9/17/19: And it begins….(the hiatus, I mean). Don’t expect much in the way of updates (site-wide) until I get my current work out of the way and put the finishing touches on the sprawling Retroplay baseball history replay project. By MLB Opening Day, 2020, I hope to have a definitive set of data and the first publications that result from the many years of time-consuming research, organization, and findings.
Within a day or two, the status of all of my web pages will be changing, as any premium plan features will go away (at least until I renew as a paid subscriber, likely sometime in 2020). Take care, and circle back later…
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In the first run-through of this MLB history replay project — something I dubbed the “True Test League” (TTL) — we saw quite clearly that very few states could consistently field full rosters of players born within their borders (and realistically fill all positions for the duration of a full season’s schedule). Also, we missed the participation of far too many outstanding players who simply lacked the requisite number of teammates to get teams together in a given year. The solution to both of those problems (and others) was to create the “Expanded Regional League” (ERL), where two or more states sharing borders could enter into a co-operative arrangement (“co-op”) and field qualifying teams. In addition to the shared-border requirement (waived for Alaska and Hawaii, of course), both general population and MLB-player population figures were considered in an effort to give each of the various regions a fighting chance (at least when dealing with sheer numbers of unknown individuals on paper). The tables of figures used are now being made available. First, here are the general (total) population figures, grouped regionally:
The other shoe is the player-population data, which appears below these paragraphs in table form. The figures reflect the number of qualifying players from each region in each particular 30-year era (but not every single player who made an appearance as a Major Leaguer). All qualifying players each had at least one season with a WAR value of 0.1 or better, with at least 10 Plate Appearances (PA) for non-pitchers or at least 9 Innings Pitched (IP) in that season; that’s the entry level for all Major League Baseball players (MLBers).
However, one new wrinkle in the Retroplay system is the inclusion of Negro League Baseball players (NLBers), so integration comes well before 1947, when Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby led the way for “non-whites” in MLB. In the case of those NLBers whose careers were spent entirely in Black Baseball (never had the MLB opportunity), the entry level requirement is at least one season with a WAR value of 1.0 or better. This may seem unjust on the surface, but this rule was implemented for the following reasons;
- From the start, I envisioned the inclusion of at least the very best NLBers — those who would have had the greatest probability of faring well on the MLB scene, if given the opportunity to play there — but I also recognized that the accuracy and applicability of NLB stats as compared to MLB stats didn’t add up to/equate with a 1-to-1 correspondence; an adjustment or two had to be made. (Opinions on how even NLB play was with MLB play vary widely, ranging from a Single-A to a Triple-A (plus) level of play, but I’ve yet to run across anyone who claims that every single NLBer could have flourished in the Major Leagues).
- The compromise upon which I landed is that we’d be dealing with the cream of the crop on the Black Baseball side if we qualified all of those who had at least one “impact year” of 1.0 WAR or better; a higher bar to reach, apparently, but in real statistical terms, a fair adjustment that admits hundreds of the top NLBers into the Retroplay system. I think I can confidently state that this is a judicious arrangement, since those who qualify do have their NLB seasonal stats credited as if achieved on the MLB side.
- None of us can change actual history, but too many of us attempt to re-write it, and that’s not what this is about. Keep in mind that this is a strictly birthplace-based “replay” system, and the amount of melanin in the skin means nothing here. This is an exercise designed to stimulate the imagination and open up a whole new realm for those of us who enjoy “quiet fun,” as I call it. We point our mental energies in the direction of “what if” scenarios, fantasy-league style, but we look back (retro-actively) to get into that territory.
For me, it’s baseball, baseball history, geography, and American history all rolled into one package/study series/fantasy world, however a person wants to approach it. Enjoy it your way, and I’ll try to make it more interesting for all parties as we roll on…
QUALIFYING RETROPLAY PLAYERS, BY REGION AND ERA
As stated above, both general (total) population and qualifying-player populations were considered when trying to make each region as competitive as possible (on as level a playing field as possible with the stand-alone states that were originally established, as well as with each other; shared borders were the other, primary factor).
[This partial update done 5/18/19]
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Below are some regional map “cutouts” to help paint the regional picture.
Just keep this in mind: where a player is born makes all the difference in this Retroplay system. If he was born in Ohio, for example, he’s with the Ohio Titans for his whole career, for better or worse, come feast or famine. Another thing to keep straight if you can: Louisiana (LA) was the “swing state” in the ERL, having been aligned with Texas (TX) as the Tex-Lou co-op, but later finding itself as part of the Deep South (DS) co-op when Florida (FL) split off to go it alone (that’s really the only potentially confusing situation, where a switch in regions was made). But here are those graphics…
“Stand-alone” states (only New York and Pennsylvania 1871-present)
Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, we can instantly check who was born where, and as a result in this Retroplay system, who played/plays for whom. Here is the general index page (birthplace by nationality): https://www.baseball-reference.com/bio/
The links below are grouped by ERL (Expanded Regional League) team assignments, moving from the northeastern American states to the southeast, the deep south, the Appalachian region, the midwest, the Mississippi River region, the “classic west,” and the “far west,” including Alaska and Hawaii. Extra-national groupings follow.
NEW ENGLAND (NEL) REGION
NEW YORK and PENNSYLVANIA are “stand-alone” states, and regions by themselves
DEEP SOUTH REGION
OHIO (OH) is a stand-alone state and region Players born in Ohio (OH)
MISSISSIPPI RIVER REGION
TEXAS (TX) either combines with Louisiana (LA; see above, designation= TXL) or stands alone as state/region (TX) Players born in Texas (TX)
“CLASSIC WEST” REGION
Players born in Oklahoma (OK) Players born in Kansas (KS) Players born in Nebraska (NE) Players born in South Dakota (SD) Players born in North Dakota (ND) Players born in Montana (MT) Players born in Wyoming (WY) Players born in Colorado (CO) Players born in New Mexico (NM)
“FAR WEST” REGION
Players born in Arizona (AZ) Players born in Utah (UT) Players born in Nevada (NV) Players born in Idaho (ID) Players born in Oregon (OR) Players born in Washington (WA) Players born in Alaska (AK) Players born in Hawaii (HI) Players born in Guam (GU) Players born in American Samoa (Tony Solaita, only one so far)
CALIFORNIA: Stand-alone state or region; split (1971 to present) into California-North (CA-N) and California-South (CA-S, carrying on as the flagship franchise since 1971). Note that CA-S could be further sub-divided into CA-S Southeast (CSE) and CA-S Southwest (CSW). CSE would include these 5 counties: San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial, San Diego, and Orange. CSW would include these 5 counties: Los Angeles, Ventura, Kern, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo. Players born in California (CA) (the most by far)
EXTRA-NATIONAL REGIONS (outside of the United States)
Players born in Aruba Players born in the Bahamas (BAH) Players born in Cuba (CU) Players born in Curacao (CUR) Players born in the Dominican Republic (DO) Players born in Jamaica (JAM) Players born in Puerto Rico (PR) Players born in the U.S. Virgin Islands (VI)
LATIN AMERICA REGION (CENTRAL and SOUTH AMERICA)
Player born in Belize Player born in Honduras Players born in Mexico (MX) Players born in Nicaragua (NI) Players born in Panama (PN) Players born in Colombia (COL) Players born in Venezuela (VE) Players born in Brazil (BR)
Players born in Canada (CN) Players born in Ireland (IRE) Players born in the United Kingdom (UK) Players born in Austria (AUS) Player born in Belgium Players born in the Czech Republic (CZ) Player born in Denmark Player born in Finland Players born in France (FRA) Players born in Germany (GER) Player born in Greece Players born in Italy (IT) Player born in Latvia Player born in Lithuania Players born in the Netherlands (NET) Players born in Norway (NW) Players born in Poland (POL) Player born in Portugal Players born in the Russian Federation (RUS) Players born in Slovakia Players born in Spain (SPN) Players born in Sweden (SWE) Player born in Switzerland
Player born in Afghanistan Players born in Saudi Arabia Players born in Australia (AU) Player born in China Player born in Hong Kong Player born in Indonesia Players born in Japan (JP) Player born in the Philippines Player born in Singapore Players born in South Korea (KOR) Players born in Taiwan (TW) Player born in Viet Nam Player born “At Sea” Player born in South Africa
[Section updated 4-29-19. Much more to come (site-wide).]