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3fbrown 08-09-2019 10:05 AM

Replay League - 94 years of alternate history
Introduction to the Replay League

I have a historical OOTP league that has nearly 94 years of history. I have enjoyed the world-building aspect, as I like both baseball and history. I thought that if anyone else would appreciate hearing about it, it might be the folks on this board.

I figured I would start by explaining how my league runs, and a little of its history. This way the stories make sense in context.

Actual timeline:
I started this league in 2005, so I have been playing with it for about 14 years. Things moved much quicker at the beginning, as I had no kids and more time. This also means that I started with OOTP 5. Later on I switched to version 9 I think, and have updated every other version, keeping to odd versions. I do this for a number of reasons, but one big thing is that making the big jump from 5 to 9 meant that a lot of stuff was lost. Not only was the game a lot different in the old version, but much of it wasn’t compatible. So some league history before the switch – which happened before the 1948 season – was lost.

I am currently in the 1994 season, and I play through fairly slowly. It takes a few months to get through a season, at least. It is even slower now, as I also play a second league where I am including pre-integration black and Cuban players.

League structure:
This league started in 1901, because I wanted to learn more about the old school guys, but pre-1900 leagues are a giant pain (and were MUCH more painful in the old versions of OOTP). I maintained the historical league structure the entire time – expanding as the league did.

I have minor leagues turned on, and there is both a AAA and AA league. I like having minor leagues on, so that players in the minors accumulate statistics, and you can see how well they perform. This is not the case with reserve rosters. I have the AA league only because in the old version, if you did not have an AA team, the computer would often release good players immediately after the draft. I think it was because they had high potential but low current ability, appropriate for AA, and that confused the AI. It may not be a problem now.

I have financials turned off, so no free agency – the reserve clause is in full effect. Players are imported into a first-year player draft.

The draft:
For most of history the draft order was based on record, worst to first. However, at some point I got tired of the extreme parity in the league. Since the worst teams always improved the most in the draft, everyone was pretty similar in talent, and the standings seemed to be fairly close and random, often based on who got lucky in 1-run games. So in the early 80s I instituted an NBA-like lottery system. Now, all teams are in a lottery, and while the number of “balls” in the lottery relates to how many losses you had (with additional penalties for being in the playoffs), even the worst team only has 2-3 times the chance of getting chosen as the top teams. Quite often good teams will choose near the top, and bad teams will get a bad draft choice. This has had the desired effect of creating some more dominant teams with multiple superstars. Without free agency, there was no other way to make that happen.

Players are imported at their appropriate historical date, though for much of league history I would manually push back the debut of players that had only a cup of coffee, until the date that their career really started. The most blatant example of where this would have an effect is Joe Nuxhall. This actually causes some glitches in newer versions of OOTP, so I try to minimize this now.

3fbrown 08-09-2019 10:07 AM

Teams play in historically accurate ballparks. I manually adjust ballpark factors.

The player development engine is on at standard settings, so while players theoretically start with talents appropriate for their careers, they can, and often do, evolve away from those talents. It isn’t terribly unusual for a great player to have a lousy career, and vice versa. I definitely enjoy this part of the league – seeing what happens to their careers after they join the league.

Hall of Fame:
Though pre-1948 records are murky, I have kept a lot of records myself by hand over the years. For example, at the end of each season, I note the top five players at each position (10 for pitchers) and have this all in a spreadsheet. I also have a spreadsheet for the top players that calculates a rudimentary WAR-like value for their offense/pitching. It’s definitely crude, but there was no WAR in version 5, so it was all I had! Using this information, plus now WAR values and other information, I have created a Hall of Fame.

The HOF started around maybe 1915, once there were enough guys with careers worthy of induction. The induction process was haphazard to start. Now two guys are inducted every year no matter what. There are no rules about eligibility, so sometimes there will be a slow year, and I will induct someone from long ago that never quite made it. This pattern of inducting a set number of players every year has been in place since the 1926 season, though the exact number has fluctuated just a bit. I am sure I will talk more about the HOF quite a bit in the future. There are currently 123 members.

My team and role:
I have controlled the Braves since the start – since they were the Boston Beaneaters. Obviously the AI has improved dramatically since version 5. But I still keep one self-imposed rule to keep myself honest: I will only make trades that the computer offers me. I never try to conjure up a trade myself, since that can be easily abused.

I control everything about the team, including making draft picks, all player movement, lineups, etc. I do a lot of research before each draft about every guy in the draft. This is mostly for my own education, I enjoy learning about the players.

As I said before, player development is on and financials are off. Injuries are at the standard setting. I see only potential ratings, not current ability ratings, as another handicap for myself. Everything is on a scale of 1-5, once again to make it more challenging for me. Trading is set to normal. Historical offensive settings are used. Players import with neutralized statistics, and get talents from their peak seasons. I make sure pitchers import with appropriate stamina ratings and SP/RP settings, manually adjusting as needed. I have found this to be a weakness of the AI. I use real schedules, and I am glad to have rainouts in the game now.

This is quite enough for now, but I figured having the context of my league would be useful. Plus, it might be interesting for you all to compare what I have done to what you have – please share thoughts, ideas and experiences! I am always curious what others do. I definitely tweak my league for what I want to get out of it, and we all have different thoughts about that.

3fbrown 08-12-2019 12:13 AM

The Boston Americans
The Boston Americans of the 1900s were very much like the Atlanta Braves of the 1990s. Both were dominant teams - even dynasties - based on a highly talented roster. And in both cases, regular season dominance was partially overshadowed by postseason struggles.

Though Replay League records from that far back are sketchy, I can’t help but remember the Boston team and how they dominated the AL. Boston won 9 pennants in the first 10 seasons in Replay League history. However, they won only one World Series out of those 9. While the NL sent a variety of different teams to the series, they usually won, despite being seemingly outmatched by the powerhouse Americans.

Much like the 90’s Braves, Boston was led by their strong starting rotation. Though maybe not quite as strong as those Atlanta teams, it was still clearly the best rotation in baseball, and it was also led by an all-time RL legend: Mike O’Neill. Though his real life career was rather pedestrian, O’Neill was the key to Boston’s success. He was a late draft pick in the inaugural league draft, and almost immediately took some major talent improvements. As a result, by 1902 he was a 26-game winner, and in 1903 he won the first of 7 Cy Young Awards. (Yes, they were called Cy Young Awards, even as Cy Young himself was in the league. If I decided to name the Replay League pitching award after the dominant early starter, it would surely be called the Mike O’Neill Award.) O’Neill ended his career with a 2.37 ERA and 354 victories, a record that would last 40 years. He is still #2 all time in wins.

Behind O’Neill the Americans boasted fellow 300-game winner and HOF inductee Frank Owen. Also less impressive in real life, Owen was an excellent pitcher, and even managed to wrestle the CY Award from O’Neill’s grasp in 1905. The back of the rotation, though better pitchers in real life, did not manage quite as good of careers as the two HOFers. Sam Leever was nearly as good as those two, but was already 29 when the league began, and so his career was significantly shorter. “Crossfire” Earl Moore had a very long career for Boston, amassing 255 wins with very good pitching, but was not quite HOF caliber. To this day, those four pitchers all rank in the top 6 in franchise victories.

The offense, while not quite as good as the pitching staff, was still among the best in baseball. It was led by outfielders Elmer Flick and Doc Gessler. Both HOFers, they were the core of the lineup. Flick was a superstar, boasting all-around excellent offense, and strong CF defense, at least in his earlier years. Doc Gessler was not quite the offensive force that Flick was - hitting for a lower average and with less power. But he demonstrated outstanding patience at the plate. When he retired he was the career leader in walks by a large margin. Though he has since been surpassed and currently ranks 10th all-time, nobody ahead of him played in the deadball era.

Although Miller Huggins and Jiggs Donohue (plus Billy Hamilton for a few years) provided quality hitting as well, the rest of the offense was not nearly as impressive. Still, with that rotation and some pretty good hitting, Boston dominated the AL like no other team has ever dominated a single decade in league history.

Boston is definitely one of the more interesting franchises in the league, so we will be hearing more about them in the future.

3fbrown 08-18-2019 12:26 AM

Murderer's Row in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Athletics of the late-10’s and early-20’s compiled such a ridiculous amount of hitting talent, there is no way it will ever be equalled. Ty Cobb - a career Senator - is the all-time leader in RL hits, but the #2, #3, and #4 players on that list all played for this Philadelphia squad. The #8 guy on that list was also an Athletic on that team, and might be the best player of all of them. There was also a fifth guy, ranking was down at #76 on the list, that nonetheless was inducted into the Hall of Fame. This makes 5 regulars on the squad that are clear HOFers! And these aren’t no-names that made the most of their talents either - their names are Hornsby, Speaker, Heilmann, Jackson, and Groh.

The best player on the team - the guy that was #8 on the all-time hit list with a mere 3097 (yes the team had 4 3000-hit men!) was Tris Speaker. He is also the all-time RL leader in doubles (like in real life) with 718, and hit .337, good for 4th in league history. He played for Philly for his entire 20-year career. Probably about as good of a player as Speaker was Rogers Hornsby. He had 3430 hits, all with the A’s in his 19 year career. He had 604 doubles (10th all-time), 1654 RBIs (10th), 1647 runs (9th), and his .335 batting average put him one spot below Speaker.

Harry Heilmann had a 21-year career, again entirely spent with the A’s. He totaled 3436 hits (#2), 656 doubles (#3), 1635 RBIs (#11), 1671 runs (#8), he is #7 all-time in total bases with 4917, and is #3 in league history in total at-bats. With a mere 3275 hits, Joe Jackson is only third on his own team. He is in the top 10 all-time in doubles, triples, and runs scored. The fifth best HOFer on this team was Heinie Groh, the team’s SS. Though his stats are not quite at the level of his teammates, he usually led off for the team, and scored over 1600 runs, including a record 157 in 1922. He also played excellent SS defense. His OBP was .375, and he stole 728 bases, still good enough for 6th all-time.

So this quintet - the team’s outfield and middle infield - all made the Hall of Fame, and accounted for 10 MVP awards during that stretch of time. There were other quality players in the lineup as well. Ray Grimes was a 27-year-old rookie in 1921 and hit .322 for his career. In 1921 they also traded for catcher Ernie Krueger, who proceeded to hit .309 for the next 10 years in Philadelphia. Although the pitching was much weaker than the offense, Bob Shawkey did win 271 games and three Cy Young awards between 1916 and 1927, all for the A’s.

Needless to say, the team dominated the AL during that time, though exact records no longer exist. I can say that the A’s won 9 pennants and 4 World Series championships in the pre-1948 era, and I believe that most or all of that success came from this time period.

Reed 08-18-2019 10:08 AM

Thanks for sharing. I would be more interested in your lottery and do yo manage each game? I have played with Neutralize stats but the 1 thing I did not like is how they adjust the number of Plate Appearances and IP for some players, but overall it is good.
My problem is that I get 15-20 years into a league and decide I want to try something different.
My current league, which I started a couple weeks ago and I am very pleased with it so far, started in 1901. 16 teams, 2 leagues, interleague, 144 game schedule. I use 3 years recalc, double weight current year stats. My experience with using 1 year recalc I had to many seasons on players hitting 400.
I play as GM where I control the draft and trades. Asst GM controls demotions etc. which makes it interesting sometimes. I too only trade if the other team makes an off. I have trading set to hard so I do not make many trades. I am toying with the idea of doing a completely random draft every other year. I would think that could make for some strong teams for a number of years but still help the poor teams. For HOF I assign a certain umber of points for all star appearance, player/pitcher of the year and add that to their WAR score and if it is above a certain total, then I will vote for them. I also allow the AI to vote so sometime it gets interest. On average, 1 or 2 players get inducted every year, 10 year minimum service time. I do not manage the team but I watch the 1st game of every home series-29 games a season. Since I am retired, I try to play 3 games out every day so it should take me about 2 weeks to play a season. I have been playing OOTP since 2013 and hope to play this current league through at least 1960.
Again Thank for your post and I enjoy reading your setup.

3fbrown 08-19-2019 12:20 AM

I do not play out every game - that would take way too long for my tastes. I did try doing that with an old version of OOTP, and it didn't work well at all, so I quit, even though I am sure it works much better now. I am definitely more interested in playing through history, drafting guys, learning about players and eras, etc. I check every box score in some detail though.

Regarding all that, my usual pace, in theory, is one week of simulating per day. That takes roughly 30 minutes, more if I have a bunch of injuries or something. I can go faster if needed, but usually something captures my attention. This means a season takes a month. Offseason stuff takes a few more weeks, and of course I do not play every day in reality - I have a job and a family that take priority.

Regarding the lottery, the number of balls that each team gets is equal to their number of losses squared. Additional penalties are accrued for making the postseason - multiply by 3/4 if you won your division, multiply by 2/3 if you win the pennant, and multiply by 0.5 if you win the World Series. It helps - generally worse teams pick higher, but plenty of exceptions occur. Enough to make it interesting.

I hear you about getting into a sim and wanting to do something new. I definitely take breaks from Replay League. Also, I have started a new historical sim, starting back in 1901, that includes black and Cuban players. It is very different - I have free agency and full financials, and instead of a draft incoming rookies are assigned to random teams. I like that league a lot. And although having two leagues slows me down for sure, the variety is nice. And the leagues are different enough that it isn't too much. I have tried a bunch of different things over the years, but these two leagues are the ones that I have stuck with because they kept my interest.

3fbrown 08-19-2019 05:30 PM

Also, while I will post some Replay League stories, I am definitely interested in discussing whatever folks want to discuss. I am always thinking of ways to improve my league, or new ideas to implement. And I have done this long enough that I have learned a thing or two, and have managed to find all sorts of bugs that keep me from perfecting my leagues!

3fbrown 08-20-2019 02:56 PM

Babe Ruth
In actual baseball history, the identity of the greatest hitter of all time can be a contentious topic. You have to consider peak vs. career statistics, the home ballpark effects, the quality of the opposition during the time they played, etc. In the Replay League, this question is extremely easy - the greatest hitter of all time was Babe Ruth, and it isn’t close.

Though stats are a little rough from this era, I can speak to Ruth a little more closely because he played his entire career for my Boston Braves. Back in OOTP5, the AI was not nearly as sophisticated, and SP Babe Ruth was good, but not a top draft pick. I got him roughly midway through the first round, about where he should have gone based on his pitching talent. I then vowed to let him pitch until he clearly needed to switch to hitting. I kept this promise, and the switch happened in 1918, about the same as in real life. He hurt his arm in 1917 which reduced his pitching talents, so the move was obvious.

How can I say so confidently that Ruth was the greatest hitter in RL history? Well, we can start with the 10 consecutive MVP awards he won from 1918-1927. At no time was anyone else in his league. He was so dominant that he even won most of the NL Player of the Month awards - rarely was anyone better than him, even over a one month time span. And it’s not like he stopped being good after 1927. His OPS was over 1.000 for the next three years as well, ending with 1.135 in 1930. He then slowed down for the next three years before retiring after 1933.

Five of the top 10 seasons in OBP belong to Ruth, as do six of the top eight seasons in slugging. He slugged over .700 five times. He holds the single season and career records for OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS. He also holds the single season record for walks and RBI, and of course the season and career marks for WAR, though WAR calculations are not great pre-1948.

Which was his greatest season? Maybe 1921, when he hit .374/.496/.761 with 42 doubles, 53 HR, had 156 runs and RBI, and walked 130 times. Or maybe it was 1925, when he hit .357/.526/.767. That year he drew 174 walks, hit 43 doubles and 50 HR, drove in 157 runs and scored 139 times. Neither of those seasons were his best in doubles (45), HR (57), or RBI (162), but both were more than 12 WAR.

As for his career totals, he hit .334/.450/.630 with 528 doubles, 584 HR, 2795 hits, 1915 runs, 2024 RBI, and this is all while pitching full-time during his first three years. He only ranks 73rd in games played for his career. And to make this all the more impressive, he played his entire career for the Boston Braves, meaning that his home games were played in cavernous Braves Field. It was particularly tough on LH hitters - it reduced HRs for lefties by 50%. This means that had Ruth played in a neutral field, he should have had 33% more HRs, which comes out to 779. And everything else would have been bigger too.

So while Ruth’s career totals have been surpassed for most counting stats, it is clear that he has no peer in RL history. The Braves have had the most success of any franchise in RL history. While I’d like to claim credit for that success, the truth is that lucking into Ruth was a substantial fraction of it.

3fbrown 08-24-2019 01:01 PM

Bob Feller
Like Babe Ruth with hitting, the question of who is the best pitcher in RL history is not difficult to answer - it is Bob Feller. Curiously, he was drafted in the pre-1948 era by Cincinnati, pitched unimpressively for three years (though one must consider that he was a teenager that entire time), and was then traded to the St. Louis Browns before the 1939 season. Who the Reds got in return has been lost to history.

Once he got to St. Louis, Feller took some talent improvements, basically maxing out on everything. He then proceeded to be awesome for the next 20 years. He won eight CY Awards, including in 1942 and 1956, 14 years apart! He basically set every record there was along the way. He led the league in ERA five times, led in strikeouts eight times, SO/9 eight times, BB/9 eight times, IP four times, and wins three times.

Feller set the all-time single season ERA mark with 1.37 ERA in 1946. He holds four of the top ten marks there, being under 2.00 six times. He owns five of the top seven WAR marks for pitchers, though WAR values back then are questionable for sure. His career ERA was 2.51, which ranks 13th all-time. However, everyone else in the top 15 is from the deadball era, except for one relief pitcher, Billy McCool. He is the only pitcher ever to top 400 wins, getting to 401. Second place is old Mike O’Neill with 354. He holds league records for career starts (785), innings (6102), wins (401), shutouts (71), strikeouts (4282), and WAR. Most of those records he holds by a substantial margin. Unfortunately there is no record that he got to pitch in the postseason - the Orioles didn’t make the playoffs again until 1968, a full decade after Feller retired. There are no records of him throwing a no-hitter either, but since no such records exist before 1948, it seems likely he may have had one.

3fbrown 08-27-2019 01:53 AM

I like to give players nicknames for any number of reasons, besides whatever historical nicknames they actually had. Does anyone else have interesting ways of assigning nicknames?

Everyone likes making nicknames based on a player’s name. Like “The Grimsley Reaper” (Ross Grimsley), or George “SuperNintendo” Chalmers (for the Simpsons fans). My friends and I did this all the time as kids, and I occasionally do this with Replay League players as well.

Player bios:
If you read Baseball Reference bullpen wiki page or the SABR Bio page for many players, it will give you information about the player’s life and career. Many have interesting life stories or humorous anecdotes that make for good nicknames. I like these because their nickname reminds me of something about their life. You can figure out for yourself why Len Koenecke was nicknamed “Airplane!” or Len Dykstra is nicknamed “The Wizard of Finance.” Maybe my sense of humor is a bit dark sometimes, but many of those guys - especially the really old ones - lived interesting lives. This is definitely my favorite source of nicknames.

Adjusting real nicknames:
Some guys have perfectly good nicknames, but they don’t work in the new baseball world. For example, Joe Dimaggio was the “Yankee Clipper” but he played for Boston, so it doesn’t work. When he played for Boston, they were the Bees, so he became “The Beekeeper.” Likewise, Ernie Banks could not be “Mr. Cub” playing in Washington, so he became “The Honorable Senator.”

Players can be nicknamed after something they did. As a real-life example, a friend and I once watched Miguel Batista pitch to three batters, and he hit two of them with a pitch. Ever since he has been “The Hit Man.” In Replay League, Andre Dawson started out as “Hawk” as in real life. But in his long career, he was extremely durable. He didn’t spend any time on the DL until his 15th season in the majors. So he became the “Iron Hawk.”

I usually let teams keep their historical nicknames. But there is one exception - in the first decade of the 20th century, Cleveland named themselves the Naps after their best player, Napoleon Lajoie. But in Replay League, he spent his entire career with the Cardinals. Cleveland can’t name themselves after someone on another team! It turns out that their star player at that point in time was future Hall of Fame pitcher Noodles Hahn. So, they became the Cleveland Noodles for a time.

3fbrown 08-31-2019 01:36 AM

300 Game Winners
The Replay League has had 11 300-game winners in its history. Since no active pitcher even has 200 wins (Bill Gullickson has 199, Scott McGregor 198, and Andy Rincon 197), this total should not change anytime soon. I will briefly run through this list.

Bob Feller: 401
I have talked about Feller in detail already. He is the greatest of all time.

Mike O’Neill: 354
I also talked about O’Neill before. He was the greatest of all time, until Bob Feller came along.

Paul Dean: 331
The wrong Dean brother here, with the long career. He did not have a very high peak, but was consistently good and very durable for a long time. He pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics, and his career overlapped almost exactly with Feller, so he only won one CY Award. Ranks second to Feller in bulk stats like games started and innings pitched. Ranks first in less glamorous stats like hits and runs allowed, by a lot. His 285 losses is second all-time.

Erv Palica: 318
Like a better version of Paul Dean. Played for Cleveland in four decades: 1948-1970. Consistently very good, won the 1962 CY Award despite having better seasons immediately before and after that year. Nine-time all-star, very durable - led the league in starts four times. Low in black ink but has loads of gray ink.

Harry Coveleski: 317
The wrong Coveleski brother here, with 16 strong years for Cleveland. Rarely missed a start, and rarely walked anyone.

Nick Maddox: 314
How unimpressive were his 314 wins? He was inducted into the HOF … just this past election in 1993. It took him 67 years to convince me that he was worthy. Pure bulk, his ERA is over 3.00 despite pitching in the deadball era. Looking at his stats now, I’m not sure what he did to be so successful. He wasn’t incredibly durable, often missing a bunch of starts. He wasn’t just collecting decisions, as his record was an excellent 314-226. It wasn’t that he pitched for great teams - he most played for the New York Yankees, a thoroughly unimpressive team during his time there. He was just a good pitcher for a long time. To his credit, he did win the 1923 CY Award, though his season looks like the same solidly above-average season he had 14 other years.

Dutch Leonard: 313
This is the original, left-handed Dutch Leonard, pitching from 1913-1931. He bounced around a bit - pitched his rookie season in Boston for the Red Sox, then off to the Giants for four years, to the Cubs for two years, back to the Giants for three more years, one year in Pittsburgh, then finally eight years in Boston with the Braves. His best years were actually his later years with the Braves. He won CY Awards in 1926 and 1928, at ages 34 and 36. His age 34 year was his best, as he went 27-3 with a 1.98 ERA in a pretty high-offense year.

Johnny Lush: 312
The slightly richer man’s Nick Maddox. Pitched 22 years in the majors, mostly with the Giants, but with a five year stint in Boston with the Braves in the middle. Won a single CY Award at age 35 in Boston. Walked nobody, didn’t lose very often.

Early Wynn: 304
19 year career entirely with the Giants. Was the dominant strikeout pitcher of his time, leading his league nine consecutive years. Maybe the best strikeout pitcher ever, until he was surpassed by guys coming up at the end of his career like Koufax and Score. Won 3 CY Awards, and lost only 190 games. Had a weakness allowing HRs, but was great at everything else.

Frank Owen: 302
Another Boston American that was discussed previously. Very good pitcher, with very good teammates.

Johnny Podres: 300
Pitched his entire career for the Braves. For the first ⅔ of his career, the team was in Milwaukee, and his stats were great. Led the league in ERA twice and wins and starts three times each. When the team moved to Atlanta in 1966, his stats got worse. Milwaukee County Stadium was a pitcher’s park, while Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was a hitter’s park. Also, the Milwaukee teams were very good (especially on defense) while the Atlanta teams were notably worse. Was he a home ballpark illusion and overrated? After a lot of consideration, no. His WAR didn’t dramatically drop immediately when the team moved, it moved steadily downhill. He got worse because he was getting old. One CY Award. His last three years he was a marginal pitcher, but I kept him around because the team wasn’t great, and I wanted to get him to 300 wins.

3fbrown 08-31-2019 01:39 AM

Not quite 300 wins...
The next two guys, because they got so close…

Ed Reulbach: 299
Was a teammate of Nick Maddox for most of his career with New York. Was about the same kind of pitcher, but definitely better. Did not have to wait for HOF induction.

Vida Blue: 296
Played his entire career for the Astros, so he was one of the first expansion HOFers. Just excellent all-around - was 296-195 2.99 for his career. Did everything well, but of course pitching in the Astrodome artificially kept the HR totals low. Won four CY Awards and made 10 All-Star teams. Was also 2nd place in the CY Award voting three additional times. This information did not exist until sometime in the modern era, so I don’t know about this for most of history.

Special honor: Kid Nichols
If you look at Kid Nichols’s stat line, it doesn’t look so impressive. He went 202-159 in his 12-year career in Cincinnati, and his ERA was 2.81, not particularly impressive for the deadball era. And yet Nichols was the first inductee into the Hall of Fame, a special honor I gave him specifically. Why is this?

Well, as you may know, Nichols started his real career way back in 1890. In real life, he pitched until 1906, won 362 games, and is an obvious HOFer. When I started my league, I started it in 1901 and included no statistics previous to the start date. So all of the veterans that started in 1901 kept none of their real-life accomplishments from the 19th century.

So it is notable that if you look at Nichols before 1901, he was 311-167. To be honest, in real life, he had a few good seasons in the early 20th century, but his real career was before that. But in my league he won 202 games in the 1900s. Which means that if you include his real-life career before that point (which is not part of the “official” RL record), he would have 513 wins. This is more than the real record, Cy Young’s 511 wins, maybe the most unbreakable record in baseball history! This was the first time that someone in my league did something that eclipsed the real record, at least for something significant.

3fbrown 09-07-2019 12:36 AM

3000 Hits
12 guys have reached 3000 hits. The active leader is Willie Randolph with 2435, so nobody new will join this club for a bit. Here are brief bios for those 12 men.

Ty Cobb: 3528
Here’s the crazy thing about Ty Cobb: he wasn’t that great. I know, he has more hits than anyone in league history. He is also 2nd in doubles, 1st in triples, and 4th in runs. But it’s all playing time. His career batting average was .303! How does someone barely hit .300 and still get over 3500 hits? Start at age 18, play until age 40, and never get hurt. He was merely a very good player, but he was a very good player forever. He won two MVP awards, both in the deadball era, so his stats look worse than they really were. In 1906 he won his first MVP, hitting only .306. He won again in 1913, and he hit a very good .344, but the next year he hit .252. This is not your great-grandmother’s Ty Cobb.

But Cobb does illustrate something that has happened a number of times in RL history. An all-time great can lose talents or otherwise underachieve and still be a HOF caliber player. Why? Two reasons.
If you are Ty Cobb, you can lose some talent and still be very good.
And, if you start at age 18, you have a lot of extra plate appearances to accumulate stats, compared to someone that starts at, say, age 23.
This same phenomenon happened to greats like Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson. None hit like their real life counterparts. But they all hit pretty well, played excellent defense, and played a very long time.

I forgot to mention it, but Cobb played his entire career in Washington.

Harry Heilmann: 3436
Rogers Hornsby: 3430
Joe Jackson: 3275
All longtime teammates in Philadelphia, you know their story.

Jack Smith: 3199
Who? In real life he played OF for the Cardinals in the late teens and twenties. RL Jack Smith played CF in Pittsburgh from 1916-1936, hitting lots of singles and triples (227, second all-time), and later in his career walking quite a bit, making him a powerful offensive weapon. His OBP got as high as .467, and when added to his good CF defense, Jack Smith was a really good player.

Max Carey: 3131
Basically the same as Jack Smith, but with more 2B and SB, but fewer walks. Oh, and he hit .335 for his career. Only two men ever hit .400 in a season, and Carey is one of them. This will be a future topic of discussion.

Mel Ott: 3117
Remember what I said about Ty Cobb? Mel Ott started at age 17 in Detroit, and played until he was 40. He played in 3255 games and batted 13,041 times, both league records. Ott played more than any other player in league history. Unlike Cobb he kept his talents. Thanks to playing SO MUCH he is at or near the top of many offensive categories, such as HR (460, 10th), RBI (1992, 3rd), runs (1956, 2nd), walks (2231, 2nd), doubles (613, 8th), and of course hits.

There are three men that played in 3000 games in Replay League. Two are Cobb and Ott. The third is Jimmie Foxx, who tends to be ahead of Ott in all those counting stats. He fell 11 hits short of 3000 hits though, so you have to wait to hear about his exploits.

Tris Speaker: 3097
Another Superfriend.

Eddie Collins: 3082
A lifetime Boston Brave, he was a slightly worse version of the real Eddie Collins. Lots of hits, lots of walks, lots of steals, good defense at 2B.

Hal Trosky: 3079
The real Hal Trosky was a heck of a hitter, but got migraines that cut his career short. This Hal Trosky played until he was 42 for the Red Sox and Cubs. He hit 373 HR, over 600 doubles, and walked more than 1000 times.

Billy Goodman: 3052
Another four-decade player (1948-1970), he hit singles and walked forever. He mostly played 2B, poorly. Not a great player, but a good player for a long time, like a lot of these stat compilers.

Andre Dawson: 3047
In real life, Andre Dawson was an excellent player, a borderline HOFer. Though I am of the age that I only remember his time with the Cubs and later, his true glory days were with the Expos. He hit for a good average with power, ran well, played great CF defense - he was a model 5-tool player. Later on he lost the legs, and he never had much patience.

Replay League Andre Dawson was like the real Andre Dawson if he never had leg problems. He hit for a good average with power (but few walks), ran well, played good CF defense, which eventually changed to good RF defense. He also had incredibly good health. Dawson didn’t go on the DL until his 16th season! He was so durable that his nickname eventually became the Iron Hawk.

Because of the good health and talent, Dawson accumulated 85 WAR in his 18 year career. He led the league in hits twice, runs twice, doubles three times, RBI five times, slugging percentage twice, one batting title, and one WAR title. He won one MVP plus the ROY award. In addition to the 3000 hits, he scored 1556 runs, drove in 1818 runs (4th all-time), his 619 doubles is 6th all-time, he was worth +100 runs as a defender in CF and RF. He only walked 520 times, pretty low for such a long career, and had only 152 SB. He had 10 100-RBI seasons and five consecutive 200-hit seasons. He played for Boston his entire career, one of many great Red Sox outfield stars.

3fbrown 10-08-2019 01:01 AM

1994 Recap

I have been rather busy, so this has been a long time coming. Not that anyone really missed me I am sure.

Usually I write about league history, but this is more like “current day news” in Replay League. I just completed the 1994 season, and offense is in full swing. I will write up a brief list of top players right below this post. For now, to illustrate the ridiculous hitting achievements, just in the American League:

Junior Felix hit .383 with 43 HR, 136 runs, 137 RBI. Not the MVP. (Note: Felix is a legit superstar, he took massive talent improvements shortly after joining the league.)

Jeff Bagwell hit .383 with 34 HR, 134 runs, 143 RBI, and 99 walks. Not the MVP.

The actual MVP was Jim Thome, who hit .339 with 54 HR, 147 runs, 158 RBI, and 121 walks. Also won his second Gold Glove at 1B.

Matt Williams hit 72 HR with 183 RBI. This was good enough for 4th in the AL MVP voting. And as a side note, only one of those stats is an RL record, and the other one isn’t particularly close. More on that soon.

Phil Clark (!) hit .366 with 26 HR, 48 2B, and 136 RBI. He was not in the top 10 in AL MVP voting. This season far surpassed his entire real career.

The NY Mets and Milwaukee Brewers are both completely loaded with talent - they met in the World Series. The Mets have an outfield of Albert Belle, Ray Lankford, and Larry Walker. Oh, they also have Barry Larkin at SS. They scored a lot of runs. They actually had Luis Gonzalez too, but traded him away. Teams do seem to load up on positions sometimes. The Yankees have a tradition of having terrific 1B, then after a few years drafting an even better one, and letting the previous good one rot on the bench. 1994 was Walker's second straight MVP year.

The Brewers led the AL in both runs scored and runs allowed. They outscored their opponents 953-708, on their way to 100 wins. They have the aforementioned Jim Thome and Junior Felix, but also Luis Gonzalez and Matt Stairs. Their rotation is also excellent, though the names may not frighten you - Pete Schourek, Chuck Cary, Brad Cornett, Anthony Young. Yes, that Anthony Young.

Ben McDonald won his 2nd AL Cy Young Award in three years. In the NL, Pedro Astacio won his second consecutive NL CYA. Recently it seems like he and Greg Maddux are the two main guys there, though Jose DeLeon was in the running this year as well. Only four guys in all of MLB had ERAs below 3.00, and they are all named in the past two paragraphs. (Cornett and the three NL guys.)

The only other thing I will mention is that Gerald Young stole 97 bases, pretty interesting in such an offensive year.

I am not sure I am excited to live through the juiced ball era again - I definitely preferred the late 80’s and early 90’s in terms of levels of offense. But I am playing it straight for now, minus the DH.

3fbrown 10-08-2019 01:04 AM

1994 Awards

Rookie of the Year
AL: Brad Cornett
NL: Rusty Greer

Cy Young Award
AL: Ben McDonald
NL: Pedro Astacio

AL: Jim Thome
NL: Larry Walker

Top players at each position (according to me, but usually it is the guy leading in WAR)

C: Craig Biggio
1B: Jeff Bagwell
2B: Fernando Vina
3B: Matt Williams
SS: John Valentin
LF: Ryan Klesko
CF: Junior Felix
RF: Orlando Merced
P: Ben McDonald
P: Brad Cornett

C: Mike Piazza
1B: John Olerud
2B: Chuck Knoblauch
3B: Edgar Martinez
SS: Barry Larkin
LF: Albert Belle
CF: Ray Lankford
RF: Larry Walker
P: Pedro Astacio
P: Jose DeLeon

scurvycure 10-10-2019 10:57 PM

Excellent summary of your project, and thanks for sharing your setup information. I always like to learn about the rules people put in place for historical leagues, particularly to prevent having an unfair advantage. I like your ideas to only use potential ratings and a 1-5 scale. Can you shed more light on what you meant by your comments about the AI weakness with SP/RP and stamina settings?


3fbrown 10-12-2019 12:40 AM

Mike - What I mean is that pitchers might import as a reliever when they should import as a starting pitcher or vice versa. And often a SP might import with stamina of 2/5 when they seem like they should have at least average stamina, if not more.

Some of this isn't OOTP's fault. What should Dennis Eckersley import as? Clearly a SP, as he only converted to a RP later in his career as he lost abilities. Since this is a common career path (start when younger, eventually move to bullpen when you lose effectiveness) I set pitcher stamina to import as the first three years. But then you get a bunch of pitchers that started in the bullpen and worked their way into the rotation (say, Mike Hampton or Curt Schilling or Johan Santana) importing as relievers, which clearly doesn't make sense either.

Thus, I just manually look through things and adjust as I see fit. Usually I err on the side of making guys starting pitchers, and then the less effective ones get sent to the bullpen. This seems the most realistic to me.

3fbrown 10-13-2019 11:32 PM

The 500 HR Club
Only six players have reached 500 HR, so this will be fairly short. #7 on the career HR list is Andre Dawson, who just retired, so nobody is close at the moment. The highest active player is Darryl Strawberry at 415, and he is still going strong, so I suspect a few active players will be seeing 500, especially since we just reached the offensive explosion in 1994.

Gil Hodges: 645
For the most part, this list is not the list you might expect. Hodges played a relatively short career, mostly in Detroit, only playing in 2300 games. However, in his 15 years as a full-time player, he led the AL in HR 10 times. He was the premier power hitter of his generation, which was centered on the 1950s.

In addition to leading the league in HR more often than not, he also frequently led the league in RBI and walks. Although his batting average was not high (career .266) his OBP and SLG were both quite high. He also won three Gold Glove awards at 1B. He won 2 MVPs and was an all-star 11 times. He was a great hitter, whose only weakness was his batting average. He did not, however, play in the postseason. Three times in the late 50’s the Tigers finished a single game back of 1st place, but they never quite got there.

Jimmie Foxx: 624
As described before, Jimmie Foxx played a LOT. He played 21 years, since he started at age 19. He played 1B and rarely got hurt. And of course, he was a really good hitter. All of this explains why he is the all-time league leader in runs, RBI, and walks.

However, Foxx is - in my opinion - pretty overrated. [Editor’s Note: Who else other than me could possibly rate him??] Like Cobb, starting young and playing a long time allowed him to pad his career totals. But also, he was a career New York Giant, meaning that he played his entire career in the Polo Grounds. This is basically the exact opposite of Braves Field. While Braves Field significantly depressed Ruth’s HR totals, the Polo Grounds significantly inflated Foxx’s HR totals. During his career, the Polo Grounds increased HR for RH batters by about 50%, which means that he hit about 25% more HR than he would have without the generous home ballpark. Being in a neutral park would bring his HR totals down to around 499. Still a great player of course, but not one that piles up such gaudy stats.

Babe Ruth: 584
You know about him. In a more fair world, he has WAY more HR than Foxx.

Curt Blefary: 557
Blefary was a late 1st round draft pick by my Milwaukee Braves. One year later Blefary had improved his power rating, and the Braves had moved to the high altitude of Atlanta. Those two things combined to make Blefary the biggest power threat of the late-60’s and early-70’s. He won three straight MVPs, from 1968-70. While he surely did not deserve those awards, his power stats were quite impressive. In fact, Blefary led the league in HR and RBI every year from 1966-1973! During that eight year stretch, he also led the league in runs and slugging five times, and OPS four times. In both 1969 and 1970 Blefary hit 60 HR, which set the record, but it did not last as long as you might expect. (Foreshadow…)

Blefary didn’t do much else than what is listed above. He played bad defense in RF and 1B. He didn’t hit for high averages, and he didn’t have any speed. But those power numbers were enough for a HOF honor. He did hit 18 additional postseason HR, in only 45 postseason games, which isn’t too shabby.

Duke Snider: 555
Yet another Red Sox outfielder. Snider was a LF though, because CF was taken over by … Mickey Mantle. Yes, they had both Mantle and Snider. No Mays though.

So, to sum up Duke Snider: 5 MVP awards, 11 all-star selections, 10 gold gloves. I know that WAR values are tricky, especially for guys from before 1948 (when the game didn’t calculate WAR), but Duke supposedly had 128 WAR. This was tied with Jimmie Foxx for second all-time behind the Babe. His career OPS+ was 161. Boston has had a lot of great outfielders, but Snider was the best.

Larry Doby: 522
Larry Doby was essentially the same hitter as Duke Snider, maybe a bit better. He also had 5 MVPs, and was a 14-time all-star. He won 2 Gold Gloves, but defensively he was the reverse of Snider. Snider was a solid CF that got moved to LF for team reasons, and was an amazing LF. Doby was a solid corner OF that played a lot of CF for team reasons, and was pretty bad out there.

To be more specific, Doby was exclusively a corner OF for the Yankees during his first 7 years. Traded to Brooklyn before the 1955 season (for Buddy Lively! after three straight MVP seasons!! and the Yankees had to throw in another player!!!), and now in his 30s, they moved him to CF, where he struggled. He still could hit though, and won a couple more MVPs in 1956 and 1957. In 1961 the new Washington Senators chose him in the expansion draft, and while he still hit the heck out of the ball, they kept him in CF, and he was straight up bad. They eventually had mercy and let him play LF again at age 41, but by that time his fielding had drained his career WAR values. He hit a bit better than Duke Snider, and for longer, but he had about 20 fewer WAR. It’s all fielding, and not his fault.

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