Welcome to a unique backwater outpost
of the sprawling web
What “we” do here, or at least what’s planned
(running joke: I’m a “staff” of one)
PART ONE (“Baseball history viewed through an entirely new lens“)
- The main focus is on “replaying” historical Major League Baseball seasons from 1871 through 2020
- “Fantasy league” rosters have been determined by A) the MLB player’s recorded birthplace; B) that location’s affiliation with a larger region (in most cases, though there are some “standalone” states); C) the player’s ability to “make the team” by notching a sufficient WAR value (Wins Above Replacement) in a given historical year to add to team WAR and D) filling the team’s positional needs (gotta cover ’em all, can’t put 8 outfielders and a pitcher out there!)
- From the above, we can see that this whole Retroplay.net system is A) Birthplace-based; B) WAR-based (sole statistical criterion); and C), geared to replaying (“on paper”) all American-based MLB seasons from 1871 through 2020 (the “First 150”)
- While the official Major League Baseball powers-that-be finally got around to — in 2021 — recognizing some of the historical Negro Leagues as equally valid major leagues, “we’ve” incorporated those MLB-caliber players from NLB (Negro Leagues Baseball) — wherever reliable numbers were available, at least — in this system’s design from its inception (about 20 years ago) to the present day; it’s a lo-o-o-o-ng story, folks, fraught with delays, re-starts, re-workings, and thousands of hours of data collection and entry/re-entry. The point here is that in this system, we’ve included Black Baseball players wherever we could (must have the data, of course), right from the start
- While not intending by any means to bite the hand that feeds by my comment just above (all of the WAR data used here comes from Baseball-Reference.com, and without that unmatched resource, this whole project would not have been possible), one huge hat-tip must go to those NLB data-mining pros at Seamheads.com. As far as I can tell, the Negro Leagues Database (at the [old?] Baseball Gauge site) was the only place on the web where the NLB stats were painstakingly collected, the analytical data presented, and much of the Black-Baseball story was told. So for Retroplay.net purposes, there are only two indispensables: Baseball-Reference.com and Seamheads.com
- This is NOT in any way, shape, or form an attempt to rewrite history (it was what it was, and no one living now has any authority to re-shape it), but because this replay system includes hundreds of players who have been historically excluded (not only Blacks, but extra-nationals [“foreign-born”] for vast portions of that 150-year span), this system is being styled as the Open Baseball League (OBL); so even though a player is “confined” to playing for the regional team that includes his place of birth, every player has a team for which he can play, and that gives every MLB/NLB player (with a minimum of 10 plate appearances or 9 innings pitched in a given year) a potential place to play in each of the years he was historically active at the MLB/NLB level; this is an OPEN league in this sense: there’s only one league, but people born anywhere on the globe can find a place in it if they’re good enough to help the local team (and all of those born in the same locale move together through their careers as a cohort; they stay together, even if the league is re-aligned)
- The gist of this main project: retroactively pit birthplace-based teams against each other in each MLB season from 1871 through 2020, with team WAR totals (covering the positions and observing roster limits) determining OBL standings; seasonal champions declared on that basis. NOTE: actual, historical WAR numbers for the given year supplied by Baseball-Reference.com (and Seamheads.com where applicable) are used to compute team totals (rounded to one decimal point), and if ties result, the current plan is to replay the season and break ties via adaptable software such as Old Time Baseball, Strategic Baseball Simulator, Out Of The Park, etc. (this might become another project arm at some point if time permits)
- When “official” OBL results become available and are ready to post, they’ll show up on Retroplay.net on the respective “era” pages (Era 1=1871-1900; Era 2=1901-1930; Era 3=1931-1960; Era 4=1961-1990; Era 5= 1991-2020)
PART TWO (The “Retroplay RE-set Hall of Fame”)
- “We” think that the actual National Baseball Hall of Fame has made some cringe-worthy errors with regard to its inductees (nothing new there, of course, as proposed alternative (virtual) halls of fame have cropped up on the web; in essays and one-off articles; and in entire books devoted to the subject, many of which I’ve seen myself). But as far as I know, nobody has suggested what I am suggesting, and it occurs to me that a simple, straightforward, WAR-based formula could provide as much validity as any other HOF selection-system I’ve encountered. (Then again, it’s so simple and makes so much sense that I can hardly imagine that no one HAS proposed it, and I just wasn’t aware of someone beating me to the punch)
- Since a true Hall-of-Famer (we’re talking only about players here, not any other category, just FYI) should have had BOTH great cumulative career (“counting”) stats AND have had a period of consistent, dominating, All-Star-production-level (“rate”) stats, wouldn’t it make sense to multiply career WAR by Average-per-162-games WAR to reflect both longevity in production and high rate of production? In other words, if we’re only looking at a player’s on-field performance and putting committee-voting politics aside (along with character issues, for this discussion), what matters more than higher-than-average, All-Star-type seasons, year-in and year-out, coming together to add up to a career that only an elite few can reach? Dedicated sabermetricians and full-time numbers-crunchers may find this to be too simplistic, but I’m merely recognizing the validity of WAR as a player-rating system — as naive as that may be, according to detractors — and taking the commonsense step of pairing a counting stat with a rate state to evaluate real career impact in context (year-to-year and over the years within an era)
- Rationale and examples: The people who have given us WAR have identified a WAR value of 5 or better as an All-Star-caliber year, so a player who manages to average 5.0 WAR over 10-years’ worth of full seasons (5.0+ per 162 games average) is going to amass 50+ career WAR, and it’s safe to say that this particular player has had quite a career (relatively few reach 50.0+ career WAR); his Retroplay Rating (career WAR times per-162-games [average full-season] WAR) would be 250, and that qualifies him under this system to be a genuine HOFer (it seems to me that the threshold should be 225 points, for reasons that can be explained a bit later). But if a hypothetical player could reach 50.0+ career WAR by playing for 25 years — averaging only a mediocre 2.0 WAR-per-162-games — is that a solid HOFer in your book? I don’t think so; the rate of production is not HOF-level, so this player has been more of an accumulator than a perennial All-Star, and that makes a big difference in my estimation. On the other hand, there have been players whose rate of production has been outstanding, but their careers have been cut short, and career WAR totals amounted to less as a result (see Addie Joss, for example). It’s my contention that if a pitcher (like Joss) had pitched 1,620 innings (to qualify for an E.R.A. title, a pitcher must have worked at least 162 innings in most years since MLB implemented the rule, and the HOF ordinarily requires a 10-year career to qualify to be on the ballot), that (1,620+ IP) is sufficient to meet the 10-year career minimum; and if a “position player” has amassed 3.1 plate appearances per his team’s scheduled/played games (502 plate appearances to qualify for batting titles in most years since MLB implemented that rule), and again, the HOF requires the minimum 10-year career to be placed on the ballot, 5,020 plate appearances (we could possibly round it down to 5,000 with little objection) should suffice to reach the 10-year career bar. Bottom lines: it seems to me that a pitcher who’s thrown 1,620 innings (or a rounded-down 1,600, for that matter) has thrown 10-years’ worth, so we can consider that to be a 10-year career; likewise, the batter logging 5,000 plate appearances (even if in less than 10 years) has paid his 10-year career dues as well. I say, such players are certainly worthy of consideration, and if their rates of production (WAR-per-162) make up for any losses caused by shortened careers, they should find well-deserved places on the honor rolls
- It seems to me that the fair threshold for Retroplay RE-set Hall of Fame members should be a Retroplay Rating of 225 (points) or more. Ways to look at this: 1) 225(+) points can be achieved by totaling 50.0 career War and multiplying that by 4.5 average-per-162-games WAR; in other words, a player can virtually average All-Star-type years (4.5 WAR per full season is rarely attained) and get to about 50 in career WAR in 11 or 12 (full) seasons (50.0 career WAR is an enviable total as well); 2) 225(+) can also be achieved by averaging 5.0 or more per 162 games while getting to 45(+) in career WAR (still fairly rare, when you survey the lists) by playing 9 years or more at that high rate of year-by-year production. Either way, that looks like a Hall-of-Famer to me. Once again, we’re not unnecessarily rewarding the accumulator-type (long career, mediocre production-per-year), nor are we punishing those whose ultra-productive years were cut short by unfortunate circumstances, including “untimely” death. But both multipliers — career and average full season WAR — have to reach an above-average level to get the player into the HOF conversation under the Retroplay system
- When all of the career numbers have been firmed up and ratings calculations have been finalized to my satisfaction, all of the pertinent data will be posted to this site (on the appropriate pages), and our “Hindsight [is 20/20] Hall of Fame” will be offered for your inspection. It’ll take a while to get to that point, but “we” plan to get there as soon as possible
Here ends the 12/02/21 update (previous update is intact below)
SITE-WIDE RE-CONSTRUCTION IN PROGRESS (BEGINNING MARCH, 2021)
Look for piecemeal, incremental updates all the way up to wholesale changes on ALL RetroPlay.net pages in the next few months. The “staff” is working virtually every available waking hour on the time-consuming task of data RE-entry involving hundreds of thousands of spreadsheet cells; re-checking every qualifying player’s historical year-by-year WAR values, per-162-game rates, positions, and birthplace; producing thereby sorted-and-ranked regional and era groups; and finally, posting to the web, publishing in print media, and providing a Retro-Fantasy League framework. So there’s a lot on “our” plate!
So for now, please be patient. At present (March 12, 2021), the spreadsheets covering all qualifying MLB AND NLB players from 2020 on back to 1931 — we’re moving backwards to avoid having to recalculate WAR values all over again — are quite close to being “nailed down”/ “locked in place” with WAR data generously made available at Baseball-Reference.com to this point (remember, we’re including Negro League players, too! we’ve been far ahead of MLB on this score, with my decades-long vision for this expansive historical “replay” project finally being made possible by those two indispensables, www.baseball-reference.com AND… http://seamheads.com (Negro Leagues Database). Eventually, we’ll get everything cemented into place for all MLB-NLB (historically-recorded) seasons from 1871 through 2020. When all of that’s tied up into a package, the combination birthplace/WAR-value register and summary read-out of those first 150 years of baseball at the highest levels will be available to all in various formats and media outlets.
See you later! Back to work for “the staff”….