There are many different projects that are possible while using the Strat-o-matic simulation. My project centers on simulating an actual season, but with a smaller number of teams. I’ve thought through this process a number of times based on the variables that come with my project in particular. This set-up may not make sense for other projects, especially where the controller seeks to recreate the exact conditions of a particular game. Here are the phases of setup:
Before I got started with Game 1 back in June, I set up the original schedule. In that schedule I left only a couple of rest days, which were league-wide. Over time I found it lacked some interest, because you would always get the same pitching matchups, as in 1v1, 2v2, etc. So about 1/4 of the way in (a midseason adjustment they’d never do in real life, but it’s my virtual league after all) I changed up the schedule from that point forward. I set up a number of staggered off days. I also set up a doubleheader for each team. I wanted to add more flavor to the league, but it will take awhile for these adjustments to manifest fully down the road.
I set up every team’s starting rotation based on wins, starts, and ERA, not on actual rotation choices by the real-world manager. I started out being concerned with IP limits, but the more I’ve thought about it, teams like Detroit don’t get David Price who was traded to the Jays midseason. So if I have to use Matt Boyd that much more because of the discrepancy, so be it.
On index cards (I use these for most of my cheat sheets), I maintain a running list of every rotation. This syncs up with the schedule to plot out my starters.
I’ll always be looking to give the #1 starter 4 days of rest throughout the season. Rest days should allow for skipping a 5th starter at times, which will vary the matchups. If I get to the end of the season and a team needs their top starter to pitch a crucial game on 3 days rest, I’ll go with it assuming that pitcher has a * on the main roster list.
Defensive Positional Lineup
My process starts by assigning the “everyday starters” at each position. I tend to use Baseball Reference as well as the AB’s on the cards to help sort out the players who should get the most starts. I have index cards with the defensive lineup for each team, which can include platoons based on LHP/RHP matchups. That’s the baseline for every team.
I then incorporate the Super Advanced Rest Chart (SARC). This involves one d6 roll to start, which identifies 3 specific positions that the manager should consider resting. Those 3 starters are then analyzed by adding their 2015 at-bats with the 2015 bases on balls. This is a rough estimate for plate appearances. That sum is compared to the 2nd half of the SARC to provide a range where the player would need rest. If AB+BB < 375, the player must be rested; if > 600, the player will never be rested.
I select the 3 guys who would normally start against the the opposing SP based on handedness. I set aside any of those players who must be rested. I then lay out the unaffected defense.
Any holes left in the defense by rest are then filled by appropriate bench players. If more than one player is available to start at that position, consider both the order of the position on the player’s card as well as their AB’s. But personally, if you’re resting a good starter, you should try to fill in with the best player you can, even if he’s low AB.
Additionally, one should consider juggling the defensive lineup to account for better defense. If you have to pick a DH who has better defensive ratings than the usual 3B, do the switch.
I keep track of the 1st roll number for each team in each game. I never repeat a 1st roll rest number for a team in consecutive games.
The one thing I haven’t done much preparation would be batting orders. I’ve thought about developing a baseline batting order like I did for defense, and my lineups are often pretty similar. With that being said, I like to have the flexibility to look over the cards and make up my mind on the fly.
I think everyone has their own theory on developing their batting lineups in small ways, and so for me to detail the “right” way to set up a batting order is unwise. There are some traditional conventions, which you can subscribe to (or not).
- Lead-off hitter – traditionally a high OBP guy with solid speed to get to second base either by double or single/walk + SB.
- 2nd hitter – contact hitter, good at hit-and-run or bunting the runner over, especially if you don’t have good speed leading off (or the opposing catcher has an excellent arm).
- 3rd hitter – highest batting average player.
- 4th (cleanup) + 5th hitters – best power hitters on the team. Looking to rake runs, preferably by the long ball.
- 6-8 – the guys who are the weakest hitters on the team. Mostly the guys who make their mark with their defensive play, stacked by batting ability.
- 9th hitter – varies. Some play the poorest hitter here to limit the player’s AB’s. A more progressive approach would be to use this for the 2nd best candidate for lead-off hitter, who potentially sets the table for a high OBP leadoff man. You even see some non-DH managers bat their pitcher in 8th for this reason.
Some like to alternate LHB and RHB to cause an opposing manager to pick their poison from the bullpen, possibly eating up pen arms.
As far as Strat goes, you could either go by the hard-and-fast percentages the cards & dice should deliver, or you could react as a real-life manager would to fluctuations in average, OBP, HR’s, and the like.
Lastly, you could rate any of these things higher than the rest. This is seen in the emergence of managers who rate OBP higher than power, and thus might put a guy who would traditionally hit 4th in the lead-off spot.
I’ve gone back and forth on the scorecard. I have a custom design that I made early on in the TBL, but I’ve found it wastes a lot of ink. So I go with plain paper. I write out the defensive and baserunning ratings in this format:
RangeArmErrorRunningStealing – ex: 3-22117A
I also score with at-bats as the columns, not innings. That differs from my scorekeeping of normal baseball games. It saves space in the long run.
Active Roster & Injuries
Major League Baseball’s active rosters are capped at 25 players. Every team in Strat is given at least 27 cards by the manufacturer. When I started my games, I had kept all 27 in my packs for playing. But I then realized this wasn’t that realistic, and so I decided to keep an active & inactive roster.
Changes can be made to the active roster between games. The inactive roster is essentially the club’s AAA team. Players outside the active roster have been “sent down.” They can be recalled for any reason – wanting to limit AB or IP, ineffectiveness, or injury replacement.
As far as injuries, I play them as straight as possible. For a season simulation, injuries help to utilize more of the depth on a team, which I like.
Any injury gets placed on the inactive roster. One player is then activated. Sometimes teams end up operating with <24 players. This is where I wish I had purchased the full set, add’l options would help a lot.
I do not modify the injury chart, aside from starting pitchers. I found a nice starting pitcher injury chart here that deals with the differences in SP usage.
On the same index card as my preferred defensive lineup for each team is a matrix to track relief pitcher usage. Strat Advanced rules indicate an RP shouldn’t be used more than two days in a row. I am able to keep track of which pitchers were used, to help me keep from overusing guys.
If you have any further questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org