We have reached the All-Star break in our simulation of the 2020 season on MLB The Show, and the Yankees sit in second place in the American League East, 3.5 games behind the surging Red Sox. Just over two weeks prior, it was the Yanks in first by an almost identical margin. In fact, back in June, it was the Rays the Bombers were holding off in the East, not the Red Sox.
How did this happen?
If this were real life, oh boy would all of our social media pages be burning to the ground with demands to fire Aaron Boone or Brian Cashman or to trade literally anyone on the team. Good thing this is an innocent simulation. But we still should try and figure out what led to this drastic change for both the Yanks and Sox.
The Yankees pace the league in pitching and power, but when they have their abnormal struggles, they always seem to come at the worst time. The Bombers are just 19-19 within the division, while the Red Sox are 31-18. The Yanks are 3-3 against Boston this year, but lost their last two, right when the Red Sox were beginning to surge on what would be a 10-game winning streak.
How did the Red Sox go on this ridiculous winning streak? That would be largely due to J.D. Martinez, who apparently is trying to make up for the loss of Mookie Betts all on his own. Martinez leads the league by far with a .349 batting average, has already blasted 35 home runs and driven in 93. That’s good for an OPS of 1.106 and a 4.7 WAR, and we only just hit the All-Star break! Those are some absolutely ridiculous numbers, and it’s helped along by his neighbor in Boston’s lineup, Xander Bogaerts.
The second-highest batting average in the American League is Bogaerts’ .333, and the shortstop currently boasts an OPS of 1.032 and a 3.8 WAR. His 31 doubles lead the league, and with Martinez raking right alongside, the two are easily the most powerful duo in baseball right now.
The Boston bullpen was somewhat of a mess last season, but not in this simulation. Closer Brandon Workman leads the league with 31 saves while holding a 2.41 ERA in 33.2 innings. Leading the rotation is Chris Sale, who of course would be missing all of the time in real life, but here, he’s second in the league in strikeouts, behind only Gerrit Cole, and his 2.68 ERA is fourth in the league. Behind Sale in the rotation is Eduardo Rodriguez, who has somehow pitched to a 2.88 ERA through 121.2 innings of work so far this season, good for a 2.2 WAR. Looking at those numbers, it’s no wonder Boston is suddenly on top of the division.
Can Martinez and Bogaerts really keep up those torrid paces, and could arms like Workman and Rodriguez continue their level of production? If they can, the Yanks are in big trouble.