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Once you’ve gotten your look and stats sorted out, you’ll have the opportunity to join any team in the league you pick. There is no draft. You just get to play for which ever team you want. On one hand, it’s a good way to allow you to cater your experience to your created player. On the other, there’s no mystery or suspense. Fortunately, once you pick a team, you are with that team for life. Well, at least until free agency begins or you demand a trade (which you can only do in the MLB).
You’ll join up with the AA affiliate of your team in June, and be thrown into the everyday starting line-up immediately. Though you only have roughly three months to earn any experience, you will have a clear set of goals for both advancing to the Majors and for that particular season. There aren’t too many bells and whistles to the My Player menus. Most everything you need to know can be found on this first main page. The only other menu item that really matters is My Career.
There you’ll find options for messages from your manager, your goals, your career timeline (which will be very minimalist early on), skill point adjustments, career decisions, and player editing. Career decisions won’t really be a factor until you’ve earned the right to advocate for a trade or suggest which free agents the team should go after. Player editing will allow you to change your look as many times as you want. Skill Points is where you’ll be spending all that hard-earned experience on improving your player on his way to the Bigs.
Skill Points are earned one of two ways: by performing in games and by completing training challenges. From the monthly schedule, you can see when the next training exercise is scheduled for your player. You’re guaranteed to have at least one per month, and sometimes you’ll run across two in a single month. Like the varying player roles, there are different training games for fielders and pitchers. In MLB 2K13, you can actually choose which training game to play every single time a session pops up. We’ll come back to these training exercises later.
Now that you’re part of the line-up, it’s time to get out on that field and show your team why you were worth drafting. Each and every at-bat will have a particular goal for your player based on the game situation. Every pitch of the game that you aren’t on the field will be simulated, so you really on need to be concerned with how you’re doing. Though baseball is a team sport, the focus is on getting you into the big league clubhouse, not the guys around you.
Goals are given to you right as you step into the batter’s box, and they’ll range from “Get ahead in the count” to “Get a base hit,” and everything in between. Completing a goal will earn you 20 skill points. They can be a little unfair at times (the only way to get ahead in the count is to take pitches, and the pitcher may only throw you strikes), but you can still earn experience even you don’t complete the goal. Again taking the “ahead in the count” goal, if the first pitch is right down the middle, you can swing away. Getting a base hit (or more) is vastly more valuable than just sitting and waiting for a ball to be thrown. If there are men on base, the odds are even more in your favor to swing away.
Now, it should be noted failing your goal and not producing some sort of positive outcome will result in you getting no points. You don’t want that. Fortunately, there aren’t any negative penalties placed on players for underachieving. The penalty is not getting enough skill points to progress any attributes. Keep striking out or making poor contact, and your overall attributes will decrease over time, but there are no immediate ramifications for not meeting expectations. The same can be said in the field. You don’t have goals to meet as a fielder, but throwing out runners will earn you skill points. Not throwing them because of an error out won’t diminish your point totals, but you miss out on valuable skill points as a result.
Pitchers too will receive one goal to meet per at-bat. They run the gamut from “Throw a first pitch strike” to “Get a ground ball out,” and everything in between. You won’t be graded pitch-to-pitch, but your player’s individual pitch ratings can increase or decrease based on how well you’re throwing it. For example, if no batters are making contact with your fastball and you’re throwing it for strikes, it will get a nice bump for that game only. The same works in reverse.
Unfortunately, meeting goals as a pitcher can sometimes be even more unfair than it is as a batter. Everything comes down to how the team behind you is playing. If they don’t make the throws on a ground ball, you don’t get credit. If they have an error and a run scores, you get less skill points. To make up for that, you do get bonus skill points for certain tasks. If you don’t allow any hits or runs in an inning, you get some nice bonus points. Getting the win in a game is also worth some good extra points.
Regardless of which of the positions you’re playing on the field, all of your skill points are awarded in specific categories. While that may sound disadvantageous, it actually works in your favor fairly well in regards to meeting your goals. Plus, with everything cordoned off into individual areas, you’re less likely to waste skill points on an unnecessary attribute. Fielders will have stats broken down into Batting, Fielding, and Baserunning. Pitchers will have those three plus Pitching.
When you do come across a training day on the schedule, you’ll have five different ways to train as a fielder, and six different ways to train as a pitcher. Each of the training exercises has three tiers of success possible (bronze, silver, gold), and awards you more skill points the more successful you are. If you are a pitcher, you should never be doing any training exercises outside of the two exclusive options while you are in the minor leagues. You should only mess around with batting if you get called up to a National League team, but even then your priority should be pitching training. Fielders are better off sticking to the two hitting exercises, and leaving the baserunning and fielding skill areas to develop with actual game experience.
Contact and Power [both]: Teaches you how to hit the ball to all parts of the field. Key for hitters. Inconsequential for pitchers.
Plate Battle [both]: Teaches you how to judge balls and strikes. Key for hitters. Inconsequential for pitchers.
Lead Off and Jump [both]: Teaches base stealing timing. Unless you only want to steal bases, this is a worthless exercise.
Advancing and Sliding [both]: Teaches you how to run the bases in simulated game experiences. Almost impossible to complete with any position player that isn’t a Speedster. Not worth the time and effort.
Infield/Outfield [fielder]: Teaches you how to field and throw to the right base in simulated game situations. Valuable for hitters, but not nearly as much as the Contact and Power and Plate Battle.
Control and Velocity [pitcher]: Teaches you to hit the spots your catcher calls for with all your pitches. An absolute must for pitchers.
Composure and Stamina [pitcher]: Teaches you how to pitch in simulated game experiences. Decent, but you won’t get much out of it at the minor league level since your stats will not improve fast enough in Composure.
Now that you’ve played a few games and done some training, you’ll no doubt have some skill points to spend on improving your player. During your first year, and even into year two of your career (possibly year three if you aren’t doing so well), only spend skill points on the categories that the MLB team you’re trying to fight your way onto has set as a goal for you. If you are a Slugger, don’t waste skill points on baserunning. If you are a pitcher, don’t waste skill points on batting. The faster you build up the six goal areas, the faster you’ll make the Majors. The season stat goals are also important, but as long as you are playing the games yourself instead of simulating, you’ll be able to accomplish these with no problems.
Once you do finally get called up to the Bigs, it’s just a matter of continuing to improve your player, and working towards that Hall of Fame potential. You will still have to meet goals, but it’ll be more about maintaining your attributes than it will be about continually evolving.
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