First of all, I am unabashedly borrowing (stealing) the basic concept of this article from Mike Lowe’s NCAA dynasty article. I want to establish that right away. It was inspiration though as I felt it provided an excellent guide for those dedicated dynasty players looking for ultimate realism. I wanted to take my stab at providing a similar set of house rules for MLB The Show franchise players.
PrefaceThe house rules I will focus on throughout are with the dedicated, 162 game, every pitch, every at bat crowd in mind. Certainly there are many ways to enjoy simulating through multiple seasons and hybrid concepts allowing for gameplay and simulation (hmm, an idea for a future article). This guide, however, is assuming you plan to carry over your saved game through many future iterations of the title. So, right away, my first house rule is more of a mindset and state of mind. You have to understand and be okay with the fact that your long lasting franchise is a marathon, it’s not meant for instant gratification. A 162 game season and full offseason requires patience, stamina, and a mindset not to give up and move on to the next new fresh team or game mode. The payoff in the end though is well worth it, just imagine that feeling when you carry over a franchise you’ve gone two or more seasons with over to the next iteration of the game, seeing all of your hard work. You’re playing the long game, so accept it and embrace it.
Honor the Schedule
- There are certain hotspots of activity in MLB, so for your realistic franchise you’ll want to adhere to these. It is rare when anything of note happens in the months of March through mid July. During this time limit your transactions to waiver wire pickups or perhaps a secondary free agent signing to fill a 90 man roster depth issue. So, for example, your AA club has only one primary SS and he goes down for the season and there is no viable A ball call up. A Spring Training injury of significance also could allow you to slightly reconsider this rule.
- Build up anticipation and excitement for the post All-Star break up until July 31st period. Make sure you populate your trade block with realistic options. Things to look for would be excessive contracts you’d like to unload (especially if the player is under performing), players in the last year of their contracts who you don’t plan to pursue in the coming offseason, and veterans for whom you may have a prospect or viable utility man ready to take the reins and provide equal or better value and at least close to equal performance. In scouring the trade block for players other teams have posted, focus in specifically on needs and don’t stray from those needs. Even if you are out to add prospects to your system while dealing off veterans, look to add prospects in positions of organization weakness in terms of depth. More on these concepts later.
- The off-season provides the other main hotbed of activity and we will dive into different aspects of this in a moment. Resist the urge to constantly tinker with your roster, it requires patience but it will make these hot spot times of the franchise play extra special and add even more gravity to the moves you decide to make.
Get to Know Your Minor League System
- Across the MLB landscape, most players on the 40 man roster are “homegrown”. Fully investing in your minor league system and getting to know the players will help to maintain your focus and interest for future years and help drive roster decisions you are making in real time. Spend time on sites like Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB Pipeling to gain a “relationship” with your prospects. I also highly recommend using the player lock option to occasionally go down and take some AB’s and throw some innings with your top prospects. It keeps you connected to them, their future, and the future of your franchise. It also might make you think twice before dealing them away.
- Put time and energy into the scouting aspect for the draft. This has changed the whole concept of the draft for me. I used to just allow Auto-Scouting and run through the draft with a modicum of interest. Scouting and examining the scouting reports builds anticipation for the draft and excitement for players you might be able to draft, especially those sleeper or hidden gem type of possibilities in the later rounds.
The “Trade Engine”Honestly, this concept could deserve an article all by itself so the challenge here will be to focus on the most important aspects of interacting with the trade engine in the most realistic way possible. Here are a few quick hits to get started:
- No trading within the division. Real examples of trades within the division are few and far between, and even more rare for trades of any real significance.
- If you ask for deals the AI will accept for a player on their trade block, you must give what is asked. No replacing players or tinkering with the trade to make it more favorable in your estimation. The same is true if you are shopping a player and want to see what organizations will give for him.
- Don’t target specific players. If they aren’t on the trade block or offered for your shopped player, consider them untouchable, period. This is a big one for maintaining realism.
- Use your internal “BS” meter. If your initial reaction to a deal, even if it is accepted through the means listed above, is that you are fleecing the AI, just don’t! Resist the temptation! More on this coming.
- Avoid “incremental trading” options. So maybe you can’t swing a deal for Mike Trout but you figured out a way to get Cody Bellinger. This method of manipulating the AI would then see the player use Bellinger as the headliner in a package to get Trout. There are rare three team deals that go down in MLB but until there is an option to do this fairly, avoid it. The scenario I used as an example also should not pass your “BS” meter.