About

The problem started when I came across the Great American Fantasy League. Ty Waterman created custom player cards for the Statis-Pro baseball board game of each franchise’s all-time team. This struck me as an excellent set-up for a cards and dice baseball game, but I’m not familiar with Statis-Pro, and the game I do play, Strat-O-Matic, has not created all-time team sets for use. So I tried to put the idea out of my head, but I just couldn’t shake an urge to figure out how to create custom Strat cards. Thankfully Bruce Bundy provides lots of info, formulas, and spreadsheets on his site that provided a starting point, and I plowed through from there with sheer determination and (likely flawed) mathematical figuring of transferring real-life baseball rates to the probabilities of different outcomes when rolling two six-sided dice.

Five fun/excruciating months later, I have created 400 custom cards for 14 all-time American League teams (the current ALers minus Tampa Bay due to their short history) and am having a ton of fun squaring them off in a 162 game season, which I will keep tabs on at this here webbing site.

Guidelines for choosing the players

The short answer is that players are eligible for teams if they have spent at least three to four years with the franchise and rank among the team’s all-time leaders in Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (WAR) or Wins Above Average (WAA).

The long answer:

For the original eight AL teams that have been in existence since the beginning:

Position players must have at least 2,000 plate appearances with the team, as well as at least four seasons with 400 PA. Among players that meet those minimums, the player must then rank as one of the top three catchers, first-basemen, second-basemen, third-basemen, or shortstops by WAR or WAA, one of the top seven outfielders by WAR or WAA, be a designated hitter with 10+ WAR, or rank in the top 20 WAR or WAA among all position players for the franchise (WAA must be one or more to qualify by WAA). Primary positions are defined by playing at least 40% of games at a given position. In the rare case that two center-fielders are not among a team’s top seven outfielders by WAR or WAA, the top two center-fielders by WAR and WAA are eligible.

Starting pitchers (at least 49% of appearances in starts) must have pitched at least 700 total innings and 150 innings in at least four seasons for the team, and then rank among the top 11 of those pitchers in WAR or WAA (WAA must be one or more to qualify by WAA). Dead ball era pitchers are over-represented by those standards, so I added another wrinkle of eligible pitchers: Looking only at 1920 to the present, find the top 20 starters by WAR and WAA that meet the above minimum innings pitched. Find and sort by highest WAR per inning and WAA per inning, and players that rank in the top 11 of those lists are eligible. (I told you it was a long answer.)

Relief pitchers (at least 49% of appearances in relief) must have pitched at least 240 total innings and at least 40 innings in at least four seasons. Among relievers meeting those minimums, rank in the top eight by WAR or WAA (WAA must be one or more to qualify by WAA).

In the rare case fewer than six left-handed pitchers (starters and relievers combined) qualify for a team, then the next-highest lefty by WAR becomes eligible until six lefties become eligible overall.

For the six expansion teams, the guidelines are the same except the minimum playing time is reduced:

Position players must have at least 1,500 plate appearances with the team, as well as at least three seasons with 400 PA. Among players that meet those minimums, the player must then rank as one of the top three catchers, first-basemen, second-basemen, third-basemen, or shortstops by WAR or WAA, one of the top seven outfielders by WAR or WAA, be a designated hitter with 10+ WAR, or rank in the top 20 WAR or WAA among all position players for the franchise (WAA must be one or more to qualify by WAA). Primary positions are defined by playing at least 40% of games at a given position. In the rare case that two center-fielders are not among a team’s top seven outfielders by WAR or WAA, the top two center-fielders by WAR and WAA are eligible.

Starting pitchers (at least 49% of appearances in starts) must have pitched at least 500 total innings and 150 innings in at least three seasons for the team, and then rank among the top 11 of those pitchers in WAR or WAA (WAA must be one or more to qualify by WAA).

Relief pitchers (at least 49% of appearances in relief) must have pitched at least 180 total innings and at least 40 innings in at least three seasons. Among relievers meeting those minimums, a player must rank in the top eight by WAR or WAA (WAA must be one or more to qualify by WAA).

In the rare case fewer than six left-handed pitchers (starters and relievers combined) qualify for a team, then the next-highest WAR left(y/ies) meeting the above inning requirements become eligible until six lefties become eligible overall.

Stats used for the cards

The basis for each player’s Strat card chances are the neutralized stats found on Baseball Reference. I combined the stats from multiple seasons that a player spent with the team. If they spent fewer than seven full seasons with a team, all fairly full season stats were used. For players with more than seven full seasons with a team, I found the best stretch of seven consecutive seasons by WAR and used the combined numbers from that stretch. I tossed out seasons with lower playing time at my discretion (generally seasons with fewer than 400 PA, 140 IP by a starter, or 40 IP by a reliever). For example, the seasons used for Alex Gordon of the Royals are 2007-08 and 2011-15 because of low playing time in 2009 and 2010. Also for players that had time with one team interrupted by time with another team, the years spent with the pertinent team are considered “consecutive.” For example, the years used for Luis Aparicio of the White Sox are 1959-62 and 1968-70 because he spent 1963-67 with Baltimore. The years used for each player can be found on the team rosters.

A few roster and playing time guidelines

  • Teams may carry no more than two pitchers on the 25 man roster who accrued the majority of their value to the team before 1920. (A couple of teams would end up with something like four dead ball pitchers in their rotations otherwise.)
  • Starting pitchers may be used as relievers with no restrictions, but at least four relief pitchers must be on a team’s 25 man roster at all times.
  • Teams must at all times include at least one pitcher in the starting rotation who accrued the majority of their value to the team after 1972. (Almost all teams would anyway, but a couple of teams might not, and it doesn’t feel as representative of a team’s history without at least one recent-ish pitcher in the rotation.)
  • A 25 man roster must be set for each game, but there is no equivalent of the 40 man roster of eligible players; all players that meet the eligibility requirements spelled out above are eligible to be on the 25 man roster at any one time. Realistically, there’s no reason to make more than, say, 30 cards for any one team.
  • Position players are limited to the average number of games played in the years used for their stats. (The neutralized stats used are prorated to a 162 game season so earlier players and strike-year players are not penalized.) There are no in-game injuries, but players sit out games during the season at a rate determined by their actual games missed. Pitchers are not allowed to pitch a significant number of innings more than their real-life average innings pitched in the years used for their stats.
  • Shortstops may play in a back-up role at third base and second base, so two shortstops are usually carried on the 25 man. All outfielders may play left or right fields with no change to their defense ratings, but center fielders should be limited to actual center fielders, so two center fielders are usually carried on the 25 man.
  • Designated hitter used for all games.
  • Strat-O-Matic’s 2014 American League Ballpark Effect chart is used for ballpark singles and homers.

Schedule

The teams are divided into two divisions, Original and Expansion. Teams will play 162 games, the majority of which in their own division, but every team will play six games against each team outside their division. Because there are eight original teams and six expansion teams, this works out to 78% of the schedule played within the division for original teams (18 games against all other original teams) and 70% of the schedule within the division for expansion teams (22-23 games against every other expansion team).

There will be a three-game All-Star series at mid-season between Original and Expansion squads picked based on first-half stats, and a best of seven championship series at the end of the year between the winners of the two divisions.

February, 2017

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