Looking At The New Strat-o-Matic Yankees Cards
By Paul Semendinger
March 11, 2021
The new guys came. Finally.
It’s always a good day when the new guys come… the latest release of Strat-o-Matic cards for the new season.
Now, to be clear, while these are the 2021 Strat-o-Matic cards, they actually represent the Yankees from the 2020 season. So, while they are the “new guys,” the newest Strat-o-Matic cards, they are actually last year’s team. In this team set, Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ are all Yankees.
I always love when the new guys arrive! There are always surprises and great things to find. I’ll share some of the highlights from the newest Yankees cards here; the things that caught my eye.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: Strat uses a simple formula for defense. An outstanding fielder rates as a 1 for range factor. An above average fielder would be a 2. The range continues down to a 5. The worse fielders are 5’s.
Players also receive an error rating, like the range factor, the lower the number, the better. If a player made no errors, his e-rating (error-rating) would be a zero (e0). If the player made a ton of errors, his number would be very high. A terrible shortstop might rate as an e44.
Outfielders and catchers also receive ratings for their throwing arms. If a player is a negative thrower, that’s a good thing. That means his arm takes away some of a runner’s speed. (I’ll share some of the Yankees’ speed ratings below.) If a player has a positive throwing number, you would add that amount to a runner’s speed. (That would, obviously, be bad for the team in the field.) As a point of historical comparison… Dave Winfield usually had a throwing arm of -5, while players like Roy White and Mickey Rivers often had arms of +2 or +3.
With that basic fielding tutorial, here are some of the highlights I noted on the new Strat-o-Matic Yankees cards:
Aaron Judge’s defense is spectacular. A player almost cannot be better. He rates as: rf-1 (-5) e1. This means that he has the best range, the best arm, and hardly ever makes an error. WOW!
Clint Frazier was nominated for a Gold Glove, but his range factor is a 4 (rf-4). He would not catch balls that Aaron Judge would reach. That is not Gold Glove caliber.
Gio Urshela rates with great defense. A 3b-1 e5 is spectacular. (Graig Nettles was often a 3b-1 e11. Urshela’s e-rating is lower than Nettles’ so he’d make fewer errors.)
Gleyber Torres is a disaster at shortstop. He is a ss-4 e38. That means a lot of ground balls will go past him, and he’ll make a lot of errors on other balls hit his way. Not good. A few years ago, Didi Gregorius was a ss-1 e8. Didi would make a ton of plays that Torres will not. That makes a huge difference each game. In Strat, it would be very difficult to win lots of games with a shortstop who fields this poorly.
D.J. LeMahieu makes up for Torres, at least a bit, by being a 2b-1 e20. The e20 is a bit high, but a player cannot rate better than a 1.
Kyle Higashioka both have very good arms as catchers. They both rate as a (-2).
BACKGROUND: A player’s speed is determined on a 1 to 20 scale. The faster the guy, the higher the number.
Rickey Henderson was always a 1-17 runner.
Cliff Johnson, as I recall, was a 1-8. You don’t want him trying to take an extra base.
(For further explanation, allow me to go back to the outfielder’s arms… Roy White almost couldn’t throw out Rickey Henderson most times if he had the chance to take the extra base. (Take Rickey’s 1-17 running then add the weak arm of +2. This would make Henderson a 1-19. Rickey would be held a lot more if Winfield (or Aaron Judge) both (-5) had the ball. With Winfield or Judge throwing, Henderson becomes a 1-12.)
On this Yankees team, the fastest players are:
Tyler Wade 1-16
Aaron Hicks 1-15
Brett Gardner 1-15
Mike Tauchman 1-15
The slowest players are:
Kyle Higashioka 1-8
Gary Sanchez 1-9
BACKGROUND: This gets a little more complicated to explain in an overview post like this, but suffice to say that the following players would tend to be a lot more susceptible to injury:
No surprises there!
BACKGROUND: Again, this gets a bit technical…hard to explain without explaining the whole game, but the following is very noticeable when one looks at certain cards:
Gary Sanchez will strike out a lot against right handed pitching.
Aaron Hicks will walk a ton batting left or right handed.
Kyle Higashioka will show good power against right handed pitching, but not so much against lefties.
Aaron Judge will strike out a lot, but when he hits the ball, he’ll hit many over the fence.
Luke Voit is poised to hit a bunch of homers.
Tyler Wade can’t hit lefties.
D.J. LeMahieu can hit everyone.
BACKGROUND: Again, to keep this simple, I notice the following about the Yankees’ pitchers in a general sense:
The starting pitchers will not go deep into games. I have never seen a card where the starting pitcher can begin to get tired in the 4th inning, but on this team there are three starters like that: James Paxton, Mike King, and Jonathan Loaisiga.
Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, and Jordan Montgomery tired in the fifth.
Gerrit Cole reaches the sixth inning before tiring becomes a factor.
Gerrit Cole will accumulate a bunch of strikeouts.
J.A. Happ will actually do better than one might expect. (His WHIP last year was 1.05. That’s actually very good.)
Masahiro Tanaka will give up a bunch of homers.
Aroldis Chapman will walk too many batters and will drive his manager a bit crazy, but he can get so many strikeouts that he’ll work out of some tough spots
Strat-o-Matic is a board game that has figured out how to replicate real life players on individual playing cards. I know the cards end up being pretty accurate as I have been playing the game since 1982. I have learned a lot about baseball, statistics, and strategy by playing Strat-o-Matic. It’s a great game.
Once one learns how to play, and it is quite straight-forward and simple to play, a game can usually be played in 30-minutes. It’s a quick and fun baseball simulation game.
I highly recommend the board game for all fans.