Filling the Baseball Void

March 22nd, 2020 by Kevin

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First off, I hope you and your families are all doing well during these difficult times. The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt affected us all, changing the way we go about our daily lives. While there are far more important things to worry about right now, the cessation of all sports has left a pretty gaping hole in my daily routine. That’s exacerbated by the fact that I suddenly have a whole lot of free time on my hands. So I’ve come up with a plan to try and help fill that void.

This Thursday was supposed to be MLB Opening Day and the start of our league’s season. Since that has been delayed indefinitely, I have a plan to occupy some of that time before baseball returns. I am going to set up and simulate two separate seasons within the Out of the Park Baseball game. For those of you unfamiliar with OOTP, it is probably the best baseball simulation game ever created. I can’t even begin to describe all of the features and customization options available in the game, so I’ll recommend checking out their website if you are interested in learning more.  The latest version of the game was just released a few days ago.  I’ve been playing it practically non-stop since.  While I have bought every version of the game the past 15 years or so, I’ve been a very casual player the past decade, usually not purchasing the game until it is time to set up the DTBL All-Star Game each summer.  But this year will be much different.  I’ve already gotten my money’s worth, and then some.  Enough of this infomercial for OOTP though.  Let’s get to my plan.

As I stated above, I am going to simulate two separate seasons within OOTP.  One is going to be a simulation of a real life MLB universe and the second will be configured for the DTBL.  I am inviting all of you to participate in the DTBL sim, if you so desire.  But first, let me describe the MLB sim.

I am going to create a full MLB universe in OOTP, including all 30 MLB teams and their full minor league affiliates.  This is one of the default out-of-the-box options in OOTP.  It has a full roster set of real players with ratings that reflect their skills to an incredibly accurate degree.  I will keep pretty much all of the default settings in the game, which mimic MLB rules and regulations.  To give myself a little more to do, I am going to take full control of the White Sox organization while the other 29 teams will be AI controlled.  There will be trades, injuries, suspensions, promotions, demotions… you name it.  I will sim one day at a time, creating results for all of the games that were originally scheduled to occur on the given day.  So that means on Thursday, I will sim the games that were supposed to happen on MLB Opening Day.  I will then upload the results to our website so you can peruse all the reports, check out box scores, game logs, transaction logs, or whatever else might be of interest to you.  Curious how your favorite team and players did on a given day?  It will all be there.  I intend to continue this daily routine up until whenever the real MLB season begins.  At that time, I may continue the league at my own leisure, but will stop publicly reporting the results.

The second sim is probably going to be of more interest to you.  I am going to create a DTBL game that is going to have each of our ten teams, more or less with our actual rosters.  The teams will have a full 162 game schedule in which they play the other nine teams 18 times each.  At the conclusion of the regular season, the top four teams will make the playoffs and play best-of-7 Semi-Finals before a best-of-7 World Series.  Normally, I’d prefer to limit the post-season to just two teams in a ten team league.  But since this is just for fun, I might as well keep more teams involved as long as possible.  And there is no actual prize for the simulation champion.

I’ve already done most of the setup for this league.  I created the teams and set up an initial draft to place the players on the correct teams.  As soon as our real draft wraps up, I will complete this process.  Rosters are going to be 32 players:  a 26 man active roster and a six player reserve roster.  The reason why I decided to go beyond the 28 players that each of us will have at the conclusion of the real draft is because most teams are going to need more pitchers to fill a regular staff.  My assumption is that most teams will go with a 13 pitcher staff, which is probably a couple more pitchers than most of you will have at the conclusion of our draft.  Once the 28 players have been assigned to their proper teams, I’m going to turn on auto-draft and let the AI fill out the rest.  I will create a backup before doing this though in case the AI doesn’t pick mostly pitchers as I expect.  In that case, I’ll come up with some other mechanism to fill the rosters.

I will begin simming the games for this league on Thursday as well.  However, I intend to sim two days off the schedule at a time, as opposed to just one in the MLB sim.  Once a firm MLB Opening Day has been set, I’ll adjust this schedule so that the season is completed before Opening Day.  There will be a few other differences in the DTBL sim.  Injuries will be disabled.  So yes, Chris Sale and Luis Severino will be good-to-go for this season.  I will disable AI roster moves, including trades, signings, promotions and demotions.  Essentially, the team rosters will remain static throughout the season, unless you decide to make changes to your own roster.

Yes, you will have an opportunity to participate, if you so desire.  First of all, if any of you happen to have OOTP or are thinking about purchasing it, please let me know ASAP.  I can configure the game to make this an online league, which would allow you to take full control of your roster, including every minute detail right down to in-game strategy.  I haven’t participated in an OOTP online league in a very long time and have never run one myself, so I’ll need to research this a bit, which is why I’d appreciate a quick response if you want to participate in this manner.  But you do not need OOTP to be a part of this sim.  At any time throughout the season, you can email me with changes you would like made to your roster:  signing free agents, promoting to/from the reserve roster, changes to lineups/depth charts/pitching staff roles.  The degree to which you wish to participate is completely up to you.  In fact, if you just want to let the AI handle it all, that will be just fine.  To reiterate though, I will be disabling AI roster moves.  So if you choose not to participate, the 26 player roster that you begin the season with will remain in tact for the duration of the season.  No roster moves made throughout this process will have any impact on your real DTBL roster.

My current plan is to post the results of both sims to the website around 9 p.m. EDT each evening.  There will be links to the main page for each league on the front page of this website.  Those URLs shouldn’t change, so feel free to bookmark them and check them whenever you wish.  I will also be tweeting links (@DTBL_Kevin) when the pages have been updated and perhaps occasionally chiming in with some of the highlights, using hashtag #DTBL2020Sim.  Maybe I’ll even write an occasional blog post to recap the action, if I’m really bored.

This project has given me something to look forward to.  It is not much of a replacement for real baseball games, but it will suffice for now.  Let’s play ball!

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