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The year of the pitcher

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an exercise in stupidity

The Minnesota Twins squeak by the Kansas City Royals winning 4-3

Bert Blyleven often tells us that the pitcher is the best athlete on the field. We are going to prove, once-and-for-all, if that is true.*

*This proves nothing except how bored and desperate for content I am.

I thought about doing a “26 Bert Blylevens” team—and still might, if there is interest—but that sort of exercise has been done before. Instead, we’re going to do something more depraved, more stupid, the likes of which I haven’t seen in a cursory google search.

Nope, I’m going to put 26 pitchers from the Twins’ organization on my MLB roster. Everyone else can eff off to Rochester or DFA-land, or where ever. We don’t need ‘em. All pitchers, all the time. No bat-swingers or fielders. This should be fun. As usual, we will be using OOTP 21 for simulation purposes.

The Roster:

Jorge Alcala
Homer Bailey
Jhoulys Chacin
Randy Dobnak
Jhoan Duran
Griffin Jax
Kenta Maeda
Bailey Ober
Jake Odorizzi
Devin Smeltzer
Lewis Thorpe
Austin Adams
Tyler Clippard
Danny Coulombe
Andro Cutura
Tyler Duffey
Casey Lawrence
Zack Littell
Trevor May
Sean Poppen
Sergio Romo
Cody Statshak
Caleb Thielbar
Matt Wisler
Taylor Rogers

I started with a new, standard OOTP game—so standard MLB teams and rosters. Then I started making changes.

Some of the “organizational filler” guys at Rochester I hadn’t really heard of came up, but this is also a chance see some prospects in the majors sooner than we thought. This ends up being every pitcher from the MLB roster, every pitcher from Triple-A (minus Corey Gerrin because I thought Duran was more interesting,) and Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran from Double-A. If we see injuries, guys like Charlie Barnes, Edwar Colina, and Dakota Chalmers will be coming up.

Next I allowed the computer to suggest my rotation, bullpen, and line ups. It didn’t like that, and couldn’t come up with a line up.

The “everyday line up”

The rotation and bullpen were easy—they pretty much auto-populated, then I just made a few tweaks (substitutions for guys who will be playing elsewhere.) Here is what I ended up with:

Rotation: Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Jorge Alcala, Griffin Jax, Sean Poppen
Bullpen: Closer Tyler Duffey; Setup Zack Littell, Cody Stashak; Middle relief Jhoan Duran, Matt Wisler, Casey Lawrence, Danny Coloumbe; Long Relief Austin Adams.

The line ups were a bit trickier. Here is my “starting line up” and bench. These are entirely at random, based off of where I just felt like assigning guys.

CF Jose Berrios
2B Tyler Clippard
3B Randy Dobnak
RF Devin Smeltzer
DH Jhoulys Chacin
LF Lewis Thorpe
SS Jake Odorizzi
C Trevor May
1B Sergio Romo

Bench: Caleb Thielbar, Andro Cutura, Bailey Ober, Taylor Rogers

I essentially have Thielbar in a “Willians Astudillo” role as my back up at catcher/third/first, Cutura and Rogers as my middle-infield backup, and Ober as my fourth outfielder.

In reality, I suspect the simulation is going to use everyone as a pitcher, and everyone in the field, and its going to be a glorious mess.

The Season:

March/April

Opening Day: Surprise! This was a close game, with Kenta Maeda pitching eight innings and only giving up two runs, and the Twins keeping it tied. Zack Littell gave up a walk-off home run in the ninth to lose it. Devin Smeltzer went 2-4 and Tyler Clippard went 1-4, as the only Twins to notch hits in a 3-2 loss.

April 1: We’re 0-6, and half a game worse than San Francisco, which makes us the worst team in the league. As a team we’re hitting .122/.168/.138 and have only scored three runs. The team ERA is 6.38, since most of our best pitchers are now fielders, instead.

April 4: The Twins were shut out 29-0 by Oakland.

April 10: Who had Austin Adams for the first guy to get injured? It wasn’t me, my money was on Trevor May, as the catcher. Anyway, Adams is day-to-day with a sprained ankle.

April 15: The Twins are now 0-19. Devin Smeltzer is our leader in batting average, at .239, and is the only hitter over .200. Trevor May leads the team with two bombas, and the team has three total. Literally every batter is worse than replacement level. Kenta Maeda leads the team with a 5.14 ERA, as all the hurlers are clearly suffering from the defense behind them. Randy Dobnak has committed nine errors at short, while Jose Berrios (CF,) Tyler Clippard (2B,) and Jake Odorizzi (SS) have all committed seven. Trevor May is responsible for 72 passed balls already. In 16 games. Yes, that’s 4.5 per game.

April 21: Jhoan Duran is suspended for four games after starting a bench-clearing brawl with Seattle.

April 24: Fernando Romero was eligible to return yesterday. Casey Lawrence went down for five weeks with a strained shoulder, so Romero will take his place.

April 30: The Twins are now 0-31. I would have figured this group would luck into a win or two by now. Cleveland Spiders, watch out for your record! Trevor May is by far the best hitter on the team—he is at .250/.311/.368 with two homers and three RBIs. Our best hitter is at -2.6 WAR already.

May

May 1: Brusdar Graterol was named rookie of the month for the NL. Too bad he got traded, I’d have played him somewhere horrible and laughed at his struggles.

May 4: The San Francisco Giants are not a good team. They still shut us down 28-0.

May 13: Jorge Alcala will miss a week with elbow inflammation. The guys who are playing out of position are still holding up though.

May 15: Still no wins. Randy Dobnak still leads the team in errors, at 21. Odorizzi is right behind him at 20. Trevor May is up to 172 passed balls.

May 20: Michael Pineda is back. Lets give him a try at third base, he can’t be worse than Dobnak, who is my worst fielder. I’ll make Dobnak my utility guy, and DFA Austin Adams.

May 31: The Twins are now 0-59. 44 12 games back of the first place White Sox, who are running away with the division. Team slugger Sergio Romo has now passed Trevor May for the most home runs, at four. His batting average is .067 though. DH Jhoulys Chacin leads the team in batting average at .175, Tyler Clippard leads with a .211 OBP, and Lewis Thorpe is slugging .231 to lead the team. Jake Odorizzi is up to 27 errors at short. May is up to 232 passed balls. Everyone has an ugly ERA.

June

June 5: The players are getting restless. Sergio Romo and Michael Pineda have both demanded trades.

June 12: Rich Hill is eligible to come off the IR. I’ll send him on a rehab assignment for a bit, and then figure out where to put him.

June 16: The Twins are now 0-73, and 50 games back of first place. Matt Wisler leads the team in strikeouts with 49. Jhoan Duran has given up 52 walks in 37 innings pitched. Austin Adams, who was DFA’d almost a month ago, currently leads the team in WAR at 0.1. Sergio Romo has struck out 142 times at the plate, and Tyler Clippard and Sergio Romo are both at 11 walks—both those numbers lead the team.

June 24: We are officially halfway through the season without a win.

June 30: 0-86, 59 12 games out of first. As a team, we are hitting .158/.189/.208 and we are last in the AL in literally every team category for hitting, pitching, and fielding. Our starters have a 12.69 ERA and our bullpen has a 9.57 ERA. The team is worth a combined -4.7 WAR. If anyone wants to figure out a Pythagorean win-loss, its 1107 runs allowed and 101 runs scored. I don’t think I need to do math to tell you that’s bad.

July

July 3: Bailey Ober suffered an injury, and will be out for a couple weeks. He’s on the 15-day IL, and is the first “position” player hurt this season. We’ll bring Jake Reed up to take his place as our fourth outfielder.

July 11: Rich Hill’s time on his rehab assignment ended, and he has joined the team in a utility role. Andro Cutara has been optioned to Triple-A.

July 12: The All-Star rosters were announced. No Twins will be participating. Apparently OOTP doesn’t recognize that all teams get a representative—either that, or this team is so historically bad that MLB suspended that rule. Honestly, that might be more likely.

July 16: At the All-Star break, the Twins are 0-98 and 64 12 games behind the White Sox. Jose Berrios leads the team in batting average, OBP, and SLG, at .189/.231/.223—numbers which are almost passable for a center fielder. Sergio Romo is up to nine bombas and 17 RBIs. Literally no one has stolen a base. Trevor May is up to 357 passed balls in 73 games. That’s 4.89 per game. Caleb Thielbar has 97 in 20 games. That’s somehow slightly better—4.85 per game. Also, Bailey Ober came off the IL and was assigned to Triple-A today.

July 19: 100 losses!

July 25: Mathematically eliminated from the playoffs

July 31: I didn’t make a trade at the deadline, because I want these 26 pitchers to suffer for the rest the season. See how much they hate me I guess. We’re still winless, with 110 losses. Still last in the AL in every team category. The team ERA is over 10, the team is hitting .155/.185/.202 and the entire team is worth -70.4 WAR. We’ve hit 21 home runs, taken 119 walks, and struck out 1379 times.

August

August 15: 0-125. Jose Berrios is up to four home runs, good for second on the team. Romo is still first, still at 11, and May has three still. Romo has also struck out 231 times and has 22 extra base hits. He leads the team in both categories. He is the answer to “what if we took boom-or-bust hitters to the furthest extreme.” Jake Odorizzi has 39 errors, Tyler Clippard has 34, and Randy Dobnak has 33. Berrios has got his batting line up to .202/.241/.244 and Meat Raffle is at .189/.231/.252—which is almost good enough to suggest he become a backup catcher, if only he could solve that pesky defense thing. Conversely, Michael Pineda is hitting .080/.110/087 and we’re going to give Taylor Rogers a chance as the everyday third baseman.

August 28: 135 losses. The 1899 Cleveland Spiders record has officially fallen.

August 30: No matter which way you slice it, this team looks bad. Our Pythagorean record suggests we should have won two games, and we’ve underperformed it by two. We’ve allowed 1700 runs and scored 147. Our opponents are hitting .368 with 224 home runs. We’re hitting .154 with 25 homers.

September/October

September 1: Rosters expand, we can add two more players. That will be Charlie Barnes and Jordan Balazovic, because they’re prospects or something.

September 2: Griffin Jax was diagnosed with bone chips in his elbow and will miss four or five months. The rest of the season at any rate, so he’s headed for the 60-day IL. Edwar Colina will come up and take his roster spot, while Balazovic gets his spot in the rotation.

September 5: 142 losses, so we can’t even get the 20 wins that the 1899 Spiders notched, mathematically.

September 7: Jhoan Duran will miss the rest the season due to elbow tendonitis. Dakota Chalmers will take his place on the roster.

September 15: Exactly 150 losses, and no wins. It defies probability—even the worst matched team should have won a game or two. We’re hitting /152/.180/.198 and have a team ERA of 10.46. I thought I left enough talent on the pitching side of this pitching staff to not be that bad, but I was clearly mistaken.

September 27: The 0-162 season officially ended. Below are the stats if you’re curious.

The Numbers

The Verdict

So, what the hell is the moral of this crazy adventure? Pitchers may-or-may-not be the best athletes on the field, but a baseball team needs guys who are professional hitters and fielders too. Still Lewis Thorpe and Jose Berrios came reasonably close to sort-of-serviceable-on-a-bad-team in the outfield, and Sergio Romo became the power-hitter people thought Miguel Sano was. Trevor May was a danger to himself and others defensively behind the plate, but also showed a tiny bit of pop. Let me know what you thought of this exercise in stupidity in the comments, especially if you want me to do something like this again—or never again.