Determining Card Patterns
by Bruce Bundy

In the proud and honorable history of gamemaking, numerous sports simulations have come and gone. But Strat-O-Matic players can take heart knowing SOM will keep improving the cards without radical change. For those who think radical change has been nearly constant in SOM baseball, be assured: There are many traditions left. One is the technique dictating card designs, regardless of apparent significant changes that began last year.

The hits may be placed in different patterns now, but the technique has not changed since the origin of the game. Essentially, this is a technique, not a formula. To determine a batter's card design, use the three unripped sheets of an SOM team. (NOTE: Hit placement changed last year. To analyze cards prior to 1990, use teams prior to 1990 to dictate hit placement).  If unripped team sheets are not available, use a ripped team and read on.

Each sheet has nine players in a 3 x 3 pattern. Starting with hitters, the player in the upper left of the first sheet is given hitter's pattern #1. The ensuing patterns are read in columns: The card directly below pattern #1 is hitter's pattern #2 and the card in the upper right is hitter's pattern #7. The first sheet is all hitters. Note that they are in order of batting average.
Now examine the second SOM sheet. This sheet will probably have at least one pitcher on it. Disregard the pitcher(s) for now. The card in the upper left is hitter's pattern #10. Below are #11 and #12. Examine #13 for NL teams and #14 for AL teams. These will still be called #13 and #14, but note that their batting averages are higher than previ-ous cards. This is due to SOM originally issuing 20-card teams, with 12 hitters and 8 pitchers.

AL teams went to 13 hitters and 7 pitchers when the AL adopted the designated hitter. SOM carded the 12 or 13 hitters who received the most plate appearances, un-less it needed a second catcher, shortstop, etc. Until last year, the additional hitter was issued the same card pattern as another player: the one with the batting average immediately below the additional hitter. For example, if an AL team's top five regulars hit .300. .290, .280, .270 and .260, a No. 4 hitter with a .265 average would receive card pattern No.5.

Now additional players have been issued new, original card patterns. Dutifully note them as hitter's card patterns #13-#17. These players may have higher batting averages than other carded teammates, but lacked the plate appearances to qualify in the origi-nal 12 or 13. Additional players after #17 revert to the traditional method, claiming already-used patterns based on their batting averages. [Pitchers follow the same procedures, based on best-to-worst ERAs, rather than batting averages.]

To reconstruct the card patterns with ripped teams is trickier; you may need to process several teams to feel comfortable with the results. Write all the hitters' names in a column. Look at each card and write each player's plate appearances (at bats + walks) to the right of his name. Then re-view your list and put a check next to the 13 highest PA in the AL, 12 highest for the NL. Take these 13 or 12 cards in order of batting average, highest to lowest. The remaining cards should then be sorted by batting aver-age, highest to lowest, and then be placed below the original 13 or 12.

To better understand card patterns, many comparisons need to be made.  Look at other unripped sets, or repeat the previous exercise on other teams. Com-pare the different card patterns. There may be a hit out of place here and there - this is done intentionally to enhance every card's uniqueness. Hits maintain their patterns well. Walks wind up filling voids; their placement is very erratic. After enough study, even the outs will start to show patterns.


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