I thought I would take some time and try to help new players starting out their first leagues. Currently I am ranked 7th overall, so I believe I am qualified to give you guys the advice you need to get you off on the right foot.

First though, I would like to point out that none of what I will propose is set in stone, everything is relative. It is possible that some park and player scenarios could require you to perhaps do just the opposite of what I am suggesting. But for the most part, if you stick with these tips as a basic game plan, your game will improve.

Ultimate Guide: Diamond Mind Online Game Play Tips

OK, let’s get right to it. The first set of tips are just general game play tips.

The first point I want to stress is an extremely important one. This game is really not a baseball game as much as it is an asset management game set in a baseball theme. This is similar to the challenge that every general manager in real life Major League Baseball faces.

Second, take your time when you pick your park. The single biggest advantage you have as a GM is your ability to exploit your home field. It boggles my mind how often teams are built completely against what logic would dictate the home park advantages should be.

On the surface this next point may seem strange, but it is the biggest hole in most people’s game. These players, well, they are not real people. Willie Mays is not seeing the ball well lately. Bob Feller has not found his groove. In this game, they do not have emotions, and there is no such thing as getting up or down. Moving a guy around in the lineup is going to do nothing to alter his performance. So if you drafted a guy to be your lead off guy because he had a great OBP, do not switch him with your 8th place guy just because he has a .285 OBP, and the 8th place guy has a .385 OBP after 50 games. In fact pay almost no attention to in season stats other than just as a curiosity. Do not cut Bullet Joe Rogan because he is 2-10 with a 4.50 ERA. He is not having a bad year. His arm is not tired. Your park is not killing Bullet Joe, as he can pitch anywhere. If you have good players with poor stats, you just had bad luck. If you need reassuring just look at his SIM stats again and realize that those few innings or AB’s are just a drop in the pond and indicative of nothing more than a small sample size.

Avoid at all cost what we around here refer to as the Death Spiral. Players fall into the whirling spiral of death when they begin to cash in good players because they have a slow start. They do this and more often than not the team gets worse – because you’re likely to be replacing that player with someone who’s not as good. The players’ stats look bad, they cut more guys, and the spiral continues. This is the single worst thing you can do and many people have fallen into this trap. Even if you replace the cut player with a better player, you lose lots of value that could’ve been used to improve elsewhere.

Some tips on banking. Interest accrues on Sunday, so if you jump in on Saturday and make a transaction you just waste cash (assuming your league pays interest). Daily interest is paid at noon PST. The worst time to make a change is immediately after the 2nd game has played. Wait until after noon PST, you can still make changes before the 3rd game plays.

One thing I look for is guys who have dropped a lot in price, good bargains to be had there.

On Pitching….

It just so happens that in this game you have another pitching role to fill that is not used in real life or even by most who play this game. There is no setting for this guy on your bullpen settings page. So who is he? Look! Standing out in the pen. Faster than a Bullet Joe fastball, more powerful than the Big Train, able to leap Big Units in a single bound. It’s the Superman Long Reliever!

If you take a guy who is an effective, durable, pitcher. And you set him in your long man, setup, and closer roles. With your starters and weaker RP’s set to come out of the game as soon as trouble hits. In a good season he can get you many wins and saves. On the other hand, you can leave your EX rated closer in the pen wasting away waiting for a save opportunity and get eighty IP and forty saves. That is up to you, but most, if not all of the best players in this game have long since abandoned the traditional closer role in favor of the Superman reliever. If you must have a traditional closer, use him. If he has not thrown 100+ innings at the end of the year, you did not get full value.

I am not a fan of the pickoff attempt. First off, pitches are too important to waste tossing the ball to first (yes, they count). Set it at 5 most of the time. An exception would be a guy with a VG/EX hold rate and a great fielding percentage in addition to a 1B with a great fielding percentage. An error on a pickoff throw can be costly and the attempt just pushes a pitcher closer to his fatigue limit.

I always use a four-man rotation. It is the most frugal option. When coupled with a strong Superman reliever you can get more bang for your buck than paying for a starter you really do not even need. Just draft guys with the endurance to handle the roles you plan to use them in. What the level is really is dependent on your team’s makeup.

Look to keep your pull starting pitchers settings at 3. You are just asking for that inevitable late game collapse by a pitcher who is pitching below his ability because of fatigue if you set it at one. The computer manager will blow a game trying for a shutout or no hitter even though that pitcher is clearly fatigued and just dumb luck has him still getting outs. I would prefer my bullpen pitching late in games rather than a gassed starter trying to get a complete game. As I stated above though this is not a law. Some pitcher, park, and defense combinations will have your SP finishing games throwing 95 pitches.

Do not walk anyone on purpose. Set it at 5 or never for both IBB and pitching around. Why waste pitches on a bad strategy? Sure it is likely that a few times a year you will pitch to a guy you should have walked, but those instances are few and far between. But we do not get to pick and choose when these times are, so take the lesser of the two evils and just do not walk anyone ever on purpose.

What stats you use to determine what pitcher to draft, is often park and league determined. But I do always take a look at WHIP, ERC, SP/RP endurance, fielding and injury.

If you are going to pay top dollar for defense, then do not draft pitchers who give up lots of walks. Your defense cannot take a walk away from a hitter, but they can take away a hit. Do not draft a guy, who walks 4.7 per game over a guy who walks just 2.5 per game.

On to fielding….

Defense is very important and probably most new players’ downfall. Every grade of fielding is worth about 7-10 runs a season on average. Every 50 points of the number rating is worth about 10 runs per season on average, in my estimation. So a guy who is EX/50 is about 20 runs better than average if everything else is equal. An average fielder AV/100 who creates 70 RC per season is roughly equal to a EX/50 fielder who only creates 50. Add in price and you can get a pretty good idea of who is the better bargain with just the RC/600 stat and the fielder rating.

Also of consequence is OF arm ratings. It is much more important than most would assume, especially in CF and RF. You can get away with an AV arm in LF. But every rung down on the rate chart you go in CF and RF will cost you a bunch of runs.

Catcher defense is for the most part irrelevant, IMHO – just don’t pick a really bad one – though a really good one is a nice luxury. Watch out for guys with bad PB/9 numbers. They can bleed your team to death.

1B defense is just as important as any other fielding position. Do not think for a moment that you can get away with a slug at 1B without it hurting you. You can’t. This is a mistake many real MLB GMs and managers make. Don’t repeat it.

LF is just as important as CF or RF when it comes to range.

Use a defensive sub for your catcher every game if possible. This avoids excessive catcher fatigue by keeping the number of batters faced down so your starter stays in the lineup and isn’t benched for fatigue. I even do this if my backup is a worse fielder.

List your catcher as his own platoon player and he will play more often than if you don’t. Also, do not assume that the scheduled day off will be sufficient rest your catcher. Check the “Catcher Usage” chart under “Team” to see how your C’s are doing. If they’re approaching 290-300 batters caught, you have a problem.

When it comes to catchers, we tend to pick players who have EX or VG throw ratings. But is this really wise? The sim just doesn’t run on these guys. It may be better to have a player with an AVG rate. They say the break-even point for base stealing success to be a plus for the team is 70%; anything less is a detriment to the team. So with that in mind….

Player A – 150 SB Attempts 50 CS

Player B – 40 SB attempts 17 CS

Also say that their RC/600 is the same, but the salary you have to pay for them is off, because you have to pay for catcher B’s great arm.

I figured, using the Linear Weights system, that they are even (both about +6 runs for their teams) and paying the extra cost for a catcher with a great arm is sort of useless.

Fielding percentage is undervalued in the infield, and overvalued in the outfield. There is not much difference in a LF who is a VG/110 and one with a VG/80. But put the same two guys at 2B and the difference is much larger.

Players with a secondary position that they play well can be great values. But for this to happen, you have to go backwards on the defensive spectrum. A player who is listed at LF for his primary position who can play a good third base will be a great bargain at the hot corner. But a 3B who can play a great LF will not be a bargain in LF. There are of course exceptions to every rule, but this is the case more often than not.

On Hitting…

When attempting to steal with your players, the goal is to steal the base every time. A player who steals 10 bases in 10 tries is just as valuable as a player who steals 50 bases in 70 tries. There is not a single player in this catalog that should be set at 1 for stealing. There are maybe 30 players who should be set at 3. Everyone else should be at 4 or 5. This may sound crazy, but if you do this the computer manager will not run into outs. I would rather my guy go 25-28 in steal attempts than 50-70. That’s what this accomplishes.

SB’s are way more important at the bottom of the order than at the top. The fact that you need SB’s at the top of the order is one of the biggest misconceptions in baseball real or simulated.

If you are going to platoon, use modern players. They are just way better at it. The old-timers get a standard platoon differential, usually 50 OPS points or so. But with the new guys (1950ish to the present), you can get upwards of 100 points of OPS difference.

Some players do GDP more often than others, so this is also something to consider. It is often not the guys you would suspect. Sometimes a guy who walks a lot and K’s a lot will be very good at staying out of the DP and a fast runner may not always be. For instance a Gene Tenace type is often better at staying out of DP’s than a Willie McGee type. Just one more thing to consider, every little bit helps.

There is almost no reason to ever draft a slow player the way the catalog is currently priced. I do not even like to dip below AVG at catcher. Speed is a pretty cheap attribute, it is not reflected in a player’s price as it should be. You should capitalize on this and always have a team full of burners.

Unless I am looking for a particular skill set, RC/600 is the stat I am using to determine a player’s offensive value. Sure it has some faults, but it is still the best thing we have. Use it every time.

Know your players’ splits, often enough a player will pay no heed to this and waste AB’s where a 5 million player is perhaps a worse hitter vs LHP than say his 700K backup would be. Moral of the story is, some guys really suck vs one side of the plate. I mean some guys really suck when faced with a reverse platoon pitcher.

You have checked the platoon splits, so set your players’ individual and pull in a platoon settings accordingly and get those guys in or out of the game when the platoon advantage dictates.

A three is fine for must runners when it comes to the base running setting.

Sparingly or better yet never bunt, only a hitter who is below 50 RC will even get a 4 in bunting of any kind in the settings. Giving away outs is a lot of good players’ big weakness.

I like to hit my best hitter in the two hole.

Two quotes from Bill James that are extremely important to this game.

“What a player hits in one ballpark may be radically different from what he would hit in another.”

“The largest variable determining how many runs a team will score is how many times they get their leadoff man on.”

It would behoove you to take this advice from Mr. James when constructing your next team.

Well that is about it for now, if I think of anything more I will update in a post below.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to discussing your comments.