The Art of Scoring Runs
The basic premise of manufacturing a run is as such: 1)get a runner on base; 2)use that runner's skill in base stealing or running to advance him farther than the defense "allows"; and 3)move that base runner home, sacrificing other batters if needed.
In Strat-O-Matic, manufacturing runs equates to methods of runner advancement and scoring aside from the normal roll-the-dice-and-lookup-the-result manner. This, in effect, serves two purposes. It takes some control of the game's outcome from the hands of the opponent, and it creates a more productive platform for scoring runs than rolling dice and hoping for homeruns.
I'm hesitant to call the process of manufacturing runs an "art form." In my mind, it's a fluid mix of luck, planning, and strategy. Luck, unfortunately, is out of our mortal hands. Nothing can be done to take out the randomness of the dice rolls.
But outside the random variables, the player can control the planning and the strategy. Pre-game planning and in-game strategy are interdependent, but they pose separate questions to the player.
Planning involves lineup positioning. Knowing your team, and their individual strengths and weaknesses, gives you the starting point. Lay out your team and take a look at their ratings. What lineup order do they suggest?
One tactic I use is to follow a batter with a high steal rating with a batter with high bunting. This forces the defense into a "lesser of two evils" choice. Say I have that runner on first with an A steal rating, and my batter comes to the plate with his A bunting. Will the defense hold the runner or move in to cover a bunt? Once the defense makes their move, I make mine in the opposite direction. The double play becomes less of a threat. Move the infield in to cover a bunt? Great, my runner will gladly pick your pocket for second base because they aren't holding him on base.
Either way, I increase my chances of moving the runner over. I also take control away from the defense by moving the runner without the chance of even rolling a single result from the pitcher's card. This is key in manufacturing runs.
Staying off the opponent's cards is one of the
crucial tenets of manufacturing
runs. Take away the defense's control over hits
and runs by taking their results out of
the equation. Sure, your batter could royally botch a bunt and pop into a
double play. But, that double play was a result of your batter and not the fielders.
Beyond lineup positioning, you can also help
your team manufacture runs by
thinking in terms of lineup selection. Think
beyond guys with decent stealing or
bunting. Think not only about the on-base results of a player, but also at the
scoring opportunities. Aren't they the same, you ask?
No. Scoring opportunities include on-base results of SI*, HR and the like but also include sacrifice opportunities. Flyballs A and B will score a runner from third base; a flyball C won't bring him home, nor move runners for that matter. Groundballs B and C will score that man on third; groundball A will too, provided the associated double play doesn't end the inning first.
When choosing your starters, offensively speaking, you may be forced to choose between two similar players for one position. Perhaps they are identical in terms of stealing, bunting, and hitting. Scanning the hit results and scoring opportunities could sway the decision, for example, to one player with a significant number of flyball B over flyball C.
Thinking about scoring opportunities really
gets to the heart of manufacturing
runs -- the sacrifice. Suppose you have a
shortstop with a great defensive rating,
but in the batter's box he couldn't hit a tee-ball. The decision to play him may
hinge on whether he has a lot of viable sacrifices (scoring opportunities) on his card.
Weigh your options in your pre-game planning.
What can your team do well
offensively? What plan best suits your team's
style of play? What can you do to take
away control from the defense? Once the planning is in place, the strategy
starts to develop.
Your strategy often will come into effect the minute you put a batter on base. Okay, you say, I've got somebody on -- now what? Strategy here is influenced by two factors: situation and player strengths. Is the runner on first, second, or third? How many outs are there? What is the runner's steal rating? Is the infield in or holding? What are the strengths of the batter?
The defense will have some weight to bear on your strategy as well. How good is that catcher's arm? What about the outfielders' arms? If a great catcher has your base runners pinned, you may be more apt to take a less-than-average chance in stretching your base running.
Base running is a strong part of manufacturing
runs, especially if your team has
few players well-rated for stealing or bunting.
Your runner should never settle for
advancing to second when he has a decent roll chance to get third. What is
threshold for risk? Do you send the runner with a 1-10 chance or a 1-13? That's part of your strategy. It's also dependent on the strengths or weaknesses of the next batter.
Don't feel you can't let a batter swing
normally in efforts to manufacture a run.
If a batter has a .325 average and only a C
bunting, I'd rather him swing for the
fences than squeeze bunt. But, certainly it's one more strategy to add to your
And, it's that growing arsenal that will move the intermediate player into the ranks of advanced. The more you have in your bag of tricks, the more chances you have to put one more run on the board. And more runs, whether you're a beginner or expert, are a good thing.