Baseball Strategy and Tips(Lots of people have asked how Player Potential works in custom leagues - here is some additional information. Also, in addition to the great info on this page, check out my article on the impact of defense.)
Many people who join the site watch their first few teams get off to a rough start. This is understandably frustrating, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
Baseball is a long season
First and foremost, remember that a slow start can always be turned around. Almost everyone who has played on this site has a story of a team starting terribly and bouncing back to win the division. I've seen teams start 1-15 and comeback to win the title. Obviously this won't always happen, but don't let a bad start ruin your season.
Don't give up on superstars
It doesn't matter how badly Babe Ruth is struggling, benching him won't help. Give your stars time to get out of their funks. There are no "slumps" built into the simulator, it just naturally happens sometimes.
Understand the player pool of your league
You might have a player who looks great statistically, but in comparison to the competition of the league, is just an average player. This is especially true in leagues like All-Time Greats. To keep things simple, there is no era-balancing, so someone like Willie Mays, while he dominated his era, may not have the stats to be a stud in the All-Time Greats player pool. Take advantage of features like "Compare Player Across Leagues" to get an understanding of how each player performs within that type of league.
Don't ignore free agents
I almost always see a player like Chuck Klein (OF) available in free agency in All-Time Greats leagues. Just because you've never heard of Chuck Klein doesn't mean he shouldn't be on your team. A left-handed, .380 hitter with 40 homers is a great catch in the All-Time Greats league. Find a way to get a player like that in your lineup, even if it means benching a player like Sammy Sosa. I've heard people bemoan their team, even though players like George Sisler (1B), Rod Carew (2B) and Luke Appling (SS) were available as free agents! These examples are from the All-Time Greats pool, but it's true for every league.
Don't assume you have a lineup of All-Stars. In most Auto Leagues, every team has a great lineup. Don't assume loading your lineup with power is the answer. Contact hitters help set the table. Speed in your lineup will get you an extra base, and maybe a key run or two. A struggling owner recently showed me his lineup in a 1970-Present league. His lineup was full of sluggers, but there was great talent available in the free agent pool. I recommend he drop Joey Votto in favor of Rod Carew (a .388 hitter) at 1B. I suggested he dump Bret Boone for Luis Castillo (9 speed) at 2B. I also suggested he bench one of his slugging outfielders for Paul O'Neill (.464 OBP). These are some examples of how I think he could have improved his lineup simply by leveraging what was available in free agency.
Use your Slump Busters as soon as possible
Especially if your team is struggling, you want to take advantage of anything you can to start to turn your season around as soon as possible.
Watch some games, understand why your lineup isn't working
Maybe the same guy is constantly striking out with a man on third? Maybe your lead off hitter is getting on base but never being moved into scoring position? It's amazing what the flow of a game will tell you about your team, far beyond what the stats imply. If I have a great lead-off hitter, I like to put one of my weaker hitters in the #2 hole. Why? Because he can sacrifice himself and move the runner into scoring position for my #3 and #4. Of course this isn't the best strategy for every lineup, but it's up to you to determine the chemistry of your team.
Platoon L/R when you have two equal players
There is a tiny advantage for a RH hitter facing a LH pitcher, and vice versa. (Likewise, there's a tiny advantage for a RH pitcher facing a RH batter, and vice versa.) But, the advantage is not significant enough to drastically change your VR and VL lineups, UNLESS you have two players at the same position who are about equal.
Learn the ropes for a few seasons
This site has been around for a couple years now, so there may be some owners in your league who are very comfortable with the site. Realize that you might not have instant success until you learn the ropes. This is mostly true in the popular All-Time Greats leagues, where owners have grown familiar with the players.
Accept you will have bad seasons
Sometimes you will do everything you possibly can, and your team just won't pan out. Your star pitchers will bust, your star hitters will slump. Hey, it happens. Chalk it up to a bad year, and move on to the next season!
Be sure to check out my blog post about managing a team through a season!