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Our Video Game Simulation Predicted Red Sox-Yankees Showdown

October 5, 2018

Boston's Mookie Betts smiles after scoring on a single by Xander Bogaerts during a Sept. 24 game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. Betts won this year's AL batting title at .346, and with 32 homers and 30 stolen bases became the first player to lead either league in batting as part of a 30-30 season. AP FILE PHOTO Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

Alert readers might recall when, way back at the beginning of the MLB season, we ran a simulation of the 2018 Boston Red Sox campaign, and there was plenty good news for Fenway fans.

In reality, however, the team’s record-breaking success far surpassed even the lofty expectations set by our virtual preview, which simulated the complete 2018 season using the PlayStation 4 version of the ultra-realistic video game, “MLB The Show 18.”

Like any long-range guessing game, there were hits and misses, but it’s hard to argue with the results when here we are, at the doorstep of what should be a thrilling AL Division Series, with the rival New York Yankees and Red Sox set to square off ... just as we predicted.

Here are some of the highlights:

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Hits: Boston vs. New York in the ALDS. Our preview, which ran way back in March, had both of these AL East powers cruising through the regular season on their way to a playoff showdown. So far, so good.

Hot start. In our simulation, Boston lost on opening day before reeling off 11 straight wins. Mirroring that trend, the real-life Red Sox dropped their opener and proceeded to win nine in a row.

J.D. Martinez. Our virtual version of the Boston slugger had a year to remember with 43 homers, 111 RBIs, 93 runs and a .285 batting average. In reality, Martinez was even better, finishing the regular season with outstanding numbers of 43 homers (right on the nose), 130 RBIs, 111 runs and a .330 average.

Andrew Benintendi. The PS4 correctly predicted a breakout year for the Boston left fielder. Benintendi’s real-life numbers of 16 homers, 87 RBIs, 103 runs and a .290 batting average weren’t far off from his virtual stats of 26 homers, 88 RBIs, 89 runs and .327.

Star pitching. As expected, starters Chris Sale (12-4, 237 strikeouts, 2.11 ERA) and David Price (16-7, 177 strikeouts, 3.58 ERA), along with closer Craig Kimbrel (42 saves, 96 strikeouts, 2.74 ERA), have enjoyed a strong season for the Sox. Those numbers don’t quite match their virtual success (Sale: 18-10, 275 strikeouts, 2.80 ERA, AL Cy Young winner; Price: 20-6, 180 strikeouts, 3.26 ERA; Kimbrel: 50 saves, 70 strikeouts, 0.82 ERA, AL Reliever of the Year winner), but they tell a similar story.

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Misses: Yankees win the AL East. Our simulation had the Red Sox finishing runner-up in the division with 99 total wins, while the Yankees muscled their way to an AL East crown with a 101-61 mark. In reality, the Red Sox set a franchise record with 108 wins, and the Yankees settled for a 100-62 campaign and a wild-card victory.

Aaron Judge: New York’s talented slugger would have needed one of the all-time great single-season performances to match his virtual hype. Our PS4 prediction had Judge sweeping the AL MVP voting after piling up 53 home runs, 126 RBIs, 134 runs and a .301 average. His real-life numbers of 27 homers, 67 RBIs, 77 runs and a .278 average weren’t nearly as impressive.

Mookie Betts: A shoo-in for the AL MVP title after a spectacular season, Mookie surprised even our simulation with this year’s success. On the virtual diamond, his ho-hum numbers made a fine contribution to the club, but did little to stand out.

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Yet to come: According to our simulation, the Red Sox will fall to the Yankees in a three-game ALDS sweep. From there, the Cleveland Indians are expected to go on to win the World Series.

Is that outcome possible? Sure. But after putting together 108 wins during a campaign for the ages, perhaps the Red Sox are ready to write their own destiny.

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