My friend, Clint over at Diamond Hoggers, turned me on to the deep dark world of sim baseball in the form of Out of the Park (OOTP) baseball. I play the iPad version iOOTP 12 since it was easier for me to sneak in 15 or 20 of play time. I haven’t played the desktop OOTP 13, but I will be trying that soon and will probably post on that too. I’ll attempt to briefly chronicle my time as a manager and let you in on all the insights I got from playing. If you like baseball and the details involved, you’ll like this. If you are into learning about my make believe accomplishments, you’ll love this. Read on if you will.
I started the only way I could, by picking the Cincinnati Reds to manage. (I’ll tell you why I regretted this later). You could choose to start with the standard rosters or do a complete re-draft. If you don’t do a re-draft, then you are not having fun. I dove right in so I was a little confused at first. I didn’t take the time to read into all the detailed ratings or what went into to making a good simulation baseball player. My first round pick was Bryce Harper and he would eventually turn out to be the best player on my team in the entire 19 years I managed, winning 3 MVPs and going to countless All-Star games. I filled out the rest of my team using only my knowledge on current players. Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy, and Gerrit Cole all ended up on my team – and they were never that good. Sorry DBacks, Orioles, and Pirate fans.
The setup for management is pretty good and easy to use. You can manage your team by signing free agents, trading players, and setting you rotation, lineup, and depth chart all from one location. Moving between screen with a swipe makes it quick to navigate this interface. (Took me a while to figure out the swipe.) The set up looks likes this:
Important to remember: you are not the owner. You are the lowly manager/GM. I liked to think of myself as president of baseball operations. Your owner sets your budget and tells you if he wants to go to the playoffs, play .500 ball, etc. This where picking the Reds set me back a bit in the long run. OOTP says the Reds are small market (I agree), so my budget didn’t really move much in my 19 years, going from 110M to 130M. This often put me in the position to trade pricey veterans before they walked in FA (Gasp…just like real baseball. Why was I surprised?)
Now to get through 19 years I simulated a lot of games. I would play a game through every so often, but I enjoy the off-season side a bit more. I would always play all the playoff games, even though I figured out I wasn’t very good at it. (I always left my starter in too long). So what should you do? Whatever you want…this is for fun.
So I was able to win 5 championships in the final 7 years. I can honestly say that it was fun. I was in the middle of a moving debacle and I could hop on the iPad and play a few games or try to trade some overpriced middle relievers to the Yankees…err…New York (American League)
OOTP is currently doing a “Laundry League” with some former major leaguers. You can look at the list of managers here. It would be fun to get a league like this together with friends…even if you couldn’t fill out the whole league. For $5 it over delivered on value and entertainment. If you are into fantasy baseball, then you will get a kick out of this. You can get it here if it want.
I normally wouldn’t have a ton of time to play a game like this, but I will most likely keep playing it in the off-season. The months from November to March can be lonely for a baseball fan. Football helps cover the gap, but I don’t really watch regular season NBA and nobody is going to be watching hockey this year. If you need a baseball fix int he off-season, pull out OOTP and play a few games or even a few seasons. It’ll help ride out the long winter.
My advice to potential players:
- Pick a team you like. Despite complaining about a low payroll, I was able to do well and it was more fun to see Cincinnati win it all.
- If you are going to sim games, let the computer manage your team before hand. I found that if I set my team and then played myself I did okay. If I set the team and simulated the game, it didn’t go so well.
- Be aggressive in trades. I had to be very aggressive because I didn’t have the money to buy free agents. At one point I had 6 “80″ players on my team because I kept trying trade combinations until I had a good deal.
- I loaded up on elite batting talent. One year the worst batter in my lineup was my catcher at 71. It’s fun to score runs.
- I always tried to have one elite pitcher and one pretty good one. This seemed to work pretty well in the playoffs when I only used a three man rotation.
- Try to pick your own players in the amateur draft. I had no idea who to pick most of the time. The highest rated players are always middle relievers which was annoying.
- Negotiate tough on contracts with FA and extensions. I rarely had to meet the player’s demand. I never paid someone more than $20M per.
A couple ideas that I thought would make the game better:
- Post-season awards
- The salary budget was a little confusing with the limits. Would be nice to see a breakdown of why I had limits for extensions and free agency.
- I may have never used it, but pitch by pitch would have been cool. I’m assuming this is only a limitation of the iPad app.
- Ability to go back and look at individual game box scores after the game is over. Again, maybe only a limitation of the iPad app.