One thing I like is helping folks new to HBD learn the game and hopefully help them to enjoy the game as much as I do. Part of that is going to include sending some advice to users who join NTC. Below is what I plan to send...
The first piece of advice I generally give is to ask a lot of questions! You can use the forums if you’d like, but be sure it doesn’t sound like you’re complaining about something in the game, as this will almost always be met with ridicule and insult. Genuine questions, however, are usually answered quickly and accurately, even if it seems like a “silly” question. You can also use sitemail and trade chat (found in the HBD interface) to ask questions. But on to player evaluation.
For pitchers, control is where I start. If a pitcher has control below 40, it's rare that he'll be successful in the bigs, regardless of his other ratings. You may be able to find a role for him if his other ratings are amazing, but I generally stay away from them. If control is below 60ish, I look for ratings in other areas to back it up. After control I go for vR split. 2/3 of all hitters are right handed, so I want a good vR rating. Between 50 and 60 is about as low as I go. As with control, if it's near the bottom of the acceptable range, they're going to have to have other ratings to back it up. After vR, I look at their pitches. For predictably solid results, I'm looking for one pitch greater than 80, another pitch greater than 65, and a third pitch greater than 50. Note: order of the pitches doesn't matter. This doesn't have to be a hard and fast rule, however. If they have great control (85+) and great splits (80+ vR, 70+ vL), I can live with 3-4 pitches between 65 and 75. What good control and splits can't make up for is pitches of 65, 48, 32, 21. That guy's a career minor leaguer. When evaluating pitchers, don't forget to look at durability. That's how quickly they recover from fatigue. They recover about as many percentage points per cycle as their durability rating. A SP with durability of 10 is going to take 6 cycles to return from only going down to 40% after a start...this drops his value. Also take a quick look at stamina. Stamina is the last pitching rating I look at because it really determines what role he's going to take and plays a role in how many innings he'll be able to pitch, but it doesn't determine how effective he's going to be when he's on the mound. Be careful, however, of a stamina below 10. A guy can have 95+ ratings in every category, but a stamina of 4 means he'll be able to face 1-2 batters per outing. Realistically he's not going to retire EVERY batter he faces, so he'll end up with quite a few appearances with no innings logged. That's just not a very useful player IMO.
For hitters, it gets a little more muddled, because there are more ratings to consider, and there's not one rating that renders a guy completely useless. I start with splits. If they have splits I can work with, say 60+ for vR, 50+ for vL, I then look at contact, power, eye, speed/base running (as a combo). If they have 65+ in 2 or more of these 4, I know I can use him. For instance, if his splits pass the test and he has 85 contact, 20 power, 90 eye, and 60ish speed/br, I know he won't strike out much (from the 85 contact) and he'll get a bunch of walks (90 eye), which will allow him to get a few stolen bases once he's on. If his speed/br is higher, I know he'll get more SB. If it's much lower than 60, I know he's just going to have a great OBP without many SB. I also know that I shouldn't expect many HR (with 20 power). On the flip side, if a guy (assuming the split test) has 20 contact, 90 power, 90 eye, and 20 speed/br, I'm looking at an Adam Dunn type player. 150 strikeouts, 100 walks, and 30-45 HR (depending on the ballpark). You can't win with a team full of either type of player, but a balance of these guys mixed in with guys who have 70+ in every category gets you going on the right track. As with pitchers, durability is important, especially for catchers. Catcher fatigue more quickly than other positions, say 1B or DH. Most catchers have a fatigue in the 60 range, which is why you almost always need 2 of them. I tend to run into one catcher with a great vR split but a terrible vL split, and another one vice versa. So i platoon these guys (one vR pitchers, one vL). This takes advantage of their splits, as well as gives them the rest they'll need.
As far as defense goes, I generally follow the guidelines you can find by clicking on the position on the 'Edit Rosters' page. I tend to sacrifice hitting for defense on the guys up the middle (SS, 2B, CF). However, if all 3 of them have terrible hitting ratings but great fielding ratings, you're not going to generate a lot of offense...especially if you're in the NL. You'll have those 3 plus your pitcher as almost half of your lineup, and this is a sure-fire rally killer. So if a guy has 90+ in all defensive categories, I can live with abysmal hitting ratings, but I don't want more than 1 of them. Oh, and for catchers, I don't like a pitch calling rating below 50, and I try not to have arm strength and arm accuracy dip below 60.
As a general note, if a guy is near the bottom of what I've called "acceptable" ratings in all categories, he's going to be a 24th or 25th player on the roster, but not much more. If a player has GREAT ratings in certain categories, it can (not necessarily will, but can) make up for deficiencies in other areas. And don't ignore health. A player is only valuable when he's on the field, and poor health can be dangerous...especially because an injury can set a developing player back in his progress, and can make a veteran take a hit in all ratings that he will probably not get back.
Other general notes...
-Pitchers tend to improve longer than hitters will. Hitters generally stop progressing after 4professional seasons (regardless of what their projecting ratings say or how old they are), while pitchers sometimes improve into their 30s.
-Projected ratings are only as good as your advanced scouting budget, so let this determine how much you rely on them. Also, projected ratings become current ratings when a player reaches 27 y/o. Also, look at the progress of their ratings over the seasons. If you see a pitchers control is currently 60 and projects to 85, look at the progress of his control. If it went from 40 his rookie season to 47 in his second, 55 in his third, 58 in his 4th, 59 in his 5th, and 60 in his 6th year, there's good reason to believe he's not going to make it to 85.
-Makeup has an effect on how likely they are to reach their projections, so it makes a nice tie-breaker when looking at 2 players. It will also slow their decline when they get older.
Let me know what you think.