlo Stanton, who was projected by the OOTP system to hit 44 homers in 574 at-bats. Oddly enough, the system expected two top-ten pitchers in Fernandez and...Jarred Cosart? OK then!
The prospects list landed two players in the top 100. One of the names was as expected, pitcher Tyler Kolek, who was ranked 94th. But the other name was an oddity: Yefry Perez, a third base prospect whom our own scout saw as a one-star player only. He is 19 years old and recently played rookie ball, so there is plenty of time to find out I suppose. The previous year, Perez hit .266/.333/.357 in a repeat rookie ball campaign. OK then!
The Marlins started the season as one might expect, with a relatively nondescript 11-13 record. Nothing about Jose Fernandez, however, was "nondescript." He was dominant to start the campaign, throwing five starts to begin the season and putting up 38 1/3 innings with an astonishing 0.70 ERA. Fernandez struck out 41 batters in those 38 frames with just five walks to his name. He racked up 1.5 wins to start the season! I actually had to be more careful by installing a probably realistic 100-pitch count limit on Fernandez so that the Marlins would not run him ragged to begin the season! Wei-Yin Chen was also dominant with a 1.97 ERA and 1.2 WAR in his first 32 innings as a Marlin. A.J. Ramos got hurt and was out three weeks with a sprained ankle and Bryan Morris and Mike Dunn did not replace him well.
Offensively, the Marlins got a hot start from Justin Bour, who hit seven homers and batted .325/.378/.637 to start the year. They got a cold start from Giancarlo Stanton, who hit just one homer and batted .231/.302/.321 to start the year. Ugh.
What a difference a month makes! The Marlins went on a stellar run to start the month, picking up five wins in a row en route to a dominant 19-9 record for May! They were led by Giancarlo Stanton, who loves the month of May and really displayed it this time around. Stanton batted .333/.450/.737 with 11 home runs en route to Batter of the Month honors! He went from replacement-level one month to worth 2.2 wins by the end of May, keying a massive comeback by the Marlins' offense.
Meanwhile, while Chen and Cosart cooled off after strong first months, Jose Fernandez continues his romp through the majors. Fernandez finished the month with 85 strikeouts and eight walks in 70 1/3 innings, complete with a 1.15 ERA and 1.91 FIP. He's been the best pitcher in baseball since the start.
Remember when the Marlins were really good in May? They were even better in June! The Fish racked up an even bigger winning streak, tallying an amazing 14 wins in a row during the month, from June 9 through June 23. The Marlins went more than two weeks without losing a game! Overall, the team was 20-6 on the month, and this pulled them to an overall record of 50-29 in just three months! Consider that the Marlins of the previous season won just 71 games all year!
Again, leading the way was its star talent, Jose Fernandez. He owns a 1.58 ERA and 2.31 FIP. His strikeout rate leads all of baseball, while he has walked batters at the sixth-lowest rate in the game. He is second only to Clayton Kershaw right now in terms of Wins Above Replacement!
I submitted my ballot for the All-Star Game with three Marlins on the starting vote tally. Stanton, Fernandez, and Ramos (1.93 ERA, 16 saves, 0.7 WAR) deserved votes, but Christian Yelich, Martin Prado, and Adeiny Hechavarria (on the back of Andrelton Simmons-level defensive numbers) could have also gotten recognition. In the end, the three for whom I voted all earned All-Star bids, though none were voted the starters in the game. Stanton did start as the designated hitter, going 0-for-2 unfortunately.
Take a look at the All-Star baseball cards for those guys!
Not every picture is perfect, but damn, look at Fernandez's line!
As for the rest of the month, the team suffered through a 10-16 month, but remained close to the Wild Card race. The club finished up only 1.5 games back of the Mets for the second Wild Card, and those two teams figured to go head-to-head plenty of times to settle the score. The bad record was not due to Stanton, who finished the month with another NL Batter of the Month award. He hit .330/.415/.807 in July with 12 home runs to his name, bringing his season total to 30. He stands as the NL home run leader over Michael Conforto, but is behind two players in the AL for the overall crown.
Here is where we run into some trouble. Jose Fernandez wrapped up the month of August with a 1.56 ERA in 184 innings pitched. He owns 214 strikeouts versus just 31 walks. By their WAR model, he is the second-best pitcher in baseball. The Marlins are in the thick of the pennant race, 2.5 games back of the San Francisco Giants for the second Wild Card. But by every indication, Miami would shut down Fernandez once he hit an innings limit, and so he has. David Phelps was promoted to the rotation, and Miami will go short a man if they hit the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton remains on a tear, as he finished the month with 37 homers to his name to lead all NL players. If it weren't for the fact that Bryce Harper was tearing up baseball, Stanton would be the leading MVP candidate.
Boy did the Fish seemingly feel the absence of Fernandez. The Marlins finished the season 88-74, a huge moral victory for a team that could have easily suffered on a down year. Stanton capped a 7.6-win season and a 45-homer campaign, finishing the year with a .282/.390/.585 (.400 wOBA). Fernandez's year ended at 184 innings and 6.2 WAR. He won the ERA title by a country mile, but finished fourth in pitcher WAR. But ultimately, the Marlins fell short of the Wild Card, finishing three games out of the Giants.
That was your 2016 season, as brought to you by OOTP 17! If you want to pick it up (and you should), go here and buy it for only $39.99! You can also pick it up on Steam for 10 percent off until March 29!