With no baseball on the schedule, or on the horizon at the time of this story, we’ve been left with small gratification and entertainment from simulated 2020 campaigns to date. One recurring theme in those sims is a monster success for White Sox outfielder, Eloy Jimenez.
Jimenez, 23, is coming off a strong rookie campaign in which he hit .261 with 31 home runs, and 79 RBI for the White Sox in 2019. Many believed that 2020 was going to be even better for a healthy Jimenez who missed a combined 40 games in 2019 to two different injuries.
Apparently, the A.I. in the two most popular baseball simulators in the world agreed. In nearly every simulation that I’ve seen, Eloy is absolutely mashing for the White Sox in 2020.
In our just-completed MLB Tournament simulation, Jimenez hit .348 with 6 home runs, 23 RBI, and 20 runs scored in 16 games.
If you head over to the popular statistics hub Baseball-Reference’s page and check out their 2020 simulation — using Out of the Park Baseball 21 (OOTP) — you’ll find equally impressive numbers. Through May 9th, Jimenez is slashing .346/.417/.542 with 9 home runs, 24 RBI, and 19 runs scored. Good for a .958 OPS, and 1.6 bWAR.
In our own OOTP simulation, Jimenez is putting up more of the same.
Through 35 games, here’s what Jimenez’s 2020 season looks like:
While I don’t have access to detailed stats from other local White Sox publications doing the same type of simulations, I’ve seen more of the same when it comes to Jimenez.
The question is, can the real Eloy translate the success that his virtual self has onto the field in 2020?
If his start-to-finish progression in 2019 is any indication, the answer is yes. In 2019, Eloy was slow out of the gate for the White Sox, hitting just .241 with three home runs in 21 March/April games.
May wasn’t any better. In 12 games — before driving his ankle into the left-field wall and being sidelined with a high ankle sprain — Jimenez had just eight hits in his 44 at-bats. Maybe that injury, and more particularly the time away from the spotlight, was a blessing in disguise. When he came back in June, something clicked for the young slugger.
After reaching base safely just 35 times in his first 132 major-league plate appearances, Jimenez slashed .282/.340/.602 in 97 plate appearances in the month of June. He crushed eight bombs and drove-in 20 runs. He also walked eight times in that span, the most in any one month span for him in 2019.
All of a sudden, Eloy was looking like the kid that blazed his way through the White Sox affiliate system, making a mockery of minor league pitching on a nightly basis. And then came an abbreviated early July slump, followed by the collision with Charlie Tilson, that once again sidelined Jimenez.
Once again, when he returned to the White Sox lineup, Jimenez had once again found his way. Here’s what his August/September looked like:
During his longest healthy stretch of the season, and with 279 major-league plate appearances under his belt, Eloy Jimenez progressively took off in the final two months of the 2019 campaign and was one of the hottest hitters in baseball for the last 30 games of the season.
What does it all mean? Maybe nothing.
Or, maybe that Eloy Jimenez is in line for a monster season in year two on the Southside. Only time will tell, but one thing is for certain; if the White Sox are going to reach their potential in 2020, it’s going to take a substantial showing by Jimenez, so let’s hope the virtual Eloy is a precursor for reality, Eloy, when baseball finally gets going this summer.