There is a summary at the bottom, but if you want more information I ramble a lot first.
I have often wondered what affects PCI size, so being a scientist (not a real one, I just teach it), I thought I would investigate. I have been working on this for weeks and there are still things I want to look into further, but I have an adequate amount of results that I wanted to share before it got too late. If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions, please let me know. Let me first share my procedure…
I have been taking screenshots directly from the game on a PS4 Pro at 4K (or from a video capture at 1080p), importing them to my computer and measuring the pixel width of the inner and outer PCI. All measurements given are when measured at 1080p, unless stated otherwise.
I have a spreadsheet with all the players in the game (dumped from Show-Zone into a sheet that serves as a database), and it automatically inputs their attributes (based on the pitcher’s handedness) and the active quirks (based on the situation that I input), for both the hitter and pitcher chosen.
I started by trying to measure the area of the elliptical swing result in the bottom left corner, but discovered too many variables go into that. Even when simply tapping the swing button, the location of the resulting swing will vary slightly from pitch to pitch, and this does affect PCI size. So I defaulted to measuring the width of the pre-swing PCI, both inner and outer.
I have tried to eliminate all variables except for the one I am testing. When testing how attributes affect the PCI I have been finding players with identical attributes (or as close as possible), except for the one I’m testing, with no active quirks. For quirks, I used the same player (if possible) in two different situations, otherwise I used two similar players like before. I often did two or three tests for the same attribute or quirk using different players.
Most of my results are from the first pitch of a Play vs CPU game (unless it was necessary to measure something later in the game) on All-Star difficulty. I usually used mediocre Orioles Live Series pitchers, but did change it up if necessary. A few of my results came from recording a 3-inning Conquest game and dumping information in for every pitch. Trying to test anything that cannot be measured on the first pitch of a game (like the clutch attribute, pitcher energy or confidence, or certain quirks) is quite a challenge because once you get into a game there are so many variables that affect PCI size it is difficult to keep consistency between trials.
All of the above can be repeated for pitchers, except my choices were far more limited as I could really only chose Live Series pitchers who I could get to start against my team in a CPU game.
Some of these results may be obvious, and there might be some disagreement, but I am simply sharing what I measured. I will not include specific numbers very often, because this would become an even longer post than it already is, but I do attempt a summary at the end. And if you want more information I can elaborate more specifically on the players I used and the data I collected for any of these (I also have saved screenshots for most of my measurements).
Lastly, my attempts to figure out exact patterns or algorithms has been futile. There still seems to be some randomness to things, and some measurements flat out made no sense. There were no exact patterns for the amount of change in pitcher confidence, for example. Walking a batter sometimes dropped a pitcher’s confidence more than giving up a double; some home runs produced a huge drop in confidence and others were minor. Also, I noticed Harmon Killebrew’s outer PCI size is far smaller than it should be, versus both righties and lefties (his inner PCI matches what it should be). I have no idea why. Perhaps I should let SDS know.
Difficulty. Obviously the PCI gets smaller as the difficulty increases. This decrease in size becomes more dramatic (as a percentage) with the higher levels. The amount it decreases for individual players appears to be tied to attributes. Players with lower contact, for example, had the inner PCI decrease by a greater percentage when moving to a higher difficulty than players with high contact.
Swing location. PCI is biggest when high and inside (about 5% wider than dead centre), and smallest when low and away. The diagonal of high and outside – middle – low and inside are all nearly identical. Move up and in along that diagonal and PCI increases, move down and away and it will get smaller.
Swing Type (measured in the swing result window). Power swing decreases the inner PCI and penalizes high power/low contact hitters more. Contact swing increases the size of the inner PCI, and low contact/high power hitters get a greater benefit. In other words, the difference in PCI size between swing types is more dramatic with high power hitters, and less noticeable with high contact hitters.
Pitcher confidence. Pitcher confidence does play a role in the size of a batter’s PCI, but this may be tied to pitcher energy or the clutch attribute and it has been difficult to discern a predictable pattern. I have measured a small change in PCI size due to a pitcher simply throwing a strike or a ball, but other times there is no measurable change at all.
Starting pitchers start with about 66% of the pixels in the confidence meter filled (142 or 143 out of 218 pixels on a 4K display), and the times I have measured relief pitchers they have come in with about 55% confidence (118 or 119 pixels of 218). It appears as though a confidence level above this does not affect the batter’s PCI, but a decrease in pitcher confidence below this starting value will increase the size of a batter’s PCI.
Anything bad for the pitching team will decrease his confidence – a hit, a ball, even allowing a stolen base will decrease a pitcher’s confidence. This will increase the PCI size for the batter. It does not appear to be perfectly consistent, but the PCI will change size when the pitcher confidence changes (again, this may be tied into clutch attributes). Slight changes – like a ball or a strike – are either not noticeable at all or are changes of only a pixel or two on All-Star difficulty on a 4K display (the strike zone is about 880 pixels wide). More significant events, such as a home run, obviously produce more significant changes to pitcher confidence, but this too is inconsistent. However, even allowing a stolen base decreases the pitcher’s confidence, and the batter’s PCI is noticeably larger on the next pitch. Similarly, throwing out a runner trying to steal a base benefits the pitching team, so his confidence increases and this will decrease the size of the batter’s PCI on the next pitch. Not only is the change in pitcher confidence inconsistent, it is then also difficult to measure its effects on PCI size because after something significant like a hit, a new batter with different attributes comes to the plate.
Pitch Confidence. I do not know how this affects gameplay, but I do know that every time you do not use a particular pitch, the confidence in that pitch decreases slightly. When using a pitch, a good result boosts confidence and a bad result will decrease confidence (obviously).
Pitchers at 0 contact and 0 power have the same PCI size when batting against any opposing pitcher (although I have only tested this with two batting pitchers).
Contact. As expected, a player with higher contact has a larger inner PCI, and the outer PCI is not affected.
Vision. No surprise, a player with higher vision has a larger outer PCI, and the inner PCI is not affected.
Power. Power affects both inner and outer PCI size, which I did not expect. If two players have identical contact and vision, but different power, the player with higher power will have a larger inner PCI and a smaller outer PCI (the outer PCI change is less significant). For example – 97 HR Derby Giancarlo Stanton and 85 Prospect Drew Waters both have 94 contact and 63 vision, but Stanton has 125 power compared to 64 for Waters. Stanton has an inner PCI 3% wider, and an outer PCI 1% smaller. Another way of thinking about it, Frank Thomas with 109 contact and 104 power has basically the same inner PCI size as Rod Carew (actually a few pixels larger), who has 125 contact and 65 power.
Pitcher attributes. As I expected, high H/9 decreases the size of the inner PCI (outer PCI was not affected), high K/9 decreases the size of the out PCI (inner PCI was a few pixels larger but am not sure if this is meaningful), and HR/9 had no noticeable effect on PCI size.
Clutch. I am not entirely sure what situations are considered “clutch”, but I took two players with identical attributes except for clutch (95 TN Moreland and 94 TN Rios), and put them into a hitting scenario against the same pitcher with a runner on 3rd (I bunted Cobb to 1st, then stole 2nd and 3rd). I tried this against two separate pitchers, and both times Moreland (who has higher clutch) had a slightly larger PCI larger with Cobb on 3rd. (With no one on base, first pitch of a game, they do have identical PCIs.)
According to the Sports Gamers Online players quirks guide, there are 12 hitter quirks and 6 pitcher quirks which can be active and affect the size of the PCI. Four are listed as minor (Day Player, Night Player, Homebody, and Road Warrior) and either act positively or negatively. The other quirks (First Pitch Hitter, Unfazed, Rally Monkey, Fighter, Situational Hitter, Dead Red, Breaking Ball Hitter, and Pinch Hitter) are listed as having a major effect on PCI.
Minor. The day/night and home/away quirks do indeed act either positively or negatively if the player has the quirk. It does not matter if it is the batter or pitcher who has the quirk, they change PCI size by the same amount. If one player has one of these quirks, the inner PCI only changes by 1 or 2 pixels and the outer PCI changes by about 3 or 4 pixels at 1080p (an increase or decrease of PCI width by only about a half a percent). They can be stacked, meaning a player with two positive quirks, or one player with a positive and the opposing player with a negative, will produce twice the affect. And they can also cancel out – if a player has one positive and one negative, or if both players have a quirk that helps them positively, it is effectively the same as neither player having the quirk.
As brief side note, any game played at 1pm or 4pm is considered daytime and any game at 7pm is considered nighttime. This may seem obvious, but 7pm in June is in daylight but the night quirk is activated. And I’m not sure if a 4pm changes to nighttime once it gets dark. Hopefully no one plays at those times anyways.
Major. The remaining quirks are considered major.
I have discovered that there are two categories of major quirks, which means there are actually three tiers of quirks. As mentioned above, the minor quirks produce an inner PCI change in width of approximately 2 pixels (using hitters with about 80 contact against pitchers of about 60 H/9 on All-Star difficulty at 1080p – where the PCI is generally between 350 and 450 pixels and the strike zone is about 440 pixels wide). The Rally Monkey quirk only added 4 pixels to D.J. LeMahieu’s PCI (99 Finest), but First Pitch Hitter and Unfazed both added 8 pixels. (And yes, when LeMahieu had both Rally Monkey and either First Pitch or Unfazed activated, they added together and the PCI changed by 12 pixels.) Similarly, the Pinch Hitter quirk added 8 pixels to the width of Chris Taylor’s PCI (95 Post-Season), and the Situational Hitter quirk added 7 pixels to Live Series Asdrubal Cabrera's PCI when a player was on 3rd base with less than 2 outs.
I am not sure how the pitch-based quirks Dead Red and Breaking Ball Hitter affect gameplay. I did try to measure the PCI size in the results window when swinging at different pitch types (with LS Joey Votto) but the resulting PCI’s were identical in size. Perhaps the change is the exit velocity on contact? I also did not measure Fighter, as I did not wait around for the 9th Inning of a game.
SUMMARY - given as a pdf link below.
To get actual percent changes with any level of accuracy is difficult, because there is such a small change in pixel size – minor quirks only change the inner PCI by about two pixels. Here is an approximate summary, however, based on what I did measure. (The area of the PCI would change by approximately double the changes in width.)
These are approximate. The changes based on attributes in particular are approximate and require some estimation; I do not have a large sample size, the results were not always consistent, and I also do not know if the changes depend on the strength of the pitcher. The value I am most confident in is for the major quirks. I would guess that Rally Monkey is then half the change of the other major quirks, and the minor quirks are a quarter (half of rally monkey).
Hopefully you gained something from this. If not, meh... it gave me something to do when I got tired of playing.