MLB The Show 18
I wonder how many of you guys have had actually took advantage of the practice mode? Anyways it is a great way to get some good swings in and refine your approaches.
There is bat control, plate discipline and good at bats. I recommend plate control the most since it helps with your timing and PCI placement. Secondly, make sure you have a good hitting camera. This can make a huge difference. Most people will just stick with the default camera and have never even tried some of the others. Experiment and see which ones you like.
Trust me it makes a difference. Do not sit too low or too high or it will affect your ability to read pitches. I recommend a nice office chair and if you cannot afford that then try a lounge chair. Third, put your TV in game mode or spend a little money to get a better TV suited for video games. I use a 24 inch BenQ. Anything over 24 inches and there will be input lag means you have more time to react.
Again make sure you have a good setup. Fourth , try out some analog extenders like Kontrol Freeks. They help with you literally everything in the game. Not only do they help with grip, but they allow you to be more accurate with your PCI when hitting. It may take some time to get used to them, but they will only benefit you in the long run.
Do some research to see what you may want. Next… have a game plan when you go up to the plate. Take pitches early on, especially with no runners on. Mix it up when you swing first pitch or when you are taking. Sometimes I win games due to patience alone. Anyone can set their controller down and see pitches. You are also less likely to hit popouts. It is also slightly easier to check swing. This swing is ideal for speedy batters, especially when behind in the count.
Angled or Combo swing: This is when you point the arrow at one of the corners. When you do this, you are effectively choosing both types of swings at the same time, gaining the benefits and costs of both.
Effects do stack, though there does seem to be one exception. Choosing both push and down influence does not seem to stack the check swing buff, keeping it the same as if you had just one selected. However, choosing pull and up DOES seem to stack the check swing debuff. No influence or "Keyhole" swing: This is when you don't choose a direction at all. There is also less hit variety when choosing this swing. Think of it as your batter just waiting on their pitch in their location.
This swing is ideal for "Feast or Famine" type power hitters who have low vision. Here are some fantastic queue cards provided by TripleCrown. While the interface is far more nuanced, it's a good reference for learning the potential benefits and costs of each swing type. I've found that the more of a pitcher's stuff a batter has seen the more likely they are to crush the ball as opposed to getting a bad result.
Different player archetypes want to have different approaches at the plate. This is an extension of what I said earlier about learning your players. This is a good starting point, but it's up to you to learn the quirks of the individual players and adjust. You are your own scout. Not every player fits their archetype, and getting out of slumps means mixing it up. For example, my leadoff guy is a speed archetype with a balanced hitting profile, yet he spent an entire season mostly pulling because that was what got results.
When that stopped working, I switched back to a balanced approach and that brought his bat back this season. A players batting profile can be found under their secondary positions on their player card. Just be warned, this can be deceptive, especially for switch hitters. Look at their hit chart. Does the batting profile say they are balanced but they seem to slightly favour left field?
Odds are they are a pull hitter, but since they are switch hitting the results shows them to be balanced. There is also one batting profile that is very rare and odd, but it exists so I'll mention it. For example, let's say you see a lefty who prefers hits to right field but his next highest area on the hit chart is left field. Very rare and interesting, but I don't have much advice handling them since I've never had one on my team, only ever faced against them.
For the batter archetypes I'll assume they are balanced or fit their profile power hitters tend to be pull hitters , since writing everything out for each individual batter type is freaking insane and I only want so many walls of text in this thread. I will also assume no-one is on base and therefore there is no situational hitting happening.
I should also mention that vision is never a bad stat to have no matter the archetype. Being aggressive with bad vision isn't the worst thing in the world though, since you are more likely to swing and miss with such low vision and therefore still work the count a little.
The high vision Power Hitter In general, you want to be pulling with your power hitters. You can also afford to be a little more aggressive with them. After all, when they get their pitch, you need to capitalize on it. If it's early in the count though, it still better be gift wrapped. Outside of that, you're insane to add the scoop upward influence into your swing.
You'll also be changing to a contact swing. I personally like to go back to pull but I've worked a lot on my discipline which I will talk about in another post and trust myself to hold off on a bad pitch. Just make sure you don't swing at something in the dirt.
You might want to consider adding in the up influence, but I only do when I know the pitch is going to be low or I just have that gut feeling. Most of the time I just stick with a natural pull swing. Speed Batter I'm assuming you're not going to bunt for the AB in question. That's an entirely different subject. I mean consider your hitters strengths and the speed the pitcher is throwing at. Likely this will mean a push swing, but like I said before, go with what works.
Since you're fast, you don't have to worry as much about grounders, as long as they are solid or have eyes. It has the best chance of solid contact for any pitch location, making it difficult on the pitcher.
Natural Balanced swing - You might want to consider throwing in a pull here. Very batter dependent though. Really this is the count you have the most freedom in, and it depends what results you are looking for.
Looking for a walk? Maybe a push swing is best to give you that extra leeway to watch a pitch. Up to you and your gut. Hybrid Threats Speed, power, these guys have it all.
With hybrids, it's up to you to combine whatever strategy works, though I would recommend favouring power over speed strategy. Contact Hitters Guys without power or speed, or perhaps a power hitter in facing a bad pitching matchup. Here you want to roughly follow the power hitter archetype, except more closely match up with whatever the players hitting profile is.
So balanced hitters want to throw push swings in more early in the count to try and work it towards their favour, and push swingers just want to push swing all day every day. I won't get into strategies in specific situations. I'd rather you request advice on a specific situation then I respond with an answer. Remember, the more details you provide batting profile, attributes, pitcher's repertoire the more specific my advice can get.
Low Vision Power Hitters They play very similarly to high vision power hitters with one key difference, they don't want to influence at all when ahead in the count. In fact, any player who has a lot of hot zones and low vision wants to favour a no influence strategy.
Discipline Discipline is hard in Directional. After all, any pitch is a potential home run if you get the timing right, and everyone wants to hit. But hitting in directional is also like gambling, and if you want to come out ahead, you have to play the odds. This is by far the hardest of the tricks I have to learn, mainly because most of the discipline has to come from you, the player. It took me years to learn discipline in this game, and I still struggle to master it every game.
Sliders Once again changing sliders can have a huge impact on you discipline. CPU pitchers are in the zone far too often, especially on lower difficulty levels. As I said earlier, I have my CPU strike frequency set at 2, which makes the pitcher aim for the corners more as opposed to meat-balling down the middle early in the count. You need to learn what a ball looks like out of a pitchers hand, and the subtle differences between a ball and a strike.
That can only be learned with experience. Good Takes Something that I struggled with when I first got the game was swinging at every pitch in the zone. This is bad, especially in directional. You need to be taking quality hacks, especially if you choose to swing early in a count. Directional is all about pitch selection. Therefore you have to reward yourself for good takes. Even taking a strikeout is preferable then hitting into a double play.
Low pitches are the hardest to identify, and trying to crush that low fastball only to find out it was a changeup in the dirt is mighty embarrassing. Very rare is the situation where taking a low pitch is a bad idea. So many low pitches that I thought were going to be strikes have ended up dropping out of the zone.
Any pitch on or near an edge should be taken, especially early in the count, but the low pitch is to be avoided whenever possible. Process vs Results A lot of people focus on results, and that can definitely lead to bad hitting habits. What you need to realize is that was a bad pitch to swing at and the results were because of the batter at the plate, not your input.
Let out a sigh, thank your batter, and move on. If you did everything right, you just have to trust the process. A solid liner means both you and your batter saw the pitch well and timed it perfectly.
My point is, if you focus too much on the results, it can lead to a negative downward spiral. Physical Feedback I know it sounds crazy, but providing yourself with consistent physical feedback can help you condition yourself to be a better hitter. Whenever I do a good take, I pat my back. Whenever I swing at a bad pitch yes, this includes pitches in the zone, especially if they are early in the count I flick my leg. Re-enforcing the lesson with physical feedback can help a ton when trying to condition yourself.
My personal discipline rose significantly once I started doing this. Yes you too can become disciplined like I am. Be Zen Sounds way too simple I know, but sometimes a pitcher was just too good.
Tip your cap, move on. This game feeds on your frustration. Ump make a bad call for the third strike? Part of the game. You did everything right. Remember the motion of that pitcher. I know this section is a little less specific to Directional, but discipline is essential to directional hitting. The more your batter sees of a pitcher, the more likely they are to make solid contact. If you are early in the count, you have to be extremely discriminating.
Take a deep breath and let it out. Press down to call for a timeout. Using Timing to Adjust to Pitches in Directional I've talked about ideal pitch locations for swing types, but there are also ideal pitch locations for your timing. Timing is the ultimate way to adjust to different pitches as they come in, and while like everything else in Directional it's no guarantee, it's a powerful tool for you to utilize. Think of the strike zone as a gradient, where the middle is the "hottest" zone and as you go further to the push or pull side things start to get cooler.
There are many reason why the middle of the strike zone is so deadly to opposing pitchers. It's not only ideal for all swing types, but all timing types as well. Slightly early, slightly late, and being right on the pitch are all good ways to produce a hit on this type of ball.
However, as the ball location moves away from the center, less timing is applicable. The closer it moves pull field side closer to the batters body , the more you need your swing to be an early swing. The further push side away from the body , the more you need the swing to be later. Think of it as a tightening of the timing window in that particular direction. This is part of the reason why Pull swings pull the ideal pitch inside a little. Because it widens the timing window a little bit to the early side, it makes it easier to time those inside pitches you need to be early on.
The same goes for the push swing, and how is pushes ideal pitch location slightly outside. You can still push with a pull swing and pull with a push swing based on timing, but these swings are more difficult then if they had been matched ideally because they don't gain the timing window bonus.
However, if you still manage to time your swing appropriately, your batter is still more likely to get solid contact, even more so than if you had chosen the swing type that was ideal for the pitch location. Timing is what I consider one of the three pillars that form the foundation of Directional hitting the others are Discipline and Influence so knowing how to properly utilize it and adjust to pitches is key to finding success. It's up to you to figure out what works, even if it goes completely against the archetype.
I'm going to post images of a couple young players on my team, the archetypes they fall under and how I plan to adjust if they start to struggle. Keep in mind that this is from a carry over from 14, so attributes are a little inflated compared to the modern roster. First up is Ken Pinckney. He definitely fits the Power Hitter profile, especially when facing right handed pitching. His card says he's a balanced hitter, but that hot cold chart plus my on field experience confirm that he wants to pull the ball.
This is where he is getting the most solid contact vs righties, and as we know from previous posts we want to maximize that solid contact. However, when we look at his left handed stats and zones, we see a possible push hitter. His power has dropped significantly, ruining a lot of the potential benefit of a pull swing, and his contact is actually higher. He still has some pop, but it's what I would call itinerant. Remember in most cases you want to enhance your players strengths. Right now I play a balanced approach at the plate vs lefties, but if he struggles the next step is to do a more push focused approach, and also add in some Drive swings.
His hitter tendency claims he's a push hitter, and it's true through most of spring training and even to begin the year push hitting was his bread and butter. Then he started to struggle, especially vs righties, hitting a lot of easy popouts to left field even on ideal swings. Adding some pull swings when ahead helped a little, but the real problem was his vision. He was struggling to square up the ball, and his vision attribute is far from all-star quality. Even though I was using downward influence already with him in late counts, I started adding it earlier, and sure enough he seems to be righting the ship.
He has the speed to be able to rely on a Drive swing, so I can stick with this strategy even after his bat comes alive again. Fast Adjustments vs Slow Adjustments There are two types of adjustments you want to make. One is where you adjust to a pitcher.
My strategies up until now will help you overall, but won't help you in that one game where the pitcher is just humiliating your team. If you need to adjust to a particular pitcher it needs to happen ASAP. These adjustments are temporary and should be thrown away as soon as the pitcher changes. Pitchers with nasty sinking pitches that keep pounding the bottom of the strike zone? I lick my chops when they appear now, because that's when I introduce my scoop swing upwards influence. Try doing a drive swing downward influence more often to try and increase solid contact while also making it easier to check swing to try and and force a few more baserunners.
Just can't catch up to that fireballer? Throw a few more push swings in to give yourself that extra fraction of a second timing window. A downward influence wouldn't hurt either if you're struggling to make contact. Desperate times do call for desperate measures. Meanwhile adjusting to slumps should happen slowly. Slumps will happen to all of your players, it's as inevitable as death and taxes.