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Old 03-22-2015, 09:07 PM   #1
jlbjork
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Ensemble Pitching - The Key to Winning Ecconomically

Ok, so - we have all been exposed to the concepts of "moneyball", but while possible to be competitive with such a system, to date, the system has not truly won anything outright.

So, I spent some time crunching numbers and came to a shocking realization. The problem with winning on a budget is the starting pitchers. So, I thought, why not get rid of them altogether?

I constructed a system that has a 12 man pitching staff containing the following pitching slotts:

Starter 1 - pitches innings 1-3
Starter 2 - pitches innings 1-3
Starter 3 - pitches innings 1-3

Featured Reliever 1 - Pitches inning 4-5 (these pitchers will get most of the wins)
Featured Reliever 2 - Pitches Inning 4-5 (these pitchers will get most of the wins)

Middle Reliever 1 - Pitches inning 6-7
Middle Reliever 2 - Pitches inning 6-7

Setup Man 1 - Pitches inning 8
Setup Man 2 - Pitches inning 8

Closer - Pitches inning 9

Floater 1 - Fills in for ANY slot if the pitcher slotted is tired
Floater 2 - Fills in for ANY slot if the pitcher slotted is tired


These pitchers should all be guys with pretty good stuff - but don't spend a lot of money on any of them. TA 15-13-12 is good enough for a #1 starter, and a 17-12-10 is fine for a closer. The others, just stay at 13 or better on stuff and don't go below 10 on control. The starters need a stamina of about 10 to make sure they can be ready to pitch 3 innings when their turn comes up again, but the others don't need to have any significant stamina. HOOK YOUR PITCHERS on this schedule religiously. If they get in trouble early, you can go to a floater, but don't go long EVER. The key here is to never let a tired pitcher throw a pitch. Ever.

Now, with the lineup, you want to trade off everyone that makes more than 5-6 million. You want to end up with every slot on the field with a 15 defense minimum. You can go with a 14 for one or two of them if you must, but remember, your high defense scores will make your good pitchers pitch like great pitchers for a couple of innings, and that is essential to you success.

Place a lot of value on speed and contact. Unlike moneyball which discourages stealing and bunting, steal like a freakin bandit and squeeze nearly every time you have a man on third with less than 2 outs. On your bench, you should have at least 2 guys with an 18 speed so you can pull your first baseman or catcher for a good baserunner when necessary. The Run and Hit option (as opposed to Hit and Run) is your friend. Also, men on 1st and 2nd with stealing / speed of 13+ means double steal every time.

If a pitcher is not producing, just trade him for another equivalent pitcher - it won't be hard because they don't have big salaries tying you to them. Throughout the season you will end up changing up your pitching staff, but make sure you fill each slot and stick to your pitching schedule.

Results? Here are the screen shots from my latest game as the Houston Astros ($65 million payroll) using this system:

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So, you might ask yourself, why has this never been tried in real life? Actually, for about 20 games ensemble pitching was tried by Tony Larussa way back when in Oakland. While it was getting results, the starters were not happy because they could not be credited with a win. So it was a short lived experiment, and did not include the other parts of the equation - focusing on speed and defense for instance. I think it could work in real life if you could convert some middle relievers into your 3 starter so they don't get all bent out of shape about never being allowed to claim the win.
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Old 03-22-2015, 10:02 PM   #2
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Nice job. Good idea and good explanation. When you draft what do you look for?
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Old 03-23-2015, 12:26 AM   #3
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To be truthful, I don't really do the draft thing - just click autocomplete entire draft. Usually, I only run my games through 3 seasons because as somewhat of a purist, I don't like it when non-existent players start having a big impact on the league. Good question though.

However, if I were to do the draft thing, I would draft power. Power is expensive to trade for, and if it can be drafted instead, you can get a pinch hitter on year 1, and 2 years of actual production before you have to actually pay them market value.
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Old 03-23-2015, 06:42 AM   #4
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Sounds good. I'm assuming with the situation you must play out every game? Do you also play with low budget teams only? Or high budget teams and limit your spending to a lower amount?
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Old 03-23-2015, 07:26 AM   #5
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Excellent job!
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Old 03-23-2015, 08:56 AM   #6
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The first time I tried it with Texas, because they came in dead last in the AL that year - but they had a good budget. Won the world series and Manager of the Year (season score 1010). Then my friend told me it only worked because I had a great offense enabled by the high budget, so I applied it to the Houston Astros and got the posted results - winning the world series and manager of the year again. Season score of 1500 (which I did not even know was possible). It was easier with the small market team because you don't have a lot of overpaid veterans that are hard to trade off to mold the team the way you need it.

Yes, you do have to play out every game. That's the only downside, but since in real life they have to do this anyway, it would not be an inconvenience for THEM to try it! Putting aside the ego of the starting pitching staff, I don't know why it wouldn't work in real life.
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Old 03-23-2015, 09:04 AM   #7
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Thanks so much for doing this experiment and also answering my questions. I'm intrigued.
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Old 03-23-2015, 04:45 PM   #8
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If you ran a 3 man rotation and put manager settings to hook starters as much as you can, would that sort of work?
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Old 03-23-2015, 08:16 PM   #9
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Might be close - but haven't tried it.
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Old 03-24-2015, 12:48 AM   #10
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I tried it out, the computer didn't really do it right. The starters averaged about 5 innings per game. I made the playoffs as a wild card team and for most of the season actually had a winning percentage over .600. My team era was 5th in the American League.
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Old 03-24-2015, 12:51 AM   #11
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I also wish we could designate a long reliever, Carrasco and Mcallister the two starters in the bullpen both pitched about an inning per outing. I wish we could make it so if the cpu was gonna leave a starter in or use one for multiple innings we could set who we wanted it to be
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Old 03-24-2015, 01:25 AM   #12
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Could you post the lineup and the batting stats from your computer run? I'd like to see how the computer played your speed advantage.
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Old 03-24-2015, 06:10 AM   #13
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What if you auto play by inning? After 3 take out starter and change relievers as necessary. Not simming full game or playing out full game. Meet half way?

My 2nd thought would be using relievers as starters instead of starters.
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Old 03-24-2015, 08:56 AM   #14
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Tried it for 2 games. Lost both. 8-1 and 6-5 against Oakland. This with a team that has a team era of 3.29 right now. Maybe i got unlucky, maybe I just don't have the computer manager setting right, but I'm going back to manual to finish this season. Don't want to mess up year 2 for Houstin with an auto play experiment (we are a game out of first).

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Old 03-25-2015, 12:33 PM   #15
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Old 04-10-2015, 12:31 PM   #16
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Season 2 with Houston Astros - using Ensemble Pitching

Ok, of course, I needed to make sure the system was sustainable and not just a one off for each team that tried it, so I ran the second season (2015) with the same Houston Astros. After the first season, the owner upped my budget to $80 million, so I had a lot more room to work with. I won the world series again (back to back!).

However, I didnt score the ridiculous 1500 like last time, it was only 959 this time. I forgot to take screen shots of the lineup before making after the season trades, but here are the screenshots of the year's team stats.

I think I need a meeting with the real life GM of some small market team.

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Old 04-10-2015, 12:35 PM   #17
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BTW, arbitration after season 2 was a bitch! Drove my salaries up to 106 million, so I moved Eaton (Left fielder), Longoria (third base), and Hellickson (pitcher) to get back under budget. I will go one more season with these Houston Astros. I don't like to run more than 3 seasons because after that, I find that there are a lot of fake players (like, made up by the computer) who are making a big impact on the game.
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