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Baseball Game Theory: Round 2

What players would you pick, again? I promise this is the last one.

Rich Schultz/Getty Images

On February 1st, Beyond the Box Score published the results of the SB Nation baseball game theory simulation. The idea was to see how faux-GM's would select players, with the caveat that if two people picked the same player, nobody would get him. A number of strategies were deployed, to varying degrees of success. Overall, 92 players (out of 150) changed teams, and 38.6 percent of the vote didn't count.

Most teams stayed away from the truly elite players, as they were afraid of wasting a selection on someone like Mike Trout, or Paul Goldschmidt. But for the most part, that backfired, and a host of valuable players remained unclaimed.

"The reigning MVP's, Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson, received a total of zero votes. The reigning Cy Young's, Jake Arrieta and Dallas Keuchel, received a total of zero votes. Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Carlos Correa, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Miguel Sano, Francisco Lindor, Manny Machado, Sonny Gray, Miguel Cabrera, Chris Sale, and a host of other elite players, received zero votes."

It was fascinating to see, and after the results were revealed, most of the participants were distraught. They couldn't believe the number of players that were left, and immediately regretted their ballots. As a result, a few people reached out to see if we could simulate another round, so they could atone for their mistakes. Thankfully, all 30 original participants were willing to go through the process again, but this time, the results were worse.

As a reminder, the rules are as follows.

1) Any player is fair game. Free agents, minor leaguers, and big leaguers. The pool of players is restricted to those that are, or have been in MLB organizations already. This means that recently defected players (The Gourriel brothers for example), or soon to be posted players are off limits.

2) GM's are prevented from picking a player that's already in their organization. Teams like the Cubs and Mets would have had an enormous advantage over the other 28 teams, as they simply could have cast votes for their respective core five's, and blocked anyone else from having a chance. While it's still difficult to secure a player like Kris Bryant, or Jacob deGrom, allowing a team to submit votes for their own players would have made it impossible.

3) If a team successfully steals a player, his current contract comes with them. So if a team were to acquire Giancarlo Stanton, they would have to be able to afford his salary.

4) The most important rule; no communication between GM's. While SB Nation's previous GM simulation was built upon a dialogue between different teams, allowing GM's to talk to each other about their picks would have completely defeated the point of the exercise.

Overall, 76 players were moved, a decrease of 16 players from the first round. Four teams wound up with all five players they selected; two got four; nine got three; seven got two; seven got one; and one team wound up with zero.

Of the 150 total picks, 74 were for the same player, which translates to 49.3 percent of the vote not counting.

In the table below, red text signifies that a player was selected at least twice, making the pick null and void. The table is arranged according to the team that picked the player, not the team that lost the player.

1st pick 2nd pick 3rd pick 4th pick 5th pick
Arizona Dansby Swanson Aaron Blair Touki Toussaint Tyler Skaggs Justin Upton
Atlanta Salvador Perez Maikel Franco Miguel Sano Yoan Moncada Tyler Glasnow
Baltimore Trevor May Michael Pineda Jean Segura Francisco Cervelli Michael Conforto
Boston Yu Darvish Adam Wainright Anthony Rendon Yasiel Puig Rich Hill
Chicago (NL) Matt Carpenter Chris Archer Noah Syndergaard Corey Kluber Brendan Rodgers
Chicago (AL) Xander Bogaerts Troy Tulowitzki Joey Votto Christian Yelich Raisel Iglesias
Cincinnati Addison Russell Matt Harvey George Springer Michael Brantley Dallas Keuchel
Cleveland Paul Goldschmidt Matt Duffy Mookie Betts Hector Rondon Marcell Ozuna
Colorado Byron Buxton Lucas Giolito Dallas Keuchel Manny Machado Dillon Tate
Detroit Anthony Rendon Jose Fernandez Chris Archer Byron Buxton Raul Mondesi
Houston Joey Votto Christian Yelich Jose Fernandez Alex Colome Blake Snell
Kansas City Giancarlo Stanton Carlos Carrasco Jake Odorizzi Garrett Richards Julio Urias
Los Angeles (NL) Gerrit Cole Orlando Arcia Craig Kimbrel Corey Kluber Yu Darvish
Los Angeles (AL) Jacob deGrom Robinson Cano Chris Archer Starling Marte Russell Martin
Miami Noah Syndergaard Jacob deGrom Steven Matz Robinson Cano J.D. Martinez
Milwaukee Chris Archer Clayton Kershaw Kris Bryant Brandon Belt AJ Pollock
Minnesota Javier Baez Jake Odorizzi Tyler Glasnow Danny Salazar Eddy Julio Martinez
New York (NL) Chris Archer Francisco Lindor Manuel Margot Christian Yelich Enrique Hernandez
New York (AL) Drew Smyly Aaron Nola Robinson Cano Joey Gallo Giancarlo Stanton
Oakland Andrew Heaney Ken Giles Ketel Marte Nomar Mazara Carlos Correa
Philadelphia Giancarlo Stanton David Price Max Scherzer Zack Greinke Clayton Kershaw
Pittsburgh Julio Urias Justin Bour Rafael Devers Colin McHugh Erasmo Ramirez
San Diego Lucas Giolito Lewis Brinson Corey Seager Alex Reyes Bradley Zimmer
San Francisco George Springer Corey Seager Dellin Betances Andrew Miller Jake Arrieta
Seattle Jose Fernandez Anthony Rizzo Andrew McCutchen Marcus Stroman Chris Sale
St. Louis Jason Heyward Anthony Rizzo Kris Bryant Addison Russell Kyle Schwarber
Tampa Bay Manny Machado Marcus Stroman Roberto Osuna David Ortiz Corey Kluber
Texas Travis d'Arnaud George Springer Jake Odorizzi Kyle Seager Jose Abreu
Toronto Chris Archer Chris Sale Noah Syndergaard Francisco Lindor Carlos Carrasco
Washington Jacob deGrom Giancarlo Stanton Blake Snell Lucas Duda Kyle Schwarber

In this round, the participants were less afraid to go for elite talent, but that undoubtedly backfired. Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson still received a total of zero votes, but both Cy Young winners were picked (only Arrieta was moved), and both ROY's were taken (only Correa was moved).

With 76 players stolen, the average team had to deal with losing 2.5 players on their respective rosters.

Players lost Players Gained Net change
Arizona 4 5 1
Atlanta 3 4 1
Baltimore 0 5 5
Boston 7 3 -4
Chicago (NL) 5 2 -3
Chicago (AL) 1 3 2
Cincinnati 1 2 1
Cleveland 3 5 2
Colorado 1 1 0
Detroit 2 1 -1
Houston 3 1 -2
Kansas 2 1 -1
Los Angeles (NL) 2 3 1
Los Angeles (AL) 3 2 -1
Miami 2 2 0
Milwaukee 1 2 1
Minnesota 2 3 1
New York (NL) 5 2 -3
New York (AL) 3 3 0
Oakland 1 5 4
Philadelphia 2 3 1
Pittsburgh 4 4 0
San Diego 1 3 2
San Francisco 2 3 1
Seattle 2 1 -1
St. Louis 3 1 -2
Tampa Bay 3 2 -1
Texas 4 3 -1
Toronto 3 0 -3
Washington 1 1 0

During the first round of the simulation, the Padres and Tigers were the only two teams to make it through without losing a player; but that wasn't the case in round two. San Diego lost Manuel Margot, and Detroit had to part ways with their newly acquired outfielder Justin Upton, and J.D. Martinez. Baltimore was the only team this time to not lose a player, whereas last round the Rockies stole Kevin Gausman.

Once again, the Red Sox had the worst luck, as they had seven players stolen. Yoan Moncada, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Craig Kimbrel, David Price, Rafael Devers, and David Ortiz are all on the move, which was an improvement over the first round where they lost nine players.

The most frequently selected position player was Giancarlo Stanton, with four votes. In the first round, only the Phillies took a risk on him, but this time they weren't alone, as the Royals, Yankees, and Nationals tried to acquire him. As for the pitchers, Chris Archer was taken a whopping six times. He didn't accrue a single vote the first time we went through this process, but teams clearly noticed that, and hoped that they were the only one.

Perhaps the most interesting strategy that was played this round was that two teams picked the exact same players, with a third picking four of their original five. The thought process was likely that they assumed teams would stay away from previously picked players, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Of the teams to deploy that line of thinking, the Phillies had the best result, as they still wound up with David Price, Max Scherzer, and Zack Greinke.

This round seemingly didn't have a clear winner,  although Oakland has a strong case. They successfully stole five players, and all of them were from division rivals. Their biggest get was undoubtedly Carlos Correa, who they would have under control through 2022.

At least for this year, this will be the final iteration of our game theory simulation. I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did overseeing it. Thanks again to all our participants, and like last time, a few of the faux-GM's should be adding their thought process to the comments section.

. . .

Matt Goldman is a Contributing Editor with Beyond the Box Score and MLB Daily Dish. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheOriginalBull.