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Strategy Guide
OS Guide to Winning in the Playoffs

If you’ve been playing MLB 11: The Show along with the real MLB Season, hopefully you’ve secured a spot in the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if you’ve mirrored real life successes, did what the Red Sox and Braves couldn’t or captained a long shot like the Orioles or Pirates, but most playoff-bound teams can increase their success by following a few of the following guidelines.

Pitching:

Shorten your Staff: Most real MLB teams shrink their rotation, especially in the early five game Divisional series. Try to use your top three starters as much as possible, especially if there is a big drop off between your ace(s) and the bottom of your rotation. 

Run on Fumes: Going hand in hand with using your premier pitchers more often is rolling the dice and pitching on fewer days rest than normal. This is especially true in critical or clinching games. In the real MLB this is a much bigger risk than in the virtual realm, where the psyche of pitchers isn’t really a factor. Again, this is a risk, but a common practice (see Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals) when the season is on the line.

Bullpen with Caution: Similarly, successful playoff managers will use their bullpen very cautiously and with a long-term plan. If you only have two or three dependable pitchers in your pen, try to save them for critical situations. I’m sure Charlie Manual wasn’t happy that he had to bring in his closer in Saturday’s game, which was mostly out of hand. However, his initial move was to use a lesser arm to finish the game. Also pay attention to the lefty/righty match-ups.

Starters Finish:Unlike the regular season, you’ll see more starters (especially numbers four and five) pitch out of the bullpen. In The Show, this feels cheap in an exhibition or season game; but in the playoffs anything goes. Use your bottom of the rotation guys in blowout game for long-inning relief. It may not always pay off -- Oswalt lost a game last year after coming in late -- but it can certainly strengthen your bullpen.

Defense:

Late Inning Replacements: You’ll see real managers tap their defensive replacements a little more often in the playoffs, particularly if there is a big disparity in ability. With so much on the line, use your speedier outfielders and sure-handed third-basemen with a little more abandon. An error or extra out can kill your team, especially with runners on base.

Get Shifty: A feature of The Show that often goes overlooked is defensive positioning. Many players prefer to let the computer handle it; however, with a series on the line, it’s a good idea to check that fielders are set where you want. That said, it’s been my experience that virtual players don’t quite perform as predictably as their real-life counterparts. Be conservative with the Bonds or Howard shifts.

Offense:

Split ‘em up: Try to vary your lineup, avoiding adjacent lefties. Because you’re opponent may (I feel the AI in The Show plays a little too conservative) target your weaknesses, you may get the lefty specialist more often if you’ve got them stacked up in the order. 

Patience is a Virtue: I know when I play The Show, especially regular season, I can get “antsy” and swing at everything. Playoffs are a good time to slow it down and change up your approach. This is more important if you are facing the Halladays, Sabathias or Verlanders of the league. Make them work and try to expose the bullpen early.

Run and Gun: This is true of the regular season too, but know when to steal. Check out the ratings of the opposing catcher (don’t just assume you know based on the real game). Pay attention to the count, and steal on pitches that figure to be off-speed (usually when the pitcher is ahead in the count). Use the hit and run, sacrifice bunt, and squeeze play -- runs will be at a premium. Also, follow the old adage of never making the first or third out at third base.

Stick to your Strengths: While some managers like to be extra aggressive in big games, don’t try to be who you aren’t. Don’t start stealing recklessly if your team is made up of slower veterans. Don’t hit and run if your team is built to hit for power and not contact. Do what got you to the playoffs in the first place. 

Final Thoughts


This is all probably common sense for baseball veterans, but if this year was your first time picking up The Show (a great year to do so), this advice might help put your team over the top. 

What are your best tips for the post-season?


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Member Comments
# 1 Yankees2009Champs @ 10/12/11 03:05 PM
Great article, I agree with pretty much everything you said.

Expanding on the shifts part, I like to change it up late in games. I use Guard lines and a deep outfield to promote a "no doubles" defense.

Getting guys into scoring position is essential. Guy on first, steal. Guys on first and second, bunt them over. Guy on 2nd, hit to the right, get him to 3rd. EVERY out is critical.

Go to closer for more than the 9th. If you got a guy like Freddy Garcia, just get him to through the 6th. Using set up guy to take care of 7th, 1-2 in the 8th. Bring in closer for last 4-5 outs.
 
# 2 GivenWings @ 10/12/11 03:42 PM
Love the contribution Caley !.

Can I assume that these tips and advice also apply to MLB 2K11 as well?. =P

By the way, what are your thoughts on playing a Season or Franchise mode w/ an upgraded or altered roster rather than the originals?.

Thanks,

Jonathan
 
# 3 Knight165 @ 10/12/11 06:06 PM
Very good article.
While some may say obvious points.....I wonder how many use the strategies that seem so "obvious".

Like Yankee said......shifts. I'm sure most just let the game do the DP depth and maybe "play in" for a bunt situation. But in the 8th....9th guarding the lines is essential. Also setting up your defense to the way you pitch can also make a big difference.
(I do agree ...the Howard/Ortiz shifts are pretty much not worth employing)

For me...the biggest is pitching around certain players either late in the game or in certain situations with the top players on another club.
Also...checking the catcher arm ratings and either running or not running.
Playing in for the weaker hitters(OF)......

Good points on the underlying strategies of the game.

M.K.
Knight165
 
# 4 gmat2 @ 10/13/11 02:27 PM
Is there a way to set a defensive positioning before a game? I hate... HATE when the OF plays deep. I feel like the baserunners are more manageable from the "Normal" depth. Too many first-to-thirds and it's nearly impossible to throw anyone out at the plate because of the time it takes them to get to a base hit. Even with an average defensive outfield I think you'll be able to limit the doubles and runners taking extra bases when at the normal depth. Playing them Deep has hurt me more often than it's helped.
 
# 5 Yankees2009Champs @ 10/13/11 06:21 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by gmat2
Is there a way to set a defensive positioning before a game? I hate... HATE when the OF plays deep. I feel like the baserunners are more manageable from the "Normal" depth. Too many first-to-thirds and it's nearly impossible to throw anyone out at the plate because of the time it takes them to get to a base hit. Even with an average defensive outfield I think you'll be able to limit the doubles and runners taking extra bases when at the normal depth. Playing them Deep has hurt me more often than it's helped.
I can understand your last comment but here's what I mean of a deep outfield. Playing deep gets your momentum going forward and not backward. Point is, if the guy hits a deep one, and it goes to the wall, that guy is going first to home.
 
# 6 pootytang @ 10/13/11 08:24 PM
What are the Bonds or Howard shifts?
 
# 7 Petey B @ 10/13/11 08:54 PM
THE SHOW may be the game that I love the most that is also the hardest to win the brass ring. That may be a byproduct of how the sport is played, so many regular season games, so few spots available in the post season. However, I have found over the years SHOW breaks my heart worse than Madden (that game's easy, let's cut the BS) or NBA2K (once you're good you're pretty much unstoppable, right?). I've had leads blown in the 9th by legendary Game Seven home runs, and emotionally shattering plays at the plate too many times to get specific. Baseball is a negative sport, at least the way I sim it.
 
# 8 Armor and Sword @ 10/14/11 06:11 AM
I finally...finally finshed my Yankees first season in my chise. We are in the ALDS vs The Oakland A's.

Great article.

Game one I jumped on them 4-0 behind the strength of a Teixeira 3 run HR in the first inning. Being patient is so important in the post season. Jeter led off with a first pitch blast to left center for a double. Granderson sac him over to third. A-Rod Walked then Mark came up and blasted a 2-1 fastball to center field.


Late in the game in the 8th inning the A's had second and third and 2 out and Godzilla up at the plate. We were up 4-1. I guarded the lines. Low and behold Matsui rips a slider right down the first base line and Teixeira lays out and snags the crucial screamer to end the inning and essentially close the door on game one.


Again great article. Everything you mentioned is crucial to winning in the post season. And I have never even made it to the WS yet in 3 attempts from the SHow 2009.

Hopefully this year it will be different!
 
# 9 Pete_Dogg_18 @ 10/14/11 12:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armor & Sword
I finally...finally finshed my Yankees first season in my chise. We are in the ALDS vs The Oakland A's.

Great article.

Game one I jumped on them 4-0 behind the strength of a Teixeira 3 run HR in the first inning. Being patient is so important in the post season. Jeter led off with a first pitch blast to left center for a double. Granderson sac him over to third. A-Rod Walked then Mark came up and blasted a 2-1 fastball to center field.


Late in the game in the 8th inning the A's had second and third and 2 out and Godzilla up at the plate. We were up 4-1. I guarded the lines. Low and behold Matsui rips a slider right down the first base line and Teixeira lays out and snags the crucial screamer to end the inning and essentially close the door on game one.


Again great article. Everything you mentioned is crucial to winning in the post season. And I have never even made it to the WS yet in 3 attempts from the SHow 2009.

Hopefully this year it will be different!
Sounds like a ripper of a series, all the best mate...

As for me, besides the shortened rotations and using starters as relievers, i pretty much do everything as this guide states all season long, a very informative guide to those not completely familiar with the intricacies of baseball...
 
# 10 BwanaKuu @ 10/16/11 08:38 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete_Dogg_18
Sounds like a ripper of a series, all the best mate...

As for me, besides the shortened rotations and using starters as relievers, i pretty much do everything as this guide states all season long, a very informative guide to those not completely familiar with the intricacies of baseball...
Yea I can understand why they play regular season games a little different IRL but in the show, you should just play every game like a postseason game. Only thing you have to manage more is fatigue of the pitchers/players due to the everyday play.

If you apply these tactics during the regular season, you'll just be a better team overall.
 
# 11 Armor and Sword @ 10/18/11 07:32 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Petey B
THE SHOW may be the game that I love the most that is also the hardest to win the brass ring. That may be a byproduct of how the sport is played, so many regular season games, so few spots available in the post season. However, I have found over the years SHOW breaks my heart worse than Madden (that game's easy, let's cut the BS) or NBA2K (once you're good you're pretty much unstoppable, right?). I've had leads blown in the 9th by legendary Game Seven home runs, and emotionally shattering plays at the plate too many times to get specific. Baseball is a negative sport, at least the way I sim it.


Tell me about it.

Last night. Game three of the ALDS. Mariano comes in to finsh the game. Two run lead. Lead off walk, single, then Godzilla comes up. Takes a 2-2 cutter deep.

Walk off HR. I was just staring at the screen for a good solid 10 minutes in stoned silence.

Series is now 2-1 Yankees.
 

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