1/6/2014 7:45 PM (edited)

I’ve been wanting for some time to post an Advice for Newbies thread.  When I first joined this site in 2006, there was a great post by biglenr that gave all sorts of helpful information to new players.  It was updated a couple of times, but I haven’t seen a really comprehensive post like that in a number of years.  

Since there have been several recent posts from newer players asking for advice, it seemed like a good time to take another crack at it.  I hope that biglenr doesn’t mind that I’ve adopted his thread title and framework for this post.

This thread will include a series of posts related to the basic playing of WIS Sim League Baseball.  Most of my comments will focus specifically on open leagues (OLs) though just about everything will apply equally to other kinds of SLB leagues as well.

The purpose of this thread is NOT to give away every insight or to enable new players to suddenly create 110-win juggernauts.  Much of the fun of this game is discovering unique strategies, finding new players to use, and coming up with little competitive advantages that have not gained widespread acceptance.  But there is a wealth of commonly available information that, if gathered in one place, would help newbies get off to a better start and feel less overwhelmed by this site. 

This is by no means 100% comprehensive.  I typically tell new owners that the most valuable thing they can do is invest a few hours in reading the Sim League Baseball forum posts going back at least 2 years.  In another thread (here) I posted links to some of the most useful posts that have been made by other users.

I hope this is helpful.  Feedback appreciated.  And contributions from others are definitely encouraged.

.
1/5/2014 7:17 PM (edited)

1.       Game Mechanics

a.       Available players.  You can draft any major league player from 1885 to the present who had at least 50AB, or at least 25 IP, during the actual season.  If the player’s team played fewer than 162 games, then the player’s stats will be prorated to an 162-game season.  There are a couple of quirks to note here:

        i.      Traded players.  Players who played for more than 1 team during that season will have multiple versions in the data base.  They will have “partial” seasons reflecting how much they actually played for each team (provided they accumulated at least 50AB or 25IP for that team) and they will have “combined” seasons where their total stats for the season are available from each team they played for.  Take 1979 Champ Summers, who played for both Detroit and Cincinnati.  There are 4 versions of him in the database: one reflecting just his performance with Detroit, one reflecting just his performance with Cincinnati, and two (one for each team) reflecting his overall performance.  Note that the 2 versions reflecting his overall performance do not look (or cost) exactly the same.  That’s because the two teams are in different leagues, and so his normalized stats (explained below) are different.

             ii.      Players who both pitched and played the field.  There are occasionally guys who both pitched and played the field during the same season.  Such players only appear in the WIS database as one or the other (even if they exceeded both the PA and IP minimums), depending on where they played more games.  See this thread for more detail on those players.

 

b.      How WIS determines the outcomes of any given plate appearance.  This idea of the “decision tree” that WIS uses to determine the outcome of any plate appearance is probably the single most important thing to understand about this game. This thread provides a detailed explanation, but I will highlight some important points here.

                i.      Pay attention to which stats do and do not matter.  For hitters, what matters is the player’s overall walk rate, batting average, strikeout rate, and rates of doubles/triples/homers.  Basically nothing else does.  Things like RBIs, “clutch performance”, actual performance splits (home/road, vs LHP/RHP, etc) do not matter at all.  For pitchers, it’s basically just opponent batting average, walk rate, strikeout rate, and home run rate.  Things like wins, saves, clutch performance, situation-specific stat breakdowns, etc do not matter at all.  ERA doesn’t matter much either, though it appears WIS uses that stat to help estimate how often the pitcher allowed doubles and triples. 

                  ii.      Normalization matters a ton.  This is explored in more detail below, but WIS doesn’t just look at the batter’s and pitcher’s raw stats; they also incorporate the average performance of players from the batter’s and pitcher’s respective seasons.  What this means in practice is that a .300 hitter from the 1930 NL (when the whole league hit for a .303 average) will not do as well in WIS, all else being equal, as a .300 hitter from the 1908 NL (when the whole league hit for a .239 average).  The 1908 guy will likely hit for a much higher average in WIS.  Similarly, home run hitters from the modern era will not generally reach their real life totals, because normalization works against them.  In contrast, guys like Gavvy Cravath, Babe Ruth, and Cy Williams will often exceed their real HR totals because they produced those numbers in low-HR eras.

             iii.      Park matters a ton.  WIS does not adjust a player’s stats to account for their actual home park, but the park in which they play in WIS matters a lot.  Some parks dramatically affect offense (positively or negatively) and others have very little impact.

             iv.      The batter and pitcher do not have equal impact.  The batter carries slightly more weight in determining the outcome.

 

c.       Normalization.  In determining the outcome of any PA, as mentioned above, WIS takes into account the year and league in which the player actually played.  They do this through a process called Log5 Normalization.  WIS also incorporates the park in which the PA occurs, and whether or not the batter has the platoon advantage versus the pitcher.  Here is an example given by WIS (from 2009, so this may not reflect subsequent updates, though I believe it is still accurate):

 1923 Babe Ruth facing 2000 Pedro Martinez in a neutral park – how often will Babe get a hit against Pedro?

 Inputs:

  • Ruth’s actual batting average (.393)
  • 1923 AL league batting average (.283)
  • Pedro’s actual opponent batting average (.167)
  • 2000 AL league batting average (.276)
  • Babe is left-handed and Pedro is right-handed (Babe gets a 4.5% advantage from this)
  • The batter carries more weight than the pitcher in determining whether the outcome of a PA is a hit (WIS uses a 53.3-46.7 split in favor of the batter rather than 50-50)

 Here’s the formula before the platoon adjustment:

 H/AB = ((1.066*AVG * .934*OAV) / LgAVG) /

((1.066*AVG * .934*OAV) / LgAVG + (1.066- 1.066*AVG )*(.934- .934*OAV)/(1-LgAvg))

Where, LgAVG = (.934*PLgAVG + 1.066*BLgAVG)/2

The 1.066 and .934 reflect the 53.3-46.7 weight in favor of the batter.  The output of this formula is a .2502 chance of a hit, which WIS increases by 4.5% to .2614 since Babe has the platoon advantage.  Park factors would also increase or decrease the final result.

If you’re savvy with Excel, you can input this formula and play around with it to see how the outcome changes as the League Averages change.  In other words, you can see how much normalization matters.  If Ruth came from a league like the 1908 NL where the overall average was .239 instead of .283, the outcome would be .286 rather than .261.  Because Ruth’s average would have occurred in a more challenging environment for hitters, the formula gives him more credit for his .393 performance and the expected outcome is more likely to be a hit.  Likewise, if Ruth had performed in the 1930 NL (league average = .303), then the outcome of this calculation would be .252: Ruth’s performance is discounted somewhat because it occurred during the most-inflated offensive context during the 20th century. 

If your eyes glaze over when you read the last couple of paragraphs, don’t worry about the formulas.  You never have to actually do these calculations.  What’s important to remember is that the league the player actually played in matters.  And therefore when I search for players to draft, I almost never look at the raw stats, I look at the stats that are followed by the “+” and “#” signs, which have done all of the work for you.  The “+” signs compare the players performance in that stat to the league average that season.  Numbers greater than 100 are better than average, less than 100 are below average.  The “#” signs basically show you how the Log5 Normalization calculation comes out against an “average” opponent.  In general, when comparing players I am much more interested in how their “+” and “#” stats compare rather than how their raw stats compare.  All else being equal I want the guy with the higher “+” number and the better “#” number.

For example, Carlos Beltran in 2006 hit 41 HR in 617 PA for the Mets.  Cy Williams in 1923 hit 41 HR in 636 PA for the Phillies.  Williams’s HR/100PA# is 9, while Beltran’s is 6.  Williams will hit many more HR, all else being equal, than Beltran will in WIS.

1/5/2014 7:20 PM (edited)

2.       Kinds of leagues and what they mean

 Open Leagues: No roster restrictions except for salary cap ($80M) and minimum IP (1200) and PA (4800) requirements.  Otherwise you can use any player you want from the WIS database.  You can even use clones (multiple versions of the same player, such as the 1983 and 1984 versions of Tim Raines).  Note that WIS will never let you have two of the same player-season on your roster (such as two 1983 Raines) under any circumstances.

Basic Theme Leagues: The simplest themes take the idea of an OL and change them in one or more ways:

  • Different cap (anywhere from 30M to 255M)
  • Roster restrictions (only using players from certain years, or with certain characteristics, etc)
  • Most themes do not have the PA and IP minimums that are required by OLs

 Franchise Leagues: Construct a team out of players from 1 franchise.  (For example, all Red Sox).  Most franchise leagues are very specific about adhering to historical accuracy.  So a Dodgers franchise typically means the entire history of the Dodgers (Brooklyn and Los Angeles).  There is a good thread here that discusses accurate franchise histories.  Please do your homework.  1895 Hughie Jennings and 1964 Brooks Robinson should never be on the same team in a franchise league, even though both played for clubs named the Baltimore Orioles.

 Twist Leagues: The basic idea is to take an actual MLB team season, and construct your roster from those players, but using any season of their career (that’s the “twist”).  So, if you pick the 1986 Red Sox, you can use any player who played for the 1986 Sox, but from any season in their careers.  You could have 1971 Tom Seaver, 1998 Roger Clemens, and 1978 Jim Rice all on this team.  Most twist leagues allow you to use any player from the roster on www.baseball-reference.com, even if they didn’t accumulate enough PA or IP to be part of the WIS roster in your base season. 

 Soup Leagues: Each member of your team must meet a different criteria.  Examples include Season Soup (each player must come from a different season), Alphabet Soup (each player’s last name must start with a different letter), Franchise Soup (each player must be from a different historical franchise), etc.

 Screw Your Neighbor Leagues: Haven’t seen one in a while, but these are a very different kind of challenge.  The idea is to put together the worst team you can, and your team will be randomly assigned to another owner.  You, of course, will get someone else’s collection of garbage.  Usually there are very tight restrictions on minimum salary, minimum IP and PA at each position, etc.

 Failure Gets You Seven: Another one we haven’t seen in a while.  I’m not sure of the genesis of this name, but the idea is to lose as many games as possible.  Division winners are the worst teams in the division rather than the best.  Again, there are typically restrictions on roster composition, etc.

 Progressive Leagues: Easily the most popular of themes, progressives basically mirror the experience of being a real MLB GM season after season.  The idea of progressives is that you keep your players and advance from season to season.  A full explanation of progressives is beyond the scope of this thread.  See this link for more detail.

1/7/2014 1:49 PM (edited)

3. What each cap is like

 

One way of thinking about what different cap levels mean is as follows:

60M – roughly the equivalent of an average current MLB team. For example, the 2013 Padres (record: 76-86) cost ~57M in the WIS database.  The 2013 Diamondbacks (81-81) cost ~66M.

70M – roughly the equivalent of a very good current MLB team.  The 2013 NL Champ Cardinals cost ~71M.

80M – Elite MLB teams (the 1998 Yankees cost ~81M).

90M – Best MLB teams in history (the 1927 Yankees cost ~98M)

100M-110M – All Star Teams from any given league

120M – Great players having their best seasons

140M – Top-tier HOFers having their best seasons

Anything above 140M – The best seasons in baseball history

If anything, these descriptions slightly understate the quality of teams you are likely to be competing with at each cap level.  An experienced WIS player can almost certainly put together an 80M team that would consistently beat the 1927 Yankees. 

Two conclusions:

  • When playing 80M leagues (like open leagues), you should expect most players to underperform their real life stats, because they will be playing against competition that is, on average, much better than what they faced in real life.
  • The key to building successful teams is understanding how to get the best value for dollar at each cap level.  While most players will underperform their real life stats at 80M, not all will underperform equally, and some will actually overperform under the right circumstances.  1975 Gary Carter is a great high-value choice at catcher at 80M.  He would be a terrible choice at 120M. In contrast 1935 Jimmie Foxx is a great high-value choice at catcher at 120M, but would likely be way too expensive to use at 80M.
1/5/2014 7:22 PM (edited)

4.       AAA – In many leagues, you are allocated a certain number of AAA players when your season starts.  In OLs and in some themes, these players are assigned randomly to you by the WIS engine.  In other themes, you can choose your own AAA players.  All AAA players are REAL players from the WIS database, but in OLs (and some themes) they are given disguised names and instead of seeing their real stats, all you see are a set of player ratings describing a few of the player’s characteristics.  Some themes allow you to see the real names of the players (but not the seasons they came from).  In almost all cases, it is possible to identify exactly who your AAA players are (real name and actual season).  It is highly recommended that you do this.  This thread explains how to do it.

In an OL, you will get 6 position players (one each of C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF) and two pitchers (one starter, one reliever.  While the exact numbers will vary, you can expect something like 1500-2000 total PA from your 6 position players, and 75-150 total IP from your two pitchers.  Although they will be listed as having a salary of $200,000, their actual salary (and actual value) will be much higher than that. Savvy managers account for this when putting together their OL rosters, and rarely spend much money on bench players, instead using $200K players to fill out the roster, who are then sent down to the minors in exchange for the AAA players when the season starts.  And please, do NOT trade your AAA players for someone else’s real $200,000 scrub.  You would be getting completely ripped off (and those trades are almost always vetoed anyway).

1/5/2014 7:51 PM (edited)

5.       Building your team – position players.  Obviously, the objective in building your team is to get the most value for your money.  There are many ways to maximize value per dollar spent, and really good WIS players are very skilled at squeezing maximum efficiency out of a given salary budget.  When WIS goes too long between updates, as is the case as of January 2014, certain players become commonly known as providing exceptional value for their cost.  The term for these players is “cookies.”  This thread is not about teaching new users how to build a 110-win team.  But there is some basic advice offered here.

a.       Forget who the player is – all that matters is his underlying statistical record.  A very common newbie mistake is to stock their roster with favorite players, who inevitably underperform.

b.      Always remember which stats matter and which ones don’t.  Go back to the decision tree.  Things like how many RBI the hitter had, or how well he hit in clutch situations, don’t matter at all.  Similarly, pitcher wins and saves don’t matter at all, and ERA matters very little.  Other things that don’t matter: clutch hitting, leadership, outfielder throwing arms, actual platoon splits (WIS uses a standard platoon adjustment that is the same for every player), actual situational stats (Pat Tabler was famous for having an unreal batting average when the bases were loaded; Jim Palmer famously never gave up a grand slam; such idiosyncratic stats are not included here.  Both Tabler and Palmer will perform the same with the bases loaded as they will under any other circumstances.)

c.       Don’t buy too many – or too few – PA.  Another common newbie mistake is to pay for way more PA than you need.  In an OL, you rarely need more than 5000 PA, and in some parks you need less than that.  Two important points to remember: first, salary is a function of quality (how good the player is) and quantity (how much he played).  Second, WIS gives players 10% additional PA before fatigue kicks in.

Put those two points together, and you can understand why you should not spend money on extra PA that will never get used.  Good owners are skilled at squeezing every possible plate appearance out of their lineup.  By spending less on quantity, they can spend more on quality.  Remember also, in an OL where you get allocated 6 AAA players who will collectively give you something like 2000 PA, you don’t need to spend any money on your bench players.  It’s very common to see rosters put together by experienced owners with 6 terrible position players costing $200K each.  These players are immediately sent down to the minors in exchange for the 6 AAA position players. 

d.      Remember to take into account your ballpark.  You can decide which park you want to use, and then pick your players; or you can draft your players and then pick the park that you think best suits them.  But either way, remember that the park can play an enormous role in how your players perform.  Even mediocre players will put up big offensive numbers in Coors, Mile High, or Hilltop.  In contrast, even excellent offensive players will see their performance seriously damped by Safeco, Petco, and other offensive graveyards.  Two good questions to ask yourself as you’re searching for players: (1) What offensive skill does my park reward the most? (2) What offensive skill does my park penalize the most?  In general you want to gravitate toward players with the skills that your park rewards.  Putting a bunch of low-average power hitters in The Astrodome or Target Field is a good way to waste your money.

e.      Use the advanced search criteria.  From the draft center, click on any roster slot.  The search screen will come up.  At the very bottom, there is a menu for “player search preferences.”  Set the left box to “Advanced.”  You can now search many more stats, including the all-important “+” and “#” stats.  At each position, you need to decide how many PA you want to draft, how much you are willing to spend, and how important defense is.  Once you’ve decided those three things, you pretty much want to get the best normalized stats that you can.  A good exercise would be to set a max salary of $5M for each position, and a minimum of 600 PA/162.  Then search for all players who meet those criteria, sorted by a statistic that is important to you. 

 For example, let’s do that for catchers and sort them by OBP# (recall, this is the normalized on base percentage).  When you run that search, the first several players on the list are lousy defensively; most have D- arms.  Not surprising; for any price range the best offensive players will probably be the worst defenders, and vice-versa.  But let’s say we want an A+ arm for our catcher.  Pick one of the other stat criteria fields, select “arm” and set min = 12 and max = 12 (12 is the numerical value assigned to an A+ rating).  Re-run the search.  The #1 guy is 1974 Gene Tenace, who gives you 612 PA of an A+ arm and .370 OBP for just under $3.8M.  Of course, he has a very low batting average.  You can’t get everything for $3.8M, but the point is there’s a reason Tenace is a commonly used catcher in OLs.

 Can we do better?  Well, Tenace has given us a pretty good option, for less than $4M.  But let’s play with the parameters a bit, and see what we find.  Suppose we’re willing to go a little lighter on PA, and rather than just focus on OBP, we look at RC27.  This stat (Runs Created per 27 Outs) is not used in the WIS decision tree, but it’s a good overall summary of offensive performance.  Re-run the search with max salary = $4M, min PA/162 = 590, A+ arm, and sort by RC27.  Now the #1 guy is 1975 Gary Carter (Tenace is now #2).  Also note that only 6 catchers in the entire database meet our criteria, and Carter has the best slugging percentage, the 2nd best OBP (to Tenace), and tied for the best batting average (with 1977 Manny Sanguillen).  1975 Gary Carter is probably the most commonly used catcher in open leagues; this paragraph should give you a pretty good idea why.

 The basic ideas of this section should serve you well no matter what kind of league you are drafting for:

          i.      Set your max (and possibly min) salary requirement

          ii.      Set your min (and possibly max) PA/162 requirement

          iii.      Set any “must-have” defensive criteria (like the A+ arm in our example above)

          iv.      Set any “must-have” offensive criteria (sometimes you may be searching for a slugger so you’re focusing on SLG#, but you might want a minimum OBP# for him as well)

           v.      Sort by the stat criteria that is most important to you (above we sorted by OBP# first, then by RC27).

           vi.      Don’t just grab the guy at the top of the list – compare the first few names and try to understand why some guys cost more than others. 

           vii.      Finally, tinker with your search parameters a little bit.  Do you really need an A+ arm, or could you make do with an A or A- arm?  How much more offense could you buy in that case?  Could you accept slightly fewer PA, and would you get a much better player if you did?

1/5/2014 7:27 PM (edited)

6.       Building Your Team – Pitching Staff.  Again the objective here is to get maximum value.  Let’s say we’re going to spend $40M on our pitching staff, for 11 roster spots.  For this example, I’m going to draft 1350 innings.  As you get better, you can probably get by with fewer innings, especially in pitcher-friendly ballparks.  Most of the advice given above about building your offense applies equally here.  I won’t repeat all of that.

a.       Remember your ballpark.  I did repeat this one, because it’s important to remember that there are three variables you control that impact how many runs your team allows: quality of your pitching, quality of your defense, and your home park.  Hint: 2 of these cost money, 1 of them doesn’t.  There is a reason why you will tend to see pitcher-friendly parks frequently in OLs.  They are free to use, and they improve your pitching staff by reducing your opponent’s offense (and your own of course), meaning you can get by with fewer IP, meaning you can spend more on quality, which further improves your pitching staff, etc.  Yes, a pitcher-friendly park will also dampen your offense, but good owners can put together an offense that is minimally-impacted by their park.  As above, it is important to ask what pitching skills the park enhances or minimizes.  Don’t put a modern pitcher with high HR/9 in Atlanta Fulton County or Yankee III.  They’ll give up 60+ homers.  In contrast, you can put a pitcher with a slightly higher OAV in a park like Safeco or Petco and he’ll do better than expected because the park represses so many hits.

b.      Decide how you want to structure your pitching staff.  There is no magic formula for how to do this.  For our example (1350 innings), I’m probably going to buy two $200K pitchers to serve as my mop-up men.  These guys will give me 50-75 innings across the season that I can use when a game is out of hand, or I can start them once in a while if I know I’m going to be resting a lot of players in my starting lineup.  Finally, I also have the option of dropping them to the minors , and bringing up my two AAA pitchers, who will almost certainly be better quality. After that I am probably going to do the following:

                 i.      Draft 900-1000 SP innings.  You can do this with a 3- or 4-man rotation (which are most common).  Experienced owners can do this with a 2-man rotation, or will often use the Tandem/Starter/A-B settings to put together unbalanced rotations.  I recommend not doing this with your first few teams.  For the most part, I want all 3-4 starters to be good, but I’m probably going to spend more on the first 2 than the last 1 or 2.  Why?  If we make it to the post-season, my top 2 starters are going to pitch a disproportionate number of innings, so I want them to be really good.  The 3rd (or 4th) starter will move to long relief at that point.

                  ii.      Draft a 40-50 IP closer.  Needs to be excellent across the board.  OAV# under .200, WHIP under 1.00, low HR/9#. 

                  iii.      Draft 75-125 innings of set-up men.  Need to be very good across the board, maybe a little less effective than your closer. One thing to watch with both closers and set-up men is their actual IP/G.  A lot of modern relievers have IP/G less than 1.0, because their real-life managers use them to face 1-2 batters with the platoon advantage.  I dislike drafting these guys because they tend to fatigue very rapidly after throwing 10-15 pitches in a game. 

                  iv.      Draft 150-200 innings of long relief.  Again, a little less effective than your set-up men. 

c.       Use advanced search criteria.  I’m going to take you through a mock draft to illustrate how we might use these ideas, but I am NOT necessarily recommending that you draft any of these guys.  Let’s set up a 3-man rotation, looking to get 900-1000 innings.  Let’s do a quick search for all SPs with 300-350 IP, sorted by ERC#.  Again, ERC is not used directly in the SIM algorithm, but it’s a good all-encompassing measure of how good a pitcher is.  The #1 pitcher by this metric is…1908 Addie Joss.  A closer look reveals what a great value he is.  Of the top 8 pitchers in the search results, Joss is the cheapest in terms of $/IP.  Yet he has the lowest WHIP# (0.90, tied with 1908 Mordecai Brown), and the second lowest HR/9# (behind Brown).  He’ll give up a few more hits than some of the other guys on the list, like Koufax and Gibson, but he’ll make up for that by almost never walking anyone, almost never giving up a homer, and again, he’s the cheapest of the great starters.  Basically what this search result is telling you is that you can afford to use one of the greatest SP seasons in baseball history on your OL team.  There is a reason why Joss is seen so often in OLs.  (And why many of us believe he is significantly underpriced, something we’d like to see corrected in the next update.)

d.      For our next starter, I would choose someone a little further down the list (i.e. less expensive).  Again, look for good values.  Someone like 1917 Stan Coveleski or 1908 Cy Young or 1908 Frank Smith should stand out as you look over the numbers.  The right choice will depend on park, how much you want to spend, etc.

e.      For the 3rd starter, as referenced, I’m going to spend less money.  Let’s re-run the search (300-350 IP) looking at pitchers who cost $9M or less, sorted by ERC# (you should also sort by WHIP#, by OAV#, and by HR/9# to get a complete picture).  Lots of great choices come up, and you’ll see most of these guys commonly used on OL teams, but I want to call your attention to the 11th guy on the list: 1909 Ed Summers.  He stands out because he is much cheaper than the others.  Again, very low homers and walks, and while he’ll give up a few hits, he looks like a bargain.  Summers is also very commonly used in OLs.

f.        I’m going to do one more example, finding a closer.  Be careful about overspending for this position.  The elite closers in baseball history are probably too expensive (2013 Koji Uehara is someone I would never use in an OL as he is very costly).  Also remember that real-life saves don’t matter at all, and that it is perfectly fine to use real-life starters in relief.  All we care about are OAV, WHIP, and HR/9.  I’m going to re-run the search this time looking for all pitchers with 40-60 IP, costing less than $2M (remember, we just spent ~$30M on our rotation, so funds are getting scarce), sorted by ERC#.  Some excellent choices for closer here…two to note are 1967 Cisco Carlos at the top of the list (very commonly seen in OLs, has awesome stats across the board and will almost never allow a homer) and 1924 Babe Adams (extremely cost-effective among this group).  Note that both of these guys were starting pitchers in real life.  As stated above, this doesn’t matter at all.  Try rerunning the search with slightly different IP and cost parameters, and sorted by different criteria.  You’ll end up with a great list of potential closers whom you can use, and the right choice at any time will depend on your park, your budget, your overall staff composition etc.  You now have ~$8M to fill out the rest of your staff.  Happy hunting.

1/5/2014 7:34 PM (edited)

7.       Manager Settings – this section reviews the various settings you can control in the Manager’s Center.

a.       Team Managerial Style

                  i.      Hit and Run – self-explanatory; how frequently do you want to use this tactic?  I have no idea exactly what each setting corresponds to, but in general I use higher settings when I have fast players and contact hitters, lower settings when I have slower players and power hitters.  One thing to note – if you set this to anything but zero, you will occasionally have players attempt stolen bases (and get thrown out) even if you have set their individual SB setting (explained below) to zero.  Think of this as a hit and run play in which the batter swung and missed, and the runner was gunned down.

                  ii.      Base running aggressiveness – how often do you want runners to try for the extra base? This setting does not (to the best of my knowledge) affect stolen base frequency at all.

                  iii.      Intentional walks – self-explanatory.

                  iv.      PH/PR/Double switch – how frequently do you want to use these maneuvers?  Note that under “advanced settings” in the lineup section you can specify if there are certain players you do NOT want to pinch hit/run for (see below).

                   v.      Defensive subs and player rest settings – Under what game conditions do you want Sparky to insert players for defensive purposes or give your starters a rest?

                   vi.      Use mop-up only when losing – If checked, Sparky will reserve any mop up pitchers for situations when you are losing.  HOWEVER this is one of the first instructions Sparky will override if circumstances require it.  For example, if Sparky needs a reliever when you are winning, and there are no other rested, available pitchers, he will use a rested mop up before anyone else. (See this thread for a more complete explanation of how Sparky makes bullpen decisions. If you ever see a situation when a mop up was used inappropriately, it is always because of this scenario.  Contrary to the occasional rant in these forums, Sparky does not override this instruction if other rested pitchers are available.)

                  vii.      Use closer in save situations only.  Also self-explanatory.  However, as with the mop-up instruction above, this is one of the first things Sparky will override if no other pitchers are rested and available.

b.      Advanced Settings for hitters (in the lineup section)

                   i.      Sac bunt – self-explanatory; how frequently do you want this player to sacrifice? 

                  ii.      Base stealing – how frequently do you want this player to attempt to steal a base?  What often confuses newbies here is that they don’t realize that a “3” means “let this player attempt to steal about as often as he did in real life.”  A “5” means “steal much more frequently.”  So if you take someone like Vince Coleman or Rickey Henderson in one of their 100 SB seasons and set them to 5, they are going to attempt to steal almost every single time the next base is unoccupied – including third base and even home.  I see owners get frustrated when guys get thrown out stealing home…but realize that if you set one of these guys to 5 that is exactly what you are instructing Sparky to do.

                  iii.      PH/PR – Check these boxes if you want Sparky to be able to pinch hit (or pinch run) for this player.  If you uncheck them, Sparky will never pinch hit (or pinch run) for this player.  Note that these boxes do NOT indicate that you want to use this player as a pinch hitter or pinch runner.   You can specify which players you want to use as pinch hitters under Player Hierarchies (see below).  You can’t specific which players you want to use as pinch runners.

                  iv.      Def Rep – Check this box if it is OK for Sparky to replace this player with a better defensive player (under the game conditions that you specified under Team Managerial Style above).  If you uncheck the box, Sparky will never remove this player for defensive purposes.

                   v.      Allow rest – Check this box if it is OK for Sparky to remove this player from the game under the game conditions you specified above (ie winning or losing by some number of runs late in the game). 

                  vi.      Autorest – Very important setting.  Prior to every game, Sparky checks to see if the player’s fatigue number is below this setting.  If it is, that player will be removed from the lineup, and the next player listed in the Player Rest Hierarchies (below) will be used instead.   There is much debate among WIS owners as to the right settings to use here.  It appears that low levels of fatigue really do not hamper performance very much, so some owners are comfortable letting players continue to play at 95, 90, or even lower.

c.       Player Hierarchies – there are three tabs here, and it’s important to understand how they work

                   i.      Player rest – when one of the players in your lineup has to be removed (either because of fatigue, injury, ejection, or because your player rest settings have been met), Sparky will use this list to replace the player.  He will go in order until he finds an available player.  If no one on the list is available, then your original player will stay in the game (unless he was injured or ejected, in which case Sparky will just put some other player from the bench into the game).  I find it essential to review my hierarchies several times each season, especially if I am calling up AAA players, waiving players, or making trades.

                   ii.      Defensive replacement – works just like the player rest hierarchy, but here Sparky is choosing who he will send in to replace your original player for defensive purposes.  Sparky will occasionally move players around…for example, send in a new LF, but move the old LF to 1B if that move improves defense at 1B.

                  iii.      Pinch hitting – pretty self-explanatory.

d.      Advanced Settings for Pitchers (under Pitching Staff).  A complete discussion of how Sparky manages a pitching staff is beyond the scope of what we’re trying to cover here.  See this thread for a detailed discussion of bullpen roles, what they mean, and how the WIS algorithm makes decisions around bullpen usage.

                   i.      Relief – you must check this box if you want this pitcher to be used as a reliever.  Particularly important here to decide if you want Sparky to be able to use your starting pitchers as relievers if necessary.

                   ii.      Autorest – works the same as for hitters.  If the pitcher’s fatigue is below this number, Sparky won’t use him (if he’s an SP, Sparky will skip his turn in the rotation unless there are no other rested SPs available).

                  iii.      Inn Avail – Works hand-in-hand with the “relief” box.  Here is where you tell Sparky the earliest that you want this pitcher to be brought into the game.  Sparky interprets this very literally.  If you put a 7 here, then Sparky will not bring that pitcher into the game before the 7th inning.  In particular, Sparky will – if necessary – use a mop up pitcher rather than bring someone in earlier than you have instructed. 

                   iv.      TPC (Target Pitch Count) – tell Sparky the ideal number of pitches you want this pitcher to throw in each appearance.  There is a very good thread here to help you decide what TPC to use.  Note that Sparky will let the pitcher throw more or fewer pitches than this under certain circumstances:

1.       Pitcher is getting shelled – he may be pulled before reaching his TPC

2.       Pitcher gets pinch hit/run for – he may be pulled before reaching his TPC

3.       There are no rested, available pitchers to relieve – he will be left in beyond his TPC

4.       He is an SP and has a no-hitter going late in the game, he may be left in beyond his TPC.

5.       Also note that Sparky will not pull a pitcher in the middle of an at bat.  So if you set a TPC = 20, and your pitcher has thrown 18 pitches, Sparky will let him face the next batter.  So he may end up throwing more than 20 pitches when all is said and done.

                     v.      MPC (Max Pitch Count) – tell Sparky the absolute maximum number of pitches you want this pitcher to throw.  When the pitcher reaches this number, he will be removed from the game (again, not during the middle of an at bat).  If you set MPC = none, the pitcher will throw up to 255 pitches if necessary.

                    vi.      Call bullpen – how quick of a “hook” do you want Sparky to use with this pitcher when he gets into trouble.  Again, I don’t know the precise demarcations from one setting to the next, but in general, Sparky will let a “1” continue to pitch and will pull a “5” very quickly.

1/5/2014 7:37 PM (edited)

8.       Basic statistical concepts.  Without going into a lot of detail, there are some very basic concepts that are important to understanding this game.

 
Sample size
– In small numbers of PA and IP, anything is possible.  Even in a full-seasons worth of PA and IP, significant variation can and will happen.  A very common newbie mistake is to overreact to early season performance, start dumping players on the waiver wire, very quickly eating up your salary budget with the 10% waiver wire fee.  For no reason. 

 It is easy in Excel to build a model of a .300 hitter.  I have a spreadsheet in which I simulate 75 sequences of 200 at bats for this “player.”  His batting average varies from .210 to .380.  Based on nothing but random chance.  In other words, it is ludicrous to look at a player 1/3 of the way through the season and say that he is over- or under-performing.  Unless you can point to a very specific reason for it (you picked a player who is harmed by your home park, or most of the other teams in the league have parks or pitching staffs that work against your player’s strengths) it is quite likely that there is no cause for the outcome you are seeing other than random chance in a small sample.  For relief pitchers, this is even more significant.  A pitcher who has 1-2 bad outings early in the season may never pitch enough innings for his ERA to come back down to what you expect.

 Be very very very careful about dumping players on the waiver wire just based on perceived underperformance.  It’s a good way to completely destroy your team.  

 
Random Variation
– Most people dramatically underestimate how streaky random data can be.  People expect sequences of 100 coin flips to basically go HTHTHTHT…. The world doesn’t work that way.  Purely random data will generate many more streaks and longer streaks than people expect.  So we look for “reasons” why this is happening, even though there is no reason at all.  Almost every study that has ever been done on things like hitting streaks in baseball or hot hands in basketball has found that there is no real effect there.  Random data is streaky.  Don’t waste your time trying to figure out why your ace pitcher just got shelled 3 starts in a row, or why your cleanup hitter is batting .175 over his last 100 at bats.  It happens.

Independence – Every PA, every IP, every game in WIS is completely independent.  The algorithm does not build in hot streaks or cold streaks for players, or teams, or managers.  WIS is not out to get you just because your team that had been 35-20 just went on a 9 game losing streak.  There are many possible causes for this: you just faced a run of really good teams, or teams with pitching staffs uniquely positioned to do well against your offense, or teams in parks that do not play to your strengths, or your guys may have been fatigued, or it may just be our old friends small sample size and random variation.

1/6/2014 1:17 PM
Thank you, great job, this should be pinned.
1/6/2014 4:15 PM
thanks contrarian23  i really appreaciate the depth of information provided in this thread
This post has a rating of , which is below the default threshold.
1/7/2014 1:41 PM (edited)
Posted by akurei on 1/6/2014 5:55:00 PM (view original):
If I already picked a bad team, what can be done to not be in the bottom 3 of the league throughout?
You've made a very common mistake that beginners make. What I see is that you've drafted quantity over quality. (too many innings pitched and too many plate appearances). To recover, although it is probably too late, check the waiver wire and start dumping what you have for high priced, hall of fame type players.  In a 160 cap league you should only draft the best of the best players in the history of the game. READ THIS THREAD.  IT'S ALL HERE. This is an exceptional thread that is well done. It's unbiased and what I've stated is already here. GoodLuck.
1/7/2014 5:35 PM
Thanks for taking the time to help out the community, especially those newer to the SIM.  It's a good refresher for even old dogs like me.
1/9/2014 1:33 PM
I was always confused about this: under  Player Hierarchies should we put our starters under the 1 column?
of 2

Terms of Use Customer Support Privacy Statement

Popular on WhatIfSports site: Baseball Simulation | College Basketball Game | College Football Game | Online Baseball Game | Hockey Simulation | NFL Picks | College Football Picks | Sports Games

© 1999-2014 WhatIfSports.com, Inc. All rights reserved. WhatIfSports is a trademark of WhatIfSports.com, Inc. SimLeague, SimMatchup and iSimNow are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts, Inc. Used under license. The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.