- seven govern offensive plays: bunting for a hit, sacrifice bunting, squeeze bunting, using the hit and run, stealing, baserunning, and taking pitches.
- four influence how frequently pinch hitters will be used in various situations: for a pitcher, for a non-pitcher, for a platoon partner, and in the late innings of a blowout.
- three affect defensive tactics: holding runners, guarding the lines, and bringing the infield in.
- six help determine how the pitching staff is used: pitching around hitters, intentionally walking hitters, pitching out, making pickoff throws, using relief pitchers, and using closers.
The values you can set for each tactic are Most Frequent, More Frequent, Neutral, Less Frequent, and Least Frequent.
Playing the Percentages
For each of these tactics, Diamond Mind has studied play-by-play data to analyze the frequency with which they are deployed by real-life managers. We have examined how those frequencies are affected by the inning, number of outs, the score, baserunner locations, the ability of the players involved, and other factors.
When set to Neutral, the computer manager attempts to replicate these real life patterns by choosing, for example, to bunt with only the best bunters in the most appropriate bunting situations and when the batter wouldn't do better against this particular pitcher by swinging away. In other words, if you set everything to Neutral, the computer manager plays the percentages.
Based on an analysis of thousands of real-life games, the computer manager knows the odds of winning a game in any situation (such as when you're the away team and down by a run in the seventh), and it knows the probability of scoring a certain number of runs in any situation. So it sometimes plays for a big inning, and sometimes it plays for one run, whichever gives it the best chance to win. And it preserves the element of surprise, so you cannot always predict what the computer manager will do in a particular situation.
If all of your manager tendencies are set to Neutral, a team with more good base-stealers will steal more often than a team with fewer good base-stealers. A team with more good runners will take more extra bases on hits and flies than a team with fewer good runners. This is equally true of real-life rosters and draft-league rosters. As a result, the Neutral setting is the best choice for most teams, especially teams with which you are not too familiar.
The other settings are intended to override the computer manager's natural inclination to play the percentages. If you want your team to sacrifice bunt less often, despite having many good bunters, set your Sacrifice bunting tendency to Less Frequent or Least Frequent. If you want your team to try to pressure your opponent into making throwing errors, set your Running tendency to More Frequent or Most Frequent. But be aware that being more aggressive may mean taking more chances than the percentages would normally call for.
What the settings mean
Because there are too many variations in game situations and talent levels among different rosters, there are no precise answers to the question, "What will the computer manager do if I choose this setting?" However, you may want to consider the following when making your choices, then play some games using the computer manager to see how it handles your team in different situations:
Bunting. As is the case with all tendencies, a player's bunt rating is still the most important factor in determining how often the computer manager asks a player to bunt, but you can use the three bunting tendencies to increase or decrease bunt attempts by the players on your team.
The squeeze bunt tendency is used whenever there's a runner on third with less than two outs. While it is true that some real-life managers will use the sacrifice bunt with runners on first or third in order to move the runner from first to second and holding the runner at third, the DMB computer manager does not use this tactic. It prefers not to give up an out when it already has a runner in scoring position.
The bunt for hit tendency is used whenever there are two out, the bases are empty, and in a couple of other situations where runners are on base but sacrificing makes little sense. For example, with a position player at the plate, real-life managers rarely call for a sacrifice with one out and a single runner on either first or second, so DMB uses the bunt for hit tendency in those situations. With nobody out, or a pitcher at the plate, it's a different story, and DMB uses the sacrifice bunt tendency in those cases.
The sacrifice bunt tendency is used with nobody out and a runner on first, a runner on second, or runners on both first and second. With one out, the sacrifice bunt tendency is used with a pitcher at the plate, but the bunt for hit tendency is used when a position player is batting, because real-life position players rarely sacrifice with one out. More often than not, they're bunting for a hit even with a runner on base.
Hit and run. When deciding whether to use the hit and run, the computer manager is looking primarily at the batter's ability to make contact (and thereby protect the runner) and the likelihood that he'll hit into a double play if he does. High strikeout rates discourage the use of the hit and run, while high rates of ground ball double plays encourage the use of this tactic. The settings for this tactic nudge the computer manager in the direction you choose by adjusting the contact-rate and GDP-rate thresholds it uses to make these decisions.
Stealing. When set to Neutral, the computer manager is reluctant to attempt steals with runners owning low Steal ratings, since they will be thrown out too often. If you want to further restrict your steal attempts to those players with the highest steal ratings, choose Less Frequent or Least Frequent. This will not stop your best stealers from running, but will restrain other players.
Running. This tendency governs how many chances the computer manager will take on the base paths. When the computer manager makes a running decision, it compares the chances of gaining the extra base safely to a minimum threshold based on the game situation.
The chances of gaining the extra base are determined by the nature of the batted ball, whether the runner was going on the pitch or on contact, the running rating of the runner, and the throwing rating of the outfielder.
The minimum threshold is based on the game situation and whether it makes more sense to play for one run (as in the late innings of a close game) or a big inning. Depending on the number of outs and where the runners are situated, the value of taking the extra base can be high or low, as can be the cost of getting thrown out. The computer manager takes these factors into consideration when deciding how high the chances of success need to be to justify taking the risk of getting thrown out.
The Running tendency controls the minimum threshold. If you choose "less frequent" or "least frequent", the minimum threshold rises. That causes the computer manager to send the runner only when the chances of success are higher. If you choose "more frequent" or "most frequent", the minimum threshold is lowered, and the computer manager will take more chances.
NOTE: This tendency applies to singles, doubles and fly balls. It does not affect the decision to send the runner home from third on a ground ball.
Taking pitches. This tendency enables you to increase or decrease the likelihood that your best hitters will have the green light to swing with three balls and no strikes. It doesn't affect any other counts. And you don't need to use this tendency to prevent your weaker hitters from swinging at 3-0 pitches because the computer manager never gives them the green light.
Pinch hitting. In all game situations other than blowouts, the computer manager uses a pinch hitter only if he is rated to be better than the scheduled hitter against the current pitcher. This assessment takes into account the handedness and the left/right splits of both the batter and the pitcher.
A "least frequent" setting tells the computer manager to pinch hit less often; that is, only when the pinch hitter is much better than the scheduled hitter. A "most frequent" setting tells the computer manager to pinch hit more aggressively; that is, even when the pinch hitter is only a little better than the scheduled hitter.
Pinch hitting in blowouts is a different matter altogether. In these situations, the goal is not to gain an advantage, it's to replace the team's better players to reduce their risk of injury. In blowouts, the computer manager generally replaces a better player with a weaker one, so the relative strength of the players is not a concern. Instead, the blowout pinch hitting tendency influences the computer manager decisions about (a) how big a lead is needed for the game to be treated as a blowout and (b) how early in the game it will begin to remove players. In blowout situations, the "In blowouts" tendency takes precedence over the other pinch hitting tendencies.
Holding runners. When set to Neutral, all runners but the worst are held. Choosing Most Frequent causes all runners to be held. Choosing Least Frequent causes the first basemen to play behind runners with low Jump and Steal ratings.
Guard the lines. This setting controls the inning in which the computer manager begins to think about guarding the lines:
Most frequent, more frequent - 7th
Less frequent - 9th
Least frequent - never
Infield in. This setting controls the inning in which the computer manager begins looking for opportunities to bring the infield in:
Most frequent - 1st
More frequent - 4th
Neutral - 6th
Less frequent -7th
Least frequent - 8th
This tendency does not affect the decision to bring the infield in at the corners, which can occur anytime during a game to discourage a batter from bunting.
Pitching around and Intentional walk. The computer manager issues intentional walks with first base open and a dangerous hitter at the plate if the on-deck hitter is much less of a threat. If the intentional walk tendency is set to most frequent, the computer manager will issue a walk with a smaller difference in hitting ability between the next two hitters. If it is set to least frequent, the computer manager will issue the walk only if the current hitter is even more dangerous relative to the on-deck hitter.
If the next hitter is more dangerous than the on-deck hitter, but not to a large enough degree to convince the computer manager to issue an intentional walk, the computer manager might instruct the pitcher to pitch around the next hitter. The pitching around tendency is very similar to the intentional walk tendency in that it determines how large the gap in hitting ability must be to justify the decision to pitch around a hitter.
Pickoff throws and pitchouts. Both of these tactics are used to slow down opposing base stealers. You may find that the "most frequent" and "more frequent" tendencies are helpful, especially if your pitcher and catcher are not especially good at shutting down the running game without a little extra help. Keep in mind, however, that pitchouts can give the hitter an advantage in the ball-strike count and too many pickoff throws can lead to errors and/or wear and tear on the pitcher's arm.
Using relievers, using closers. The decision to use a reliever is very complex. Each decision involves so many factors -- including the inning, score, location of baserunners, quality of the current pitcher, quality of the potential reliever, left/right matchups, fatigue, the makeup of the pitching portion of the manager profile, fatigue, and more -- that it's not possible to lay out simple rules that tell you exactly how these tendencies will affect the computer manager's decisions. The basic idea, however, is that they influence how quickly the computer manager will make the move to bring in a reliever (in non-save situations) or the closer (in save situations) when the current pitcher begins to get into trouble.