Strat-O-Matic, the company that is staging the simulated 2020 Major League Baseball season in which Redleg Nation is participating, is using projected 2020 player statistics as the basis for each individual player profile.

This differs from the presumption this author has had all along that 2019 actual statistics were in each player’s performance profile card. (Much more on this below.) The presumption was based on your author having played the game for several seasons many years ago, and for each season, a new set of player cards was issued based on each player’s actual statistics. For example, a game released in 1984 would have been based upon statistics for each individual player’s 1983 performance — the most recent full season.

We learned this rather unexpectedly, after receiving an email from Strat-O-Matic stating that because the sim Reds would play games on 17 consecutive days following today’s off-day, Redleg Nation would need to call up an eighth relief pitcher and option a position player.

(If you would like to participate in the selection of the pitcher who will be recalled and the position player to be sent down, see the comment thread on this article. A final decision will be made based on the votes cast there by late evening on Thursday, April 30.)

I asked Strat-O-Matic for a list of the pitchers who were available to be recalled, and that list included Ryan Hendrix, a righthanded pitcher who has never appeared in a major league game. We have the option of any pitcher on the current Reds actual 40-man roster, they said, and that includes Hendrix.

Still under the presumption that all of the player profiles were based on past performance, I replied, “I am curious โ€“ Hendrix has never pitched in the big leagues. What kind of card do they give him?”

“Every card we’re using is created based on projected stats for the upcoming year. So rookies such as Hendrix and Akiyama are able to have cards despite not playing in MLB before,” my Strat-O-Matic contact replied.

“Does this mean that ALL playersโ€™ cards are based on projected stats? Because I was presuming that all cards were based on 2019 stats, as has been my experience in playing Strat-O-Matic โ€“ many years ago, granted,” I replied. “If ALL of the cards are based on projected stats, can you share what the source of those projected stats is?”

“Yes all are projected,” the Strat-O-Matic contact person wrote. “The source is Strat-O-Matic’s advanced team of cardmaking experts.”

A few minutes later, he again replied, “Send me some stats, we’ll make you a .pdf card of you!”

That was an offer too good to pass up. Hmmmm, what statistics to send … maybe Ken Griffey Jr.’s lifetime batting statistics? Jose Rijo’s 1990 pitching statistics? No … I actually do have some statistics of my own.

In 1986, I participated in the Cincinnati Reds’ first-ever Dream Week fantasy camp, where average joes could pay to spend a week with Reds coaches, players and legends at the spring training facility. The campers were divided into teams drafted by “managers” that included Joe Nuxhall, Wayne Krenchicki, Ed Bailey and Jim O’Toole. My participation was as a member of the print media, and I wrote a daily “diary” of my experiences.

A kind way to describe my level of athleticism is “not gifted.” But I got to put on a Reds uniform and play in games at the Redsland Field complex in Tampa and Al Lopez Field. Being a lifelong sports statistics geek, I kept my own statistics and reported these lines in my final daily diary:

  • Batting: 2-for-13, .154 average, no extra base hits
  • Pitching: 5.1 innings, 6 earned runs allowed, 10.13 ERA

I sent THOSE statistics to Strat-O-Matic, and lo and behold, they DID send back PDFs of my player cards for use in playing the game. I thought this might be a good way to illustrate how the game is played.

Each plate appearance of a batter against a pitcher is simulated through the use of dice. In the pre-computerized version of the game, there was one six-sided blue die and two white dice. Each roll of the three dice would result in a number from the blue die and a combined total number from the two white dice.

The manager of the team that is batting usually rolls the dice. Let’s say the blue die roll is a 1, and the combined total of the two white dice is 4. With those numbers in mind, the game players refer to their cards of the pitcher who is currently pitching and the batter who is currently batting. Examples:

Batting card:

Pitching card:

You’ll notice that each card has six columns of information, and that the numbers at the top of the batter’s card are 1, 2 and 3. The numbers at the top of the columns on the pitcher’s card are 4, 5 and 6.

In the case of the cards above, let’s presume I am batting against myself. Because the blue die roll was 1, we’d go to the 1 column on the right side of the batting card because I am facing a righthander. Then, since the combined total of the white dice roll was four, we look down to the “4-” result in the 1 column against righthanded pitchers. The result is “popout(3b),” so I hit a pop-up out to the third baseman.

This pattern continues throughout the entire game, with results being taken from the pitcher’s card when the blue die roll is numbers 4 through 6. In effect, this means the batter and the pitcher each have a 50 percent chance of having their statistical profile determine the outcome of each at-bat.

For the current 2020 season simulation, all of the dice rolls and other random chance elements of the game are done by computer algorithm.

The primary purpose for this article is to let all of our participating commenter/managers know that the statistics being used for the 2020 season simulation are “projected” for 2020 by Strat-O-Matic, not actual statistics from 2019. My advice is to pay closer attention to the statistics being generated by the game than statistics from the 2019 season.

8 Responses

  1. redfan4life

    My vote is for Bowman to be called up and Aquino to be sent down.

  2. Melvin

    That’s interesting. So we need to rethink how we approach our lineups don’t we? If I understand correctly we should pay more attention to the results so far of the sim season rather than what a player has done in the past. Correct? Does this mean we have more flexibility in where we put our players in positions? For example Senzel at SS from time to time?

  3. Melvin

    Too bad Strat-O-Matic is not using the DH. Most likely it is going to be used when play resumes this year no matter what format and they’re basing their projections on the 2020 season. Maybe they should reconsider and start using it now. It would solve a lot of problems making out our lineups with the depth we have.

  4. Tom Mitsoff

    My view on this is: This can still be fun. Just pay more attention to the numbers the players are posting within the game than the actual stats they have for their career or for 2019. Clearly Akiyama has a great card. It’s our job now as managers to assess the talent and make tough decisions on who plays and who doesn’t. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Let me further elaborate. I had created some lineups for both vs. lefthanded pitching and vs, righthanded pitching in the event we don’t have any submissions. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened. But those lineups are based on actual OPS numbers for the 2019 season. With this knowledge that we’re using Strat-O-Matic’s projected 2020 stats instead of actual stats, those lineups aren’t valid any more.

    Melvin asked above about maybe moving players to defensive positions they haven’t played much, if at all. That will be something to be tried and then judged. On the pitching card above, notice that many of the play results have X immediately after them, such as “fly(CF)X.” The X means that the defensive rating of the player who is in center field will determine whether the ball is caught for an out or falls for a single. For an infielder, that would mean whether he gets to a ball, or he does not and it gets through for a hit. Even though there might not be a lot of errors, this game certainly accounts for whether the player in a defensive position is good or not at it.

  5. Tom Mitsoff

    I doubt there is any obvious bias involved. But clearly if they are projecting 2020 stats, some subjective judgments are being made. Who knows? Maybe they think Votto is done. There are plenty of historical statistics out there that show he might be on a steep downhill slope. Of course, we all hope that is not true.

    I think the small sample size argument is still valid here, but just be aware that the chances that the numbers this game produces over 162 games are much less likely to mirror reality with the numbers based on projections instead of real stats.

  6. Mike Adams

    Strat-O-Matic is not impressed with the Reds’ 2020 hitting. This includes longstanding players and recently acquired guys.

    Oh I wish actual baseball were being played so that the Reds could show Strat-O-Matic that they CAN hit!

  7. NorMichRed

    Yes, I’ve found it curious to see that Akiyama, with no prior MLB track record, is performing so well, while Votto’s decline appears to remain a trend line. (I likewise thought it was based on 2019 numbers, but now learn otherwise.) And with 30 games IMO being a meaningful sample, I’ve been surprised about the low level of performance by Moustakas and Castellanos, who apparently have not impressed their statistical experts. (But they sure like our pitching overall, though as we saw a couple days ago, when Raisel is bad, he can be REALLY bad between effective outings. They are all in on Sonny Gray and seem to be projecting a return to high standards by Bauer.) SimReds has been interesting, and I’ve been an avid follower, even though I’ve resisted the temptation to play manager and submit a lineup so far! Thanks for all this during our baseball-less season, Tom.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Thanks for following the sim season! Feel free to jump in to the manager pool at any point. ๐Ÿ™‚