The Cincinnati Reds are not currently playing 2020 baseball, but that doesn’t mean we all aren’t wondering what could be happening if they were. Fortunately, there are computers and motherboards for such things, and our friends at Baseball Reference have been running an OOTP simulation - that’s Out of the Park, for those asking - and the Sim Reds are a full 17 games into their would-be 2020 season.
They’ve crunched numbers, and we’re going to break them down. Crunching crunched numbers, if you will.
So far, things look rather rosy on the whole for the Reds, who sit at 11-6 on the season thanks to a 6 game win streak once they returned home after a 5 game road trip through Toronto and Pittsburgh. Said win streak included sweeps of the Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies, though that streak was halted thanks to a complete game shutout thrown by former Reds ace Johnny Cueto in a 2-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
If you dig a bit deeper into how these Sim Reds have reached this point, you’ll find that it’s been due to a potent offense. That offense, however, hasn’t exactly been fueled by the players you might expect.
Joey Votto has logged a team-best 81 PA thus far, and at .283/.407/.433 appears to be looking more like the aged-yet-productive 2018 Votto than the one who struggled in 2019. That’s a good thing.
New signing Mike Moustakas has picked up 73 PA to date, and has largely mauled the hell out of things in the process. He’s at .343/.397/.657 with a team-best 6 dingers.
The surprises begin to trickle in when you get to both Freddy Galvis and Tucker Barnhart, neither of whom you’d expect to be leading the surge. Galvis has raked to the tune of .322/.397/.695 in early action, fueled by a team-best 12 XBH. Barnhart, meanwhile, has started 13 of 17 games (with appearances in 2 others) in a rugged amount of early-season playing time, but has responded with a stellar .285/.365/.565 line in 53 PA - output that includes a team-best 13 ribbies to date.
Jesse Winker (1.003 OPS, 5 dingers) and Shogo Akiyama (.339/.393/.464) have also been red hot, as has Nick Senzel...when he gets a chance to play. Senzel has logged just 25 PA through 17 games, though he’s 8 for 22 with 2 dingers and more walks (3) than Ks (2) in that limited action.
On the flip side, both Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez have struggled mightily in the early going. Castellanos has started 15 of the team’s 17 games (in case you needed any indication of how the OF rotation has panned out so far), but has hit a woeful .169/.194/.338 with a dreadful 20/2 K/BB ratio so far. Suarez, meanwhile, might still be nursing that bad sim-shoulder of his, as he’s hit just .175/.234/.246 with a lone dinger and a team-worst 21 Ks.
On the pitching side of things, it’s a bit more murky.
Sonny Gray has a team-high 4 starts so far - including the honor of starting Opening Day - and carries a 4.28 ERA and ugly 1.46 WHIP through 27.1 IP, though that has been good for a team-best 0.5 bWAR so far. Matching that 0.5 bWAR is Trevor Bauer, the owner of a 3.98 ERA in his 3 starts - though he has a strong 1.08 WHIP and 29/7 K/BB through just 20.1 IP. Luis Castillo, meanwhile, has cruised along with a 3.38 ERA in his 3 starts, though his K/9 of 8.0 feels a bit on the low-end of where we’d expect it to be so far.
Meanwhile, the back of the rotation has been battered pretty thoroughly. Anthony DeSclafani has been pounded for 6 dingers and 12 ER in just 16.1 IP, while rotation mate Tyler Mahle has nearly matched him with 5 dingers and 11 ER surrendered in just 17.1 IP. So far, Wade Miley has yet to throw a pitch for these Sim Reds, so we’re assuming he’s begun the year on the IL.
As for the bullpen, well...well, let’s actually just wrap this with a blanket statement on the pitching as a whole in this simulation. As you might have noticed with the Reds hitters, there have been a litany of dingers smashed so far this season. The Reds have smashed 29 of them in just 17 games, which equates to a 276 dinger per 162 game season pace. For the record, that would obliterate the team record of 227 dingers swatted in any single Reds season, a mark that was set just last year. So, this is very much a dingers-a-plenty sim world in which they’re playing, and the pitching staff has played their part in it. Reds pitchers have allowed a whopping 31 bombs in their 17 games, with Michael Lorenzen being the lone hurler of the 13 that have appeared so far to have not surrendered one.
It’s certainly an odd way for the Reds to have climbed to 11-6, but 11-6 is all that matters to this juncture. Hopefully we’ll get some real stats to talk about soon, but for now we’ll continue to track these Sim Reds in order to get our hopes up as much as possible.