Cleveland Indians leading AL Central in simulated season

Baseball Reference is using Out of the Park Baseball to simulate the 2020 season, and so far the simulation likes the Cleveland Indians.

Four games into a simulated season being run by Baseball Reference via Out of the Park Baseball, the Cleveland Indians are tied for the AL Central lead with a 3-1 record. The team with which they share the tie is not the Minnesota Twins or Chicago White Sox, but the Kansas City Royals.

The first four games of a real-life season are not worth reading too much into, which renders the first four games of a simulated season less significant than a preseason scrimmage. But it’s nice to know there are people out there still doing everything in their power to provide us with some semblance of baseball season, and it’s even better to know that artificial intelligence seems to agree with the Indians’ roster so far.

It helps that the Tribe opened the season at home against the Detroit Tigers. Playing one of the two or three worst teams in the entire league is a surefire way to start things off on a positive note. Cleveland swept Detroit on opening weekend.

The Tribe’s lone loss–and this may be an ominous bit of foreshadowing–came at the hands of the White Sox.

Some interesting individual stats include Brad Hand already recording three saves. Remember when Hand spiraled last season, possibly as a result of being overworked early in the year? The computer evidently doesn’t; Hand pitched three times in four days to begin the season.

Also interesting is that John Axford is somehow on the team, and that he’s already managed to pitch four innings in relief. *Shrugs shoulders*

Axford signing a late spring training deal and then apparently steamrolling his way to an Opening Day roster spot is only slightly weirder than the lineups the Indians have been deploying.

The combination of Greg Allen and Oscar Mercado have batted leadoff in three of the Indians’ first four games; Carlos Santana has hit seventh in three of four.

Shane Bieber did as Shane Bieber does on Opening Day, logging 7 2/3 innings, striking out seven and giving up two earned runs. Just another day in the simulated life of an ace.

Aaron Civale didn’t fare so well, giving up five earned runs in the second inning of Cleveland’s second game. He was pulled after recording two outs in the third, and it took a couple of late-inning rallies for the Tribe to emerge with a 7-5 victory.

Offensively, the Indians have gotten strong showings from a handful of players. Franmil Reyes already has three home runs, and Francisco Lindor has gone yard twice. Domingo Santana has four hits and two walks in eight plate appearances.

Jose Ramirez appears to have reverted back to his early 2019 form, as he’s slashing just .133/.188/.400.

The defending division champion Twins are 1-4 after being swept in four games by the Oakland A’s to start the year.

Next: What if Grady Sizemore never got injured?

I’ll try to provide weekly updates on the Indians’ progress through this simulated season since it’s likely going to be awhile before the real one starts. Until then, stay safe and Go Tribe.

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