DMB News February 2004
Diamond Mind Email Newsletter
February 20, 2004
Written by Tom Tippett
Welcome to the first edition of the Diamond Mind email newsletter for the year 2004. 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:
A patch for the 2003 Season Disk is available for download from our web site. It corrects one salary and some hit-by-pitch ratings for players with limited playing time. The patch is not a replacement season disk, it's a program that updates your copy, even if you have drafted new rosters or started a season.
It's been our policy for years that if a batter or pitcher posted extreme stats in very limited playing time, we don't rate them to match those statistics. For example, a batter who goes 2 for 3 with a homer is not rated to hit anywhere near .667 or crank out a homer every three atbats. That would be unrealistic and would leave the door open for managers in DMB leagues to abuse the game.
We've been making adjustments like this for quite some time, but we recently discovered that the adjustments for players with extremely high HBP rates have not been as strong as we'd like.
Tim Wakefield, for example, was hit by a pitch in his only 2003 plate appearance. We didn't rate him to get hit by a pitch every time up, but because our adjustment wasn't large enough, he will get hit by a pitch in your DMB games much more often than we feel is reasonable.
Wakefield is the most extreme example, but Mandy Romero was hit by pitches twice in three plate appearances versus left-handed pitching, and Tom Gregorio was hit once in two PAs versus lefties. There are other, less extreme examples, all of which are fixed by this patch.
If you play a season using real-life rosters, especially with real-life transactions and lineups turned on, these changes won't have much of an impact. These players simply don't play enough to affect your results in a meaningful way. And if you crave statistical accuracy, the existing ratings are more likely to produce the HBP these players actually experienced in real life.
On the other hand, your results could be adversely affected if these players get much more playing time in your simulations than they had in real life, or if these players are frequently used in critical late-inning pinch hitting roles.
For instance, if Wakefield makes 30+ starts in a non-DH league, he'll get 60+ plate appearances instead of one, and his on-base percentage will be much too high due to his unrealistically high HBP rate. If you download and run the patch (see link below), the HBP ratings for these players will be adjusted to a much more reasonable level.
Last year's team standings projections were our best since we began doing this in 1998, as measured by the average difference in projected-versus-actual wins. You may recall that we also had very good results in 2002, so this makes two years in a row in which we tied or improved on our previous best.
Our 2003 projected standings ranked 2nd in accuracy among the 25 predictions we culled from newspapers, magazines, and web sites. (For more on these rankings, see 2003 Predictions -- Keeping Score.) They also ranked 4th out of 160 entries on Gerry Hamilton's Baseball Predictions web site.
Of course, we'll try to do even better in 2004. To that end, we've made some improvements in our projection methodology, and we're on track to begin shipping our 2004 Projection Disk on March 11th.
The Projection Disk will be released in version 8 format. If you plan to upgrade to our new version 9 release, don't worry. You can install it in version 9, and it will be converted to the new format with no loss of information, even if you're in the middle of a season.
Anyone who buys the 2004 Projection Disk prior to March 31st will receive two editions of the disk -- the March 11th edition and a free update in early April that reflects the opening day rosters and events from the remainder of spring training. After March 31st, you'll receive only the April edition.
After the first disk is issued, we'll create a few new players if some long shots make the opening day rosters, and we'll update the rosters and manager profiles to reflect late player moves. But we don't plan to make any changes that would affect the performance of players included in the March edition.
Don't forget to order your copy of the 2004 Bill James Handbook. The regular edition is only $17.95 and the convenient lays-flat-on-your-desk spiral-bound edition is just $22.95. Hardly a day goes by when we don't reach for the Handbook as part of our work.
Among the many great features of this book are career registers for every active player, including minor-league stats for players with little big-league experience; complete 2003 fielding statistics; expanded pitcher stats that include hitting, fielding, and holding runners; park factors and rankings; left/right splits for all batters and pitchers; conventional and sabermetric leader boards; team standings, augmented by many team performance splits; and team rankings for batting, pitching and fielding.
Diamond Mind is nominated in two categories: "Best Baseball Weblog" and "Best Baseball Research Project, Non-Baseball Primer Division".
Another weblog nominee is Doug Pappas's Business of Baseball Weblog, a must-read if you're interested in the business side of the sport.
In the research category, the nominated project was the work that led to our presentation at last summer's SABR convention and the ensuing article called "Can pitchers prevent hits on balls in play?"
We are happy to say that version 9 is in the final stages of field testing and we plan to begin shipping on March 18th. As a result, we are now taking advance orders for version 9 upgrades.
Our web site contains a lot of new information about version 9, including a list of enhancements, a guided tour with screen shots, and answers to frequently asked questions about product features, ship dates, and company policies.
Please take advantage of those resources. We've tried very hard to anticipate your questions, and we pledge to keep the site updated as new questions arise. We think you'll find this to be the best way to get the information you need quickly and precisely. Of course, if you've read that information and still have questions, contact us by phone or email and we'll be happy to help.
Anyone who has purchased version 8 or upgraded to version 8 since October 1, 2002 will automatically receive a free upgrade to version 9. There's no need to contact us except to notify us of any change of address since your last purchase.
For a first-time buyer, version 9 is available at the same price as version 8 -- $49.95 for the game with 12 great teams, or $69.95 for the game with 12 great teams plus the current season disk (2003). If you prefer, you can substitute the 2004 Projection Disk for the 2003 Season Disk in that $69.95 package.
Registered owners of Diamond Mind Baseball versions 6 through 8 can upgrade to version 9 for $27.95. This upgrade includes 12 great teams of the past, but does not include any other season disks.
Any season disks in version 5 through 8 format will automatically be converted to the format used for version 9, so your investment in season disks purchased from Diamond Mind will retain its value. If you are playing in a league that transfers statistics and manager profiles, you can convert during your season if every league member converts to version 9 at the same time. It is not possible to transfer stats, rosters and manager profiles between different DMB versions.
Version 9 ships on CD-ROM only. We can send season disks via e-mail, but all new games and upgrades must be shipped on CD-ROM.
We will continue to support and sell version 8 until demand for it dwindles to a low level. If you choose not to upgrade to version 9 right away, you can continue to purchase season disks (including the 2003 Season Disk and the 2004 Projection Disk) in version 8 format.
We don't have enough space here to describe all of the improvements in version 9, but here are the highlights:
- play games head-to-head over the internet without using a third-party product like NetMeeting
- a powerful new encyclopedia function enables you to store and report on the results of multiple DMB seasons
- improved HTML support for all reports
- generate groups of customizable reports with a single command
- generate an entire web site of linked pages for your league, and because this is based on our customizable reports system, you have almost complete control over the pages that are generated and the contents of those pages
- substantially expanded play-by-play commentary, including more variety for most play calls, increased awareness of game situations and previous events in the game, plus some park-specific plays
- expanded manager profiles with player-specific tendencies - a new game log report provides a textual play-by-play recap of a game, including the pitch sequence for every plate appearance
- customizable play-by-play font and color
In addition to these major enhancements, we've made improvements in other parts of the game. For more details, visit our web site.
In the past, we have announced the availability of the new Projection Disk in a letter or postcard that was mailed to all registered owners of the game in the second half of February.
This year, we're releasing both version 9 and the 2004 Projection Disk within a two-week span. We anticipate that we're going to be extremely busy, so we won't do a mailing until after both products are released.