For those of you who aren’t familiar with the more technical aspects of the Statis Pro Baseball game, every time a batter squares off against a pitcher, a Fast-Action Card (FAC) is drawn to decide who will have the advantage—the batter or the pitcher—when determining the outcome of each at-bat. This determination is made by first checking the PB number on the FAC, then the PB rating on the pitcher card, a number from 5-to-9 which reflects the strengths and skills of that particular pitcher, as formulated using his stats from the actual 1978 season.
If the PB number on the FAC card is within the range of the pitcher PB, the result will originate from his card; if not, the result is checked on the batter card. Most pitchers in my SP78 Replay season have PB ranges of 2-6 and 2-7, with the 2-7’s having a perceptible edge over their 2-6 counterparts. A great pitcher will own a 2-8, while the utterly dominating pitchers—Ron Guidry of the Yankees and Kent Tekulve of the Pirates are two examples—will possess the rare 2-9 rating.
And that brings us to our topic: the dreaded, low-end PB 2-5. To put it bluntly, these pitchers get their asses kicked nearly every time they’re called to the mound, and I’m always afraid to bring them in during critical—and even not-so-critical—situations, for fear that a majority of the drawn PB numbers will be out of their range. This, of course, would give the advantage to the batters, allowing them to rack up the hits and runs before I’m able to replace these stunned hurlers with more capable arms.
Of course, there are the occasional PB 2-5 anomalies, such as Braves starter Mickey Mahler’s impressive 12-strikout, 9-0 blanking of the Cubs in June, or the 16-game winning streak the Mariners somehow pulled off with only 2-5 and 2-6 pitchers on their staff. But most of the time these poor bastards get manhandled, and a glaring example of this took place recently, during a doubleheader match-up between the Brewers and Indians.
In Game 2 of the twinbill, with the score tied 5-5 in the last of the 11th, I had to bring in a new reliever for Milwaukee to open the frame, after their closer had already gone three innings. The logical choice, from a real-life manager’s perspective, was Randy Stein, a recent recall from AAA who had three days of rest, and was also the only pitcher available without resorting to tired relievers from Game 1, or those who’d pitched multiple innings the day before. But he was also a PB 2-5, and after a moment of deliberation, I decided going with Stein made the most sense; after retiring the first batter, he then served up a game-ending home run to weak-hitting Ron Pruitt to give the Tribe the 6-5 win.
I then began to wonder: Am I sending a team to the gallows every time I bring a 2-5 pitcher into a clutch situation…or for that matter, any situation? Or am I just playing the game the way it should be played, and doing what any major league manager would do in a typical game scenario? For me, using a 2-5 pitcher is similar to sending an ‘E’ runner on a steal attempt, or bringing in a pinch-hitter whose batting card allows for nothing but strikeouts: sure, it might be realistic, but what’s the point?
So I spent a few hours compiling the current stats of every PB 2-5 pitcher who’s made an appearance this season, to see what their composite W-L record and ERA would look like, and to either verify or debunk my fears and suspicions. I broke it down into NL and AL results, and included the number of 2-5 pitchers in each league, as well as their save totals. Here are the statistics I came up with:
I’ll admit, I expected worse results than this; definitely less wins, and a much higher ERA in the AL, after what I saw while compiling these stats. But it’s also worth noting that there were six PB 2-5 pitchers – three in each league, and all starters – who were responsible for 48 of those 155 total wins.
So what do you think…is my apprehension towards these PB 2-5’s justified? Is it a smart move to use these guys sparingly, saving them for blow-outs or mopping up in the late innings? Or should I ignore the stigma of the 2-5, and use them as I would any other pitcher? Hit the comment button below and let me know how you’d handle it.