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Determining At-Bats
Posted by John Holden on Friday, Dec. 24th, 2010 at 11:16 PM

1. Check for Pinch Hit
Could include bringing on a bench player late in the game to get a better pitching matchup?

2. Check for Steal Attempt
This step checks to see if the current situation warrants a stolen base attempt. If it does then the outcome of the steal is processed.

Catchers with a bad arm have less of a chance of throwing out a runner. The function is of both speed and catching ability.

3. Check for Wild Pitch/Passed Ball Attempt
This would be rather rare but not impossible and a function of the pitchers' control and catcher's fielding range. A further 1 out of 1000 chance could be rolled to see if it is a two-base wild pitch - I have seen those scorekeeping for spring training games!

Another note - passed balls do NOT count against earned runs - so the "fictional inning" I allude to later would treat the passed ball as if it never happened - this is different than a wild pitch!

4. Check for Sacrifice Bunt
In certain situations the hitter will be called upon to bunt and try to move the current base runner(s) along.

5. Check for Walk
This step uses the stats of the hitter/pitcher to determine if a walk should occur. See the article called "How Walks Work" by Kevin Martin to get a better idea on how this works.

I'd like to make a change here by including strikeouts in the same formula, or at least immediately after the formula, because the ball never leaves the field of play in either situation. The calculations for percent chance could be separate but the formula could be aggregate. You'll see why down below.

6. Check for Hit
Here the game tries to see if the outcome of this at bat should be a hit.

If there is a hit it determines whether it is a double, triple, home run, et cetera. Function of contact, speed and power. No fielding is here initially because we've determined it is a hit. However, where the hit goes is important for determining where runners end up - a line drive single to right field where the right fielder has a bad arm and Ricky Henderson on second base is different from a line drive single to right field where the right fielder has a gun for an arm and Randy Johnson is on second base.

7. Check for Out
This is the final step and in my mind the most complex. Basically we have determined the batter has hit the ball in play, but it is not necessarily a hit, and is probably an out.

First we have to determine whether the ball was a ground ball or fly ball. A ground ball to the outfield CAN be a "line drive" and a fly ball to the infield IS a "pop up", per MLB scoring rules from 2009 (last year I worked at spring training as a scorekeeper).

Possibly a better first test is where the ball is hit - then we can presume it's not a ground ball line drive if an outfielder has a chance to make a play on it.

We could have an "Eric Byrnes" attribute here,  ground ball to fly ball ratio. Byrnes was infamous in Arizona for never hitting the ball on the ground, and having a terrible reality show on Fox Sports.

Then we determine where the ball was hit. This could be different from the old chart if we wanted to make it different from the old chart. We could also account for a foul fly ball which, if not caught, returns the process to step 5 (only one steal chance an at bat seems fair to me).

Then we determine, based on the fielding skills of the players, whether it was an out or not.

If the ball is a pop up and the infield fly rule is satisfied, there is an out and nothing else needs to be done.

Then we look to see if the ball has been fielded.

Whether or not the ball is fielded is a function of range - a third baseman with an A+ should mop up almost all ground balls his direction, except maybe the ones hit right down the line. A player with a D has only a 75% chance of fielding the ball.

Then the fielder has to determine what base he's going to throw to for the out - for instance, 3rd baseman, runner on 1st, 1 out, you throw to 2nd. This could be a simple chart - 2 outs is closest base then 1st base, 0 and 1 outs is no on, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 1&3, 2&3, bases loaded.

If you throw to a base other than 1st with less than 1 out then you determine if there's a grounded into a double play.

Then we account for errors. For earned run purposes, this is a multi-step process.

If it's a fielding error, we have already assumed the fielder's range is good enough for the ball to not be a close play. Also, no runners will be out on the play because otherwise it's a fielders' choice. If it's a throwing error, then you "roll the dice" to see if the runners take any extra bases. You CAN have a hit and a throwing error if an extra base is taken.

If a fielding error is in foul territory, add an out to the fictional inning and pretend the batter never batted.

For earned run purposes, the game needs to simulate a "fictional inning" where the play occurred without the error. For a fielding error, assume the runner on 1st is out, and there is a blank space on the basepaths where he is. For a throwing error, do the same, except this may only affect baserunners and not outs.

Earned runs are tricky with relievers if they come in during the middle of the inning because the runners on base are tacked to the old pitcher. Also, outs are reset to the current number of outs in the inning when the reliever comes in.

Readers Comments

John,

Check out some of the gameplay articles that Al posted. There's one there about how an at-bat is processed. I think that a lot of what you've posted above is covered there.

Rob Peterson on Friday, Dec. 24th, 2010 at 11:32 PM
 

Rob - I took that at-bat article and tried to show which attributes would be needed in processing the at-bat.

John Holden on Friday, Dec. 24th, 2010 at 11:48 PM
 

Ah yes, I see that now. =)

Rob Peterson on Friday, Dec. 24th, 2010 at 11:50 PM