The world of baseball video games has been filled with almost every take on the sport that you can think of. We've had arcade-style entertainment, realistic simulations, fun backyard romps, and games where you put yourself in the seat of a general manager. Some of these are great and some of them are pretty bad.
There are good and bad entries in every style of baseball video games. Below you'll find the best of the best and the worst of the worst within the genre. To keep things fresh, only one entry is included per franchise, regardless of which side of the list it makes.
10 Worst: R.B.I. Baseball 16
The return of the R.B.I. Baseball series got fans everywhere excited. The franchise dated back to the 80s and 90s, with the last installment coming in 1995. In 2014, it returned and was a fun alternative for gamers who wanted to try something different. But then the 2016 version came out.
A lot of the reviews for R.B.I. Baseball 16 were negative. With a lower price tag than the top MLB games on the market, some reviews claimed you should expect the lesser quality. It lacks extra modes, sharp defensive gameplay, and mostly feels like something worth the cheaper price and nothing more.
9 Best: MLB Slugfest 2003
This franchise was popular for the same reason that NFL Blitz and NBA Jam were. Also published by Midway, these games were as arcade as they come. You could hit the most absurd home runs, get into fights, and just have a blast doing things that couldn't happen in real life.
We'd say that MLB Slugfest 2003 was the best. It had a sleek presentation to it, an accurate roster, and it came around at the right time. In the next few years, it seemed like the masses wanted something more realistic and those games became popular. Slugfest faded away, but we'll always remember its greatness.
8 Worst: VR Baseball '97
If you take one look at VR Baseball '97 or played it for a few minutes, you'd think it came out at the start of the decade. It was released in April of 1997 yet felt way out of place. Even from a graphics standpoint, it seemed like it was behind the times when other games were advancing.
The reviews of the game indicated that this VR Sports entry had some good qualities about it. However, the slow gameplay and poor frame rate are what held it back. Next Generation magazine claimed that this was the minor leagues compared to the competition. We couldn't agree more.
7 Best: Backyard Baseball
People don't seem to talk about it often enough but the Backyard Sports series has been running for a long time. In fact, it's one of the most consistent sports franchises out there. None of the games are groundbreaking or anything like that. But they have one thing in common. They're a blast.
It's hard to pick the best one but we'll go with Backyard Baseball from 2004. This was the one to feature everything that made this series fun yet also throw in real MLB players. The vast number of power-ups made each game a unique experience. The game also gets praised for its diverse roster.
6 Worst: ESPN Baseball Tonight
This 1995 release for the Sega Genesis and SNES is one of the more interesting on this list. ESPN Baseball Tonight was lucky enough to boast licenses from both MLB and ESPN. That meant it had real MLB teams and personalities like Dan Patrick and Chris Berman.
But without the MLBPA license, there were no true MLB players. That made for a weird game. It was also bogged down by gameplay issues that frustrated those who played it. This is a notable game for being one of the first to feature a heavy amount of product placement.
5 Best: Out Of The Park Baseball 20
Out of the Park Baseball isn't your average sports game. That's because at no point do you get in on the action. You don't get to throw a single pitch or take a swing. Instead, this game focuses on the side of building a winning team. Players get to act as both the manager and general managers for a team.
That means players get to wheel and deal like in no other game. Negotiate with free agents, make trades, and keep track of everything with the most in-depth stats anywhere. We chose Out of the Park Baseball 20 as the best since the series seems to improve each year.
4 Worst: MLB Pennant Race
Similar to the aforementioned VR Baseball '97, this game came out at a time when it felt way out of place. Released at the tail end of 1996, MLB Pennant Race lacked a lot of what other baseball video games were doing. It did offer up plenty of options and modes, as well as simple gameplay.
The biggest thing holding this back was all of the delays it suffered through. For example, though it came out at the end of 1996, the most recent stats included were from the 1995 season. Ultimately, it was considered to be fun but ridiculously outdated.
3 Best: MLB The Show 17
There's a good reason why MLB The Show is the only baseball game in town these days. This PlayStation exclusive has been the best in just about every aspect. The gameplay is smooth, the graphics are great, and the modes offer up a variety of fun possibilities. Here are some tips on how to be excel at the game.
It was a difficult call but we opted for MLB The Show 17 as the cream of the cop. Modes like franchise and Diamond Dynasty continued to shine. But Road to the Show got some much-needed improvements like the "Pave Your Path" story. Throw in a tribute to the legendary Ken Griffey Jr. and you've got a winner.
2 Worst: Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball
Like ESPN Baseball Tonight, this was a game that had the MLB license but not the one from the MLBPA. Instead of going with completely fictional players, they opted for humorous plays on the names. For example, Darryl Strawberry became Darryl Raspberry and David Justice was David Judge.
But if the game is good, you can get past that silliness. Roger Clemens' MVP Baseball didn't have that. It suffered from confusing camera angles that made no sense. Truth be told, it even made the game almost unplayable at times. The game tried to emphasize defense but neither side was good. Come to think of it, the game wasn't good at anything.
1 Best: MVP Baseball 2005
For a lot of baseball fans, this is the holy grail. MVP Baseball 2005 is so good that it cracked IGN's reader's list of the 100 best video games ever. Following success with their Triple Play franchise, EA Sports rebranded it MVP Baseball and it was arguably their best work. Even better than the strong versions of NBA Live and Madden that year.
It expertly delivered a realistic gaming experience while keeping things fun and light. Some people still mod the game to this day to keep it fresh with up to date rosters. That's how much they love this game. Over a decade later and it's still the best. Sadly, MLB struck a deal preventing third-party publishers from making their games and that ended MVP Baseball's career.