Fielding in baseball is usually taken for granted and the same can be said for MLB The Show. This year the devs have made it a little more challenging to judge fly balls due to prior complaints of how it is easy and lackadaisical it was to play defense. They have also added a lot more animations, more realistic routes to fly balls, less reactive catchers, and better tag animations. In this article I am going to help you get better defensively by your actions taken on and off the field. This article can be applied to any game mode as well, especially Diamond Dynasty and Franchise Mode!
What do the attributes actually mean?
I am sure a lot of people out there do not understand every single attribute and how they are applicable on the field. I will break it down for each attribute that can be applied or has an impact on defense.
Fielding: This is the most basic attribute for defense. This attribute affects a few different things on the field. For one, it is the success rate in which a player will simply catch or field the ball. Secondly, it also modifies the run speed for the fielder. Third, it visually affects the fielding marker. For example, if you have a right fielder with 45 fielding and a fly ball is hit his way then the fielding marker will have a much greater circumference than usual and it will then minimize to where the ball will actually land. This makes it more difficult for users to judge balls. In contrast, if you have a fielder with 99 fielding then then the fielding marker will start out much smaller and you will know exactly where to go to catch the ball. Lastly, keep in mind that players playing at their secondary position lose 20% in their fielding attribute and if they are playing completely out of position they will be penalized 40% in fielding.
Speed: This is pretty straight forward as well. It primarily affects the speed of the player on defense. So if you want to know how a well a fielder can move then look at their speed rating combined with their fielding rating. Some speed guys may have 90+ speed but if they only have 50 fielding then they will not be as quick as they are on the basepaths. I suggest training these type of players in fielding if you are playing franchise mode.
Reaction: This attribute affects how a fielder will get a jump on a ball. This attribute is very important, especially for your corner infielders and outfielders. Speed combined with great reaction will allow fielders to cover much more ground.
Blocking: This primarily affects catchers. This attribute affects how well a catcher can block pitches in the dirt.
Arm Strength: This is how hard a fielder can throw the ball. This is important, but I have always considered fielding to be more important. Make sure your right fielder always has a 70+ arm strength rating and put your worst arm in left field. This is generally how managers configure their outfield.
Arm Accuracy: This affects how accurate a fielders’ throws are. Keep in mind your results will vary depending on which fielding interface you are using, along with the difficulty. If you are good with using the Analog or throw meter interfaces then this attribute will not be as important. This attribute also affects how big the sweet spot is for the throwing meter (green area) and analog interfaces. The difficulty has no effect for the regular button interfaces, rather the attributes primarily dictate how accurate your throws are. You can throw the ball harder by holding the button down longer, which will slightly increase your odds for a throwing error. Lastly, keep in mind that the difficulty of the throw can shrink your window for an accurate throw.
What should I consider when playing players at their secondary position or completely out of position:
Again we have already discussed the fielding attribute penalties for playing players out of their primary position. However, I still see a lot of users online in franchise, online rated, or diamond dynasty play their outfielders out of position. This has a drastic effect on your outfield defense and should be considered when shuffling outfielders around.
If you have a Center Fielder that is not as good, defensively, as your Left Fielder then you should think twice before switching them. I will use the Rockies as an example. Carlos Gonzalez (LF) has a fielding rating of 84 and Charlie Blackmon (CF) has a fielding rating of 74. Carlos Gonzalez also has slightly better speed and arm strength. Logically, it makes sense to switch these two players, but technically you are hurting your outfield defense. Carlos Gonzalez would fall to a 68 fielding rating and Blackmon would fall to a 59 fielding rating. Your outfield defense would immediately drop 31 points in fielding.
This same concept applies to Diamond Dynasty. I see a lot of teams playing guys like Mike Trout or Andrew McCutchen in LF or Ted Williams in RF. There is no evidence that the other fielding ratings take this penalty and from my personal observation I have not noticed it either. The devs have confirmed this information, but they have never mentioned if the other attributes take a penalty. Simply put, try to avoid it as much as possible and remember the risks when you are doing so.
As far as playing guys out of position, I only recommend doing so in emergency situations. You could also experiment with poor defensive guys and put them at first base if you really need their bat in the lineup. It does not take much to play first base as compared to other positions and that would be the only position I would play a player out of position at.
What can I do to improve my fielding on the field?
So you finally have your lineup set and optimized. What can you do to make yourself better in the field? I have a few key tips to follow:
1. Feather and gently guide your thumb on the LS when tracking flyballs. Remember that the outfielder has momentum and he will take an additional 3-4 steps once you let off the LS. Try to let off the LS when you are about 10 feet away from the fielding marker or until your players goes into the catch animation. On balls hit over your head, try to catch them on the run going backwards rather than straight back then coming up, unless you are gathering momentum for a throw.
2. Do not try to get behind every flyball in order to gather momentum for a stronger throw. You should only do this when necessary. If there is a runner on 1st and a routine fly is hit to LF then is it worth the risk to get too far behind the ball? Worry about securing the out first!
3. Use your cutoffs! This year SDS has introduced us the ability to cut off throws intended for a base. A notification will pop up quickly telling you to press L1 when there is an opportunity to cut the ball. You can also manually throw to the cutoff by using the L1 button when throwing it. I see a lot of people trying to gun runners at home when he was safe by a mile. This allows the other runners advance a base! The computer will always take advantage of your poor decisions and you can get a lot of extra outs by utilizing the cut off feature online.
4. Know your limitations. Is it necessary to try and dive in the hole with your SS when Billy Hamilton hit it? You can risk injury, so just let the ball go. If there is a runner on 2nd then it may be worth the risk to keep him from scoring, otherwise do not risk injury for no reason! Know your situations!
5. When turning double plays I have noticed that a few combinations are very hard to pull off. With runners on 1st and 2nd and the ball hit to 3rd the step on the bag and throw to first is difficult to execute. 99% of the time it will be smarter to make the turn at second, so unless the ball is right at the bag then be smart about what route you want to take.
Same can be said when turning double plays with your first basemen. 99% of the time it is smarter to start the turn on 2nd then throw back to first. The animations are generally too slow to step on the bag, make the throw, and tag the runner.
6. When in pickles, run the runner back until they reach the halfway point then make the throw to their intended base. Do not ever throw the ball to the next bag as soon as you catch it.
7. Use throw cancelling, especially for online. This is just a useful tool. For example, you may see your opponent trying to advance from 2nd to 3rd on a routine grounder to SS. You can throw cancel, get them in a rundown, and tag them out.
8. Experiment with all of the fielding interfaces! Ultimately, you can get the most out of button meter or pure analog fielding. If you can master these interfaces then you will minimize your throwing errors.
Remember to check out my slide step article and video for tips to hold runners! Stay tuned to Sports Gamers Online for more MLB 15 The Show Tips posted each week. I will also be coming out with a defensive shift article and video to further enhance your ability to prevent runs!