THE TALK SHOW
Host: Glenn Guzzo
Reminder: Send us your “‘Great Moments in Strat” – your playing experiences that you just have to share.
CHIPPER and YASIEL
As usual I am enjoying the heck out of the new cards! Two amazing things I’ve learned from this new set: Jose Bautista had 84 walks but only a .308 OBP – that’s got to be some kind of record! And, a few years ago I posed this question to you: who in the history of Strat had the most HR in a season without N power from both sides of the plate? I think I may have found the answer: last year Yasiel Puig had 28 HR but only two were against lefties, resulting in a W rating against southpaws.
Hope things are well with you and continued Happy Strat-ing!
Happy Strat-ing to you. A day playing Strat always is better than a day without.
Puig has got to be on the leader board, but I searched my memory, then the Strat-O-Matic Card Viewer app and found 1998 Chipper Jones – 34 HR, but a ‘w’ vs. LHP. This search would have taken a lot longer without the app. All I had to do was type in “Chipper,” tap his full name when the app presented it and tap the season I wanted to check. Even that was made easier by seeing his basic stats for each season on one screen. I knew I was looking for a year with more than 28 HR. This search took less than a minute.
But the prize so far goes to 2002 Lance Berkman, who hit 42 HR with a ‘w’ vs. LHP. The hero is the Card Viewer app again. SOM’s John Garcia did a search for high HR hitters who had extreme balance ratings to find Berkman.
Bautista: Excellent find. How about this one?
Robbie Ray in 2017: 71 walks, 218 Ks.
Robby Ray in 2016: 71 walks, 218 Ks.
Or this one from my work on lefty-righty stats:
Hunter Pence in 2014 vs. RHP: 128 for 467 (.274)
Hunter Pence in 2013 vs. RHP: 128 for 467 (.274)
THE RIDDLE OF THE RELIEF PITCHER POW
I’m hoping someone in Glen Head can help clarify a very specific Rule that is starting to divide the Strat Fan Forum and leagues across the country. Please review the thread below.. just needing a final verdict on if the 4th or 6th batter of the 6th inning would have caused the Relief Pitcher to fatigue. The people that have responded so far are almost evenly split. which is not good when you are attempting to reach consensus on a Rule. Thanks in advance for any closure you can bring to this topic.
When do you believe this RP is fatigued? SP goes 5 1/3 and RP with a POW of 1 enters the game:
RP gets next 2 batters out. inning over.
Same RP goes back out for the 7th inning:
Leadoff hitter gets a hit
2nd batter gets a hit
3rd batter strikes out
4th batter gets a hit
5th batter strikes out
6th batter gets a hit
Does the 4th batter or 6th batter in the 6th inning cause the pitcher to become weak and why?
Rule 27.4 makes it clear, I think, when it says "A reliever with a POW of (1) is immediately vulnerable to fatigue. He could reach his POW by yielding three hits and/or unintentional walks without recording an out."
So, in the example above, the reliever with a POW of (1) is fatigued as soon as he gives up his third hit — after the fourth batter. This would be true even if he had not recorded any outs. He is immediately vulnerable to fatigue. I see no interpretation of this rule that would permit this reliever to pitch without fatigue once he has given up his third hit, regardless of when that happened.
Pat Toomay, 1977 Raiders. Not only a 7 for pass rush but I can’t even put him in thecomputer game unless I take out Sistrunk, who is a 10 in pass rush! Third-down Pat, who was credited with 17 sacks that year, is irrelevant. Why no looser substitutions or customization in the computer game for situations like this? You are a Wayne State alumni also! As you can tell, I am passionate about this game. Favorite team of all time ‘77 Raiders. Jobbed by Lytle call or otherwise Staubach Stabler Super Bowl!
Toomay was the 1977 Raiders’ third defensive end, starting two games in place of Sistrunk, who started 12. On the other side, John Matuszak started all 14. Matuszak has a 10 pass-rush rating, Sistrunk 9 and Toomay 7. Sacks were not an official stat then, but other research shows that after-the-fact references to “sacks” from that era actually were tackles for loss. The Sports Enclyclopedia: Pro Football credits Oakland’s entire defense with 35 sacks, so it is unlikely Toomay had 17. Strict rules, the computer game and common sense while playing under the SOM rules will leave Toomay on the bench when Sistrunk is active, so Toomay would have to do his damage in those two starts or as an injury replacement. In the board game, a gamer could innovate by allowing a pass-rushing defensive end to occupy a defensive tackle position. In that case, I suggest that the following conditions be imposed: The defense must call pass and the DE now at DT has his run-defense rating reduced by two grades – because the man is out of position and the defense is configured for pass rush, not run defense.
I just realized yesterday that there is no way a double play can occur 5-3. On the SADV fielding chart you can have a GB to 3b go 5-4DP, but not 5-3. Along these lines, you can’t have a 5 unassisted on GB hit to 3b or an around-the-horn triple play, which isn’t so bad since that is very rare. Has this come up before? I would imagine it has and I have to say it bothers me. Am I missing something?
Dan Douglass, Pittsburgh
Like all board games that care about ease-of-play, Strat-O-Matic Baseball condenses action and does not attempt to include every possible event. There are no rundowns, hidden-ball tricks, no triple plays started by outfielders and many other things I have seen in Major League stadiums (though some of these things can happen in the Windows game). How about a pitcher making an unassisted putout on a force play at third base after fielding a grounder? I’ve seen that. If the game is missing something you must have, innovate and play it your way – many gamers do just that. (Maybe you’d rather it be see a 5-3 DP on a gbA where the third baseman is rated 1 or 2 defensively, where the batter is right-handed AND the forced runner on second is a 1-11 runner or worse.) But SOM creator Hal Richman decided long ago – wisely, in my view – that some detail should be sacrificed in favor of ease-of-play. That is one reason Strat-O-Matic has thrived for nearly 60 years while some competitors that have attempted much more detail became laborious to play and died swift deaths.
To a high degree, playing a sports simulation satisfies the imagination. We don’t really see Mike Trout or Hank Aaron on our tabletops. We can’t really tell if that Chris Sale strikeout was swinging or a called strike three. Can’t tell if that error by the first baseman was a bobbled grounder or one fielded cleanly but thrown poorly to the pitcher covering first. Can’t tell if that single to right field was a line shot, a blooper or a seeing-eye grounder. Can’t tell if that catch after a Fly Ball CF-X was a shoestring grab or a race to the gap or an over-the-shoulder web gem. To my mind, it is more satisfying NOT to have all that detail provided. The game can be as thrilling as my mind’s eye tells me it is.
CHILD PRODIGY SEEKS DOUBLE FUN
I have been playing Strat since I was 5 years old in 1975 and will never stop. One problem I have, however, which seems to have carried over from the card baseball game to the computer version … why are so many runners on first base stopped at third base on doubles? It seems to happen far more frequently in Strat than in real life, even with two men out (with two out, even sub-mediocre runners in the majors have little trouble scoring from first on a double; in Strat terms, I would say 1-10 runners and up). Just wondering if you could shed any insight on this, and if Strat has any plans to minimize the old DOUBLE** in the future.
Thanks – I always enjoy your commentary!
Doug Feldmann, Villa Hills, KY
Wow – since age 5! I didn’t begin until age 12, the target age for the basic game, which was all there was when I started playing in 1963. You were probably playing the advanced game long before age 12!
Questions about whether something happens too often or too seldom in SOM are best supported by game-play data. The real-life data for prior questions about whether pickoffs happen too often, or whether squeeze plays are too easy, or whether the quarterback sneak is too easy with one yard to go for the first down all have validated SOM’s ratings. Here is what I have to offer on your observation:
In 2017 MLB play, men scored from first on doubles 43 percent of the time, so we know that doing so was not routine for the entire Majors, let alone the slow-pokes. I do not have the breakout for what it was with two outs. And I do not have the hours it would take to break out the player-by-player totals for runners so that we could divide them into groups based on running ratings. But a 1-10 runner trying to score from first with one out against, say, an average OF arm of -1 would be 45 percent. Close enough for me. But not good enough for most gamers to take that chance. I have been playing SOM Baseball since 1963 and I’m pretty sure that I am the one stopping that man from scoring more often than when the dice rolls dictate no further advance. (Note that in the Windows game, a computer manager can be set to run aggressively, or very aggressively, or even to command that a man with a 45 percent chance be sent home).
Now, let’s consider that the average SOM running rating is 1-12, not 1-10. And, in the Super-Advanced system, if he is not held, we add 1 to his chance to achieve the extra base. That makes him 1-13 to score with none or one out, 1-15 with two outs, plus or minus the OF arm (it would be 1-11 or 1-13 if the runner is held). So SOM’s ratings appear to cover the MLB average with room to spare.
But we should take this one more step – and, I gather, it is the step that fuels your concern. Some doubles in SOM do not permit a runner to score from first (thus diminishing that “room to spare” more realistically). Those DO** most often occur in DOUBLE/SINGLE split chances or from the fielding charts. Using my answer to the prior question, let’s use our imagination. What doubles in MLB play prevent a man on first from scoring besides his foot speed? I can imagine several: 1) ground-rule doubles; 2) with less than two out, balls that the man on first hesitates on while waiting to see if they will be caught; 3) “hustle” doubles that would ordinarily be singles advancing the man from first to third, but the batter gets to second with daring or exceptional speed; 4) a slower runner ahead of the man reaching third keeps him from going full speed; 5) game situations where the third-base coach wants to take no risk, such as being down four runs late in the game, or a slugger up next.
If, after considering all this, you still want more runners headed home, you can adopt a rule for your board-game play that is an option in the Windows-game MAX rules: Ignore ALL * or ** readings on hits, forcing coaching decisions for baserunners on every single and double.
Bottom line for me: The SOM ratings are valid to cover the MLB reality while giving the gamer the flexibility to be more, or less, daring.
SEE KEVIN RUN
I noticed that Strat carded Kevin Durant primarily at LF instead of RF (his primary position in years past). Because of this, he has received the standard, poor fastbreak passing reserved for big men (all turnovers). This might dissuade some gamers from wanting to run the break when he is playing RF with Golden State’s starting lineup – something the Warriors were never dissuaded from last year.
While I get that power-forward or LF is the position he plays in the vaunted "lineup of death" that moves Iguodala to RF and Draymond Green to C, he is technically playing out of position when they "go small" in this instance. Durant’s FB passing should not be of detriment when he plays RF and is not even a factor when he moves to LF (as Strat has no FB passes from this position). Is there a reason why Strat carded him this way?
Kevin Flynn, Chicago
Strat-O-Matic is not going to answer the question “Why?” because that would divulge too much about its card-making process. The best clue I can offer: In the Windows game Player Profiles for Golden State. Durant is designated to play 24 minutes at LF (giving him the most minutes on the team at LF) and 9 minutes at RF. Green is scheduled for 14 minutes at LF and 19 at C. Iguodala is scheduled for 26 minutes overall – 20 at RF. That explains LF as Durant’s primary position. His passing ratings – excellent in half-court play with Dazzlers 3-16, and poor for fastbreak – suggest that SOM has concluded that Golden State should rely more on its set offense when playing with its big lineup – not surprising for any team. In that configuration, Green is at LF and either Zaza Pachulia or David West is at center. None are good at converting fastbreak baskets, so it makes sense that Golden State ought to run less with them in the lineup than when Durant, a superb finisher, occupies one of the big-man spots. Durant’s Normal passing encourages that. When the Warriors “go small” with Durant at LF, they (Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Iguodala) are so good at converting fastrbreak shots without dazzlers that SOM must have concluded that most gamers would not renounce the break just because Durant is a turnover threat. Indeed, Durant is the best on the team at converting the FB shots into points – it would be a waste not to run with him in the lineup.
In the end it’s a tradeoff. If SOM made Durant a better fastbreak passer, his teammates would have fewer baskets in their FB shot columns and Durant’s Normal Passing would diminish. With the current ratings, Golden State looks like a lethal offensive threat in both styles of play.
OUT OF ORDER
The "Suggested Lineups" on Strat’s roster sheets for the 1968 Tigers has Willie Horton batting 6th. Does anyone look at the real lineups in baseballreference.com? Horton batted 4th or 5th all season plus some pinch-hitting appearances. [Larry cited charts from baseball-reference.com showing Horton started 48 games batting fourth and 91 batting fifth.]
Larry Kapit, Coral Springs, FL
Horton should be fifth, which is where he also batted in six of seven World Series games. Instead of 4. Freehan, 5. Cash, 6. Horton, the lineup based on most frequent positioning for each man would be 4. Cash, 5. Horton, 6. Freehan. It should be noted, however, that many teams defy easy assignment. Even in 1968, when lineups were much more stable than they are today, the materials you submitted show that the most-often used Tigers lineup was intact just nine times. In more recent seasons, I have seen often that two or three players will have the same position in the batting order as their primary slot.
We have a current season baseball league that plays a 30-game regular season, and we’re considering a Bayesian approach to the ringer problem. Hitters with less than 400 AB would have to roll an extra 20-sided die. If, for example, a player with 304 AB rolls on the hitter’s card, and the extra 20 is 16 or higher, we would take the reading instead from an ‘average hitter’ card. (I was planning to make these average hitter/average pitcher cards myself.)
Just wondering if you knew how others have implemented this, or if there are other approaches outside excluding players or limiting their use.
Matt Fisher, Iowa City, IA
Your creative approach would be unique in my experience with many, many leagues. The extra rolls and the use of a contrived card would not be for my taste, but whatever satisfies your league members is a good system. The common approach, which you seem to recognize with your last sentence, is to limit such players’ use. For instance:
§ Limit at-bats (or plate appearances) to 100 percent or 110 percent. In your case, you would pro-rate that to 30 games. This is probably the most common system, though it has flaws: 1) At-bat limitations can punish some very high-walk players who had full-time plate appearances but not full-time at-bats; 2) at-bat limits punish a high-octane, higher-at-bat offense in a draft league.
§ Eligibility cutoffs:
o The regional and national Strat-O-Matic tournaments disqualify any hitter with fewer than 300 AB.
o Another league that played six-game series said simply that only a man with 600 or more plate appearances could start all six games, a man with 500 could start five and so on to a man with 100 could start one game. Men with fewer than 100 plate appearances (and players who had used all their starts for that series) were restricted to pinch-hit/pinch-run and late-inning defensive roles.
o The 12-team league I play in now is a hybrid of the two systems above. It takes 500 AB to start all four games in a series, 400 to start three and 300 to start any (limit: two). Players with 150-299 AB are pinch-hit/pinch-run only until at least the seventh inning (or earlier if the opponent changes pitchers). Players with fewer than 150 AB are ineligible. (We cut the AB requirements by 50 for catchers.)
All these systems are vulnerable, however, to sluggers who get to use all their AB or starts using the side of their card that is most advantageous. Those sticklers for extra realism might do this: Calculate the man’s eligible starts based on his AB, PA or real starts, pro-rated to the length of your season. Then dictate that his starts be in proportion to the usage percentage on the advanced side of his card. So, a 300-AB guy eligible for, say, 15 starts in your league, gets to start only five against lefty pitchers if his usage percentage that way was 33 percent. If anyone tries this, I would suggest a bit of leeway to allow for opponent strategy that deploys more/fewer lefty starters than the batters faced. You could inflate the usage percentages by 5-10 points, for instance.
If none of these options appeals to you and you still want to limit the sub-400-AB guys without the extra in-game rolls or the contrived card, the roll for each man could come before the game: The 300-AB guy is eligible on a die roll of 1-3, the 200-AB guy on 1-2 and the 100-AB guy on 1.