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20 Questions: Which player am I?

Posted by Andy on February 19, 2011

Let's do another puzzle, but this time I'll take questions in the form of yes/no questions, as follows:

  • Valid questions must be answerable by a simple yes or no answer.
  • I will answer the first valid question posted in the comments after each answer I give.
  • You (the readers) have 20 questions to get to the right answer.
  • I will ignore any questions that are either invalid or come after valid questions that I haven't answered yet.

This first puzzle is fairly easy. I'm thinking of a major-league baseball player. Get us started with your first question.

132 Responses to “20 Questions: Which player am I?”

  1. John Says:

    In your intial post you said that you would not answer invalid questions, how is guessing if it is this player or that player a valid question. Doesnt that defeat the purpose or game that is 20 Questions ?

  2. Will S Says:

    Because invalid means not a 'yes' or 'no' question.

  3. John Says:

    But isnt guessing a players name a Guess not a question for example look at it this way? Is the player who you are thinking of ? Kent Hrbek (My Guess) granted it can be answered with a yes or no question. But at the end of 20 questions there will be a lot of guesses. This is just an example and a response to Andy's post regarding frustration about guessing the answers.

  4. Andy Says:

    Answer #15: yes I was born in the 1960s.

  5. Jack Says:

    Were you primarily an outfielder?

  6. Andy Says:

    Answer #16: yes, I was primarily an outfielder.

  7. Jack Says:

    Q - Are you an active player?
    A - No, I am not an active player.

    Q - Were you mainly a pitcher (as opposed to being a fielder)?
    A - No, I was not mainly a pitcher.

    Q - Are you still alive?
    A - Yes, I am still alive.

    Q - have you ever won a batting title?
    A - No, I have never won a batting title. [in the major leagues]

    Q - Were the vast majority of your at bats left handed ?
    A - no, the vast majority of my at-bats were not left-handed.

    Q - Did you play the majority of your career in the American League?
    A - Yes, I played the majority of my career in the AL

    Q - Are you Herb Washington?
    A - No I am not Herb Washington.
    (Personal comment - we should not have been wasting a question guessing a specific player this early in the game.)

    Q - Did I play ten seasons or more?
    A - Yes, I played 10 seasons or more.

    Q - If you were not mainly a pitcher... did you ever pitch,and if you did ,did you register a win,as such at any time doing so ?
    A - Yes I appeared as a pitcher.

    Q - Are you Jose Canseco?
    A - No

    Q - Did you play in the Kingdom?
    A - Yes

    Q - Are you Dan Gladden?
    A - No

    Q - Did you have at least 1000 major league hits?
    A - No

    Q - Did you appear as a pitcher more than once?
    A - No

    Q - Were you born in the 1960s?
    A - Yes

  8. Jack Says:

    And add to the summary:

    Q - Were you primarily an outfielder?
    A - Yes

  9. Andrew Says:

    Did you ever hit 4 home runs in a single major league game :)?

  10. Andy Says:

    Answer #17: yes, I once hit 4 homers in a game!

  11. Brady Says:

    Mark Whiten.

  12. Andrew Says:

    Going out on a limb, but are you Mark Whiten?

  13. T Says:

    That's it.... Whiten!

  14. Tom Says:

    Apparently, the game of 20 questions is not as well known or understood as some of us might think. The rules of the game are simple:

    1. The moderator (Andy) thinks of something – in this case an MLB player.
    2. The players (us) can ask questions that can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
    3. We get up to 20 questions to determine who Andy is thinking of.
    4. We “win” if we guess the player within the 20 questions.
    5. To win, you have to get a ‘yes’ Answer to a question phrased like, “Is the player you’re thinking of _____?”

    And yes, that last question counts as one of the 20 we get to ask.

    Since there have been thousands of MLB players, obviously asking “Is it Joe Schmoe?” early on will most likely not lead to a win for us. To win, we need to ask questions that narrow down the possibilities first (like the first 6 questions Andy answered). Once we’ve narrowed it down to just a few players – or possibly only one, we can ask, “Is it _____?” So let’s please try to focus on narrowing down the field, before we go wasting our limited number of questions on asking if it is Herb Washington, Jose Canseco, or Chili Davis.

    One final note, I think some of you are trying to read too much into Andy’s answers. A ‘yes’ simply means ‘yes’ and ‘no’ simply means ‘no’. If Andy adds a comment like “…in the Major Leagues”, it does not mean that the player necessarily won a batting title in some other league, it’s just that Andy is only looking at the player’s Major League stats, and doesn’t want someone to come back later and say, “But won a batting title in Little League – you’re saying that he didn’t win a batting title ever totally threw me off!”

  15. Tom Says:

    My comments may have come a bit late, as we may have already solved this one by the time they got posted (I wrote them after @103), but worth noting for future 20 questions games.

    Andy - please do more of these, they're fun!

  16. T Says:

    Andy, that seemed to be a bit frustrating, I know. But there was a good response so it looks like we like this kind of stuff. Hopefully you can hone it a bit and make it less of a hassle. Great question. I'm a Cardinal fan in Europe, so needless to say, Whiten's day is well remembered.

  17. Andy Says:

    That's not a valid question. 🙂

  18. Andy Says:

    Yeah it's Mark Whiten. We'll do more of these.

  19. mccombe35 Says:

    Whiten doesn't work with question #5

  20. Jack Says:

    Whiten had roughly 70% of his ABs as a LHB. I guess that's the danger in the vagueness of "vast majority". Andy said he considered vast majority to be 80-90%.

  21. Tom Says:

    mccombe35 @119: Read Andy's clarification of his interpretation of the phrase "vast majority" in @86.

  22. Tom Says:

    In the future, we might want to use wording like, "Were you considered a LHB" or "Are you listed on the b-r site as a LHB?"

  23. SocraticGadfly Says:

    Hah, I knew I was right on switch-hitting. Andy said he didn't bat the **vast** majority LH. I was on the right track, but Chili Davis had more than 1,000 hits.

    @Greg...the 20Q website is horrible at times. I was playing animal/vegetable/mineral, and thinking of "wolverine." AFTER I said yes to "is it a mammal," the computer later guessed "osprey" then some fish, I think.

  24. TheGoof Says:

    I was going to say Whiten, but the left-handed thing had me wondering.

  25. T Says:

    "Are you an active player?" should always be the first question.

  26. sansho1 Says:

    Nobody bats left-handed 90% of the time, do they? They either bat left-handed 0%, 100%, or approx. 60-75%, right?

  27. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Thanks for this game. I would like to see it played again. I didn't ask any questions because I was following the rule of not putting in a new question until the last one is answered. However, some of the questions came fast and furiously because multiple people posted questions almost simultaneously, not realizing that others were posting questions at the same time. Even with Andy monitoring the questions, he couldn't get all of his answers in right away.

    Also, as I commented earlier, guessing a player, especially one like Herb Washington who was remembered mainly for being a very specialized player, so early in the process seemed to me to be a waste of a question.

    Some questions work better later but don't appear to be useful early on. Or if they are asked early in the process and generate a "yes" answer, it may spoil the fun for others.

    "Did he ever wear #22 for the Phillies?" is a question that would have generated a "yes" answer, and it would make for a good question #18, 19, or 20 if someone thought it could be Whiten but wasn't 100% sure. But asking it fairly early would take the fun away from some of the other players.

  28. Tom Says:

    sansho1 @126:

    I can't think of a real-life example off the top of my head, but if someone like a Curtis Granderson were a switch hitter (i.e. someone who is really bad at hitting lefties and thus is often platooned), I could see them getting 80% - 90% of their ABs left-handed. Unfortunately, I don't think that we can use the PI for this, as I don't think you can search based on splits (e.g. vs LHP or RHP).

  29. Bjazz Says:

    Danny Darwin

  30. 20 Questions: Which player am I? » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog ... Says:

    20 Questions: Which player am I? » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog ......

    [...]It's sad that so many people think that every conversation has to appeal to them, and sadder that they think it's perfectly fine for them to post their rude opinions about things other people are doing which have absolutely no bearing on them. ....

  31. 20 Questions: Which player and year am I? » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive Says:

    [...] start an all-new 20 Questions game. See my last such game for the rules. Remember, I will only answer the first valid question posted in the comments after [...]

  32. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    The primary goal in twenty questions is to ask questions that will break the field of possibilities roughly in half at each question. So asking about specific players is obviously *stupid* unless the group of players for whom all previous answers are correct is already quite small.

    But beyond that, a lot of the questions asked were very poor strategically.

    Example, somebody asked about whether the vast majority of bats were left-handed. Well, first, we've already established that being specific would be a good idea, so we should choose a number like 60%. But more important, there are many fewer primarily lefty batters than primarily righty batters, so we should have asked about right handed, so we'd narrow the field to lefties + switch hitters, or righties.