For years now, people have been talking about the death (or at least decline) of baseball. Apparently it’s even a topic for Winter meetings these days. After all, World Series ratings are down, attendance is down… Viewership has been lacking during a pandemic, when supposedly people are less busy.
But after a closer look, you can see that both the NBA and the NFL are struggling too. Yes, this year has been special. Yes, having all these sports at the same time makes it more competitive, and the real reasons for that decline are not obvious.
Now, if you really think baseball, and maybe these sports in general, have a problem, it’s normal that you want to fix it. And the MLB seems very keen on doing just that. But to be honest, and this is only my opinion, I don’t think strikeouts and shifts are to blame. Just like, as much as I love the DH rule and the pitch clock, they’re not going to dramatically change anything. …
And learning from the previous version
Not long after the release of AB19, I imagined a big update that would allow players to get more talent, while also allowing them to take some critical decisions in the process. A kind of more active draft. I also wanted to introduce nationalities to these players. Nothing in the game says that a player comes specifically from the US or Canada, but that’s what most people would probably assume, especially given the names. …
Or at least Virtual Baseball is!
Yes, this is the day: Astonishing Baseball 20 is now available on Android! You can download it now from here:
If you do, please consider giving it a 5-star rating, that would help tremendously! iOS and PC versions will follow in the upcoming weeks and months.
It’s been a long journey, starting last summer with porting all the core Astonishing Sports features to the Unity engine, and then recreating the baseball experience for a few more months, starting everything from scratch.
I hope you’ll like the result as much as I do! Thank you for the 1K+ beta testers, and special thanks to the alpha testers from the Discord community. You tested tiredlessly a game that wasn’t finished, sharing your enthusiasm and screenshots like it was already Opening Day. And even if Spring Training got brutally cut, you kept playing the Astonishing Contest like it was a ticket for the World Series. 250K games have already been played before release. …
Or why regression to the mean is key
If I gave you a batter with a pretty good career record, but who is having a bad stretch, how quickly would you get rid of it? This is actually a pretty big question. One I already touched a bit in my previous article about rational decision-making processes. Too often, we’re subject to many psychological biases, and overweighting recent events is one of them. Ever heard of the Hot Hand Fallacy?
Very often in Astonishing Baseball, players tend to act based on recent performances instead of relying on data. What most players ignore is that players (and people in general) always regress toward the mean. The principle is very simple. For the sake of the example, imagine a player who has the same batting average for all his career: 0.280. Given this single point of data, you should expect him to bat 0.280, more or less. Problem is that, if that same player starts to bat 0.150 for a few games, things go badly. This player would probably be ditched by a lot of AB players, inventing all kinds of reasons. …
I recently read Misbehaving, a book on behavorial economics written by Richard Thaler, one of the most important contributors of the field. One thing in particular baffled me. An academic paper written by David Romer had shown that NFL teams punt too often on a 4th down. From the result was even created a bot, using a model developed by Brian Burke, that determines which decision a coach should take on a 4th down.
At the time, it seems it wasn’t really well received by the NFL (it’s apparently evolving, thanks analytics). This is not necessarily surprising. …
Or why your 0.240 hitter might be valuable
Batting average is probably the easiest baseball statistics to understand. At its core, it’s simply a ratio between a batter hits, and At bats.
AVG = H / AB
Since the goal of a hitter is to… Hit, sure a high batting average has value, right? That’s true. But how valuable is it? And is a player with a low average a bad player? Here are the two questions we will address today.
Is baseball about hitting the ball?
Now that’s a great question, and I believe a lot of people think that the answer is a plain yes. While not wrong, you can have more hits than your opponent and still lose by a large margin. Why? …
Or why baseball stats are awesome
Imagine, you’re home, watching a good old baseball game on TV. A 0.300 hitter comes to the plate. Some fancy video overlay shows that he’s only one for 7 against the pitcher on the mound. The broadcaster casually announces that the guy has been in a kind of slump, with only four hits in his last 15 AB, so don’t expect much.
Except that while you go grab some food during this (apparently) already lost duel, the batter hits a home run. What happened to the slump? And the one for 7 thing? Is baseball absolutely unpredictable? …
And why you shouldn’t care too much about it.
Player ratings are a big things in sports games. From NBA players to NFL superstarts (link), it’s a hot topic, always there to create debates between fans, analytics and players. Is Kevin Durant really deserving the same rating as Lebron? Why is my favorite player rated 98 and not 99? No way Michael Jordan at his peak is as good as 2012 Lebron. See, debates.
Astonishing Sports games rely on ratings for things like trade value, or Hall of Fame election. But when I can avoid displaying them, I do. Why? Because the moment you let people see ratings, they’re going to consider it an absolute, true representation of a player’s skills. And I don’t blame them, that’s why they’re here for. …
Where I’m from, nobody knows who Babe Ruth is. Or Ted Williams. Or Mike Trout. Or even what a home run is.
Welcome to France, country of Soccer!
Of course, French people have heard of baseball, that’s an American sports, right? The rules? Something with a ball, a glove and a bat. Besides that, no clue.
One day, out of the blue, I started to develop an interest for baseball. Just by curiosity at first, I learned the main rules, downloaded the At bat app, then watched a game. That was it, I was hooked. …