OK, I’ve been playing various fantasy baseball games for years now. I’ve been active in at least one Stratomatic league since 1992. Yet I still can’t seem to find a game that can produce realistic and reasonable end of year statistics.
Oh, I’ve tried a bunch, and they all have problems. Most of the PC and console games tend to be geared towards arcade style play, which emphasizes hitting, particularly home runs. MLB06 The Show is like this. If you play your AB’s, you can dominate, and put up some truly gaudy numbers over 162 games (.506 average? 366 Hits? No problem!). The old Tony LaRussa games for the Sega Genesis were equally as bad.
Baseball Mogul for the PC is a nice baseball business sim, but a lousy baseball game sim. The financial aspects of this game are nearly unparalelled, and are very realistic. However when it comes to the on field stuff, it fails miserably (Guys hitting 90 HR, 1200 Career HR, etc).
I have only fooled around a bit with Out of the Park. From what little I’ve tinkered with, it seems fairly solid. It has a minor league system, an OK trade AI, and the end of years numbers generally tend to be reasonable. Now, I must admit that I’ve only played a few seasons with OOTP, so I can say for certain if the mechanics of the game are truly on target or not.
Some people have reccomended APBA to me over the past few years. I have yet to try this one out. I will look into it over the summer as my search for the perfect PC baseball game continues.
But what prompted this, and is a source of both joy and frustration is Stratomatic. This game, in one form or another, has been around for years upon years (in modern speak). It is perhaps the most successful of all baseball games ever made (you don;t stay in business for 40 some odd years otherwise). Yet while I find the game enjoyable, and entertaining, it continually frustrates me, and has some glaring issues.
First off, the game favors the hitters. Oh, don’t spout off about statistics to me here. In the real world (ITRW), it is not a 50-50 chance as to who has the advantage in a hitter-pitcher match up. That’s a gross generalization, that in Stratomatic, gives far too much advantage to good hitters. So, even good or great pitchers will get hit, and hit hard in Stratomatic. This is just plain wrong.
Even worse, are trends that others besides myself have noticed. If you’re a Yankee, you will get a better card than you deserve. If the designers like you as a player, you will get a better card. If they don’t like you, you will get a worse card. Oh I’m sure Hal Richmond and company will deny this untill they’re blue in the face. But it does happen, as we have compared cards for players with similar, if not exact stats, and you can see that there are definite differences between the two. It’s a flaw in teh system, and one that skews the whole game.
This is why I keep hoping someone will make a PC version of the old Avalon Hill game, Statis Pro. Now that was a well balancd game. Sure, it lacked a lot of “chrome,” but as a baseball sim, it was nearly perfect. Good pitchers were good, and bad pitchers were bad. The basic mechanic was you rolled a die, and if it wasn’t on the pitcher’s card (and the range varied by pitcher), it went to the hitter, and most hitter’s cards, even the crappy ones, were pretty good.
Sure there were problems with Statis Pro. The fielding and base running rules left a lot to be desired. Stealing was far too complicated, and there was no accounting for odd ball rare plays. Still, a modern revamp of the game could potentially fix all that, especially in a PC format.
Thus, I am stuck. Untill that perfect game comes along, I will continue to muddle along with Stratomatic as long as I have a league, and as long as I am still having fun.