The Talk Show – August 2013

Host: Glenn Guzzo
You can submit your question or insight on any Strat-O-Matic game to When you do, kindly include your name and town. Other gamers like to see that. And the display format below works better that way.
Reminder: Send us your “Great Moments in Strat” – your playing experiences that you just have to share.
The Impact of MLB’s Drug Suspensions
            How will Strat-O-Matic handle the 50+ games suspension on the Strat baseball cards? Will they be handled like injuries? This is important in regard to drafting.
Ralph Botti
            There have been many suspensions over the years, including a few 50-gamers. They are not treated as injuries. Injury rates are affected by time missed while injured, adjusted by his actual at-bats. If a player who spent time on the DL also had his at-bats reduced by suspension (or for other reasons) it could increase his injury rating. For the final word on this, consult Strat-O-Matic’s Baseball Ratings Book that will be published next January. Then, ultimately, you’ll have the answer on the player ratings themselves.
Kid Power
            My 11-year-old son has been playing SOM since he was 6 and now plays the super advanced version of the game almost every day. He is the king of baseball knowledge among the players on his little league team! Glad to be passing the great game of SOM (which I have been playing addictively since 1979!) on to the next generation.
Jeff Robinson
            Way to go, Jeff & Son! Your son is way ahead of his time. The Strat-O-Matic basic game is designed for ages 9 and up, though it is still enjoyed by many adults. To be playing Super Advanced regularly at age 6 is quite an accomplishment – for him, and for you as a father, teacher and contributor to the hobby.
Lineup Logic
            I would like your advice in regards to the default lineups provided by Strat for each team of the baseball computer game. Do you know how they are produced and whether they are realistic lineups to be used for playoffs?

            After I finish my as-played seasons, I encounter a problem as to what I should do for playoff lineups. I thought about using the real playoff lineups for the teams that made the playoffs in real life, but if there are teams that make the playoffs in my replay that didn’t make it in real life then I’m not sure what to do. I would like to be consistent. If I use the default lineups then I would like to use them for every team instead of just the ones that didn’t make the playoffs in real life. If you think the default lineups are realistic enough to be used for the playoffs, then that’s good enough for me.

            Hi, Jeff, it’s my understanding that the lineups on SOM’s roster sheets reflect who was used most often at the position and batting slot throughout the season, rather than just the post-season. Of course, the lineups account for only those players that were not traded to some other team late in the season. So this is going to be close to what you want. Not exactly, though — a guy who played heavily in the regular season but was out with injury in the post-season is going to be in that roster sheet lineup.

            I just began a ‘61 replay using the suggested lineups from the super-advanced roster.  I noticed quite a few changes from the original ‘61 reprint lineups, both with batting orders and different starting players.  For example, the Orioles super-advanced lineup lists Russ Snyder (lf) and Faye Throneberry (rf) as starters while the original reprint goes with Whitey Herzog and Earl Robinson.  Tommy Davis is listed as the No. 8 batter for the Dodgers in super-advanced while the old lineup has him batting much higher.  What was the reason for the changes? 
Sam Gizzi, St. Petersburg, FL 
            Attribute this to better information available now than 30 years ago, which in turn allowed better interpretation of the data.

By the Numbers
            I like the HOF and Heroes sets, but can we discuss the eras used to determine the formulas/numbers?
            Let’s use Sammy Sosa as an example. I agree with the 7-year stats at the bottom of 52 HRs in 569 ABs, but it seems his card was made to hit more. 16.6 homerun chances is a lot; multiply that by 3 and it seems that he will hit 50 home runs on his card alone in 569 ABs. How could it be expected that he will only hit 2 home runs off the pitchers’ cards in that many ABs. It’s as if the formula used for his HR was based on a pre-1920 era.
            I also happen to think that his batting average is weird (27.5 hit chances with 14 BB chances). Seems to me like the only way for Sammy to hit the .296 would be if he hit .300 off the pitchers’ card. (27.5 x 3 = 82.5 hits on his card in 282 ABs = .293 on his card; he would need 89 hits in 297 ABs = .300, for Sammy to hit .296)
            Sammy also has 44 K chances. On his card alone he should have 152 K’s. His card shows he should have a total of 153 for the season. Will he never strike out on the pitchers’ cards? lol – seems like he has at least 10 K chances too many on his card.
            Was the formula for these cards supposed to be based on the player’s own era? I know you never release formula “secrets,” but it seems like the sets are way off.
Larry, Coral Springs, FL
            The stats on these cards reflect the stats achieved by the player in his seven seasons selected by Strat-O-Matic. They are NOT the statistics he is likely to achieve when he plays against the greatest players from every era of Major League Baseball.
            First, the stats that SOM uses are normalized, season by season, then against the norms for MLB history. Then recognize that the stats at the bottom of each card were achieved against a normal player population. That’s not who he is going to play against when using the HOF and Heroes sets.
            When playing against players from the Dead Ball era, the ‘50s and so on, we’d expect Sosa to be way above average in home runs (he’s eighth all-time) and well below average in batting average in a league where he hardly compares with the best seasons of Cobb, Speaker, Hornsby, Sisler, Keeler, Duffy and scores of others. That’s how it’s playing out so far in a 22-team league I’ve formed using the HOF, Heroes and Negro Leagues sets. This sample is way too small to be meaningful, but in 33 games, Sosa has seven home runs and is batting .178 in a league that is batting .274. Both of Sosa’s numbers have been reduced by playing in ballparks that are HR 1-5 and SI 1-8. For what it’s worth, the home run leaders in this league are Barry Bonds (11), Hank Aaron (11), Babe Ruth (10) and Ken Griffey Jr. (10). Sosa is a top-15 HR man, not far behind Josh Gibson, Ernie Banks, Willie Stargell, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig. On a batting-average leader board that includes Dan Brouthers, Bill Terry, Honus Wagner, Wee Willie Keeler and Negro Leaguers Willard Brown, Oscar Charleston and Gibson, the only post-World War II player is Joe Torre.
Calling the Games
            I’ve been a big fan of your computer baseball game since it first came out. Is there any chance that the text play-by-play could be replaced with sound of an MLB announcer making the calls? I get tired of reading the play-by-play text and I think it would be great to hear a professional announcer make the calls.
 Tom Usher, Lima, OH
            This is technically possible, but it would be a mighty project fraught with complications. There are hundreds of thousands of lines of play-by-play. Strat-O-Matic would have to hire an announcer to recite them all. But then there are the variations for team-specific and season-specific play-by-play. And lines of play-by-play that get updated by the statistics in the season you are playing on your computer. What’s more, Strat-O-Matic keeps adding lines of play-by-play. Would it have to bring back the announcer each time it does that?
            The alternative would have the announcer record every conceivable phrase or word that could be used in play-by-play, then program the computer to summon those words for the actual play-by-play. There would be issues with this method, such as the smoothness of the delivery and the times when the play-by-play ought to sound more urgent and exciting than on routine plays.