How to Play Baseball Classics: Intermediate Level – Bunting

How to Play Baseball Classics: Intermediate Level – Bunting

Though bunting seems to becoming a lost art, let’s rediscover this fine hidden gem and how to use it when playing Baseball Classics baseball game.

The second of three playing levels available in Baseball Classics is the Intermediate play level.  This level includes everything in the Beginning play level (see Blog post How to Play Baseball Classics: Beginning Level) and adds more baseball fundamentals to enjoy to your play, tapping into more strategic moves including bunting, base stealing, base running, and fielding.

All batter player cards contain individual ratings for bunting, base stealing, base running, and fielding while pitcher cards also contain individual fielding ratings.  All ratings are based on their actual MLB season performance.

Keeping with the consistent easy to play in full color theme, the ratings are color-coded symbols.  There are four rating levels as follows:

 Excellent rating      Very good rating      Fair rating      Poor rating

Each batter’s bunt, steal, and base running rating are grouped to the left just below the name of the player and team.  There are up to four different positions listed for each batter card and one per pitcher card for how they field their position.

In this article I will cover how to play using bunting in Baseball Classics baseball game and provide several play examples.

Bunting

The team on offense can call a bunt anytime prior to rolling the dice for the current player’s at bat and there are less than 2 outs.  There are 3 types of bunts available in Baseball Classics depending upon the game situation.  Let’s review them.

Sacrifice Bunt – The batter is attempting to move any base runner(s) up 1 base in exchange for being thrown out at 1st Base.

Suicide Squeeze Bunt – The batter must be attempting to move a base runner on 3rd Base to Home safely in exchange for being thrown out at 1st Base.

Safety Squeeze Bunt – The batter must be attempting to move a base runner on 3rd Base to Home safely in exchange for being thrown out at 1st Base.  There are 2 differences between this type of bunt and a suicide squeeze bunt.

1)    if a batter strikes out, the base runner on 3rd holds and is not forced to steal home.  See play example 4 below.

2)    a safety squeeze is successful only when the result is a green box with a check mark; a result of a green box with a black dot in the center is considered a foul ball.

The Baseball Classics Play Chart contains a Bunting Chart and Legend.  After either a sacrifice or suicide squeeze bunt is called, roll the 3 six-sided color dice and refer to the Bunting chart for the result based on the sum of the dice total for that batter’s Bunt rating on his card.  The Legend states the meaning of each color-coded square in the Bunting chart.

75 MorganLet’s use the following 1975 Joe Morgan Cincinnati Reds player card for the following play examples.  He has a yellow bunt rating.

Play Example 1 – Attempted sacrifice bunt result is a successful

1 out, base runner on 1st Base, a sacrifice bunt is called by the team at bat.

With a roll of all 3 six-sided dice, we have the following:

Standard six-sided dice total 7 (2, 3, 2)

Looking under the Yellow rating column, a roll of 13 is a red filled square with a DP.  The Legend indicates this is a “Sacrifice bunt, otherwise foul ball”.  Since a sacrifice bunt was called, it is a successful sacrifice bunt.  However if a Suicide Squeeze bunt was called, it would have been a foul ball.

 

Play Example 2 – Attempted sacrifice bunt result is not successful

1 out, base runner on 2nd Base, a sacrifice bunt is called by the team at bat.

With a roll of all 3 six-sided dice, we have the following:

Standard six-sided dice total 11 (4, 4, 3)

The result is a GO when cross-referenced in the Yellow rating column.  The Legend indicates a GO as a Groundout.  The team in the field applies one the options available listed in the Baseball Classics Groundout Result Table located in the Field Manager’s Rulebook.

 

Play Example 3 – Bunt result is a double play on an attempted suicide squeeze

1 out, base runner on 3rd Base, a suicide squeeze bunt is called by the team at bat.

With a roll of all 3 six-sided dice, we have the following:

Standard six-sided dice total 13 (6, 3, 4)

The result is a DP when cross-referenced in the Yellow rating column.  The Legend indicates a DP as a Double Play.  In the case of bunting with a DP, it is a popout so the batter is automatically out and the runner coming Home is out as well, doubled off from 3rd Base.  The same result holds true when attempting a sacrifice bunt and DP is the result, both the lead base runner and batter are out with less than 2 outs.

 

Play Example 4 – Sacrifice bunt result is a strikeout

1 out, base runner on 2nd Base, a sacrifice bunt is called by the team at bat.

With a roll of all 3 six-sided dice, we have the following:

Standard six-sided dice total 8 (2, 4, 2)

The result under the Yellow bunt rating is a Suicide squeeze bunt, otherwise foul ball.  Since a sacrifice bunt was called, it is a foul ball, thus strike 1 on the batter.  The team at bat may elect to take the bunt off and swing away, however let’s proceed with another sacrifice bunt attempt in this at bat.  A roll of (6,1,1) is another 8 which means this is strike 2 on the batter.  Again, the team at bat may elect to swing away, but should they choose to continue attempt to sacrifice again they may, a very risky move, though could pay off.  A third dice roll of (2, 5, 1) is another 8.  In this case the risky move does not pay off.  This would be a strikeout, as the result is another foul ball.  Since MLB rules apply, a batter attempting any type of bunt with 2 strikes and fouling the ball is out via a strikeout.  In this example the batter is out and the base runner on 3rd Base must attempt to steal the base.

 

Next let’s look at how base stealing is played in the next Blog post article titled “How to Play Baseball Classics: Intermediate Level – Base Stealing and Running”.  When you manage your team, do like to bunt and when or do you feel bunting has gone by the way side in today’s modern Major League Baseball play?  Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

7 Tips to Build Effective Baseball Lineups

7 Tips to Build Effective Baseball Lineups

According to an article written by By F. C. LANE entitled “What Are The Odds“; without paying any attention as to how they arrived at the various bases the odds of scoring from first, second and third, are roughly as follows: from first base, 22.19%; from second, 42.77%; from third, 61.54%.

Do you have an effective strategy to build your baseball lineup to score runs?

New York Yankees Lineup Card

A major key to winning baseball games consistently is having an effective lineup strategy.  This article will share 7 tips you can use right now to build your lineups for any team to enhance your chances of winning.

To make it easier to remember, they spell out the word L-I-N-E-U-P-S

  • Leather
  • Instant runs
  • New base runners
  • Edge the base path
  • Understand your opposing pitcher
  • Pinch hitters – flexibility
  • Speed Kills

Leather

See Blog “Is Your Lineup Giving Up 28 Outs or 27?

Instant Runs

It’s the fastest way to score in baseball, the home run.  Even teams built for speed should have at least one true power in their lineup.  Considering your lineup will typically turn over about 4 times a game, it’s fairly safe to place your best home run slugger anywhere from number 3-6 in the lineup to ensure they will get enough cracks at putting you on the board in an instant, especially with good on-base percentage batter’s in front of them to bring them across the plate too as an added benefit of the long ball.

Though the odds of hitting a home run are 1 in 35.26 compared a double of 1 in 21.14 or a single of 1 in 6.44, what needs to be considered are the odds are of hitting a single and double within 2 outs (assuming a speed burner is the lead runner).  Thus there’s quite a bit to factor that needs to happen compared to hitting a home run such as what if the lead runner who reached based via the single or double was picked off or the single after the double was merely an infield hit, etc.  That’s what’s nice about the long ball, it happens in an instant, thus simple and very effective.

New Base Runners

Moneyball.  Get as many on-base percentage guys as you can in your baseball lineup.  Think walks.  They the poor man’s single that seems to merely make a whimper, but seems to score more times than not.  Consider this: if Chicago White Sox 2012 Adam Dunn’s walks were counted as singles, his batting average would have been .334 instead of his actual paltry .204.

Edge the Base Path

Even the speediest of base runners aren’t considered to be “in scoring position” until they are on second or third base.  That’s because it typically takes more than a single for them to score from first base.  Though you “can’t steal first”, you can steal second, third, or home.  Thus having some base stealers in your lineup are key, though just as important are those that excel at sacrificing their at-bats for the sake of edging base runners to the next base through a bunt or fly ball.  One day, a runner that intentionally grounds the ball out to the right side of the infield to advance a runner from second or third may be scored as a sacrifice too.  I think it should since it serves the same purpose intended by a bunt or deep fly ball out.  Meanwhile be sure to have at least 2 good base stealers and 2 good bunters positioned after good on-base percentage batters in your lineup.

Understand Your Opposing Pitcher

Okay, so lefty/righty has been used for decades now, and frankly it’s over blown when looking at most stats.  That’s another topic for another day.  Here’s a few ideas on this important point.

  • If they surrender the long ball, yet not much else, then stack your lineup with good on-base percentage batters.
  • Are they a strikeout artist?  Then paint your lineup with the long ball hitters.
  • Do they have a tendency to walk a lot of batters?  Get those edge hitters in the lineup to move them along into scoring position
  • How about the pitcher that gives up a lot of hits, but keeps the ball in the park?  Don’t fight it, by adding power hitters (typically with marginal batting averages).  Make sure your lineup is chalk full of good, high batting average hitters to keep the line moving.
  • Consider if the pitcher is a weak fielder, let alone the rest of the team.  Then have players in your lineup that make contact and/or can bunt to put the ball in play more often.  As covered in a prior post “Is Your Lineup Giving Up 28 Outs or 27?”, that 1 error could make the difference between winning and losing.

Pinch Hitters

One of the best ways to think of your lineup is beyond the 9 batters.  Your bench is essential to bringing up the right hitter at the right time in the game.  Today’s game is so specialized with relievers sometimes it’s hard to have all the right hitters on the bench to face a bullpen.  Though it’s always a good idea to have a good power hitter (doubles/home run) on your bench, a good on-base percentage batter, a reliable bunter, and slightly off-topic one excellent fielder as a late inning replacement for that great hitter/subpar fielder when/if you deem necessary.

Speed Kills

There are those games where a home run changes the entire complexion.  Then there are those games where a speed burner simply reaches first base and throws off the entire rhythm of the game for the opposing team.  Get those base stealers and great base runners in your lineup in droves as much as possible.  I like to think of them like wide receivers with great “yards after the catch” ability.  Whenever you can advance base runners without needing to do so via a hit, naturally your odds to score those runners increase quite a bit.

In 1974, Charlie Finley, former owner of the Oakland Athletics signed sprinter Herb Washington to be the official pinch runner.  It wasn’t the greatest idea in the world as Herb wasn’t a baseball player; he was a sprinter from Michigan State.  Herb never had a plate appearance; he had 29 stolen bases that season and 29 runs scored.  These results were marred a bit by the 16 times he was caught stealing.  Yet the Athletics did win the World Series that season, so it wasn’t a total bust by any stretch.

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Here’s a Baseball Classics 2012 Milwaukee Brewers batting order lineup I put together to face strikeout artist 2012 Washington Nationals Stephen Strasburg who doesn’t give up much besides the walk: (top 4 hitters upper row from left to right, followed by bottom 4 hitters)

2012 Brewers Lineup

Note this lineup matches up as well as possible against the mighty Strasburg by further taking advantage of getting on base via the walk and has home run power to provide instant runs.

Naturally even the greatest of baseball lineups like the 1927 deemed “Murderers Row” don’t guarantee a win.  Though of course they sure increase the odds to win.  What are your most effective tips and strategies when building your baseball lineups for your baseball board games play?

Is Your Lineup Giving Up 28 Outs or 27?

Is Your Lineup Giving Up 28 Outs or 27?

Did you know that most Major League Baseball lineups frequently give up ONE FREE OUT to the opposing team per game?  Risky, don’t you think?

In today’s era of MLB, frequently translates to approximately 64% of the time.  And if you essentially copying MLB lineups when playing your tabletop baseball board games you are doing the same.

Baseball Bat and Glove

Naturally when building a lineup, typically the first thought is where to place hitters in the batting order.  After all, the connotation of a lineup is all about the “batting order”, thus hitting better be a key right?  Well sure, though naturally fielding a team with great leather is critical when playing a tabletop baseball board game based on fielding ratings to reduce the risk of giving the other team that 1 extra out.

In 2012, National League teams committed a total of 1661 errors.

((1661 errors / 16 NL teams = 103.8125%) / 162 MLB games per team) = 64%

Let’s examine further to see how 64% of the time a lineup made translates into allowing 1 free out to the other team during a game.  Here are a couple of additional baseline factors to consider.  Hang in there, I will walk you through this, it’s rather fascinating.

There are 27 outs per 9-inning game, per team (barring a game shortened by rainout, etc.) and the average score of a Major League Baseball Game is 5-3.  Using these factors here is a sampling to conservatively project the impact fielding has when building a lineup.  So far so good.  Next I’m going to use some assumptions.

Approximate number of times a ball is fielded per 9 inning game by 1 team

27 outs  * 60% of the outs are fielded by one players to register the out

+ 27 outs * 40% of the outs are fielded by two players to register the out * 2

+ 9 hits * 1.5

+ 5 strikeouts

+ 5 miscellaneous fielding plays (stolen base attempt, pick off attempt, etc.) * 2

66.3     @ times a team fields a ball during a 9 inning game

The model above reflects that a team fields the ball 66.3 times during a game.  When applying an average team’s fielding rating (in today’s MLB era) of .983% it means that typically a team is going to field those plays cleanly 65.17 times during a game.

Sample 9 Inning Game Fielding Model For an MLB Team

66.3   A ball is fielded

– 65.17  Fielded without an error

1.13     Times the ball will not be fielded cleanly

Thus we can say the typical number of errors made per 9-inning game is 1 per team.  Essentially this means that 1 batter on the opposing team will reach base safely that would not have.  Considering the number of average plate appearances in a 9-inning game is 4, this means “awarding” the other team a free out for a batter in their lineup at some point during the game.

Is a player you put in your lineup who lowers your fielding rating be worth it by reaching base at LEAST 1 time during his plate appearances?  And that would merely kind of equate to giving up that extra out.

However wait a minute, because that still doesn’t really tell the story.  The real impact is giving the other team 4 outs in an inning at some point during a game.  Who knows when it will occur until you play?  It’s Russian Roulette with every fielding play.  Doesn’t it typically seem more times than not an error occurs at a crucial time?  Those are the kind that open the proverbial floodgates surrendering that big inning.  Then that 1 extra out looms much larger.

How many games have you watched when your favorite team could have won if they just didn’t extend that one inning by booting the ball?  Besides it turns the lineup over another notch, thus putting the most feared batter in the lineup to come up to the plate an extra time.

I sure have been guilty of building lineups that have quite frankly benched some far better fielding for those far better hitters that are lousy fielders.  The good news is that Major League Baseball players are just that, Major Leaguers.  Thus even the lousy ones are still going to be adequate in most cases.  Naturally even the most elite of fielders commit errors, consequently errors are part of the game.

With all this said, I’m not suggesting to bench your good hitters across the board in favor of a weaker hitters who are superb fielders.  Instead it’s to give additional consideration next time you make lineups playing your favorite tabletop baseball board games.  In so many cases, those great hitters are solid fielders as well, thus making your decision solely around where to place that hitter in your lineup.

By the way, studying the 2012 National League, the team that made the most errors were the Colorado Rockies with 122.  Meanwhile the NL team that committed the least number of errors were the Atlanta Braves with 86.  A whopping difference of 36 errors, I suppose the Rockies staff would agree it wasn’t pretty.  Atlanta went to the playoffs, Colorado got to catch their breath from chasing the ball around as they sat home watching post season play.

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In summary, you should consider that a lineup with an average fielding team will commit 1 error per game 64% of the games you play.  If you field a team with an fielding average that is very high, let’s say .986 or better then you reduce your risk that will happen to less than 1 error per game.

It may not sound like much of a fuss over, but lowering your risk to avoid giving up that extra out just may be the one that saves your team while playing your favorite tabletop baseball board games.

This is where Baseball Classics “traffic highlighting” comes in very handy.  Layout all your Baseball Classics player cards on top of the positions on the field they play.  Look for a sea of green (up arrow) and/or yellow (left arrow) as much as possible across all positions.