Baseball Mogul 2013 Review: I’s Gooo

Let me begin with a belated apology: This is a belated review. I got my review copy late — after the season started — and I have since been under a deluge of research projects. There is a break in the clouds, so here is a much-deserved review of Baseball Mogul 2013:

Vitals:

Game: Baseball Mogul 13
Platform: PC
Developer: Sports Mogul
Modes: Franchise (Modern, Classic, Fictional, Expansion, and Custom)
Cool Features: Complete database of active and historical players, realistic aging, indexed encyclopedias, some advanced stats, and more.

Categories:

Realism: 9/10.
Graphics: 7/10.
Difficulty: 10/10.
Details: 9/10.
Playability: 10/10.
Intangibles: 50/50.

Total Score: 96/100 (A+)

Pros:

• Clean, simple interface.
• Massive and accurate rosters.
• Advanced-stat friendly, though not “loving,” necessarily.
• Minimal loading times (on legit computers such as mine, at least).
• Clean in-game interface.
• Possibly the most realistic aging curves and injury effects in all of baseball video games.
• Possibly the most realistic plate appearance simulator in video game history.
• Unique, accurate park images (in-game).
• Heatmaps!
• Women in baseball!
• Position changes improved dramatically. Bug* fixed.

*In 2012, changing a player’s position either made then the greatest fielder in history, able to play almost any position, or it obliterated their fielding ability, with no ground in between these two outcomes.

Cons:

Way simple contracts.
• Some in-game bugs, but not many.
• “DICE” instead of FIP or xFIP or SIERA or anything more modern.
• Cannot customize stats on the lineup, pitching or defense screens.
• No A.I. league rule changes. (As in, no Astros moving to the AL East, no unexpected league expansions/retractions in the future, etc.)

The first thing Baseball Mogul 2013 asked me was if I wanted to transfer my saved Baseball Mogul 2012 games to the 2013 folder.

“Oh my, yes,” said I.

That’s a good thing. Continuity. For many years of Baseball Mogul, that was more of the problem — too much continuity, not enough ingenuity. But Baseball Mogul 2013 offers a number of improvements, and while it’s complexity falls well short of Out of the Park Baseball, its addictiveness and enjoyability match or even surpass that great game.

Here is one of the hot new additions in Baseball Mogul 2013: Heat maps. One of my biggest complaints about OOTP 13 was the in-game screens — a visual travesty that led me to avoid playing games, but just simulating. This was an advantage Baseball Mogul had over OOTP, and this advantage only expanded further this year. Players can, and should, now approach each hitter uniquely in Mogul — because each hitter is different. Cue the customizable heat maps:

Add to that: Each stadium is different. Not only are the unique park factors still in place from previous versions, but now stadiums have different background splash screens that — at least I think — add just another touch of enjoyability for those playing in-game:

The player cards were also updated to show the defensive ratings on the home screen, which is great because that is one of the top uses for the player cards — figuring out where you can play certain players. Their does seem to be a disconnect between defensive WAR and fielding ratings though, and I’m not sure what to trust there.

There are some things still waiting for improvement. One is the lack of customizable functions in the Lineup/Defense/Pitching screens. There is no FIP on the pitching screen (though they have added some WAR and wOBA to certain screens) and there is no wOBA or wRC+ or park-adjusted stats in the lineups screen. We can create custom stats sheets in the “Sortable Stats” window, but we cannot choose which specific numbers appear on the three most important screens:

Under the “Sabermetric” selection, we get OPS and RC/9 (wow, who uses that anymore?) and DICE — Defense-Independent Component ERA, I’m guessing — but since there is no IP or even TBF on the Pitching screen and no wOBA or wRC+ on the hitting screen, the available numbers almost create as much inefficiency as they do information.

I also encountered a curious problem in a fictional league. The league tried to conduct an expansion draft — and I cannot remember the details about it — but suddenly my game results were no longer affecting the standings correctly, as though there was a second, secret schedule. It was weird:

Altogether, though, the game is solid bug-wise (the best as far as Baseball Mogul ever been) and addicting like some sort of spreadsheet crack. It can be a low-demand game you play every half hour or so, maybe behind some work screens?, and it can be an all-engrossing game you play until 4:00 a.m. and your wife clicks on the light and says from the other room, “Are you still working?” and you say nothing and then you say, “Uh-yes.”

And then you simulate another day.

There are so many amazing new things about Baseball Mogul. If you like OOTP, you will probably like this too.

Purchasing: ($24.99 presently at SportsMogul.com)

Other Reviews:

97 A+ Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) 2013 (PC)
96 A+ MLB ’12 The Show (PS3)
79 C+ MLB 2K12 (PS3, XBOX 360, Wii, PC, etc.)



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Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.

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