Sunday, September 8, 2013

Stan Musial's 10 Games

Every so often the dice go crazy in an APBA replay and you get a player on a hot streak.

This time, it's Stan Musial's turn in my 1942 baseball season.

I've noted this before in my musings, but the APBA baseball replay game is based upon statistical occurrence. If a baseball player bats .300 in real life, chances are he will be close to that average in the game. His APBA player card reflects that, just as a player who was prolific in home runs that year is apt to have a card rife with the “1s” needed to belt a homer in the game.

It's statistics. It's math. Generally, in that type of realm, there aren't coincidences or anomalies that stand out from the norm.

But this isn't math. It's APBA and it's one of the reasons that draw us players to the game.

In his last 10 games in my 1942 replay, St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Stan Musial has batted at a .575 pace. In those games, he went 23 out of 40, scored 12 runs, hit three home runs and drove in 23 runs. He's led the Cardinals in wining nine of those 10 games and they closed the gap with National League leading Brooklyn to only half a game.

In real life, Musial batted .357 during those same 10 games — a great mark, but more than .200 points below what he did in this game.

The odd thing is that Musial had played below his actual average for most of the season. I don't keep full statistics (frequent readers will recall that I have computers that crash and I am technologically stupid), but I've tallied Musial's stats by hand often and notice that he's wavering at about .300 for the first half of 1942.

Because I tend to be analytical about things, I have tried to figure out what happened. Why, suddenly, has Musial caught on fire? And why, during other replays, do similar things happen with other players? Players get hot, just as in real life. But it defies the statistical premise of the game, the frequency and chance of the particular dice rolls.

I've alluded to this before in what some longtime APBA players refer to as “dice magic.” It's the only explanation. Throw out the probabilities and just watch the games. It's what draw us to playing this, I think. Those of us who play this game are stat heads. We love the numbers, the standings, the outcomes. But the “dice magic” is that added bonus to playing this. In my 1981 replay, Seattle Mariners outfielder Gary Gray was the beneficiary of the magic. It seemed he hit home runs in clusters. Richie Zisk, he too of the hapless Mariners, also was pretty consistent in hitting walk-off home runs. It just seemed certain players got more of the magic.

This time it's Musial's turn.

Who will it be next time?

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