Even video game Daniel Nava is irrepressible. Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor

Back in March, I wrote a column in which I analyzed the Red Sox in MLB 13: The Show.

The results were… well, interesting.

With June coming to a close, it seems like a good time to revisit the Virtual Sox. Factoring in call-ups, demotions, injuries, and lineup shuffles, I’m interested in examining how the current MLB 13 Sox stack up against the team as it was at the start of the year.

As with before, injuries will not be turned on and current real-life injuries will not be accounted for. Ratings are 1-99, with 99 being the best. Prospects are only included in MLB 13 rosters if they’ve seen major league time before the most recent update, and advanced stats are mostly a myth in the video game universe.

New Additions:

Allen Webster: 72 overall

The top Red Sox prospect currently on the major league squad, Webster’s stats reflect his prospect status. The per-9 stats are lacking (54 H/9, 62 K/9, 41 BB/9, 53 HR/9), but some of the physical attributes are promising (78 stamina, 71 velocity). Webster is currently a clear case of a pitcher who will be worth much more in a few years of game time than right off the bat.

The most important stat regarding Webster: B potential. While I think it should more likely be an A rating due to MLB 13’s inconsistency in that regard, it should peak Webster as a #2 or #3 starter, which seems like his real-life ceiling.

Jackie Bradley Jr: 64 overall

Similar to Webster, the game (appropriately) gave Bradley prospect status at this point in time. Bradley’s stats show room to develop in the areas we expect him to excel (60 Con v R, 52 con v L, 54 vision, 61 discipline, 64 fielding, 77 reaction, 74 speed), but he’s clearly not a finished product at this point in time. Judging by his major league production to this point, this seems accurate.

Although again, I believe an A potential rating would be more appropriate for Bradley than the B they gave him.

Notable Changes:

Starting Rotation Changes

MLB 13 clearly caught on to the hot start from Red Sox pitchers to open the season, as Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz now sit on 92 and 91 ratings, respectively. Quick as they were to improve Lester and Buchholz, however, the game did not account for Lester’s recent ineffectiveness.

Strangely, John Lackey dropped an overall point (down to 79) despite putting together what has been his best season in a Red Sox uniform so far this year. The slight drop left me scratching my head.

I would comment on Alfredo Aceves being an 88 overall starting pitcher, but it just hurts too much.

Bullpen Shuffling

Joel Hanrahan’s stint as a human batting practice machine concerned the MLB 13 team so much, they dropped him from a 95 overall all the way to a 92. He’s currently sitting in AAA, which means Koji Uehara is now listed as the team’s closer. Uehara’s new gig came with a three point ratings boost, as he’s now a 91.

Andrew Bailey’s overall remains unchanged despite his turbulent stretch as of late, but he’s now the fifth best relief pitcher on the roster, behind Hanrahan, Uehara, Tazawa, and (gulp) Daniel Bard.

Lineup is Fine How It Was, Apparently

The only notable change – no, the only change at all – to the Red Sox lineup was to Will Middlebrooks, who dropped from an 80 to a 77. I guess the good news there is that I don’t think that B potential rating is selling him short anymore.

As a side note, for the purposes of this simulation, Middlebrooks will be my starting third baseman. This is mostly due to the fact that Jose Iglesias is a 59 overall. You’ll have to forgive me for this inaccuracy.

With all this in mind, we’ll first simulate up to the current point in the season – June 28 – before finishing it off same as last time.

Simulation Through June 28:

Record: 42-40, 2nd in AL East

Well, this simulation wasn’t quite so kind to the Red Sox, although they did find themselves in second place in the AL East, 4.5 games behind the division leading Rays. Wonderfully, the Yankees sat in last at 33-47.

Offensively, this team is a mess. No Sox batter hit better than Daniel Nava’s .287, and the duo of Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino combined for OBPs of .277 and .292, respectively.

David Ortiz, naturally, was the team’s bright spot, batting .272/.352/.463 with 16 homers and 46 RBI. Nava – overall-wise the worst player in the starting lineup – surprised with a triple-slash of .287/.393/.451. They must have programmed him with an extra-high TWTW rating. Mike Napoli has been a little more human than our previous simulation so far, batting .247/.316/.430 with 11 homers.

The pitching rotation has been a much different story, however. Clay Buchholz has a 3.34 ERA and an 83/24 K/BB, Jon Lester has a 3.16 and 81/42, and Ryan Dempster has a 3.88 and 84/42.

On the back end, though, Doubront has been rough, with a 5.04 ERA, although he did post a solid 84/34 K/BB. It’s a pity FIP doesn’t exist in MLB 13’s universe; I’d like to know if he’s been getting unlucky or not.

In the bullpen, the only pitcher not having a stellar season is the mysteriously-called-up Joel Hanrahan, who has a 7.11 ERA, albeit in limited use.

This time around, the team’s strikeout numbers are much higher; in fact, they’re closing in on the K numbers from the last simulation’s Cy Young winners, less than halfway through the season. Surprisingly, the simulation is very low on the offense, despite being ranked as the #1 team in the league in terms of power.

All things considered, the real Red Sox are certainly better than their virtual counterparts. Let’s carry on.

Final Simulation:

Record: 87-75, 1st in AL East

Playoffs! Woo!

The Sox finished on top of the AL East, followed (in order) by Baltimore, New York, Tampa, and Toronto. Only the Orioles posted a winning record, at 85-78. Of course, the division win was short-lived, as the Sox subsequently dropped to Oakland in the first round in four games (the lone win coming on a Jon Lester shutout).

For the season, Ellsbury hit 21 homers and stole 33 bases (one more than his current total this season), but batted only .231 with a .306 OBP. Pedroia posted a wonderful .292/.362/.490 with 27 homers and 32 steals. Nava went for .282/.374/.416. Ortiz, Napoli, Saltalamacchia, and Middlebrooks each broke 20 homers. Jonny Gomes weirdly hit .306/.369/.517 with 15 home runs.

On the pitching side, Buchholz’s hot start didn’t hold up, as he finished with a 4.27 ERA and a 145/58 K/BB. The team’s best pitcher was Jon Lester, who put up a 3.12 ERA and 165/78 K/BB. Doubront confirmed my “he’s probably getting unlucky” hypothesis, striking out 186 people, although his ERA only dropped to 4.91. John Lackey’s “best shape of his life” season ended with a 6.05 ERA.

Alfredo Aceves finished with a 1.90 ERA and 53 strikeouts as a long relief man, because asdfasdgfasdhgadfadsfg.

As for final season awards:

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera – .349, 60 HR, 163 RBI (OH MY GOD)
NL MVP: Matt Kemp – .314, 42 HR, 117 RBI

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander – 19-6, 2.55 ERA, 204 K
NL Cy Young: Zach Greinke – 16-2, 3.14 ERA, 187 K

AL ROY: Wil Myers – .238, 13 HR, 56 RBI
NL ROY: Yasiel Puig – .292, 25 HR, 89 RBI

All in all, the latest MLB 13 rosters would seem to be vastly superior to their original counterparts. They’re certainly not without fault – they seem to have jumped all in on the Yasiel Puig hyperbole, as he’s a 92 right off the bat – but they produced a vastly more believable experience than before. Keep an eye out for this to be revisited again in a few months.

Maybe with Xander Bogaerts? We can only hope.