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Out of the Park Baseball 20: We simulated the 2013 season because the Tigers should have won the World Series

In this installment we run multiple simulations of the 2013 season to see what might have been.

Welcome back to another installment of the series where I take the latest edition of the dynasty of baseball simulators and use it to recreate past seasons, create all-new scenarios, as well as test statistical theories. After acclimating myself during my initial foray into the OOTP 20 world, I am prepared to take the next step in part two of this series.

For this exercise, I want to revisit a very sore spot in the collective memory of Detroit Tigers fans: the results of the 2013 season. That year saw a juggernaut Tigers team get tripped up in the American League Championship Series by David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox, who ultimately went on to win the World Series. There are many among the fanbase who believe that the 2013 squad was one of the greatest Tigers lineups in recent memory [Ed.: Or franchise history] and probably had the best chance of any Tigers team over the past decade-plus of winning the Commissioner’s Trophy.

I am going to test those anecdotal arguments with the power of simulation and sample size. My method is very simple: simulate the 2013 season multiple times and compare the results with what happened in the real world. Because this is a Detroit-centric website, I will account for results directly and indirectly relevant to the Tigers.

My initial goal was to simulate 2013 one hundred times, but that ended up being far too Herculean of a task for the purposes of this article. Unfortunately, the program does not appear to have a function that allows you to run batches of simulations, nor can you easily just press a button and re-sim the same season. This was mitigated by creating a quick-start game setting to avoid having to start from scratch each time, which made this exercise feasible. I also decided to pare the number of simulations down to a more manageable 25 runs, which is still very much an appreciable sample size.

The first simulation I ran yielded similar results for the real-life Tigers, except for a much better regular season record. After amassing a 102-60 record en route to an American League Central title, they fell to the Boston Red Sox four games to one in the ALCS; Boston went on to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, four games to three.

The next simulation was absolutely clown shoes, as the Tigers finished with an MLB-leading 114-48 record, only to get knocked off by the 88-win wild card-winning Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Division Series. The Rays would fall to — you guessed it — the Red Sox in the ALCS, who went on to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

It was not until my third simulation when the Tigers would take home the trophy, defeating the Atlanta Braves four games to two after a repeat of the previous sim’s 114-48 regular season record.

The rest of the simulations have been run and compiled based on who won the World Series, who appeared in the Championship Series, where the Tigers finished — if not in one of the former two — and what the Tigers’ regular season record was, as well as their rank in the AL Central Division. The table below contains the results from the 25 simulation runs of the 2013 season.

OOTP 2013 Sim Results

Sim WS Winner ALCS Winner NLCS Winner Tigers (L) Tigers Record Div Rank
Sim WS Winner ALCS Winner NLCS Winner Tigers (L) Tigers Record Div Rank
1 BOS BOS LAD ALCS 102-60 1
2 STL BOS STL ALCS 114-48 1
3 DET DET ATL - 114-49 1
4 LAD DET LAD WS 110-52 1
5 CLE CLE SFG ALDS 86-76 2
6 BOS BOS ATL ALDS 109-53 1
7 OAK OAK LAD ALCS 110-52 1
8 TBR TBR LAD ALCS 99-63 1
9 STL DET STL WS 105-57 1
10 LAD BOS LAD ALDS 100-62 1
11 DET DET LAD - 106-56 1
12 DET DET LAD - 105-57 1
13 LAD OAK LAD ALDS 111-51 1
14 LAD BOS LAD ALCS 100-62 1
15 TEX TEX PIT WC 95-67 2
16 STL BOS STL ALDS 102-60 1
17 PIT CLE PIT WC 101-61 2
18 LAD BOS LAD ALCS 101-61 1
19 ATL TBR ATL ALCS 98-64 1
20 STL TEX STL ALDS 106-56 1
21 ATL TBR ATL ALDS 106-56 1
22 STL TEX STL ALDS 102-60 1
23 STL TEX STL ALCS 113-49 1
24 TBR TBR STL ALDS 103-59 1
25 BOS BOS SFG ALCS 108-54 1

Points of note:

  • The Tigers reached the playoffs in all 25 simulations.
  • The Tigers never lost more than 76 games, and won 100 games or more 21 times.
  • The Tigers won the Central Division 22 out of 25 times — most typically by double-digit games, and going wire-to-wire in a majority of seasons.
  • The Tigers won only three World Series trophies in five total trips to the Fall Classic.
  • Boston, winner of the 2013 World Series on the real-life timeline, only won three times as well, but in seven total appearances.
  • The 2013 Tigers were clearly assembled as a juggernaut team for the long grind of the regular season, but the short-series environment of the playoffs was their bane more times than not.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals led all teams in World Series victories with six total in 25 simulations.
  • The National League led the American League in total World Series trophies with 14 versus 11 for the Junior Circuit.

There is no doubt that the 2013 Detroit Tigers roster was a team for the ages, but baseball is a fickle beast. While nothing will ever soothe the disappointment of that devastating ALCS loss to Boston, it is fun to see how things may have played out in another reality. These simulations are simply fantasy built upon solid statistical models, but they can also bring some consolation for those who yearn for what might have been.

Out of the Park Baseball is available for purchase at various places on the internet, including their website, on Steam and at something called Origin. Bless You Boys received a free download code for this game, but was not asked to provide a review or other content in exchange for the code. We are writing this article (and any future editions) simply because the game is awesome and we support the amazing work Out of the Park Developments does year in and year out.