In the preseason, I was approached to review a copy of Out of the Park Baseball 13, the latest installation of the OOTP franchise that has revolutionized baseball sim games that are available to the public. I've done my share of reviewing previous OOTP games in the past, but this one was special because the Miami Marlins' 2012 season was supposed to be special as well, with all the expectations surrounding the team.
Because of that, I decided (after a long season of coverage) to get on the ball and simulate the 2012 season for the Fish on OOTP, the most realistic simulation game that I know of, and see where the cards would land for us in 2012. Along the way, I got a chance to appreciate the minor changes made to OOTP that have turned it from a great sim game to an even better one, just from changes in the layout.
The old stuff of OOTP is still there. In terms of simulation games, it is among the best. The major league talent levels that they have programmed in are extremely realistic, and in multiple runs, you rarely see surprises at the top of the list of players leading the league in categories like OPS, wOBA, and Wins Above Replacement.
The other thing that has always been amazing about OOTP is their willingness to incorporate advanced statistics into the fray. The game includes calculations for WAR, wOBA, and other stats that make you feel like perusing through the leaderboard is actually like looking at FanGraphs! And the names and scale of the leaderboards also seem mostly appropriate, with the leaders hanging around eight or nine WAR and only a few others at around seven WAR for the season. The wOBA calculations seem slightly off when given the eye test, but they seem reasonable enough when put into something like Value Over Replacement Player (VORP, essentially batting runs with the WAR positional adjustment).
The new change from last season to this season that made me truly appreciative of the game was the re-design of the layout. In a word, it is fantastic. The re-design allows for more organized and aesthetically pleasing drop-down menus that make navigating the various menus in the game a much smoother process. Just having a breakdown of the different types of menus under each category made the process a whole lot easier. The design of the desktop for the game is in a more pleasing color for me as well. The team home screens were done much better as well, making for a less confusing time trying to parse through the large amount of information. Overall, this redo of the desgn was a major plus.
2012 Miami Marins: The Simulation Season
The sim season started with such high hopes for the Miami Marlins. The club opened the new Marlins Park with a 5-1 victory on the back of a 5-for-5 performance by Jose Reyes. John Buck laid out a double and a home run in the second game against Cincinnati, and it looked like the Fish would be riding high to start the year!
Things began to settle down, and one aspect that really hurt this simulated Marlins team was injuries. All but two starters from the Opening Day lineup missed significant playing time, anything between two to six weeks. Ironically, a few names missed a similar amount of time as their real counterparts did; Emilio Bonifacio missed five weeks with an injury, and Giancarlo Stanton missed six weeks, much like the real 2012 versions.
By the All-Star break, however, this Marlins team was doing really well, with a 49-35 record and a second place standing in the division. However, Hanley Ramirez had been struggling mightily, and I decided a change was to be made, much like one that was made during the real regular season. The only trade I made for this team was to send Hanley to (gasp!) the Philadelphia Phillies in six-player deal. Ramirez and the ghost of Ricky Nolasco (4.71 ERA) were sent to Philly in return for two top prospects not ready for the majors and their positional replacements, Placido Polanco and Kyle Kendrick. Really, this was a double contract dump that I thought would not hurt the club too badly, since Ramirez was playing worse than his real-life counterpart and for some reason, Donnie Murphy was hitting everything (ended the year batting .266/.336/.505, .360 wOBA).
That trade turned out poorly on the major league side, as Polanco was below replacement level with Miami, though Kendrick held his own like Nolasco. However, it turned out even worse for Ramirez; he put in just 81 PA of .353 wOBA hitting before suffering a torn labrum that turned out to be a career-ending injury and forced him into retirement!
The Marlins were still riding high as late as late August, with the team boasting a 67-56 record at some point before suffering a ten-game losing skid. The Marlins had a shot because of, ironically enough, a hot month of June, as the club went 18-8 in June. Still, the team's struggles in August pulled them down alongside the other Wild Card contenders. The team had a shot at a three- or four-way tie for the final Wild Card spot but lost a series to the New York Mets that ended their chances. The final standings in the NL East were surprisingly accurate given thhe real 2012 standings; the Braves finished at the top, but the Washington Nationals won the second Wild Card, just barely ahead of the Marlins and Mets, who tied for third. The Philies were last place.
The final tally? The Milwaukee Brewers (!) defeated the New York Yankees in seven games to win the World Series. As for the Marlins, the team MVP was Jose Reyes, who had a monster year with a .326/.388/.432 season (.349 wOBA) with 67 (!) stolen bases. He had 7.6 WAR to finish up the year, best on the team and third best in all of baseball.
This OOTP season looked like it would have been fun to watch. Alas, it was not to be. But just because the 2012 season is two months from ending does not mean you too cannot take advantage and enjoy the simulating power of OOTP 13! Get your copy today for just $39.99 and show off your GM prowess. If you do, take over the Marlins for 2012 and tell us how your version of the Fish did in a FanPost! Get OOTP 13 today!