Out of the Park Baseball came out this week, which usually means I’ve done literally nothing but play Out of the Park Baseball. Being on vacation, I haven’t played as much as years past, but I’ve still gotten a chance to mess around with it. If you aren’t familiar with it, OOTP is a text-based sim game that allows you to take over as GM, Manager or both of your favorite team of a fictional team. It is outstanding and one of my favorite days of every year is when it is released. It is also a relatively realistic sim game, so for the second consecutive year I simmed through an entire season — letting to AI do all the work — to see what it thought would happen to the Red Sox in 2017. Let’s go month by month.
First, let’s look at how things go in the month leading up to the season. In this year’s version of the game, they’ve added the World Baseball Classic to the mix, and in the simulation the Dominican Republic took home the trophy with Carlos Martinez winning tournament MVP. In Red Sox world, the team designated Christian Vazquez for assignment in mid-March and the catcher was claimed by the White Sox. Boston also signed Ronald Belisario to a one-year deal. This all led to a very strange roster that included having Joe Kelly in the rotation, Robbie Ross in the minors and Andrew Benintendi at DH. It’s a great game, but it’s not perfect. All-in-all, the game predicts Boston will win 87 games and the American League East. On the prospect side of things, it has Benintendi as its number one prospect, Jason Groome at number nine, Rafael Devers at number 97 and Roniel Raudes at number 99.
The Red Sox got off to a good start in this sim, going 16-9 through the first month of the year and finishing April 1 1⁄2 games over the Yankees for first place in the division. Unsurprisingly, the Kelly-to-the-rotation experiment didn’t last very long, as he was moved to the bullpen after one start with Steven Wright taking his spot. Beyond that, not much went on for the team. They added a little more bullpen depth with Jordan Walden, who signed a one-year deal at the start of the season. Mookie Betts also suffered a concussion towards the end of the month that was to keep him out for up to three weeks. Steve Selsky took his place on the roster. As far as performance goes, two of Boston’s prospects were honored for theirs. Andrew Benintendi won American League Rookie of the Month and Rafael Devers was the Eastern League Player of the Month.
The month of May was a quieter one for Boston, both in terms of record and performance. They ended up going 13-14 for the month, putting them six games above .500 on the season and three games up on the Yankees in the division. Not much was going on in terms of transactions, though. Betts would end up returning to the lineup with about a week left in the month, and Dustin Pedroia was banged up with a couple injuries but was playing through them. At this point in the year, Chris Sale was leading the rotation and Hanley Ramirez was leading the offense. Things were about to get wild, though.
Overall, this ended up being another rough month for the Red Sox, and it also gave us a preview of the insane summer Dave Dombrowski was going to put us through. They went 12-16 and fell to second place, finishing June one game behind the Rays. Things got started with a trade that sent Blake Swihart and Jason Groome to Seattle for Danny Valencia. I audibly chuckled thinking of what the reaction would be to that deal in real life. Of course, the reaction would be reasonable. Sometimes, video games are weird. After that, Dan Butler was called up and Mitch Moreland was designated for assignment to make room for Valencia. The latter would clear waivers and take his assignment to Pawtucket. Later in the month, the same would happen to Fernando Abad when the team claimed Michael Mariot off waivers from the Phillies. At draft time, Hunter Greene went 1-1 to the Twins and the Red Sox took University of Tampa pitcher Garrett Cave. At the end of the month, Boston started getting some tough injury news. First, Jackie Bradley hit the DL with a sore back. Then, Sale was put on the shelf with dead arm. Finally, Kelly ruptured a tendon in his finger that’d cause him to miss most of the season. The good news is Carson Smith came back right as the calendar was about to flip.
If you though the Valencia trade was nuts, wait until you see what’s coming next. First, we’ll look at the team’s overall record in the month. July brought some better fortune with the team playing one game over .500 but still falling 3 1⁄2 out of the division and two games out of the wildcard. The good news is both Sale and Bradley returned from the DL shortly after the month started. The bad news is Smith got himself suspended for eight games in his second appearance after starting a brawl with Russell Martin. Worth it, imo. Then, Dealin’ Dave made his first deal of the month, but it was a quiet one. He added Bryan Holaday for catching depth in exchange for Joseph Monge. Then came the All-Star game in which Ramirez and Sale played and the NL won behind MVP Bryce Harper.
After the break, Dombrowski lost his damn mind. First, he made a huge trade with the Yankees. In the deal, Boston sent Bradley, Nick Longhi and Lorenzo Cedrola to New York for Masahiro Tanaka. I’m confident in saying this wouldn’t happen in real life. But he wasn’t done. He then pulled off a deal in which he sent SALE and Tyler Thornburg to the Giants for BUSTER POSEY and Kyle Crick. So, yeah, the Red Sox are getting Tanaka and Posey this year. You heard it here first. He finished off the month by trading Marco Hernandez for low-level prospect Dalton Wheat.
With the insane trade deadline behind us, the Red Sox were ready for a playoff run. They’d go 15-12 in August to put themselves 4 1⁄2 behind the Rays in the division but just one out of a wildcard spot. Mostly, it was an uneventful month. Eduardo Rodriguez got himself suspended for starting a brawl with Bradley Zimmer. Rick Porcello tore his meniscus which would keep him out all year. It wasn’t exactly a repeat performance of the year for Porcello, though. Xander Bogaerts reversed last year’s second-half trend, though, taking home the Player of the Month trophy for the AL. In Portland, Ty Buttrey took him the Eastern League Pitcher of the Month.
When the final month of the year started, these new-look Red Sox were in the midst of a pennant race. Unfortunately, they suffered some key injuries down the stretch. Within the first week or so of September, Pedroia, Benintendi and Chris Young all hit the disabled list. Despite that, the Red Sox were able to sneak their way into the postseason, going 18-10 in the month. They finished with 88 wins on the season and took the top wildcard spot. They’d face the winner of a play-in game between the Yankees and Twins.
The Yankees ended up winning the play-in game, setting up a wildcard matchup that would possibly end the world with its manufactured hype in real life. Luckily for the Red Sox, Kelly, Benintendi and Young all made it back in time for the postseason. David Price got the start, and while he didn’t blow New York away he was fine through four innings. He got pulled after that, and the bullpen shut down the Yankees and helped give Boston a 5-2 win to move on to the ALDS for a rematch against Cleveland. Unfortunately, it didn’t go any better. Boston was swept out of the ALDS yet again. Eventually, the Mets would win the World Series in six games over the Indians, who just can’t seem to win a World Series.
Overall, it’s clear that OOTP is just a game, and all of this is make believe. Still, while the trades aren’t going to happen the general result is very possible even if it’s not ideal. Below, you can see the overall stats for the roster.