Analysis

The Season of Legends

What if the best team in each organization’s history was actually their roster today? What team’s best roster of all-time would win if they were put into the MLB today? Which teams fall to the back of the pack? Thanks to simulation tools like whatifsports.com and Out Of The Park Baseball, we can see what would happen in this fantastic scenario.

Using OOTP, I ran this exact scenario. Each team in the major leagues was replaced with the best team in their organization’s history. Thanks to modern technology and analytics, we are able to bear witness to some of the greatest players of all-time facing each other: Stan Musial standing at the plate to face a modern legend like Greg Maddux is the exact kind of match-up that makes a simulation like this awesome.

Each franchise’s “best team” was selected based on their record, playoff performance, and their Pythagorean record (an analytic used to determine what a team’s record should be based on runs scored and runs allowed).

Two things to keep in mind when looking at these results:
1) OOTP adjusts for difference in era. Yes, any pitcher today would dominate a hitter from 70 years ago. However, OOTP factors in the differences in technology and ability through the years that has allowed baseball players to become super-human athletes relative to their predecessors.
2) Just because your favorite team didn’t do well, doesn’t mean they weren’t great. This is truly a simulation of legends with names like Musial, Maddux, Randy Johnson, John Olerud (twice), Jimmy Foxx, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Frank Robinson featured on almost every team.


Without further ado, here are our teams and their resumes:

AL East

AL Central

AL West


NL East

NL Central

NL West


March and April

The first month of the season saw some blazing-hot starts to the campaign (for both teams and individual players), as well as a nightmare beginning to the season for two teams.

The Bad:
– As the only team in the loaded NL Central that didn’t register 100 Pythagorean wins in real life, the ’82 Brewers struggled mightily and tallied just five wins in 29 games before May 1st.
– The AL Central initially looked to be a classic race for the division in August, potentially with all five teams vying for playoff contention. However, the ’54 Indians fell hard in the first month as they were able to win just eight games in their first 30.

The Good:
– The ’98 Braves and ’86 Mets emerge as early favorites in the NL East as they start out 20-10 and 18-10, respectively.
– The AL East has the makings of a great divisional race as the ’98 Yankees, ’92 Blue Jays, and ’70 Orioles all have 17 wins before May.
– Eddie Collins (’17 White Sox) and Ichiro Suzuki (’01 Mariners) have entered a battle of speed as they swipe 12 bags and 11 bags, respectively.
– Josh Hamilton (’11 Rangers) found his swing early in the year to the tune of 12 homers before May but isn’t trailed by much. Johnny Bench (’75 Reds), Evan Longoria (’10 Rays), and Matt Holliday (’07 Rockies) all sit immediately behind Hamilton with 11 bombs each.

The Crazy:
– John Olerud is in this simulation twice: once on the ’92 Blue Jays (23 years old), and once on the ’01 Mariners (32). The younger Olerud finished April with a .415 BA and 1.163 OPS.
– Brooks Robinson (’70 Orioles) posted a 1.174 OPS and 202 OPS+ through the first 29 games.
– Joe Morgan (’75 Reds) posted a .515 OBP through April
– Jack Pfiester (’06 Cubs) threw five complete games in March and April


May, June, and July

As the season progressed, divisional races became clearer and some of the legendary players maintained their crazy numbers.

The Bad:
– The ’82 Brewers have fallen into complete disrepair. Through 108 games played, they sit in last place in the MLB with an atrocious 30-78 record entering July 1st.

The Good:
– The ’44 Cardinals and ’86 Mets have established themselves as mid-season favorites having gone 72-36 and 71-36, respectively.
– Jose Altuve (’17 Astros) has proven to be the most reliable contact hitter in the league as he maintained a .406 BA through July.
– Matt Holliday (’07 Rockies) has taken the league lead in home runs since the start of May. Holliday has sent 35 shots into the stands to find himself two ahead of Moises Alou (’94 Expos) and Frank Robinson (’70 Orioles).
– The stolen base race between Ichiro Suzuki and Eddie Collins has now been joined by Art Devlin (’05 Giants) and Roberto Alomar (’92 Blue Jays). Devlin (30 SB) now leads over Ichiro (28) who stands above Alomar and Collins (27 each).

The Crazy:
– Joe Morgan (’75 Reds) has stepped up and leads the league in OBP (.506), OPS (1.168), and wOBA (.491).
– Max Lanier (’44 Cardinals) has taken the spotlight from all other pitchers with 271 strikeouts, a 1.56 ERA, and a 1.89 FIP through July.

End of July Standings:


All Star Game

The Mid-Summer’s Classic in this alternate reality would have amounted to the greatest spectacle in baseball history. The names on each team are almost all legends.

The rosters are as follows:

The game would go on to end in a 6-5 victory for the American League. However, due to his mightily impressive performance, Jackie Robinson was awarded All-Star Game MVP for going 3-for-3 with four RBI, two HR, a walk, and a stolen base.


End of Regular Season

As the season came to an end, each of the divisional and wild card races became more and more clear. There were only two divisions decided by fewer than three games: the AL East (two games) and the AL West (decided by Game 163). The second NL Wild Card position was also decided by just two games, but the second spot in the AL was won with a decisive six-game lead.

League Leaders:

Final Standings:

x – Wild Card; y – Division Winner; z – Home Field Advantage

Award Winners:


Playoffs

American League Wild Card:
2010 Tampa Bay Rays @ 2001 Seattle Mariners
TBR 0 SEA 3

National League Wild Card:
1975 Cincinnati Reds @ 1998 Atlanta Braves
CIN 11 ATL 4

American League Divisional Round:
2001 Seattle Mariners vs. 2017 Houston Astros
Game 1 – HOU 3 SEA 1
Game 2 – HOU 11 SEA 14
Game 3 – SEA 1 HOU 2
Game 4 – SEA 9 HOU 8
Game 5 – SEA 10 HOU 11
2017 Houston Astros def. 2001 Seattle Mariners 3-2.

1954 Cleveland Indians vs. 1970 Baltimore Orioles
Game 1 – BAL 0 CLE 8
Game 2 – BAL 2 CLE 0
Game 3 – CLE 2 BAL 9
Game 4 – CLE 2 BAL 8
1970 Baltimore Orioles def. 1954 Cleveland Indians 3-1.

National League Divisional Round:
1975 Cincinatti Reds vs. 1944 St. Louis Cardinals
Game 1 – STL 5 CIN 2
Game 2 – STL 6 CIN 8
Game 3 – CIN 1 STL 8
Game 4 – CIN 1 STL 3
1944 St. Louis Cardinals def. 1975 Cincinnati Reds 3-1.

1953 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. 1986 New York Mets
Game 1 – NYM 1 BKN 8
Game 2 – NYM 4 BKN 3
Game 3 – BKN 6 NYM 7
Game 4 – BKN 5 NYM 3
Game 5 – BKN 4 NYM 3
1953 Brooklyn Dodgers def. 1986 New York Mets 3-2.

American League Championship Series:
1970 Baltimore Orioles vs. 2017 Houston Astros
Game 1 – BAL 5 HOU 4
Game 2 – BAL 3 HOU 9
Game 3 – HOU 3 BAL 9
Game 4 – HOU 2 BAL 5
Game 5 – HOU 11 BAL 4
Game 6 – BAL 3 HOU 2
1970 Baltimore Orioles def. 2017 Houston Astros 4-2.

National League Championship Series:
1953 Brooklyn Dodgers vs. 1944 St. Louis Cardinals
Game 1 – BKN 0 STL 9
Game 2 – BKN 3 STL 10
Game 3 – STL 8 BKN 2
Game 4 – STL 2 BKN 7
Game 5 – STL 3 BKN 4
Game 6 – BKN 1 STL 9
1944 St. Louis Cardinals def. 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers 4-2.

World Series:
1970 Baltimore Orioles vs. 1944 St. Louis Cardinals
Game 1
Sportsman’s Park – St. Louis, MO
SP: Jim Palmer vs. Mort Cooper
Baltimore 1
St. Louis 2
Mort Cooper (STL): 7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K

Game 2
Sportsman’s Park – St. Louis, MO
SP: Mike Cuellar vs. Max Lanier
Baltimore 2
St. Louis 0
Mike Cuellar (BAL): 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K

Game 3
Memorial Stadium – Baltimore, MD
SP: Harry Brecheen vs. Dave McNally
St. Louis 5
Baltimore 1
Walker Cooper (STL): 3-for-5, HR, 4 RBI

Game 4
Memorial Stadium – Baltimore, MD
SP: Ted Wilks vs. Jim Hardin
St. Louis 12
Baltimore 3
Walker Cooper (STL): 4-for-5, HR, 2B, 3 RBI

Game 5
Memorial Stadium – Baltimore, MD
SP: Mort Cooper vs. Jim Palmer
St. Louis 11
Baltimore 2
Mort Cooper (STL): 8.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
Johnny Hopp (STL): 2-for-4, 2 HR, BB, 3 RBI
Whitey Kurowski (STL) – 2-for-5, HR, 3 RBI

1944 St. Louis Cardinals def. 1970 Baltimore Orioles 4-1 to win the World Series title, a feat they also accomplished in real life. For his two masterful performances on the mound, Mort Cooper was rewarded with the World Series MVP.


Featured Photo: wikipedia.org

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Mick Callahan

I'm a fifth year student in a five-year Electrical Engineering program at RIT in Rochester, NY. Originally from St. Louis, MO. Big Redbirds fan, and a fan of the game as a whole. If you're new to my articles, spoiler alert: I like math. Many of the things I write focus on breaking the game down to the mathematics that explain why and how baseball works the way it does. Yes, I'm a huge nerd.

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