MLB 2K 12 Pitching Guide: Throw A Perfect Game; Win A Million Bucks

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Posted March 9, 2012 - By Dan Cromar

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MLB 2K12

It's that time of year again. Spring Training is in full swing. Baseball season is just around the corner, and MLB 2K12 is here with another round of the Perfect Game Challenge.

This year, just being the first to pitch a perfect game in the latest edition of the franchise will not be enough to win you the $1 million prize. It might not even get you close enough to really compete for it. This time, the players who throw the top eight perfect games over the course of April will compete in a tournament, and play for the money and the right to join the Perfect Club.

Also, instead of having to send in video like you did in the past, 2K12 features a game mode dedicated entirely to the contest. On achieving perfection, players will be given a code that they will then use to be added to the contest's leaderboards.

MLB 2K12 Perfect Game Challenge Trailer »

"But wait," you may be thinking. "How can you rank perfect games? They're perfect. That's why they're called perfect games! It doesn't make any sense! This is madness!"

New rules or not, tou still need to throw a perfect game to even have a shot at that fat wad of cash. And I'm just nice enough to help you free of charge, you soon-to-be-rich person.

(NOTE: Any real-life stats mentioned are from 2011)

The ranking system, it seems, will be based on the difficulty of the game's matchup. For example, a perfect game thrown with, say, Barry Zito against the Yankees will be ranked higher than one thrown with Roy Halladay against the Astros. This adds a new level of intrigue to the contest, as now there really doesn't seem to be one ideal matchup. Now, I'm not entirely sure exactly how the difficulty of a matchup will be determined. However, I imagine it would have something to do with comparing the offensive rating of the team you're facing to the overall ranking of your pitcher.

While that adds a new level of decision-making, the bottom line is that you still have to throw at least ONE perfect game to even get you in the running. So, let's forget about ranking matchups for now and focus on what you can do to give yourself the best chance at success.

The first step, obviously, is to pick your pitcher. Pitchers in MLB 2K12 have three stats: control, stamina, and composure, plus an overall rating. When choosing a pitcher for a perfect game, however, only two of those are really important, control and stamina. Composure won't really help you too much since you're not exactly planning on getting into any sticky situations on the mound. If anyone even reaches base, you're done.

So bearing that in mind, here are my top five choices for the ideal perfect game pitchers. I've included each pitchers stats, as well, but excluded composure. They're listed in this order: control, stamina, overall.

1. Roy Halladay (RHP, Phillies): 96, 99, 99 - Halladay is probably the most obvious choice. His lowest stat is his control, and that's a 96 (out of 100). Both his stamina and composure are at 99, and his overall rating sits at 98. He's actually who Brian Kingrey, last year's winner, used to throw his perfect game. This time, however, you'd have to imagine that any game thrown with Halladay will be ranked pretty low.

2. Justin Verlander (RHP, Tigers): 95, 99, 97 - The man who adorns this year's game cover is another fairly obvious choice. You don't win an AL Cy Young Award AND AL MVP (note for non-baseball fans: that hardly ever happens) without having some pretty serious stuff. Verlander has extremely good velocity, and plenty of stamina, so he's definitely worth a good look. The only thing that makes me unsure about him is that he's an American League pitcher, and I'm not sure what the rules regarding DH's are in the new game mode. If you have the option of forcing the other team to not use one, then you're in business. If not, the extra hitter will only make your task that much harder.

3. Clayton Kershaw (LHP, Dodgers): 93, 97, 96 - I actually went back and forth on this one. I wasn't sure if I was letting my inner Dodger fan out too much in putting him on this list. However, he did win last year's NL Cy Young award, and he does have some pretty serious advantages, the biggest of which is that he has five pitches. That gives you a lot of room when trying to vary your pitch types. Plus, the Dodgers defense behind him is pretty solid. He is, however, left-handed, meaning that any lineup that's heavy on the righties (and plenty are) could give you some trouble when using him.

4. Cliff Lee (LHP, Phillies):
95, 98, 95 - Another lefty, but almost impossible to leave off this list. Lee is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, and his stats in 2K12 reflect that. He boasts a 95 control rating and a 98 stamina rating, giving him an overall rating of 95. Definitely worth a look.

5. Jered Weaver (RHP, Angels): 91, 98, 91 - I've always considered Weaver to be one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball. He's extremely dominant in both real life and 2K12. Plus, you'd have to figure that his overall rating of 91 would increase the value of a perfect game thrown with him on the mound.

Those are the best pitchers. But in the spirit of the new rules, here are a few…lesser pitchers who you might have a certain degree of success with. In these cases, I'm willing to sacrifice stamina in favor of control. (The pitchers themselves aren't listed in any particular order)

Erik Bedard (LHP, Pirates):
85 76 83 - Solid pitcher with solid numbers. Yeah, he's a lefty, but it could work.

Alexi Ogando (RHP, Rangers):  86 75 83 - Another solid pitcher with workable stats. Just be careful if you're the home team. Balls tend to fly out of the Ballpark at Arlington

Daniel Bard (RHP, Red Sox):
83 75 87 - Same issue as Ogando. Fenway park has the Green Monster in left and a short porch in right. You'll have to be really careful not to give up any long fly balls.

Brandon Beachy (RHP, Braves):
82 84 87 - In all honesty, you could argue that anyone in Atlanta's rotation could be on this list. The Braves staff is one loaded with "pretty good" pitchers, at least when it comes to 2K12.

Ryan Vogelsong (RHP, Giants):
82 88 86 - As much as it pains me to add a Giant to this list, Vogelsong is legit. He has good numbers, both in real life and in 2K12. Definitely worth a look.

Alright, so now you've chosen your pitcher. But who should you face? The last two years, that answer was just the worst offense you could find. This time, however, it's whoever you feel brave enough to face.

But again, we'll forget about matchups first. Here are the three easiest offenses to shut down:

1. Astros -
The real-life Astros had an absolutely abysmal 2011, and it's reflected in MLB 2K12. They have a team batting average of .270, which isn't HORRIBLE, but it's definitely not good. The thing that makes them a good bet in this case, though, is their distinct lack of any real big threats. True, Carlos Lee is always a threat to go deep, but he's not too hard to deal with.

2. A's - Honestly, the A's could easily be at the top of this list. They have a team batting average of .264 and a home run total of 187 (remember, that's not necessarily how many the A's hit last year, it's the combined totally of everyone on their roster, which has some new additions). However, there is one thing that makes them dangerous to a perfect game: their speed. I tried a few games against them and gave up plenty of infield singles. But if you can control that, then they're harmless.

3. Mariners
- Okay, this was a tough one. Yes, overall, the Mariners offense is absolutely horrible. However, there is one ENORMOUS threat to any perfect game sitting at the top of it: Ichiro Suzuki. Still, if you think you can get him out three times, which is definitely doable, then the M's are an ideal candidate. Once you get passed Ichiro, there's really no threats to speak of.

So those are the easy ones. But this year, you're rewarded for facing tougher teams. So, I did my best to come up with three top-tier offenses who might be susceptible to the perfecto. As with the second tier pitchers, these aren't in any particular order:

Angels - Yes, it seems insane, but hear me out. This is a lineup composed almost entirely of right-handers. Yes, one of them is Albert Pujols, and the rest are pretty tough as well, but that''s the point, right? It's supposed to be hard. With a righty-dominated lineup, a right-handed pitcher could actually gain a pretty sizable advantage. Plus, a perfect game against these guys has to be worth quite a bit on the leaderboards.
Rangers - Another offense with just two non-righthanders. Trouble is, one of them is Josh Hamilton. This would definitely be a difficult task, but I say it's doable.
Reds - Again, just two lefties. And again, they're tough lefties. This time it's Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, two guys with a good amount of pop, but if you want to go up against a pretty good offense, this is a pretty good bet. You'll also have to watch out for Brandon Phillips, though.

Pitching for Perfection

Now that you've set your matchup, it's time for the hard part.

Obviously, there's no surefire method that guarantees you a perfect game. However, there are a few things that can go a long way towards making it happen.

First of all, before even making an attempt, you need to familiarize yourself with your pitcher and has pitches. The mechanics haven't really changed since 2K11, but it's still worth spending some time just practicing. Even if you throw 8 2/3 perfect innings, all it takes is one bad gesture to undo all of it. Practice until each motion is done through muscle memory. But remember, you only have a month to get to that point.

On that note, make sure you've got the hang of the fielding controls. Even if you're pitching beautifully, it means nothing if you make an error. Take the time to get the hang of the controls. You'll be glad you did.

Now on to the actual attempt.

The most important thing to remember is that you have to mix up your pitches. This is absolutely critical. Change speeds, change location, and change pitch types. Not only is this just solid baseball strategy, but the game penalizes you for using the same pitch over and over again. Eventually, no matter how bad the other team's offense is, someone will get ahold of one.

Changing speeds is especially important. That allows you to mess with a hitters timing and keep him off-balance. Never underestimate the power of a hard fastball after a few offspeed pitches. On the other hand, if you find yourself throwing to many fastballs, just mix in a curveball from time to time. Generally speaking, the biggest difference in speeds is between a pitcher's fastball and his curveball, if he has one.

That's not to say that location isn't extremely important as well. There really is no reason to leave a ball over the middle of the plate. Ever. It doesn't matter if it's 3-0, you still need to work the corners. Figure out what pitch you have the most control of and cross your fingers, because balls left over the plate are eventually going to get hit hard.

On that note, make sure to (obviously) focus on hitters' weak spots. If there's a spot where a hitter has trouble, then stay there. Unless an at-bat starts to drag on (more on that in a minute), there's no reason to put anything in his sweet spot.

I mentioned before that stamina is one of the important stats when picking a pitcher, so hopefully you have one with a lot of strength in that regard. However, even a pitcher with a 99 stamina rating is going to run into trouble if his pitch count starts to rise, and long at-bats will make that happen in a hurry.

MLB 2K12 Gameplay Preview »

And by the way, when I say long at-bats, I'm talking about maybe six pitches. That may not seem like a lot, but it adds up quick. Think about it, if it takes you six pitches to get every out, that's 27 outs of six pitches each. That's 162 pitches.

You HAVE to keep at-bats short, and that means getting batters to put balls in play. Normally, racking up 20 strikeouts would be a good thing, but in this case, it will ultimately lead to failure. Most pitchers will become extremely ineffective once they hit 100 pitches, although if they have higher stamina ratings they might be able to get up to 110 or 115. Regardless, one of your primary goals should be to keep at-bats as short as you possibly can.

Obviously, the more balls that are put in play, the higher the chance that one of them will get through for a hit. That's just a risk you have to take. Just keep trying to induce ground balls, or better yet, pop ups. Each comes with a risk, of course. A ground ball could sneak through, and a pop up can turn into a home run if you miss your location.

I know it seems like there's not a lot of room for error. Well…that's true, there isn't. A perfect game has to be perfect.

Throwing a perfect game, whether it's in real life or in MLB 2K12, is really, really hard. They don't give million dollar awards for things that are easy. It's hard, and it's frustrating. You will fail many, many times before you succeed. Just stick with it. Don't get discouraged.

Someone has to win that money. Why not you?

MLB 2K 12 Pitching Guide: Throw A Perfect Game; Win A Million Bucks


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