MVP Baseball 2005 Baseball Strategy Guide Copyright 2005 by Chad Cranmer Contact info: Redwinger_6@yahoo.com. This guide is intended primarily to help people who are new to the game of baseball with general strategies and definitions. Please limit your questions/comments to what's in this guide. If you need to know where a player is, or how to do something in the game or something along those lines, there are other, probably better, resources than e-mailing me. Plus I won't answer you. If you want to use the guide or something in it ask, and I'll more than likely say OK. Contents 1) Statistical abbreviations and meanings 2) Position definitions/Descriptions 3) Lineup strategy 4) Sample lineups from my current teams 5) Pitcher roles 6) Pitch types and movements 7) Pinch hitting and running 8) Double Switch 9) Batting strategies 10) Pitching strategies 11) The minors 12) Fake players 13) Credits 1) Statistical abbreviations and meanings not in any particular order IP-Innings pitched. The number of innings pitched. 0.1 IP for each out. K/SO-Strike out. BB- Base on Balls/Walk APP-Number of games a pitch appears in. ERA-Earned Run Average. Number of ER allowed X 9 / IP W- Number of games won credited to pitcher. L-Number of losses credited to pitcher. SV-Save. Save situations happen if a pitcher comes in up by 3 or fewer runs, pitches at least one inning and preserves the lead. Allowing the team to tie but winning anyway is not a save. You can also get a save if you pitch the last 3 innings, regardless of the lead, and the official scorer decides to give you a save, or if you enter a game with the tying run on base, at bat, or on deck. BSV-Blown Save. Pitcher enters the game in a save situation, but doesn't convert it. GS-Games Started CG-Complete games SHO-Shut out R-Runs allowed ER-Earned Runs. Runs aren't ER if the runner who scores it reached base on an error or walk, or if the run would not have been scored if there wasn't an error. IBB-intentional walk HB-hit Batter WHIP-Walks/Hits per Inning pitched. BB+H/IP AB-Official At bats. BB, SF, SH, HBP, E, and FC don't count as ABs. FC-Fielder's choice. Fielder could have thrown out the batter at first, but got another runner out instead. AVG-Batting average. H/AB H-Hits HR-Home Run RBI-Run(s) Batted In. Runs driven in on errors or on a DP don't count R-Run scored. Either earned or unearned. 2B-Double 3B-Triple TB-Total bases reached safely by a hitter. SH-Sacrifice hits. A ground ball/bunt out that scores a runner. SF-Sacrifice Fly. A fly ball out that scores a runner. HBP-Hit By Pitch TPA-Total Plate Appearances. Every time a batter goes to the plate, whether it's an official AB or not OBP-On Base Percentage. Total number of times on base by any means (H, E, BB, FC)/AB SLG-Slugging Percentage. TB/AB OPS-On Base Plus Slugging. OBP+SLG E-Error. Fielder should have made a play, but dropped the ball. DP-Double play. 2 outs on one hit. TC-Total chances. Total number of times a ball was hit or thrown to a player. PO-Put out. outs made by the player, either by catching a fly ball, tagging a runner or stepping on a base for a force out. A-Assist. Throwing the ball to a player who makes a PO. F% Fielding percentage. The percentage a player makes a play without an error. 2) Position Definitions/Descriptions The positions are ranked based on a more or less realistic team. I know a lot of people have Randy Johnson, Mark Mulder, Pedro Martinez, Dontrelle Willis, and Mark Prior as their starting rotation, and have Eric Gagne, Francisco Cordero, and Mariano Rivera in their bullpen, but that gets too easy IMO. SP- Starting pitcher. The guy that gets the ball to start the game. A good starter should have at least 85 stamina and 4-5 pitches, at least three of them good. Because they generally pitch 6 or more innings, they face all of the batters 3 times or so, so if he only has 2 good pitches, the batters can focus on them and you will get hit hard more often. You can get away with one or two SPs with lower stamina, but any more than that and you will wear your bullpen out. You need to have at least 3 good starters to compete consistently. RP- Relief Pitcher. When your starter is ineffective or gets tired, it's time to bring in the relievers form the bull pen. You should have 6 or 7 RPs. They don't need much stamina since they generally only pitch 1-2 innings, and sine they don't face as many batters they don't need more than 3-4 pitches. Position players 1B- First baseman. Generally a big slugger, since first basemen don't have to make as many acrobatic plays or cover much ground as other players do. He should have good power and be able to hit for a decent average. A good 1B will hit around .280 + with 30+ home runs and 90+ RBI. He should be able to catch well though, since he will have a lot of balls thrown to him. 2B- Second baseman. Plays between 1st and 2nd. Your 2B should be good defensively since he will be key in preventing ground balls up the middle from turning into hits and for turning double plays. It's better to have a good defensive 2B who hits .260 than one that hits .310 but has a bad glove. The top 2B can do both, but for the most part these guys don't produce a ton of runs or hits. SS- Short stop. Similar to 2B, but plays between 2nd and 3rd. He's usually a better fielder than the 2B because he gets more balls hit to him. Again, defense is more important than offense. Ozzie Smith never hit more than 6 homers in a year and hit .262 lifetime and he's considered to be among the top few SS ever because of his defensive play. 3B- Third baseman. Generally 3B are big run producers, although they don't have as much power as some other positions typically have. They need to be athletic enough to field hard grounders and line drives, and have a strong enough arm to throw out runners at first. A good 3B should hit around .280 - .300 and drive in a bunch of runs, although hitting a lot of home runs isn't needed. You can get away with a 3B who doesn't get a lot of hits as long as he is good defensively like Brandon Inge on the Tigers. LF Left fielder should be another good hitter. Defense isn't as important, although you don't want a defensive liability out there. They only need average arm strength since they play behind 3B and don't have as far to throw to get people out at 3rd. If you have a choice between a good defensive LF and one who can hit, but is only so-so defensively, go with the hitter unless you have enough offense in the rest of your lineup to make up for it. CF Center fielders need to be able to get to balls quickly. Center field is the deepest part of the park, so if they can't cover a lot of ground, you're going to give up a lot of hits unless you play in a smaller park like LA. They also need to be able to make up for slower LF and RF by getting to balls that they can't. Defense is more important than offense here. Most of them don't hit a lot of homeruns, however, since speed in more important than power. RF Right fielders are similar to LF. Most of them hit well, and defense isn't as important as in CF. A RF should have a strong arm, however, as they need to make longer throws to 3B. I generally take my 3 best outfielders, put the fastest in CF, the one with the best arm in RF, and the other one in LF. C Catcher is the most important position on the field. In the real game, intelligence is the key as they tell the pitcher what to throw, align the infielders and outfielders according to the batter's tendencies, and calm the pitcher down when he gets flustered. In essence, a good C is like a manager on the field. Hitting is secondary. A strong throwing arm is a must if you donít want to give up a ton of stolen bases (not really a problem vs. the computer), and a good glove stops wild pitches. The top players like Pudge Rodriguez can do both, but for the most part .270 with 20 homers is a good for a catcher. DH (American League only) Designated hitters bat in place of the pitcher. It makes for more offense, at least in theory, but cuts down on the decisions a manager has to make. The NL doesn't use the DH, and when AL and NL teams play each other, the home team's rules apply. This guy should be a pure hitter, like Frank Thomas or Giambi. A lot of times the DH is an older guy who can't play in the field every day but can still hit, or someone who just plain isn't good in the field. You can also rotate players between the field and DH to rest them. NOTE- If you move your DH to a position, your pitcher has to bat. That's why I don't count him as a bench player. Bench- I like having 4 players on the bench, not counting the DH. 5 for an NL team since they don't have a DH. 2 players should be able to play the Of, at least one in CF. You should have a backup catcher, as well as someone to play each of the infield positions. Versatility is key here. Players with util as their 2nd pos. can generally play anywhere, although look at their skills before putting them at a position. You don't was some guy with 60 speed and range playing CF, 2B, or SS. My typical bench is this: If I have 4 OF: C with 1B or LF/RF as 2nd pos 2B/SS with 2B/SS, IF or util as 2nd pos 3B with OF or IF or 1B or util as 2nd pos OF who can play all 3 OF spots If I use 5 OF: C with 1B as 2nd pos CF- needs to be able to play either LF or RF as well LF/RF- sometimes can also play 1B or 3B 2B/SS with IF or util as 2nd pos Look at where your starters can play other than their first position when you determine who to put on your bench. Carlos Guillen, for example, also can play 3B, so you can use him as a back up 3B as long as you have someone who can play SS if he's at 3rd. If you don't have a C or OF who can play 1B, you'd better have someone else who can. At that point I'd make sure I have an IF that can play OF and have a C, a 2B/SS, 3B/1B, and 1 OF who can play CF, LF and/or RF, <or> a C, 2B/SS, 1B and 3B with either the 1B or 3B someone who can play OF too. REMEMBER Don't count your DH as a back up anywhere because if you move him during a game, your pitcher has to bat the rest of the game. That's why I almost never use a catcher as a DH unless one of my other guys can catch. If a catcher is DH and your starter gets hurt, you have the choice of either losing your DH slot or playing someone who's not a catcher there, which can lead to a costly error. With an NL team it might not be a bad idea to have a guy on the bench who can hit well to use mainly as a pinch hitter. In the AL he'd be a DH, but since the NL doesn't use the DH, you don't need to have someone as good (or as expensive) as you would if you were an AL team. Someone with mid 60's contact and decent power does the trick here, as opposed to a DH who should hit better than that, and thus cost more money. 3) Lineup Strategy Having a good batting lineup is crucial to producing consistent offense. If your best RBI men can't drive in runs if nobody is on base, and in doesn't make sense to have weaker hitters batting at the top of the order where they will get more ABs. 1 Your leadoff hitter should have good speed, but more importantly he should be able to get on base a lot. This means he needs to be patient at the plate so he can draw walks. A leadoff hitter who swings too freely strikes out too much, and therefore doesn't get on base as much as he should. 2 Your second hitter should be similar to your leadoff hitter. That way, if your leadoff man doesn't get on base, he should. Speed isn't quite as important, although you don't want a guy who can't run here. 3 Your highest average hitter should be in the #3 spot. Not only should he be able to get on base consistently, he should be able to drive in the #1 and #2 hitters. 4 Also called the clean up spot. His job is to clear the bases of runners. Generally your best power hitter. Average isn't as important as power, although you don't want a .250 hitter here. 5 There are 2 strategies here. You can have your #2 power hitter batting 5th to drive in any runs your clean up man leaves, or you can have another player who hits for a fairly high average here to get on base for the #6 hitter to drive in. I prefer to have a higher average guy here. 6 If you don't put your #2 power guy at the 5th spot, put him here. Otherwise, put your best remaining hitter here. 7 Best remaining hitter. 8 Best remaining hitter. 9 Your weakest hitter bats here. The lower in the order he is, the fewer times he bats. Another strategy is to use a fast player who doesn't hit well enough to bat 1 or 2. This will essentially give you 2 leadoff type hitters the second time through the order and gives your #1 and 2 hitters someone to drive in. Keep an eye on what side players bat from and who's on the mound for the other team. If you have too many guys who bat from the same side in a row, a starter could have an easier time and they can match up relievers later in the game easier. A hitter often has a more difficult time seeing the spin on breaking balls from a pitcher that throws from the same side as he bats. (right-right, left-left). This gives a RHP an advantage if he faces 4 right hander hitters in a row, and same for lefty-lefty matchups. I try not to have more than 2 batters from the same side in a row if I can avoid it, and never more than 3. Try to make sure that all of your best hitters don't bat from the same side. Also, make sure that if a guy has 80 contact against lefties but only 60 against righties that he isn't batting high in the order against RHP. 4) Sample Lineups These are the lineups, including my bench, for my Tigers owner mode and Brewers Dynasty mode. The Tigers lineup has a DH, the Brewers doesn't, since those are the standard lineups for most of the games. Detroit, against both LHP and RHP 1) Me. CF Fast with 80 contact and low 70 power both sides. 2) Carlos Guillen SS 3) Ivan Rodriguez C 4) Dmitri Young 1B 5) Rondell White DH 6) Rocco Baldelli RF 7) Craig Monroe LF 8) Brandon Inge 3B 9) Wendell Reyes 2B Fake FA. good defensively, ok contact hitter Bench: Vance Wilson C pinch hits vs. RHP Omar Infante 2B/Util Nook Logan CF/OF pinch runner Josh Phelps 1B/C pinch hits vs LHP If I need a 5th outfielder during a game for some reason, like I use Logan as a pinch runner and then an OF gets hurt, I can move Inge or Young to the OF, then next game I can put White in LF as a starter and use a bench player at DH. Brewers RHP: 1) Luis A. Gonzalez 2B 2) Carlos Lee LF 3) Lyle Overbay 1B 4) T-Rex Pennebaker CF (from Mr. 3000) high 70's-80 power and contact. 5) Geoff Jenkins RF 6) Damian Miller C 7) Brent Mateo 3B (fake FA, good defensively, decent hitter) 8) Scott Ellis SS (fake FA, good defensively, ok hitter) 9) Pitcher Bench Wes Helms 3B/1B - good hitter, terrible fielder. used as pinch hitter/DH Terry Petrick C - fake FA. good, young defensive catcher Wendal Reyes 2B/IF Nook Logan CF/OF - pinch runner Travis Lee 1B/LF - back up 1B and #5 OF, defensive replacement at 1B Brewers LHP: 1) Gonzalez 2B 2) Lee LF 3) Overbay 1B 4) Pennebaker RF - moves to RF because he has the strongest arm 5) Miller C 6) Logan CF - has 79 contact against LHP, Jenkins has 52 contact vs. LHP 7) Mateo 3B 8) Ellis SS 9) Pitcher Bench Helms Jenkins - used a defensive replacement/pinch hitter vs. RHP Petrick Lee Reyes 5) Pitcher Roles Every pitcher has a role to play. The more effective you are in putting everyone in the right role, the better your team will be. Starters You have 5 starting pitchers. Again, this is a general guide for a solid, playoff quality team. Some top teams (the Cubs) start out a ton of good pitchers already, and some people like to get 5 ace quality pitchers for their starters and load up their bull pen. It's not necessary to do that if you want to really dominate, but still have competitive games instead of winning 130 games a year. Just get pitchers for your 2-5 spots that are a little better than what I describe. 2-3 more wins each adds quite a bit to your victory total when you add in the number of wins your bullpen will be credited for. Remember, if your starters have low stamina, your relievers will have to pitch more innings and are more likely to wear out 1 Your Ace. Your best starting pitcher. He should have excellent stamina, at least 95, since you'll want your best pitcher throwing a lot of innings. This guy should be a threat to win 20 games. If you don't have one, do whatever it takes to get one. You will have a hard time making the playoffs with a dud as your ace. 2 You need a good #2 man. He doesn't need to win 20 games, but you have to have a good chance of winning every time he's on the mound. He should also have good stamina. 3 Your #3 SP should win more than he loses. 12-15 wins is a good goal. He should be able to pitch 7 or 8 solid innings a good share of his starts. 4 I like to put a younger guy here. He should win about half of his games. 5 Again, I use a younger guy here. If he wins 8-10 games, and your other pitchers win what they should, you should make the playoffs. Bullpen I like to have 7 RP. at least 2 of whom are lefties. This gives flexibility for lefty-lefty or righty-righty matchups, as well as makes it so you aren't using the same guys every day. Also, if your starter gets shelled and only lasts a couple inning, you need to use quite a few relievers since they don't have enough stamina typically to pitch many innings. Ditto for an extra inning game. If a game lasts 14-15 innings and you only have 6 RP, you might have to use a starter, which can throw off your rotation. Bull pen roles are as follows: LRP-Long reliever. Comes in when your starter gets knocked out early because of poor performance or an injury. Usually pitches at least 3 innings until the rest of the pen takes over. MR-Middle reliever. Usually pitches right around an inning, but sometimes pitches 2+ or only faces one or two batters. Most teams have one or two left handed pitchers here whose job is solely to get tough left handed hitters out. It is harder to pick up spin on breaking balls thrown by a pitcher who throws from the same side that you hit from (r-r, l-l). These guys aren't usually all that good except at getting left handed hitters out. Jamie Walker on the Tigers is a perfect example of this. He kills lefties (.222 opp BA) and gets killed by righties (.285 opp BA). SU-Setup man. Your second best reliever. A lot of times this is either a former closer (Ugueth Urbina) or a closer in training (Francisico Rodriguez last year with Anaheim). His job is to preserve the lead in the late 7th inning and/or the 8th until the closer comes in. Closer. Comes in to pitch the 9th in a close game. High strikeout to walk ratios and a low WHIP are important stats, bit he most is getting the save no matter what. Some guys are lights out and rarely allow a runner, others make every save an adventure but they get the job done most of the time. I'm thinking Todd Jones a few years ago for the Tigers when he got a ton of saves, but allowed quite a few runners. A lot of teams have one guy designated to work the 7th, another the 8th, and then the closer in the 9th. The Tigers were using Farnsworth-Urbina-Percival until Percival got hurt. 6) Pitch Types and movements. There are 15 different pitches in this game. They can be classified either as fastballs, breaking, or off speed. They have three basic movements; towards the side they're thrown, away from the side they're thrown, and down. The numbers refer to the hands on a clock. So a curve that breaks 11-5 breaks mostly down, but a little to the right from a batters perspective. RHP throws a ball that breaks towards the side he throws, the pitch comes back on a right handed hitter and away from a lefty. It's the opposite with a LHP. RHP throws a pitch the breaks away, the ball breaks towards a righty batter, away from a lefty. The colors in parentheses refer to the colors the pitches are when hitter's eye is turned on. Fastballs: (White) 4 Seam- Basic fastball. Name comes from the fact that hitters see 4 seams as it rotates. 2 Seam- Breaks towards the side it is thrown. Less velocity that a 4 seamer. Cutter- Breaks away. Similar to a slider, but harder and moves more horizontally, with less break. Slower than a 4 seamer. Breaking: (Red) Curve- Breaks down and away. Fairly slow pitch. Sometimes breaks straight down (12-6 curve) Slider- Like a curve, but faster and breaks more sideways than down, and sometimes straight across (9-3 or 3-9) Slurve-Cross between a curve and a slider. Nasty pitch when used effectively. Knuckle Curve- Slower than a standard curve, with more break and a more erratic movement. Screwball- Like a curve, but breaks towards the hand it's thrown with, giving it the opposite motion of a curve. Very few pitchers throw screwballs. Dropping pitches: (Purple) Splitter- Breaks down. Less velocity than the fast balls, but the hardest thrown of the balls that drop. Sinker- Breaks down suddenly. Slower than a splitter with more break. Fork Ball-Similar to a splitter but slower, even slower than a sinker and breaks more. Off Speed: (Green) Change up-The pitchers delivery is identical to a fastball delivery and the movement is similar to a 4 seamer, but it's a lot slower. Thrown to disrupt a hitter's timing. Circle Change-Similar to a change, but with more erratic movement. Palm ball-The ball is cradled in the pitcher's palm, giving the ball erratic movement. Low velocity. Orange: Knuckle ball- Gripped with the knuckles. Slow pitch that moves all over the place. They move so much that when a pitcher who throws a lot of knuckleballs is on the mound the catcher uses a bigger glove usually. In its own class. The 5 most common pitches are 4 seamer (everybody has one) 2 seamer, change, curve, and slider. Next are the cutter, splitter, sinker, and slurve. The rest of the pitches are relatively rare. 7) Pinch Hitting and Pinch Running and Defensive Subs It's important to know when to pinch hit or run for a player. First and foremost, make sure that you aren't subbing for your only player at that position. For example, if you only have one catcher on your roster because someone got hurt, you probably don't want to sub for him since you would then have someone not used to playing catcher there. Make sure that the player you using to pinch hit can hit well against the type of pitcher, too. There's no point in putting someone who can't hit lefties in to pinch hit for someone against a left handed pitcher. Similarly, don't pinch run for someone who has decent speed. Pinch hitters and runners should be used late in games, the 8th inning or after. Make sure that you don't use all of your players in case you have an injury. Remember, once a player comes out of the game, he can't go back in. The time to pinch hit is when you have someone who either can't hit well against the type of pitcher or who has been struggling. Bring in your best hitter on the bench, preferably someone who can play the same position so you aren't using 2 players at once (one to hit, one to take the field). Pinch run for slower runners late in the game to make it easier to score them on a single or to steal a base. Defensive subs are used typically in the 7th or later when you're protecting a lead. Several of the top hitters aren't all that good in the field, so you might want to sit Aubrey Huff or someone similar if you're up 1 or 2 in the 9th. 8) Double switch When an NL team pulls their pitcher, they sometimes use a double switch to put off the new pitchers first AB. For example, your starter is tired and you need to pull him, but he's scheduled to bat the next inning. Your SS made the last out, so he's not due up for awhile. In a double switch, you put a new SS in the pitchers spot in the batting order and your new pitcher in the SS's spot, giving you 8 batters until your pitcher has to hit. Of course, if you're just going to pull you pitcher after he finishes the current inning, you might as well just wait until he gets up to bat and then pinch hit for him. Original lineup: 1 CF 2 2B 3 LF 4 1B 5 3B 6 SS 7 RF (due up to start the next inning) 8 C 9 P Lineup after double switch: 1 CF 2 2B 3 LF 4 1B 5 3B 6 new P 7 RF (due up to start the next inning) 8 C 9 new SS 9) Batting Strategies Small Ball Small ball is scoring runs without relying on homeruns and a lot of doubles. You should play this if you have a lot of hitters with good contact but not a lot of power. Steal basses, hit and run, and use sacrifice flies and bunts to move runners and to score them. Play small ball in bigger parks like Detroit. Big Ball If you have a lot of power hitters but not so many guys with high contact and good speed, you'll need to hit homeruns to score many runs. Don't steal as many bases under this strategy. Every time you attempt a steal, you risk getting thrown out. If you want to score playing big ball, you need to have as many runners on base as possible so that when you do hit a homerun it's not just a solo shot. Play this style in smaller parks like Coors Field and LA. Sacrifice hitting Sometimes an out is as good as a hit when you can either move a runner to 3rd or drive him in. Officially, it only counts as a sacrifice if the runner scores, but just moving a runner from 2nd to 3rd is important to do in a close game too. There are 3 types of sacrifice hits, a hit, fly, and bunt. I'll discuss bunting later. If you have a guy with good contact but not a lot of power, try a sac hit. The goal here is to hit a ground ball to the right side of the field. If you do this, one of three things will happen; the ball will get through the infield and you'll get a single as well as moving the runner, the 1B or 2B will get to the grounder and throw you out at first, but the runner will still advance, or the 1B or 2B will get to the ball and try and throw out the advancing runner, giving you either a single if he's safe or you'll have a runner on first with one more out than you originally had. DO NOT TRY HTIS IF YOU HAVE A RUNNER ON FIRST BASE!!! This will most likely end up as a double play. Try a sac fly with someone with good power numbers. Try to hit the ball in the air as deep to the outfield as you can. The slower the runner you're trying to move, the deeper it needs to be. Either you'll hit safely-probably a double or homerun if you hit it deep- or the OF will catch the ball and you'll be able to advance. Try and hit it to right or center, if the opposing LF has a good arm, you might get thrown out trying to advance to third otherwise. When to bunt. A bunt can be used in 2 situations: trying to move someone to 3rd or to home, or to try and get a hit. Sac bunts are used the same as a sac hit. Try and bunt it down the 1B line. Again, they may try and throw out the advancing runner instead, so get a big lead. DO NOT TRY WITH THE BASES LOADED. If you bunt with the bases loaded, all you are doing is giving the other team an easy out at home. If you have a fast guy at the plate and the infield is playing back, you can try to bunt for a hit. Try and bunt it down either the 1B or 3B line. This doesn't work all of the time, but sometimes you can catch them napping. Hit and run. If you have a good contact hitter and are ahead in the count 2-0, 3-0 or, 3-1 or if the count is full and there are 2 outs, try a hit and run. A hit and run is when you steal a base and your batter swings. If done correctly, the batter will get a single or double, and your runner will be able to advance further than he would if he waited for the batter to hit the ball to advance. This can lead to a lot of double plays of you hit a line drive right to someone, or pop it up, so be ready to get your runner back to the base ASAP. It's risky, but it's worth the risk if executed correctly. When to steal. Don't steal when you're down by a lot. At that point you need to play conservative and keep as many guys on base as possible. Remember, if you get thrown out trying to steal that's one less potential run you have on base as well as an extra out. Also, it's considered unsportsmanlike like to steal when you have a big lead. In real life that will get one of your teammates a fastball in his ear. In the game, it doesn't matter if you're playing the computer though, so I do it anyway. The best time to steal is when you're down 2 or less, the game is tied, or if you're up 3 or less. 2B is the easiest to steal, 3B is harder but still possible, and home is almost impossible to steal, unless you try a double steal. Get a big lead and hope that the pitcher throws an off-speed pitch like a change or curve. Someone who throws a lot of fastballs will be harder to steal on because the ball gets to the plate quicker. Also, scout the other team's catcher. If he has a strong arm think twice about stealing. Some pitchers are easier to steal on than others because they have longer deliveries. Watch how long it takes him to throw the ball once he starts his windup. If he's slow, then you are more likely to be safe. Wait until the batter is ahead in the count to go, and don't swing unless the pitcher throws up a meatball or you're trying to hit and run. 10) Pitching strategies First rule of effective pitching is don't fall behind in the count. To this end I usually throw a strike first pitch every AB. Second rule is don't get predictable. If you start with a fastball in, then throw a curve ball out of the zone, followed by a 2 seamer on the outside corner most of the time, you're begging to get hit hard. Throw some balls on purpose. Sometimes the batter swings at a ball out of the zone and has little chance of getting a hit. Use your bullpen. It doesn't make sense to have 3 middle relievers that you never use. When someone gets tired and/or isn't effective, change pitchers. If someone is pitching well, don't pull him unless he's tired. Managers in real life do this all the time and it drives me nuts. A RH MR will strike out 3 straight, then the next hitter is a lefty and the manager brings in a LHP and the batter gets a hit. Dumb. At the same time, if your pitcher give up 5 straight hits, get him out of there regardless of who it is. Make sure you have different types of pitchers. Someone who throws heat will look twice as fast if you bring him in after a guy who throws mostly off-speed pitches, and if all of your starters throw the same 4 or 5 pitches at the same speeds with the same break, you're going to be easy to figure out. When to walk a hitter Sometimes it's better to walk a hitter than to pitch to him. If, for example, Barry Bonds is up with a runner on 2nd. If you pitch to Bonds, there's a decent chance that he's going to drive the runner in. Walk him, especially late in a close game. You can also walk a player to set up a double play situation if there are runners on 2nd and/or 3rd and first base is open with less than 2 outs. There are 2 ways to walk a player, intentionally or the famous unintentional- intentional walk. An IBB is simply throwing 4 straight pitches way outside. In the game, if you decide to issue an IBB it skips the pitches and the player just goes to 1B. The unintentional-intentional walk, AKA semi-intentional, is when you actually throw pitches close to the zone, but still all balls. This is because if the player swings at some bad pitches, you might get him to strike out or hit a weak grounder or pop up. 11) The Minors This is where all of your young prospects and older players who can't play regularly but can be used in a pinch play. There are 3 levels in the game: AAA, AA, and A. AAA is the highest, generally for your best minor leaguers, and A is the lowest, generally for your worst players. Most of the time a player only spends one year in A and another in AA, then 1-3 in AAA. There are a few guys who have played for years that never make it past AAA for more than a few games, but usually after 8 or 10 years in the minors they give up. I try and keep a balanced roster on all 3 levels with 12 pitchers, 5 OF, 2 C, and 6 IF on each team. I also like to make sure that there are enough solid players on each team so that they're competitive. It helps the players develop if they actually play (I think it does anyway), so it would be better to have a guy at a lower level and playing everyday than to have him sitting on the bench. There is a fake RF named Royce Secrist that's on my saved roster file, and I always sign him when I start a new owner or dynasty mode. If I have a good young RF besides him who's a little closer to being ready for the majors, I put Secrist in AA. If I don't have anyone very good for my AAA team, I put him in AAA. AAA- This is for players who are almost ready for the majors, or who are ready but you don't have room for them in the bigs. AA- These guys are typically younger than your AAA players and are 2-3 years away from being ready for the majors. A- This is for your new draftees and other young players who are 3-4 years away. Remember, you probably won't have 75 players who are legitimate big league prospects unless you're either the greatest GM ever or you edit your minor leaguers so that they're all good. You should have 1-2 players at each position, and 5-8 pitchers who are legit big league prospects scattered through your organization. That way you can use them to replace free agents and retired players each year. If you put all of your top prospects in AAA, then you won't have any developing in the lower levels, and you'll eventually run out. If you put them all at A, you won't have any ready for the bigs in case of injury or poor performance. 12) Fake players The computer throws out some fake, mostly younger players, into the free agent pool whenever you start the game up. These guys change, unless you've manually updated your rosters, then the same ones will be there on the roster save. There will also be some generated when you start an owner or dynasty mode that weren't on the list before you started. Check the free agents, you can find some real good young players for your minor league system that way. 13) Credits: My dad for teaching me everything that he knew about the game (RIP Dad), the good people on the GameFAQ boards, and EA for making the game.