Yankees Dominate Orioles in Baseball-Reference Simulation, Start 2020 Season With Sweep

Max Goodman

If it wasn't for the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Yankees would have opened the 2020 regular season this past Thursday with a three-game set against the Orioles. 

Last season, the Bombers were practically perfect against their lowly divisional rival. New York finished the season on a 16-game winning streak against Baltimore, scoring 151 runs in 19 games.

The Yankees won't get a chance to extend their win streak for another few months, but until then, this renowned baseball statistics site is helping fans get their baseball fix. 

Baseball-Reference is using data from 'Out of the Park Baseball 21' – a dynasty-building online game rooted in modern intelligence and depth to make accurate predictions – to simulate the start of the 2020 regular season. 

Sunday would have featured the final game of New York's three-game set in Baltimore. Here are the results – according to Baseball-Reference – with a breakdown of how the Yankees stack up statistically among the game's best.

Game 1: Yankees 10 – Orioles 5

To open the season, New York took care of business with a little help from Gerrit Cole's arm and Brett Gardner's bat.

In his (simulated) Yankees regular season debut, Cole threw 6 2/3 innings, striking out 10 while allowing four earned runs to score. The right-hander surrendered nine hits – including a Rio Ruiz home run – but pitched well enough to earn the victory.

Through the first weekend of the season, in Baseball-Reference's universe, only Jacob deGrom, Walker Buehler and Robbie Ray have struck out more batters than the Yankees' new ace.

On offense, Brett Gardner paved the way with two long balls to kick off his age-36 season. Luke Voit and Miguel Andújar each added homers as well.

Game 2: Yankees 16 – Orioles 7

After a simulated day off, the Yankees were back in action on Saturday and the club's offense exploded.

New York mashed a total of six home runs, scoring a total of 16 runs. Gleyber Torres launched a pair of big flies while DJ LeMahieu, Mike Tauchman, Gio Urshela and Gardner each added one of their own.

Masahiro Tanaka started the game for the Bombers and was roughed up early on. He was taken out after just 1 2/3 innings pitched. Six of Baltimore's seven runs were charged to Tanaka, ballooning his ERA up to (brace yourselves) 16.20.

Adam Ottavino was awarded the win for his performance in relief. 16 runs scored is unsurprisingly the most by any offense in a single game over the course of this simulation thus far.

Game 3: Yankees 3 – Orioles 2

The first low-scoring game of the season!

Jonathan Loaisiga got the start for the Bombers in this one and twirled 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball. The right-hander – who in real life is contending for the fifth spot in the Yankees rotation – struck out seven Orioles and allowed just five hits.

No homers for New York in their third contest of the season, but timely hitting late in the game – off Baltimore's Mychal Givens – gave them a late lead. Aroldis Chapman shut the door in the ninth to earn his first save of the campaign.

Statistical standouts

Beyond the ten home runs, these two Yankees had a tremendous first series.

Miguel Andújar was practically unstoppable in this simulation, driving in nine runs in 14 at-bats. By the end of the Yankees' third game, Andújar was tied for the Major League lead in that department.

Even a .429 batting average for Andújar wasn't good enough to lead the team. Starting shortstop Gleyber Torres was an on-base machine, stroking four hits and walking six times (tied for the most in baseball). His average in 15 plate appearances was .444 and his slugging percentage of 1.111 was top-ten in baseball. 

Remember Torres' historic performance against Baltimore last season? In 18 games, the 23-year-old hit .394 (26-for-66). He drove in 20 runs and hit 13 homers. Seems like he's on track – at least in this simulation – to continue dominating Oriole pitching in 2020.

Finally, in what might've been a rushed return to game action, Giancarlo Stanton posted a team-worst .200 batting average (2-for-10) across the club's first three games. 

Since both Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks didn't play, it's evident Baseball-Reference is factoring in injuries – skipper Aaron Boone said Stanton is "ready to go" from his Grade 1 calf strain but would've likely needed some exhibition games prior to a regular season appearance in real life. 

Perhaps Stanton can turn a slow start around in the Yankees' next series – a three-game set in Tampa against the Rays. Stay tuned at Baseball-Reference.com as the simulations continue moving forward.

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