In the meantime, we can imagine what sort of numbers Harper might put up in his eventual new (or old) home with the help of The Show’s simulation engine. To help pass the time during a tepid offseason and promote the upcoming release of the game, The Show’s developers simulated the 2019 season with Harper on each of the league’s 30 teams and then shared the results on Twitter.
“For the purpose of integrity, we only ran the simulation once for each team,” Ramone Russell, a designer, producer and community manager for the game, said in a phone interview last week. “We locked the rosters down from the last transaction of the 2018 season, and then we added Bryce Harper and put him in the starting lineup for every team."
Across the 30 simulations, Harper averaged 35 home runs and 99 RBI. He won four Hank Aaron Awards, 14 Silver Slugger Awards, three Gold Gloves, two NL MVP awards, one batting title and a World Series MVP award. Fourteen teams qualified for the postseason with Harper on their roster, but only the Angels won the World Series.
The Nationals won the National League East and what would be a franchise-high 105 games, thanks in part to Harper’s 32 home runs, 88 RBI and NL-best .343 average. Washington also advanced to the NLCS for (what would be) the first time in team history, but that was hardly the most surprising outcome of the exercise. While Harper hit 50 home runs for the Yankees and Orioles, and somehow helped Baltimore to a wild-card berth, the most puzzling number generated by the 30 simulations was 19, Harper’s home run total while playing half his games at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Time spent on the virtual disabled list couldn’t explain Harper’s lack of long balls with the Rockies, his fewest with any team, as injuries were turned off for all simulations.
“The 19 home runs in Colorado is head-scratching,” Russell said. “Let’s say we ran that simulation two more times, maybe he would’ve hit 55-plus bombs, but we’ll never know.”
“I actually did run it once more, and he actually hit 35 home runs, with 105 RBI and a .323 average [for the Rockies], so much more in line with what you saw for the rest of the league,” MLB The Show senior designer Luis Martinez said. “So, that was just an anomaly. It’s kind of cool to see that as well, that the simulator can produce these anomalies that actually happen in real baseball.”
As Martinez explained, simulations in The Show are based on a variety of factors, including a player’s assigned attributes in the game. For example, a player with a 99 rating for “Contact” tends to produce a .340 average over the course of a full season. Other factors — including player morale, contract status, teammates and team performance — also affect a player’s performance. While Harper experienced a power outage in Denver’s thin air for whatever reason, he didn’t seem to mind sharing a clubhouse with former Giants reliever Hunter Strickland, belting 38 home runs with 99 RBI and a .322 average for the Giants.
As for the Phillies, who are considered one of the leading contenders to sign Harper, the outfielder won the National League MVP in his first virtual season in Philadelphia.
“He took 'em to the playoffs and he had a .325 average there with 41 home runs,” Russell said. “I think any team would be happy to add that type of bat to their lineup.”
Russell and Martinez were mum about a release date for the MLB The Show 19 trailer, which in recent years has been in the days following the Super Bowl. They also declined to comment on the speculation by some fans on social media that Harper’s free agency announcement will be timed to the game’s cover release.
“It was fun to do,” Russell said of the simulation. “It’s always interesting to see how a position player can change the outcome of a team in a potential sim. It’ll be interesting to see how that corresponds in real life when he decides to sign, what type of year that he has. It’s been really great working with [Harper], and we can’t wait to work with him more.”
Here’s a look at how Harper fared in MLB The Show 19′s simulation for every team.
American League East
Harper helped lead four out of five teams in the AL East to the playoffs. Harper won MVP honors with the Yankees, with a ridiculous 50 home runs, 135 RBI and a .322 average.
American League Central
Only the Indians made the playoffs with Harper on their roster.
American League West
Harper hit a modest 25 home runs with 79 RBI for the Angels but earned World Series MVP honors. The Houston Astros were the only other team in the division to reach the postseason.
National League East
In addition to leading the Nationals to the NLCS, Harper also led the Mets and Phillies to the playoffs.
National League Central
Cubs Manager Joe Maddon has said Harper signing with Chicago is “not going to happen,” but if it does, the Cubs might win 113 games.
National League West
Harper slumped to a .227 average in Los Angeles, but he still hit 31 home runs with 98 RBI.
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