In BREAKING OOTP, I push Out Of The Park Baseball to its limits in various scenarios. Some will answer questions, some will settle scores, and some will push Out Of The Park Baseball to its very limits, to see if I can literally cause the game engine to beg for mercy.
The Seattle Mariners are owned by Nintendo. This is well known. The Seattle Mariners are also coming off a very disappointing season. This is also well known.
But what if the Mariners had had Nintendo’s own playing for them?
(AND GO BELOW THE JUMP TO SEE THE ARTICLE, AND CLICK PICTURES TO MAKE THEM BIGGER)
The basic idea of this week’s BREAKING OOTP is simple: 25 Nintendo characters will be placed into the Mariners organization. Some of them may take their place in the MLB roster. Others might be in the minors. Needless to say this is a bit more complex than the previous installments of this series. So I’ll go into detail as to how I translated Mario characters into the OOTP engine.
How I did it:
Mario has, as I’ve noted elsewhere, played a ton of sports. And he’s had two games that are specifically about him and his friends playing baseball: Mario Superstar Baseball for the Gamecube and Mario Super Sluggers for the Wii. Both games quantified various Mario (and Donkey Kong) characters on 1-10 scales in pitching, batting, fielding and running. For example, Mario was above average in everything but great in nothing, so he had 6s in pitching and fielding and 7s in batting and running, but Bowser, while a great hitter with a 10 hitting stat, was only average at pitching and was dreadful in fielding and running, with stat rankings of 3 in those.
With those as a rough-baseline (no pun intended), and also taking into account observations and guides done by people who played the games more often than I did as well as my knowledge of the characters from their other games, I was able to recreate the Nintendo characters of the Mario baseball games into Out Of The Park.
However, there were a few problems.
For example, I had no idea what sort of scale the 1-10 ratings meant, since these are cartoonish video game characters and we were not provided any sort of reference point. By “reference point”, I mean real world individuals that we can use to compare Mario, Luigi, etc to how actual MLB players are. For example, both the Cespedes BBQ guys and the Harvard College Sports Analytic Collective have been able to do some analysis on the Backyard Baseball characters because the Backyard games often had real-world MLB players in them that could be used to extrapolate what the rankings (1-10) given to Pablo Sanchez, Pete Wheeler etc. actually meant. No such luck with the Mario characters when it comes to baseball.
There is then the fact that while OOTP‘s internal character-creation ranking scale is 1-250, in some ways it is actually 1-200. A ranking of 1, needless to say, is downright horrible, while a ranking of 200 is basically “best in the league”. However, occasionally there are players who break the scale, and that’s why ratings points 201-250 exist. Those are rare, for the fastest of the fast, the strongest of the strong, the Barry Bonds‘ and Babe Ruths of the world who break the scale.
And I had honestly no idea what Nintendo’s ratings system meant for this. Did they mean Bowser to merely be a best-of-the-normal talent, or a transcendental scale-breaker? Was five average, or was it more like six was average?
So, in the end, I decided to just average out various ratings systems: straight up conversions of 1-10 to 1-200 and 1-250, as well as, in some categories (not pitching), utilizing a slightly modified version of how the BBQ guys converted a 1-10 scale into a 20-80 scale, and then converting that 20-80 scale to 1-200 and 1-250. And then averaged out all of those scales into my baseline for the Nintendo characters, and then myself made some changes here and there for variety (for example, both Bowser and Toad have 3 fielding, but what makes that fielding a three is probably vastly different) and to reflect the experience of people who played the game more than me as well as to take into account other game experience. Oh, and I also, in some cases, used statistics (stamina and acceleration) from Mario’s Olympic Games series. I mean, those aren’t exact translations of pitcher’s stamina and base-stealing instincts, but jeez louise this is translating Nintendo characters into OOTP, I’ve already made this exercise way more serious than it should be.
So, after all that, I came out with THESE 25 players. If you want a better look, click the screenshot:
KING K. ROOL:
Okay, so, with those 25 players added to the Mariners roster, you are probably thinking that the Mariners roster now looks radically different, right?
Well, you are correct. Let’s look at what the starting line-ups vs. RHP and LHP look like…
Holy crap. The Mario characters all-but totally take over the starting lineups for the Mariners, taking up 8 of the 9th spots for each, with only Robinson Cano still in against righties and only Nelson Cruz in against lefties. Say, what does the pitching situation look like?
And, the thing is, THERE ARE ACTUALLY MARIO CHARACTERS WHO WEREN’T ABLE TO SCRATCH THE MLB ROSTER. Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Koopa Troopa, Shy Guy, Dixie Kong, Bowser Jr., Tiny Kong, and Toad are all in Tacoma, either because they couldn’t scratch the amazing hitting depth of the Mario characters (most of the Kongs and Bowser Jr. ) or because, they, well, kind of stink (Shy Guy, Tiny Kong, Toad, Koopa Troopa).
So, looking at the Super MARIOners before the season begins, what are their strengths and weaknesses?
STRENGTHS: They have many. For one thing, they instantly are the most talented team in the league. Five of the top ten position players according to the OSA (the game’s internal scouting bureau) are Mariners, and six of the top twenty. A identical pattern is in the pitcher ratings, although it should be noted that in that case one of the pitchers is an actual MLB pitcher (Felix Hernandez), not a Mario character.
The Mariners also have versatility on their side. Many of the Mario characters, since the Mario games didn’t truly have set positions for the characters, can play almost anywhere, or even pitch in a pinch. Many of the pitchers can hit fairly well as well.
Then there is depth. This is a team that has Birdo, either Robinson Cano or Nelson Cruz (depending on the day), and Kyle Seager available on the bench.
Finally, there is the fact that the Mario characters are extremely resilient to injury, with minimum injury proneness, a translation of the fact that there were no injuries in the Mario baseball games.
WEAKNESSES: Despite that, there are some weaknesses for the MARIOners. For one thing, there is fielding. In order to get the many big bats into the lineup, some of the players are out of positions that they are good at. Wario is an average third baseman at best, for example, while K. Rool at 2B (which will happen against LHP) is a disaster waiting to happen.
There is also the problem of speed. While Yoshi is a guy with HOF-worthy speed and the Mario Brothers are fairly quick, many of the characters are… poor at best on the basepaths. K. Rool, for example, is an eight out of 100 in running. An eight. Petey Piranha’s speed is described in his scouting report as “very limited”.
Also, the fact that all of these players were placed onto the MLB roster means that some MLB players are on waivers and could be picked up by other teams. They are J.A. Happ, Lucas Luetge, Yoervis Medina, Tom Wilhelmsen, Rickie Weeks, Willie Bloomquist, Dustin Ackley, Justin Ruggiano and Austin Jackson. None of them are major losses (and most of them made it through waivers), given the Mario characters, but you never know.
Finally, there is the always dangerous fact that I put these characters together and it’s entirely possible I did something horribly wrong and they’ll screw up due to a typo or something.
SO LET’S BEGIN:
The first game of the year for the Seattle MARIOners is hosting the Angels on opening day. Princess Peach is on the mound against Matt Shoemaker. The lineup is entirely Mario characters except for Robinson Cano, batting 9th and playing second.
The game begins with Peach striking out Erick Aybar with a devastating curveball. Mike Trout, however, doesn’t care how good a fictional princess is at pitching, and just lines a single to left because he’s Mike Trout. Oh, and then he steal second, because he’s Mike Trout. However, Kole Calhoun and Albert Pujols are not Mike Trout, so Princess Peach strikes them out like fools.
Yoshi leads off the bottom of the 1st for the Mariners, and hits the ball up the middle for a lead-off single. So then comes Mario, playing shortstop. He lines out to Trout, who apparently is the only Angel who is going to be allowed to take part in the game today. And then Bowser grounds into a double-play.
Peach then takes the mound and sends down the Angels 1-2-3:
K. Rool starts off the bottom of the 2nd with a line-drive to left that gets into the corner, allowing even his sluggishness to reach second base. Shoemaker, however, is able to then strike out Petey Piranha, who thankfully does not eat anybody in anger. Funky Kong then is robbed of a hit by Mike Trout (of course). Finally, though, the MARIOners get on the board, as Wario laces one into the outfield, bringing K. Rool shambling in to score. 1-0 Mariners.
We sim forward a bit, to the 7th inning. It’s now 6-1 Mariners:
The lone Angels score, of course, involved Trout, who led off the 4th with a triple and then was brought home on a sacrifice fly by Albert Pujols. Peach has struck out 11 so far, and only has 74 pitches.
And she keeps going. In the end, she throws 116 pitches, allowing just five hits and one earned run, while striking out 14.
It is just a sign of things to come, as the first month goes well for the Seattle MARIOners:
A 15-7 start to the season, one of the best records in the majors. Also, apparently the presence of Mario characters has caused things to go drastically different in this reality, as the Miami Marlins start the season on fire and certain teams that started the season great in the real world don’t in OOTP.
One would think, though, that the Mario characters would then pull ahead as the season goes on. After a May that sees them go 16-12, though, it is clear that you are WRONG. Not only have the Mariners not pulled away, the Angels have actually gained a half-game on Team Mario:
It’s not for lack of effort. The Mariners are doing very well. Bowser leads the AL in batting average, slugging, OPS, HR, RBI, and WAR. Petey Piranha is in the top five of many of those categories as well. K. Rool, Mario and Robinson Cano also make appearances in leader boards. Yoshi leads the AL in doubles. Waluigi, Peach and Felix Hernandez all are in the top five for lowest ERAs. The Mariners make up four of the top five leaders in AL strikeouts and fewest BB per 9.
So what’s going wrong?
Well, for one, as expected, the fielding leaves stuff to be desired. The Mariners lead the AL in errors with 42. They have a zone rating of -25.3, which is the worst in all of baseball by a hefty margin.
There is also the problem of the bullpen. While the bullpen isn’t getting as much work thanks to how good the starting rotation is, when it does come in, bad things happen: their 4.79 ERA is the worst in baseball, as is their opposing batting average of .282.
Still, things start to go more the Mariners’ way. On June 6, a disastrously ill-conceived bases-loaded run-and-hit (I was managing this game and hit the wrong button- whoops), turns out to go horribly right, as Mario steals home to win the game against the Rays:
After that win and a few others to start off the month, the Mariners have extended their lead in the West to five games. On June 26th, the MARIOners have won seven of their last eight, are up eight game in the west, and are headed to Anaheim to perhaps end the division race before the All-Star break even starts.
And it gets off to a good start, as the Mario Brothers both homered in a 8-4 win, but then they lose to the Angels the next day 6-3 and are crushed 12-4 in the series finale.
The end of the West race, it appears, will have to wait. But perhaps not that long, since by the time that All-Star rosters are named, they are 12 games up.
And, speaking of All-Star Rosters, the MARIOners have several of them: Pitchers Peach, Waluigi and Danny Farquhar (who inexplicably seems to be great with Mario characters around him), as well as position players in Peter Piranha, Bowser, Luigi, and Mario. And Mario, Petey, Bowser and Peach were starters:
The AL wins the All-Star Game 6-2, and while Jose Bautista would end up winning MVP, the MARIOners make great showings throughout. Peach, Waluigi and Farquhar all pitch hitless innings, Waluigi gets the win, and a nice moment occurs as Luigi is sent out to pinch-hit for his brother Mario.
At the All-Star Break, the hitting leaders in the AL look like this:
And the pitching leaders:
So, yes, it seems like the MARIOners have found their way. They have the best record in the league, and are doing great.
The season rolls on. Bowser wins the AL Hitter of the Month award for July, and Peach wins the pitching equivalent.
On August 3rd, the Mariners win in Colorado thanks to a grand slam by Mario:
Disaster strikes one of Seattle’s “real” players in August, however, as Nelson Cruz goes down for the rest of the season:
As August nears it’s end, all eyes are on Bowser Koopa. On August 26, he has 57 home runs and leads all three Triple Crown categories. His passing of Maris is all-but-guaranteed. The only questions are when and whether he can also beat Bonds.
In the bottom of the 5th in that day’s game, he hits hits 58th. On August 30th at the White Sox, he hits his 59th.
The next day in Houston, he ties Ruth:
On September 2nd, he ties the AL record, hitting his 61st HR off of Pat Neshek in Houston.
And a few innings later, history is made off of Scott Feldman:
It took 54 years, but finally Roger Maris‘ AL record of 61 Home Runs in a season had been broken. Oh, sure, it was broken by a evil turtle-dinosaur-dragon-whatever king who likes to kidnap princesses and generally terrorize, but, hey, at least he wasn’t on steroids, right?
The season rolls on. On September 10th, the Mariners statistically clinch the AL West. The season after that is just a question of whether the Mariners will be able to match the 2001 team that was 116-46, and if Bowser will be able to beat Barry Bonds’ 73 HR record.
The answer for both is no: The team finishes the season at 115-47, and Bowser finishes with 72 HR. The final AL statistical leaders are this:
And so, it is now playoffs time. One would think the MARIOners would be the clear favorite. However, the 2001 Mariners, who had an even better record, didn’t win the World Series, or even make it there. So, as the ALDS against the Blue Jays begins, there is worry.
Worry that, after seven innings, looks completely unjustified:
Yes, after seven innings, Princess Peach is throwing a no-hitter, with ten strikeouts to boot! Only a lone hit-by-pitch of Jose Bautista has kept it from being perfect. Home runs by Mario and K. Rool have given the Mariners a 3-run cushion.
It looks for a second like the no-hit bid is over. But then…
The crowd goes nuts at the unexpectedly athleticism by Wario. So, of course, the next batter- Devon Travis– goes and hits a clean single to finish it, because sometimes life is anticlimactic that way:
Dioner Navarro also gets a hit, but ultimately Peach finishes the inning without any damage.
The Blue Jays gets a single run off of Toadsworth in the 9th, but that would be nowhere near enough, as the Mariners would take Game One, 3-1.
Game 2 saw Drew Hutchison face Waluigi. And Waluigi would own the game, throwing a “Maddux” as he shut-out the Blue Jays, 6-0, on just 98 pitches, striking out 7 and giving up just 3 hits. Mario and K. Rool again homered, and Kyle Seager also homered.
Seattle goes to Toronto with a chance at sweeping the series, and sends Magikoopa to the bump to finish it, facing Daniel Norris (the David Price trade did not happen in this simulation of the 2015 season). Alas, a late rally falls short, and the Blue Jays win 6-4 to fight another day, although they lose Josh Donaldson to an injury in the process.
Taking the mound in game four is Princess Daisy, opposing Toronto Game 1 starter R.A. Dickey. The Seattle manager makes a few changes to the usual roster, putting Wario in right to allow both Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano to be in the line-up and putting the speedy Yoshi on the bench for when he would be most needed.
By the 7th inning, the Mariners aree up, but just barely, with a 7-5 lead thanks to home runs by Petey Piranha, Wario, and Funky Kong. Felix Hernandez, who was a possible Game Five starter, emerges from the bullpen as the the Seventh-Inning Stretch finishes.
And Felix handles those last three innings (giving up just one run on a solo shot by Justin Smoak), and combining with a 3-run 8th for the Mariners, Seattle punches their ticket to the ALCS, 8-4.
In the ALCS, the Mariners face the Tigers, who had gone 90-72. The Mariners had only won the season series 4-3, so it would likely be a close match-up. Peach takes the mound in game one against Justin Verlander.
It proves… interesting. In the 8th inning, with the Mariners winning 4-1, Bowser hits a solo shot (his second dinger of the game) to make it 5-1. Verlander is then yanked and replaced with Vic Black. In the real world, Vic Black is a pitcher in the Mets organization, but he somehow found his way to the Tigers in this world.
But, anyway, Vic Black goes and drills King K. Rool with the next pitch. Benches are cleared. Bad words are exchanged (note: the worst word a Mario character knows is either “heck” or “game over”). Both Black and K. Rool are ejected. Somebody might have a trident for all I know. I have this image in my head of K. Rool charging the mound. It’s hilarious.
So, anyway, while the Mariners end up winning Game 1, 5-1, there is now the worry that maybe K. Rool will be suspended the rest of the series. It remains on the Mariners’ mind as Bowser hit two home runs in a 11-4 Game 2 rout for Settle that put them up 2-0.
But the suspension, it seems, never comes. The Mariners go and win the ALCS in five games to go to the World Series, with Felix Hernandez throwing a 5-hit shutout in Game Five to seal it. Bowser is named ALCS MVP:
The final boss battle, the World Series, proves to be the Los Angeles Dodgers. As the series approaches, there is some talk that maybe Mario himself may join the rotation and start a game in Los Angeles, to replace Princess Daisy, who had been roughed up in her two postseason starts and had struggled down the stretch in the regular season. Mario had pitched briefly during the regular season, usually in interleague games, and had a respectable 3.52 ERA in 7.2 IP.
The Seattle manager says: “Wait and see.”
Game One pits Peach vs. Brandon McCarthy.
At least, in theory it’s Brandon McCarthy. After giving up a hit to Mario to lead off the bottom of the first inning, he is pulled due to injury. Despite this, the game turns into an unlikely pitcher’s duel. While the Mariners get two runs off of Joe Smith in bottom of the second thanks to a Funky Kong single, the Dodgers tie it up in the 7th thanks to a Adrian Gonzalez 2-run blast. As the 9th begins, it is 2-2, and Princess Peach is still out there, getting Jimmy Rollins to fly out to begin the inning as Danny Farquhar and, in a shocking twist, Princess Daisy warm up in the bullpen.
They are not needed, as Peach sends down the Dodgers one-two-three to finish her nine innings of work.
Kenley Jansen takes the mound for LA to try and force extras. He strikes out Kyle Seager swinging to start the bottom of the 9th. Luigi lines out. Mario goes down looking. To extras the game goes. Toadsworth, who had shared closer duties with Danny Farquhar and to a certain extent King Boo, comes in for the top of the 10th. He puts down the Dodgers in order.
Jansen matches him. The game goes to eleven.
And then, Princess Daisy emerges from the bullpen. It is her first relief appearance ever… and she promptly gives up a single to Howie Kendrick.
But then, with a 3-2 count against A.J. Ellis, things take a turn for the better:
The crowd roars… but then turns to grumbles when she walks Hector Olivera. Thankfully for Daisy, Jimmy Rollins lines out to Cano to end the inning.
The bottom of the 11th starts quietly, as both Petey and Wario go down against Yimi Garcia. But then Cano walks, and Seager singles. The winning run stands at second base, and Luigi comes to the plate.
He strikes it hard towards the shortstop… and it gets through!
There is much rejoicing.
Well, until the Mariners jump on Kershaw early and often, with K. Rool hitting a 3-run shot in the 1st and Petey Piranha going yard for 2 RBIs in the third. K. Rool later homers again, off of Chris Hatcher, as the Mariners roll to a 9-3 win.
The series then moves to LA. The Mariners manager confirms that Mario will, indeed, pitch Game 4. It is a stunning and unprecedented announcement.
Game Three, however, is Magikoopa vs. Zack Greinke. The Dodgers take a early lead thanks to Yasiel Puig hitting a 2-run dinger, but the Mariners rally back and take the lead in the 6th with four runs:
Yes, you are reading that right, Petey Piranha had a inside-the-park home run. Man, I wish I had been live-simulating that one.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners find themselves in a pickle, as two walks by King Boo mean that Hector Olivera comes to the plate with two outs but a chance to win the game with just one swing.
Thankfully for Seattle, Olivera simply pops up to Robinson Cano and the Mariners take the game, 4-2, for a 3-0 lead in the World Series.
The fourth game is a match-up between Mario- who is usually a infielder- and Hyun-Jin Ryu, who missed nearly the entire regular season with an injury. It is instantly voted the least-likely starting pitcher matchup in World Series history. To add to the wackiness, Mario keeps his lead-off spot in the order.
(Man, can you imagine how Vin Scully would react to this? I bet he’d enter a long talk about how Mario was from Brooklyn and was once known as Jumpman, and that he was a carpenter who had to rescue his then-girlfriend Pauline from Donkey Kong, and… well.. Vin Scully would tell it way better than I would.)
Oh, and Austin Jackson is in CF, despite the fact his entire time in Seattle during the season (most of it was spent in Tacoma) was spent on the bench and he only ended up on the postseason roster because of Nelson Cruz’s injury and similar events.
While Mario flies out to begin the game, the rest of the Seattle order gives him a cushion, as Cano singles, Funky singles, and then Bowser doubles to give the Mariners a 2-0 lead, and later Wario singles Bowser home to give Mario a 3-0 lead before he even steps on the mound.
And step on the mound he does, as Mario strikes out Jimmy Rollins swinging to start the bottom of the first and goes on and throws a nice inning overall, with only a walk to Dariel Alvarez to stop it from being perfect.
After both sides are scoreless in the second, Mario opens the third with a bang:
Mario keeps on pitching. After a Petey Piranha solo blast off Joe Smith in the top of the sixth, it’s 5-0 Mariners.
However, in the bottom of the sixth, Mario is clearly exhausted on the hill. He walked Dariel Alvarez, and that is that for him…
Well, sort of. Because the Seattle manager isn’t going to just let Mario go to waste. So, an elaborate switch is made: Mario is moved to shortstop (by way of CF due to the order I clicked the buttons), Luigi is moved to center-field, and Austin Jackson, the guy who basically hadn’t done anything all year, is replaced in the lineup by the pitcher’s spot, and the new pitcher….
Who then gives up a triple to Carl Crawford, making it 5-1 Mariners. Whoops. Crawford then scores on a sac-fly by Puig. 5-2. And then Adrian Gonzalez hits a home run.
5-3. Hisashi Iwakuma starts warming up in the bullpen. Thankfully, the rest of the inning is uneventful.
The top of the seventh, however, is not, as Yoshi homers off Paco Rodriguez, just getting the ball over the jumping glove of Yasiel Puig to make it 6-3.
The bottom of the seventh sees this happen on a 3-2 strike called on Hector Olivera:
Felix, having settled down, continues on and puts the Dodgers down in order, including that controversial call.
However, it won’t be easy for the Mariners. In the bottom of the 8th, Carl Crawford hits a 2-run home run, and it’s suddenly 6-5.
And that is the score in the bottom of the ninth, as Toadsworth is called in from the bullpen to finish the game and win the Mariners a World Series title.
It doesn’t start off well, as Howie Kendrick is able to snake a ball into the outfield for a lead-off single. Princess Daisy begins to warm-up. Darwin Barney bunts Kendrick over to second. A.J. Ellis comes to the plate. He grounds out but is able to bring Kendrick- the tying run- to third base.
Jimmy Rollins comes up. The Mariners are an out away from a World Series title.
The first pitch is a 92 MPH ball:
The second pitch is the same, although a bit closer:
Toadsworth then catches the corner for a strike:
Rollins then gets a piece of one, but it goes foul behind him:
The Mariners are now just a strike away from World Series immortality. It’s a screwball:
The Mariners pile the mound (poor Toadsworth!) as the sweep is completed. Seattle, the Mushroom Kingdom, Sarasaraland, the Koopa Kingdom, DK Island and the Northern Kremisphere all go wild at the triumph.
Petey Piranha, with three home runs in the series, is named MVP.
Come award time, the MARIOners do very well. Petey, Bowser, Funky and K. Rool win Silver Sluggers, Waluigi wins Cy Young, and and Bowser, of course, wins MVP.
In the end, the 2015 MARIOners go down as one of the greatest teams of baseball history. It is hard to think of any group that could possibly challenge them in one-on-one competition. Or is there?
So, what have we learned today?
- Mario characters are good at baseball.
- Despite that, they still weren’t able to match the 2001 Mariners in regular season record in this simulation.
- Bowser should probably just go sign a contract and play baseball for a living. He’s clearly better at it then he is at kidnapping princesses.
- It would be in both MLB and Nintendo’s interest to have a video game in which Nintendo characters play baseball with MLB players.
- It would be in Jerry DiPoto’s best interest to fill his roster with indefatigable pitchers, positions players who can play anywhere, and at least one speedy dinosaur.
So, yes, we learned both a lot today… and nothing at all.
Special thanks to the Mario Wiki (certain documentations for the Mario sports games), GameFAQs (certain documentation on the Mario sports games), the Cespedes Family Barbecue (their conversion scale of 1-10 to 20-80 talent using the Backyard Baseball scale, which I used as part of my mix to determine OOTP rankings for ), OOTP Developments (creating OOTP), Youtube (for making a certain easter egg on here possible) and Nintendo (creating Mario).
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