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A review of Out of the Park 16

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Here is a long winded review of Out of the Park 16. If you want the short version....it is well worth the $53.54 Canadian. It's a very very addictive game. I play it almost everyday and it is up (at least in the background) almost anytime I have my computer on.

You can get the game here.

I've been a fan of the Out of the Park baseball game for years. I don't know how long. This is Out of the Part 16, I must have started on 2 or 3. Every year it is a little better, a little more realistic, a little more going on. I have played other simulations, like Baseball Mogul, but i enjoy OOTP more. I had some problems with last year's version, it crashed on me far too often.  There is nothing more annoying than playing a game for a few hours and then having it crash and having to start over again. So I wanted to play this one for a while before reviewing. Being honest there were a few bugs in the first couple of versions that they sent out, but, now that we are at version 16.3 Build 16 I haven't had a problem. It is working great.

Out of the Park baseball is basically a MLB General Manager simulator. You don't get fancy graphics, but you get to do pretty much everything a GM does, except for reading some idiot blogger second guessing your every move. You draft players. You trade players. You can DFA player, put a guy on waivers, claim guys off waivers. You can sign 16 year old international free agents. Set major league rosters and your minor league rosters. You can send Chad Jenkins up and down to Buffalo as many times as you want (actually the one thing the game doesn't seem to do is follow the ten day rule, you can send someone to the minors and call him back up the next day.Maybe something that could be added in the future.). You can hire and fire managers, coaches, scouts, trainers (ever wanted to fire George Poulis? I've done it. It is surprising cathartic.) Each summer there is the Rule 5 draft.

One of the great things about the game is that you learn a fair bit about baseball playing it.

You can manage the team yourself (or you can be like Alex and leave your manager to do that) setting starting rotation, batting order, set up the bullpen. And do in game stuff. Like the Hit and Run, you can call it. Wanna bunt, I believe there is a sac bunt button, I've just never used it (slight lie, I have played games where the pitcher hits and I've bunted).

If you are a fan of the history of baseball, you can choose to play any season from 1871 to, well, this year.. If you are an old Expo fan, you can play the 1995 season and see what would have happened if there wasn't a lockout and go from there. If you aren't a fan of home runs, you can go back to the dead ball era and lead a team from back then. Maybe you'd like to go back to before the R.A. Dickey trade and see what could have happened we kept Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud. Or you can choose to lead a team in one of several international leagues (ever wanted to run a team in the Korean League?). Or make your own league (All Canadian cities?). On top of that, there are hundreds of online leagues you can join, if you would like to play with real people instead of against the games AI.

You can also be fired (unless you, do what I do and set it so you can't be fired. It is no fun to set up your team to win in the future and get fired because your owner didn't like that you lost 90 games).

This year's version has a number of improvements over last year's. The biggest thing is that, this year they have MLB and MiLB licensing. You get the real team names and logos. And they are historically correct, if you play as the 2000 Blue Jays you'll have the logo they used then. For some reason I got the biggest kick out of seeing the Lansing Lugnuts logo when I was looking at their roster.

There are other things. This version your owner will give you long and short term goals. When I started my 2015 Blue Jays season, I got this for goals:

OOTP goals

Don't suck completely is the same words of wisdom my dad gave me many years ago. And I hate to let my owner in on this, but I don't intend to extend Jose Bautista.

They have also changed the Manager and Coaches system, changed the finance systems and many other things.

But the big thing is you start with the 2015 opening rosters. Well, almost, I'm playing with the rosters from the second last build and on that one they didn't believe Devon Travis would make the team (fixed on the latest build) and even on the latest build, they didn't think Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna would jump from A to the majors. Hard to blame them for that.

Anyway, if you are like me and want to start game with this year's Blue Jays, after picking a few settings, you get handed the keys to the team just a few days before the start of the season. The first things I did:

  • I used the God like commissioner powers to erase Marcus Stroman's injury. I figured that, if I ran the team, I would have decent spring training fields. Mostly I wanted to play 'what if' Marcus wasn't injured.  I didn't fix Michael Saunders, but he was only going to miss the first couple of weeks.
  • Since the game felt that Devon Travis needed more development time (I can hardly blame them for being wrong, many of us felt the same before the season), and I had a few dollars to play with (I'm not saving money for deadline deals) I signed free agent second baseman Yoilan Cerce.
  • I also signed available free agent relievers Rafael Soriano, Carlos Marmol and Sean Burnett so that Castro and Osuna can develop too (in Roberto's case, it isn't working, he suffered a 'torn labrum' early in the season, and is out for 11 months).
  • I also 'shopped' Dioner Navarro, though there wasn't much for interest, but I traded him straight across for Rajia Davis since the game didn't seem to like Kevin Pillar much.
  • My starting rotation was: Stroman, Hutchison, Sanchez, Dickey and Buehrle (I tried to trade Buehrle but no one was interested). Dickey has since been injured so Estrada is in the rotation (that isn't going well).
  • I use a 6-man bullpen with 'closer by committee' (it is easy to move a player down to call someone up if the relievers are tired). I have 6 different pitchers with at least 1 save.
  • I've claimed a few guys off waivers.
  • I signed international free agent Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.
  • Injuries are frequent. At the moment I have Ryan Goins and Sean Burnett out for the season. Justin Smoak has missed 20 days and R.A. Dickey 50 days, plus about a dozen minor leaguers, on the DL. And Edwin Encarnacion was hit by a pitch in the last game I played. He's injured, but like most Blue Jays injuries, it will take a few game days to know the extend of the injury. If he's out for long, it will be a tough season.

My Blue Jays team is doing very well after 75 games:

OOTP standings

If only the real Blue Jays could do so well. If my team stays healthy, I'm thinking we make the playoffs. Of course, we haven't gone through a cold stretch yet, and I'm expecting one sooner or later. My real hope for the team is to have some money for free agents after the 2015, adding a strong starting pitcher and one more good bat and I might have a team that could get to the World Series.

Some guys are hitting great:

  • Jose Bautista: .282/.398/.583 with 22 home runs and 54 RBI in 73 games.
  • Jose Reyes: .343/.383/.522 in 73 games. I take him out of games when the team has a lead (and he hasn't been injured.....yet.).

And some aren't hitting:

  • Josh Donaldson: .213/.279/.404 with 14 home runs in 73 games.
  • Edwin Encarnacion: .232/.326/.461 in 75 games.
  • Dalton Pompey: .242/.303/.364 with 5 home runs in 73 games.
That's likely more than you needed to know about my game, but I will add that Marcus Stroman is 8-5, with a save (extra innings, I ran out of relievers) and a 2.50 ERA after 17 games, 16 starts. And if he hadn't been hurt this spring, I wouldn't be surprised if he had numbers like that.

Anyway, if you would like to see what it is like to do Alex Anthopoulos' job,  and you don't want to start in the Blue Jays mail room trying to work your way to the top, try the game. It is very addictive.