Yankees' Brett Gardner on Pace for Career Year Through One Month of Strat-O-Matic Simulation of 2020 Season

Max Goodman

The 2020 MLB season was originally scheduled to begin one month ago on Sunday. Instead of a jam-packed start to this year's campaign, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has left the baseball world dormant for the last 30-plus days. 

With countless fans longing to fill the void left behind by this season's postponement, several have turned to simulations for their daily baseball fix.

Among the sites to predict how this season would have played out so far is Strat-O-Matic. 

Earlier this month, research director John Garcia – who oversees the entire project – told Sports Illustrated's Inside The Pinstripes that you simply won't find another simulation with more intricate attention to detail and realistic results.

With that being said, how have the Yankees performed thus far?

As of Saturday, through 28 games, New York is 17-11 and in second place in the American League East (two games behind Tampa Bay). Here's a breakdown of how the Bombers have gotten to this point.

Brett Gardner simply cannot be stopped

The best player on the Yankees over the first month of Strat-O-Matic's simulation has been Brett Gardner. The longest-tenured Yankee has been virtually unstoppable. 

Gardner has played in each of the Yankees' 28 contests to date, posting a spectacular .372 batting average. That's the second-best clip among all qualified players in this simulated season.

Further, Gardner has scored 22 runs, stroked 42 hits, driven in 22 and stolen seven bases – each of those outputs are in the league's top ten.

Had the coronavirus pandemic never occurred, Gardner would have been in the midst of his age-36 season. Evidently age hasn't impacted the outfielder as much as some would have assumed in this sim. The lefty is hitting .443 against right-handed pitching (the best average against righties in the game). 

READ: Brett Gardner's games-played milestone will have to wait if this season is canceled

To top it all off, he's hit seven home runs thus far. That puts him on pace to hit over 40 home runs in this simulated season – he hadn't cleared 21 big flies in a single season before his 28-homer power outburst a year ago.

Beyond Gardy's hot start, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andújar have put together solid campaigns of their own. Torres is second in the Majors in home runs with 10 while Andújar is tied for second in the race for the most doubles in the league (with 11).

READ: Taking over as the Yankees' manager within Strat-O-Matic for one game and leading New York to victory

Nothing's stopping the Cole Train either

From a player who's played in the Bronx for a dozen seasons to a hurler who was poised to make his debut in a Yankees uniform on Opening Day, Gerrit Cole roared out of the gates in Strat-O-Matic's simulation and hasn't looked back.

Through six starts and 39 1/3 innings pitched, the Yankees' ace has posted a 1.60 ERA – third-lowest among the league's best hurlers. He's won four decisions, lost just one, and leads Major League Baseball with 58 punch outs.

In addition to Cole, Jonathan Loaisiga is having a quality (simulated) start to the 2020 campaign as well. The right-hander, who slotted in as the fifth member of the starting rotation, has a tremendous 1.74 ERA through four starts. He's only pitched in 20 2/3 innings – over 10 frames fewer than J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery.

James Paxton, who threw his fifth bullpen after lower back surgery this week, has yet to make his debut in the Strat-O-Matic simulation. Nor has Aaron Judge, who is still nursing the stress fracture in his first right rib. Skipper Aaron Boone mentioned on Thursday that Judge is progressing well and the extra time off during the coronavirus-induced hiatus has allowed his rib to "continue to heal."

Strat-O-Matic's research director John Garcia explained – in Inside The Pinstripes' exclusive – that he bases which players made the Opening Day roster based on real life events. Therefore, after a positive update from Boone this week, don't be too surprised if Judge is back in the Yankees' lineup sooner than later in this simulated universe.

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For more from Max Goodman, follow him on Twitter @MaxTGoodman. Follow ITP on Twitter @SI_Yankees and Facebook @SIYankees