If you’re a baseball fan on the interwebs, you’ve probably heard of Out of the Park Baseball. If you haven’t, it’s a text-based sim game in which one can take over as the GM or manager (or both) of a team. It’s the best game of its kind, bar none. The latest version of OOTP came out over the weekend, so I decided I’d sim a year without taking over a team and see how the Red Sox did. Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of how it went.
Before the season starts, the Red Sox are projected to go 84-78, finishing third in the AL East behind Toronto and New York and tying with Kansas City for the final wild card spot. Their prospect list is kind of odd, with Wendell Rijo initially being ranked as the third best minor leaguer in the system and the 85th best prospect in the game. Overall, their farm system in ranked 8th in the league. The Astros are projected to be the best team in baseball with 99 wins.
Oh, and for those wondering about Hanley Ramirez’s defense: His glove is given a 45 grade in the game.
The Red Sox get off to a wholly uninteresting start, going 13-12 over the month and starting May in second place just a game and a half behind Tampa Bay. Ramirez put together another hot April, finishing the month with a .341/.402/.511 slash line good for a 152 OPS+. On the pitching side of things, the Red Sox are getting good performances from David Price and Rick Porcello early in the year, but the latter’s performance appears to be aided by good luck. Luckily, there is no injury news on the major-league roster thus far. However, Andrew Benintendi suffered two injuries in the month that kept him out for most of the start of the season.
This season is starting to look a lot like last year, as things started falling apart in May. They won just 12 games in May, compared to 15 losses, and ended the month three-and-a-half games behind Toronto. Blake Swihart took over as the best hitter on the team, slashing .299/.350/.521 through the first two months. However, Ryan Hanigan was playing horribly behind him. Rather than calling up Christian Vazquez, Dave Dombrowski traded Luis Ysla and Chad De La Guerra to Colorado for backup catcher Dustin Garneau. Hanigan would be designated for assignment and eventually sent back to Pawtucket, but would shortly be called back to the majors after Swihart fractured his thumb. The injury caused the catcher to miss a month, but Garneau was more than a suitable replacement.
In other news, Price and Porcello are still carrying the rotation, and Buchholz is putting together a solid performance of his own. However, the bullpen is struggling mightily — particularly Koji Uehara and Carson Smith — while Jackie Bradley and Mookie Betts are black holes in the lineup.
The 2015 redux stops here, as the Red Sox put together a strong 15-12 month. They remain third in the division, but they are right in the thick of both that race and the one for the wildcard. The American League is just as close as many expect it to be, with every team besides Tampa Bay and Baltimore either leading their division or within 4.5 of the wildcard.
Despite the missed time, Swihart remains the best player on the team by WAR. He and Ramirez are almost single-handedly keeping the lineup afloat. Betts and Bradley played better this month, but are still playing far below expectations.
Price remains the best pitcher on the team, but the rotation gets a lot shakier behind him. As many have come to expect, Buchholz tears his labrum shortly after the month begins, and it looks like it’ll keep him out for the season. Steven Wright takes over his rotation spot, and promptly pitches to a 16.46 ERA in four starts. For some reason, John Farrell is sticking with him in the rotation.
The draft also took place in this month. Jake Godfrey went 1-1 to Phillies, while the Red Sox took pitcher Wil Crow with their first round pick.
It was another good month for the Red Sox, finishing 15-10 on the month and putting them a half game up on Toronto for the AL East lead. Obviously, July is trade season, and Dombrowski didn’t shy away. Relatively early in the month he made a big deal, sending Rafael Devers and Dedgar Jimenez to Tampa Bay for Jake Odorizzi. A trade with the Rays! Odorizzi is in the midst of a disappointing season with Tampa, but it’s worth noting that Devers is not as highly regarded in this game as in real life. Dombrowski also makes a couple smaller deals for bullpen help, sending Devon Fisher for Matt Ramsey and swapping Luis Ramos for Josh Edgin.
Beyond that, Swihart and Price both get named to the All-Star Game. Price started and pitched well, but the National League won the game with Yasiel Puig taking him the MVP.
Boston fails to keep control of their division lead in this month, going 13-16 on the month and finding themselves a game out of the AL East. After starting August strong, they went on a horrible stretch in which they lost 12 of 15, a stretch that could come back to haunt them. TO make matters worse, Kelly’s season ended prematurely with a fractured elbow. Although he wasn’t pitching all that well, he was better than the alternatives.
With the rosters expanding, the Red Sox add some notable players, including but not limited to Vazquez and Allen Craig. It’s a tight race heading into the month, but Boston chokes and loses seven of their first nine games to start the month. They’re not 5.5 out of the division and five out of the wildcard. They righted the ship in the middle part of the month, getting within four of the division with six to go.
The bad news is, they lose Bradley to a concussion before this final stretch starts. The lineup probably improved, but the defense took a major step back. The good news is Clay Buchholz made a miraculous comeback from injury and got a win in the team’s huge sweep of the Yankees. Now, they head into a big series against Toronto in which they need to sweep to force a one-game playoff. Of course, they lose the first game handily and are promptly eliminated from the postseason.
Obviously, this is all make believe and should be taken with a grain of salt. With that being said, this is a really realistic big-picture of how the Red Sox season could go. They finished 83-79 in the simulation, two games out of the division and four out of the wildcard. It’s very easy to see that being the final result.
On the other hand, it’s hard to see Betts being one of the worst regulars in all of baseball. However, the rest of it seemed at least within the realms of possibility. You can check out the final numbers for the hitters here, and the pitchers here.
For what it's worth, the Royals went to their third straight World Series championship, this time playing against the Pirates. They repeated as champs, winning the series in seven games.
The biggest takeaway from all of this: Buy OOTP. It’s the best baseball game on the market.