The folks behind the fantastic baseball simulator Out of the Park Baseball were once again kind enough to let me test out their new version this year, Out of the Park Baseball 17. I’ve long held that it’s the smartest, most powerful baseball game there is, and this year’s version only further solidified me on that The core game is as solid as ever, with new updates to the basic system, but with cooler features around the edges, like a full MLB license and automatically generated post-game reports that add to the full experience.
But the best part is always in the limitless capabilities in what Out of the Park lets you do. For that reason, some of you may be a little disappointed that I’m revamping one of my older ideas, but I had good reasons. The biggest is that, for as fun as historical What Ifs are, if I go back to before I was old enough to follow baseball (or even born), they become much harder for me to write about. I have no opinions about, say, Sam Horn or Leo Gomez. But if I’m writing about them, even for an article about a video game-created alternate universe, I feel compelled to look them up as I’m playing and write out said defense. If I’m talking about current players, I already have pre-formed thoughts on players, and have maybe even written about them. It makes the playing and writing phases a lot less slow.
So, in case you didn’t click the link, this year I’m going to be modernizing the concept of the 1990s Atlanta Braves’ pitching big 3. Picking a team was a simple matter; I looked at the Braves’ position player WAR (per Fangraphs) the year before they acquired Greg Maddux, then looked at teams’ 2015 numbers. The closest one made for an easy choice: the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hey, at least I would be starting with one historic ace; less work for me to figure out the other players to pick.
Yes, it seems the Dodgers would get some compensations for losing half of their historic 2015 pitching duo. I would be like Justin Timberlake in The Social Network; “Two future Hall of Fame pitchers isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Three future Hall of Fame pitchers.”
I went through my most recent Future Hall of Fame Pitchers article to find some people on track or close to it and similar in age to Clayton Kershaw to serve as my core. There weren’t many good choice in the years immediate above Kershaw, so I went younger instead, and acquired Chris Sale and Stephen Strasburg. I did this towards the start of the season too, before I knew just how fantastic those two would be and when trading Kenta Maeda and Scott Kazmir for them (respectively) seemed a lot less lopsided. Upon doing so, I locked Strasburg (formerly the only one not under team control through at least 2019) down with a 7 year, $155 million deal (with player opt-outs after the fifth and sixth seasons). And with that, I was now off to the races.