In lieu of actual reporting or projecting based on, uh, offseason signings and whatnot, think tank website FiveThirtyEight teamed up with baseball simulator Out of the Park (OOTP) to project the performance of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper on any one of the handful of their rumored free agent destinations.
Read the piece for the full skinny, because it’s cool and sports geeky and jumping Jordan on a pogo stick it’s goddang crickets out there on the Hot Stove. But, some enticing highlights.
OOTP’s artificial intelligence sees an 80% chance of the White Sox signing Machado (San Diego, chortle, apparently has a 20% chance according to HAL 9000)!
[Cue party noisemakers, champagne corks popping, assorted mayhem.]
Now, here’s where it gets a little weird. Again, not gonna barf all the details, but basically, OOTP sees Manny kicking some serious ass with the White Sox ... with almost no playoff success. Only after Manny opts out of the deal do the White Sox make a serious run at a World Series — immediately after Manny leaves.
And the Harper scenario is even weirder. First off, the OOTP AI saw the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals as the two most likely destinations for Harper (what the hell ... St. Louis!?!). But for grips and grins, the AI also ran Harper as a member of the Nationals, Phillies, and White Sox.
And I’d like to tell you how Harper did with the White Sox, but, see, in typical national media fashion, the South Siders were forgotten. As far as I can tell, the White Sox were accidentally labeled as San Diego in the results. Seriously. We’re getting overshadowed by the goddang Padres now:
Looks like Harper is sorta what you’d expect if he was to join the White Sox, would take a precipitous dip in 2023, then rebound with authority in 2024. But, it’s hard to say if those numbers have an “ocean effect” instead of a “lake effect.” Sheesh.
And in related Harper news, apropos to the word on the street a month or two ago (recall, both Machado and Harper purportedly were both very down on signing with the Phillies because ... Philadelphia), comes a breaking story:
(OK, well, it’s a story from The Onion. But, according to its inside sources, “Harper added that he might be willing to play in Philly if the city traded away the majority of its citizens.” And lemme tell ya, that sounds pretty dead on.)