Player Creation/Maintenance

Player Creation/Maintenance

(Note: the following is a detailed description of how players’ ratings are generated for this league. It is not required reading; it is here for reference.)

In this league we use some players who were career minor leaguers and some who played in both the major and minor leagues, as well as Negro League players who never played in either the majors nor the minors. As a result, different methods are used to create each player’s ratings.

(I should mention at this point that OOTP now comes with databases that include Negro League and PCL players. Unfortunately that was not yet the case when this league started, so I had to create a majority of the players for this league myself. I still do that, rather than use the new databases, because switching would have been problematic for a number of reasons. Fortunately, I don’t have to create players again and and again and again, I only have to create them when they enter the league. I have devised ways to make this go relatively quickly. In any case, it’s something I’m willing to do. Anyway, having studied OOTP’s Negro League and Minor League databases a bit, I’m not sold on them at all. They’ve adjusted the players’ ratings to reflect the level of competition, which is the right to do, but I don’t agree with the adjustments they’ve made. My way may not be any more accurate than theirs, but I think it is.)

  • Negro League players and players who never played in the majors are created from scratch (using the “Create Fictional Player” function). Their ratings are based on their career data, not on individual seasons. Their “current” and “potential” ratings are identical until the OOTP player development engine starts doing its thing. 

  • Players who played in the majors are imported from the database that comes with OOTP, and I reset their offense or pitching ratings so that they are based on their MLB career statistics when we’re playing a year that they were in the majors. When we’re playing a year that they did not play in the majors, their ratings are based on their career statistics at the highest minor league level (usually that means PCL/AA/IL). Again, I initially set “current” and “potential” ratings to be identical.

    • Exception: if the player enters the league as a teenager I downgrade his “Current” ratings a bit so he can’t dominate the league when he’s 18. Unless he really did dominate the league when he was 18. 

  • OOTP’s player development engine (in all its randomness-embracing glory) is in full effect. Well, almost full effect. There were a number of players like Buzz Arlett, Frank Shellenback, Jigger Statz, and Tony Freitas who had long and very successful careers in the PCL. And of course many Negro League players like Pop Lloyd, Biz Mackey, Jud Wilson, and Oscar Charleston played well into their 40’s. To me it would be no fun at all to see OOTP hit one of these guys with a career-ending injury when he's still young, or to reduce him to journeyman status while he should be in his prime. So while I’m letting the game have its way with most of the players, I sometimes exercise a manual override on guys who had substantial Negro League or PCL careers. For details, go here.

  • I make the assumption that the overall quality of competition in both the PCL and the Negro Leagues was slightly inferior to that of the major leagues. As a result, when I create the Negro League and PCL players, I use their real-life stats, but downgrade them a bit.

Anyway, down to the specifics:

  1. Missing data: We have no strikeout data for minor league pitchers, or walks or strikeouts for minor league batters before 1941. There are other less important stats (HBP, WP, etc.) missing as well. For minor league players who had 100 or more AB or 100 or more IP in the majors, I use their MLB numbers to supplement the missing data. I have a book (The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903-1957) that contains some of the missing data for selected players as well. Basically, I use the data that I have available to me. Where no data exists for a statistic, I use the major league average for that statistic.

  2. The following “penalties” have been assessed for each PCL player:

    1. Hits, doubles, triples, home runs and walks for batters decreased by 10%; strikeouts for batters increased by 10%.

    2. Hits, walks, runs and earned runs for pitchers increased by 5%; Strikeouts decreased by 5%.

      • I know it doesn’t make any logical sense to penalize batters by a different percentage than pitchers. The 10% seems to “work” well for batters; if you look at players who went from the PCL to MLB in the 20’s and 30’s, it’s striking how many of them there are whose PCL batting stats are about 10% better than their MLB batting stats. No such correlation exists for pitchers, however. As a group, the PCL pitchers’ hits allowed and walks allowed rates are already so high that penalizing them even 5% seems severe. We’ll see how it goes; I may adjust the penalty lower or higher at some point.

  3. The following “penalties” have been assessed for each Negro League player:

    • Hits, doubles, triples, home runs and walks and hit by pitch for batters decreased by 7.5%.

    • Hits, walks, runs, earned runs, home runs, wild pitches and hit by pitches for pitchers increased by 7.5%; strikeouts decreased by 7.5%.

  4. I am using the stats from baseball-reference.com for minor leaguers, plus the stolen base and pitchers’ strikeout data from the PCL book (for the players it includes; it’s not comprehensive).

  5. I am using the stats from seamheads.com for the Negro Leaguers, rather than using baseball-reference.com. There are advantages to this, but drawbacks as well:

    • On the plus side, the stats from seamheads appear to be far more extensive and accurate. Seamheads includes some statistics that bb-r does not, such as earned runs. As far as I’ve seen, seamheads does not contain obvious errors in the walk data (bb-r clearly does).

    • The drawback to using seamheads is that it is incomplete. The Negro League database at seamheads is an ongoing project; it is far from finished. They have, however, been running at a pretty good clip; they do a league/season at a time, and since they started in 2011 they have completed most of the work through the early ‘30’s (they don’t always do seasons in chronological order). I’ll update the data I’m using whenever seamheads posts a new season. Keep in mind that when you draft a Negro League player, his stats/ratings are subject to change. As a general rule, the older the player, the more likely seamheads has done all or most of his career; hence, the data for the older players is less likely to change.

    • I’m using only the stats from the Negro Leagues. Seamheads also has stats from Latin American leagues, in which many black players played, but I’m not using those.

  6. OOTP has made it fairly easy to create batters by inputting statistics, but has decided, for some annoying reason, to make it fairly impossible to figure out exactly how it makes pitchers do what they do. I won’t go into detail; you really have to try it yourself to understand how cryptic it is. Over the years I’ve been able to figure out how they arrive at some of the ratings. I’ve developed charts for Stuff and Control ratings, and I use a combination of those ratings and ERA to determine Movement ratings (which are supposed to be based on home runs allowed, a stat we don’t have for 95% of the players). For most of the other ratings (individual pitch ratings, GB%, velocity) I refer to the OOTP version of the pitcher, and use the same ratings they gave him when applicable, and alter them when not (remember “my” version of a Negro League or PCL pitcher may be radically different than OOTP’s).

  7. Pitchers' stamina ratings: I allow the development engine to move these ratings up and down as it sees fit… however, before each season I will make the following adjustments when applicable:

    • Pitchers with 300+ IP that year in the real-life PCL: Stamina rating of 20

    • Pitchers with 250-299 innings that year in the real-life PCL: Stamina rating of 18

    • Pitchers with 200-249 innings that year in the real-life PCL: Stamina rating of 16

    • Pitchers with 150-199 innings that year in the real-life PCL: Stamina rating of 14

    • Pitchers with 100-149 innings that year in the real-life PCL: Stamina rating of 12

    • Pitchers who pitched in the real-life PCL that year with < 100 IP: Stamina rating of 8

    • Star Negro League pitchers start with a Stamina rating of 20. Negro League pitchers brought in as “Buddies” start with a Stamina rating of 12.

      • These ratings are intended to encourage GMs to use the pitchers as they were used in real life, without making it mandatory.

  8. Fielding and baserunning ratings: There are some fielding statistics available online for both Negro League and PCL players, but it’s limited. I’m not sure how OOTP arrives at its fielding and baserunning ratings for MLB players; I assume it’s stat-based, but I don’t know how the stats are applied to create ratings. In general, I rate all the Negro League and PCL players as “average” for baserunning and fielding except in the following cases:

    • Sufficient statistical data exists to suggest a different rating; e.g., the guy stole a lot of bases, or had unusually good or bad fielding percentages, etc.

    • Sufficient written accounts exist that suggest the player was outstanding or outstandingly awful in some category

    • Common sense suggests something, e.g. the guy was an ordinary or subpar offensive player but held down a starting job for a significant period (this would suggest he was at least an above-average fielder)

      • If you feel you have some information about a specific player that runs contrary to a rating I’ve given him, speak up! I’m no expert on these players; additional information is always welcome.

    I use the following chart as a basis for defensive ratings:

    AVERAGE DEFENSIVE RATINGS


    IF Rng IF E IF Arm IF DP OF Rng OF E OF Arm C Arm C Abil
    P (avg. rating: 11) 5 4 5 4
    C (avg. rating: 11) 11
    13
    1B (avg. rating: 9) 6 4 7 7
    2B (avg. rating: 11) 11 11 10 12
    3B (avg. rating: 10) 11 10 13 10
    SS (avg. rating: 10) 14 11 13 13
    LF (avg. rating: 10) 10 9 9
    CF (avg. rating: 10) 14 12 10
    RF (avg. rating: 10) 10 9 11

    The chart is subject to change. I will continue to refer to OOTP’s MLB player ratings—however they may evolve—to form the basis of my ratings for PCL and Negro League players.

  9. Injury/durability ratings: I base these ratings on how much career the player has ahead of him; if he’s at the beginning of a very long career I give him a very low rating; if he had a short career or is near the end of a longer one I give him a higher one. It’s not an exact science; some players are going to get injured more often than they should no matter what rating you give them, while others will be inexplicably impervious to injury. The ratings do have an effect; it’s just not always as predictable as it seems like it should be.

  10. I monitor players who had long careers to make sure the development engine doesn’t truncate their careers too severely or reduce them to shadows of what they really were several seasons early. I don’t think it’s necessary to reset all of these players’ ratings each year; some will improve and some will decline, and I’m okay with that; I like that their career arcs won’t be completely predictable. Only when the decline is severe and substantially early (relative to their real-life career) will I step into give them a shot of adrenaline via a ratings reset. For the gory details of what exactly has to happen for me to reset a player, go here.

    • If the development engine makes a player better rather than worse, good for him. On most players I only adjust the ratings when they’re ruining what should be long careers.

  11. Career-ending injuries/early retirement:  One of OOTP’s favorite eff-you’s is the career-ending injury. It can happen to anybody, at any time. Fortunately the game does allow the commissioner to undo this crap, so I use that power judiciously. I allow the game to assert its bloodthirsty will on “ordinary” players, but I make players who had substantial careers immune, up until three years prior to the actual end of their careers.

    • OOTP also decides when players retire. Some retire earlier than they did in real life, others later. I exercise a manual override here, too, and prevent the game from making players with substantial careers retire until three years prior to their real-life retirement.

  12. Missing years/late retirement: If we play long enough to get to the WWII years, players who missed years due to military service will miss the same years in our league. Aside from that, players who missed seasons in real-life will be eligible to play those seasons in our league, if only because we can’t know for sure that they really did miss those seasons (neither bb-r nor seamheads are infallible).

    • Since OOTP doesn’t always make players stop playing at the same time they did in real life, some will be able to extend their careers beyond their real-life retirement, and in some cases, beyond their real-life lives (OOTP loves to hurt players, but it never kills them). I am okay with this; it’s an alternative history, so the circumstances that caused players’ deaths in real-life have been altered. We may assume that our players have access to better medical care and are perhaps a little more careful about the company they keep.