Our Daniel Walsh simulated the Phillies in a variety of experiments in the game Out of the Park Baseball. Each day this week, Walsh chronicles his simulations.
EXPERIMENT 2: ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Do I need a lead-in to this? Is there any conceivable way of justifying the fact that I spent my time deleting the other 24 members of the 25-man roster, cloning Ryan Howard 24 times, and then manually dragging and dropping him into each spot in my lineup?
One of the finest pieces of sports journalism I’ve read is The Good Phight’s piece about a team of 25 Ryan Howards facing off against 25 Darin Rufs in MLB 15: The Show. I had only one problem with that hard-hitting (which would be a Ryan Howard pun if this were 2007) article: it didn’t really test how the Ryan Howards would do over the course of a season against real opponents.
I’ve spoken before about Ryan Howard’s legacy and genuinely hope Phillies fans remember him more for his early contributions than his late sunk costs. By playing out the last season of his Phillies career 25 times simultaneously and at positions he’s never played and should never be allowed to play, I’m trying to do my part to cement his legacy.
25 Ryan Howards
Every spot on my roster is filled by Ryan Howard or an exact clone of him. He’s every position player, every bench bat and every pitcher.
My concern about my pitching rotation of Howard, Howard, Howard, Howard and Howard is that Howard hasn’t been stretched out as a starter and doesn’t have much stamina. Even if he goes all Wilson Valdez for an inning, he’ll be sucking wind before long, taxing the bullpen (of Ryan Howard) beyond belief.
Other than that, I’m sure everything is fine. I’m sure Howard will have fantastic range all over the field and make great throws if he’s just given the chance. There’s no proof that he’s not secretly a great center fielder.
Still, I’m thinking that Howard could swing into enough home runs in a game that he might luck into being on the better end of an ugly game against a bad team. That’s my goal for the season: to win any number of games.
Is there a thing called “stats gore”? I’m afraid to Google it, but what it would mean to me is sports statistics so unfortunate and poor that no one should have to look at them.
Normally, I’d try to represent the results of a simulated season with telling statistics and surprise outcomes, but this will be a journey into stats gore that I have to work my way up to.
The most telling stat of all is how many of my Howards announced their retirement during the season.
He’s never retired during a season I’ve played normally, so there’s no doubt he’s retiring as a response to being forced to play a position he doesn’t know on a team I should be arrested for assembling.
I have to imagine pitching coach Bob McClure retiring is also my fault. Say hi to the family for me, Bob.
The team went, yes, 0-162.
The best loss (best loss?) came on Sept. 25, when the team only lost 9-8 against the Mets. The Phillies had a rare late-game lead, 8-7, heading into the bottom of the 8th inning, but allowed a run in each of the last two innings. The post-game highlights read, “The Mets outlasted Ryan Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies, 9-8. Howard was impressive in the loss. The Philadelphia shortstop was 3 for 4 with a home run … Philadelphia is in the throes of a 156-game losing streak.” And I really wanted payback for the 47-4 loss we suffered against the Mets in April.
The team scored more than eight runs only once: in a 14-36 loss against the Padres. This shows why I thought the team might scratch out a win or two — position players do occasionally pitch an alright inning, and scoring 14 runs doesn’t exactly require goose eggs to come out ahead. Alas.
The worst loss, other than dignity and probably a little blood, was either the blowout against the Mets or a 46-3 pouncing at the hands of the Marlins. They took a 32-3 lead into the 9th and proceeded to run up the score by scoring 14 more runs. What happened to sportsmanship?
The Howards allowed an average of almost 22 runs per game and scored only 2.8 per game. They allowed so many runs that the entire league scored 13.7 percent more runs than it had the season before.
The Howards also singlehandedly ensured that every other team in the National League East finished above .500. The fourth-place Braves went 83-79. The Mets, Nationals and Marlins notched 104, 102 and 92 wins, respectively, and all made the postseason.
Surprisingly, no Howard hit over 20 home runs.
More surprisingly, one of the Howards reached a 9.2 K/9 rate in 33 innings pitched. Others reached as high as 7.9, 7.0, 6.7, and 6.4. Others had BB/9 rates at 18.4 and 13.7 percent; most players walked more than 10 men per game, and no one walked fewer than 5.6 per 9 innings.
Not so surprisingly, every member of my roster spent time on the mound. Only one of them threw fewer than 23 innings, and his ERA was 2.79 in the 9.2 innings he did survive.
The highest ERA was 32.32. I can’t tell if that’s lower or higher than I expected.
No member of the team posted a positive WAR. The game calculated that, just by having so many Howards retire after putting up terrible WAR at positions they don’t belong in, the team gained 83.1 WAR for next year.
Yeah, I’m getting fired.
Here’s how I imagine the exit interview:
Do you think this is an experiment the team can take something away from and grow?
Did you see signs of player development on the field this year?
Are there changes you think you could have made during the season?
Did it surprise you to see things go this way?
Could you explain to us what your goal was within this organization?
Is there anything to keep us all from spiraling helplessly into the void?
Next time, I’m setting my sights high: I’m going to win a game.