The Crystal Ball
This is a historical league. OOTP offers various options for those who run historical leagues, and there is a wide variance between the most true-to-history simulation the game can deliver, and the least true-to-history simulation the game can deliver. I don’t have “true-to-real-life” cranked up quite as high as it will go, but I’m close.
(I might have just made it sound like there is one modifier that you can adjust to create realism; that’s not the case. It’s actually a combination of several different modifiers.)
The crystal ball—the ability to look at a player’s statistics in real life and use that as a somewhat reliable predictor of how an individual player’s career might play out in this league—is in full effect here.
What that means is this: your most useful “scouting report” for a player in this league is his real-life career. Baseball-reference.com (for Major and Minor Leaguers) and seamheads.com (for Negro Leaguers) are invaluable resources.
Occasionally I hear people compare two players and say things like “this guy is younger; he probably has more upside.” If you’re saying that, you’re missing an important detail of our setup. Forget about players’ ages; look at what they did in real life. A 30-year old player might have ten times the “upside” that a 22-year old player has. If the 30-year-old played until he was 42 in real life and the 22-year-old was done at 26, and the two players have similar ratings, the older guy is the one you want. That’s not a guess, or a prediction; it’s a take-it-to-the-bank fact. The settings and rules of this league make it impossible for a guy who had a short career in real life to have a long one in our league. Our rules also guarantee long careers for players who had them.
Additionally, the rules make it impossible for players to be much better or much worse than they were in real life. While a player’s actual performance in any given season in OOTP (or any baseball simulation) is subject to some randomness, players in this league “are what they are”. Stars are stars, good players are good players, middle-of-road players are middle-of-road players, and bums are bums. Never look for a player to be markedly different than the player he was in real life; it’s not going to happen. Two things to be aware of, though:
There is another page (Player Creation/Maintenance) that goes into explicit detail about how players are rated in this league; I refer you to that one if you want more information about ratings.
The crystal ball is useful not only in evaluating players, but in evaluating teams, or more specifically, evaluating teams’ needs. Each team’s real-life roster for each season is at baseball-reference.com. While our various roster rules—player eligibility minimums, Star Player slots, etc.—will make these online roster pages an imperfect guide, they do provide a reasonable blueprint. You can rely on them to give you a pretty good idea of who’s coming to your team and when, and who’s leaving and when.
I realize not everyone will want to spend time studying player and team pages online, but the information is there, and you can be certain that some of your opponents will be looking at it. You can either use the information that is available to you to prepare for the changes that will inevitably come your way, or you can ignore that information, and be surprised by the changes. Your choice.