Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: MLB The Show 17 simulation doesn’t bode well for North Siders

jfrancis
Mar 27, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) in the dugout during a spring training game against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) in the dugout during a spring training game against the Cleveland Indians at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports /
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The rosters are completed and the season’s start is nigh. Playstation’s MLB The Show 17 simulated the season, and the Chicago Cubs are not on top.

Show of hands: who here plays video games? Guilty. I loved my Xbox 360, especially playing Madden football and Guitar Hero. Now, I enjoy a few rounds of Wii bowling and baseball with my daughter. And, yes, she wins.

On March 28, Sony released MLB The Show 17, the updated version of the widely popular Playstation series. Featuring Ken Griffey Jr. on the front and a retro-mode gameplay option, the game is receiving rave reviews. Our friends at App Trigger ran a full season simulation for the second year in a row. Last year, it correctly predicted the Chicago Cubs would win the World Series. What does this year hold?

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Just wait till next year

Don’t yell at me, I am just the messenger. After a complete simulation of the 2017 season, the Chicago Cubs finish with a 91-71 record, winning the NL Central.

However, they lose to the New York Mets in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The World Series goes to the AL East Champion Boston Red Sox, who beat the Mets in six games.

The NL Central shook out as follows: Cubs 91-71, Cardinals 86-76, Pirates 85-77, Brewers 68-94, Reds 61-101. These numbers are in line with other predictions for the season. Kris Bryant finished with 31 home runs, 94 RBI and a split of .264/.364/.495.

Add in solid years for Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, and Addison Russell, and you have the core of a great team. Even the pitching staff excels, with the lowest ERA on the starting rotation belonging to John Lackey at 3.11. Every pitcher on the rotation has Cy Young-caliber stats.

Leading the National League in record are the Los Angeles Dodgers (100-62), followed by the Giants (96-66), Mets (94-68) and Nationals (93-69).

But why?

Something seems fishy to me. How can you have four pitchers with sub-3.20 ERAs and four offensive players with 3.6+ WAR and only win 91 games? These stats replicate numbers from 2016.

First of all, you need to understand something about the simulation itself. The entire season was under AI (artificial intelligence) control. Every injury, trade, transaction, call-up from the minors was completed at the will of the computer. In the simulation, the Cubs traded for Russell Martin to shore up the catcher position.

After reading the full results, I take little stock in them. First of all, it is just a video game. One that I want to play, but still just a game. Secondly, the Chicago Cubs finish the season with a +182 run differential, best in the MLB. Third, the postseason awards are just random. I have no quarrels with the MVP going to Edwin Encarnacion or Clayton Kershaw. Nor the Chris Sale winning the AL Cy Young.

However, Alex Reyes is out for the year, therefore cannot win the Rookie of the Year (and, yes, I know it is only a game). I do not see Dexter Fowler winning the batting title with a .313 average, especially since only three people have done so with an average below .320 in the last 100 years. And most telling is that only one player for the Cubs wins the Gold Glove. And that is Jon Lester.

Next: New flags will wave around the Wrigley Field scoreboard

It is fun to speculate and talk about who will win and why. But, until the last pitch is thrown, it is anyone’s game. And that is why they play it on the field.

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