Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A league finished, and lessons learned

It took a bit more than a year. The first of 226 games was played on Jan. 23, 2010, and the last was played on Feb. 2, 2011.

I started playing each game with the cards and dice; I ended the season playing the games almost completely on the computer, but still keeping score and the stats by hand. I filled one spiral notebook and about half of another with scoresheets.

I am not surprised that the best teams came out of the Hall of Fame set. Even with 20-man rosters, the depth difference was obvious, particularly in the pitching staffs. No NeL team had more than four Cooperstown inductees on their staff.

What did surprise me was how well the Teddys -- selected from the 1901-1920 era -- did. I had expected that the lack of long ball power would beat them down. Instead, the lineup hit better than .300, the pitching was pretty good -- and got better at the end, when Pete Alexander and Christy Mathewson stopped getting rocked -- and they wound up with the best record and an easy win in the championship series.

And they were a fun team for me to manage. This would be no surprise to those who were in the old Free Press strat league: I am, as a table manager, more akin to Walter Alston or Gene Mauch than to Earl Weaver or Joe McCarthy. I like the bunt, the hit-and-run, making moves.

The Franklins were a better team than the Garfields, but I enjoyed the Garfields more.

This was more a hitters league than I expected. Babe Ruth hit 22 homers in 45 games; that's 80, 81 in a 162-game season, and it came against better-than-average pitching. Probably he wouldn't hit 80 homers if the league went a real-life distance, but still -- there were as many qualifying hitters with a .420 average (extraordinary accomplishment) and qualifying pitchers with ERAs below 3.00 (good but not extraordinary). The hitters ruled.

What comes next? Well, I have Version 16 of the game on order, along with the 2010 Hall of Fame set.

I am probably going to run a small league to test a couple of questions with the computer game, in particular the question of how the computer will handle pitchers coded only to start but used in relief. I have a couple of ideas for longer leagues, but time is an issue. If it took me more than a year to work through 226 games, how long would it take to do a six-team league at 154 games apiece?

I'm not done playing Strat by any means. When I start my next league, I'll be recording it here again. And it will be sooner rather than later.

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