Saturday, March 13, 2010

Announcing Two Out Rally, Baseball MMORPG

What is Two Out Rally?

Two Out Rally is a massively-multiplayer online baseball role playing game. More explicitly, it's an online baseball game where tons of fans just like you can create players, manage teams, and rise to the top of the leagues by crushing the competition.

Tell me more.

Create: Each member of Two Out Rally starts as a scout, and in that role can create players. Choose position, left or right handedness, background, style of play, and attributes depending on exactly what type of player you want. Unlike other MMOs, there are no useless stats! All decisions matter and they all affect the game in different ways.

Coach: Another aspect of Two Out Rally is the ability to train your players and improve their various attributes. As they level up, your training regimen can produce awesome results on the field! Coach your players up and see the results.

Conquer: As scouts gain influence, they can eventually use that to be the GM or Owner of a team. In that role, you take over all aspects of team operation, like finding/acquiring talent, managing contracts, daily lineups, defensive alignments, etc. Manage a successful team and conquer the competition!

What do I do now?

Two Out Rally is nearing an Alpha release in April 2010--and we're looking for Alpha testers. We're looking for all sorts of players: those that have done previous testing, those that haven't, those that love baseball, and even some that don't.

If you're interested in Alpha Testing (and getting a jump on the competition as well as some admin-approved bonuses), sign up by posting over at our Facebook fan page. Just throw up a "I'd like to alpha test!" on the wall and we'll make sure and contact you when it opens.

I simply cannot wait to tell you more, but I can't give everything away up front--some of these game functions should really impress you, but some things will remain secret for as long as possible.

Until then, check out: <-- watch for updates.
Two Out Rally Facebook Fan page<-- become a fan, check out screen shots, and learn more about the game
Two Out Rally Twitter Page <-- watch for clues about the history of Two Out Rally's awesome world. < -- Want to be a tester but afraid of social media? Email us!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Billy Butler: Hall of Famer

There, I said it. Previously I indicated (when comparing Billy Butler to Dave Winfield of all people) that Billy would one day hit 30 HR in a season. Sort of a lukewarm prediction for a first baseman in the modern era, don’t you think? Sure, it’s six away from the franchise’s all time leader, that legendary slugger Steve Balboni, but saying the Royals are a bit historically lacking in that particular department is like saying that the Burj Al Arab in Dubai is a hotel. So here's going out on a limb a little bit.

The basic premise of the initial argument was why Dave Winfield was an excellent Billy Butler comp by age. But who cares? That dude who hit a sausage with a bat was a top 20 comparable last year. Prince Fielder’s his number two (who certainly at least has a more similar body type to Butler than Winfield) and there was no discussion his age 23 season whether he would ever one day hit 30 bombs – he hit 50 that year.

But something changed this season, and went off the projection in a big way … and it was extra base power, just not in the way that most would notice. The man was projected to hit around 30 doubles. As of this writing, he’s now on pace for the mid 50s. Everything else (the AVG, OBP, and SLG are almost exactly as projected) is just pretty much who we thought he would be, while hoping for more.

So what does hitting that amount of doubles mean to a player of Butler’s age (23) or younger? Microsoft Excel, some google fu, and a plain ole’ desktop calculator helped me put it into context.

If Billy Butler can accomplish this very reasonable feat, does he continue to compare with a Hall of Famer?

(click to enlarge)*

No. He compares to dozens of them.

And he shares the top ten list with four.

One of them isn’t just a Hall of Famer, but one of the greatest of all time. Another was arguably the best overall player of two different decades. One was the greatest offensive player in the most difficult run scoring environment since the deadball era. And even those who didn’t make it – one was because of injuries that derailed a sure thing. And the worst among that top 10 company had 1800 career base hits and 4 all star appearances.

Just off the top 10 list are guys like A-Rod and Albert Pujols and Ted Williams. If you expand it to age 25 and younger, George Brett in 1978 is right there. So is Hank Aaron in the late 50s. In fact, the whole qualifying list basically reads like an almanac of baseball history. These are most of the greatest players in the game starting just before World War 2. And Billy would rank tied for 5th. Unless he completely falls off a cliff, he’s going to land in the top 30 or so. That’s not good company, it's legendary.

Look for yourself -->

So to address the intial premise (the Seagull conundrum if you will), did any of these guys go on to hit 30 HR in a single season? To make this completely fair, I’d have to do park and year adjustments, but frankly there’s no need. Vada Pinson never made it, but he hit in the 20s regularly, and his prime was in the long ball killing 1960s. Every single other player in the top 10 did.

This should be a world of good news for Royals fans. But there’s an aspect of it all that makes me very sad … Butler is clearly the wrong player for the wrong time. He’s built almost perfectly in the mold of the 1970s and 1980s line drive, high Batting average sluggers. The Tony Gwynns. The Robin Younts. Even the George Bretts. This is the ultimate testament to a franchise stuck completely in the past, in that their best player, their pride and joy, could be a three time MVP … if he played in Fulton County Stadium or the Houston Astrodome, wearing ugly horizontal stripes and an unflattering adjustable waistband. Their other potentially developing offensive star is more of the modern mold – walks, strikeouts, and homers … and Alex Gordon just got sent back to Triple A.

A commenter on the Winfield / Butler comparison asked if I believed that the comp could indicate that Billy would have a long career, much like Winfield did. I indicated that I didn’t believe it was possible, that Billy’s athleticism and build would eventually hold him back. I no longer fully believe that.

This study has convinced me that Billy, unlike the discipline and power mold (the old player skills) has an ability set that passes the test of time. Even the worst comps mostly had very long careers. The power may come and then go again, like so many players, but while muscles fade in the 30s (those of us there can testify to this), the eyesight lasts until 45 or so. And that gives a player like Billy an awful lot of time to compile 3,000 hits. And there’s still going to be enough aging sentimental sportswriters around that believe in the magic number, and they’re going to give Billy the nod.

Viva la Billy Butler. Hall of Fame class of 2032.

* Projected total for 2009 for players under 25

Introducing: Adjusted Doubles

Behold a limited utility addition to the baseball statistical lexicon: the Adjusted Double, hereafter referred to at least on G&C as a2b.

So what is a2b? How is it calculated? More importantly, why is it calculated? One question answered at a time.

Specifically, a2b is the number of doubles hit for a player if he were playing in the American League in a neutral park in 1980. A2b is similar to EQA or OPS+ in that it is adjusted to account for the context of the year and the ballparks of that time.

Important differences in the calculation, however, are that it accounts for doubles alone, and no other offensive factors. This leads to some different park factors (best all time doubles park: Fenway park for righties), and year adjustments, which are available from the always estimable Because of the vast differences of modern parks (you know, like the customary outfield wall), I only used years from 1940 onward.

And as for the why: you’ll find out tonight.