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 MVP Baseball 2003

 
   
 
 
MVP Baseball 2003

Microsoft Windows (Released 2003) (North America)

Strategy Guide

Written my Steven (cairo140) Xu. cairo140@rogers.com.

Document Copyright ©2003 Steven Xu. All Rights Reserved.


===============================================================================
TABLE OF CONTENTS
===============================================================================

1 - Introduction
     1a - Opening Words
     1b - Update History
     1c - What I'm Not Going To Talk About

2 - Controller Configuration (Personal Preference)

3 - Basic Knowledge
     3a - Objective of Baseball
     3b - Positions
     3c - 10 Basic Rules
     3d - MLB Scheduele
     3e - Summary

4 - Basic In-Game Gameplay
     4a - Pitching
     4b - Hitting
     4c - Baserunning
     4d - Fielding and Throwing

5 - The Philosophy of Point Differential
     5a - When You're Behind
     5b - When It's Tied
     5c - When You're Ahead
     5d - When You're In Extras

6 - Advanced In-Game Gameplay
     6a - Pitching
          6a1 - Pitch Selection
          6a2 - Pickoffs
          6a3 - Dealing With Fatigue
          6a4 - The Bullpen
     6b - Hitting
          6b1 - Full Swing Control
          6b2 - Timing
          6b3 - Situtational Hitting
          6b4 - The Hit-and-Run
     6c - Baserunning
          6c1 - The Hit-and-Run 2
          6c2 - Tagging Up
          6c3 - Specific Timing Plays
          6c4 - When to Let The CPU Take Over
          6c5 - Rundowns
     6d - Fielding and Throwing
          6d1 - Tagging Up 2
          6d2 - Where to Throw the Ball
          6d3 - Rundowns 2

7 - Franchise Mode
     7a - Introduction
     7b - Team Goals and Manager Rating
     7c - Transactions
          7c1 - Trades and Free Agency
          7c2 - Dumping Salary
     7d - Roster Alignment
          7d1 - Pitching Rotation & Bullpen
          7d2 - Positions Players
          7d3 - Inactive Rosters
     7e - Postseason
     7f - Summary

8 - Finishing Notes

9 - Legal Notes

===============================================================================
1. Introduction
===============================================================================

1a. Opening Words

This FAQ gives you, the reader, the opportunity to learn about the game of MVP
Baseball 2003 along with the strategies of Baseball itself. Though the game
does many things for you it does not do everything. This FAQ will tell you
about the things in the game that you can control, and how to experience and
play this game at yours and its top potential. The FAQ will cover both in-game
play, and will talk about strategy required to operate an exciting, successful
franchise in the "improved" franchise mode in MVP Baseball 2003. I tried to
keep this FAQ as clean and easy to read as possible. If you have any
suggestions, comments, or questions, feel free to contact me (see very
beginning and end for my e-mail). Enjoy!

*****

1b. Update History

0.15 - Initial FAQ Writing Begins (begins Sunday, July 27, 2003) First Upload

0.25 - Added sections 4d, 5a, 5b, and 5c (Sunday, August 3, 2003)

*****

1c. What I'm Not Going To Talk About

I'm not going to talk about online or network play, mainly because it's too
complicated, there's very little to talk about, and it's not worth writing.
Likewise, there is no section devoted to Season mode becuase I have not played
it, and because it is too similar to franchise mode. Finally, I will not talk
about the non-roster settings of the game.

===============================================================================
2. CONTROLLER CONFIGURATION (Personal Preference)
===============================================================================

This is merely my personal controller preference if you are using a keyboard to
play MVP Baseball 2003. These are partially adapted from the High Heat Baseball
series. For reference, (O) means offence, (D) means defense, (P) means
pitching, and (B) means baserunning. R1,2,3 means runner on first, second and
third, respectively.

Control Function          Player 1               Player 2

Pull (O)                  4 (Numpad)             A
Slice (O)                 6 (Numpad)             D
Fly Ball (O)              8 (Numpad)             W
Ground Ball (O)           5 (Numpad)             S
Swing (O)                 Enter (Numpad)         SpaceBar
Bunt (O)                  + (Numpad)             B

Control R1 (B)            3 (Numpad)             3
Control R2 (B)            2 (Numpad)             2
Control R3 (B)            1 (Numpad)             1
Run to 1st (B)            6 (Numpad)             D
Run to 2nd (B)            8 (Numpad)             W
Run to 3rd (B)            4 (Numpad)             A
Run to Home (B)           5 (Numpad)             S
All Runners Advance (B)   7 (Numpad)             Q
All Runners Retreat (B)   9 (Numpad)             E
Slide Feet First (B)      Enter (Numpad)         SpaceBar
Slide Head First (B)      0 (Numpad)             H (for head)

Run Left (D)              4 (Numpad)             A     NOTE: I never use these
Run Right (D)             6 (Numpad)             D     buttons because of
Run Down (D)              5 (Numpad)             S     assisted fielding.
Run Up (D)                8 (Numpad)             W

Get the Ball to 1st (D)   3 (Numpad)             3     NOTE: "Get the ball to"
Get the Ball to 2nd (D)   2 (Numpad)             2     is synonymous with
Get the Ball to 3rd (D)   1 (Numpad)             1     "Throw to."
Get the Ball to Home (D)  0 (Numpad)             4
Cut-Off Throw (D)         . (Numpad)             `

Aim High (P)              8 (Numpad)             W
Aim Low (P)               5 (Numpad)             S
Aim Right (P)             6 (Numpad)             D
Aim Left (P)              4 (Numpad)             A
Aim Outside (P)           . (Numpad)             `
Pickoff (P)               0 (Numpad)             Tab
1st Base (P)              6 (Numpad)             D
2nd Base (P)              8 (Numpad)             W
3rd Base (P)              4 (Numpad)             A
Home Plate (P)            5 (Numpad)             S

===============================================================================
3. BASIC KNOWLEDGE
===============================================================================

3a. Objective of Baseball

Like almost all other sports, the objective is to end up with more points than
you're opponent after 18 half-innings (9 innings). If it is tied, the game goes
to sudden death single innings (2 half-innings each) to determine a winner. The
game never ends without a winner (unless you have a 70-year-old commissioner in
the house).

*****

3b. Positions

At any given moment during a regular baseball game, there are 9 defensive
positions. Below are brief summaries of each defensive position.

(1) Pitcher - He is responsible for throwing the ball into or around an area
called the strike zone next to the batter. His objective is to throw in
accurately, and to make it difficult for the batter to hit the ball well, while
still throwing the ball into the "hittable" zone. Speed is not a must at this
position, but arm strength and accuracy are very important. In MVP baseball,
like in the majors, the pitcher is in its individual category
(not a position player), and has his own ratings based upon the way that he
throws.

(2) Catcher - He is one of the positions players, and crouches behind home
plate next to and behind the batter to catch the oncoming throw from the
pitcher. The catcher's responsibilities include throwing the ball back to the
pitcher, covering home plate while in the field, and throwing over to a base on
any given play in an attempt to get a baserunner out. Catchers generally don't
have a lot of speed, but they are all excellent throwers and often good
fielders.

(3) First Baseman - He is another positions player, who stands near 1st base.
He is responsible for covering 1st base in the field, and cutting off throws
from the outfield (at least when there is good AI). 1st basemen are
historically power hitters, and are generally slower runners. They must,
however, have good fielding skills, but throwing power is not a must at the
position.

(4) Second Baseman - He is a position player, who often stands to the right of
second base. He, like the shortstop, is responsible for covering 2nd base in
the field, and he and the pitcher also need to cover 1st base on a ground ball
hit to the 1st baseman. The second basemen, one of the two middle infielders,
are generally contact and average hitters, instead of power hitters. Also, it
is a huge advantage if a second baseman is right-handed.

(5) Third Baseman - He is a position player who covers third base on a fielding
play, and they have a very strong and accurate arm. Third basemen are generally
the best fielders of the entire infield, though he is among the slowest.
Historically, third basemen have been below average hitters (next to pitchers
and catchers) in the majors.

(6) Shortstop - He is a part of the middle infield, and is also the leader of
the infield in general. He covers 2nd base when the 2nd baseman cannot, and he
is responsible to cut off throws from the center fielder and the left fielder.
Like the third baseman, the shortstop should have a great arm, along with good
fielding skills. Additionally, he should have good range and speed to cover all
balls hit near him.

(7,8,9) Outfielders - Though less publicized, the outfielders should have the
best arms and close to the best speed among the entire team. They must have
good fielding skills because they are always the last line of defense for a
batted ball. The left fielder is usually the worst of all three, because speed
and throwing strength are both not extremely important. Unless you're playing
at Fenway Park, you should put your worst outfielder (possibly best hitter)
into left field. The center fielder, must be a very fast person because they
have two lateral directions to move and to backup other fielders. The right
fielder should be just as fast, but he should also have an extremely strong
arm. Historically, right fielders have had the most devastatingly strong arms
in the game from even small people like Ichiro Suzuki.

*****

3c. 10 Basic Rules

1. There are nine innings in a game, and each single inning is divided into two
half innings.

2. The home team always gets to bat in the latter half or the bottom half of
every inning.

3. A ball that is hit with the bat and lands in the catcher's mitt or to the
left or right (or behind) of the playing field is foul.

4. Any batted ball that is caught by a fielder before it touches the ground
will declare the batter who hit the ball out, and all runners must return to
the base they were previously safe on.

5. The bases are the only place that a runner cannot be tagged out.

6. If a batted ball that has touched the ground is in control of a player who
is touching first before the batter runs to first, the batter is out.

7. All runners must travel from home to 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and back
to home without being out in any way (I will not list all 13 ways).

8. No two runners may be safe at one base; if it happens everybody but the lead
runner is out. If a player with the ball touches a base that any given runner
MUST run to, then the runner in question is out immediately.

9. A batted ball that goes over the fence while having not been foul is a home
run and score every runner on base along with the hitter.

10. I never said "10 Basic Rules of Baseball," so if you spent your precious
money buying this game, you would never need to know exactly how baseball works.

*****

3d. MLB Schedule

Like all other sports, the schedule for Major League Baseball matches up every
team with all other teams over the league. In a year, every single team plays
162 regular season games (with a possible 1 to 3 game playoff for the wildcard
spot). Games for any given team, are generally grouped into series of 2-5
consecutive games against the same opponent. Every team faces off with every
other team within its league in at least one series, and it faces each of the
teams in one division (determined by a rotation basis by season) in the
opposite league.

*****

3e. Summary

Basically, in baseball, the goal of your team in a game is to end up with more
points or runs than your opponent. Whoever scores more runs wins the game.
Should a tie occur after the full 9 innings of play, single 1 inning playoff
"games" will occur until a winner is decided. Also, see the "10 Basic Rules"
section for additional rules. As a recommendation, you should watch a few
baseball games on television or read the baseball rulebook for further
reference.

===============================================================================
BASIC IN-GAME GAMEPLAY
===============================================================================

4a. Pitching

MVP Baseball 2003 "features" the new pitcher-batter interface, which admittedly
does allow for a slightly more exciting trip to the mound. Supposing you
already know how pitching in regular baseball works, learning how to pitch in
MVP Baseball should be easy. For BASIC IN-GAME GAMEPLAY, I will assume that you
are not playing on the ALL-STAR level of difficulty.

The first thing to do is to aim where you want the pitch to go, and whether to
throw a strike or a ball. Start practicing finding location with the PITCHING
CURSOR (located in the Gameplay Settings>Visual Settings area) on. Just hold
one or a combination of two of the "aim high, low, left, right" buttons. The
pitching cursor (if on) should move to the desired location. If you want to
exaggerate the location of the pitch farther away from the center, also hold
the "aim outside" button. Notice that holding the "aim outside" button alone
will ask the pitcher to aim directly above the strike zone.

Now that the pitch is aimed and you are still holding the buttons, you can
choose a pitch to throw. On the lower corner of the screen that the batter is
not standing on is the pitch selection for the pitcher that you are using. This
pitch selection tool tells you what pitches the pitcher throws, its overall
effectiveness, and the button that corresponds to the pitch in question. While
holding the pitch location buttons, you must press and hold the button
corresponding to the pitch you want to throw. The second you press down on the
pitch button, you may release your location buttons. For a beginner, you should
hold down the pitch button until the entire meter fills up with green and red
(on the bottom). Once that happens, release the button, and a white marker
should rise rapidly from the narrow end of the meter. Tap the SAME pitch button
again when the white marker is INSIDE the green marker to make an accurate,
effective pitch.

If the white marker is stopped while it's outside the green area, the pitch
will be less accurate. Remember, though, for some strange and twisted reason if
you completely "miss" a slider, splitter, or a screwball (the big S's), it will
INSTINCTIVELY find its way to about belt level, right over the plate, and easy
pitch to hit for a homer. Remember, if you want to throw those breaking
pitches, make sure you have good timing.

*****

4b. Hitting

The "new" MVP Baseball 2003 with its new pitcher-batter interface also makes
the plate appearance more interesting for the batter. They claim that hitting,
like in the majors, is "all about timing." I agree this is true, because with
timing alone, I can determine whether I will pull or slice the ball, and
whether I will hit a grounder or a fly ball. Well, back to the basics here.
There, unfortunately, is no option to move your batter in the batter's box, but
we can compensate with good timing. If you are playing a two-player or an
online game, you will notice that you can see the pitching meter while batting.
Generally, it's good to ignore this so it doesn't throw you off.

My one piece of advice is to watch the pitch the second it comes out of the
pitcher's hand. Well, actually, a fastball takes less than 0.5 seconds to reach
the plate, so watch the pitch the MOMENT the ball comes out of the pitcher's
hand. Make sure you first get used to the overall bat speed of the batter, so
you can time the beginning of the swing. I know this sounds obvious, but time
your swing so that the bat hits the ball the moment it crosses the plate.

Start your swing a bit (0.05 seconds) earlier to pull and inside pitch, and
start it later (0.075 seconds) to slice it with authority into opposite field.
Generally speaking, you are trying to hit the ball with as much power as
possible, so once you're committed to swinging, hold the swing button, and
don't just tap it. If you tap it, the batter will check his swing, which means
he will attempt to keep the bat back so it is not recorded as a swing attempt.
The check swing is useful on a breaking ball that starts in the strike zone,
and slides out, but otherwise, try to make every swing with power all the way
through.

*****

4c. Baserunning

I almost don't want to talk about it because it's such a bland subject. Still,
it's infinitely important. Even though I never do it, I will give you a very
helpful piece of advice. Before you do anything, say what you are doing to
yourself twice in your head. You will prevent many more mistakes than you will
make this way. Basically speaking, think about what you are doing before you do
it. The computer, though, is usually smart enough to do it for you. Simply put,
when in doubt, let the computer do your work.

Manual baserunning takes a LOT of getting used to in MVP Baseball 2003. It
starts to be VERY annoying when you start selecting the wrong runners all the
time. Don't, worry, though, when you finally get used to it, it will be a sinch
to tell all your runners where to go. The most basic controls you will need for
running are the "Advance All Runners" and the "Retreat All Runners" controls,
simply because you don't need to select any runners to operate this.

Most of your baserunning will be done via the PIP (Picture-In-Picture)
Baserunning system. They show you the traditional live basepath diagram, along
with pictures of each runner. When you select a runner with the "select a
runner" controls, you will notice that his picture will be highlighted. The
"select a runner" process along with the PIP baserunning system are both hard
to get used to, but both will be useful in the long run. To select a runner,
press the button corresponding to the MOST RECENT base that the runner was safe
on (EXAMPLE: If the runner is between 2nd and 3rd, press the "runner on second"
button (usually 2) to select the runner). Before every pitch, the game
automatically preselects the lead runner.

After the runner is selected, you can still use the "advance/retreat all
runners" commands, but you can now accurately tell the runner which base to run
to. Now you can use the "run to 1st/2nd/3rd/home" buttons. Pressing these
buttons will not affect the other runners unless it is a force run for them
(telling the runner on 1st to run to 3rd with the bases loaded). Trust the
system, it works.

The most difficult baserunning play is probably on a screaming liner. The
second you hear the crack of the bat, you will often instictively immediately
press "advance all runners." Try your best to avoid pressing anything, because
the AI will stop your runners at a safe position automatically on a liner. If
you seriously cannot avoid pressing the button, you might consider separating
the baserunning buttons from the swinging buttons to correct this habit. The
mistake of indecision can be the root of many double and triple plays.

*****

4d. Fielding and Throwing

Fielding and throwing are two very simple things to do in MVP Baseball. Well,
strategic fielding isn't exactly as easy, but that's the concern of chapter
six. I always played with assisted fielding, and I want to encourage everybody
to play with assisted fielding. Because of this, I will not write a section
devoted to manual fielding, but I will give a few tips to whoever instists on
using it. Stand in front of the fielding circle on a line drive or a fly ball;
moreso on a line drive. Secondly, if it's a line drive hit straight to center
field, charge into it because it will be a knuckleball liner. Finally, take
advantage of manual fielding. Since the pitcher is to stupid to cut off throws,
make him sprint towards the mound if a runner is getting greeding. Also, be
conservative on ground balls in the outfield; in the PC version, the outfielder
never properly fields a ground ball that gets through the infield.

Onto the throwing part, this is pretty simple. Just press the "throw to base"
button that corresponds to the base you want to throw to. If you are close to
the base, then press it and the field will run and touch that base. You can
also use the "run up/down/left/right" buttons to direct the ballcarrier to run
in a direction in a rundown play or just for fun.

Remember, if the ball is hit to the middle infielder right in front of second
base on a potential double play situation, press "run to 2nd" and the second
the fielder starts being stupid, throw the 1st quickly. The game seems to have
a problem with middle infield communication.

The final note I will make is about alignment. Before the pitch delivery you
can press the "defensive alignment" button to change where the fielders are
located to conform to a certain situation or batter tendency. While holding the
button, use up, down, left and right to scroll through the menu. Once the
alignment is selected, release the button and the fielders will move. You will
not be able to throw until the fielders have stopped moving. Remember to watch
if your fielders are holding on runners; if they aren't, don't pick off.

===============================================================================
5. THE PHILOSOPHY OF POINT DIFFERENTIAL
===============================================================================

NOTE: FROM NOW ON, ALL REFERENCES TO GAMEPLAY WILL BE MADE UNDER THE ALL-STAR
LEVEL OF GAMEPLAY DIFFICULTY.

5a. When you're behind

This is natually the most difficult position to be in a game. You will spend
around 35-40% of your gaming experience at a deficit. This is where you know
your actions will all have major effects. You now want to get the lead as soon
as possible to gain/regain control of the game. If you're behind by more than 4
runs in the late innings, you should be very aggressive on both sides of the
plate, hoping for a late-game rally. The strategies hereon will assume that you
are behind by a small enough margin, that you could tie the game up scoring and
average of 1 run per inning (down by 5 with 5 innings to play).

When on defence, you want to be conservative. Always throw to the cutoff man,
unless it's in the 9th inning. Throwing the ball home from the outfield will
generally give all the other runners one free base. This is because home plate
takes the longest time to get to and it is the farthest from all the other
bases, in general. You must know the throwing strength of all your outfielders
(right fielders generally have the stongest arm) to determine which base to
throw to. On a final note about defence, there is a constant in baseball. If
there are two outs, a runner at third and a runner at second are basically the
same things (because with only 1 out, R3 can tag up on a fly ball).

On offence, the plan is also to be very conservative, even more than on
defence. In most cases, if you are down by 1 or it's in a very close game, you
should lay down a bunt, especially, if there are runners on 1st and 2nd. If
you're playing against a human, be especially aware if your opponent changes
their defensive alignment. If they are prepared for a bunt, they can easily
throw out the lead runner (50 percent of the time, not a risk you want to be
playing with) or pull a double play (happens about 25 percent of the time; and
may stop a rally).
Unless there is a runner on 3rd (so he can tag on a fly ball), you should not
go for a home run unless you have a power hitter, and you can react fast enough
to a hanging breaking ball. Again, you should not even consider trying to hit a
homerun in a deficit. If you really, need a basehit, there are two ways to
approach it. First, if you are not a guru on timing like I am, you should aim
to hit a ground ball, but try to swing early to put more body weight into the
pitch, and to try and hit it off the heavy part of the bat. If you have really
good timing, just go for a line drive base hit, and swing a bit late(r), so you
don't put too much loft into the ball. Try to pick the holes with good timing.
Remember 3 things: A single will score all runners in scoring position. Tell R2
to slide in advance when he's past 3rd, then immediately switch control to the
lead runner. If the outfielder guns his way to home, rush to 2nd, and if he
goes to second, run back to first. Slide if necessary.

SUMMARY: When you're behind use conservative offense and conservative defense.

*****

5b. When It's Tied

This is the most delicate and dangerous part of the game. Even if the game is
just starting out, getting momentum is KEY. Unless you have a hitter on a hot
streak (and if you've been playing all your games maunally, you'll know when),
always bunt with runners on and fewer than 2 outs. Getting just one run across
the plate will give your team momentum and control of the game with a lead,
even the slimmest of leads.

You should pay more care to the game when it's tied than any other situation,
because a tie ball game is statistically 50/50, which presents a good chance of
victory with just a 1-run rally, but it also has the same chance of failure
with just one mistake pitch. And to slowly segue into pitching in a tie ball
game, I suggest the DON'T pull your pitchers strategy. As long as the pitcher
can still hit the spots, no matter how tired he is, pitchers tend to do better
when going for a longer duration of time in the game.

To preserve this longevity of pitchers, I suggest using the pitcher roles that
the game automatically assigns (unless you have your own bullpen). The game is
smart enough to know what roles a pitcher should play. As a general rule, Late
Relief Pitchers should go no more than 3 innings, Middle Relief Pitchers should
go no more than 4 innings, Setup men should go no more than 2 innings, and your
closer should come in only when you're ahead, because of his pitching velocity
and endurance levels.

As mentioned before, play for just 1 or 2 runs on offence when in a tie game
situation. After you gain or regain the lead, you can be more aggressive on the
basepaths and at the plate. This means sacrifices; baseball sacrifices. Whether
they are bunts or fly outs, just play for a few runs and get the momentum of
the game behind you. Unless you have an all-star base-stealer, do not go for
the SB, because of two reasons. First, a caught stealing will dramatically stop
your momentum, and second, being caught stealing is a way to eliminate a
baserunner (one of whom gets on base about 35% of the time). In summary, play
for the lead; play for momentum, and don't try anything stupid!'

Summary: When it's tied, use aggressive offense and aggressive defense.

*****

5c. When You're Ahead

You really can't relax at any point in the game, unless you are ahead by 20
runs in the bottom of the ninth. When you're ahead, it will always be your
defence and your pitching that will control the game. In this situation, you
want to play aggressively unless it's absolutely failing. Rely on your defence
to pull out the win, and give the other team a ball to put into play.

Because they have less momemtum than you (unless they've just scored 3 run in a
row), you can give them pitches out over the middle of the plate. Stick with
balls that don't curve laterally; that means fastballs, changeups, sinkers, and
straight curveballs. You don't need to risk a huge opposing home run by
throwing breaking pitches all the time; just let their batters get the ball
into play, and rely on your defense to get them out.

Now, when you're ahead, the odds are in your favor, and you have momentum, so
you can be much more aggressive on offense. Go for the home run if you want to;
try and pull out a big triple if you can. You can be this aggressive because
it's a win/win situation. If you succeed, then it's more momentum and possibly
more runs for your precious lead. On the other hand, if you get out, then you
simply have a (hot) pitcher with a warm arm to toss out a goose egg. Although,
you don't want to aim for the latter, you can see that being in the lead gives
you more options and extends your chances at the W.

There isn't much more to say about what to do when you are in the lead.
Basically, you should stay on your roll, be aggressive, and play smart to pull
out the victory. One thing I, personally, like to do when I'm in the lead is to
leave my pitchers in the game. They longer they last, the better they get. If
it's 0 outs in the bottom of the ninth, and you can still pitch strikes with
your starting pitcher, leave him in; you don't always have to go for the saves.

SUMMARY: When you're ahead, use neutral offense and neutral defense.

*****

5d. When You're In Extras

This is really the clutch point of the game. It's hard to explain, but the
outcome of an extra-inning game seems to be more significant to both teams.
Losses in extra innings are much more deflating, and the somehow seem to hurt
more. Likewise, wins just seem so much more hard earned because it took much
more work that usual to accomplish that feat. Because it's tied, the game can
go either way, and because of the rate of scoring in the Majors, just one run
crossing the plate can mean a victory.

Basically, on defense, you should be aggressive beyond a reasonable doubt. You
should have the mindset to not allow even one run to cross the plate. Unless
there is a special situation (I can't go through all of them here), you should
ALWAYS throw ahead of the runners. That means, with bases loaded, 1 out, you
should almost always throw home on the play. If you are the away team and the
game is tied, don't even consider the situation. If a runner COULD score on a
play, always throw home. Because any runs that the home teams scores, you will
not be able to get back under any circumstances. This means, playing with the
outfield in with runners in scoring position, and again, throwing ahead of the
baserunners.

On offense, you should play for the LEAD, not the RALLY. If you have a runner
on first base (and obviously less than 2 outs) with a good base hit bunter at
the plate, don't even think, just bunt for a base hit. Chances are you'll get
out at first, but you have still advanced your runner to second. Once there is
a runner on second base, a single will drive him in, and likely win the game.
If you don't have a good bunter, but still at runner at second with less than 2
outs, go for a home run to right field. You should at least be able to advance
the runner.

This is always the strategy to adopt if the game is tied or there is a 1 run
differential in extra innings. If you are way behind in the bottom of the 11th
(or 12th, et cetera), go for the rally to tie/win. There are very few, if any,
extra-inning games that have been won in a landslide. I'd even be willing to
bet that 95% of all extra-inning games have been 1-run games. If you are ever
in extra innings, go for the single run, don't give up a run, and don't do
anything stupid (some people have the tendency to do stupid stuff periodically).

SUMMARY: In extra innings, use conservative offense and aggressive defense.

===============================================================================
6. Advanced In-Game Gameplay
===============================================================================

6a. Pitching

6a1. Pitch Selection

This is an extraordinarily concise of every single pitch, how they work, where
to throw them, and when to throw them. The following list covers every single
pitch. They are sorted by my own numbering system based on OVERALL
effectiveness; that includes strikeouts, forcing ground balls, and how well
they throw off the hitter's timing.

                             1. 4-Seam Fastball

The #1 pitch is obviously the four-seam fastball. There are two reasons why
this is the best overall pitch. First, it's fast, and that alone will give the
batter MUCH less time to react to where the ball is pitched. To state the
obvious, the faster the pitch is, the less precise it forces the batter to be.
In conjunction to its velocity, the fastball is also great because it is a
setup pitch for EVERY other pitch. Sometimes, especially when playing against
the computer, the fastball is going to be your strikeout pitch.

The fastball has traditional backspin, and therefore, is extremely easy to
throw. 90% of all pitchers will have their best pitch be a 4-Seam Fastball,
becuase it's fast, and easy to control. Almost all 4-Seamers have no movement,
unless you create a player with 99 movement on his fastball (that really isn't
a fastball anymore). The slowest fastball I've seen in the game is probably
from Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox, at around 77 mph. The best fastball
in the game is almost definitely Roger Clemens, who whiffs batters with 98 mph
heat, reaching (and occasionally passing) 100 mph in Colorado (because it's on
a mountain).

Fastballs work very well on all corners of the strike zone. If you have a
really fast fastball, you should pick the corner up and in. You will hit the
batter on a blatant mistake pitch, but that doesn't happen that often. You
should generally try to throw the fastball in the area or DIRECTLY above the
spot you plan on throwing your next pitch. I also find that, because of the
game's INCREDIBLY TERRIBLE ability to actually miss the ball, that the high
heat is an effective strikeout pitch. If you don't have a power hitter up to
bat, you should set up your high heat with a curveball up in the strike zone.

                                2. Curveball

I like the curveball and I picked it as my #2 pitch because of its speed (or
lack thereof). It's usually 10-25 mph slower than the pitcher's 4-seam
fastball, and you can use this to trick the batter to throw him out of timing.
The one thing you can't do with any breaking pitch (including the curveball) is
that you can't be predicable at all. If a batter gets too used to a curveball
in the hitting zone, he will eventually learn to swing later, and this can be
deadly for the pitcher. Slow pitches are the most liable to be hit for line
drives or homeruns past the outfielders.

Curveballs, especially in MVP Baseball 2003, vary a lot by pitcher. Some, like
the legendary Barry Zito of the Oakland Athletics, throws the curveball with
solid topspin. This cause the curveball to fall completely. While it's in the
air, a curveball from Zito seems to drop down dead at any given point. It may
start out at eye level, and end up hitting the dirt. Then, there are also
curveballs, like those of Roy Halladay of the Toronto Blue Jays, which go from
11 O'clock to 4 O'clock. They come down at almost a 45-degree angle, making the
curveball extremely difficult to follow. These curveballs operate almost like a
slider, except the drop more. These two pitchers are modern day curve artists.
They freeze batters, paint the corners, and catch batters fishing.

Avoid throwing the curveball or any breaking pitch inside, because the change
in speed will cause the batter to swing early, which is perfect to hit an
inside pitch. If the batter is of opposide handiness (Left-handed batter
against Righty pitcher), then avoid using the curveball altogether. Either way,
remember to pick the outside area. The area of the curveball's effectiveness is
low and outside, and possibly low and low and outside out of the strike zone if
you're facing a batter of the same handiness. If you find that the batters are
swinging early (pulling) your fastballs and sliders (or other pitches faster
than the curveball), condsider throwing a curveball either low out of the
strike zone or right in the middle of the strike zone to try to catch the
batter off balance for a K.

                                3. Screwball

The screwball has honestly VERY little effect in single-player mode. This is
because the AI is terribly designed. The CPU doesn't think, and simply "knows"
exactly where the ball is going to go. The screwball is an extremely effective
pitch against the best AI in the world, a human being. When playing online (or
with 2 players at home, you can use the screwball for its intended purpose. The
screwball is designed to look and break just like a curveball from an opposite
handedness pitcher. It breaks just like the average two-seamer (towards the
pitcher's non-glove side), but with much more drop, like a curveball.

Try using a screwball for it's backdoor effect. If you're pitcher has thrown a
few curveballs outside the zone to either side, you can come back with a
screwball that breaks back into the strikezone at the last second. This pitch
will freeze batters extremely well online. It's possibly one of the best pitch
combinations you can use if you have a screwball pitcher. Another good use for
the screwball is to greatly confuse the player who is batting. If you're
pitcher has a good fastball, whiff a few by the batter, even if they are balls.
Once you get two strikes or even just one strike on the batter, he will become
nervous and anxious for a pitch he can hit. This is where you play mind games.
Just throw a screwball ANYWHERE out of the zone. Because the screwball is a lot
slower than almost every fastball, it will puzzle the mind of a hitter. Also,
when he's about to swing (or deciding whether or not to swing), the ball just
breaks in a very peculiar way. This will undoubtedly throw off the batter 10
times out of 10, unless you've been using the SAME combination all game.

You should never try to throw a screwball as a first pitch. The first pich is
where you should get ahead of the batter by throwing a strike. This point,
however, the batter is not befuzzled (excuse the vocabulary) at all, and can
easily tell the difference between a screwball for a ball, and one for a
strike. A first pitch screwball should be avoided almost all of the time. You
should also never throw a screwball when the batter knows you have to throw a
strike (like on a 2-0 count). Here, he will be sitting on any pitch. Throwing a
screwball out of the zone in this situation may be a good idea, but you have
many better options. Besides, what happens if the batter takes the ball, and
you fall behind 3-0? Bad news.

                               4. Knuckleball

Though the knuckleball usually means a loss when playing against a computer, it
can really confuse and hurt an opponent. Although the "dance" of a knuckleball
is greatly overexaggerated in the game (trust me, I've seen real-life
knuckleballs thrown before), the knuckleball can do great wonders playing
against a human. There's no such thing as a backdoor knuckleball, or an
overpowering knuckleball, so you must compensate by having very good movement.

The most dominant knuckleball pitcher nowadays is undoubtedly Tim Wakefield of
the Boston Red Sox. The movement on Wakefield's knuckleball in the game is
amazing, and I got my online strikeout record (19 in a game) using Tim
Wakefield dominantly. The good thing about a knuckleball is that it puts one
million times less stress on the arm than a breaking pitch (trust me, I've
pitched in real life, and I understand the arm pain), so a knuckleball pitcher
will be able to stay in the game for longer, generally. Most people think that
the point of a knuckleball is to break like mad, and curve out of the strike
zone at the last millisecond; however, this is only very partially right.

                                 5. Slider

I like the slider because of it's combination of speed and break. As almost
every baseball pitcher and coach will say in the world, a slider is a fastball
that curves. It's too fast to be a curveball, and it curves too much to be a
fastball. You can use this quick breaking to your distinct advantage.

The slider is my favorite 0-0 pitch to throw in a L-L or a R-R matchup. You
have to throw the slider as a strike outside in the zone. 99% of the time, the
batter will swing and try to pull it (because he thinks it's starting inside,
so he can jack it over the fences). Everybody knows what happens when one tries
to pull an outside pitch. You get an easy ground ball to one of the middle
infielders. This "strategy" will help perserve your pitcher's arm, and sort of
make up for the tremendous amount of arm damage sustained by throwing the
slider.

There is also an alternate strategy to throwing a slider. The ideal pitch to
throw in almost any count is the backdoor slider. This is in fact one of the
most famous pitches in all of baseball, because it is so effective. Also, it
works against all lefty-righty-righty-lefty matchups. Just plant the pitch low
in the zone so it will break back onto the corner of the strike zone. Most
often the batter will give up on the pitch, freeze his bat, or swing extremely
late out of panic. As a general "rule," I like to pick the low corners of the
strike zone with the slider. If you're using Roger Clemons, throw a ball low
and outside; works most of the time.

                                 6. Changeup

Most people would put the fastball and the changeup 1-2 on the list of the best
pitches, but it doesn't work his way in MVP. I could honestly say that the game
cheats the changeup out of a pitcher; it is not effective at all, and physics
of it are all so completely wrong. I've been a catcher in real life, and I know
for a fact that changeups do not travel on a straight line like the do in the
game. You can, however, use this flaw in physics to your advantage.

The changeup's original purpose is the throw off the batter's timing. In the
game, though, you should use it more to freeze up the batter with mistiming. If
you have a big speed difference between your fastball and your changeup (and
your fastball is 90+ mph), consider a changeup-fastball combination, which is
the reverse of the traditional fastball-changeup. Throw the changeup into a
corner of the strike zone, or on the outside edge, and throw your fastball the
immediate next pitch. This combination usually gets the batter to swing SO late
that he would hit the ball IF the catcher ever threw back to the pitcher in the
game. Have fun laughing your head off.

Another very useful pitch combination in baseball is the curveball-changeup
combination; which is non-existant in real-life. This is probably the riskiest
pitch combination in the game, but if the batter bites, it's deadly. Commit the
cardinal sin and intentionally throw the curveball into the upper deck of the
strike zone. Then, when you have a ?-2 count, throw a changeup about 2
baseballs (10 inches) above the strike zone. The batter will already have the
image of the ugly curveball that sank in there, and he will swing late and miss
with hilarity on the changeup. Remember, don't be a complete MORON and try this
combination on a power hitter, because he'll hit the first pitch over the
fences.

 

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