Thanks to OOTP Developments, StatManSportsOnline.com is able to give you a sneak peek into the brand new Out of the Park Baseball 17, which will be available next Tuesday, March 22nd. It is the latest release in the best sports simulation game on the market. The weekend of the pre-release has become every bit of a rite of spring as Opening Day itself. It is a chance to absorb and become consumed by the game all over again.
Every year, they manage to top themselves. The question isn’t “can they keep this up?” The question is “how have they outdone themselves this year?”
The game has always been about realism and immersion. The realism of the outcomes and the immersion in making you feel like a real General Manager. As usual, OOTP delivers in these areas.
OOTP Baseball has always been way ahead on realism, even offering a comparison of major statistics to historical totals in historical leagues. But, this year, as usual, they went a step farther. OOTP 17 has turned its attention to the minor leagues, now offering historical minor leaguers dating back to 1919. Now, you can take players who never made the big time and give them another shot.
Last year, we saw MLB logos added to the game. This year, the MLB Players Association is on board with officially offering their names and likenesses. In the past, you were able to get real logos and player information thanks to the OOTP community. But, now, it comes pre-delivered so the game is ready to play a couple of minutes after you buy it.
The 3-D rendering of the game has also improved this year, as it seems more stable and there is now movable fielders on the screen in real time. If you were a fan of MicroLeague Baseball back in the 1980s and 1990s, this view should make you feel right at home. But, you can change the 3D view from the default view behind the plate to a centerfield camera view or a catcher’s view.
TESTING THE GAME
I set up a short version of the Greatest Team Challenge for our test. I set up a custom 16-team league made up of historical teams. The four divisions separate the teams by decades (1950s through 1980s). All teams won the World Series. It will be the premise of a future league we will cover on this website, but this was much, much easier to create in OOTP 17. You can bring in entire teams from the league creation wizard. In recent versions, you had to add a historical team from the league settings menu.
The game itself has the usual bells and whistles you would expect, with broadcast, webcast, and 3-D mode. But, the box score at the end of the game has a couple of new features:
- Recap: You have been able to write a recap of your own, but in case writer’s block gets a hold of you, the game writes one for you!
- WPA Graph: If you have ever looked at a box score on Baseball-Reference.com or FanGraphs.com, you have seen this integrated into their box scores. The graph shows the probability of the home or road team winning the game throughout the game. When the game starts, the home team has a very slight edge (more than 50%). As the game progresses, through each event in the game. The major turns in the game are mentioned and listed below the graph.
The 1986 Mets defeated the 1969 Mets, 1-0, as you can see above, and went on to sweep that season-opening series. The 1986 Mets, in fact, finished the first month with the best record in the league at 20-5.
In May, the 1967 Cardinals emerged to within a game of the ’86 Mets for the best record in the circuit and stood three games clear of the 1960s Division at 36-18. Nelson Briles was 10-2 through the first two months for the ’67 Cardinals, but the ’71 Pirates version of Briles was 0-7.
Through the month of June, three teams reached 50 wins, including the 1986 Mets, but the ’86 Mets went into a June swoon, as the 1984 Tigers took over the top spot in the 1980s Division at 56-22, 6.5 games in front of the Amazins. Sandy Koufax struck out 18 in a game and 16 two other times, totaling 79 strikeouts in six June starts.
Detroit extended its lead on the rest of the league, as the 1984 Tigers (78-29) finished July 10.5 games ahead of the 1986 Mets, who have the second-best record in the circuit (68-40). The pitchers of the 1960s Division were rewriting the record books, with Bob Gibson pitching to a 0.63 ERA for the 1967 Cardinals and Sandy Koufax striking out 342 through two-thirds of the season for the 1965 Dodgers. The Cards led the Dodgers by seven games at the end of July.
The 1950s Division was almost clinched by the 1957 Milwaukee Braves at the end of August, as their Magic Number to clinch was two. Among the more disappointing teams through the season’s first five months were the 1956 Yankees (54-82, 25 GB), but they were in second place in the division. Each team in the 1960s Division were over .500 through August and the leader in the 1970s Division with one month left were the 1972 Athletics at 69-67. Ron Darling and Dan Petry, of their 1980s juggernauts, were the first to 20 wins.
Three of the divisions had September races, but the best race was the end of the 1980s season-long battle between the 1986 Mets and the 1984 Tigers. The Mets came from behind to take the division by two games and finish one game better in this “Champions” league than they fared against the National League in 1986. The Mets went 109-53 and the Tigers finished 107-55. If this really happened in the 1980s, the Wild Card would have been introduced a decade earlier.
The LCS matchups pitted the 1986 Mets and 1972 Athletics, as the Mets tried to avenge their older 1973 brethren. Coincidentally, the A’s were 82-80 in this competition, which was very close to the 1973 Mets record heading into that year’s World Series against the next edition of The Mustache Gang. The 1957 Milwaukee Braves (95-67) took on Bob Gibson and the 1967 Cardinals (99-63).
The Mets must have exhausted themselves in the pennant race because they left their game at home in the LCS against Oakland. The 1972 Athletics swept the 1986 Mets, three games to none. The other LCS went the whole way, and the 1967 Cardinals rode the arm of Steve Carlton in the deciding fifth game to defeat the 1957 Braves.
In the World Series, the Oakland Athletics were the Champion of Champions, as the lowest-ranked division winner at 82-80 won the whole shooting match, defeating the 1967 Cardinals in seven games. The Cardinals played the maximum 12 postseason games, but came up short in the deciding seventh game against the A’s. Catfish Hunter was 4-0 in the postseason and had a 12-strikeout performance in the 6-2 win.
It’s simple: if you have bought the game in the past, get this game. If you haven’t bought the game in the past, get this game. So, basically, GET THIS GAME! To those who have purchased the game, get ready to lose yourself in hours of baseball simulation goodness.