Does the following describe you?
You watch baseball, and often. You yell at your television when you believe the manager of your favorite team makes a suspect decision. You fire barbs on Twitter when your team's general manager trades one of your favorite players, or signs a washed up veteran. If this sounds like you, you should grab your phone or tablet and download MLB Manager 2016.
Android devices and Apple iOS devices for $4.99, allowing you to constantly have your team at your fingertips.
If you love baseball sims, there isn’t one better than MLB Manager 2016 which operates as an official licensee of MLB.com, MiLB.com and the Major League Baseball Players Association. I’ve been playing this game for several years now and the latest version does not disappoint.
As was the case in previous editions, the game touches on every facet of running a true MLB franchise. Fair warning, the game is quite addicting. You’ll likely find yourself completely immersed in your season, striving to reach the top of the standings.
There are three variations of play; Major League, Fictional League and Historical League (via in-app purchase). I decided to play a Major League season with the 2016 New York Yankees.
After selecting a team you are provided the owner’s perspective, a budget and the ability to set your rotation and bullpen, create depth charts and lineups to use against right/left-handed pitching. Among other nuances, you can select how aggressive you are on the bases and where you place your fielders in respect to situations (yes, there is shifting if you desire).
In an individual game you have complete control and comes with play-by-play if desired. The game can be played at a slow methodical pace (literally one pitch at a time) or there are plenty of chances to advance the game through various simulations. If you decide to use the simulation advances of which there are plenty, they are good at sticking to strategy and can be changed at any time.
From a season standpoint, I prefer to play games one by one, versus advancing through days and weeks at a time. But, everyone has their preferences and the game does provide alerts in between games (i.e. if trades are proposed or your team suffers an injury) so you can make your own roster decisions.
As the season moves along players get hurt (Jacoby Ellsbury got hurt on Opening Day, which is incredibly predictable) and some players become disgruntled because of playing time (Brett Gardner grew tired of sitting for Aaron Hicks). The same happens for demoted players (Rob Refsnyder was on the original roster, but I altered it to match the Yankees’ Opening Day roster). The morale factor is not just for your 25-man roster, but also applies to the minor leaguers looking for a shot at the show so you need to check on this often.
As a general manager you can propose trades and run the rookie draft mid-season as well as manage a complete minor league system. Once July hits, the trade chatter picks up. Some of the trades proposed to me were a stretch, but this has improved some from past iterations of the game. You can reject or counter trade proposals, and of course you can reach out to other clubs with your own offers. The offseason is much like MLB too. There are arbitration hearings and free agent negotiations. Your owner sets a new budget and expectations for the upcoming season and away you go. Again, your focus is controlled by you, or by the simulator.
MLB Manager 2016 remains difficult to put down. The ability to change the type of variation, allowing seasons to transpire one after the other with the same team personally appeals to me, but having the chance to select from loads of teams makes it a game that can be played over and over without the same results. I strongly recommend MLB Manager 2016 to anyone who enjoys baseball simulation games.
Out of the Park Developments also released Out of the Park Baseball 17 in March and is available for PC/Mac/Linux. This game is even more intricate than the iOS version. For more information, visit their website.
Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for SNY.tv. His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.