The Talk Show – September, 2011

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 Roster Sheet is Your Friend
            On Robinson Cano’s 2010 card (advanced side) he has an e-rating of 3 while the advanced error chart only goes as low as e-4. How should a play be handled when the dice roll falls into the error range?   
                                                                          Kevin Pierce, Manager, Stafford Racers, Big S League (Ct.)
            The answer is on the roster sheet, which also has guidance for Omar Vizquel’s SS-e4 and David Eckstein’s 2B-e0. For Cano, it’s a Rare Play on roll 5, an E1 on rolls 3 and 17 and no E2.
Rules, Rules, Rules
            My current headache is figuring out which rule is it that requires a relief pitcher to rest a game after pitching two games in a row, or come in tired that third game and any subsequent game he pitches without resting a game. Or at least I think that is a rule that was added some time ago with one of the advanced settings. When I go to the “Help” section of the game, I can go to Fatigue, Relief, Options, Rules, etc., etc. and keep going around and around without getting any detailed information as to what setting invokes this or similar limits to occur.
Eric Johns, Placentia, CA
            You remember the relief-fatigue rule correctly. It’s rule 27.64 on page 12 of the printed instructions, which are published as “Board Game Instructions.” The computer game contains a file called “Boardgam.txt” that can be summoned through Notepad. Rule 27.64 is there, too.
Refining Pitcher Roles
            Thanks much for your comments regarding my suggestion on starting rotations in your most recent Talk Show.  I have another thought.  The Strat computer manager instructions for pitchers allow a manager to limit a relief pitcher to “max of 1 to 2 innings.”  My experience in draft leagues is that with this box checked, primary relievers repeatedly pitch two innings when they appear in games using the computer manager.  However, more and more in the Big Leagues, we see relievers who almost never go beyond one inning.  A huge number of pitchers now come in to pitch either one inning or the rest of the inning.  It would be nice to have an option in the relief pitcher instructions that would limit a pitcher to no more than one inning.  Or perhaps “max of rest of inning,” meaning the pitcher would get 1, 2, or 3 outs, depending on how many outs there are when he enters the game.  I believe that would add some realism to the game and help managers who see the relief innings of their primary relievers eaten up in games using their computer manager.
            I also have a question about the short specialist rule, though it might already be answered elsewhere.  I know that if you check the “avoid righties,” “quick hook”, and “max of 1 to 2 innings” for a lefty pitcher, he will be treated as a LOOGY and usually be pulled when facing a righty.  But if you do the same for a right-handed pitcher – but checking off  “avoid lefties” – will he be treated as a ROOGY?
Eric Johns, Placentia, CA
            Yes, it should work that way for righty pitchers, too. If you do this for all your specialist relievers and also Maximize closer usage, most of your relievers will pitch one inning or less. The specialists will get quick hooks, the closer will mostly be saved for the ninth and the guy who pitches the eighth will gave way to the closer. You can further refine usage in the way you like by using the Super Hal bullpen instructions. There, you can limit certain relievers to very specific roles and they will be lifted when conditions (such as the inning, the score or the opposing batters’ handedness) change. Still, for those not using Super Hal, I like your idea.
Keeping it Real
            Since we’re celebrating SOM’s 50th anniversary how about using this opportunity to address some outcome issues? Perhaps in the old dice-age these things would have made the game too complicated or time-consuming, but that wouldn’t be an issue with the game today.
            I’m talking about a few things that those of us who play in PBM leagues (over 20 years now for me) continue to see over and over and the only responses we ever get sound something like, ‘Well, you wouldn’t have that if you just did a league replay.’ We consistently see ace starters and closers under-perform. And, the two-out RISP clutch rating doesn’t fit well with actual player batting average batting with bases empty or with runners on or runners in scoring position.
            SOM could incorporate a ‘pitcher strong’ rating something like the ‘batter weak’ rating in order to better simulate the excellence of certain pitchers who give up few home runs and in this way help get better results for elite pitchers and closers. Something similar could be done with results for runners on base for elite closers, also. A closer who gives up only 1 home run in the MLB season shouldn’t give up 5 or 6 in a SOM replay season, but it’s almost inevitable that that happens. Similarly, pitchers with very low walk totals, etc, can’t help but walk more than they should with the current SOM setup. But if there’s some rating that changes an outcome with runners on, or for home runs off a pitcher’s card, or for walks when facing certain pitchers, more accuracy could result.
            One more thing, why does SOM hate David Wright so much? After seven seasons I’m still waiting for one in which he gets within 10% of his real-life stats. Even as a Cubs fan I have say that Mets are real baseball players, too.
John Huizinga, Lombard IL
            You sound skeptical that a realistic replay would produce more accurate stats than a draft league. This summer I completed an as-played replay of the 1956 American League with mostly manually played games on the computer. Here are the league-wide actual stats and my replay stats:
                        BA            OBP            SLG            ERA
1956 AL            .260            .341            .394            4.16
Replay              .260            .340            .394            4.17
            Close enough? Yet the team stats vary quite a bit more. And individual stats vary widely. That’s due to sample size. We need about 10,000 rolls for dice to demonstrate true randomness. The ’56 replay had about 50,000 plate appearances. Teams had about 6,000. Full-time players had about 600-700 and most players had far fewer.
            An accurate statistical simulation like Strat-O-Matic can be expected to deliver stats within one standard deviation 68 percent of the time and within two standard deviations 95 percent of the time. A batter who hits 20 HR in 600 AB will hit 16-24 within one standard deviation (+/- 4.4), and 11-29 within two. To get to 99.7 percent reliability, the range is 7-33 home runs. Translation: If only two-thirds of such players hit 15-25 that’s exactly what we expect, and if the other third hits 11-29 we’re in great shape. However, we should expect one in 20 to be outside of that range. When it comes to events that happen only 20 times in 600 tries, we can expect most players to deviate by far more than 10 percent.
            In a draft league, expect stats to distort further. In draft leagues we tilt the stat-balance in many ways – different ballparks, different defenses, playing guys only against the hand they do best against, and more. Also expect stats to distort in any league where you are not using the worst players. For players with extreme stats, such as the dominant pitchers you mention, try selecting the “Correct Board Game Excesses” option in the Max Rules. That should help a lot.
            The clutch rule was never intended to simulate BA w/RISP. It’s an RBI adjustment.
 Oldies but Goodies
            I agree that baseball’s early years are sadly under-represented. I have long yearned for the ’29 A’s, and have felt the ’19 Reds deserve to be represented. One other team from back then that would be interesting would be the ’16 Brooklyn Robins. Fabulous pitching! It also would be nice if Strat was to make these teams they would use the old card patterns. Talk about “warm and fuzzy.” Oh, to see the old number 6 card pattern …
            Well, it’s been many years since Strat-O-Matic produced single teams.
            As for complete seasons, the early years are under-represented if we compare the seven pre-World War II seasons SOM has produced in two-sided card format to the eight post-war seasons (1948-1959) that were created long after the fact, or to the 11 post-war single-sided seasons (1960-70) that were updated into two-sided format. Then there are the four seasons from the 1970s that have been updated from advanced to super-advanced format. But the under-representation of pre-War seasons is extreme only if we combine all the last three categories rather than consider them separate initiatives. Whatever, after 30 such products, we ought to figure that Strat-O-Matic has a pretty accurate sales history upon which to base their future decisions.