The Talk Show with host Glenn Guzzo
INTENTIONAL WALK LOGIC
Will there be any tinkering in the near future with HAL’s intentional walk logic? Most intentional walks, as we all know, occur when the defensive team
a. wants the platoon advantage
b. wants to keep the DP in order, or
c. (in the National League) wants to bypass the No. 8 hitter to get to the pitcher.
But HAL’s primary considerations for intentional walks seem to be
a. the overall balance rating between hitter and pitcher (regardless of platoon advantage), or
b. whether, in a clutch situation, the batter at the plate goes up in the clutch and/or the next batter goes down in the clutch.
I have repeatedly seen HAL order a RHP to intentionally walk the 1978 clutch-hitting (.316 to .334) reverse-platoon RHB Steve Garvey with two outs, first base open, and runners in scoring position, just to get to Dusty Baker (.262 to .229.) This would most certainly be how a real SOM gamer would manage his team (because he can see the card probabilities), but it is not how a real-life NL manager of 1978 would have managed his team.
In fact, reverse-platoon players, such as 1978 Jim Rice (2R) or 1983 Dale Murphy (6R), seem to draw an inordinate number of IBB from right-handed pitchers, but in clutch situations they are almost always pitched to by left-handed pitchers – which isn’t realistic at all. Meanwhile, players such as 1974 Bill Russell, 1983 Dale Berra, 1984 Garry Templeton, and 1965 & 1966 Leo Cardenas have very little chance to lead their replay leagues in IBB – even though all of them led their real-life leagues in IBB while batting eighth most of the time.
P. Sean Bramble, Jessup, Maryland
Excellent analysis, Sean, and especially because you note that the computer manager handles these things the way a human Strat-O-Matic manager would.
I would add that the computer manager uses the intentional walk aggressively in one other way: With especially dangerous hitters. In my 1956 American League replay, Hal walked Mickey Mantle 23 times, even with the capable Yogi Berra (.298-30-105 actual) batting behind him. Though Mantle was walked intentionally only 12 times in the real 1956, it might have been more had the real AL managers had SOM managers’ 20-20 hindsight and known from the first game what type of season Mantle was about to have.
So, I think we have several considerations. First, that 20-20 hindsight. We know now that a 1978 Dusty Baker is less of a threat in the clutch. If Hal doesn’t manage the way we would, gamers would criticize Hal’s lack of logic. Next, current-day thinking about intentional walks is changing with the statistical analysis that shows how dangerous it is to recycle an opponent’s batting order and give the top of the lineup that extra at-bat. In 1978, teams averaged 51 intentional walks. In 2016, the average was 31. That’s the difference of walking 1974 Russell or 1965 Cardenas five times each instead of their actual 25 each. While a given situation may warrant walking the No. 8 hitter, the tradeoff is the likelihood of giving that team’s No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5 hitter an extra plate appearance. We Strat-O-Matic players probably prefer a computer manager who adopts modern wisdom. Most often, I would take my chances with 1974 Russell (686 OPS) if doing otherwise meant risking an extra swing for Garvey (811 OPS) or Jim Wynn (844 OPS), and I’ll roll the dice with 1965 Cardenas (a nice 786 OPS) now rather than Frank Robinson (925 OPS) later. If Hal is managing for me, I’d want him to do that, too.
For the gamer (you?) who wants era-specific tactics, there are a couple of options: Manage both teams manually (I do it all the time), or alter Hal’s intentional walk tendency (conservative, extra conservative, normal, aggressive, extra aggressive). More than likely, neither will accomplish everything you seek, but re-programming Hal to avoid walking the more-dangerous hitter in the middle of the order, but to walk more No. 8 hitters probably creates as many problems as it solves.
RUN WITH THE PACK?
I’m a little confused as to why Christine Michael is listed with Green Bay instead of Seattle. He led Seattle in rushing with 117 carries for 469 yards. He also caught 20 passes for the Seahawks. He played in 9 games and started 7. By contrast, he only played in 6 games for Green Bay and didn’t start in a single one of them. He carried the ball a mere 31 times for 114 yards and only caught 3 passes. He was sixth on Green Bay in terms of carries and yards. Both the fullback and the quarterback had more carries and yards.
It would seem clear that any card created for him would be more representative of his value to Seattle rather than the Packers. I did briefly consider the possibility that he is listed with Green Bay because he ended the season with them, but other players that ended the season with different teams were listed with their original team where they contributed the most, such as Michael Floyd being listed with Arizona.
So, I was hoping you could clarify the reasoning and maybe make a suggestion for what to do in stock leagues.
The general rule, long in place at Strat-O-Matic, is to place a player on his final team, hence Michael with the Packers. There have been exceptions. For instance, a player ends up on a team, but doesn’t have stats for that team. Floyd’s case was a different exception. His stats would not have gotten him carded at all with New England, whereas he was a much more representative player to be carded with Arizona than any alternative on the Cardinals. This way, Floyd got a card and the Cardinals got a guy they used almost all season over someone who had only a cameo role.
For solo stock-team play, I’d suggest that you do as you please. It’s your game. For leagues, I’d suggest there be rules governing such multi-team players. It could be as simple as saying whatever team is he carded with gets the player. Or, in either solo or league play, you could split the player’s usage between his two (or more) teams. The latter is what I would do for a faithful replay.
Mystery Sets: I really enjoy playing the Baseball 365 game. I prefer the mystery sets because you don’t know what kind of player you are going to get. Has Strat considered creating more mystery sets than the four decades that are already available? I would really like to go further back than the 60s. Perhaps there could be a combined ‘40s & ‘50s set, and maybe a ‘20s & ‘30s combined set.
I was born in 1980. I just really appreciate the history of baseball. This could introduce some players that many from my generation might not be familiar with.
Ted Patrick, Wichita
You’re not alone asking for more mystery sets, both pre-1960s and for the 2000s. While nothing is imminent, Strat-O-Matic has considered this and these are possible, per the game company’s John Garcia.
USFL: Do you think there is a chance that SOM will release the 1985 USFL season for the computer any time soon? It was a fun league and it would be nice to complete the three seasons of the USFL since we already have 1983 and 1984.
Tim Wornson, Beresford, SD
Because 1985 is the last in a series, I expect that we will see it. Soon? No idea, but I assume that the several remaining NFL seasons from 1960 forward would be SOM’s – and gamers’ — higher priority.
Basketball Greats: Will Strat ever consider doing a HOF or all-time great franchise set for basketball? I think it’d have great appeal.
Jim Surprenant, Woodstock, GA
The Windows Pro Basketball game has a Top 120 player set created several years ago for a draft league played by media celebrities. That set is an amazing collection of all-time greats from Geroge Mikan to LeBron James. Here’s the card image for Oscar Robertson. If you are asking for such a set in card form, I agree that it would be an evergreen attraction for gamers of all ages.
Back to the ‘90s: I’m from Toronto and just wondering if they will ever recreate 1992 and 1993 baseball seasons in full.
George Hajek, Toronto
Ever? Sure. But I think that’s a LONG way off. Sooner than that, I believe we will see the re-creations of all the seasons whose latest versions were not in Super Advanced (through 1986). That’s 1930, 1950, 1956, 1962, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1979-86 (except for 1982, which has been updated). Then there are the never-created 1946, 1947 and 1952 seasons that would complete SOM’s library from 1946-present.