APBA – Simple Fatigue Rules

I’m soon going to be embarking on a project full of all-time great teams, played out between my older brother and myself.

(He’s the one who first introduced me to APBA when I was a tyke, so this obsession is sort of his fault.)

We’ve been trying to lay down some simple, home-brewed rules for the tournament.

One of those governs pitcher fatigue.

Let’s face it, there’s no reason why a team with an A starting pitcher should ever remove them from a game, especially if nobody in their bullpen is better than an A.

Sure, there are Grade Advancement and Grade Reduction rules you could play with, but they don’t kick in all that often, especially for an A pitcher.

So here’s the rule we’ll be using.

Each pitcher is rated for throwing a certain number of innings before fatigue sets in.

For starting pitchers, you calculate this number by finding their statistics (in their starts only – use BaseballReference, Fangraphs or whatever…) and use the following formula:

Fatigue = Ceiling(.25 + (IP / GS))

If you are using players from an era before game logs are available, use the following formula instead:

Fatigue = Ceiling(.25 + (IP / (GS + (GR / 2))))

The .25 is sort of a “fudge factor” that accounts for things like pitching in games on the road where you may never get a chance to pitch the bottom of the 9th if your team loses. And the Ceiling (which basically means “always round up”) accounts for some other factors, like helping to ensure your pitcher could go the distance, even if he may not bother because he’s pitching in a blow-out, or gets pinch-hit for, or injured, or whatever…

Let’s use a few guys with December 15th birthdays for examples.

First, a guy from the modern era – Rick Helling.

In 1999, Helling had 35 starts and pitched 219.1 innings.

His fatigue would be a 7.

And then an older player – Mike Prendergast.

In 1915, he made 30 starts and pitched 228.2 innings in those starts.

His fatigue would be an 8.

(Say, by the way, that we didn’t have split stats available for Prendergast, who also made 12 relief appearances that season and totalled 253.2 innings. Using our alternate formula, he’d actually still end up as an 8.)

Now that you have that fatigue number, how do you use it?

Essentially, you just say that following that inning, they automatically go down a grade for each inning after that.

I have no idea what 1999 Helling’s grade is, but looking at his stats, let’s assume he was a C. He could pitch as a C for innings 1-7. But if he comes out for the 8th inning – even if he’s throwing a no-hitter – he’s down to a D.

An A pitcher who has a 6 fatigue is downgraded to a B to start the 7th, a C to start the 8th and a D to start the 9th.

This rule helps keep your starting pitchers in line, especially when playing with teams who come from modern eras where specialized relief pitchers are brought in and starting pitchers have their workloads shrunk in order to keep them firing massive strikeout rates in each game out.

Relief pitchers are a bit trickier to do, particularly since they often enter games mid-inning or are lifted for pinch-hitters as soon as their spot in a lineup comes up.

I don’t have a hard and fast calculation here, but in general you can do something similar to what I believe Strat-O-Matic does and sort all their relief appearances by innings pitched, go down 10% and use that number, rounded up.

It’s been a few years since I looked at that, but I think that’s how they do it. I’m in the ballpark, anyhow.

For example, Prendergast made 12 relief appearances in 1915.

We sort those 12 by innings pitched, and go down to the 2nd record – he pitched 3.2 innings in that game. I’d give him a 4* fatigue rating in relief, which means he would start getting downgraded after 4 innings.

For relievers, I’d also consider stiffer penalties – perhaps downgrading them one grade immediately after they’ve pitched their maximum number of innings and making them a D after the conclusion of an inning.

For example, Prendergast enters with 1 out in the 3rd inning. With 1 out in the 7th inning, he is downgraded one letter grade. But at the conclusion of the 7th inning, he’s an automatic D.


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