Brushback - Beta Version
Brushback Baseball is an online beta version baseball simulation.

The year Brushback Baseball was invented

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Below is a Discussion of What We Mean by 'A Realistic Sim'

We are committed to continuing our policy of making Brushback Baseball as realistic as possible.

Much of the current simulation was built when we had to estimate what mature player builds might look like. Given the estimates that were necessary, we are extremely pleased that the initial simulation settings turned out to be highly realistic.

As the game has evolved, we have continued to refine the realism. Reading the forums, however, we have come to realize that 'realism' and 'realistic simulation' mean different things to different users.

Below we describe two points of view. Although users have positions slightly different from these view points, the following two will help us illustrate our point and explain our thinking.

Two Views of Realism

One point of view holds that for the sim to be considered realistic, every stat in BB needs to have the same value that it does in current professional baseball. As player builds change each season, simulation adjustments need to be made each season in order to bring the BB stats back into close alignment with professional stats. For example, if the 2010 strikeout leaders in professional ball average 10 strikeouts per game and the season 6 BB leaders average 8, this point of view holds that the BB simulation is not sufficiently realistic. An season-end adjustment to the simulation would be expected in order to increase the number of strikeouts by the best BB strikeout pitchers.

Advantages of the first point of view:

  • Each season's simulations come as close to reproducing current professional stats as is reasonably possible.

Disadvantages of the first point of view:

  • Players that do 'too well' may be penalized. For example, if most agents use training sessions and Player Points to improve power hitting (and spend few resources on fielding), then offensive numbers will rise in BB and we will be expected to change the game simulation for the next season to diminish offensive production.
  • These frequent tunings of the simulation engine will take time away from adding new game features.
  • Behavioral limits may need to be established to bring BB player and owner behaviors into line with those of professional ball. For example
    • Non-optional player build guides and quotas involving each type of player could be necessary to enforce realistic builds.
    • Required minimum and maximum values for stolen base attempts could be necessary to enforce realistic player and mangerial behavior.

A second point of view holds that statistical averages vary from season to season and trend with time. For example, strikeout rates have varied by 25% over the last two decades. The following chart shows that runs per game (R/G) have increased and decreased over the past 40 years (varying from 3.5 to 5.4 over this time).

(image from: Michael Bein).

The second point of view would say that this variety is part of the natural ebb and flow of baseball (due to changing player abilities as well as changes in team tactics) and accordingly accepts that stats in BB will also experience a natural ebb and flow for the same reasons. This second point of view of realism holds that as long as BB stats fall within the range of professional baseball norms, the simulation is realistic.

Advantages of the second point of view:

  • More time for game development.
  • Players with excellent builds are not penalized.
  • The natural ebb and flow of baseball is free to occur.

Disadvantages of the second point of view:

  • A specific BB stat may not match the current values for that stat in professional baseball. This is to say that professional ball might be experiencing an ebb while BB is experiencing a flow.

Our Conclusion

At this stage of our development, we think the second position is the better fit for Brushback Baseball.

Our standard is, we are willing to change the sim where ever results fall outside of modern era baseball norms.


Consider a few examples where we consider that a change is necessary. During the early seasons of BB, the home run rate exceeded the greatest home run rate in professional baseball. We made adjustments, therefore, to bring the BB home run rate back into historical norms.

We are in the process of evaluating whether the season 7 walk rate in BB is similarly out of historic alignment.

And a zero percent error rate is obviously out of historical bounds and we are working to add errors.

The FIP statistic is a derived statistic that we would not focus on. If we get statistics that represent the fundamental components of baseball correct, we expect that the derived stats will fall into proper historic ranges.

Why We Expect Greater Variation in BB Stat Values than in Professional Baseball Stat Values

We expect more variation in BB stats than is seen in professional baseball stats for the simple fact that there are no penalties in BB for attempting unconventional builds and strategies.

If a BB owner or manager tries out an unconventional strategy (say attempting steals way too often) and it fails, there is no consequence of significance. The agents are likely to say something like 'we're behind you, but next season tone it down some.' But, in professional baseball, there are consequences of significance. If a professional manager tried an unconventional strategy that backfired, he would likely be fired. If a player tried to steal unexpectedly often during a season, he would increase his risk of injury.

If an agent builds a pitcher that has a 102 mph fastball, but little control of the pitch, not much is risked. If the pitcher is not successful, he gets retired, and another player is built. No big deal. If however, a professional baseball prospect follows the same approach, he puts real money and fame at risk.

In professional ball, the heavy penalties for unconventional behavior that fails tends to put real limits on behavior.

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