Tag Archive: American League


Disclaimer:I’ve never written a game review in my life so be kind. haha.

ALSO AT THE END OF THE REVIEW IS A LINK TO A PODCAST WITH BRAD COOK FROM OOTP DEVELOPMENTS.

When I first read the book Moneyball I was a bit skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I love the underdog and numbers just as much as anyone but a book about it seemed kind of dull. Surprise, surprise however, I read the book and loved it. After years of playing MLB The Show I wasn’t quite sure if a game like Out Of The Park Baseball(OOTP) was going to do it for me, but four years later I’m still playing and still loving every minute of it. The game filled a gap for me that was missing from a game like MLB The Show. I love playing franchises and while The Show has a fine franchise it isn’t nearly deep enough for me. I want that numbers experience that requires me to know the ins and outs of collective bargaining, the risks of picking a guy based on tools and not numbers, and the fun of organizing contracts to avoid future budget constraints. OOTP gave me that and every year it gets better.

Let me start by saying I can’t begin to explain to you how deep OOTP 13 is or even how much you can customize and control everything about your league and experience in the game. Do you want a 30 man roster? You got it. Do you want to mimic 1930’s financials in 2012? Go for it. Maybe you want to put certain guys into the Hall of Fame who didn’t get in? You can do that too. I could  spend all day just talking about the things you can do in the game to truly make it yours.

To begin with there are three main modes in OOTP baseball as well as a quickstart option and online for those who want to share the love. The first of the is Major League Game which sets you up with a basic MLB set up complete with players, salary fixtures, and minor league teams. One of the first things you’ll notice when you start speaks to some of the freedom you’ll have in this game. You can choose to be commissioner of your league which means you can change rules, adjust player ratings, force trades, set computer rosters, manage computer teams, and generally have run of the league. You can set it where you can’t be fired, you can as of the last update play solely as the GM, and you can even choose to start your career as a minor league manager for that extra challenge.

Once you finally enter the game you’ll notice is the logos aren’t MLB logos. This has to do with licence issues and such but one quick stop to forum and you’ll learn this is easy to mod and all the hard work in that direction has been done for you.  The games features crisp and smart menu design which is nice considering you have a world of information at your disposal. Up top you have to main widgets to click for drop down menus and on the side you have buttons that take you to some of the most frequently used screens. There is a ton of information to be had in this game but it never feels daunting. I think that is in large part because of the menu set up. Of course within these menus you’ll find your standard options like like stats and leaders, trade, roster overview, and such but you’ll also fine a prospect ranking, salary obligations. and shop a player. These are some useful items not found in every game that helps OOTP 13 stand out a bit.

Trading: I actually love trading in this game. I’ll admit you can work over the AI and sometimes I wonder if the AI has any real plan moving forward past the season you’re in and the next but I still find some trades really rewarding. If you have draft picks trading on trading gets a bit easier in some ways but very interesting on the whole. With  it off(the default) its tougher but so fulfilling. Just today I was trying to get Strasburg from the Nats and failed but felt good about my failure cause it made sense and felt real. Shop A Player is big for me. You select a player from your team it shows you   instantly players a team would trade you in a one for one deal. You can only shop three players per day but this has often been the beginning of major deals for me. If nothing else it is a good barometer for a players perceived value around the league.

Free Agency: All the rules are here. Compensation rights, A and B free agents(if you turn off the new CBA rules), the new draft compensation rules, and arbitration. This year there is an off-season section that shows you estimated free agent demands, teams interested in a player, and a ranking of how a team’s off-season is going using WAR(wins above replacement.).  Free agents have demands on how much they think they should be offered and in what structure but you can adjust it to fit your needs before making an offer. Me myself I prefer a decreasing contract(makes it easier to trade later). Free agents will think about the deal and get back to you in email about they like your offer or not. The game is smart enough to have players leverage other teams offers against your for more money. I personally find it frustrating to not know what each team is offering at any given time but it is realistic and when i get out bid at the last second i smile because its still fun. One thing that does bug me is contract demands can get pretty crazy. As the off-season goes on they usually go down but its still kind of bothersome. It often leads to really big names being free agents into spring training.

Managing Games: I’m not much of a game manager myself but when I do I enjoy myself. You set the lineup just before the game. Taking into account the pitcher handedness, playtime, perhaps match up stats, and whatever is important to you. Once actually in the game you can play pitch to pitch or at bat to at bat. There are plenty of options for telling you batter or pitcher how to approach any given situation in the game. For instance i pitch around power or high contact guys, I do a lot of hit and runs, and I steal bases. You can make mound visits which the pitcher may or may not appreciate, you can double switch, sacrifice squeeze, or do any of those other nifty things that managers do. Almost everything you need to know to move forward in a game such as pitch count is easy to see or find. If at any point you want to skip ahead you can quickly do so.

Stats: There are stats everywhere and its great. The box scores for games have various options of the amount of time they kept and along with that you can control the level of detail career stats and historical stats will be kept in your league moving forward. All you classic like homeruns, ERA, and Walks are kept and ranked. Each Player also has saber metric stats like runs created, WHIP, and VORP recorded. Minor league stats, Major League stats, and college feeder league stats are all available. I suggest to get a full grasp player around with the menus and check it all out.

Rosters: The rosters for the Major and Minor leagues are easy to view and have many filtering options. Sometimes changing filters takes a bit more time than I’d like but I’m nit picking. Players actual and potential rating can be tracked and displayed in various ways and customized just to fit your style. Almost every menu shows these rating by default when looking at rosters. Moving players between minor and major leagues is pretty simple to do on the menus and there are screens that even advice you on the process. Of course you could turn that control to your minor league managers.

Scouting and Financials: The scouting in this game is still kind of a mystery to me. I don’t know how they do it. You scout can favor ability(stats today and the natural evolution of someone that age) or tools(favors potential over stats). Not all scouts are created equally. Keeping this in mind may help you find some diamonds in the rough. The financials are pretty brilliant. The Salary Obligations screen is very useful. Attendance ratings and such are readily available information. I feel the AI in the league is often smarter than real baseball which is good and bad. The is a lack of sentimental valuer on the AI’s part which cause moments like the Yankees to trade or release Jeter before he retires which would never happen in real life. They also give you good info on the trade screen about the money ramifications for each team although in my custom leagues this always gets out of whack after about ten years.

Everything else: There are newspapers which report on everything from trade and trade rumors to a one of you players opening up a BBQ restaurant in the city. The latter of which is apart of the new interactive storylines implemented in OOTP 13. Lots of times this will lead to choices. Like a hitter complaining about playing time which forces you to make a decision to comment on it or not which in turn affects player morale and such. I love the sound of this but admittedly never seen it in action, possibly because of the way i manage my teams and the success we have. A brand new real-time simulation modes let you watch games play-off  side by side which makes for excellent drama near the end of a season. Playoff races have never felt more real in the game than they do now. When you get to watch updates from games and se and feel teams play-off chances rising or slipping away.

Historical mode allows you to do all you can in the Major League except all throughout the history of baseball. Miss the Steroid Era? Then jump back in the nineties and play as the the Cardinals. Want to down Murderers Row jump back and play the Red Sox. By default teams move and change names at all the proper times in history, and player develop on a similar trajectory. All of this can be customized to high degree which aids you if you really want to change the tide of history.

Custom Leagues allow you to create whole leagues from scratch. You can you use preset templates and even start with preset leagues from counties like Japan and Taiwan. This year it is easier than ever to create a Euro or world league with the option to pick regions for your league not just countries. I love making a Euro League based in multiple countries.

All in all this is a great game. The best part about it though is the community. There is a highly active forum that you can learn so much from just by checking it out. The developers seem pretty responsive and way more active than you’ll see from EA or Take 2.

To close out: I recommend this really anyone who loves the financials of sports. I also recommend to people looking for something different. Its a great game that gets better and better every year. Sure there’s not fancy graphics or complete player control but for anyone who thinks they can run day to day operation of there team better then the guys in charge now this is ultimately rewarding as it gets. You can do almost anything your mind can dream of for the game.

Podcast (right click the button and save link as)

Twitter: @ootpdevelopments

website:OOTP Website

The show’s Twitter: @occupy_thegame
T
he host’s twitter: @ingrammi6

Comment the blog. Tweet at the show and let me know what you think of the show and the blog. Follow me if you like. I’m getting better at blogging and tweeting more I promise.

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Record: 45-45

Standings: Last in the AL East at 10.5 games back.  2 games back of the second wild card position.

Top Pitcher So Far: Darren Oliver 38 games from the bullpen, 13 holds, and a 1.30 Earned Run Average.

An Explanation of Holds:  Okay so if you have no idea what a hold is and you can’t find a synopsis on net its ok. Most baseball fans haven’t caught up on holds either. A hold is when a pitcher comes in in the later part of the game(usually the seventh or eighth inning) and holds the lead. That’s all. They pitch well enough in an inning(that is not the last inning or it’d be a save) to keep their teams lead intact.

Top Batter So Far: Edwin Encarnacion .296 Batting Average, 25 Home Runs, 62 Run Batting In.

The Blue Jays have been good not great for years now. The coming of Jose Bautista a few years back really had me believing they would finally make the play-offs but to this point it hasn’t happened. This year much like almost every team in the AL East they have bounced up and down the standings and frankly I expect that trend to continue. I could see them winning a wild card spot and by the same token I could see them finishing last in the division. Part of this line of thinking comes simply from the fact that the AL East is a tough division and the part of this notion comes from me simply feeling like that who the Blue Jays are. They are a middling team in Batting Average and On-Base Percentage but a top ten team in runs. This comes simply from the fact that they hit a ton of Home Runs. Bautista’s average is down this year but Edwin Encarnacion is playing like a hero.  There pitching however is spotty. You might have noticed I put a reliever as their to pitcher so far and not even the closer. That’s not a good sign for your staff usually. They don’t really have any pitchers that stand out. Kyle Drabek, who they got from the now famous Roy Halladay trade, has not quite panned out yet as the prospect they hoped he was when he arrived in Toronto. I find that to be the biggest hurdle to over come.  A lack of pitching especially in this division is a big problem.

Best Case Scenario: The best case scenario is they make the second wild card spot but with their pitching I can’t see them making it very far. The Playoff are all about having a few front of the rotation guys that can blow the other team away. Their offense is strong but not nearly strong enough to over come the hurdle of really strong armed clubs in the American League play-offs.

Worst Case Scenario:  I am don’t see this team finishing with a losing record so I think playing .500(read: 5000) ball is the bottom line for this team. Its definitely a step back in there eyes and not where they want to be at all but it’s no shame in this division.

Record: 46-44

Standings: 9.5 games back. Tied for 3rd in the AL East with the Boston Red Sox

Something That Has Nothing to Do With Anything: I really hate that they won’t let Joe Maddon wear the Hoodie anymore. It really had a Belichick feel to it.

Top Pitcher So Far: David Price 12-4, 2.80 Earned Run Average, and 13 quality starts in 18 tries.

Top Hitter So Far: Can I Pass…Fine Ben Zobrist (I’m not mentioning his stats look for yourself}

So I’m going to say something and everyone is going to think I’m crazy. I actually like Tampa Bay’s chances going forward more than the Red Sox or the Orioles. No the Rays have had a crappy season and rank 28th in batting average, 21th in On-Base Percentage, and 26th in Slugging Percentage. The interesting thing is despite this they are 16th in Runs. Which says they are efficient with the chances they get. Now almost everyone on the team is having a career low year and it is unlikely that this trend will continue for everyone. This means if they use there chances at similar efficiency their run productions is sure to go up. Add to that they have in my opinion a much better rotation than Baltimore and Boston they could be formidable to say the least in a grab for the wildcard spot. David Price is leading a rotation that boasts The ninth best Earned Run Average in the majors, the 10th best Batting Average Against, and 12th best WHIP(walks + hits/innings pitched). To some of you that might sound good but not great but remember they play in a star studded AL East which can put up numbers that scare pitchers.

Silver Lining: Evan Longoria has only played 23 games this year so far. He is a big part of getting that offense back on track. Even though there is no set return date look for the team to see him return to the line-up soon and if history is any indication, he’ll return in a big way.

Best Case Scenario: There is a strong possibility in my mind that Tampa Bay could close strong. If Evan Longoria Comes back and plays well I think that they can steal the second wildcard spot which is sure to come out of the loaded AL East. More importantly I think David Price Might when the Cy Young Award.

Worst Case Scenario: Worst Case scenario in this case has nothing to do with standings. I think if injuries keep nagging Longoria and he doesn’t play to his usual standards this could be a huge red flag on this guy moviing forward on a guy they have built there organization around. Infact I’d let almost every guy on this team walk away before Longoria. Then top on that they probably won’t make the Play-offs, and David Price Fails to win the Cy Young and all is lost.

Record:54-33

Standings: 1st in the AL East 8 games up in the division

Top Pitcher first half: C.C. Sabathia 9-3, 2.45 ERA, and 105 strikeouts.

Top Batter first Half: Robison Cano .315 BA, 21 HR, and 54 RBIs

Coming into the second half the Yankees are sitting in the catbird seat. They are 8 games ahead of the second place Baltimore Orioles and by all measures have a much better team than the Orioles so there is not much fear that the Orioles will catch up. Add to that no one in the AL East came in to the break playing inspiring baseball they have to feel good about where they are. The real key for the Yankees is not getting complacent and entering the post-season rolling.

Things to work on: Russell Martin is by far the weak link in their line-up. Unfortunately he plays catcher and there is very little chance they can pick up a decent catcher in the trading market. That means if they are going to get better there Martin is going to have to step it up a lot. He’s batting a paltry .181 which is 80 points lower than his career marks. Word on the street is Manager Joe Girardi has already talked to the catcher and made him aware they are going to try for a fresh start ing the second half.

Some Telling Stats: The Yankees in my opinion could be scoring more runs. They are 6th in the Major League in runs(418) after having racking up the 3rd best on base percentage( .336} and the best slugging percentage(.461) Unfortunately for them, they rank eighth in batting average meaning with a little more contact from there hitters they might be driving in even more runs. They already have the second highest run differential in the American League.

Best Case Scenario: I see no circumstance Where the Yankees don’t make the play-offs. The best case scenario for them is going into the play-offs with home field advantage and staying healthy in the second half.

Worst Case Scenario: Like I said I see no way the Yanks don’t make the play-offs so the really the worst case scenario in my head is they get complacent and the Blue Jays slip past them by a game or so and they come into the play-offs weak.