What if We’re All Just Living in a Baseball Simulation?
Since simulated sports using video games have started to catch on (even if we were here first), you know it couldn’t have been long before we did some Tech baseball simulations.
But while we could use downloadable rosters that others made for our NCAA Football 14 simulations, there hasn’t been a college baseball video game since MVP 07 for the PS2, and that didn’t (really) have downloadable rosters.
While there have been attempts to create a full set of college rosters for games like MLB The Show for PS4, they haven’t had the support needed to even get close to gathering ratings for each team.
So it looks like we’re on our own for this one.
And if that’s the case, I’m going to use a baseball game you might not have heard of: Out of the Park Baseball for the PC.
If this doesn’t look like a normal sports game, that’s because it isn’t. OOTP Baseball is very much a simulation game. It’s much more about roster and lineup management than it is about controlling a pitcher trying to strike someone out.
Luckily for us, if all we’re doing is simulating a baseball game, we don’t need all those extra features.
But unfortunately for me, we do still need to create the rosters manually. And that’s exactly what I did:
Granted, I didn’t really create these players from scratch. I had the game auto-generate rosters for all 12 baseball programs in C-USA, then renamed the players. Which is why Houston-native Beau Billings looks like this in real life:
versus this in the game:
(Fun Fact: There is nothing interesting on the Groveton, Virginia wiki page.)
But again, this is a simulation game, so does it really matter what the players look like? All that matters is that they play like we’d expect their real life counterparts to perform. But to do that, we need to edit more than just their names. We also need to update their ratings.
There are three main categories of ratings for pitchers: stuff, movement, and control. Batters are similar, but with five categories: contact, gap, power, eye, and avoiding strikeouts. So for ~25 players on 12 teams, we’d need to rate each player on those categories. And be totally unbiased and not give UAB players bad ratings on purpose.
Or do we…
OOTP has one more feature that makes it perfect for our needs. A user can input stats and have the game generate the ratings for us.
For pitchers, we need At Bats, Innings Pitched, Home Runs Allowed, Walks, Hit by Pitches, and Strikeouts. For batters, its At Bats, Hits, Doubles, Triples, Home Runs, Walks, Hit by Pitches, and Strikeouts.
And luckily, while the 2020 baseball season was cut short, teams did play ~17 games that we have stats for. While that’s a tiny sample size to judge a player’s ability, it’ll just have to do.
So after grabbing 2020 season stats for every player in C-USA, we had our teams set. And since OOTP allows you to create a custom schedule, I took all the cancelled C-USA games, imported them into OOTP, and let it run.
After the first weekend against MTSU, Tech had already hit 11 home runs. What that tells me is that this simulation is infallible and the perfect stand in for 2020 conference play.
This is also the part where I mention that after I created the ratings for each player, I allowed the game to generate lineups and batting orders. Mostly to stop people from telling me that a particular third baseman wouldn’t have started against a left handed pitcher on a Sunday. Now I can just blame the computer.
As of posting, we’re already a few weeks into the 2020 conference slate that never happened, so we’ll be tweeting out the box scores of the series against MTSU, WKU, and FAU over the course of this week. Starting Friday, we’ll be tweeting out the box scores as the games would have been played.
It’ll be almost like it actually happened.
Okay, well not really, but you get the point.