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.

Advertisements

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.

Strat-O-Matic: Which Pitcher Hitting Card Should I Use?

Here’s something I’ve seen pop up from time to time on social media and message boards for Strat-O-Matic Baseball. I’m paraphrasing, but it usually goes something like this:

I’m playing with a Basic only set of cards, but the pitcher cards don’t have individual fielding ratings on them.

I’m playing with a Basic only set of cards and the pitcher cards only have numbers 1-4 on them. These refer to the old set of Pitcher Hitting Cards which no longer exist.

I’m playing with a Basic only set of cards, but would like to use some ADV/SADV features, such as Wild Pitches and Balks.

Fear not!

About five years ago (and, wow, it may have been even longer) I used a download of the Lahman database and basically crunched some numbers to come up with some of the answers to these things.

Some of these things aren’t really complicated. One of them is and, as such, take it with a grain of salt.

Pitcher Hitting Cards

For the Pitcher’s Hitting Cards, I basically just took each season/league and found what that league’s overall rate was for hits per plate appearance. I also found the league’s overall home runs per plate appearance.

Then I looked at Pitcher Hitting Cards 6-8, as these are the ones that have HR readings on them.

Putting this information together, you can pretty much figure out the answer to the question “What is the minimum HR rate a pitcher needs to have had as a batter in order to qualify for one of these PHC cards?”

This tells you whether or not you’ll be using PHC #1-5 or PHC #6-8 for your pitcher’s hitting card.

You can also crunch the numbers from those cards (remembering that 50% of their plate appearances will come from an opponent’s pitcher card) and figure out what each card will bat given a particular season/league.

For example, PHC #1 has zero chances for hits on the card. So you know that all rolls off that card will result in a .000 batting average. But half the rolls will come off the opposing pitcher’s card. So if you’re in a season/league where the league average was .240, then you can pretty well figure out that the PHC #1 card will result in you getting roughly a .120 batting average.

The PHC #2 card has 6.2 hit chances out of 105 total at bat chances. (108 chances minus the 3 for the WALK chance on that card.) That’s good enough for a .059 batting average. Again, plugging that into an era where the league batting average is .240, the PHC #2 card will get you close to a .150 batting average.

And so forth.

Things get more complicated than this, of course, and Steve Barkan will just about have a grabber if you claim anything else, but this is a pretty good starting point.

I actually have a more complicated method that will get you the full gamut of pitcher hitting cards complete with the power (N/W) rating. So you could have a 1W or a 1N, for example. But this spreadsheet I’m including here is going to give you a pretty good jumping off point if you are playing a set that only provides a Basic side – for example, the Old-Timer teams.

Fielding

This one was quite a bit more complicated, but let’s just say that I juggled a lot of numbers – the number of plays a pitcher made in the field per “fieldable” ball (i.e. balls in play), the number of errors they made, and so forth – compared it to the Basic Fielding Charts, and spat out a number.

Again, take it or leave it, but there was math involved.

Wild Pitches and Balks

These numbers came from… somewhere. It’s lost in time, but I think it may have come from Bruce Bundy’s formulas for calculating these things.

Anyhow, when I compare them to official cards, I believe they came out pretty much spot on.

I’ve occasionally used these even when playing with cards that are Basic side only. In other words, I’ll go ahead and do the pre-plate appearance roll of the d20 to see if I have to check for a wild pitch or balk.

Enjoy!

As always, comments are welcome.

SOM Basic Pitcher Data

Strat-O-Matic Baseball: Custom Rules

Somebody tracked me down on Twitter and asked if I had any other custom rules that I use when playing Strat-O-Matic.

Why yes I do.

But then, so does pretty much everybody who plays a tabletop sport simulation. It’s one of those nice things about still living in the stone age and playing games with cards & dice. If I’m playing a PC-based sim, I can’t very well get the source code and build some mods for the game. But playing “analog” like this? You bet!

Here are the things that I do a little bit outside the norm.

Relief Pitcher Rest

I am using one little wrinkle here on top of what the official rules booklet uses to determine rest for relief pitchers. Rather than going by innings pitched (i.e. 0.0 – 1.0, 1.1 – 2.0, 2.1 – 3.0, etc.) I go by the number of innings in which they pitched. In other words, if a reliever enters the game with 2 outs in the 6th, strikes a batter out, then starts the 7th, gives up a double, and is pulled from the game, that counts the same as if he had pitched 2 innings. That guy warmed up to get ready to pitch the 6th, then he had to rest while his team was at bat, then he had to come back out to get ready and pitch the 7th inning. That, to me, should count more than a guy who started the 7th inning, faced four batters in the inning, and then was out of the game before the 8th inning started.

Injuries to Pitchers

I’ve seen this one come up on the Strat-O-Matic Forums quite a bit. Questions arise over how to treat injuries to pitchers. If I roll up a 2 game injury for a starting pitcher, what’s the point? He’s got to miss 4 days to rest before his next start anyhow!

What I do is use the standard injury chart for position players and also relievers. I’ve thought about using a different chart for relievers but haven’t come up with anything really great yet. My problems with it are that, in non-DH games anyhow, modern relievers almost never bat, so the odds of one ever getting injured are pretty much nil anyhow. But relievers in DH games who roll the 6-12 against a DH could still get hurt. It’s a little lopsided where relievers from the AL could get hurt but those from the NL never will, right? Doesn’t make much sense.

What I’m currently doing for relievers (and I admit this isn’t perfect) is that any reliever with a closer rating of (6) is akin to a position player with 600 or more At Bats + Walks – they’re both proven full-time guys whose injury duration should be capped at 3.

The problem is that this still doesn’t account for guys who were full-time relievers but not full-time closers. What do you do with a LOOGY who had 70 appearances with only 40 innings pitched? He also shouldn’t be susceptible to long-term injuries, right? It gets tricky… I may have to use a similar “maximum 3 game injury” for relievers with, say, 60 or more appearances. Not the way I currently play, but that seems like a fair estimate.

If I roll an injury to a starting pitcher, I use the following chart for injury duration.

Roll	SP w/ *	SP w/o *
----	-------	--------
1-2	OK	OK
3-4	REM	REM
5-8	4	5
9-11	5	6
12-13	6	9
14	8	12
15	10	15
16	12	18
17	14	21
18	16	24
19	20	30
20	30	45

Close Plays on the Bases

To start with, I kind of like the “Catcher Blocks the Plate” rule that Strat-O-Matic provides rules for. I know some folks despise it, but I find that catcher defense is already underutilized, so this (to me) is one way to get them a little bit more involved in the fielding side of things. So, for that, I use it.

However, why stop there? I use the same rules on all base running plays; not just at home plate!

A guy has a 1-15 chance on a stolen base and rolls a 16? Well the guy covering the base he’s stealing has to roll on the same chart as a catcher would to see if they get the base runner or don’t. If the guy is stealing 2nd, I use the SS to cover the bag if the batter is batting lefty and the 2B if the batter is batting right-handed.

Same rules for a guy going from 1st to 3rd on a base hit. If there’s a close play there, I roll against the third baseman’s fielding range rating to see if they get the guy out or not on a “border roll”.

I also have the possibility of injuries or fights breaking out after close plays. I’m about 150 games into a replay project using these rules and so far have had ZERO fights (still hoping for one, though) and TWO injuries, so it doesn’t change the game engine all that much.

Here’s the full rules…

If a split roll for a stolen base attempt or attempt to take an extra base comes up for the either the last number of the safe range or first number of the out range, the play is close and there is a chance of a collision and subsequent fight.

First, roll to see if the fielder handling the throw hangs on to the ball and tags the runner out or if the slide knocks the ball out of his glove.

Fielder Rating	Safe	Out
1		1-2	3-20
2		1-6	7-20
3		1-10	11-20
4		1-14	15-20
5		1-18	19-20

Next, roll the white and red dice.

If the White Die is a 6, there is a possible injury. Roll the 20-sided Split Die.
1-8: No injuries occur.
9-15: The fielder covering the throw is injured.
16-19: The base runner is injured.
20: Both the fielder covering the throw and the base runner are injured.

If the two Red Dice total 12, then a fight breaks out. Roll the 20-sided Split Die.
1-5: The base runner is ejected.
6-8: The fielder covering the throw is ejected.
9-10: Both the runner and fielder covering the throw are ejected.
11-20: For each team, make a separate roll of the red dice. On a roll of 2-7, 1 player is ejected at random. On a roll of 8-11, 2 players ejected at random. On a roll of 12, 3 players ejected at random.

Ejected Players may also face suspensions. For each ejected player, roll the 20-sided Split Die for the suspension duration.
1-7: 0 games
8-12: 1 game
13-16: 2 games
17-19: 3 games
20: 4 games

Stealing Bases

I like the SADV rules that allow you to roll to see if a batter gets a lead before they attempt to steal. When the SADV stuff is available, I’ll use that even when I’m playing Basic. I’ll use the pitcher hold and catcher arm combination to modify the base stealer’s chance and I roll for the Jump as usual.

But what if SADV isn’t available?

Well, first, let’s say this set has ADV sides of the cards. In that case, I use a spreadsheet to calculate pitcher Hold ratings (not posted here – yet!) and couple it with the catcher’s arm rating to modify the base stealer’s chance of success using the standard AAA and AA = 1-17, A = 1-15, B = 1-13, etc. With no Jump available, I assume they need to roll 5-9 on the Red Dice to get a jump. (AAA stealers get a jump on a roll of 4-10 instead.) So I roll that first to see if they even get to attempt.  If the roll is a 2, the base runner is potentially picked off by the pitcher and if it’s a 12 by the catcher.  In either case, re-roll the red dice.  If both dice are larger than the fielder’s basic fielding rating (either the pitcher or catcher), then the runner is picked off by the designated fielder.

If I don’t have Catcher Arm ratings available, I use the Catcher’s Basic Fielding Rating and assume a 1 has an Arm of -3, a 2 is a -1, a 3 is a +1, a 4 is a +3 and a 5 is a +5.

Using POW with Basic

POW is cool, right? If you don’t have an ADV side of the card available, you can calculate POW. No, it’s not as simple as dividing innings pitched by games. I’ve seen that posted a lot on the Forums and it’s simply not true. If a guy makes 4 starts and goes 9, 9, 9 and 1 innings in his starts, his POW will be 9, not 7. Yes, that adds up to 28 innings over 4 starts and 28 divided by 4 is 7. But when I reverse engineer cards, I find that it tends to go by the 60th percentile of all the pitcher’s starts.

I’m not 100% certain on that number as I don’t have that spreadsheet with me, but I think it was 60th percentile for starters and 90th percentile for relievers. So if a reliever made 10 appearances and, sorted from shortest stint to longest, they went the following number of innings – 0, 0.1, 0.1, 0.1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3 – his POW is a 2, not a 1, even though he averaged exactly 1 inning per appearance. He’s essentially shown himself capable of going 2 (or more!) innings in a relief appearance, so he’s getting the 2 here because that’s where his 90th percentile falls.

That’s not even really what I’m posting about here, because the POW calculation is all well and good, but what if you are playing with the Basic side of the card? There are no dots on there that take away outs and convert them to SINGLE** readings! What the hell do you do?!

Well, first off, I pretty much always remove my pitcher once he’s fatigued. But if you don’t want to, you can convert things over.

Let’s point out, first of all, that all pitchers receive the dot on 10 of the 108 chances on their card. If they have strikeout chances on their card, those 10 comes out of there first. So maybe they drop from 17 strikeout chances to 7. I just want to give that background first.

Since the Basic side does not have dots to indicate altered results when pitching tired, use the following rules.

  1. If the result rolled off of the pitcher’s card is a strikeout…
    1. …and he has 10 or fewer strikeout chances on his card, change the result to a SINGLE**.
    2. …and he has more than 10 strikeout chances on his card, roll d20.  Check your roll here and if the pitcher’s card has the number of strikeout chances listed, then convert the result to a SINGLE**.1-3: always
      4: 57 or fewer
      5: 44 or fewer
      6: 36 or fewer
      7: 30 or fewer
      8: 26 or fewer
      9: 23 or fewer
      10: 21 or fewer
      11: 19 or fewer
      12: 17 or fewer
      13: 16 or fewer
      14: 14 or fewer
      15-16: 13 or fewer
      17: 12 or fewer
      18: 11 or fewer
  2. If the result off of the pitcher’s card is NOT a strikeout…
    1. …and he has fewer than 10 strikeout chances on his card, roll d20.  Check your roll against the “Pitching Tired Singles” chart, cross-referencing his strikeout and non-strikeout out chances.  If you roll the number indicated or less, then convert the result to a SINGLE**.  For example, if the pitcher has 7 strikeout chances on his card and 34 non-strikeout out chances on his card, then a d20 roll of 1 or 2 will convert the result to a SINGLE**.  For the purpose of this chart, consider Hit/Out split-chances as not counting towards the non-strikeout out totals.
    2. …and he has 10 or more strikeout chances on his card, leave the result as is.

So, ya, this last thing here is complicated. But it will work. Alternatively, if you don’t mind marking up your cards, add dots to 10 chances on the Basic side of his card and be done with it! I personally prefer the spines of my books flawless and my game cards clean, so I won’t do it. But maybe that’s how you roll. (See what I did there?)

Cheers!

Strat-o-Matic Baseball – Modified Basic Fielding Chart

This past spring, I started up a 1934 MLB project using Strat-o-Matic Baseball.

I had originally intended to take the plunge and move up from playing Basic to Advanced for two reasons.

One reason was because I wanted HBP chances which, for whatever reason, are absent from the Basic side of Strat cards.  (Somebody suggested to me that HBP chances are rolled into the WALK chances on the card, but when you do the math you’ll find that that isn’t so.  Still hoping that the company someday modifies things so that those chances will get included, but that doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon.)

The other reason I wanted to make the move was because of how much more prevalent errors were in 1934 versus the modern era.  The Advanced version of the fielding chart takes eras into account by utilizing fielder’s “e” ratings.  The Basic version?  Not so much.

Well I got out and did the number crunching and created a spreadsheet capable of modifying the Basic Fielding Chart based on the following inputs: league errors per position and league plate appearances.

Everything else is math.

I knew my formulas were pretty solid based on two factors:

  1. When I plugged in numbers from the 1984 season, it resulted in only one of the columns on the chart needing to be modified.  (I’m going on the assumption that this chart was created by the Strat company something in the late 70s or early 80s.)
  2. When I used my custom chart for my 1934 project and rolled out my first 84 games, I went through and compared my project’s errors per game and compared it to the real-life 1934 errors per game.  My modified chart, which included extra error chances for 1934, resulted in me having 2.2738 errors per game.  The real 1934 season had 2.2731 errors per game.  That’s even closer than I thought I would get.

The next project I’m doing is a 1984 project, so I went ahead and generated that chart and a chart for the latest season (2013).  You’ll notice the 2013 chart has fewer error chances than the standard fielding chart, which is absolutely correct given the fewer number of errors occurring in recent season.

One thing to point out that should be immediately apparent is that the error chances are not in the same location as they used to be.  Things like hits that are allowed are always in the lower range of numbers, followed by errors, followed by outs.

This is a side effect of putting these charts together.  If you don’t like it, there’s really no reason you couldn’t take these charts and swap things around.  For example, if you want a shortstop-1 to still have an “out-3” reading on a roll of 1, feel free to take the error-1 reading from that cell and move it somewhere else.  This project was really more focused on the number of chances and not where those chances appear.

I’ve gone ahead and uploaded those 3 seasons I’ve done so far so you can pull them down here.  I have no problem generating additional seasons and uploading them here.  Given the time, I’d like to post a file for every year from 1901 to the present, even if the earliest card set the game company officially puts out is from 1905 (New York Giants only).

It takes about two minutes to generate a season-specific file.  If there’s a season you’re looking for, just post your request in the comments and I’ll get it taken care of.

Cheers!

UPDATES:

  • July 13 2014 – Added 1975
  • July 14 2014 – Added 1911 and 1964
  • July 19 2014 – Added 1905 and 1963
  • February 20 2015 – Added 2014
  • February 25 2016 – Added 1953
  • March 20 2017 – Added 1949
  • May 2 2017 – Added 1993
  • Oct 12 2018 – Added 1920

Modified Error Chances – 1905
Modified Error Chances – 1911
Modified Error Chances – 1920
Modified Error Chances – 1934
Modified Error Chances – 1949
Modified Error Chances – 1953 (AL)
Modified Error Chances – 1953 (NL)
Modified Error Chances – 1963
Modified Error Chances – 1964
Modified Error Chances – 1975
Modified Error Chances – 1984
Modified Error Chances – 1993
Modified Error Chances – 2013
Modified Error Chances – 2014

Strat-o-Matic Baseball – Rare Play Booklet

One shortcoming of the Strat-o-Matic Baseball game is the lack of plays that are out of the ordinary. APBA has some odd plays that occur with their Basic Game.  Their Master Game has Rare Play boards that expand on that. Dynasty League has Bizarre results off the player cards. Strat’s Basic Game has nothing.  And the Advanced/Super Advanced game has very few that are possible. To overcome that, I compiled my own Rare Play booklet for use by Strat players.  I put this together throughout 2013 for use in my own replays and have really enjoyed it.  Every once in a while I’ve had an ejection, a player injury in the field, or a player getting caught off of a base after rounding it too far.  It’s pretty simple to use, really, with instructions posted on the 1st page of the PDF. Here is the link: RarePlays Comments and suggestions are welcome.