The Sports Desk – MLB The Show 18 & Out Of The Park Baseball 19 Take On Reality
It's a long baseball season, but with the first month in the books I thought it would be fun to see how MLB the Show 18 and Out of the Park Baseball 19 predicted the action through the month of April as compared to what happened in real life. Could they replicate Shohei Ohtani's solid start? Did the simulations predict the Diamondbacks' success so far?
I start this with the caveat that I'm not a statistical analyst, and the methodology I used isn't perfect (I simmed the first month of the baseball season 10 times in each game). However, I think both titles did well and exposed some fun things that you can and can't rely on when it comes to video game and real-life sports.
Most of the divisions in the games were represented more or less the same in each title's simulations, however, when looking at them on the whole I found the same handful of teams sticking out. Sure, teams like the Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox did well the majority of the time, but the sims had a hard time consistently and accurately matching where the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks were at the end of April when compared to real-life.
Looking at each of these teams individually, it's not hard to understand why. In real life, the Reds had to dismiss manager Bryan Price after a 3-15 start no doubt impacted by injuries and players like Joey Votto and Luis Castillo not performing up to expectations. Similarly, both the Orioles and Dodgers have their share of injuries and a lack of offense. The Blue Jays started out hot at 12-5 before the bullpen struggled and they evened out for the rest of April. On the flip side, the Diamondbacks excellent start through April is a club record, and their consistency of not posting back-to-back loses during the month put them atop the NL west.
In general, the difference in both game's sims compared to real life tended to be among the bottom teams in the standings. In the simulations there were fewer single-digit-win teams, which makes a difference for previously mentioned teams like the Reds and Orioles, with neither MLB the Show nor Out of the Park predicting just how poor the AL central would be through April in real life. Ironically, only Out of the Park put the Twins in first place in the central in two out of ten simulations, something that didn't match reality.
While both games did an overall good job of matching the real-life first month of baseball, some of this season's early storylines just couldn't be replicated. Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius hit 10 home runs, had 30 RBIs, and a .735 slugging percentage, earning April Player of the Month honors, but this didn't bare out in the video games. Similarly, neither Oakland ace Sean Manaea nor Shohei Ohtani were statistically noteworthy in the most of the simulations, with the video games unable to reproduce Manaea's impressive 1.03 ERA and .62 WHIP and Ohtani's combination of pitching and hitting in April.
Interestingly, Reds' Joey Votto got Player of the Month multiple times in MLB the Show 18, arguing the point that he's capable of delivering performances that could have made the difference to the team in real-life.
As for Ichiro not playing the rest of this year and becoming the Mariners' "special assistant to the chairman," neither game predicted that. In fact, he did okay to pretty good in most simulations. However, per usual, Out of the Park had its share of surprises, from treadmill injuries to a pet custody battle to accidents with coffee tables. Does life imitate art? Sometimes you may not want it to.
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Super Mega Baseball 2 may look like an arcadey baseball title, but the underlying gameplay is definitely not to be taken lightly. Andrew Reiner recently reviewed the game, and thought that although it's light on modes it gets it right where it counts.
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week
Madden Creative Director Rex Dickson Leaves EA
MLB the Show 18 Adds Flashbacks to Diamond Dynasty For April & Roster Update
The new cards for Didi Gregorius, Shohei Ohtani (as a right fielder), and others reflect those players' good month (see our sim above) and provide some new targets for the mode's programs.