I’ve been distracted for a day or so by the discovery of the Digital Diamond Baseball game, available through Steam. Among the many virtues of this baseball sim lies in its openness to user-prepared content (if you don’t see this as prime AKMA-bait, you don’t know me that well). The game itself offers many recreated seasons, and users have generated more, but I wondered whether there was a Hall of Fame team option (it looks as though there’s something similar, but I haven’t taken the time to investigate yet).
That then reminded me of my own past research into sabermetric questions, when I was calculating (by hand, children) career performance probabilities for a baseball sim on which I was working decades ago. I’m persuaded that for a simulation game, nobody really wants a simulation of a player’s full career; too many tremendous athletes have had long intervals of decline (or long intervals of development) for which they ought not be remembered. Some might want recreations of a player’s single best season, but that rewards one-hit wonders and penalises players who were consistently excellent, but without a single extraordinary season.
The answer, then, must be an averaged peak-performance profile for each player. That leaves two vital questions still to answer: ‘How many seasons count toward (or against) someone’s “peak”?’ and ‘Consecutive years, or best X seasons regardless?’
Right now, I’m inclined toward a six-consecutive-year peak value. I haven’t looked at any of my favourite ballplayers’ statistics, so I’m not biased by my desire to see Joe ‘Burrhead’ Dobson represented at his best; I was wavering between five and seven years, and split the difference. And consecutive years, because… I don’t know, anything else feels like cheating, cherry-picking.