Tag Archives: RBI Baseball

2014 Red Sox Preview: RBI Baseball Comparables

Earlier this year, MLB announced plans to reprise the RBI Baseball name as part of a newly developed video game that would be available across a variety of gaming platforms. And really, who can blame them for trying to piggyback on proven success?

The original RBI Baseball, developed in the mid-1980s for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, is one of the best baseball video games ever created. Developed by Namco and published by Tengen, the game was licensed by the MLB Players Association, but not by Major League Baseball itself. There are only eight teams in the game (and also two All-Star squads). Teams are referred by city only and player names are not used anywhere within the original game. Presumably this will change now that Major League Baseball has its hands on the development process.

RBI J Rice

As we noted in the 2010 iteration of this post, playing the original RBI Baseball is especially satisfying for Red Sox fans because the “Boston” roster is absolutely stacked with both players who were good in real life and in the video game as well. Exactly why the game’s creators decided to make the Boston team disproportionately awesome remains unexplained.

Playing off of the Baseball Prospectus “most comparable players” feature that is used to develop the PECOTA projection system, Fenway Pastoral presents a preview of the 2014 Boston Red Sox real-life roster, as summarized by the “Boston” team RBI Baseball comparables.

Statistics following players are the totals as listed by RBI Baseball. Namco mainly used individual players’ numbers from the 1986 season in configuring gameplay skill levels. Exceptions included Tony Armas and Ellis Burks, as further explained below.

STARTING LINEUP:

Marty Barrett, 2B (RBI Stats: .286 AVG, 4 HRs)
2014 Red Sox comp: Daniel Nava
Barrett is a top-of-the-order guy who can routinely assault all fields with line drives and also knock out the occasional home run if an opponent grooves a pitch over the plate. He may not be the best leadoff hitter, but if a player is patient, RBI Barrett is almost never a cheap out.

Bill Buckner, 1B (.267, 18 HRs)
2014 Red Sox comp: Shane Victorino
The accomplished veteran who was a productive player in the National League prior to coming over to the AL for the back nine of his career. The similarities between Victorino and Buckner probably end right about there, but we have to saddle somebody with this comp and Shane is probably going to see the majority of his at-bats at either leadoff or the No. 2 hole, so what the hell.

Wade Boggs, 3B (.357, 8 HRs)
2014 Red Sox comp: Dustin Pedroia
The middle-of-the-order high-average, low homer guy. RBI Wade Boggs only hits dingers on mistake pitches or if the opponent leaves his pitcher in the game for too long. But much like the video-game Boggs, you can count on a bunch of doubles out of Pedroia even if the homers may be more of a rarity these days.

Jim Rice, CF (.324, 20 HRs)
2014 Red Sox comp: Jonny Gomes
Rice never seems to hit as many homers as you think he should. But that doesn’t stop you as a RBI gamer from swinging for the fences when he’s at the plate. If he makes contact and it doesn’t go over the fence, it’s usually a hard single to left field or a harmless pop-up.

Don Baylor, LF (.263, 31 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Mike Napoli
As the No. 5 hitter, Baylor’s 30-plus home run power makes him a guy you can’t take for granted in the lineup when playing RBI Baseball. Players who make mistakes over the middle of the plate are routinely embarrassed by tape-measure home runs. But Baylor hit for a low average due to 111 strikeouts in 1986 and he was clearly on the tail end of a productive career. The game’s creators at Namco largely chose to ignore all this when inputting his skill set for game-play. In a similar sense, Napoli’s propensity to strike out can be overlooked since he probably represents the team’s best shot at 30 home runs from a right-handed hitter.

Dwight Evans, RF (.259, 26 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Will Middlebrooks
Namco blessed Evans with power that can translate to all fields and very few of his home runs are cheap. For the 2014 team, we’ll give the honors to Will Middlebrooks. Sure, it may seem like a stretch but it’s not necessarily out of the question WMB runs into 26 home runs during the 2014 season.

Rich Gedman, C (.274, 16 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: David Ross
Gedman gets overlooked due to the firepower in front of him. But he’ll get his knocks here and there if he gets the chance.

Spike Owen, SS (.231, 1 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Stephen Drew
Almost every RBI gamer will immediately substitute Owen out of the lineup for one of Boston’s more intriguing bats that wait on the bench. Who can resist when all fielder attributes are static regardless of who is substituted into the game? It doesn’t exactly work that way in real life, but Boston has more or less treated Drew this winter the same way Owen is treated by RBI gamers.

BENCH:

Dave Henderson, OF (.265, 15 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Grady Sizemore
Henderson is a sentimental favorite for those old enough to remember his two gigantic Game 6 home runs during the 1986 ALCS and World Series. He’s a good pinch-hit option in RBI play as well if the match-up is right and the player is looking to change things up. He provides some pretty solid pop off the bench and only further adds to the embarrassingly rich depth of the Boston roster. Sizemore has some comparable sentimentality going for him if people are willing to remember far enough back. Sizemore hit 10 HR for Cleveland in 2011 so it’s not too much of a stretch to think he could hit 15 for the Red Sox in 2014 if things break a certain way.

Ellis Burks, OF (.272, 20 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: Xander Bogaerts
Burks’ listed stats are actually from the 1987 season. But he was a well-known prospect after being selected by Boston with the 20th pick in the 1983 draft. The Bogaerts hype will likely reach its critical mass by the time the season starts in April. Even if he underperforms early on, he belongs on the major league team. Forgive fans for looking ahead to what’s in store. No offense of course to Stephen Drew. But just to draw out this analogy, the makers of RBI could have either put a guy like Steve Lyons (1 HR in 275 PA in 1986) on the bench or fudged the truth a bit and, as they did, stuck 1987 Ellis Burks in the game. Who can blame them for choosing to include the exciting rookie over the veteran?

Tony Armas, OF (1984 totals: .264, 43 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: David Ortiz
Armas’ statistics on the RBI team are from the 1984 season rather than the 1986 season. Instead of listing him with 11-home-run power (his actual total from ’86), he is blessed with the ridiculous power he exhibited in 1984, when he banged out 43 home runs. Even as he approaches 40 years old, Ortiz remains remarkably consistent in his power numbers. He continues to make solid contact on just about everything left out over the plate, year in and year out. Just as nobody knows for sure why the RBI makers decided to immortalize Armas’ 43-home run season from two years prior to the game’s official production, no one can quite explain why Ortiz seems to be able to keep turning back the clock year after year after year. Armas doesn’t have a position in the field, but a savvy RBI gamer finds a way to get the biggest power bat on the team into the lineup at all costs.

Marc Sullivan, C (.193, 1 HR)
2014 Red Sox comp: A.J. Pierzynski
A necessary evil. A placeholder. A last-resort option, hopefully. He fills out the roster and you hope, somehow, someway, he isn’t really needed after a while.

PITCHERS:

Roger Clemens (2.48 ERA)
2014 Red Sox comp: Clay Buchholz
The right-hander from Texas who shows ace potential but who ultimately seems to fizzle out a bit earlier than you’d like. If you begin the game with Clemens, you may very well run through the opposing order with ease the first time through only to see a couple of hitters take his fastball out of the park the next time through. Buchholz’s starts – and his career of late – seem to be mired in a similar state of greatness restrained.

Bruce Hurst (2.99 ERA)
2014 Red Sox comp: Jon Lester

Lester is the no-brainer for this comp, especially after his high-level performance during the 2013 postseason. (Hurst would have had a case for the World Series MVP in 1986 if things had gone differently.) Hurst almost always gives RBI gamers five innings (the equivalent of six or seven in a real game) and he misses plenty of bats along with way if players deftly utilize the screwball feature by holding the up button as the pitch is delivered, resulting in a killer amount of movement on offspeed pitches.

Calvin Schiraldi (1.41 ERA)
2014 Red Sox comp: Edward Mujica
St. Louis more or less treated the right-handed groundball specialist as though he were Schiraldi 2.0 by staying away from him in the 2013 playoffs. Mujica saved a bunch of games for the Cardinals, but ultimately the team sensed he was on fumes by October and he pitched a total of just 2.0 postseason innings. Mujica’s split-finger fastball doesn’t miss nearly as many bats as Koji Uehara ungodly split. But if the Sox can get the same kind of results that Schiraldi gave the Boston bullpen during the 1986 regular season, Mujica will more than prove his worth. (There are some RBI gameplay similarities here as well: The video-game iteration of Schiraldi tops out in the low-90s, doesn’t strike out too many hitters and tires fairly quickly. He is rarely effective for more than three outs at a time.)

Bob Stanley (1.81 ERA*)
2014 Red Sox comp: Chris Capuano
More revisionist history from the RBI developers here: Stanley never had an ERA below 2.60, which he posted in 1978 pitching 141 innings primarily out of the bullpen in the process of finishing 7th(!) in Cy Young balloting. Stanley was pretty good a few years before the game came out. But with a fastball that tops out at 82 MPH, RBI Stanley’s stuff isn’t going to fool too many people on most days. We’ll give the dubious honors here to Capuano, as the veteran comes to town hoping to give the team back some of the innings it is losing with the news that Ryan Dempster is retiring. It will work out some of the time, but with the lifetime National Leaguer heading to the AL for the first time, he is going to take some lumps.

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2010 Red Sox Preview: RBI Baseball Comparables

Released over 20 years ago, RBI Baseball for the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System is unrivaled as the single best baseball video game ever created. The game has yet to meet its match in terms of sheer entertainment, user-friendly gameplay and longevity. Developed by Namco and published by Tengen, the game was licensed by the MLB Players Association, but not by Major League Baseball itself. Teams are referred to only by their city and team names are not referenced anywhere within the game.

For Red Sox fans, RBI Baseball is even better because “Boston’s” roster is absolutely stacked with both players who were good in real life and in the video game as well as guys who the game’s creators decided to make disproportionately awesome for whatever reason. (Most scholars theorize that Japan-based Namco’s self-loathing Yankees fans who were discouraged by the plight of the Bombers of the late-80s blessed the Boston team in RBI Baseball with otherworldly talent as a way to express their displeasure.)

In the spirit of the Baseball Prospectus “most comparable players” feature that is used to develop PECOTA projections, Fenway Pastoral is proud to present the definitive preview of the 2010 Boston Red Sox using RBI Baseball comparables.

Statistics following players are their totals as listed by RBI Baseball. (Namco mainly used individual players’ numbers from the 1986 season in doling out gameplay skill levels. There are some exceptions, including Tony Armas and Ellis Burks, as further explained below.)

STARTING LINEUP:

Marty Barrett, 2B (RBI Stats: .286 AVG, 4 HRs)
2010 Red Sox comp: Dustin Pedroia
Statistics do not do the player justice in either case. Barrett is a top-of-the-order guy who opposing players often underestimate when it comes to pitching with respect. Barrett’s RBI character routinely assaults all fields with line drives, shows deceptive speed on the base paths and pops out the occasional home run when no one seems to be looking. Leave a pitch over the plate and both RBI Barrett and Pedroia are capable of setting the table for a big inning.

Bill Buckner, 1B (.267, 18 HRs)
2010 Red Sox comp: Mike Cameron
By 1986, Buckner had enjoyed an already long, accomplished career playing primarily in the National League–Buckner’s Major League debut was in 1969(!). Ignoring his real-life success and apocalyptic, soul-crushing failings as a real-life Red Sox, RBI Buckner is a serviceable part of the lineup, albeit unappreciated due to the presence of the more popular names (Boggs, Rice, Evans). Buckner’s not a bad guy to have in the lineup and the numbers indicate adequate, steady production. Still, there’s always a lingering feeling that maybe it won’t quite work out.

Wade Boggs, 3B (.357, 8 HRs)
2010 Red Sox comp: Mike Lowell

His name and reputation demand respect when he steps to the plate as the third hitter in Boston’s stacked RBI lineup. But for as good as he is, the RBI version of Boggs hits an awful lot of singles and he’s only good for extra bases on pitches catching the fattest part of the plate. Against flamethrowers like Houston’s Nolan Ryan or New York’s Dwight Gooden, Boggs has a tendency to pop out to the infield unless the pitcher is still in the game in the fifth inning, by which time their fastballs top out at around 80-82 MPH.

Jim Rice, CF (.324, 20 HRs)
2010 Red Sox comp: Kevin Youkilis
Clean-up hitters are supposed to evoke TEH FEAR and both RBI Rice and Youkilis do to some extent (depending on the situation). But part of their value is derived from the potential damage the hitters on deck and in the hole can inflict. A seasoned RBI player uses Rice to make his opponent throw additional pitches, which tires their hurler and sets the table for a mistake pitch to the next guy.

Don Baylor, LF (.263, 31 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: David Ortiz
Baylor’s 30-plus home run power makes him a guy you can’t take for granted in the lineup when playing RBI Baseball. Players who make mistakes over the middle of the plate are routinely embarrassed by tape-measure home runs. But Baylor hit for a low average due to 111 strikeouts in 1986 and he was clearly on the tail end of a productive career. Yet the game’s creators at Namco largely chose to ignore all this when inputting his skill set into gameplay. As great as Ortiz has been, his reality is pretty much the same as he begins what could be his final season in Boston.

Dwight Evans, RF (.259, 26 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: J.D. Drew
Facing RBI Evans almost feels like an afterthought by the time he shows up in the sixth spot of the order. Namco blessed Evans with power that can translate to all fields and very few of his home runs are cheap. Like all but five of Drew’s home runs in 2009, Evans hits lots of dingers that have plenty of distance (i.e. home runs that sail over the bleachers in Tengen Stadium and into the dark nighttime sky). Even when RBI Evans doesn’t make solid contact, he is adept at maintaining a solid batting average on balls in play due to a sweet swing and good fly ball and line drive rates. What’s more, RBI Evans is good enough that opponents must respect the strike zone and he is often used to drive up pitch counts early in the game.

Rich Gedman, C (.274, 16 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Marco Scutaro
RBI Gedman cannot be trusted. His listed batting average is inflated based on his hitting abilities. But the lineup and defense has to be filled out at every position and he isn’t a total black hole at the plate. However, RBI players should be wary of expecting Gedman to carry a lineup in any given game. He is the equivalent of a stripper who is past her prime at the gentleman’s club that patrons tolerate in lieu of someone better—in Scutaro’s case, Jose Iglesias. Most of the time, a hit or two is all anyone really needs out of RBI Gedman.

Spike Owen, SS (.231, 1 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Jason Varitek

Owen’s purpose in the lineup is also that of a placeholder. His inclusion on the roster presents a key test that separates first-time RBI players from the pros. The first time an experienced, grizzled RBI vet sees Owen at the plate, he/she removes him for a pinch-hitter lest he ground out to the right side. By all accounts, Owen is a very nice guy off the field, though.

BENCH:

Dave Henderson, OF (.265, 15 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Adrian Beltre

After playing for the Seattle Mariners for six years, Henderson was traded to the Red Sox (along with Owen) in the summer of 1986 and went on to hit some absolutely gigantic home runs for Boston in the ALCS and World Series. It’s worth a try.

Ellis Burks, OF (.272, 20 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Casey Kelly

Namco jumped the gun by including Burks on this Red Sox team. Burks’ listed stats are actually from the 1987 season, although he was a well-known prospect after being selected by Boston with the 20th pick in the 1983 draft. Having already put in several years in the minors, perhaps RBI Baseball included Burks on the team as an interesting alternative off the bench. It was either Burks or a guy like Steve Lyons (1 HR in 275 PA in 1986). Another first-round pick (30th overall in 2008), Kelly fits the bill as Burks’ comp. It is already widely assumed that Kelly will be pitching in Boston by the end of the season. Unless he tanks the first half of the season in the minors, a spot start for Kelly in mid-summer figures to be a bit more anticipated than one by Paul Byrd.

Tony Armas, OF (1984 totals: .264, 43 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Bill Hall
Finding a comp for Armas on the 2010 Red Sox is complicated by the fact that his statistics on the RBI team are from the 1984 season rather than the 1986 season. Instead of listing him with 11-home-run power (his actual total from ’86), he is blessed with the ridiculous power he exhibited in 1984, when he banged out 43 home runs. Savvy players insert him into the lineup for Gedman or Owen during the first trip through the lineup because he hits towering home runs out of the ballpark at least half of the time his bat makes contact with a pitch. But even for a vintage video game, his power is exaggerated. Armas’ cartoonish ability to hit moonshots is somewhat balanced off by his status as a bench player. It is possible that the game’s creators were ahead of their time in recognizing just how poor his peripheral statistics were: In the process of hitting those 43 dongs in 1984, Armas also struck out a league-high 156 times while drawing just 32 walks. Bearing all this in mind, Bill Hall is the only logical choice as his 2010 Sox comp. Despite a K% and an OBP that is a mess, the 2010 Sox are banking on a return to the power production from several years ago (2006 in Hall’s case) much like the RBI creators conveniently ignored Armas’ actual 1986 statistics in favor of the sexier ’84 campaign. Moreover, the Sox plan to use Hall as a super-utility player similar to the way RBI gamers are able use Armas, who can be plugged into any of the defensive positions with no consequence due to the limitations of the gameplay. (All RBI fielders would record the same UZR if some nerd decided to actually keep track of such data.)

Marc Sullivan, C (.193, 1 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Tug Hulett
There isn’t much to say about Sullivan. No one ever uses him unless they want to pinch-hit for a pitcher and all the other bench options have already been exhausted. If Sullivan ever enters an RBI game, it probably means trouble.

PITCHERS:

Roger Clemens (2.48 ERA)
2010 Red Sox comp: Josh Beckett

Consistency and an unbeatable mixture of high-velocity fastballs and filthy change-ups make RBI Clemens the team’s workhorse. But Clemens’ 101-MPH fastball fizzles out by the fifth inning if players use it too much early in the game. The Texas Con Man’s reputation as a vigorous Clydesdale can be overblown at times and players too often forget that his left-handed counterpart is probably just as good or better.

Bruce Hurst (2.99 ERA)
2010 Red Sox comp: Jon Lester

Speed, movement, stamina. RBI Hurst has it all—yet he’s overshadowed by the more recognizable Clemens, who is generally considered by gamers as the Red Sox ace.  As the dilemma of RBI Hurst versus RBI Clemens shows, identifying a top-tier pitching staff’s “No. 1 Starter” is an exercise in splitting hairs that even dimwitted media members have begun to abandon when it comes to Lester and Beckett in 2010.

Calvin Schiraldi (1.41 ERA)
2010 Red Sox comp: Jonathan Papelbon
Disturbingly, the real life comparisons between these two relievers do not end with Papelbon’s meltdown in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS. Schiraldi’s infamous collapse happened on a much larger scale, but his 1986 campaign was nevertheless Papelbon-esque up until the biggest moment of the season– a 3.67 K/BB rate in the regular season and some huge outs in the ALCS. From an RBI gameplay perspective, bringing in Schiraldi is the only prudent move once both Clemens and Hurst have been taken to the brink. RBI Schiraldi has just enough to get three outs, but players tempt fate by asking him to get four or more outs.

Bob Stanley (1.81 ERA)

2010 Red Sox comp: Tim Wakefield
The game has gone into extra innings and attrition has set in. There’s no one else left and any remaining innings in the game must be eaten, for better or for worse. Stanley was pretty good three or four years before the game came out. But with a fastball that tops out at 82 MPH, RBI Stanley’s stuff isn’t going to fool too many people on most days. Still, against a less experienced RBI opponent, a player may be able to begin the game with Stanley on the mound and save Clemens and Hurst for higher-leverage innings later in the game. RBI Stanley’s low-70s change-up is his best pitch when used properly and thrown with pinpoint accuracy on the corners. (One note: Stanley never had an ERA below 2.60, which he posted in 1978 pitching 141 innings primarily out of the bullpen in the process of finishing seventh in Cy Young balloting.)

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Released over 20 years ago, RBI Baseball for the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System is unrivaled as the single best baseball video game ever created. The game has yet to meet its match in terms of sheer entertainment, user-friendly gameplay and longevity. Developed by Namco and published by Tengen, the game was licensed by the MLB Players Association, but not Major League Baseball itself. Teams are referred to only by their city and team names are not referenced anywhere within the game.

For Red Sox fans, RBI Baseball is even better because “Boston’s” roster is absolutely stacked with both players who were good in real life and in the video game as well as guys who the game’s creators decided to make disproportionately awesome for whatever reason. (Most scholars theorize that self-loathing Yankees fans who were discouraged by the plight of the Bombers of the late-80s blessed the Boston team in RBI Baseball with otherworldly talent as a way to express their displeasure.)

In the spirit of the Baseball Prospectus “most comparable players” feature that is used to develop PECOTA projections, Fenway Pastoral is proud to present the definitive preview of the 2010 Boston Red Sox using RBI Baseball comparables.

Statistics following players are their totals as listed by RBI Baseball. (Namco mainly used individual players’ numbers from the 1986 season in doling out gameplay skill levels. There are some exceptions, including Tony Armas and Ellis Burks, as further explained below.)

Starters:

Marty Barrett, 2B (RBI Stats: .286 AVG, 4 HRs)
2010 Red Sox comp: Dustin Pedroia
Statistics do not do the player justice in either case. Barrett is a top-of-the-order guy who opposing players often underestimate when it comes to pitching with respect. Barrett’s RBI character routinely assaults all fields with line drives, shows deceptive speed on the base paths and pops out the occasional home run when no one seems to be looking. Leave a pitch over the plate and both RBI Barrett and Pedroia are capable of setting the table for a big inning.

Bill Buckner, 1B (.267, 18 HRs)
2010 Red Sox comp: Mike Cameron
By 1986, Buckner had enjoyed an already long, accomplished career playing primarily in the National League–Buckner’s Major League debut was in 1969(!). Ignoring his real-life success and apocalyptic, soul-crushing failings as a real-life Red Sox, RBI Buckner is a serviceable part of the lineup, albeit unappreciated due to the presence of the more popular names (Boggs, Rice, Evans). Nevertheless, Buckner’s not a bad guy to have in the lineup and the numbers indicate adequate, steady production. Still, there’s always a lingering feeling that maybe it won’t quite work out.

Wade Boggs, 3B (.357, 8 HRs)

2010 Red Sox comp: Mike Lowell
His name’s cache demands respect when he steps to the plate as the third hitter in Boston’s stacked RBI lineup. But for as good as he is, the RBI version of Boggs hits an awful lot of singles and he’s only good for extra bases on pitches catching the fattest part of the plate. Against flamethrowers like Houston’s Nolan Ryan or New York’s Dwight Gooden, Boggs has a tendency to pop out to the infield unless the pitcher is still in the game in the fifth inning, by which time their fastballs top out at around 80-82 MPH.


Jim Rice, CF (.324, 20 HRs)

2010 Red Sox comp: Kevin Youkilis
Clean-up hitters are supposed to evoke TEH FEAR and both RBI Rice and Youkilis do to some extent (depending on the situation). But part of their value is derived from the potential damage the hitters on deck and in the hole can inflict. A seasoned RBI player uses Rice to make his opponent throw additional pitches, which tires their hurler and sets the table for a mistake pitch to the next guy.

Don Baylor, LF (.263, 31 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: David Ortiz
Baylor’s 30-plus home run power makes him a guy you can’t take for granted in the lineup when playing RBI Baseball. Players who make mistakes over the middle of the plate are routinely embarrassed by tape-measure home runs. But Baylor hit for a low average due to 111 strikeouts in 1986 and he was clearly on the tail end of a productive career. Yet the game’s creators at Namco largely chose to ignore all this when inputting his skill set into gameplay. As great as Ortiz has been, his reality is pretty much the same as he begins what could be his final season in Boston.

Dwight Evans, RF (.259, 26 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: J.D. Drew

Facing RBI Evans almost feels like an afterthought by the time he shows up in the sixth spot of the order. Namco blessed Evans with power that can translate to all fields and very few of his home runs are cheap. Like all but five of Drew’s home runs in 2009, Evans hits lots of dingers that have plenty of distance (i.e. home runs that sail over the bleachers in Tengen Stadium and into the dark nighttime sky). Even when RBI Evans doesn’t make solid contact, he is adept at maintaining a solid batting average on balls in play due to a sweet swing and good fly ball and line drive rates. What’s more, RBI Evans is good enough that opponents must respect the strike zone and he is often used to drive up pitch counts early in the game.

Rich Gedman, C (.274, 16 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Marco Scutaro
RBI Gedman cannot be trusted. His listed batting average is inflated based on his hitting abilities. But the lineup and defense has to be filled out at every position and he isn’t a total black hole at the plate. However, RBI players should be wary of expecting Gedman to carry a lineup in any given game. He is the equivalent of a stripper who is past her prime at the gentleman’s club that patrons tolerate in lieu of someone better—in Scutaro’s case, Jose Iglesias. Most of the time, a hit or two is all anyone really needs out of RBI Gedman.

Spike Owen, SS (.231, 1 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Jason Varitek
Owen’s purpose in the lineup is also that of a placeholder. His inclusion on the roster presents a key test that separates first-time RBI players from the pros. The first time an experienced, grizzled RBI vet sees Owen at the plate, he/she removes him for a pinch-hitter lest he ground out to the right side. By all accounts, Owen is a very nice guy off the field, though.

Bench:

Dave Henderson, OF (.265, 15 HR)

2010 Red Sox comp: Adrian Beltre

After playing for the Seattle Mariners for six years, Henderson was traded to the Red Sox (along with Owen) in the summer of 1986 and went on to hit some absolutely gigantic home runs for Boston in the ALCS and World Series. It’s worth a try.


Ellis Burks, OF (.272, 20 HR)

2010 Red Sox comp: Casey Kelly

Namco jumped the gun by including Burks on this Red Sox team. Burks’ listed stats are actually from the 1987 season, although he was a well-known prospect after being selected by Boston with the 20th pick in the 1983 draft. Having already put in several years in the minors, perhaps RBI Baseball included Burks on the team as an interesting alternative off the bench. It was either Burks or a guy like Steve Lyons (1 HR in 275 PA in 1986). Another first-round pick (30th overall in 2008), Kelly fits the bill as Burks’ comp. It is already widely assumed that Kelly will be pitching in Boston by the end of the season. Unless he tanks the first half of the season in the minors, a spot start for Kelly in mid-summer figures to be a bit more anticipated than one by Paul Byrd.

Tony Armas, OF (1984 totals: .264, 43 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Bill Hall
Finding a comp for Armas on the 2010 Red Sox is complicated by the fact that his statistics on the RBI team are from the 1984 season rather than the 1986 season. Instead of listing him with 11-home-run power (his actual total from ’86), he is blessed with the otherworldly power he exhibited in 1984, when he banged out 43 home runs. Savvy players insert him into the lineup for Gedman or Owen during the first trip through the lineup because he hits towering home runs out of the ballpark at least half of the time his bat makes contact with a pitch. But even for a vintage video game, his power is exaggerated. Armas’ cartoonish ability to hit moonshots is somewhat balanced off by his status as a bench player. It is possible that the game’s creators were ahead of their time in recognizing just how poor his peripheral statistics were: In the process of hitting those 43 dongs in 1984, Armas also struck out a league-high 156 times while drawing just 32 walks. Bearing all this in mind, Bill Hall is the only logical choice as his 2010 Sox comp. Despite a K% and an OBP that is a mess, the 2010 Sox are banking on a return to the power production from several years ago (2006 in Hall’s case) much like the RBI creators conveniently ignored Armas’ actual 1986 statistics in favor of the sexier ’84 campaign. Moreover, the Sox plan to use Hall as a super-utility player similar to the way RBI gamers are able use Armas, who can be plugged into any of the defensive positions with no consequence due to the limitations of the gameplay. (All RBI fielders would record the same UZR if some nerd decided to actually keep track of such data.)

Marc Sullivan, C (.193, 1 HR)
2010 Red Sox comp: Tug Hulett
There isn’t much to say about Sullivan. No one ever uses him unless they want to pinch-hit for a pitcher and all the other bench options have already been exhausted. If Sullivan ever enters an RBI game, it probably means trouble.

Pitchers:

Roger Clemens (2.48 ERA)
2010 Red Sox comp: Josh Beckett
Consistency and an unbeatable mixture of high-velocity fastballs and filthy change-ups make RBI Clemens the team’s workhorse. But Clemens’ 101-MPH fastball fizzles out by the fifth inning if players use it too much early in the game. The Texas Con Man’s reputation as a vigorous Clydesdale can be overblown at times and players too often forget that his left-handed counterpart is probably just as good or better.

Bruce Hurst (2.99 ERA)

2010 Red Sox comp: Jon Lester
Speed, movement, stamina. RBI Hurst has it all—yet he’s overshadowed by the more recognizable Clemens, who is generally considered by gamers as the Red Sox ace.  As the dilemma of RBI Hurst versus RBI Clemens shows, identifying a top-tier pitching staff’s “No. 1 Starter” is an exercise in splitting hairs that even dimwitted media members have begun to abandon when it comes to Lester and Beckett in 2010.


Calvin Schiraldi (1.41 ERA)

2010 Red Sox comp: Jonathan Papelbon
Disturbingly, the real life comparisons between these two relievers do not end with Papelbon’s meltdown in Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS. Schiraldi’s infamous collapse happened on a much larger scale, but his 1986 campaign was nevertheless Papelbon-esque up until the biggest moment of the season– a 3.67 K/BB rate in the regular season and some huge outs in the ALCS. From an RBI gameplay perspective, bringing in Schiraldi is the only prudent move once both Clemens and Hurst have been taken to the brink. RBI Schiraldi has just enough to get three outs, but players tempt fate by asking him to get four or more outs.

Bob Stanley (1.81 ERA)

2010 Red Sox comp: Tim Wakefield
The game has gone into extra innings and attrition has set in. There’s no one else left and any remaining innings in the game must be eaten, for better or for worse. Stanley was pretty good three or four years before the game came out. But with a fastball that tops out at 82 MPH, RBI Stanley’s stuff isn’t going to fool too many people on most days. Still, against a less experienced RBI opponent, a player may be able to begin the game with Stanley on the mound and save Clemens and Hurst for higher-leverage innings later in the game. RBI Stanley’s low-70s change up is his best pitch when used properly and thrown with pinpoint accuracy on the corners. (One note: Stanley never had an ERA below 2.60, which he posted in 1978 pitching 141 innings primarily out of the bullpen in the process of finishing seventh in Cy Young balloting.)