Simulating the 2004 Baseball Season

Ichiro Suzuki (Getty Images)

Just for fun, InsidethePark's Joe Weiss used a popular computer program recently to simulate the 2004 major league baseball season. When your major league team is 13 games out of first place on June 3, what else is there to do? Forget about the tough times for a few minutes and check out what the computer program had the Mariners doing this season.

[This manuscript and the results it contains were recently discovered on the person of a former Insidethepark.com temp who, using powerful computational devices, saw too far into the future and died from sheer fright; it is presented here as cautionary tale, as well as for its entertainment value]

In attempting to predict the outcome of this baseball season, Insidethepark.com has chosen to abandon its tea leaves and bird entrails for the bits and bytes of a specialized computer program. It's a program designed to simulate the 2004 schedule, from the injuries to the signings to the trades to the final standings, themselves, and requires more processing power than NASA used to put Neil Armstrong on the moon. So if you're wondering how the Mariners are going to do this year, pull up a chair and have your bookie's number on speed-dial, because here we go! Actually, don't do that. One look at the results of this and you'll see just how badly the Mariners are underachieving this season.

(A few caveats: the "season" begins with rosters that were current as of March 15, and all games take place in a "neutral" ballpark without park effects.)

March/April

AL West Standings as of April 30:

Seattle 15 9 .625 -
Oakland 11 12 .478 3.5
Texas 11 12 .478 3.5
Anaheim 9 14 .391 5.5

Power Ranking as of April 30:
5th, with a team BA of .269 and ERA of 3.48

Mariner Highlights:
-April 6: In his Opening Day start, Jamie Moyer pitches a four-hit, complete-game shutout of the Angels, 2-0, striking out five and walking four.
-April 30: Ichiro Suzuki finishes the month with his batting average at .366, including a 22-game hitting streak.

Mariner Lowlights:
- April 17: The M's lose a heartbreaking game against the Rangers when Laynce Nix singles off of Eddie Guardado in the 11th to bring home Brian Jordan and break a 3-3 tie.

Mariner Injuries/Transactions of Note:
-April 12: The Mariners release outfielder Quinton McCracken.
-April 22: Minor League prospect Travis Blackley suffers an injury while pitching. X-Rays reveal bone chips in his shoulder, and doctors say Blackley is out for the season.

Around the League:
-April 15: Sammy Sosa of the Cubs suffers a herniated disk in his back after diving for a fly ball; he is expected to miss at least five weeks.
-April 30: Oakland's Erubiel Durazo is named the AL Player of the Month, hitting.392 with seven home runs and 21 RBI.

May

AL West Standings as of May 31:

Seattle 30 21 .588 -
Texas 26 23 .531 3.0
Anaheim 23 27 .460 6.5
Oakland 21 28 .429 8.0

Power Ranking as of May 31:
8th, with a team BA of .281 and ERA of 4.30

Mariner Highlights:
-May 29: The M's rout the Red Sox by a score of 14-3, connecting for 24 hits in the victory.
-May 31: Jamie Moyer continues to defy Father Time, winning the AL Pitcher of the Month award; his record for May is 4-0 with an ERA of 1.65. Moyer improves his record on the season to 7-1.

Mariner Lowlights:
-May 31: The M's end the month with their pitchers having allowed 64 home runs; as a team, they are ranked 25th in this category.

Mariner Injuries/Transactions of Note:
-May 25: Willie Bloomquist is promoted to the Majors.
-May 31: Both Ron Villone and Terry Mulholland are released.

Around the League:
-May 18: The Yankees crush the Angels, 27-4, scoring ten runs in the 6th inning alone; DH Mark Grudzielanek (traded from the Cubs) ends the game with five hits.
-May 23: The Athletics' Barry Zito pitches a no-hitter, striking out five and walking two while coasting to a 6-0 victory over the Royals.

June/July


AL West Standings as of July 31:

Seattle 57 47 .548 -
Oakland 53 50 .515 3.5
Anaheim 53 51 .510 4.0
Texas 49 53 .480 7.0

Power Ranking as of July 31: 13th, with a team BA of .285 and ERA of 4.32

Mariner Highlights:
-June 22: In a 12-4 drubbing of the Rangers, Mariners' DH Edgar Martinez goes 4-4 with two home runs and five RBI.
-July 2: Ichiro Suzuki hits safely in his 20th straight game; his streak would end the next day.
-July 14: Starter Jamie Moyer, reliever Eddie Guardado, RF Ichiro Suzuki, and DH Edgar Martinez are the Mariners selected to the 2004 All-Star Game.

Mariner Lowlights:
-June 9: The M's drop their seventh straight, this one a 4-1 loss to the Astros, the third game in a three-game sweep.

Mariner Injuries/Transactions of Note:
-June 11: Left-fielder Chris Snelling's nose is broken when he is hit by a pitch from Tony Armas Jr.; he is listed as day-to-day, but doctors say that full recovery will take at least a week.
-June 12: Free agent Edward Moreno, pitcher, is signed to a minor league contract.
-June 14: Catcher Pat Borders is released.
-July 21: Starter Freddy Garcia is severely hurt when he injures his tricep muscle in the 4th inning of a game against Oakland; team doctors estimate a recovery time of seven to eight weeks.
-July 28: Starter Ryan Anderson is activated from the DL; in his first game for the San Antonio Missions, Anderson pitches 7.1 disappointing innings, giving up ten hits and eight earned runs.

Around the League:
-June 29: The Cubs are struck a serious blow when pitcher Carlos Zambrano tears his elbow ligament; he is reported out for the season.
-July 14: The American League defeats the National League in the All-Star Game, 9-6; Alex Rodriguez (2-3 with three RBI and one homer) is named the Player of the Game.
-July 18: Kansas City Royals' shortstop, Cristian Guzman, hits for the cycle, going 4-4 in a win over the Twins.
-July 25: Ken Griffey Jr. hits his 500th homer off of Ian Oquendo of the Pirates.
-July 31: Right fielder Tim Salmon is traded by the Angels to the Tigers; going to Anaheim are catcher Chris Shelton and 19 year old pitching prospect Jay Sborz.

August

AL West Standings as of August 31:

Seattle 73 58 .557 -
Anaheim 68 63 .519 5.0
Oakland 68 63 .519 5.0
Texas 60 70 .462 12.5

Power Ranking as of August 31: 9th, with a team BA of .287 and ERA of 4.54

Mariner Highlights:
-August 7: Both Ichiro Suzuki and Bret Boone crush two homers in a 15-2 shellacking of the Devil Rays.
-August 13: The M's win big over the Yankees, 16-10.
-August 25, 26: In back-to-back games, Ichiro Suzuki collects four hits, and, in doing so, extends yet another hitting streak; by August 31, the streak is still going at 21 games, and Ichiro is named the AL Player of the Week, his BA for the period .500 in 26 AB.

Mariner Lowlights:
-August 14: A day after their convincing rout of the Yankees, New York returns the favor, winning 12-1; in his first Major League start, prospect Rett Johnson gives up four runs in six innings of work.

Mariner Injuries/Transactions of Note:
-August 1: Prospect Ryan Christianson, catcher, suffers a Strained Posterior Cruciate Ligament, and is said to be out for at least five weeks.
-August 31: The Mariners bring a number of Minor League prospects up to the Bigs, including starter Troy Cate, third baseman Justin Leone, reliever Aaron Looper, and former free agent signed to a Minor League contract, leftfielder B.J. Surhoff.

Around the League:
-August 26: In more bad news for the Cubs (and for baseball in general), Chicago starter Matt Clement tears a ligament in his elbow, and the damage is so severe that team doctors announce in a press conference the next day that he may never pitch again.
-August 31: The Phillies lead their division by a comfortable margin, and are perhaps the most overachieving team in baseball; their actual record is 73-58, quite a departure from their Pythagorean Record of 59-72. The most underachieving team? The New York Mets, with a Pythagorean differential of -11.

September/October

AL West Standings as of September 30:

Seattle* 89 70 .560 -
Oakland 84 75 .528 5.0
Anaheim 77 82 .484 12.0
Texas 75 84 .472 14.0
* division winners

Power Ranking as of September 30:
11th, with a team BA of .291 and ERA of 4.68

Mariner Highlights:
-September 6: Ichiro Suzuki's hitting streak is snapped at 26 games.
-September 16: Bret Boone connects for three dingers and five RBI in a victory over the Angels.

Mariner Lowlights:
-September 30: Mariner pitching continues to give up the long ball; their total of 190 allowed is the eighth highest in the Majors

Mariner Injuries/Transactions of Note:
None

Around the League:
-September 3: Oakland's Eric Chavez hits for the cycle in a game against the Blue Jays.
-September 31: Going into October, the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez leads the AL in home runs (52), RBI (170), runs scored (147), and OPS (1.098).

Postseason

The Divisional Match-ups:
New York (A) vs. Seattle
Chicago (A) vs. Boston
St. Louis vs. Chicago (N)
Philadelphia vs. Arizona

The Results:
New York (A) 3 Seattle 1
Chicago (A) 3 Boston 2
Chicago (N) 3 St. Louis 2
Arizona 3 Philadelphia 2

Save for the New York/Seattle series, each ended in upsets, with the White Sox defeating the 98-game winning Red Sox, the wildcard Cubs knocking off the Cardinals, and Arizona edging out the Phillies, despite being down two games to none at one point.

The League Championships:
New York (A) vs. Chicago (A)
Chicago (N) vs. Arizona

The Results: New York (A) 4 Chicago (A) 1
Arizona 4 Chicago (N) 2

Both of the Windy City's teams are eliminated, and, with them, any chance at a Chicago vs. Chicago World Series.

The World Series:
New York (A) vs. Arizona

The Results:
New York (A) 4 Arizona 1

No surprises here.

The Awards

American Rookie of the Year:
Bobby Crosby (OAK)!
He batted .280 in 471 AB, with 17 homers and 72 RBI.

National Rookie of the Year:
Kazuo Matsui (NYN)!
He batted .322 in 580 AB, with 24 homers and 98 RBI.

American Cy Young Award:
Mark Buehrle (CHA)!
He had a record of 23-8 with an ERA of 3.62 and 2 shutouts. In 36 games started, he pitched 268.2 innings, fanning 112 and walking 60 batters.

National Cy Young Award:
Jason Schmidt (SFN)!
He had a record of 21-4 with an ERA of 2.40 and 1 shutouts. In 35 games started, he pitched 259 innings, fanning 259 and walking 90 batters.

American MVP:
Alex Rodriguez (NYA)!
He batted .333 in 594 AB, with 52 homers and 172 RBI.

National MVP:
Albert Pujols (STL)!
He batted .346 in 575 AB, with 35 homers and 136 RBI.

American Gold Glove Award Winners: Pitcher: Mark Mulder (OAK)
Catcher: Ben Molina (ANA)
First Base: Doug Mientkiewicz (MIN)
Second Base: Fernando Vina (DET)
Third Base: Corey Koskie (MIN)
Shortstop: Miguel Tejada (BAL)
Leftfield: Jose Cruz jr. (TB)
Centerfield: Rocco Baldelli (TB)
Rightfield: Vladimir Guerrero (ANA)


National Gold Glove Award Winners: Pitcher: Jeremy Griffiths (NYN)
Catcher: Michael Barrett (CHN)
First Base: Jason Phillips (NYN)
Second Base: Jose Reyes (NYN)
Third Base: Scott Rolen (STL)
Shortstop: Royce Clayton (COL)
Leftfield: Geoff Jenkins (MIL)
Centerfield: Andruw Jones (ATL)
Rightfield: J.D. Drew (ATL)

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