Game Review: Out of the Park Baseball 16

rclark13
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While the Tribe Struggles, Build a Champion in OOTP 16

I am new to simulation games, though for years I have played dynasty modes on traditional console games religiously. My complaints with traditional dynasty modes are many: the lack of real minor league rosters, the inability to control minors lower than AA, the horribly unrealistic contract terms, lack of Rule 5 draft, etc. Ultimately, I was looking for a more immersive experience that put me in the driver’s seat as GM of the team I love, the Cleveland Indians. Out of the Park Baseball 16 offers you the opportunity to do that.

The Basics 

For the first time in the OOTP series, real Major League team licensing is included this year. That means real names and past statistics, opening day lineups, and full minor league rosters all the way down to the rookie league. You can take control of any team dating back to 1871 and play up to and beyond the current season, with players appearing exactly as they did historically. Drafting sure is easier with the help of hindsight. All rosters are authentic, with PECOTA projections and scouting grades playing a key role in decision-making. Additionally, international and independent leagues like the Australian and Japanese leagues are included, which are an added bonus that makes the game even cooler.

OOTP 16 lets you take as little or as much control of a franchise as you want. If you want to wheel and deal, but have little interest in setting up lineups and scouting, you can assign those tasks to your Assistant. On the other hand, if you want to manage every single aspect of the game, from bunting to stealing bases, you can relay the signs from the dugout to your squad on the field. You can even set preferences for the simulations, telling it how often you want to steal, sacrifice, etc.

All games can be viewed with a 3D display that shows each at-bat with non-repetitive commentary and line displays of the path of each batted ball in impressive representations of each park. When managing, you can skip ahead to any inning or simulate the remainder of the game at any time. You can also forgo managing altogether and quickly simulate large chunks if you so desire.

Meanwhile, as in the Majors, your job is no guarantee. Your real team owners have demands that they would like you to meet during the season, and your job security hinges on their completion, particularly in win-now markets. If you do a good job, your contract might even be extended at a higher salary.

The insanely realistic minor leagues, along with in-depth scouting, first year draft, Rule 5 draft, and international signing periods, coupled with strict budgets unique to teams and markets, make for an incredibly authentic managing experience. Injuries ranging from career-ending surgeries to minor muscle pulls, upward and downward trending players at every level, and reassessed player ratings every few months make for a dynamic gameplay experience that will keep you occupied every step of the way.

I was blown away by the authentic intricacies of running a team that OOTP so perfectly captured. If you have always wanted to take your favorite team and make it your own, you can do it with OOTP and see exactly what the repercussions would be in both the short and long term.

My Experience

To better explain how the game works, I am going to share some of the moves I made to take the 2015 Cleveland Indians back to the postseason, as well as some of the features I loved most.

Transactions:

One of the great things about the game is the ability to shop a player and receive several offers at once. I used the feature often, in order to make a number of deals throughout the year. I also loved the ability to trade cash to opposing teams to offset large contracts, and the fact that OOTP classifies teams as rebuilding, win-now, or neither in order to shape trade strategy. The entire process of making transactions is incredibly thorough, and the number of options I had to improve the team blew me away. Some of the highlights of how I chose to shape my Indians are below:

  • 4/1: Made a one-for-one swap with the Kansas City Royals of David Murphy for Kendrys Morales, who became the everyday DH in the absence of Nick Swisher
  • 4/1: Promoted Shaun Marcum to Cleveland to fill out the rotation behind Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Danny Salazar while optioning T.J. House to AAA Columbus
  • 4/5: Sign Lonnie Chisenhall to a 6 year, $37,000,000 extension with the intent to move him to the OF the following season
  • 4/20: Moved Zach McAllister and Morales to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Napoli, who became a right-handed force in the heart of the order for the Tribe
  • 4/25: Promoted Francisco Lindor to the Majors without compromising a year of control, demoting Jose Ramirez to AAA Columbus
  • 6/6: Completed the First Year Player Draft, selecting Brady Aiken with my first choice when he slipped to my selection
  • 7/18: Signed a number of international free agents including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to a deal with an $8,000,000 signing bonus
  • 7/29: Moved Michael Bourn at the deadline along with Carlos Moncrief and $4,000,000 cash to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Mark Trumbo
  • 7/29: Promoted Tyler Holt to the Tribe to play CF

Injuries:

The injury bug bites often in OOTP, just as it does over the course of a real MLB season. However, I was impressed by the variety of injuries that struck the league, affecting some major players along the way. Some examples are below:

  • 5/30: Josh Tomlin suffers setback in recovery from shoulder injury and chooses to end his playing career
  • 6/2: Jason Kipnis injures leg in car accident and is out 4-6 weeks
  • 7/30: Brett Hayes tears his labrum and is forced into early retirement
  • 8/1: Brandon Moss breaks wrist diving for line drive and is out two months

Results:

I am incredibly proud to say my Indians made the playoffs, beating out the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox in the AL Central by three games and finishing 87-75 overall.

Yan Gomes finished third in the AL MVP voting with a .318/.410/.501 slash line, 29 homers, 98 RBIs, and 6.0 WAR. Michael Brantley followed up a strong 2014 with a .298 average, 21 homers, and 98 RBIs for 5.1 WAR season. Corey Kluber finished with a 3.79 ERA, but a 2.98 FIP for a 4.2 WAR season. Carlos Carrasco struggled to a 12-15 finish with a 3.98 FIP. I loved the array of stats that were available to me, giving an in-depth way to analyze player performance and pursue upgrades.

The Indians ultimately lost in the first round of the playoffs as they were swept by the Yankees, but I had a lot of fun in the process. I am already hard at work trying to improve the team in the 2015 offseason, and I started a new game with the 2007 Tribe as well in an attempt to win the World Series that should have been.

Conclusion 

If you love baseball, the power to control your favorite team, and the ability to change anything from ticket prices to your Arizona Fall League roster, OOTP 16 is for you. It is so accurate that you will learn to comprehend the intricacies behind scouting, arbitration, service time, and your squad’s long-term budget as you vie to create a dynasty.

There is never a dull moment in OOTP, and you will never feel prouder than the moment the team you built brings home that World Series ring.

So get OOTP and promote Francisco Lindor, pursue a right-handed power bat, and build the team of your fantasies.

Next: Wahoo's on the Mic: OOTP's Brad Cook

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