Strat-O-Matic Baseball: Basic Hit By Pitch

This came up on the Strat Fan Forums recently, so I thought I’d dive into it.

The question came from a forum user (and I’m paraphrasing here) – How do I incorporate Hit By Pitch into the Basic version of the game?

For those who don’t know, Strat-O-Matic Baseball cards have two sides – one for use if playing the Basic version of the game, and a flip side if playing either the Advanced or Super Advanced versions.

One quirk about the Basic side is that it gives no chances for a batter to be hit by a pitch.

I’ve never quite understood why that was left out. My hunch was that, when the game was first being created, HBP stats were not readily available and so they were simply left out of the game. When the Advanced version of the game was created, however, that HBP data was available and so it was added at that point. However, re-doing the formulas to “retrofit” the Basic sides of cards wasn’t worth the effort, so it continued to be left out.

Again, that is all just a hunch. I don’t work for the game company and that’s pure conjecture. I still maintain it would be really easy to start adding it to the Basic side of the batter cards and really wish they would, but given that it really only affects a handful of batters in a typical season, I can see where it wouldn’t be high on the company’s priority list. Particularly when fewer and fewer folks play the cards and dice version of the game.

In short, there’s no really easy way to convert the Basic side over to allow for chances of being hit by a pitch.

All the formulas to calculate chances on the Basic side of the card discount Plate Appearances in which the batter was hit by a pitch.

When you calculate how many chances at a Walk the Basic side of the card will have, for example, you are going to use unintentional walks as the numerator of your Walk rate, and the denominator will factor things in like total plate appearances but it will not include intentional walks and it will also not include times hit by a pitch.

That right there is the crucial point to make. Because if you now want to include chances for being hit by a pitch, you’d need to re-calculate everything else on the Basic side of the card – WALK, STRIKEOUT, SINGLE, DOUBLE, TRIPLE, HOMERUN, GB() A.

If you convert some WALK readings to HIT BY PITCH, that’s not really accomplishing anything. You’re not correcting the high-HBP guy who’s getting short-changed on his OBP as it is. You’re only changing how he got to first, not improving his chances.

And if you add some new HIT BY PITCH chances to the Basic side of his card, you’re throwing off how accurate the player’s Batting Average will be.

The only way that you can really pull it off, then, is to do a roll before the plate appearance.  In other words, roll first to see if the batter is hit by a pitch and, if he isn’t, resolve the plate appearance as you normally would.

If you ask me, it’s freaking tedious. Believe me. I tried it. Then I came to realize “What am I doing? The whole point of playing Basic was to try to speed games along? This isn’t doing that!!!”

If you’re interested, however, the trick I used was basically this…  (And you could use a spreadsheet to really speed this along and get all the numbers for any particular season in less than a minute.)

Take the player’s Plate Appearances (PA) and their times Hit By Pitch (HBP).  Use 400 * HBP / PA to get their “HBP Chance”.

Before each plate appearance, roll d20. If the roll is a 1, that means the batter might have gotten hit by the pitch. Roll d20 again and if the roll is less than or equal to that number you got above, they were hit by a pitch.

You might recognize this as being pretty similar to the way Wild Pitches, Balks and Passed Balls are implemented in the Advanced versions of the game.  So if rolling a 1 to advance to the check seems confusing, then change it to a 20. Whatever makes sense for you.

So let’s take 1966 Orlando Cepeda, for example. He had 563 PA and had 14 HBP. Using 400 * 14 / 563 gets you 9.95, so he would draw a HBP on a roll of 1-10.

1966 Carl Yastrzemski, however, had 1 HBP in 680 PA, so 400 * 1 / 680 is 0.59, meaning he gets hit only on a roll of 1.

If you’re into marking your cards, you could always pencil this in on the Basic side of the card.

Anyhow, it will give you the accuracy you’re looking for. It’s a lot more accurate than looking at the HBP chances from the Advanced side of the card and then converting over some of the Basic readings to add in HBP.

Happy New Year.

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3 thoughts on “Strat-O-Matic Baseball: Basic Hit By Pitch

  1. Interesting read and I think I may incorporate this in my ’53 replay. But only with guys who had a high rate of HBPs. I mark my cards up (HRs, W-L, Shutouts) so could make a notation for dudes who have a decent chance at getting plunked. Maybe I could slowly roll it out for all guys as my season progresses.

  2. I’d like to incorporate warnings and ejections into Strat-o with HBPs. Do you have any ideas for house rules?

    1. Looking at ejection data from the 2015 season, I see that there were 229 ejections. 104 of those were ejections to players – the rest being members of the coaching staff.
      There were 1,602 hit batters in 2015.
      Now obviously most of those ejections did not come about as a result of a hit batter. There are arguments on the bases, disputed ball/strike calls, and others.
      Still, 104 / 1602 is about 6.5%
      Out of 36 chances possible from rolling a pair of 6-sided dice, that puts you at about 2.3 chances.
      So a quick and dirty approach would be the following:
      After a HBP, roll the pair of red dice.
      If the roll is 2, the pitcher is ejected.
      If the roll is 12, the hitter charges the mound and is ejected.

      And perhaps for a wrinkle, both teams are warned if each team has hit at least one batter or if the batter who was just hit by the pitch had homered in a prior plate appearance. From that point forward, any HBP results in an immediate ejection of the pitcher.

      I don’t play with these rules, but they’re a quick thought off the top of my head. I know there are folks out there who have similar charts.

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