If FanSided’s simulation of the 2017 MLB season is any indication, the St. Louis Cardinals will finish second in the NL Central.
Our friends over at our fellow FanSided site, App Trigger, ran a simulation of the 2017 MLB season using the newly-released MLB the Show 17 earlier this week. While these types of simulations obviously can’t be counted on to provide total accuracy–they are just video games after all–they tend to do a shockingly great job of predicting the future at times.
The results of the simulation weren’t exactly encouraging for Cardinals fans: it picked the Cards to finish 86-76 with a +129 run differential. In other words, they’ll have the same record as they had in 2016 while having a run differential that’s nearly twice as high as last season’s +67 mark. In this alternate reality, the Chicago Cubs earn the NL Central title for the second straight season, though they experience a major drop-off from the 103-58 record and +252 run differential they had in 2016, finishing with a rather pedestrian 91-71 record but an impressive +182 run differential.
According to the simulation, the Cardinals will finish seven games out of a playoff spot, as the San Francisco Giants (96-66) and Washington Nationals (93-69) will earn the two Wild Card spots, finishing second in their respective divisions to dominant Dodgers (100-62) and Mets (94-68) squads.
Some interesting events took place during App Trigger’s simulation, most notably the Cardinals’ decision to upgrade over Jhonny Peralta and Jedd Gyorko at third base with a trade for Chicago White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier:
"The St. Louis Cardinals sacrificed a lot to get Todd Frazier on their team, and in the short term, it yielded strong benefits. He leads the offense with 34 home runs, 104 RBI, 83 runs and 14 stolen bases, although his poor defense and lessened ability to get on base meant providing less value overall."
Perhaps the most encouraging sign is that Dexter Fowler‘s breakout success during 2016 carries over into the 2017 season:
"The biggest contributor in the field comes in Dexter Fowler, as he provided the complete package. His .313/.419/.477 slash line and .896 OPS, 13 outfield assists and strong fielding performance (.996 fielding percentage, 224 putouts) vault him right to the top of the team."
With both this simulation and the PECOTA projections forecasting poor results for the Cardinals in 2017, fans will just have to hope that this year’s team defies the odds, much like the Kansas City Royals during their run of dominance in 2014 and 2015.