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Top Baseball Simulators

Can't get enough baseball on the field? It can all live on your computer, too


Baseball is different from every other sport because its statistics live and breathe. There's a constant dialogue about baseball's eras and players. How would Babe Ruth stack up today? Would Roger Clemens strike out Ty Cobb?

And on a personal note, could you run the Yankees better than George Steinbrenner? And do your GM and managing abilities stack up to other baseball fans?

These computer games and board games can satisfy that itch, and be a blast doing it.

Diamond Mind Baseball

Base runner sliding into base, fielder catching ball in baseball game
David Madison Collection: Digital Vision

Diamond Mind is a computer simulation that's been around for more than 20 years, and its intricate engine is used by ESPN and other media to simulate seasons. It's considered the best simulator out there.

Its main concept: Players draft a team using past players and then try to beat other owners in a 12-team league in a simulated 162-game season. It's not as easy as sticking Mickey Mantle in center, Babe Ruth in right and putting Cy Young on the mound, either. You have a salary cap and can only afford a few superstars for your team, so you'll be filling out your roster with players you probably forgot about long ago. And that's part of the fun.

The online version costs $19.95 per team. There's also a downloadable version.

Sim League Baseball

From WhatIf Sports and run by Fox Sports.com, this is similar to Diamond Mind with just a couple of subtle differences. Players from 1885-2007 are used, and you can manage your club through a 162-game schedule in a 24-team league, either in a private sim league or in a public sim league. There's also a feature in which you can play games live. Cost is $12.95 per team.

Sim Dynasty

Sim Dynasty is very similar to the above two, but different in that its premise is more in line with running a franchise instead of just running a team. Managers can control their team over multiple seasons, starting in 1950, building a farm system and competing over a longer span of time. And the price is right for a single-season team: It's free, and a great place to go to see if you'd like it and get into a multiple-season league through their system.

SimDynasty doesn't have the polish of Diamond Mind, but it has a vibrant online community, and it's franchise potential is intriguing. But because it's free to start, there are inherently more people who will ignore their teams after a poor start.

Baseball Mogul

This is one of the first online games that took you from season to season, and it's one of the best: the No. 1 selling baseball video game for the PC. It's also one of the cheapest ($19.95, downloadable or by order on CD). You control a team from how much you charge for tickets to picking up free agents to how you run your farm system. You can run the game using salary caps, or a free-for-all where the Yankees have more to spend than you do if you're managing another team. It's the real players names, and they age over time. And compared to the other software-based games, this one is the prettiest on your screen. This is also more of a solitary quest, but there's also an online game where you can play other owners on the Internet.

Out Of The Park Baseball

Another very good one. This one is similar to Baseball Mogul, and costs the same. There are online leagues with customizable financial systems, etc.

Strat-O-Matic Baseball

A contemporary of APBA, this is another popular card/dice game that was adapted to the computer. And through a partnership with The Sporting News, they've adapted Strat-O-Matic to be like Diamond Mind, except it uses the player ratings from the past season. Like Diamond Mind and Sim Dynasty, it simulates three games per day until the season is complete. Each team costs $24.95, or $99.95 for five teams.

The original dice game is still available each season ($45.50) and there's also a traditional computer game that allows you to play head-to-head on the internet or do your own simulations against the computer.

APBA Baseball

I grew up playing the old dice version of APBA Baseball with friends and on my own, and it was a blast. They still make the game after all these years, and also have a software version. The software adds Pete Van Wieren describing the games, which is a nice touch. This is more of a solitary quest than the ones above. You're controlling a team from the past or drafting a team and playing against the computer or a friend in person.

The classic original dice version costs $20, and the master game $25. The cards from each season are sold separately, and the latest seasons cost $39.99.

Dynasty League Baseball

Like Strat-O-Matic and APBA, this is derived from a popular past baseball board/card game, Pursue the Pennant. It has a graphical interface and is praised for its accuracy in detail. There's a software version (downloadable or available to purchase on a CD) and a board game version. There is also an online version you use with the software, in which you play a head-to-head game with other live players and play a 34-game schedule. You also can buy additional past seasons. The computer game is $19.95, and the board game is $49.95. (July 2008 update: There's also a new online version at dynastyleaguebaseball.com.)

Strategic Baseball Simulator

This isn't the prettiest computer baseball game out there that's in this feature, but it can't be beat in one area. It's free. And it's comparable to Strat-O-Matic and APBA, too. Give it a whirl – there's nothing to lose.

Scoresheet Baseball

You have to be in the regular season for this, but it's another interesting concept. It's fantasy baseball with a twist. Played in real time during the season, this service touts itself as the only baseball simulation that plays based on stats from the current week's major-league games. It doesn't use past stats, as essentially every other game does. So it's like drafting a traditional fantasy team, but playing alternate games on the computer. And you actually manage the team, at-bat by at-bat, working the matchups like a real manager.

New one-year teams in leagues that the league forms cost $89 for one team. You can also create a league with friends.

Full Count Baseball

By Lance Haffner Games, this is a long-time favorite on PCs. Like Strat-O-Matic and APBA, this isn't a fantasy-based game. You take over actual teams and try to manage them against the other teams from that season or era. Cost is $39.95.
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