MVP Baseball Playing Tips
for beginners, or those wishing a new look
Note that we are not associated with either EA Sports nor with MLB baseball. We do however enjoy playing the EA Sports MVP Baseball video game. And we also did want to share some of what we had learned playing it. The other important point here for this initial information is that the version we are using is the 2003 edition for home computers. We would believe that some of this information will translate into other MVP baseball editions.
As some of the MVP Baseball information suggested, it is a good idea to get some batting practice. That can be done in the home run derby. When starting to learn in the home run derby, note that the person that you are competing with need not be the CPU. You can set the other person to be keyed from a different keyboard setting or game controller. Since there would be no one likely to use that other game controller, the person you are competing with will never hit, leaving you stress free as the only batter. As you start to become good, you may later decide to set the other controller to CPU, which of course would then place you in competition during batting practice.
Batting - Hitting the Ball
Hitting the ball seems to have three different levels - at least in the video game. If you are just starting, the first simple goal would be timing your swing to a point of release on the pitcher. This of course takes much practice. After you get used to that, there are two more levels - level two is being able to tell if the ball is going to be a strike, and level three is adjusting to the speed of the pitch.
I would not worry about levels two and three until you get used to being to hit the ball at least partially well. The reason for that is that your reaction time and vision adjust such that you now seem to see more information regarding the pitcher than you used to. This means that you have to train your own reaction times to be able to look for oddities faster, and that will take practice. Level two - determining if a pitch is over the plate or not - may be hard to practice during home run derby. The reason is that most of the balls in home run derby go over the plate. But of course during a real game, pitchers do not always throw over the plate. With a real pitcher, it is really hard for me to say what it is you are looking for in just that first portion of a second. But it does seem that after a while you get a "hunch" that the ball is not going to be over the plate. That is the time to take the pitch. Also be careful with a real pitcher - to see if they are simply trying to walk you on purpose. CPU pitchers will do that at times. So, all four pitches could easily be off the plate. Unless you watch, you might never see that happening and miss out on an easy walk when it is being offered to you.
Level three of batting is being able to time a pitcher - as they change from fast balls to a slower pitch, such as a change or curve ball. What I have noticed, at least with some pitchers, as that they will do slightly different things right before release. Some pitchers right before throwing a fast ball seem to tense up and have themselves totally wound up right before the throw - and that means they are throwing fast. Those same pitchers often seem just a little more casual when throwing a changeup or a slower ball. Since we have not seen all pitchers, the differences are hard to give here, but I would look to see if the pitchers just look different for the different speeds.
Perhaps the most important strategy is deciding whether or not to bunt. So far, I have not yet seen a time when I bunt when the batter makes it to first base safely. However, bunting is often a sacrifice. If you are concerned that the batter that you have up might hit into a double play, or just simply does not have enough power and technique to avoid an infield ground ball, and you have less than 2 outs, considering a bunt is not such a bad idea if you have someone on base. It usually moves the runners up and avoids the double play.
You can place the ball by picking a direction at the same time as you bat. A good time to do this is to hit in a different direction than where your runners are. For example, if you have a runner on second that you want to get to third, it would be best to hit to right field far away from 3rd and 2nd base to keep the ball out of the path of your runner. However, it does seem that so far for us unless you have a key direction issue like that, it is often best to just hit and not set a direction at all.
Base running is very important - even if you are playing the computer version with a keyboard and have the players on full automatic. The problem is that sometimes you can hit the ball, and the players on the bases do not run - or they may do the opposite and run too far into an out you didn't need. The best approach is to control each runner, and key them to exactly the base you want them to go. If you are just going to advance the runners (using page up and page down in the computer version) you have to be careful. It seems that if a runner is going from first base to second, that telling the runner to advance and then releasing the advance key will send the runner to second and he will stop there. However, it does seem that if the runner is on second and you hit the advance key - even only briefly - that the runner may not stop at third and run right into an easy out at home.
The other problem is that players also leave the bases a bit on a fly ball - and you will need to press the "retreat" button (page down for the computer version) to send them back to tag up as soon as the ball is caught. If you do not do this, I have seen a number of cases where the player is simply caught off base and the other team has a double play.
There seems to be no way to avoid problems - other than watching and controlling the runners - at least on the computer version of MVP baseball.
At least for the computer version, note that pitching is a two step process in order to get the maximum best pitch for each type. For the first portion, you hold down the button until the indicator is almost done going in the first direction and is in the red - and then release the button just before the end and it reverses. On the way back, press the button a second time when it is in the green portion. This approach seems to give the best pitch for accuracy - or speed or curve as the pitch indicates.
Just as in real baseball, throwing a fast ball down the center of the plate is often a bad idea. It is best to vary both the location and the speed. If you know something about the batter, you might want to modify your pitching strategy for the batter. However, for some batters, throwing a slider high and away, followed by a changeup low and away might get you two quick strikes on the batter. In doing that, you are changing both the location and the speed of the ball delivered to the batter. If you do get those two quick strikes, sometimes you might want to try the third pitch as a sucker ball - a super fast ball high and out of the strike zone. Sometimes that gets you a strike out - and you might feel on top of the world.
Pitching to Each Batter
This next part may seem extreme, but does work well, and does what real pitchers do. It is best to take notes on what each batter liked and didn't like. Sometimes the announcers may give you free information - such as "this batter is dangerous to any inside pitch" or "this batter loves the ball high and can hit them right out of the park". Free information such as that is wonderful, but even then, I would suggest marking it down. If you do play a season or a franchise, you might see the same batter 12 times or even more. If you have notes on this batter to know where a safe pitch is, it might be great information to have. Also, advice from the game seems to suggest to vary the pitches from batting to batting a little bit. So, if you lead off with one batter high and outside with a slider, and you know that the batter likes the ball inside, you might throw a different pitch than a slider to this same batter on the next pass and make that pitch low and away rather than high and away.
However, the above is all good for a batter when no one is on base. If you have a runner on first, you of course should think a little about a double play. As the game suggests, it is time to consider throwing the ball low to the batter - trying to get a ground ball - and a double play. Now, this does not mean all pitches should be the same. You can still vary the pitches, for example, from a low and away slider to an inside and low changeup or other combination. If you do get two strikes on the batter, now you have to decide if you are going for a double play or a strikeout. For a strikeout, you might try the fast ball high and outside the strike zone. For trying for a double play, you of course would still like to keep the ball low.
Throwing Pick off Plays
Throwing pick off plays by your pitcher to first or second may seem silly at times, since most of the time there is no pick off. Perhaps the first 20 pick off attempts that I tried, did not result in any success. However, the 20th or so one resulted in an out. So, there can be good results from doing pick off plays and trying to keep the runners close.
Going to Your Bull Pen
When do you give up on your starting pitcher and go to your bull pen? It is really the same strategy as the coaches use. As long as the starting pitcher is being effective and not getting hit, it is best to keep them in. However, if things start to change and they begin to be hit a lot, it might mean that they are tired and less effective and it is time for a relief pitcher.
Another time to go to your bull pen is if you need to catch up on runs or need an insurance run when you are already ahead - and are in a later inning such as the 7th inning or 8th inning. In that case if you pitcher is due up to bat, you might consider a relief batter for him. And then when it comes time to go on defense again, you need to change your pinch hitter for a relief pitcher.
Some sports announcers say that the last three outs are different from the other 24 - they are harder. Like real baseball, you might want to give the ball to your closer for the ninth inning. Pick a closer where you like the pitches they throw and you can control him well.
Getting Your Favorite Players
Real baseball teams change rosters all the time. So if you are looking for your favorite players for your favorite team, you might feel upset that they are not there. However, MVP baseball does allow trades. In my case, I was able to make trades to get the players from other teams that made up the favorite team roster of my favorite baseball team. That was great! To do that took a number of changes multiple times. I had to make trades, then modify batter order and then modify defense alignment. After a number of changes I arrived at just the right team that was the favorites of mine in the right positions. So, it might take a little work to get things where you want them, but it often can be fun. And then of course, the game is more fun when playing with the team and team players of your choice.