WhatIfSports User Interview: elbirdo From WhatIfSports.com image

User Interview: elbirdo

Q&A with elbirdo

When it comes to SimLeague success, few can measure up to elbirdo. The SimLeague Baseball aficionado has accumulated 121 championships since he first joined WhatIfSports.com in 2002. Elbirdo is featured in our newest User Interview. He discusses at length his winning strategies.

elbirdo SimLeague Baseball Overall Records
Seasons Record Playoff Record Championships
61964,446-39,490 (62.0%)2,539-2,035 (55.5%)121

elbirdo Tournament of Champions Records
Appearances Record Finals Championships
133818-617 (57.0%)2217

WIS: Who is elbirdo?

elbirdo: I am a 61-year-old father of two young men living in Virginia and working in DC as a senior java developer. My wife of 27 years is an occupational therapist. Both boys are graduates of Virginia Military Institute. One son has a mechanical engineering degree, but is currently living his dream job of being a Division I football coach. The other son just finished his computer science degree and is hitting the job market.

WIS: How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com?

elbirdo: While on vacation, my brother Mike introduced me to it. I think it was relatively new at the time.

WIS: Which of our games have you played? Which do you prefer?

elbirdo: I have only played baseball.

St. Louis Cardinals, World Series Champions Elbirdo no doubt enjoyed watching his St. Louis Cardinals win the 2011 World Series.

WIS: Besides sports simulation web sites, what are some of your other interests and hobbies?

elbirdo: I really don't frequent sports simulation web sites. I play SimLeague ball only. I enjoy programming (mostly centered around optimizing my SimLeague teams), following the St. Louis Cardinals, movies, weightlifting, tropical fish, cultivating wild birds at my home - we assist in producing about 20-30 new bluebirds every year.

WIS: Which five people, past or present, sit at your dream roundtable discussion?

elbirdo: My dad, my sons, (they never met), George Washington, and Ronald Reagan.

WIS: Did you play any sports growing up?

elbirdo: Sandlot baseball mostly.

WIS: Who are your favorite all-time players?

elbirdo: Jon Jay, Bob Gibson, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina, Jim Edmonds, Lance Berkman, Mike Shannon. Hmmm, might be a pattern here.

WIS: Do you have any sports-related items on your bucket list that you have not yet done?

elbirdo: Ultimate fighting? Seriously, I would like to go on a Spring Training vacation.

WIS: What is your favorite WIS moment?

elbirdo: Played myself in a TOC a couple of times.

WIS: You have been a WIS user since 2002. What big events have occurred in your life since that time?

elbirdo: Mostly athletic achievements of my two sons in high school and college. One in track, wrestling and football. The other in baseball, wrestling and football. Youngest son made it to the finals of the high school state wrestling championships as a heavyweight. The other was named first team all-conference as a lineman in college.

WIS: You currently have ten SimLeague Baseball teams across six leagues. What is the most team's you've ever had at one time? Have two of your teams ever met in a league championship?

elbirdo: There was a time when I regularly had 20+ teams at one time. I usually play myself in a league championship once or twice a year.

WIS: Do you have any favorite SimLeague Baseball theme or progressive leagues?

elbirdo: $255 million cap - no holds barred. I'm also a sucker for all-offense leagues and "gimmick" leagues.

WIS: What is your general strategy for building teams in SimLeague Baseball? Do you draw on the influence or philosophy of any actual general managers or managers?

elbirdo: I collect as much data as I can from existing leagues and run it through some processing and it kicks out the players most likely to succeed. I approach SimLeagues not so much as baseball, but as a computer simulation engine to be reverse engineered.

Nap Lajoie In 1901, Nap Lajoie recorded a .426 batting average and a .463 on-base percentage in 582 plate appearances for the Philadelphia Athletics.

WIS: Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your teams?

elbirdo: Barry Bonds 2002 & '04, Babe Ruth 1920, '21 & '23, Ted Williams 1941, Jimmie Foxx 1932, Arky Vaughan 1935, Rogers Hornsby 1924, King Kelly 1886, Nap Lajoie 1901, Greg Maddux 1995, Pete Alexander 1915, etc.

WIS: Do you make transactions during the season to try and separate yourself from others?

elbirdo: Almost never.

WIS: How much time do you spend on your SimLeague Baseball teams? How much do you think is necessary to be competitive?

elbirdo: Maybe an hour a day. Lots of homework, though. I save all data. I spend much more time analyzing data than actually messing with my existing teams. My team settings are rather laughable.

WIS: Laughable? How so?

elbirdo: Team settings - very unimaginative.

  • I almost always set every pitcher for a call bullpen setting of 1 - I'd use 0 if it were available.
  • Starting pitcher pitch counts are pitches allocated / number of starts I expect that pitcher to make (subject to in-game fatigue limits, of course).
  • Starters are always available as long relievers.
  • Relievers are always TargetPC = 15, MaxPC = 15.
  • Relievers are always Long A (well, maybe a mop up guy now and then but I normally don't use Long B, Setup, Closer, Specialist, etc.).
  • All pitchers are available in any inning.
  • Base stealing is always never. Sac bunt never. Pinch hit never except for non-DH leagues.
  • Autorest always 99 (I'd use 100 if it was available).

I guess being able to use this approach is a side-effect of playing in high cap leagues. I put the best guy in each slot and only sub when he gets fatigued.

I never quite understood the call bullpen setting. It's my understanding that every pitch is an independent event and the outcome is based on the pitcher's statistics and the batter's statistics modified only by fatigue. In other words, a pitcher doesn't have a bad day. A '95 Maddux always pitches like a '95 Maddux - no good days or bad days. So if he gives up a handful of runs, it's not because he's off his game, it's just statistics and his next pitch will be a '95 Maddux pitch, his next inning, a '95 Maddux inning. So, I don't want him coming out until he throws the number of pitches I want him to.

I have spreadsheets that tell me how many pitches my pitchers have left as the season progresses. If I see that I'm looking at a surplus of pitches, I might dial back my starters so I get full use of my relievers. Nothing worse than reaching the end of the regular season with a reliever at less than 95% full usage. In general, if I can afford to, I shut every pitcher down at 95% utilization in preparation for the playoffs.

WIS: If you were to give one piece of advice to a new user, what would it be?

elbirdo: The MOST important thing a batter can do is not make an out.

WIS: What is your favorite aspect of SimLeague Baseball?

elbirdo: Drafting a team for a new league is the most enjoyable part, followed closely by trying to pick out a good team name.

Lately, I've been sharing a lot of insight with other players who ask me questions. Some of them are doing very well - I enjoy that. Simin8or and mlb_nut come to mind.

WIS: Least favorite?

elbirdo: I do not like the "damping" feature. I would like to be able to turn it off.

WIS: What is one feature you want to see implemented in a future update?

elbirdo: I've got two - do I get extra credit?

1. I would like to have a checkbox in advanced pitcher settings for "spot starter." In the event all of my starters are below rest setting, use this guy to start a game.

2. Some kind of algorithm adjustment for starters used in relief. I know a '95 Maddux can make 35 starts of 100 pitches each. I think the same Maddux making 81 relief appearances of 40 pitches each is unrealistic.

WIS: Who are the users you respect and/or enjoy the most?

elbirdo: In no particular order - kammeyer, mlb_nut, bassetcats, legaldh, simin8or, skunk206, ligapelota, mrfarhenheit, dougpalm, mojolad, BigGoon, PennQuaker - I know I left many out, sorry.

WIS: If you were in one of our games, what sport would you play, at what position, and what would you be rated?

elbirdo: Easy question! Baseball, center field for the St. Louis Cardinals, $200k, fielding D-, range D-. ...and loving it.

WIS: Thanks for your contributions to WhatIfSports.com and SimLeague Baseball, elbirdo.

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