SELECTING YOUR HOME PARK
Once you’ve joined or formed a league, you will select your home park – the home field for your team. Where you play matters – possibly a great deal – and you should consider where your team will play when building your team. Some parks are better for lefties, some for righties. Some are good for home runs, some are better for line-drive hitters. Some favor pitchers. Some have odd weather effects (think Candlestick, Wrigley); some have domes and thus no weather effects. If you have pitchers who give up a lot of homers and you select Coors Field or the Polo Grounds as your home park, you’re probably headed for a tough time. You might win, and the challenge may be fun, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. But you can use your home park to your advantage if you build your team to complement its characteristics. If you want to learn more about the available parks and their effects, click on “View Parks” next to the park selection box or the link “Ballparks” under REFERENCE. There are plenty of sources available to learn about ballparks, and it’s part of the fun to learn. In Standard Leagues, you will always get your park choice, as we allow duplicate parks. NOTE: You may change your home park, but only until you submit your draft for a Standard League team or once the draft has started in a Manual Draft.
NOTE: Park factors are a difficult thing to determine, as they are dramatically affected by the other parks at the time. We use a concept known as Dynamic Park Factors to normalize a park’s effect for a different era. This is most relevant when using parks from before 1920 in later eras. For a more detailed explanation, see Park Factors under REFERENCE.
BUILDING YOUR TEAM
Once you’ve selected your home park, it’s time to select your players. Here are some key elements to keep in mind:
Your team roster will consist of 25 active players plus 3 on Inactive Reserve. Each player has a salary ranging from a minimum of $500,000 to around $30 million for, of course, The Babe. Player salaries (for the "Classic" player pool) are adjusted twice annually based on how often they are used relative to other similar players ... they do not necessarily reflect the player's true "value" compared to other players. But that’s part of the fun and one key to winning here just as in real baseball – finding underpriced bargains and avoiding overpriced busts … paying what’s necessary to get the cornerstones for your team and finding fnding complementary price-is-right role-players. You can’t build a team made up entirely of superstars in a Standard League, so spend your money wisely.
Before you dive in, a few words about our players:
Our "Classic" player pool includes over 4,500 players who played from the start of baseball history until recent times, including stars from the Negro Leagues and Nippon Professional Baseball who never had the opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. Every six months, we’ll add more players as well, so you get some new ones to try. Player performance in Diamond Mind Online® takes into consideration both the career and peak performance of their real-life careers. Player performance is determined by just about every statistic and performance criteria you can imagine. For hitters we included everything from speed and power to tendency to walk or strike out to fielding range and tendency to make errors. Pitcher performance is based on things like ability to strike batters out or keep the ball in the park to frequency of hitting batters to wild pitches to balks. Yes, balks.
The Single-Season player pool includes over 72,000 player-seasons: every player who appeared in even a single major league game from 1926 to the present. Each year we will add the most recently completed season's players as well. Players are rated similarly to "Classic" players but on the basis of each single season only, and their play will deteriorate markedly if they exceed 110% of their real-life PA or IP for your team.
We won’t tell you everything about how players are rated, because we think you should figure out what matters to you in building your team. Search the various parameters and decide for yourself. You can measure player performance statistically, but real players are not a collection of ratings. A general manager doesn’t “know” that one shortstop has “x” range and another “y” range, but can only make a judgment based on all the information available to him. Part of the experience is the research and learning more about the wonderful game that is baseball.
Player position eligibility for players is based on positions played, in the case of "Classic" career-rated players, during a player’s most representative seasons, with priority given to the position(s) each played most. If a player is rated to play a position, he will play that position as he did in real life, meaning we do not apply a performance penalty if it was not his primary position.But if a position isn’t listed, the player may still be able to play the position if it is a logical position for that player to be able to play, considering what’s become known as the “defensive spectrum,” which lists the defensive positions from hardest to easiest as (excluding catcher, which is an exception):
SS – 2B – CF – 3B – RF – LF – 1B – DH
In other words, a good right fielder is likely to be fine in left field but not in center field; a shortstop can play an acceptable third base. There may be a performance hit, as playing third base is different, but it shouldn’t be a horrible drop-off. But there are common-sense limits. Don’t expect to do well by putting catchers all over the field. If in real life you tried to put an outfielder who did not play the infield at an infield position or tried to put a catcher at shortstop, he’s not likely to do well, and you should expect bad things to happen if you try it in this game … maybe very bad things. Don’t expect anyone not listed as a catcher to be able to catch and be anything but bad. You may get lucky from time to time, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Normalization. Player performance stats are normalized. The great and glorious game of baseball has changed much over time. So, what qualified as “good” at one time may not be good at another. For instance, shortstops made many more errors in, say, 1894 than they do today. It’s no wonder – they didn’t use gloves. But would the better fielders then be good fielders today, with gloves? We think so. Therefore, we adjust a player’s tendencies to normalize for effects of the era (i.e., how he fared vs. his contemporaries) and the home park(s) in which he played. For further information, see A Note About Normalization. Generally, good players will be good players, no matter what the era, and bad players will be bad players, though we have made some adjustments for periods in which we consider the competition was less challenging, such as some years before 1901, certain alternative leagues, and some war years. For further information on such adjustments, see Adjustments for Varying Levels of Competition.
Defense. Defense matters, and it will affect your pitching. Good defense helps pitchers, and bad defense may reduce pitching effectiveness. It’s true in real baseball, and it’s true in our game. If you put weak fielders on the field, it will almost certainly reduce the effectiveness you thought you’d get from your pitchers. Maybe a lot. Just as General Managers in real life must make trade-offs, you’ll need to decide where you’re willing to pay for defense and where you’re not, and which players have other qualities that make you willing to live with defensive deficiencies. Please note, however, that we believe our simulation does the best job of reflecting the appropriate balance of the various elements of hitting, pitching, and defense, and you can win with any of a number of strategies – just like real life.
Player Salaries. The players have salaries. The minimum is $500,000. We based the initial salaries on a combinaton of overall player value and what we thought the player would get if he were playing today, and they range from the minimum to around $30,000,000 for The Babe. Every six months, we adjust the salaries based on a proprietary supply-and-demand formula we've developed.
Unless you’re in a Custom League with a lower or higher cap, you will have $100 million to acquire your players. Think of your player contracts as assets you pay for. Once the season starts, you’ve paid for those players. You may cut them and get a partial refund, depending on the rules of your league. Or, you may trade your players for others, if your league allows that. Just like any owner today (other than a couple of teams!), you have budget constraints. Don’t forget the 8-pitcher/4-starter minimum. In a lot of ways, this is an asset management game. When choosing your players, don’t forget to think about your home park and how they might fare there.
NOTE: You need not complete your draft all at once. Our system saves whatever you last entered, so you can return later to finish, if you want.
Pitcher Roles. All pitchers have designations for whatever roles they played with any significance - “SP” for starting pitcher, “RP” for relief pitcher, and “CL” for closer. Of course, a starter who is not designated as a reliever could be a relief pitcher, and he should be durable in that role – if he’s durable enough to start, he’s durable enough to relieve – and he should perform about as well as he would as a starter. But a reliever who does not have a starter designation may not be listed in your starting rotation, though the sim manager may use him as an injury replacement if you so indicate or as an emergency starter if there is no one else available due to injury. In such cases, don’t expect him to have much endurance, and his performance will suffer when fatigue sets in. You may get lucky and get a good performance, just like when a team in real life gets a boost when a player “steps up”, but don’t count on it.
NOTE: Pitchers are eligible for a starting pitcher designation if they started at least 100 games in their career. To be designated as a relief pitcher, a player must have appeared in at least 50 games in relief. We did make some exceptions both ways, and some pitchers whose careers were not long enough to present a sufficient case for their performance were excluded completely from our player pool. There are some pitchers who had two separate and distinct phases to their careers, such as Dennis Eckersley, Ron Reed, Rick Honeycutt and Phil Regan. We chose to limit them to the role in which they were more effective.
Minimum Requirements. You must have at least 28 players, 25 on your active roster and 3 on Inactive Reserve. At least 8 of your active roster players must be pitchers, at least 4 of whom must have a designation as a starter (SP). It’s unrealistic to allow fewer players or pitchers, and our simulation program would not run as well with fewer players and pitchers, so that’s why we made these requirements.
Catchers. You should have at least one player who is designated as a catcher, though we won’t require it – but don’t expect players not designated as catchers to be any good. Also, note that catchers are particularly subject to fatigue – it’s hard work back there – and this can and does affect performance. If you do not rest your starting catcher and his usage reaches they point where he is becoming fatigued, the Manager will replace your starter with a back-up catcher, if there is one on the active roster. So you might want to have at least 2 or 3 players who are rated to catch. If your catchers are injured and you don’t have another player rated eligible to catch, the Manager will stick in some position player, and that player is quite likely to be awful. Catching is very difficult, and not everyone can do it. So, if you choose only one catcher, once again, you’re playing with fire. But hey, that’s what freedom’s all about. As we like to say, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Other than those restrictions, the choice of who you put into each position is up to you, but you must have someone at each position, of course. A few suggestions:
Catchers also tire and their performance will suffer if they are fatigued. So, you’re courting disaster if you don’t have at least two catchers, and you might consider having three. Again, imagine what you’d do in real life. Of course, you can try anything you like except putting hitters in to pitch, but keep in mind that players not rated to catch will likely be bad defensively … maybe very bad.
Pitchers are designated as Starting Pitchers (SP), Relief Pitchers (RP) or Closers (CL). Some have multiple designations. A pitcher is not limited to his designation – it’s really just descriptive of his career – but it should also tell you something about what roles he can be expected to handle. That doesn’t mean they can’t pitch in other roles, though only pitchers with a starter (SP) designation may be listed in the starting rotation. Pitcher endurance is based on a pitcher’s real-life durability IN THAT ROLE. You may start pitchers no more frequently than once every fourth day, and many can’t handle that load, so plan accordingly. (The Manager may start a reliever if there are no healthy starting pitchers eligible to start, but expect his stamina to be poor and his performance to suffer as a result.)
Dual Role Players. Few players in the history of professional baseball proved capable of being effective as hitters in the field and pitching as well, and it was certainly more frequent in the early days of baseball before pro baseball grew and became more competitive. Players in Diamond Mind Online® do have this capability if we determined that they truly had it in their real careers. However, our research indicates that it’s fairly clear that no modern player of baseball at the major league level was capable of pitching regularly and still playing as effectively every day in the field, nor were players really effective at coming in to pitch when they had been playing that game in the field. Therefore, a player may not play in the starting lineup for two virtual DAYS (not games – off-days count) after a pitching start. During those two days, he may come off the bench as a pinch-hitter or defensive or injury replacement and maybe even as a relief pitcher if not fatigued, but he will not be allowed in the starting lineup. If you leave such a player in your starting lineup during the two days after a pitching start, the system will bench him and choose another player to start in his place. Further, the system will not look to dual role players in your lineup when making a bullpen decision. As a result, players in the field will only come in to pitch in emergency situations.
As with other pitchers, you may not put a dual role player into your starting rotation unless he has the SP designation.
Negro Leagues Players. As you probably know, the horrible injustice of segregation included professional baseball until 1947. As a result, many great ballplayers never got their chance to play in the major leagues. But in our historical fantasy game we can do something about that. Our player pool includes a number of players who played in what were known as the Negro Leagues. Unfortunately, the statistical record of those leagues is far less complete than for the major leagues. As a result, determining how these players should perform was a difficult and time-consuming task … but we thought it was worth it. So, we did extensive research of numerous sources to make estimates of player performance. But since these players lack reliable real statistics, they all show as zero in our real stats search database. We have also provided a special franchise for “Negro Leaguers” so you can search for all of them using the Franchise search parameters. To help you further, we also provide you with some background on each players and a link to some online descriptions where available. You can access this information by going to our essay on The Negro League Players.
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