Author Archives: Andy

Has the game actually changed since the peak of the Steroid Era?

Run scoring and such have dropped since the peak of the Steroid Era, but at least for now, the face of the game remains unchanged. Although homers have dropped off some, three other events–triples, intentional walks, and sac bunts–continue to hurtle towards extinction.

Here’s the simple ratio of HR per game to the sum of those other three events. Suddenly, 2013 is looking more like the offensive peak years of 1999-2000.


The rise and fall of the non-starter

Here’s a simple plot showing, by year, the percentage of all plate appearances given each year to any non-starter, as well as the percentage given to pinch-hitters specifically.


The pinch-hitter data goes back only to 1945 (the limit of full play-by-play availability) and happens to coincide with a dramatic increase in the use of the pinch-hitter in baseball. From 1945 until 1960, nearly 3% more of all plate appearances went to pinch-hitters, singlehandedly accounting for the same increase among all non-starters.

Since that time, pinch-hitter use has tapered off slowly, falling about 1 percentage point over the 50 or so intervening years, while overall non-starter plate appearances have dropped by more than double that amount. The reason is likely a drop in defensive substitutions. It’s clear that defense is better now than ever and fewer teams carry defensive specialists, instead opting in most cases to keep good reserve bats on the bench. The effect may also be due to the overall emphasis on offense, with teams seemingly more likely to keep a good player in the game because of his bat, rather than removing him for a better glove man.

Quantum Leaf

Hey, remember me? I own this joint 🙂

Now that the season’s over and I’m mostly done with our commitments to USA Today Sports, I’ve been working on a side project that I expect a lot of you will enjoy–Quantum Leaf.

It’s a game for 1 to 4 players that uses a single tessellating shape–a leaf–to tile a surface. I’ve developed prototypes and will be running a Kickstarter campaign in early 2014 to roll out the product version.

Click on the image above to check out the game. Over on the Quantum Leaf site, to can submit your email address if you want to be updated on when our Kickstarter launches.

HHS Podcast episode #11 contest!

Have you been keeping up with our podcast? You can get to it on the podcast page, listed above, or just click here.

On Episode 11, Gary Thurman Family Reunion, Adam and I sit down to discuss the Veterans Committee Hall of Fame voting process, the SABR Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legends commitee, the Gary Thurman 1988 Topps blog post I made 5 years ago, playoff format and timelines, as well as delve into a bit of trivia about Rockies and Marlins managers.


Enter in our free contest by doing this:

– Listen to Episode 11 of the HHS podcast

– In between the segments, there are some brief audio clips from a historical game or series. Listen to those clips, and identify the game or series the clips are from.

– Email in the answer to

We’ll randomly pick one winning entry to receive a $15 iTunes giftcard!



Our review of Out of the Park Baseball @ootpbaseball

UPDATE: The developer emailed me with some comments related to issues about the game we raised in the software. Please see just below for a transcript of those comments.

You can hear some of the HHS folks review the great baseball simulation software, OOTP Baseball, on the latest episode of our podcast–Episode 10. (Get to that by clicking on the podcast tab near the top of the screen.)

If you’re interested in buying the software, please use the links in the right sidebar.


In the iOS game that runs on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, teams don’t move between cities and expansion doesn’t happen in historical replays, but in the PC/Mac game, those things happen.
RE the easiness: You can make trading and other things more difficult in the PC/Mac game too, vs. the iOS version. There are options for that in the PC/Mac game, but you can’t in the iOS version.
(The 2013 version of iOOTP is the current one, BTW – 2012 is last year’s version.  In the PC/Mac game, version 14 is the new one and 13 is last year’s. I know, our naming convention is screwy and we should change it at some point, but it’s something that was established before I started working for them.)
In general, the iOS version is geared more toward casual players whereas the PC/Mac game has many more customization options, as well as the ability to set up online leagues.  Also, you can have the computer take over a lot of things you don’t want to do, such as handling your minor league system.  (In Manager Options.)
I noticed that you talked about those things later in the review, but I just wanted to point those things out for the future.  I hope you don’t mind.  We’re really happy you guys covered the game.

Podcast #4

Have you been listening to the podcast? If not, you can catch up on all the episodes on the podcast page.

In the latest one, Ashley and I have a broad conversation about numerous baseball topics, including how different it is to be a fan today versus 25 year ago. And you’ll just have to listen to find out why the episode is titled “Bunting skills competition”.