Fan-voted covers for sports video games have been a thing for about seven years now, with that trend waning somewhat lately. Few have been as in touch with their community as what Out of the Park Baseball 18 is doing with its.
The sports management simulation, which last year acquired group licensing entitling it to every Major League Baseball player's likeness (in addition to all the clubs), is doing an 11-man lineup, with a manager, for its cover.
While there are some big namers on the ballot (Manny Machado of Baltimore, Jose Bautista in Toronto, Clayton Kershaw of Los Angeles) it's charming to see rookies like Trea Turner for Washington and Nomar Mazara of Texas among the choices, too. Nine of the 20 players were All-Star selections, so this isn't simply a popularity contest.
Manager candidates Bruce Bochy of San Francisco and Joe Maddon of the defending world champion Chicago Cubs also are guys appreciated by the type of player who enjoys OOTP. The game, the top-scoring PC game on Metacritic in 2016 and frequently compared to Sega's long-popular Football Manager series, scratches a baseball fan's itch for building a club, wringing the most value out of who you have, finding value on the meat market, developing prospects and proving your smarts.
This vote is for a "virtual cover," which we've kind of disparaged in the past, but we have to acknowledge the time's coming when all of this stuff is downloaded and there are no covers. OOTP 18 is for Windows PC, Mac and Linux and is sold entirely online, too.
- Catcher: Gary Sanchez (New York A.L.) vs Buster Posey (San Francisco)
- First base: Freddie Freeman (Atlanta) vs. Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona)
- Second base: Jason Kipnis (Cleveland) vs. Robinson Cano (Seattle)
- Shortstop: Trea Turner (Washington) vs. Carlos Correa (Houston)
- Third base: Nolan Arenado (Colorado) vs. Manny Machado (Baltimore)
- Outfield: Yoenis Cespedes (New York N.L.) vs. J.D. Martinez (Detroit)
- Outfield: Starling Marte (Pittsburgh) vs. Christian Yelich (Miami)
- Outfield: Jose Bautista (Toronto) vs. Nomar Mazara (Texas)
- Starting pitcher: Jake Arrieta (Chicago N.L.) vs. Max Scherzer (Washington)
- SP2: Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles N.L.) vs. Chris Sale (Boston)
- CP: Zach Britton (Baltimore) vs. Seung-hwan Oh (St. Louis)
- M: Joe Maddon (Chicago N.L.) vs. Bruce Bochy (San Francisco)
Voting is underway through March 9. Out of the Park Baseball 18 launches on March 24.