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Friday, February 08, 2013

Tanier: Stat-o-Matic diehards celebrate their opening day

Jeepers! This article is longer than the time I left Chuck Seelbach in for 16 innings to get his 20th win! (ciggy burned card - DL stay quickly followed)

Because they love both baseball stats and baseball history, Strat-o-Matic gamers tend to be diplomatic about the Miggy-Trout debate. Bender would not speculate on which player he would select if he did not already own the rights to Cabrera. “You cannot deny the MVP to someone who wins the Triple Crown,” Thomas said, adding that in a Strat draft, “I’d take Trout.”

When pressed, Richman took a side. “Trout had everything. Cabrera is a great hitter, but a barely adequate fielder and a slow runner. It’s a tough call, but I think Trout was MVP.”

As for Richman’s influence, Strat-o-Matic players do not mince words: He was as influential as James, Beane, and the other giants of sabermetrics and the “Moneyball” era, if not more so. “He belongs right up there along with the others,” Bender said. The board game was also popular with Daniel Okrent and other pioneers of rotisserie-fantasy sports, some of the founding members of STATS, Inc., and some of the designers of the flashy video games against which Strat-o-Matic must now compete.

Richman does sometimes get acknowledgement from the greater baseball world. “I have had my name mentioned, which makes me proud. It’s humbling to have made a contribution,” he said. “Bill James was the one who really made the change. He was the motivator.”

James was the most influential figure of the statistical revolution. It’s just not clear who would ever have picked up a “Baseball Abstract” if they had not already picked up a deck of Strat-o-Matic cards.

Repoz Posted: February 08, 2013 at 10:18 AM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

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   1. The District Attorney Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4365632)
It's kind of funny that SOM articles somehow always end up being about Bill James. Although there are plenty of articles (not including this one) that claim James plays SOM, Bill has said he has never played it.

James and Richman are at least now "connected" insofar as they're both on the Fielding Bible panel, and of course many of the same people are interested in their products, which is in all probability what the real connection is.

Anyway, good article for SOM fans. (BTW, I think Glenn Guzzo's book Strat-O-Matic Fanatics, despite the goofball title, would even be an interesting read for non-fans). One thing's for sure, you have to be a real diehard to risk stranding yourself out there in today's weather.
   2. Yastrzemski in left. Posted: February 08, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4365634)
Just found my strat-o-matic from 1975. Box is beat up but everything is there including about a thousand pencil scribbled score cards.
   3. I Am Not a Number Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:09 PM (#4365648)
It's kind of funny that SOM articles somehow always end up being about Bill James

I didn't RTFA, so it may have been mentioned in it, but in one of Bill James' Abstracts he suggested that it might not be a bad idea for an inexperienced manager to have a few hundred games of S-O-M under his belt, just to make instinctive some of the game's more basic managerial tactics. I can't remember the specific manager he was discussing when he made this remark.

Given how S-O-M models defense, there is no way that any kind of semi-sophisticated evaluation of Cabrera and Trout would have them remotely close in value. Trout's 1 in CF and Cabrera's 4 at 3B would have a HUGE (quantifiable) impact in S-O-M. I think Richman was simply being diplomatic when using his soft language.
   4. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:12 PM (#4365652)
I can't remember the specific manager he was discussing when he made this remark.


Jim Davenport of the Giants.
   5. The District Attorney Posted: February 08, 2013 at 12:31 PM (#4365673)
Yeah, that "flight simulator for managers" thing might be part of why people associate James with SOM. Apparently he just meant "a simulation game", though (and I think he did also mention APBA and other games in that spiel), since he says he's never played SOM.

Here are the full Trout and Cabrera cards.
   6. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: February 08, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4365785)
I got my younger son the Strat-O-Matic Hall of Fame game for his 10th birthday. We play once in a while; it's a fun way to pass the time, and it gives us a feel for some of the old-timers.
   7. Matt Welch Posted: February 08, 2013 at 07:50 PM (#4365906)
Though in fairness, I *did* apply the Runs Created formula to a cross-section of my set back in around 1982 or so, and allowed one of my teams to become a kind of Gene Tenace All-Star experiment....
   8. shoewizard Posted: February 08, 2013 at 08:16 PM (#4365913)
#5, that card highlites the value diffference at least as much as WAR does

   9. AndrewJ Posted: February 09, 2013 at 08:35 AM (#4366007)
Never played SOM or APBA. Just Ethan Allen's All-Star Baseball, Sports Illustrated/Avalon Hill's Major League and, in college, Pursue the Pennant.
   10. Belfry Bob Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:24 AM (#4366027)
Ah...Avalon Hill. Wonder where any of those games are? Played a lot of Major League and others I can't even recall any more.
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 09, 2013 at 10:37 AM (#4366032)
I've played just about every sim game *except* for S-O-M. I was always partial to APBA because it was easier to play quickly. I had piles of APBA scoresheets in my closet that we finally threw out when we cleanred out and sold my parents' house a few years ago.

-- MWE
   12. fra paolo Posted: February 09, 2013 at 11:50 AM (#4366072)
I was always partial to APBA because it was easier to play quickly.

My first game was APBA, in the Motor City Thirties League (six friends in Detroit playing with teams drafted from the 1930 set), and a couple of subsequent Motor City Leagues until I went to England. I suggested a switch to Strat, but people said that

a) APBA plays faster, and
b) one can tell how good the players are more easily with APBA.

I argued that pitchers and defenders have more value in Strat because of the splits and 4,5,6 outcomes being read off the pitcher's card, a single advantage which outweighed APBA's two virtues.

But in recent years I mostly played Diamond Mind, because I like the way you can set up your own eras.
   13. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: February 09, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4366117)
pitchers and defenders have more value in Strat because of the splits and 4,5,6 outcomes being read off the pitcher's card, a single advantage which outweighed APBA's two virtues.


Agreed. While APBA is fun to play, Strat is far more realistic due to the 50/50 game engine and separating range and errors for fielders.

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