The Talk Show – March, 2012

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.
            Reading last month’s question about HBP chances makes me wonder: why don’t players (in recent years Carlos Quentin comes to mind) have HBP chances on their basic cards? 
            High-HBP batters go back to almost Day One of SOM’s history. Remember Ron Hunt in the ‘60s, who shattered the single-season record? Since then, Don Baylor, Craig Biggio and others were pitch magnets. Historically, Minnie Minoso was such a player. But the basic game has never had HBP and SOM has chosen to keep all its basic seasons compatible. New features get added to the advanced side. Since the basic game stabilized with the first full set of teams in 1962, the only changes of substance that I can recall were adding the 5-rated fielders and changing the standard pitcher fielding from 3 to 2. Other changes, such as card patterns, color, and dropping team nicknames, did not affect game play.
            I’ve been a baseball fan all my life but just discovered and started playing Strat two years ago. I have an idea but can you please explain the purpose of your clutch ratings as it relates to the overall Strat simulation? Also, Joey Votto, for example, was rated by Bill James as having one of the highest batting averages with runners in scoring position (but not necessarily two out) in the 2010 MLB season but had a -4 clutch on his Strat card. What’s the correlation, if any, between the two?
Paul Leyton, Toronto

            Welcome to this great hobby, Paul. If you enjoy it as much as we do, you will find that any day playing Strat-O-Matic is a good day (I like the new T-shirt slogan, “Did You STRAT Today?”) Your question has been asked and answered often since the clutch ratings arrived in the 1980s. Though SOM applies the clutch ratings with men in scoring position and two outs, the rating never was intended to replicate batting average in those situations. Think of the clutch rating as an RBI refinement. Also remember that clutch does not affect extra-base hits, so sluggers like Votto still retain strong value in the clutch. It’s quite common to see the big home-run hitters decline in SOM clutch. Same for leadoff hitters who had high batting averages, but few RBIs.
WANTED: Super Bowl Tournament
            Is there a way to get just the teams that have played in a Super Bowl so I might have a tournament to see who was the greatest team in Super Bowl history? 
James, Bristow, OK

            There is no such package available for sale from Strat-O-Matic, but you can buy teams individually. However, not all Super Bowl teams are available in the current format. And some that were published in that form are now out of stock at SOM. So you would have to find them in the secondary market.
            Has it never occurred to SOM to make a team of each franchise’s best players (lifetime)? Let’s say the best 30 or so players. Do you imagine how much fun it would be!  Of course, don’t include the newly franchise like Tampa Bay, only franchises at least 20 years old. Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, Reds, Cardinals, etc.
Orlando Leon, Live Oak, FL

            I would estimate that this frequently discussed subject has occurred to Strat-O-Matic for, oh, at least each of the last 40 years. Assuming we are talking about each player’s best season, there are two choices, each with its own challenges: Best players from sets that SOM has produced? Or best players including seasons SOM never has produced? If the former, SOM would have to decide whether the popularity of this set would undermine the sales of season sets to make the project counter-productive. If the latter, we’re talking about a major research effort to produce cards the Strat-O-Matic way. It amounts to this: Doing one team from a season according to current standards requires research for the whole league.
            An alternative would be to use each player’s best seven seasons, as was done for the Hall of Fame and Heroes sets. In that case, we have a good start on each team’s franchise roster, but a long way to go for most teams. Personally, I would find such a set irresistible. However, I know others who find all-star lineups less interesting. They would rather have to work around their team’s weaknesses and exploit their opponents’ weaknesses with in-game strategy than have a lineup where hitting away is always the best move. I suspect that if the non-HOF, non-Heroes-set players who would fill out the franchise rosters were based on seven seasons rather than one big year, we would see some weaknesses. If, for instance, very good players like Robin Ventura (White Sox 3B), Bert Campaneris (A’s SS) and Manny Sanguillen (Pirates C) became central figures in a set rich in HOF-caliber foes, we would see more of the bunt, hit-and-run, pinch-hitting and platooning.
            In the next year or two, will Strat reprint the 1961, and 1962 baseball seasons in the same way as seasons 1964, and 1965 player cards?
Phil, Passaic, NJ

            To be determined. Strat-O-Matic is analyzing which seasons are good candidates for digital printing.