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JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

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Old 04-15-2021, 01:12 PM   #1
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JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

Latest Update - May 27, 2021

I have this problem. I lose interest if I get any hint that player ratings aren't mattering as much as they should. As a consequence, I GREATLY prefer operating with zero slider adjustments (to maximize the player rating influence); but MLB The Show always seems to need a little tuning. So, we need to do this very carefully...

Understand, this is a very niche setup with a very explicit design in mind. I'm not interested in a slider setup that makes the game look/play a particular way or that yields certain statistical outcomes. I just want the player ratings to be reflected in a believable manner in their on-the-field actions. If every player kinda feels the same, well...why bother building a team?

So, let's get to it....

What is the goal?
The goal is the same this year: to maximize the impact of player ratings. If ratings don't matter, then it is pointless to play franchise mode.

What does this mean?
Well...let me give you an example. Playing every game in my Reds franchise, I had a player with 99 contact/78 power (vs righties) and 60 contact/42 power (vs lefties) and with mid-60s vision hit .402 with 40 HRs vs righties and around .280 with 1 HR vs lefties. Think about that for a second...a 99 contact hitter (which is essentially HOF-level for that season)...he should be pretty darn good at hitting, right? A max-rated contact hitter with a lot of power in a small home ballpark hit just over .400 vs that handedness. That's not unreasonable, right? Does it change your opinion that the player in question was Scooter Gennett? If it does, than this is the wrong thread for you.

Many people will say, "That isn't realistic!! Scooter isn't that good!!!!" That's a biased assessment based on real life; not an assessment of what could happen based on that player's ratings. But many folks will look at that and adjust things because it is "too easy"...but if one biases the game/sliders to the point where that can't ever happen to a player with those ratings, that is NOT believable either!


How do we get there?
1. We use Classic Pitching and Directional Hitting with auto-fielding. These two interfaces (plus auto-fielding) minimize the risk that user stick-skill ability (e.g. aiming a PCI or hitting the sweet spot on a meter) can override ratings. If you use other interfaces, you should use sliders dedicated for them.

2. No Quick Counts. The more pitches you face/throw, the more in-game sample size you gain. The more sample size, the more likely outcomes are being driven by ratings more than randomness. I understand QCs are convenient, but you lose something with them and I highly discourage their use.

3. Use of All Star difficulty. I personally believe that All Star provides for the widest range of ratings to be properly represented.

4. Minimizing slider adjustments. This will, again, allow for the widest range of ratings to be represented. With MLB, the default values are not always ideal...but adjustments in the range of 4 to 6 are usually more than adequate to address any imbalances. Don't be shocked if we wind up at (or very near to) default. This also minimizes potential side effects (like how raising the stolen base sliders nerfs solid contact - something we learned last year).

5. Clean Screen and no vibration. This is not just a preference, this is a significant key to how this set works and a way of life. Many people are FAR too reliant on the stuff on the screen to play the game. Using things like pitch markers, PCIs, meters, strike zone/hot zone markers, catch indicators, swing feedback, etc. is like beating on a trashcan.

Remember, we're not here to play a video game, we're here to play baseball...

Central Tenants of this thread:

NOTE: We're going to do a lot of things that go against the grain of what most guys do. I'm going to ask you all to take a leap of faith and trust me.

1. Sample size, sample size, sample size. Some individual player rate stats (like BABIP) don't stabilize in even one SEASON of at bats. Think about that, you need multiple seasons of data. Fortunately, other stats stabilize over smaller samplings (like 60-80 games). Posting things like, "I played 3 games and here are my thoughts/stats" is cute and all...but it doesn't help us (and often, can de-rail things).
2. We will focus any adjustments heavily on "how do we make the CPU SMARTER?" vs handicapping the user. Lowering sliders often leads to more "random outcomes" vs "ratings-driven outcomes" and that is NOT what we want here.
3. Initial efforts will be focused on "does what we see make sense?". I can't jam out 80 games in a week to get sample size. So, we will always look at things from a "does the behavior make sense?" perspective. A CPU pitcher throwing meatball after meatball makes no sense; I don't need 80 games to tell you that. A user pitcher with a good control rating constantly throwing pitches 2 quadrants off his target makes no sense; I don't need 80 games to tell you that. We'll make adjustments off of those initial assessments and build sample size from there.
4. Finally, sliders are like an old-school scale (where you have the lady holding the two pans that balance off of each other). When you add or subtract in one pan, it causes the other one to move....sliders are the same, everything you change will be compensated for in another area of the game. So, it isn't enough to say, "I want more stolen base attempts, so I will increase those sliders". You have to look at how the game compensates for that (in this example for MLB 19, the game re-balanced itself by decreasing power output).

The Settings

NOTE: Before we begin, I do ask that if you plan on posting feedback that you please follow all of these settings to the letter except where designated as "personal preference". If you feel there is a setting here that should be a preference but are unsure, please ask.

Batting and Baserunning:
Hitting Difficulty: All-Star or All Star+ (I recommend you match your pitching difficulty)
Hitting Interface Directional
Input Type - Buttons
Plate Coverage Indicator - Off
Camera Shift - Off
In-Play View Offense - Broadcast (personal preference)

Hitting View: Personal Preference - but no strike zone cams
The camera angle you hit with. Majorly important!! Retro works really well for me but it may not for you. I do know for a fact that one's perception of the pitch speed will vary depending on your camera (fish eye is an example of a camera where pitch speed will seem faster). That said, I HIGHLY discourage the use of the 'strike zone' cameras for hitting or pitching. We're not playing online - we don't need to take the easy way out here. If you use one of these and find things are "too easy" for you, please change them immediately.

Ball Trail - Off
Button Interface: Classic

Guess Pitch: Off
There are horror stories about people who think this will make the game a bit easier. The reality is that the game arbitrarily punishes you for guessing wrong. Anticipating the pitch and location is already part of the game - guess pitch is an redundant and unnecessary setting. I implore everyone to not use it.

Baserunner Interface: Default
Baserunning Decisions: Assist
Sliding Decisions: Assist
Runner Window: Off (Much more challenging and rewarding plus cleaner screen)

Pitching:
Pitching Difficulty: All Star or All-Star+ (I recommend you match your hitting difficulty)
Pitching Interface: Classic

Pitching View: Broadcast (recommended not required) but do not pitch from a hitting view
Broadcast adds a little variety as the angle changes for each stadium (and it will change how much you need to move the stick to move the ball marker as well...so it is an adjustment for road games...like real life). If you're not a fan of that (or if you get a bad angle that doesn't show the catcher's sign), the Outfield camera is a nice option.

Pitching Ball Marker: Off ("On" for those that struggle with it off)
Pitch Callout: Off (cleaner screen but turn it on if you like)
Pitch Confidence: On
Pitch Delay: Normal
API: Default

Fielding:
Throwing Interface: Buttons

Throwing Meter: Off
Throwing Difficulty: NA
Throwing Decision: Off
Throw Canceling: On

Fielding Decision: Auto
Auto fielding is awesome because it maximizes player ratings and it looks beautiful.

Defensive Shift: Manual
Auto-shift has cost more players games (both offline and online) than any other thing. If you use auto-shift, be very conscious of extreme shifts...an oppo hit away from the shift can change the outcome of a game.

All Indicators - off
Fielding View Offense: Broadcast
Fielding View Defense: Broadcast

General
Strike Zone: Off
Hot Zones: Off
Warm Up Relievers - On
Balks: Off
Tutorial Tips - Off
Post Game Auto Save - On
Umpire Balls and Strikes: Personalized
Umpire Close Plays: On
Check Swing Appeals: On
Injuries: On
Ejections: On
Scorebar Display - On
Pitch Select Display - Off
Swing/Pitch Info - Off

Vibration - Off
I cannot state how important this setting is. When turned on, the vibration will start rumbling as you near the edge of the strike zone. This induces some really bad habits, like keeping you right on the edge of the plate because the game is telling you exactly where it is. By turning it off, and with clean screen, you have to rely on your feel and knowledge of how much your pitcher's stuff breaks.

Now, some people might think it sounds "too hard". It really isn't; I've seen people adjust pretty quickly. Your initial instinct will be to either move the stick too little (resulting in getting hit hard) or too much (resulting in poor control). You'll hone-in on it quicker than you think but without some game mechanic giving you artificial feedback. Combined with our control slider settings, it makes for a beautiful combination that makes pitching frustrating and rewarding.

Game Log Order - Default (personal preference)

Presentation Options (all of these are personal preference)
Presentation Mode - Broadcast
Pre Pitch Cameras - Your choice
Frequency - Your choice
Batter Walkup - On
In-game Ticker - On
Closed Captioning - Off

Quick Counts - Off (strongly recommended)

The Sliders

Dynamic Difficulty Sensitivity (See below)
This should be set to 0 UNLESS you are in the process of moving up to AS+. See post number 2 for a description of how to get to AS+.

User/CPU Contact 5
Sounds great in theory to increase this. In execution, the whole vibe of the game feels off.

User/CPU Power 5
This is another one that is critical to game balancing, changes will quickly alter the CPU's approach (whether hitting or pitching...depending on the value adjusted).

User/CPU Timing 5
The impact of this with one point bumps is just not enough and I will not go wider off of default.

User/CPU Foul Frequency 5
We tried bumping this up. Bad idea as it just lead to weak contact. Default it stays.

User/CPU Solid Hits 4
A classic adjustment to keep there from being tons of hard hits.

User/CPU Starter Stamina 6
I personally don't think default stamina is an issue. But, I'm rolling with what has worked for years.

User/CPU Reliever Stamina 5

User/CPU Pitch Control 6
Same setting for user and CPU, but for two different reasons.

The user value is at 6 to give the CPU a more balanced approach at the plate. This adjustment helps them to work ABs better. You cannot just drop this down to 5 and get "more offense"; it's the opposite. I've seen no adverse impact on strike% as a result of this change.

The CPU value is at 6 to help the CPU hit the corners better and to make hitting more challenging.

User/CPU Pitcher Consistency 5

Strike Frequency 5

Manager Hook 5

Pickoffs 5

Fastball Pitch Speed 6 (personal preference)
Off speed Pitch Speed 6 (personal preference)

Pitch speed is VITAL to your performance. Yes, the value you select is a personal preference, but it still comes down to one thing. How comfortable are you at the plate? If you're comfortable with the pitch speed, it's too slow for you...bump it up a notch and find a place where it's hard for you to catch up to high velo unless you're sitting on it but not so hard that you can't pull anything.

Fielding Errors Infield 5
Fielding Errors Outfield 5
Throwing Errors Infield 5
Throwing Errors Outfield 5

Fielder Run Speed 4
Fielder Reaction 4
A key piece as the lower fielding speed/reaction helps the balls to move faster relative to the fielders. This will give little bloops a better chance of falling and every hit allowed puts a dent into the pitcher's confidence...which can then spiral into bigger innings. It's a subtle change, but an impactful one.

Fielder Arm Strength Infield 5
Fielder Arm Strength Outfield 5
Baserunner Speed 5
Baserunner Steal Ability 5
Baserunner Steal Frequency 5
Wind 5

Injuries 7
I used an injury slider of 6 last year and it was great using Bacon's roster (which has lower durability ratings globally). Using a "live" roster means we need to go up a notch; and test sims at 7 were great; lots of injuries, but some teams were still 'spared' the injury bug...that is exactly what we want.

Trades
All-star break to trade deadline: 5
Off-season: 4
All other times: 3

I'll be honest, this is more of a band-aid for the wonky trade logic. But it will tone-down the number of oddball trades early in the season and give teams a chance to rebound if they start slow (before they start just unloading pieces).
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Last edited by JoshC1977; 06-01-2021 at 08:15 AM.
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Old 04-15-2021, 01:13 PM   #2
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Re: JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

Steps for Using Dynamic Difficulty:

Lots of new players this year; so let's not assume everyone knows everything. I've referenced "All Star Plus" in my thread and I'm sure many folks don't know what that is. MLB The Show has something called "Dynamic Difficulty". If you set the game difficulty to "Dynamic", the game will adjust what level you're playing on based on your performance. So you can go from Rookie all the way up to Legend. In the slider screen, there is a dynamic difficulty sensitivity slider that allows you to adjust how quickly the level will change based on performance. Set to 0, it won't budge.

Here's the super-cool thing. There are "plus" levels which are middle-grounds between difficulties and these are often fantastic for many players. So, instead of going from All Star to Hall of Fame, you go from All Star to All Star+ to Hall of Fame. I really love All Star+ because it is still a ratings-based format (unlike the more arcade-like HOF difficulty) but it also provides that little extra edge I want. Here's how you get there.

1. Go into game settings and change hitting and pitching to dynamic.
2. Load sliders, make sure the dynamic difficulty sensitivity slider is set to 5. (It can be higher as well while you do your run to boost the difficulty).
3. Save any changes to the sliders.
4. Go into a Play Now game and see what level it has you set to (there will be a pop-up).
5. Play the game and wait for it to go to AS+. (now...if it starts you at a lower level...go ahead and boost the sensitivity slider to 10 and/or bias the sliders completely in your favor - this all will just make it go faster).
6. Once you hit AS+ on both hitting and pitching, exit the game you're playing. Go and load the OP sliders and then change the dynamic difficulty sensistivity slider to 0. That will lock you into AS+.
7. Once in franchise, double check your game settings and sliders and make sure they are what you want.

Nuances of Classic Pitching
You definitely have some control over pitch outcome. How long you hold the button matters. It affects pitch speed, command, and the amount of break on breaking pitches. It just isn't 'push a button and go'...there is far more subtlety in it. In fact, if you simply tap the button, it is an excellent way to get shelled".

When pitching in classic, you have about a 1 second time period before you get the controller vibration (i.e. max-effort). The following are my observations...

Max effort pitches (holding the button down till the vibration) result in the following:
More velocity
Less control
A sharper break on breaking pitches
Pitches tend to rise more

Minimum effort pitches (tapping the button) results in the following:
Less velocity
Better control
"Loopier" breaking balls (especially curves/sliders
Pitches sink more (due to lower velo) - changeups will pretty constantly wind up in the dirt
In many cases, an "intermediate" duration is optimal. However, you can vary this from pitch to pitch (i.e. like a pitcher adding/subtracting from the speed of the pitch). This is a tremendous way to keep hitters off-balance to help to avoid them getting solid contact/timing.

For those of you who have pitched IRL, think of the button press duration as your arm velocity. Full duration is you using your max arm velocity, tapping is like you taking a lot off the pitch.

This is definitely just the tip of the iceberg, but should get folks started.
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Last edited by JoshC1977; 04-23-2021 at 01:04 PM.
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Old 04-15-2021, 01:39 PM   #3
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Re: JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

Thanks for setting these sliders up for us, Josh. Look forward to using them. Going to start playing tonight. Are you going to jump right into All Star + or you going to start at All Star?
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Old 04-15-2021, 02:30 PM   #4
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Re: JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

Quote:
Originally Posted by bryanm1982
Thanks for setting these sliders up for us, Josh. Look forward to using them. Going to start playing tonight. Are you going to jump right into All Star + or you going to start at All Star?
I'm going to start on dynamic difficulty with low-ish sensitivity and see where I land as I go through test games and so on.

My guess is I will land on AS+; but I assume nothing
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Old 04-15-2021, 02:53 PM   #5
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Re: JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoshC1977
I'm going to start on dynamic difficulty with low-ish sensitivity and see where I land as I go through test games and so on.

My guess is I will land on AS+; but I assume nothing
Great. One more question...when you do testing, do you test it on a test franchise or just play exhibition?
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Old 04-15-2021, 02:57 PM   #6
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Re: JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

Quote:
Originally Posted by bryanm1982
Great. One more question...when you do testing, do you test it on a test franchise or just play exhibition?
Mainly in franchise because I like to see how franchise-specific effects (i.e. fatigue, time of year, etc.) impact things.
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Old 04-15-2021, 03:10 PM   #7
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Re: JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

Thanks. I am trying to decide what NL Central team I want to play with. I'm a Cubs fan but the real life Cubs make me mad so I don't know if they are worth my time lol. I thought about the Pirates, Cardinals, or Reds. The Reds do look good this year with that hitting.
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Old 04-15-2021, 04:46 PM   #8
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Re: JoshC1977's "Maximize Player Ratings" MLB 21 Sliders

Quote:
Originally Posted by bryanm1982
Thanks. I am trying to decide what NL Central team I want to play with. I'm a Cubs fan but the real life Cubs make me mad so I don't know if they are worth my time lol. I thought about the Pirates, Cardinals, or Reds. The Reds do look good this year with that hitting.
You forgot about the best team in the NL Central????
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