MLB The Show 21 has been out for nearly a month now. With that, we wanted to lend a hand to those new to the series. This is the series’ first release on Xbox platforms, introducing a whole wave of new players, and even minor leaguers looking to improve their game.
What we find online is many new users are trying too hard or doing too much. Not every pitch thrown your way is hittable. We also see a lot of users that are new to baseball and just do not understand pitch counts. Further, this can lead to an overall lack of situational awareness. Take a peek at our guide, and take a deep breath in the zen garden that is the baseball diamond.
Know The Count
If you are not entirely familiar with how to play baseball or have never played baseball, let’s cover some basics.
“The count” refers to the number of balls and strikes the current batter has. If you, the batter, are down 0-2 in the count, that means you are out on the next strike. Although, it also means the pitcher still has three more opportunities to throw balls before you walk. The pitcher has zero incentive to throw anything over the plate, or until you become “up in the count” again at three balls and two strikes.
If I am a pitcher, and I am up 0-2, I will not throw anything over the plate until the count is “full” at 3-2. That gives me three opportunities for you to swing and miss. It is important to know that the CPU can not do this every time because, if it did, you would know what pitch is coming each time. computer IA is way past the days of a single trick working each time. You just need to understand that once you go 0-2 in the count, the probability that pitches will be coming in over the plate is drastically reduced.
The same thing applies once the count goes to 3-2. If I am a pitcher, I do not want to walk you. If I am at 3 balls and any number of strikes, my next pitch is going to be over the plate. This reduces my risk of walking you.
With the computer, this won’t happen 100% of the time. It will walk you from time to time. That said, if you are at three balls you either have a pitcher that can’t find the plate or a strike coming. Likewise, if I am a pitcher and I see you swinging at everything, I will almost never throw you a pitch you can hit.
It’s All In The Hips
Timing is not everything when it comes to making contact, although a perfectly timed swing sure does help. Great online opponents, as well as the computer, will use offspeed pitches to throw off your timing. An offspeed pitch is when a pitcher throws at dramatically varying speeds. This disorients the batter’s timing. In a neat way, it works in both MLB The Show and real life.
Opponents will often follow up a fastball with a changeup. Heck, they might even throw a few fastballs, let you adjust and get comfortable with that timing then throw something 20 MPH slower, to get you to swing early. Even if you do make contact, if your timing is slightly off you are more likely to hit a foul ball.
To account for this, you, the batter, need to be focused on every pitch. No texting, no checking your DM’s in between pitches. Your eyes have to be locked into that white dot.
Being able to see the ball come at you and timing that reaction, along with watching if it is a ball or a strike, is the skill of MLB The Show. If you are having trouble seeing the ball come out of the pitcher’s hand, it may be time to go back down to the minors. Try playing on Rookie, while your eyes adjust. This is a real-life element of baseball and it is spectacular that it has carried over to a video game.
Understand The Situation In The Show
When you play MLB The Show 21, making yourself aware of is a big component.
If it is the seventh inning and my pitcher is up to bat, I am warming up a reliever to come and pitch in the next inning. So for the current inning that I would be in, I can substitute that pitcher for a hitter on my bench.
Hitters can’t pitch, so when the next inning starts I would substitute that hitter for the reliever that I had warmed up. Pitchers in baseball rarely pitch all nine innings. Watch your pitcher’s energy meter and be ready to pull them when they come up to hit. Your team’s pitcher will almost always be the worst hitter on the team. This applies especially if you are an American League team playing on a National League field. The National League does not honor the DH and pitchers must hit.
There are countless other situations you will have to manage as you play MLB The Show 21. When I play as any of the big-time home run hitters, I almost never swing for power. If I am playing as Aaron Judge, Luke Voit, or Giancarlo Stanton, I am always swinging for contact. They have enough power to turn anything into a home run. Hitting for power leads to too many caught balls and commits to swinging for the fences.
Do Not Call Your Shot
While it is important to know the situation and the count, use that as a guide. Do not create rules, or develop a mindset where you know you are going to swing at a pitch before you see it. Never approach the plate with a mindset of, “I need to get a home run here.”
That is not how hitting works. You need to take each pitch one at a time.
It is very easy to hit with Aaron Judge or Giancarlo Stanton, but once the pitcher knows you are committed to swinging you are toast. They will never throw you anything you can hit.
Now imagine working yourself into a 3-1 count with one of the major sluggers? You see that desperate pitch coming right down the middle of the plate, as the other player is praying you do not walk. That is when you pummel the ball out of the park.