Welcome to the third episode in my series, The Show Training 101, where we’ll take an in-depth look at various mechanics and control schemes, analyze how they’re implemented in MLB 15 The Show, and explore the ways in which you can leverage your newfound knowledge to take your game to the next level.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at analog hitting. Analog hitting has received a bit of a facelift this year, the structural changes of which have given rise to community backlash and harsh criticism. In particular, Sony’s removal of the stride component within the mechanic has left analog hitting feeling like a shell of its former self. Disgruntled fans have equated the new mechanic to being a simple button press. Press the right stick up for a normal swing, right or left for a contact swing, or down and then up for a power swing. Sounds pretty intuitive but also pretty simple, right? And you’d be right to think that, especially considering how the newly refined feature has been marketed… Except, you’d be wrong.

It is true that analog hitting no longer involves a stride component, but its simplification hasn’t reduced the mechanic to a timing based button press. No, it’s quite a bit more than that. So naturally the question becomes, what exactly is analog hitting? How is the mechanic programmed? And how can I use this knowledge to help me at the plate?

So let’s dive right in. Believe it or not, analog hitting does in fact require the batter to match a plate coverage indicator, or PCI, with the ball in order to make solid contact. But with analog hitting, the PCI lacks a visual indicator and can not be maneuvered pre-pitch. Instead, the angle at which you direct the right stick up to swing corresponds to bat placement in the zone. Except… if analog hitting requires the user to press the stick up to swing, and proper PCI placement is necessary to make contact, how does one hit a pitch low in the zone? Well, that’s a great question. The answer? There are two variables that determine PCI placement, each variable individually governing horizontal and vertical placement of the PCI. The first is user controlled; the angle at which the right stick is lifted vertically when swinging. This right stick movement governs the bat placement on the X-axis. The second variable is not user controlled; that is, player ratings dictate bat placement on the Y-axis.

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So let’s take a look at how this unfolds. If one were to flick the right stick straight up at 90 degrees with each pitch, as is described in the MLB guide, your PCI would be positioned somewhere in the middle third of the plate, with player ratings subsequently determining the vertical placement of the PCI. With this method, it would be extremely difficult to make contact on balls outside of the middle section of the plate. Instead, one must coordinate the right stick to match the horizontal placement of the pitch. Each degree to which the right stick is shifted to the right or left signals a corresponding, flat-rate shift of the PCI to that horizontal direction.

So, for example, if there’s a pitch on the outside part of the plate with a right handed player at bat, you would angle the right stick somewhere between straight up and directly to the right, whichever angle most appropriately coincides with the horizontal placement of the pitch. And then just let the player ratings play out to determine where the PCI is ultimately positioned on the vertical part of the plate. Now the same thing applies to a pitch inside on a right handed hitter. Simply move the right stick between 90 degrees straight up and directly to the left, again whichever angle correlates most to the horizontal placement of the pitch.MLB15_The_Show_Analog_Hitting_Guide_Article4

So remember, DO NOT just flick the stick upwards to make contact. You won’t hit consistently. It is essential that you match the right stick with the horizontal movement of the pitch, after which you can simply allow the player ratings to dictate vertical PCI placement.

Ok. So before we get into the tips segment, I want to cover the contact swing. With analog hitting, the contact swing is simply an extension of the regular swing’s mechanic whereby flicking the stick directly to the right or directly to the left results in your batter swinging far inside or far outside of the plate. The contact swing in analog hitting differs from its implementation in other hitting mechanics. With analog hitting, the contact swing allows you to hit pitches out the strike zone, but it doesn’t increase your timing windows, as is the case when employing the contact swing in both zone and directional hitting. No, when using analog hitting, the contact swing simply places the PCI out of the strike zone, of course dependent on the exact degree to which you position your right stick when swinging. If you swing the right stick directly to the right, the PCI will shift horizontally to the right of the strike zone, with player ratings again determining the vertical placement of the PCI. The same is also true when flicking the right stick directly to the left. So remember, if a pitch is down the middle or somewhere inside the strike zone, the so-called “contact swing” will do anything BUT make contact.