If Team Fortress 2 were a baseball team

Larry Granillo over at Baseball Prospectus recently wrote a great piece on the classic Deep Space Nine episode, “Take Me Out To The Holosuite“. As anyone who follows me on Twitter will have the misfortune of knowing, I am both a huge baseball fan and a Star Trek fan. On top of that I can always go for in-depth analysis of a silly topic, so this piece was right up my theoretical alley. Granillo’s excellent piece by piece breakdown of each character’s suitability for each position combined with the fact that I’ve had a great deal of baseball on the brain lately, this is a perfect excuse for me to meld two topics that occupy a large amount of my thoughts.

So what other silly hypothetical situations could I apply this theory too? Those who know me (or those who read the title of this article I guess….) would come up with one conclusion-if the classes from Team Fortress 2 were a baseball team, who would play where? What skills best translate to what position? Read on to find out all these things, and more!

Well……OK. You won’t find out anything more than these things. Those things. The things I mentioned before. Whatever.

There are nine positions on a baseball field, and conveniently there are also nine classes in Team Fortress 2. So who goes where? To help me determine this, I’m enlisting the aid of the Bill James defensive spectrum. In a nutshell, the physical demands of playing some defensive positions are greater than others. For example, it takes a lot more skill to play shortstop than it does to play first base. The generally accepted spectrum is as follows, from least difficult to most difficult:

  1. Designated hitter
  2. First base
  3. Left field
  4. Right field
  5. Third base
  6. Center field
  7. Second base
  8. Shortstop
  9. Catcher
  10. Pitcher

Since the higher-numbered positions take more skill to play effectively, they are harder to fill. Finding a good second baseman can be quite difficult, but most capable players should be able to survive in left field. Conversely, since defensive skill is generally worse at the low end of the spectrum, players at those lower positions must provide more offense to make up for their lack of fielding skill/importance. That’s a grossly oversimplified view of the topic (there have been countless writings on the subject for anyone interested in learning more), but for the purposes of this article it is sufficient.

Next, we have to determine what Team Fortress skills translate to what baseball skills. For the sake of simplicity, I’m assuming that a class’ ability to do damage is equivalent to hitting prowess and that raw foot speed translates to agility.  I’m going to take quite a bit of liberty is attributing other skills (I.E., is the engineer’s sentry an offensive or defensive skill?), so feel free to question my interpretations. Also, I’m not using the designated hitter because I only have nine people, and having a pitcher is kind of important.

Pitcher – The Sniper
His pinpoint accuracy would be a huge asset on the mound, and while he’s quick enough to cover right field and his arm/sniper rifle would also be a plus on the outfield, he just won’t hit enough to carry the position. On offense he doesn’t have much firepower, but if things line up just right he can shoot the ball into the upper deck. It’s kind of like if Rick Ankiel had a bad Australian accent and a funny hat.

Catcher – The Engineer
Wouldn’t you know it, my favorite class also happens to be well suited to my favorite position. While he’s pretty short and thus not in the best position to make throws, baserunners aren’t going to be stealing anything with the sentry gun behind the plate. And being the cunning mastermind that he is, he’s likely going to be quite adept at handling his pitchers. He has standard running speed, so he should be nimble enough to block bouncing balls in the dirt. He’s outgunned by everyone except the Scout and the Spy, but he’s at the highest point on the defensive spectrum so any offense he gives you is just gravy on top.

First Base – The Heavy
The easiest pick on the team. The Heavy is big, slow, and powerful, making him the best pick for the lowest spot on the spectrum. First base requires the least amount of skill, although they are involved in the highest amount of plays on balls in play. It also helps if the first baseman is big, so that other fielders have a big target to throw to. The Heavy meets all of these qualifications, and he has the offense to carry the position. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me to seem him forgo a cowardly, baby bat and just use his fists to hit the ball, a la Donkey Kong.

Second Base – The Pyro
The Pyro might just be the best all around player on the field. She’s got plenty of offensive capability, and all those years of constant spy checks have honed her reflexes to make her adept at turning double plays and ranging to both sides. While the Scout might talk the baseball talk, it’s the Pyro that has all the skill. She’s easily the Chase Utley of this team.

Shortstop – The Spy
The Spy and the Pyro are somewhat interchangeable defensively, but I give the Spy the nod at shortstop just because he has no bat to speak of, whereas the Pyro has plenty. The Ambassador gives the Spy enough range to count as having a good arm, so that also fits. Plus, the Spy is all flashy and whatnot, just like any slick-fielding shortstop. He’d probably do a cheesy Atari commercial too.

Third Base – The Soldier
The Soldier is the most well-rounded class in the game, so putting him smack in the middle of the spectrum seems appropriate. Another class whose weapon denotes a good arm, the Soldier fits right in at third base. He’s not the most agile defender, but his literal rocket for an arm makes up for it. The rockets also give him a great bat for third base, especially if he gets to whip out the buff banner. Aren’t rockets wonderful?

Left Field – The Demoman
The Demo is the hardest class to place. He’s the third slowest class, and first base and third base are already taken by very large occupants. That leaves only left field, and even there he’s probably not up to the task. His slowness hurts his range considerably, and his depth perception problems aren’t going to help with throws back into the infield. These limitations make him the worst defender on the team, by far. However, his explosive weaponry at least gives him a good bat. Manny Ramirez would be proud.

Center Field – The Scout
The most baseball savvy player on the field (hell, one of his weapons is a baseball bat) the Scout is also the fastest player on the field, making him a natural center fielder. This a good thing, as he’s the lightest-hitting player outside the Spy. Baseball traditionalists might tempted to bat the speedy Scout leadoff, but he’s better suited to the bottom of the lineup since, given his persona, I’m willing to bet he isn’t the most patient hitter.

Right Field – The Medic
He’s another hard one to place, although he is the second fastest class, making him suitable for the outfield. He doesn’t have any abilities that would indicate having a good arm, but he’ll cover so much ground in right field that his arm hardly matters. The Medic also has more offensive capabilities that one would think, so while his bat might not be ideally suited to a corner outfield spot, it isn’t a Juan Pierre-level of mismatch.

Overall, this team seems pretty well set up. The lineup should score plenty of runs, and only the Demo is a true liability in the field. Assuming the team can function without a bullpen and bench players (which is likely since the Medic can alleviate any pitch count concerns) they should be able to go up against any other video game cast that gets shoehorned into a baseball game. Speaking of which, what game should I do next……..?

  • Richardnaik