March 28, 2018

Red Sox barely miss playoffs!

The new version of OOTP is out
and it's better than ever!
As mentioned last week, I got my hands on the latest version of OOTP.  And like I did last year, I started simulating the current season, by naming myself as Red Sox manager. While last year I played the season slowly, starting around Opening Day and finishing during the playoffs, this time I wanted to run through it quickly, in the week I had between getting the game and Opening Day.
The season started great. By April 20th I firmly had the Yankees in the rear view mirror, already having a 5 and a 6 game win streak. This was largely fueled by Mookie Betts who was on absolute fire, winning April’s player of the month award. And then it happened!

March 22, 2018

Out of the Park Baseball 19 Available!

This is how I feel right now!
That time of the year is finally here!

In game play at Fenway Pahk!
Yes, I know it's still one week until Opening Day, but OOTP has released its latest version of Out of the Park Baseball, and I've got my hands on it! I'll be playing it soon and write a review shortly, but for now, here is a copy of their official press release.

Also, on March 28 at 7 PM Eastern time, MLB Network will feature the results of a 2018 season & playoffs simulation conducted in OOTP 19. Last year, OOTP 18 (as well as some random Canadian Red Sox blogger) correctly predicted that the Houston Astros would win the World Series.

If you want to get your hands on a copy of this, you can get it here.  Save 10% for the next 7 days.  If you're still unsure, check out the trailer below:





March 22, 2018

Out of the Park Baseball 19 Now Available Worldwide

OOTP 19 features dramatic 3D enhancements, a redesigned interface, new scouting systems, ultra-realistic artificial intelligence, 2018 Opening Day rosters, and more!

Out of the Park Developments, an official licensee of MLB.com, the Major League Baseball Players Association, and MiLB.com, announced today that Out of the Park Baseball 19 is available worldwide, ahead of the start of the 2018 Major League Baseball season on March 29. 
OOTP 19 offers dozens of exciting new features and deep improvements to its award-winning gameplay including a dramatic 3D in-game engine that shows players pitching, hitting, fielding, and running the bases. Images of the new in-game engine can be found in the screenshot bundle and in the trailer.

Out of the Park Baseball 19 includes:
New 3D stadiums and 3D player models with improved on-field movements, including running, sliding, jumping, and throwing.

New in-game screen design for an optimized virtual dugout.

2018 roster sets with all Opening Day MLB rosters, as well as the complete minor league system from Triple-A to rookie leagues and the Arizona Fall League. All Major League (and over a thousand minor league) player ratings will be based on the popular ZiPS player projection system. The 8 international leagues, as well as independent minor leagues in the US, also return this year with accurate rosters.

Rewritten scouting reports that give a more detailed and realistic look at players.

New tournament modes! Create a stand-alone tournament bracket and draw any teams in history into it. The possibilities are endless!

Ultra-realistic AI roster management and in-game decisions.

A reworked ratings module.

User voting for end-of-season awards.

Many more improvements, including:
Redesigned interface, with the ability to choose between 6 different fonts

800 custom team logos for fictional leagues

Improved Manager Home screen, with a more customizable layout and new widget options

A new stat -- RA9-WAR (WAR based on runs allowed) -- for pitchers

Delayed substitutions for injured players

And much more!

This summer, Out of the Park Developments will unveil an exciting new online mode called PERFECT TEAM. An open Beta will happen this spring, and the company will announce more information soon.

Customers can purchase OOTP 19 for $39.99 from OOTP Developments through this link:

OOTP 19 is also available on Steam:

And on Electronic Arts’ Origin:

OOTP 19 runs on PC/Mac/Linux and like last year it features the American League and National League logos, the World Series trophy, official logos and jerseys for all 30 MLB teams, over 150 Minor League Baseball league and team logos, and historical MLB logos.

OOTP creator Markus Heinsohn conducted an interview for the Out of the Park Developments blog which can be read here: http://blog.ootpdevelopments.com/an-interview-with-ootp-creator-markus-heinsohn/

OOTP 19 predicts the 2018 season

On March 28 at 7 PM Eastern time, MLB Network will feature the results of the 2018 season + playoffs simulation conducted in OOTP 19. Last year, the game predicted that the Houston Astros would win the World Series. Will it make the right call again?

A look back at OOTP 18

2017 was a record-setting year for Out of the Park Developments, which boasted more than 120,000 players of OOTP 18 around the world. More than 3.5 million hours of the game were played on Steam, which equals 405 years. A record peak of 1,147 concurrent players was set on Nov. 9 on Steam, and South Korea is now number two in total sales, surpassing Canada.
The most-accomplished achievement in OOTP 18 was a five-game team winning streak and the three rarest achievements were a player hitting 4 home runs in a game (accomplished by 0.4% of users), a pitcher tossing a perfect game (0.5%), and a hitter having 10 or more RBI in a game (0.6%).

Quotes from OOTP Developments executives

“After nearly 20 years of development, we’re still finding ways to make Out of the Park Baseball even better,” said lead developer, lifelong baseball fan, and Out of the Park Developments CEO Markus Heinsohn. “We can’t wait for our fans to see what we have in store this year.”
“Out of the Park Baseball is unique. Its high quality, delivered over two decades, has created generations of loyal fans who recognize it as the gold standard of sports strategy games,” saidOut of the Park Developments CMO Richard Grisham. “Out of the Park Baseball 19 is our best version yet, purpose-built for those fans. We couldn’t be more excited for it.”

About Out of the Park Developments 
Out of the Park Developments is the developer of the award-winning OOTP and MLB Manager series of baseball management simulations, Franchise Hockey Manager, and Beyond theSideline Football. German-based OOTP Developments was founded by Markus Heinsohn and Andreas Raht in 1999. OOTP Developments has consistently produced games that have met with critical acclaim, including winning Metacritic's coveted “PC Game of the Year” for the 2016 version of OOTP and "Game of the Year" for the 2007 edition of OOTP, which remains thesecond highest-rated PC game on Metacritic of all time. Further information on the company and its games is available from the OOTP Developments website,http://www.ootpdevelopments.com

About MLB.com
Established in June 2000 following a unanimous vote by the 30 Major League Baseball club owners to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations, MLB Advanced Media LP (MLBAM) isthe interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. MLBAM manages the official league site, MLB.com,and each of the 30 individual Club sites to create the most comprehensive Major League Baseball resource on the Internet. MLB.com offers fans the most complete baseball information and interactivity across computers and mobile devices, including up-to-date statistics, game previews and summaries, extensive historical information, online ticket sales, baseball merchandise, authenticated memorabilia and collectibles, fantasy games, live full-game video streaming and in-progress and on-demand highlights, live and archived audio broadcasts, Gameday pitch-by-pitch application, Statcast tracking technology, around-the-clock hosted and specialty video programming, complete blogging capabilities, console and mobile video games and the award-winning At Bat and Ballpark mobile applications. MLBAM powers more live events across the Internet than any other company in the world.

Major League Baseball Players Association
The Major League Baseball Players Association (www.mlbplayers.com) is the collective bargaining representative for all professional baseball players of the thirty Major League baseball teams and serves as the exclusive group licensing agent for commercial and licensing activities involving active Major League baseball players. On behalf of its members, it operates the Players Choice licensing program and Players Choice Awards, which benefit the needy through the Major League Baseball Players Trust, a charitable foundation established and run entirely by Major League baseball players. In 2017, the MLBPA launched Infield Chatter, an innovative social media app created by the Players for the fans and available in the App Store and Google Play. Follow: @MLB_Players; @MLBPAClubhouse; @MLBPlayersTrust.; @InfieldChatter  


March 07, 2018

Playing Pepper - 2018 Red Sox Preview

Which David Price will show up this season?


Time for the annual Playing Pepper preview hosted at the Cardinals C70 website, which previews every team. I was again one of the writers asked to answer some questions on the Red Sox. Below are the questions and answers, which are now also up on the C70 blog.  Check there daily for previews of the other MLB teams.






1. What are your thoughts on the offseason?  Did the club improve over the winter?
Until the middle of February, saying it was a slow off-season would have been an overstatement. Other than signing Mitch Moreland (who was our regular 1st baseman last year, so not much of a change there), the only other announcement was with someone named Sam Adams – who I doubt could hit a major league fastball. Anyhow, once spring training got rolling, the Red Sox made some moves that have undoubtedly improved the team. First of all they signed Eddie Nunez, who will presumably fill in for Dustin Pedroia until his activation from the DL, and then will be a super-sub utility player. And then they finally signed JD Martinez – like everyone had been waiting for since November – to be a middle of the order power bat/ DH / 4th outfielder. The Red Sox were sorely lacking in the power department last season, so this was the main area of improvement they needed, and they accomplished that with the best player they could acquire without a trade.

February 20, 2018

The Importance of Winning the Off-Season

Are we going to see this image in October?
Doubtful
It's over. The Anaheim Angels got Shohei Ohtani and traded for Ian Kinsler.

And the Yankees have added Giancarlo Stanton who's going to hit 100 home runs at Yankee Stadium to a lineup that already featured Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner.....

Meanwhile not a lot of changes were seen around Fenway Park.  (editor's note: This article was originally written prior to the Red Sox signing JD Martinez)

Does this mean that the results of the season are a foregone conclusion?  Before getting ahead of ourselves, let's remember there's a reason they play the games on the field during the season, and not in the front office in the winter.


Here is a look at some recent teams that have "won" the off-season, and how they fared:

2014-15 Red Sox offseason
After winning the World Series in 2013, the Red Sox collapsed and ended up in last place in 2014. The Red Sox wasted no time ensuring they'd escape a simar fate, by signing both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval within 24 hours of each other before November was over, committing up to $205 million (if Hanley's 2019 option vests) between the two. Well, instead of finishing in last place with 71 wins, these moves helped them finish in last place with 78 wins. And they're still paying Sandoval's salary while he's playing back in San Francisco.

2013-14 New York Yankees
In what was a surprise to nobody, after an 85 win, 3rd place season, Yankees ownership opened up their wallets in a big way, committing close to a half BILLION dollars in one off season.  This was spread out over several players including: Jacoby Ellsbury - coming off a good season where he led the league in steals and was 15th in MVP voting - getting $153 million; Japanase sensation Masahiro Tanaka (24-0, 1.27 ERA in Japan) for $155 million; Brian McCaan who had been an all-star catcher seven of the past eight seasons for $85 million; Carlos Beltran who despite his age, was coming off back to back all star seasons, and rewarded with a $45 million 3 year contract.  All these moves resulted in the Yankees finishing the 2014 season with one less win and several hundred million dollars less than they had in 2013.

2013-2014 Texas Rangers
The Yankees weren't the only team that spent money improving after a dissapointing 2013 season. As you may recall, the Rangers almost won the World Series in 2011, twice being one strike away from the Championship. And they were itching to return. Unfortunately, after losing the division in 2012 by a single game, they were eliminated in the wildcard match, and in 2013 they missed the playoffs by one game. If either season they had won one extra contest, they might have had a chance to go back to the World Series and redeem themselves. So they made a few moves, including trading for an in-his-prime, 29 year old Prince Fielder, and Shin-Soo Choo, who was coming off one on his best seasons, where he was 12th in MVP voting. So, how close were they to winning the division in 2014 after these moves?  How about 31 games! They fell all the way from 91 wins to 67.

2012-13 Toronto Blue Jays 
The Blue Jays won 73 games in 2012, and wanted to make some changes to be able to compete. So they made some trades and signings which netted them Melky Cabrera, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson  Mark Buerhle, and RA Dickey. Dickey was the reigning Cy Young winner, and Mark Buerhle had been the staff ace in both Miami and Chicago. Meanwhile Josh Johnson was only 2 seasons removed from a 5th place Cy Young. This pitching staff along with the improved offence that already featured sluggers such as Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus had Canadian fans excited for the upcoming season. But the improvement they saw on the field was minimal, as the 2013 Jays increased their win total to just 74 games.

2011-12 Florida Marlins
It may be hard to believe, but there once was a time - long before the worst defensive player in the history of the sport took over the team - when the Marlins paid players and tried to compete.  Heading into 2012, Jeffrey Loria opened up his wallet, and spent about $200 Million on Heath Bell - a top closer coming off three straight 40+ save all-star seasons - Jose Reyes, an all-star shortstop, reigning batting champion, and premiere leadoff hitter, and 4 time all star starter Mark Burhle.  The net effect of these moves, is they lost three more gams in the 2012 campaign than they had in 2011, finishing last both seasons.

2010-11 Orioles
After the 2010 season, the Orioles - who had finished with a measly 66 wins and scored the second fewest runs in the league - tried to improve on their offence. And that they did! They added Mark Reynolds, Derrek Lee and Vlad Guerrero to give them some pop.  These moves certainly helped, as they improved their win total all the way up to.... 67! Offseason winnings garnered them a whole extra victory.

2010-11 Red Sox
The only reason the Orioles' moves weren't more herladed was that they weren't even the team with the biggest paper improvements in their own division. The Red Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford within a week. They also signed Andrew Miller, and some other bullpen arms after the 2010 season. It wasn't just Red Sox fans that thought this would put them over the top, most analysts had them as favorites after their off-season moves.
One typical artcile I found said:
"Red Sox are the clear-cut winners of this offseason. Adding 1B Adrian Gonzalez alone may have them considered among the top teams in the American League. But the additional signing of OF Carl Crawford may have made them favorites in baseball.
…adding RP Dan Wheeler and former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. … the Red Sox may have the best bullpen in baseball when it’s all said and done"
As you may recall, the 2011 season ended with their manager getting fired.  And only getting rid of AGon and Crawford late in the 2012 last place season helped get the franchise back on its feet.

====================================================================

So, what is the correlation between winning the off-season, and regular season improvements? If the above examples didn't make it clear, here is a very scientfic looking chart that I just made up:

If you don't understand advanced statistics, or correlation coefficients, a better explanation of how teams that have perceived success in the offseason are more likely to win games once the season starts is explained here.

Anyhow, in spite of winning the off-season,historically not being a precursor to having a good regular season, I am very glad that JD Martinez is now a member of the Boston Red Sox! Let the games begin.

October 24, 2017

2017 Prediction Results

I wasn't the only one predicting an Astros Championship
Prior to the start of the season, I made some predictions on how each team would fare. I received some comments (mainly through my @baseballruben twitter), including a couple of compliments (one each from Houston and Tampa Bay fans – it’s easy to remember the accolades when there are so few), and lots of hate mail (a typical one was this Cubs fan who said “you SERIOUSLY don’t think they’ll win the pennant again?”).

Anyhow, now that the season is just about over time to see how those predictions played out.

There were some good ones: I correctly picked five of the division winners and had Houston winning the AL pennant. I had 7 teams that I picked their exact record within 1 game (Boston, Tampa, Baltimore, Kansas City, White Sox, Washington and Colorado). Speaking of the Rockies, I also said they would make the playoffs. While not predicting playoffs, I did say that the Diamondbacks would be much improved, and that the Twins would be one of the most improved teams in the league.

There were also some comically bad ones: I said not to count the Tigers out and had them winning the wildcard. They ended up in last place – by just one game – behind the Giants who I had winning the NL West. I had the Brewers dropping to 65 wins from the 73 they had in 2016, and they contended most of the season, ending up with 86 wins.