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Strategy: who do I put where in the minor leagues?

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Strategy: who do I put where in the minor leagues? - 5/16/2006 11:52:58 PM   


Posts: 1100
Joined: 8/3/2005
From: San Diego, California
Status: offline
One overwhelming thing, for a new player, or even those upgrading from 2005, can be the "Minor League Rosters" screen, especially if you're running a 60- or 70- player association, so I thought I'd offer my observations.

The design

The design takes into consideration the following items, when deciding whether, and how much, a player improves:

- Age
- hidden "Peak" rating
- visible "Potential" rating
- Level (majors, AAA, AA, A)
- Playing Time
- Current Ability

Potential, in particular, doesn't affect so much "whether" a player improves, as "by how much". Even a player with low potential should improve somewhat - its just that a player with high potential should improve more. It isn't *at all* related to their peak ability.

Also, some attributes increase more than others. For hitters, Contact and Eye have more room to grow - they're things you can learn - while Power tends to be a constant. Also, Speed and Hands never improve.

For pitchers, Stuff and Control can grow a lot, while Velocity grows somewhat, and Endurance never improves.

Who won't improve?

A player who has reached his 'peak' - you can get some visibility into this from the arrow next to potential. A green "Up" arrow means that your scouts don't think he's reached his peak. A yellow "Sideways" indicates that he has reached his peak. A red "Down" arrow indicates that he is in decline.

A player at the wrong 'level' - a very good player who is playing at A level will not improve, because they don't have sufficient competition to challenge them to the next level. A very young player who is playing at AAA or the major leagues will not improve, because they are 'in over their heads', and are in 'survival mode' rather than able to learn from the experience.

A player who isn't playing - duh!, if a player isn't playing regularly, he isn't going to learn.

What level is "right" for a player?

Here's a quick 'rule of thumb' chart which I've developed:
 Level    Ages     Attributes
  A     17 - 22     0 - 40
  AA    20 - 25    20 - 50
  AAA   22 - 30    35 - 65
Majors  22 ++      50 ++

What's the ideal strategy?

Obviously, there's a lot of overlap, there - a 22-year-old, for example, could wind up anywhere from A to the Majors, by that listing. I can't tell you what's "ideal", but I can tell you what I've been doing.

First, I found that if I put two players in the same position at a level, they both suffered, while three would guarantee that one was an afterthought, getting next-to-no playing time.

Consequently, I try to wind up with no more than 5 players at each fielding position, with the idea that I'm going to put 2 in the majors, and one each at the three levels of minors. That reduces it to a pretty easy decision who to put where - usually I'm comparing only a few players, debating which of two shortstops to put in AA, and which to put in AAA, while the other three are pretty obvious.

For pitchers, I found that if I loaded three or four starters into the same level, even though that might make conceptual sense, it started to deny them innings pitched, and a fourth reliever or second closer gets almost no innings.

So, I try to wind up with 2 starters, 2 relievers, and 1 closer at each level of the minors. This seems to ensure that all five get a sufficient number of innings pitched.

I usually play a 60-man roster limit; with these guidelines, I try to have
- no fewer than four players at each position, and no more than five.
- 20 minor-league position players and 14 big-league position players, for a total of 34 hitters
- 15 minor-league pitchers, and 11 major-league pitchers, for a total of 26 pitchers.

I'm not zealous about that - I've gone with three position players, 36 hitters/24 pitchers, etc., adjusting to my needs, but when I've overloaded a position (I had nine center fielders at one point!), none of the young players seemed to develop.

Mid-season adjustments

You can derive what feels like feedback on whether a player is at the right level from the stats he's generating in the minors.

If a batter is struggling at .212 in AAA, you might consider dropping him to AA or A, as it sounds like he's overmatched. If a batter is tearing through AA at .369, you can safely promote him to AAA - and if he's still doing well, promote him up to the bigs in August or September. (I have, and it works! He both contributed at the big-league level, and 'learned' for the season-as-a-whole.)

I also tend to be more dynamic mid-season with this paradigm. In past versions of PureSim, I'd set my roster, and sim through the entire season. Now, I'm doing a lot more mid-season adjustments - both promotion/demotion due to performance, and deals with the AI. If I'm not in contention for the title, I'll trade away vets in the last year-of-contract for younger players, and juggle my minor-league roster to fit the new situation for the positions affected. I've even been releasing players and making in-season free-agent signings, which I never did with older version of PureSim!

So, who improved?

After each season, the player ratings changes do not occur until the end of Spring Training. So, you have to go through Free Agency without knowing the results - will that 33-year-old catcher hang on for another year, or will he start dropping off? Will that 24-year-old shortstop from AAA be ready to make the jump up to the bigs, or not? That's part of the challenge of the game - you want to have 'contingency plans'.

Once Spring Training is complete, there are two good tools to help you analyze who's improving and who isn't.

First, under "Team Reports", you can select the "Player Rating Changes" from the drop-down, and that will give you a sortable overview of the deltas for all the players on your roster. I usually sort by "Contact" to look at the hitters, and by "Stuff" to look at the pitchers. This is ideal for figuring out if a given player was at the right level last year. If your guy showed great improvement as an 18-year-old in A, and didn't improve at all in AA as a 19-year-old, you might have brought him up too early. Alternately, if your 24-year-old didn't improve in A, he might be playing 'too low'.

Second, on each player's player card, you can click "Ratings History", which gives you a graphical overview of five or six of the player's key attributes. With this you can get a very good sense for the player's career arc, and I find myself using it when considering how long a contract to offer to players. Its also useful for thinking about what level to keep young players at.

Draft Strategy

Because of the long lead-time in player development, I tend to draft the "Best Available Player", rather than trying to 'fill a need' the way that an NFL team might. I might decide that I have no real prospects at first base, so I want to draft the best available first baseman, but that's about as far as I'd go.

I tend to find that the prospects available in the first three rounds 'make my team', while below that I wind up trading or releasing them, so I usually only draft three young players. (Obviously, I might draft more if I'm still spotting players I think are fantastic, or if I have a lot of openings due to retirements and free agency)

I use the "constant" variables as a bit of a litmus test. They don't improve, but they can get worse. A hitter with poor hands and no speed? I'm not very interested - I play in the N.L., so there's no room for a DH!

There's a temptation to just draft the 'highest potential' player, but I find that a lot of times its better to pick up the guy who is tenth down the list or so.

For example, lets say we have two third basemen:
Player     Pos  Age Con Pow Eye POT ...
J. Smith    3B   22  20  30  25  72 ...
T. Barnes   3B   21  40  45  33  58 ...

In this case, I would guess that Smith is a bit closer to his 'peak' - he's going to have less time to 'use' that 72 potential, because he is a year older. Also, he has to make up 20 points of contact, 15 points of power, and 8 points of Eye before he's even *caught up* to where Barnes is now.

Finally, it seems to me that the AI devalues extremely young players - the AI just isn't willing to take a flyer on an 18-year-old, whose 'current' ability is very low, even if he has high potential. So, I can get some 'steals' in the third round, 18-year-olds who have lots of potential but little current ability, whom I'm willing to wait a few years for.


That's it for now, folks - hope that's helped somebody!

< Message edited by Amaroq -- 5/17/2006 12:00:36 AM >
Post #: 1
RE: Strategy: who do I put where in the minor leagues? - 6/26/2006 12:18:55 AM   

Posts: 389
Joined: 2/27/2006
Status: offline



Here's a quick 'rule of thumb' chart which I've developed:
 Level    Ages     Attributes
  A     17 - 22     0 - 40
  AA    20 - 25    20 - 50
  AAA   22 - 30    35 - 65
Majors  22 ++      50 ++


I read your observations and have a question.

What attributes do you use to apply to the chart? My confusion is caused by the fact that I have set up an association using 55 major league players with some game generated players. Almost all of the players exceed 50 if any 2 attributes are added If contact, eye, and power are added, then they all exceed 50. This leaves no one for A and AA.

(in reply to Amaroq)
Post #: 2
RE: Strategy: who do I put where in the minor leagues? - 6/26/2006 2:10:27 AM   
KG Erwin

Posts: 8981
Joined: 7/25/2000
From: Cross Lanes WV USA
Status: offline
This one is tough to gauge, Deltadog.  Minor-league stats start getting generated after a week or so into the season, so you can make choices on who is assigned too high or too low.

There's no exact science to this.  You, as GM, sometimes have to rely on gut instinct.  

At the end of each season, you get a report on ratings changes.  This should help you sort out what needs you have for the amateur draft, and help you determine the proper assignments.  

I'm sorry to be so vague, but a certain amount of crystal-ball gazing is always there.   A hard and fast formula doesn't exist, nor should it, IMHO.

< Message edited by KG Erwin -- 6/26/2006 2:11:23 AM >

(in reply to Deltadog)
Post #: 3
RE: Strategy: who do I put where in the minor leagues? - 7/6/2006 5:29:23 AM   


Posts: 1100
Joined: 8/3/2005
From: San Diego, California
Status: offline
By that, I was meaning 'median attribute on the 100-point scale', and in that I'm thinking of the three key attributes: Contact, Power, Eye for a hitter, and Stuff, Velocity, Control for a pitcher.

I often see a player who is, say, 44/37/40 - I'd be thinking of him as a '40'. A player who is 70/10/70 is a little harder to gauge, but I'd think of him as a 70 - the median value - rather than a 50 (the average).

(in reply to KG Erwin)
Post #: 4
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