Today we have a guest post from Out of the Park Developments!
A Battle For the Ages: 1908 Cubs vs. 1984 Tigers
One of the great new features in Out of the Park Baseball 17 is the Historical Exhibition Mode that lets you replay any World Series from history, complete with accurate rosters, as well as match up any two historical teams for an exhibition game or a series. It’s a fun way to create all kinds of “What if?” scenarios or get revenge for a favorite team that lost a heartbreaking World Series or two (or three or…).
You can also decide the era, the modern one (2016) or one of the team’s eras, that will dictate the managerial strategy and statistical parameters. For example, you can bring a dead ball era club into the modern era, which means their AI manager will utilize his bullpen differently and his sluggers will enjoy watching a few of their hits sail into the stands. Or you can put a modern team in an earlier era and watch their AI manager keep his starters in until their arms fall off, while the power hitters endure some frustrating at-bats.
When we talked to Eric about doing a guest post, he mentioned that he’s a fan of the Detroit Tigers and the Chicago Cubs, so we proposed matching the 1984 Tigers against the 1908 Cubs in four seven-game series. Each team would have two chances to be the home team and play according to their era’s strategy and stats.
Eric thought that was a great idea, so we set up the first series. Here’s how the Historical Exhibition setup screen looks. We left the rosters at their default limits of 25 players but turned injuries off so no one lost a star player with the series on the line.
After you choose your teams, you move on to the Team Roster Setup screen. We left the default rosters intact, but you can tinker with them, if you want.
Then it’s time to play ball. You can either simulate the action or control one or both teams.
Series One: Tigers, 4-2
Here’s how the first series, hosted by the Tigers, turned out as they won in six games. You can click “Box” next to any game result to see the box score and pitch-by-pitch game log.
As you can see, neither team’s top starters fared well: Chicago’s Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown posted an 0-2 record with a 5.06 ERA and Detroit Jack Morris was 1-1 with a 5.87 ERA. Both clubs put on hitting clinics, though, and Detroit third baseman Howard Johnson was the MVP, going 10-for-24 (.417) with a pair of homers and six RBI.
The series opened with a 4-0 win by the Tigers as Dan Petry pitched eight strong innings. In Game Two, the Tigers carried a 7-3 lead into the top of the ninth inning and Morris exited after giving up a lead-off single. Bill Scherrer entered in relief and coaxed a flyball out but gave up a single and a run-scoring double. Willie Hernandez then entered the game and gave up two more runs before striking out Joe Tinker to finally end the game.
That late-inning mojo carried over into Game Three as the Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the eighth and won with a walk-off two-out single by Del Howard in the bottom of the ninth. The Tigers returned the favor, though, in Game Four with solo home runs by Chet Lemon and Darrell Evans in the top of the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, for the win and a 3-1 series lead.
In Game Five, the Tigers took a 4-2 lead, but Howard singled in a run in the bottom of the seventh for the Cubs and Tinker delivered a two-run homer that put his team ahead for good. Game Six saw the Cubs take a 3-0 lead after the first inning, but the Tigers knotted the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh and Kirk Gibson delivered a series-winning walk-off two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.
Series Two: Cubs, 4-1
In the second series, though, the Cubs got their revenge with a 4-1 win:
Brown and Jack Pfeister earned all four of their team’s wins while Dan Petry posted a 2.13 ERA in two starts but was 0-1. Morris was 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA. The Tigers’ hitters also struggled while the Cubs got used to playing the modern era. Joe Tinker was 12-for-21 (.571) with a home run and eight RBI, earning himself series MVP honors.
In Game One, the Cubs took a 3-0 lead into the late innings and Brown allowed a solo home run by Gibson in the bottom of the eighth. Since the series was played according to 1984 strategies, Rube Kroh entered in the bottom of the ninth and gave up a solo home run by Larry Herndon before nailing down the save. Tired of close games, the Cubs then rolled to a 14-2 win in Game Two.
The Tigers earned their only win of the series in Game Three but Willie Hernandez made his teammates sweat by allowing a run on three singles before striking out Frank Chance to end the game. The Cubs won Games Four and Five, though, nailing down the final contest with a 3-2 victory that was void of late-inning drama.
Another cool feature in OOTP 17 is the automated recap that appears at the top of the box score of a series-winning game:
Series Three: Cubs, 4-2
For the next two series, we moved the action to the 1908 Cubs’ home era, and they took advantage of that in the third series as they won, 4-2. The Tigers had a 2-1 series lead, but the Cubs reeled off three straight wins, including shutouts in Games Five and Six. Here’s the series rundown. Note the pitching stats:
Even though the Cubs won, Morris earned series MVP honors, thanks to his 2-0 record with a 0.50 ERA. Seems that 1908 suited him well, whereas Dan Petry fell apart, going 0-3 with a 7.88 ERA. The Cubs rode three starters to victory. Unlike the last two series, this one had no late-inning drama.
Series Four: Tigers, 4-2
Moving on to the final series, the Tigers emerged victorious, 4-2, as they won Games One, Two, Five, and Six. Morris was again a stud, going 2-1 with a 1.67 ERA, and Dan Petry twirled a shutout in his lone start. However, Alan Trammell was 10-for-26 (.385) with one home run (his team’s only dinger0 and eight RBI for series MVP honors.
Here’s how the final series went down:
In Game One, Morris and Brown traded goose eggs through seven innings before the Tigers put up four runs in the top of the eighth on five singles and a triple (welcome to 1908, guys). Game Two saw the Tigers lead 1-0 until they put together a three-run rally in the top of the seventh to give them breathing room.
In Game Three, the Cubs averted a 3-0 deficit by rallying for two rungs in the top of the eighth for a 5-4 win, and in Game Four they carried a 6-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth but allowed a pair of runs before finally securing the win (amazingly, both teams’ starters were left in the entire time).
Game Five saw Petry toss his shutout, 4-0, and the Tigers secured the series win at home with a 9-2 romp in Game Six.
Who’s the Better Team?
As these sims showed, the 1908 Cubs and 1984 Tigers were fairly evenly matched teams. They split the four series, and three of the four went six games. As they showed, anything can happen in baseball, and the fun with these “What if?” sessions is found in the discussions that happen afterward.