Growing up I was a baseball geek. I don’t remember reading one comic book as a kid. Instead I memorized the backs of baseball cards and figured out how to calculate a player’s batting average and earned run average for my Strat-O-Matic seasons. I kept score by hand and used a pencil and a good eraser to track the basic stats in a spiral notebook.
Bizarro World meant nothing to me. In fact, I had no idea the fictional DC comics universe existed untilĀ Seinfeld enlightened me.
In April I began my own Angels season using Out of the Park Baseball’s iPad version, iOOTP 2013, a scaled-down version of Out of the Park Baseball 14, which fellow Bugs writer Scott Fendley reviewed in May. The game uses the PECOTA projection system to determine the major league player ratings. I decided to play along with the real calendar year to add another level of my experience with the 2013 Angels, which I found to be refreshing considering the utter disappointment the Angels pooped out.
The Bizarro World Angels finished 94-68, five games behind the division winning Oakland Athletics but good enough to be one of the two Wild Card teams. That’s 16 games better than the Real World Angels (78-84).
I gather stats from both Bizarro and Real World Angels to compare and illustrate what in the heck went wrong for the Angels in 2013, or really really right in Bizarro World.
I averaged the Bizarro World bats OPS+ against the Real World Angels (I know it’s not statistically accurate, but what the fuck, I’m a Communications major) to find that the Real World Angels fared just fine compared to the iOOTP group. Josh Hamilton was actually good for Bizarro World, but Mike Trout wasn’t other worldly. It’s worth noting that plantar fasciitis didn’t exist for Albert Pujols in Bizarro World, and running-in fastballs stayed away from Peter Bourjos’s wrists.
But in all, the Real World Angels offense held its own in 2013. They were fifth in the American League in OPS, sixth in runs led the league in triples. The obvious problem, especially when compared to that of the rose-colored glasses that PECOTA was wearing, was the pitching.
Check out Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton. They were the two best starters for the Bizarro World Angels. But when compared to the Real World Angels it’s not even night and day. It’s Sofia Vergara compared to Kate Moss.
Additionally, health really matters. Another 19 starts for Weaver and Vargas would have gone a long ways for the Real World Angels. Likewise, 107 innings of Ryan Madson and Sean Burnett at the back of the bullpen in Bizarro World, compared to just 9.2 total innings in 2013, proved to be an important mark of stability for a pitching staff that finished reality 11th in the AL in ERA, 13th in WHIP, 13th in K/BB ratio and and 13th in bullpen ERA.
Conversely, Garrett Richards partially tore his elbow in Bizarro World and had Tommy John Surgery.
It’s interesting to note that Hanson, Blanton, Madson and Burnett rest solely on the shoulders of Angels General Manager Jerry DiPoto. He traded hard-throwing reliever Jordan Walden for Hanson and signed Blanton, Madson and Burnett. That foursome just about cost DiPoto his job. If those Bizarro World stats carried over to real life, Arte Moreno would be giving JeDi a contract extension.
Because my iOOTP Angels were in a division race, I didn’t trade Alberto Callaspo to Oakland in July for Grant Green. And I kept Scott Downs.
Tampa Bay was the second AL Wild Card team. Matt Moore and Jered Weaver started the WC game at Angel Stadium, and it was a fantastic, scoreless duel through 7. Victor Martinez (acquired from Detroit) ripped a solo blast with two outs in the 8th, and I pulled Weaver after 103 pitches. In the top of the 9th the wheels fell off.
Burnett allowed two hits and Ryan Madson served up a grand slam to Martinez as Matt Moore tossed a two-hit complete game shut out in a 6-0 victory.
The Rays went on to beat Oakland in five games in the Division Series, needed seven games to beat the Chicago White Sox in the League Championship Series and then were swept by Colorado (yes, Colorado) in the World Series.
So it seems as though the Angels disappointed in both realms. They didn’t win in the Real World and they didn’t lose in the Bizarro World. In both realms, 2013 was a year to forget for Angels fans.
And Trevor Bauer.