DMB News August 2002
Diamond Mind Email Newsletter
August 8, 2002
Written by Tom Tippett
Welcome to the fourth edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter for the year 2002. Through these newsletters, we will try to keep you up to date on the latest product and technical information about the Diamond Mind Baseball game, related player disks, and our ongoing baseball research efforts. Back issues are available on our website.
Topics for this issue:
Corrected version 8 play-by-play file
New and upgraded Season Disks
Season Disk policies and pricing
Season Disk plans
New Comiskey image
Batter-pitcher matchups utility
Whether 'tis nobler to send the runner home
Because of a data entry error made during our work on the version 8e patch, the wrong fielder is now being highlighted on baserunning plays that occur on ground-ball singles up the middle. The center fielder should be making the throw, but the game is highlighting the right fielder and using the right fielder's throwing rating.
We have corrected this error, and you can download the updated file from our web site.
If you are running version 8e, either because you purchased Diamond Mind Baseball after April 25, 2002, or because you downloaded and installed the 8e patch, we recommend that you download and install this file.
If you are not running 8e, do not install this file until after you have installed the 8e patch.
To find out whether you are running version 8e, start the game and choose the About Diamond Mind Baseball command on the Help menu. Your version number appears on the window that pops up.
We are happy to announce the availability of the new 1943 Classic Past Season, upgrades to two other Classic Past Seasons (1962 and 1965), new versions of ten Deluxe Past Seasons, and updates to the four All-time Greatest Teams disks.
The addition of the 1943 season disk completes our run of Classic Past Seasons from 1927 through 1977.
The 1962 and 1965 Classic Past Seasons have been updated to include:
- sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies allowed by pitchers
- games, games started, and double plays by position for fielders
- games started by position versus left- and right-handed pitchers
- updated park factors based on a review of all boxscores
- updated range ratings
- updated manager profiles
The 1984 Deluxe Past Season has been updated with new pitcher hold and catcher throwing ratings that reflect the opposition stolen base data that has become available since we last worked on that season.
Most importantly, we have completed a major project to upgrade the 1986 through 1994 Deluxe Past Seasons. Those nine seasons were originally developed as annual season disks using much earlier versions of our game. As a result, those seasons were subject to memory and disk space constraints that no longer apply.
The following improvements have been made to the 1986-1994 season:
- the previous versions excluded most players with less than 30 atbats or innings pitched, and we have added all of those players
- combined records have been created for all multi-team players
- any missing statistics have been added. In most cases, this involved games started by position; recently-added pitching stats like holds, run support, inherited runners, and opposition stolen bases; and/or fielding stats like defensive innings and opposition stolen bases for catchers.
- many ratings for 1986-1988 were reviewed and adjusted. Originally, these ratings were assigned by Pursue the Pennant, the exclusive distributors of our game at that time. They insisted that we use the ratings from their board game, but because they did not have access to play-by-play data at the time, their methods were based on reputation and subjective evaluations. (By 1989, I was able to convince them to allow me to do the ratings for both games, so many fewer adjustments were needed in the 1989-1994 ratings.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: We have NOT yet added real-life transactions and game-by-game starting lineups for the 1986-1994 seasons. Compiling and checking transactions is a very time-consuming process. Had we decided to go this route, it would have added a year or more to the schedule, and we felt it was better to make these improvements available now.
Finally, some of the teams on these upgraded season disks also appear on one of our All-time Greatest Teams Disks. Those greatest teams disks now include the latest editions of the affected teams.
Until about two years ago, almost all of our season disk work involved new seasons or greatest teams collections. Since then, much of our effort has shifted toward upgrading existing season disks. As a result, we have reviewed, documented, and in some cases changed our policies and pricing.
There are now two categories of Deluxe Past Seasons. Those seasons for which we have compiled real-life transactions and game-by-game starting lineups (1978-1985 and 1996-2000) are now priced at $24.95. The others (1986-1995) will remain at the current price of $19.95 until we have added transactions and lineups.
Registered owners of any season disk can upgrade to the latest version of that disk for $5. You are eligible for the upgrade price if you purchased a season disk from us at any time since September 1, 1995. We have a complete record of all seasons disk purchases since that date, so we can easily check your eligibility for upgrade pricing on any particular disk.
When we release a season disk upgrade, customers who purchased that season disk in the preceding six months are entitled to a free upgrade. To request a free upgrade, call us at 800-400-4803 during our business hours (9-5 Eastern time, Mon-Fri) or send email to DiamondMnd@aol.com. We do not charge shipping and handling fees on free upgrades.
Please keep in mind that you don't need to upgrade season disks just because we may have released a new version of the game. Every new version of the game automatically converts disks from at least three earlier formats. Version 8 reads season disks in formats as far back as version 5, which was introduced in 1994.
To help you decide whether the changes are worth the $5 upgrade price, we have expanded the season disk area of our web site to provide a lot more information about the different types of season disks, any upgrades that have been made, and when those upgrades were released.
One last note on the 1986-1994 seasons, which are a bit unique in that we are now releasing substantially-upgraded versions and plan to update them again after we have finished compiling the real-life transactions and game-by-game lineups. We do not have a timetable for the completion of this work, but it is unlikely to be any sooner than next summer.
If you are thinking about buying one of these seasons, the price is the same whether you buy now ($19.95) and upgrade later ($5) or buy after the transactions and lineups are available (when the price will rise to $24.95).
We've been getting a lot of questions about our plans for season disk work, so I thought I'd try to answer them here.
As you would expect, we plan to continue releasing our the Current Season Disk a few weeks after the postseason has ended and our annual Projection Disk in the spring.
We have started working on a new All-time Greatest Players Disk that we hope will be ready for release this winter.
A non-profit organization called Retrosheet is doing an amazing job of compiling (and validating) play-by-play data for historical seasons. We used their data to create our 1978 through 1983 Deluxe Past Seasons. Retrosheet recently released data for the 1969 and 1974 through 1977 seasons, and we plan to convert those five seasons from the Classic category to the Deluxe category, probably in the late summer or fall of 2003.
We plan to add player transactions and game-by-game starting lineups to the Deluxe Past Seasons that don't already have them. At the moment, there is no timetable for the completion of this work.
We plan to introduce more All-time Greatest Teams disks, probably for release in the late summer or fall of 2003.
We will continue to work on upgrades to some of our existing Classic Past Seasons, and we will release those upgrades as they are completed.
At the moment, the addition of new Classic Past Seasons from the pre-1927 period is a much lower priority. It's clear from our sales records that our customers are much more interested in the years since World War II than they are in older seasons. We always try to spend our time on the projects that we think will provide the most benefit to the most customers, so we're focusing on the other projects just mentioned for the time being.
A few months ago, we posted 32 new park images to our web site as free downloads for version 8 owners. We overlooked a configuration of Comiskey Park that was used in the late 1970s, and we have since added that image to the web site.
Ron Gudykunst and Tom Milne, authors of the BASE utility that some of you have used, have developed a new utility that scans DMB scoresheets and compiles batter-pitcher matchup stats and other breakdowns. It's free and available for download from their web site at.
Here's an interesting question from the SABR discussion board, along with the reply I posted. This exchange took place in mid-June.
Two outs, runner on second, and the batter drills a hit up the middle. The runner rounds third and heads for home. The throw gets there, the catcher applies the tag, and the umpire puts up his thumb in the "out" signal, ending the inning.
When the commercial is over, the announcers will recap the play, and they'll probably say, "It was a good risk, a chance they had to take." They may even say, "It took a perfect throw to get him, so of course you take the chance."
My question is... When is it an acceptable risk?
This is a case where the risk is acceptable most of the time, especially if you're looking for one run rather than a big inning.
If the runner holds at third, the offense has runners on the corners with two out. The MLB on-base percentage is about .333 these days, so if you have an average hitter due up, there's a roughly 2/3 chance the inning will end right away. And even if that batter draws a walk to load the bases, there's still a significant chance the next hitter will strand those runners.
It turns out that the probability of scoring one run with a runner on third and two out is approximately equal to the batter's on-base-percentage (if the bases are loaded) or batting average (if at least one base is open). There are other ways to score the runner -- such as wild pitches, passed balls, and errors -- but these events are rare and don't change the probabilities very much.
The play-by-play data from big league games confirm that coaches and players are more aggressive with two out. Last year, runners scored from second on singles 43% of the time with nobody out, 57% of the time with one out, and 82% of the time with two out. These figures exclude infield singles, so these were the advance rates on singles that were handled by outfielders.
Some of the increase with two out is due to the runner being able to go on contact instead of waiting to see if the ball drops, but some of it is tactical.
With nobody out, only 1.5% of all runners were thrown out at home trying to score from second on a single, while 55% of them held at third, presumably because the team still has two cracks at bringing him home another way.
With one out, a few more chances were taken, and the percentage of runners thrown out at the plate grew to 3%. Only 40% of the runners held third with one out.
And with two out, 5.6% of the runners were thrown out at the plate, with only 12% holding at third.
Another way to look at the two-out data is to assume that with the runner able to go on contact, he scores easily a lot of the time, so there's really no decision to be made by the third-base coach.
Let's suppose that 75 of every 100 runners scored automatically, so the coach had to make a decision the other 25 times. In other words, among those 100 runners, 75 scored automatically, 12 were held at third, 13 were sent home in situations where the outcome was in doubt, and 7 of those 13 (54%) were successful.
With the success rate in these borderline cases at 54%, it doesn't appear that there's a lot of room for the coaches to be more aggressive. That 54% success rate is higher than the batting average or on-base percentage of the next hitter, so it's a good risk, especially if you only need one run.
And if we assume that big-league coaches are good at their jobs, it's fair to say the other 12 cases where they held the runner are likely to be situations where the runner had a lower chance of getting home safely. So it would be hard to argue that many more of these runners should have been sent.
Of course, this conclusion hinges upon the assumption that 75% of these advances are automatic. I pulled that number out of thin air, and it could just as easily be something else.
If the real percentage of automatic advances is 50%, now we're looking at 50 uncertain cases where the runner was sent 38 times and was safe 32 times for a success rate of 84%. And if the success rate is that high for the 38 runners who were sent, then you could make the case that a few of the remaining 12 runners should have been sent home as well.
All things considered, my sense is that third-base coaches generally make good decisions that reflect an intuitive understanding of the break-even probability for these two-out situations.
Because the frequency with which runners are getting thrown out at home is quite low, it seems clear they are not being too aggressive.
And while there may be a little room for them to get even more aggressive, they're already sending 88% of the runners, and the probability that the remaining 12% would score isn't likely to be too much higher than the chances of scoring these runners in other ways.
Furthermore, in some of the cases where the runner was held, the offense may have been playing for the big inning. When that's true, the break-even probability for sending the runner is higher, so the chance is worth taking less often.