Old-School Managing

Old-School Managing

Baseball strategies evolve. While in many ways the baseball of the 1920’s and 1930’s was very similar to today’s game, in many other ways it was very different. The following will give you a better idea of how the game differed back then, and what you can do to guide the OOTP A.I. to manage your team appropriately for the era.

Some ways in which baseball was different in the late ’20s-early ’30s

Pitching

  • There was basically no such thing as a pitcher who only started or who only pitched in relief. All pitchers were starter/reliever hybrids (there might be a handful of pitchers each year who only started or who only pitched in relief, but these were pitchers who only appeared in a few games. Anyone who got a full-season’s worth of work would start some and relieve some).

    • Firpo Marberry was a famous exception—sort of. One year Marberry pitched 55 games, all in relief, and there were a couple of other years in which he started only a few times. He was primarily a reliever for about half his career and primarily a starter for the other half, but like everybody else, he usually did a bit of both.

  • The top starter on a staff often doubled as the team’s ace reliever, which meant he might “close” 10 to 15 games a year (while still starting 30 or more). The notion of a “save” or a “save situation” didn’t exist. The ace would come into a close game, regardless of whether it was what we would now call a “save situation”. He might come in when the score was tied or even when his team was down by a run.

  • Rotations were fluid. This was mostly a result of the preponderance of doubleheaders and off-days. It wasn’t possible to stick to a strict five-man rotation through a five-day stretch in which the team played seven or eight games, nor was it sensible not to skip the less effective starters during a five-day stretch when only three games were scheduled. Rainouts exacerbated this situation, resulting in even more off-days and doubleheaders. Consecutive doubleheaders (four games in two days) were not uncommon.

  • Seven or eight pitchers logged almost all the innings for most teams. A team might use 10 or 12 pitchers during a season but some of them would only be on the roster a short time and pitch only three or four times.

  • Pitch counts were not something anybody had even thought of yet. Not every game was a complete game, but generally pitchers who were not getting hammered (or who weren’t injured) did not come out of the game.

  • There was no such thing as a “specialist”. Managers rarely, if ever, switched pitchers to gain a platoon advantage. If they were going to the ’pen anyway they might decide to bring in a lefty to face three left-handed hitters in a row, but they never brought in a pitcher just to get one guy.

Lineups

  • Managers did not experiment with their lineups all that often. Once they figured out who their starters were and what the batting order would be, they tended to stick with it unless an injury or a slumping player compelled them to make a change.

  • Platooning, in vogue during the ’Teens and early ’20s, was falling out of fashion by the late ’20s and was extremely rare in the ’30s.

Rosters

  • After WWI the roster limit prior to September call-ups was 25 in the majors (although that number would occasionally change). It is clear, though, that teams did not always carry 25 players even when the rules allowed them to do so.

  • I have not found corroboration for this, but it’s been my assumption that teams might have commonly carried fewer players on road trips, especially in the minor leagues.

How to get OOTP to use your pitching staff like a late ’20s-early ’30s staff

  • Use a 5-man rotation in a normal week (that would be one with 7 or fewer games and fewer than two doubleheaders). Go to a 6-man in a week that has more than 7 games or two or more scheduled doubleheaders.

  • Never use “Strict order” (except in Spring Training). Use “Always start highest rested” or “Strict, on occasion highest rested”. These settings will tend to use your top two or three starters as often as possible while skipping your bottom two or three when it is reasonable to do so.

  • Use the “YES” setting for “Allow SP in Relief”.

  • Avoid setting pitch counts for starters during the regular season, especially on pitchers with high (16 or above) Stamina ratings. If you’ve used pitched counts for Spring Training, remember to clear them out when the regular season begins.

  • For the bulk of the season use a 7-or 8-man staff. You can push that to 9 or 10 occasionally if your pitching is lousy and/or if you have a series in one of the extreme hitters’ parks (Wrigley Field and Recreation Park). Having 12 pitchers on the staff, except in Spring Training or after the September call-ups, is anachronistic (and probably pointless, as the game will rarely if ever use those last three guys).

  • If you use the 7-day lineups feature, always leave the slot for the starting pitcher BLANK. Rainouts and doubleheaders screw with 7-day lineups and can make the game do stupid things like starting the same pitcher two games in a row.

All the above is optional EXCEPT you must use either a 5-man or 6-man rotation at all times during the regular season. I have resisted the temptation to make any of the other directives mandatory but I may change my mind at some point.

Lastly, remember OOTP isn’t perfect. Even using the ideal settings the game will still do some goofy things. The company seems pretty dedicated to improving its product, so when you see something wacky, either make a post in the OOTP forum about it or let me know so that I can do so. It might spur them to fix it in a future version.