Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Statistics of Teddy Ballgame

I understand the statistical concept of APBA's baseball game that's represented on each of the player's cards. It's a simple, basic mathematical formula for the most part that allows replayers to get results in their various replays that are akin to real life.

There are 36 combination of dice rolls on each player's card. If a player hit .250 in real life, chances are he'll have nine numbers on his card that result in a hit. Nine is 25 percent of 36. On the same token, if the player tends to strike out more, as did Adam Dunn, Mark Reynolds or Reggie Jackson (Mr. October once struck out five times in one game), he will see a proliferation of “13s” — the strikeout result — on his card.

A home run hitter will have more “1s” on his card, or “5s” and “6s,” which are home runs at times with runners on base.

It all works out pretty well; the players usually perform closely to what they actually did for that particular season.

In the 1942 season I'm doing now, Ted Williams is batting over .400 in late May. His card reflects that type of season with plenty of hit numbers. But he began slowly. There are ebbs and flows in this game that have balanced his season's stats out. It's what makes APBA such a good game.

But then there are also anomalies that pop up and completely disregard the statistical aspect of the game. Some players, like in real life, get hot in the APBA game and play well above their average. Others cool off and don't have the numbers that they actually did in the real game.

I've seen this a lot. It's almost as if the game takes a life of its own. I've heard other replayers refer to it as “dice magic” for various players.

In my 1981 replay, for example, Richie Zisk of the Seattle Mariners played far above his actual stats for that season. It seemed like he was one of the greatest clutch hitters in baseball, albeit playing for a horrible team. In my replay, Seattle won only 55 or so games, but Zisk must have won at least 10 with game-winning hits — mostly with walk-off home runs. It happened enough for me to take notice.

The 1998 season I did, my first baseball replay with APBA, Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs. I think APBA should have included needles with performance enhancing drugs to juice up he and Barry Bonds and, in my replay Greg Vaughan, who hit 58 for the Padres during that season.

On the inverse, in my 1957 replay, Mickey Mantle was awful. In the real season that year, Mantle hit 34 home runs. In my game, he had 22. In the 1964 replay I did, Sandy Koufax couldn't buy a win for the L.A. Dodgers and he ended up with a record of something like 16-14. And in 1987, the entire Minnesota Twins team didn't play up to their potential, finishing second in the American League West Division 10 games behind Kansas City.

So, there are oddities in this game. But that's what makes it worth playing APBA. You don't want everyone to play exactly as they did in the real game. There'd be no surprises.

In the case of Ted Williams, I first thought he would be the 1942 season underachiever. Of course, Williams' underachievement is another player's career year. He began slowly, hitting in the low .300s for the first 20 or so games for the Red Sox. It was reflected in the standings as Boston quickly fell behind the American League-leading Yankees.

But, as I was giving up hope for Williams, he caught on fire. In his last 10 games, he has batted .415, driven in 13 runs and hit six home runs and now leads the AL with 10 homers. He also scored 11 runs and hit safely in nine of those 10 games.

We roll the dice and log the stats on the game sheet. For much of the time, our players perform as we expect them to based on what we see on their game cards. But then there are the times when someone gets hot and, like Teddy Ballgame, throw the statistics out and we just go along with the ride and watch what happens.


  1. Yeah, the star players that never seem to hit well for me are... Willie McCovey, Rod Carew, Andre Dawson & Johnny Bench. Plus on the most part Teddy Ballgame underachieves for me usually as well.

    Great post as always!

  2. Nice post. I have players tht don't perform in loaded line ups & it's the line ups tht are less stacked tht always find a kind of chemistry & become hot & get all the timely rolls. Players tht hit for me are Cobb & Ruth but Mays & Mantle hardly ever do. The one player tht I roll well with tht isn't a Cobb or Ruth is Norm Cash. Jack Chesbro & Colby Jack Coombs are shut down aces;)

    Thanks great site!