The Miami Marlins have struggled on the field all season long, and so far this year it has been a difficult first half. But would you be surprised to hear that, in the virtual world of the best baseball sim game on the planet, Out of the Park (OOTP) Baseball 14, the Fish are actually doing worse?
I decided to use the excellent franchise features on the 2014 version of OOTP to simulate the first half of the Marlins season. It does not get more realistic than OOTP 14 in terms of how the game is handled. The simulations come off extremely well, and the first half in my simulated season went about as well as the first half could be expected. The Marlins' first half in the video game ended at 34-60, 1.5 games worse than the Marlins ended up in real life.
For the Marlins, that realism hit home pretty hard, as a number of Marlins who are struggling in real life are also having difficulties in the game. For example, take a look at Giancarlo Stanton.
The real Stanton is not struggling as badly at the plate as the fake Stanton, but the virtual version has had a strong defensive season with 11.5 runs above average in half a year. That mark ranks third among all defenders and tops overall at his position. Either way, however, both players are well under their expectations at the plate.
The rest of the Marlins' roster is also not playing well. Consider Adeiny Hechavarria.
The virtual Hechavarria has hit five home runs and provided more power, but he has also done nothing at the plate, just like the real one. The difference between them is their defensive contributions, as Hechavarria is eight runs better than average this season on defense. Otherwise, these two are as lifeless at the plate as they come.
There are two players who have played surprisingly well for the virtual Marlins, and they are two players you might have expected given the 2013 real Fish. Justin Ruggiano is having an up-and-down season in Miami, but the virtual Ruggiano is hitting .266/.332/.452 (.340 wOBA) with 10 homers. He has primarily been batting in the leadoff or second slot, so driving in runs has not been his forte, but he has played well overall for the Fish.
The other player who has not struggled at the plate is someone who has shined in real life too. Logan Morrison has played more in the virtual season than he did in the real first half, but his performance has been good. Virtual LoMo is hitting .273/.341/.509 (.352 wOBA) with 1.2 WAR in the books so far.
Ironically, it's the pitching staff on the virtual Marlins that has struggled mightily, not necessarily the offense. Outside of Ricky Nolasco, the pitchers have really performed poorly, and there is no better representative of that than Jacob Turner. Virtual Turner has played in the majors the whole year, but his play has been awful. He leads all starters with a 3.86 ERA, but that hides a pathetic 5.07 FIP thanks to an almost one-to-one strikeouts to walks ratio. He has been since demoted, and the returns of Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez have not helped.
You might be wondering what happened to Nolasco and Jose Fernandez? Fernandez was promoted and got four solid starts in before disaster struck. Fernandez tore his UCL and had Tommy John surgery, knocking him out for the rest of the year.
As for Nolasco, the Marlins traded him too, but he fetched a better return than the real Nolasco. Like the real one, virutal Nolasco had a renaissance season, but his stepped it up even more. Nolasco left with a 2.76 ERA and 3.01 FIP, making him a great commodity. I was able to fetch St. Louis Cardinals prospect Kolten Wong in the deal along with Trevor Rosenthal for Nolacso and Placido Polanco.
The fact that the team performed about as well as the real one despite my management shows how difficult a situation the franchise was in (or how ineffective managing a team well is). Beyond that, it showed just how good OOTP's realism is. That realism extends to the financial and roster management aspects of the game. No detail was spared, as teams can assign returning DL players to rehab assignments, designate unwanted players for assignment to allow them to be demoted, and put players on the trade market (and have them respond appropriately). The draft and international free agent system were also overhauled to match the current MLB system under the new CBA as well.
Tack onto that the fantastic set of statistics that OOTP tracks, including wOBA, WAR, and a form of defensive statistics, and you have one excellent simulation game, the best in the business. I would highly recommend OOTP 14 for your second half, if you are into such things, and would encourage you to play out your Marlins season and see how bad the team can be. Try it out today!