clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Intro

New, comments

Here I introduce the background story to the baseball simulation I run on MLB: The Show on an annual basis.

I'd like to think all these people will read this article. Probably not, though.
I'd like to think all these people will read this article. Probably not, though.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Just a heads-up for all you Twinkie Towners. If you couldn't care less about MLB: The Show, stop reading here. If you're interested, keep going and see if you like it. If you're a hardcore fan of the game, you must continue. These posts are for you.

I've been playing MLB: The Show ever since it debuted back in 2006. It's a good thing I stuck with it, because when it first started it was terrible. Oh sure, having Vin Scully as the game's announcer was incredible, but then I quickly learned that whomever was in charge of feeding him player name pronunciations obviously was incompetent. I quickly had to mute Scully because I was sick of hearing about Michael "Cud-yer" and Doug "Min-keh-wich." Additionally, it was impossible to hit the ball to the opposite field with authority and sometimes you'd hit a home run but the game wouldn't count the dinger in the postgame stats.

Even before that though, I noticed something I felt was egregious. Twins pitcher Carlos Silva was in that game and we all know he was constantly dubbed as a sinker-ball pitcher. Well I fired up my copy of The Show and... no sinker. Not even a 2-seamer. Just the standard four-pitch mix (4-seam, slider, curve, change-up) was in Silva's repertoire.

That started the odyssey that has constantly evolved and been improved upon over the past 10 years. It started with just "fixing" the pitchers and giving them the correct pitch repertoires, along with adjusting batting stances and pitching windups. This started from simply watching games and using my copy of The Scouting Notebook that I picked up at Barnes & Noble. Then I noticed that the Twins were calling up players that weren't in the game, so I went ahead and created them. Then I noticed that some players (especially the young guys) had unrealistic stats, with some vastly overrated and others immensely underrated. Pretty soon I was buying a copy of The Show each year and tweaking stats from the moment I inserted the disc into my PlayStation 2 for the first time.

There's been a learning curve the entire time I've done this. At first, I started with a player's stats from the past season. But, as we all (or should) know, performances can fluctuate on a yearly basis. Joe Mauer's 2009 season is one that hits close to home. Another fun one was 2010 when Alex Rodriguez apparently forgot how to hit lefties and hit just .217 against them. Yeah, that was totally realistic when I could bring in a lefty specialist to retire peak A-Rod with ease. Thus I discovered that I should use career stats instead of the past season to choose players.

Likewise, to measure power I started with extrapolating a player's home runs against a certain handedness per 600 plate appearances (the standard for measuring a full season's worth of PA). Luis Castillo hit just one home run in 142 PA against lefties in 2007. That equaled roughly 4 home runs per 600 PA, so clearly he had little power there. But, he failed to hit a single home run in over 400 PA against righties that year, so that meant he somehow had even less power against RHP. Then I switched over to slugging percentage when I realized that the stat measured power better than just home runs, which lasted until a person on Facebook tipped me off that isolated power (ISO) was even more accurate in judging a player's power.

Over the past couple years, I've typically edited all of a pitcher's stats (they were easy to find on FanGraphs) and select position player stats (typically just contact and power against handedness, reaction, stolen base frequency, and maybe something else if I heard about it on TV). It's always been my goal to make my copy of The Show as similar to real life as possible. Thanks to full-time jobs getting in the way, this process would typically take me about three weeks to complete. Well, this year was a bit different. You probably remember that I went to the Winter Meetings back in December and was looking for jobs in baseball. Unfortunately nothing came of that. I also have been working as a substitute teacher for the entire school year and my original job from the fall/winter ended in February, so I've had plenty of free time between then and when my next long-term position starts. That allowed me to undertake the most extensive work I've ever attempted with The Show.

In the past, I skipped over many stats for players. Not this year. Nothing was off-limits, not even that durability meter that I never thought twice about in the past. This spring, I looked to assign something to virtually everything in an effort to make my version of The Show the most accurate that anyone owns.

Of course, I need to offer some caveats. First, I'm using 2014's The Show. Unfortunately I learned that the 2015 copy wouldn't let you edit minor leaguers' appearances (so the new players that debut wouldn't look realistic) and from Twinkie Town's own tlschwerz, it turned out that 2016's version was the same. Sadly, this means I no longer use the current MLB schedule when I'm playing. Second, I still skipped over some stats, but my reasoning was either that I couldn't find something online that measures it, I'm not sure how to measure it, or I simply didn't care (sorry durability).

The following two posts are naturally split up into pitchers and position players. In each I'll give a little background on my work and then I'll talk about all the stats and how I've edited them this spring. I want you all to know that if you have suggestions to improve on my work, please leave them in the comments. This is something that I'm constantly tweaking and throughout the posts, I'll mention if I'm displeased with my methods (I'm looking at you, K/9 for pitchers).

Before I finish up, The Show '14 does rank each team based on their active roster. Just for fun, I'm going to list all 30 teams ranked below. Unfortunately, the Twins look pretty bad (a lack of making contact and pitching hurts them) but overall I think the rankings are pretty reasonable, showing that my madness isn't complete quackery.

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. New York Mets
  3. Boston Red Sox
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. Los Angeles Dodgers
  6. Houston Astros
  7. Seattle Mariners
  8. St. Louis Cardinals
  9. Baltimore Orioles
  10. San Francisco Giants
  11. Detroit Tigers
  12. Toronto Blue Jays
  13. Chicago White Sox
  14. Oakland Athletics
  15. Pittsburgh Pirates
  16. Cleveland Indians
  17. Texas Rangers
  18. New York Yankees
  19. Los Angeles Angels
  20. Arizona Diamondbacks
  21. Tampa Bay Rays
  22. Minnesota Twins
  23. Kansas City Royals
  24. Colorado Rockies
  25. Cincinnati Reds
  26. Miami Marlins
  27. San Diego Padres
  28. Atlanta Braves
  29. Milwaukee Brewers
  30. Philadelphia Phillies

The following is probably the most absurd thing you'll ever read about The Show, which will be posted early Wednesday morning. I hope you enjoy it.