Steve Cohen in MLB The Show

The Steve Cohen Experience in MLB The Show

I’ve been an Atlanta Braves fan my entire life. Like most kids who grew up loving baseball, I dreamed I would play for my favorite team some day or at least make it in professional baseball. As I got older and that dream was clearly never going to be anything more than a dream, I drifted into fantasizing what it would be like owning my favorite team like Steve Cohen.

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It truly is an astounding thought, right? Not just having the piles of money it takes to own and operate a major sports franchise. Simply being associated with your favorite team would be a coup for many, but owning the team and being involved in its attempt at winning championships sounds even more enticing than playing.

There’s often (and rightfully so) discourse around MLB owners not being overly committed to winning. We see it every season, with teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates opting to not spend money to drastically improve their club. The bottom-dwellers of the league are easy to analyze with their low payroll expenditure and lack of meaningful player development. It becomes quite easy to question whether these owners truly love their teams and truly love baseball, or if they simply seek the profits from owning a business. Are the owners even real fans?

The Mets are obviously housed in one of the biggest markets in professional sports, yet their previous owners were marred by scandal and ineptitude that prevented the team from ever truly getting to that top-end level. Superfan Steve Cohen purchased his beloved New York Mets in November 2020. After securing the purchase of his favorite team, Cohen was clear that he was willing to do whatever it took to bring a championship to Queens.

Cohen was so clear in his intention to spend money on payroll that MLB instituted a new “Cohen Tax” tier in the luxury tax system. Designed to dissuade owners (Steve Cohen) from spending too much on payroll, this new Cohen-tier was set at a cool $290 million. Basically, if a team’s total payroll exceeded the $290 million mark, they’d pay a tax rate of 80% on the overage.

In the real world, we watched as Cohen’s Mets recruited every marquee free agent in this year’s free agency class. The Mets lost Jacob DeGrom but replaced him with Justin Verlander. They brought back Brandon Nimmo and Edwin Diaz on massive new deals. They landed prized Japanese hurler Kodai Senga. All told, the New York Mets current 2023 payroll sits at $329,118,332 according to Spotrac. A wild number by any standard but unheard of in Major League Baseball.

But what if Steve Cohen went full superfan and signed all the top-tier free agents from this class? Well, that’s why we have MLB The Show.

The Steve Cohen Experience In MLB The Show

We’ll again be using MLB The Show 22 to run our simulation. Using “Roster 01/24/23” from Xbox user DLA75, we added the top 10 free agents from MLB.com’s list to the Mets in addition to all the acquisitions they actually made in real life. Injuries and trades will be turned off to see how dominant this team could have been.

Will our MLB version of the Monstars march their way to a World Series? Or would this massive payroll bring too many massive personalities together that crumbled the clubhouse and left Mets fans to wallow in their continued pain?

With the Mets going full Steve Cohen and signing the top 10 free agents, it created a bit of a roster conundrum. Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson are all shortstops. The Mets also happen to have one of the best SS in the game already with Francisco Lindor.

So what’s a Cohen to do?

Well, in this world the incoming free agents are coming in with an understanding that they most likely won’t play every single day. With a glut of top-tier SS, that means a rotation between 2B, SS, 3B, DH and even the OF with Trea Turner. While this looks silly within the roster screen in The Show, I think it actually sounds pretty cool. A bunch of top-flight players who get built in off-days while rotating around the diamond, simultaneously keeping each other fresh while still fielding one of the best teams in baseball.

The rotation was even more of a roster crunch. The returning Chris Bassitt and incoming Jose Quintana wanted so badly to be a part of this Mets team that they agreed to primarily pitch out of the bullpen. Thinking of potential real world impact, this would be an amazing way to keep deGrom, Scherzer, and Verlander healthy throughout the season while having insane depth. The short arms in the bullpen are obviously lacking, but this is Steve Cohen we’re talking about. We don’t need middle relief when we have seven of the best SP in baseball and Edwin Diaz to close games.

Talk about a torrid start. The New York Mets entered the All-Star break not only leading the NL East but owning the best record in MLB at 67-31. Interestingly, the second-best record in MLB belonged to the New York Yankees. That’s pretty incredible when you consider they don’t have Aaron Judge or Carlos Rodon in this simulation because they’re on our Mets.

The Mets sent five players to the All-Star Game with Judge, Max Scherzer, Jeff McNeil, Justin Verlander, and Pete Alonso getting nods. McNeil was actually a starter which, again, is incredible considering he was bouncing around and losing playing time with the new SS added. It’s unsurprising, however, that none of the newly signed SS made the team as they were playing all around the diamond with less reps than usual.

The Mets went on to terrorize MLB and finished the season with a 111-51 record. Not only the best in MLB, but those 111 wins gave them a tie for 4th most team wins in MLB history.

Despite not making the All-Star team, Jacob deGrom went on to win the Cy Young and MVP awards in the National League after going 21-4 with a 2.55 ERA and 251 Ks. The Mets were also the top three vote getters for the NL MVP and Cy Young. If that’s not enough, Jeff McNeil won the NL batting title with a .302 average.

With a roster and rotation stacked to the rafters with talent, one of the best regular season records in MLB history, and awards galore, the New York Mets are primed to make a run in the playoffs.

Just kidding. The Mets lost in the first round to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Jacob deGrom went six solid innings in Game 1, striking out eight but giving up three runs. The Mets offense got carved up by Zack Wheeler who twirled a complete game shutout in the Phillies’ 5-0 win.

With Game 2 there was an almost identical start from Max Scherzer that got wasted as the Mets offense couldn’t muster more than two runs. A closer game for the Mets that resulted in another loss at home to start the series.

Facing elimination, the Mets rebounded to score a win in Philadelphia with a 4-3 victory. Justin Verlander went 6.2 innings and gave up all three runs, but the Mets finally strung some hits together to pull out the win.

Carlos Rodon, one of the prized signings in our offseason, went six solid innings but ate the series-deciding L as the Mets again failed to score and only scratched across two runs thanks to a Dansby Swanson HR.

Aaron Judge, the top free agent in this class and one of the very best in MLB, hit a paltry .142 in his debut Postseason with the Mets. Despite adding the very best free agent hitters, the Mets got 16 total hits from the entire crop and most of those came from the returning Brandon Nimmo.

The Steve Cohen Experience Part 2?

Needless to say, the 2023 New York Mets ended up breaking hearts despite breaking records. With a payroll that would have cleared $500 million for the season, the Mets received All-Star play from most of their starting roster and had the best rotation in all of baseball. Jacob deGrom decided to stay in New York and went on to win the Cy Young and MVP with a stellar season. Jeff McNeil, who was speculated to lose a ton of playing time after the additions, went on to win the NL batting crown and was an All-Star himself.

Despite all this, the Mets fell victim to the same story we see just about every MLB Postseason. No matter how stacked or talented a team is and no matter how many wins they put up during the regular season, momentum and timing are crucial elements in the postseason. The Phillies reached the playoffs as a Wild Card team, took down their division rivals, and sprinted all the way to the World Series where they defeated the Cleveland Guardians to win it all.

Off the backs of a successful regular season and disappointing postseason, Steve Cohen would surely be fuming. It’s one thing to be eliminated, but to lose to a division rival that you outspent by over $300 million would surely add another level to the pain. What would be next for the Mets? Maybe some trades to consolidate the roster? Or perhaps no other teams would want to deal with Cohen, instead opting to watch him wallow in pity as his enormous payroll amounted to nothing.

Or does the Steve Cohen experience get taken to yet another level during the 2023-2024 offseason? Would he dare?

MLB The Show 22

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