OOTP 20: A Review

We're back for our annual review of the latest version of Out of the Park Baseball and, as cliche as it sounds, this game really does get better every year. There are a handful of really impressive new features this year, in addition to the usual improvements surrounding the graphics, sim accuracy, and AI decision making. This season, for the first time ever, you have the ability to start a new game at any point during the real MLB season and have up-to-date rosters, standings, stats, and ratings that have evolved since the beginning of the season. Also new this year is the ability to employ the opener-follower strategy with your pitching staff without having to manage every game of the season to prevent your AI manager from screwing it up. Finally, the Perfect Game mode has really been expanded after its successful release late in the life cycle of OOTP 19.

I try to dig into a different feature of the game every year, and I was tempted to go with Perfect Game this time, but ultimately decided to put together a tournament of the best Astros teams of all time to see how they would stack up against each other. I took the top 8 Astros seasons, as determined by pythagorean record, and set them up in with a first round, double round-robin followed by two best of seven rounds. Our contestants are, in chronological order, 1981, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2015, 2017, and 2018.

Right off the bat the entire tournament was completely flipped against my expectations, as three of the top four teams failed to make it out of the first round. No teams went undefeated or winless, but the 2018, 2017, 1999, and 2015 squads are already done.

The next round saw both "home" teams prevail, though in very different fashions. 2003 breezed past 1994 with a sweep, while 1998 had to grind out a thrilling 7 game series against 1981.

Our thrilling tourney wrapped up with the 2003 squad finishing their steamrolling of the rest of Astros history, sweeping 1998 in a series that saw an average of over 15 total runs scored per game.