MLB The Show 21 is a baseball simulation developed by Sony San Diego, inspired by the 2021 season of Major League Baseball. Available on PlayStation 5 and PS4, in addition to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, it's the first instalment in the franchise to release on next-gen consoles.
In this MLB The Show 21 guide, we're going to share some general beginner's tips and tricks, which will hopefully help you to hit more home runs than popups. We'll also offer advice for some of the game's more granular modes and features, such as how to earn Studs without spending money and the best Ballplayer loadouts. We'll also provide strategies for how to hit the ball better and how to upgrade your Ballplayer and unlock perks, as well as where to start in Diamond Dynasty.
Please note that MLB The Show 21 is designed as a live service game, and while efforts will be invested to ensure this guide remains as accurate and up-to-date as possible, some gameplay balance and feature details may change over time.
MLB The Show 21 Guide: How to Play Baseball
Baseball is a team-based sport where two teams compete to score more runs than their opposition. A run is scored when a player has passed all four bases on the field. An offensive player achieves this by hitting a pitch thrown by the defensive team. An offensive player doesn't need to cross all four bases in one turn, and is safe at any of the three bases along the way. However, if they are tagged between bases by the defensive team then they'll be considered out. The offensive team can only register three outs before an inning is retired. Each team plays nine innings per match.
In order to score in baseball, a player will need to hit a pitch and pass all four bases on the field. The easiest and most straightforward way to do this is to hit a home run. A home run occurs when the ball is hit out of the field and into the surrounding stadium. This guarantees one point.
However, a batter can hit the ball into the field and gradually move between the bases over the course of a single inning. This then becomes a collaborative effort between the offensive players, as different batters attempt to drive in runs. Loading the bases with offensive players is the most effective means of scoring, but the downside is that this gives the defensive team multiple opportunities to register outs.
A grand slam occurs when the bases are loaded; in other words, there are offensive players at first base, second base, and third base. This scores four points. Each time a player steps up to bat, this is known as an at bat or AB.
Pitching and Fielding
Pitching and fielding is the defensive half of a baseball match. The pitcher stands in the centre of the diamond, what's known as the mound, and must throw the ball to batters using a variety of different techniques. The ball must pass through a rectangular area named the plate. If the ball passes through the plate without being hit, the pitcher earns a strike. Alternatively, if the batter swings at the ball but fails to make a connection, the pitcher will also earn a strike. If, however, the ball misses the plate but the batter doesn't swing at it, then the batter will earn a ball.
In a single at bat, then three strikes will result in a strikeout. The batter will also be considered out if he fails to reach a base before the defensive team tags him out, or if he hits the ball into the air and it's caught before bouncing. Alternatively, four balls will allow the batter to walk to first base without needing to hit the ball.
Between the pitcher and fielders, the defensive team's role is to amass three outs without the team scoring. It achieves this by leveraging the following roles:
- Pitcher: Throws the ball to the batter from the mound.
- Catcher: Located behind the batter and is used to catch the ball.
- First Base: Occupies the first base position.
- Second Base: Occupies the second base position.
- Third Base: Occupies the third base position.
- Short Stop: Situated between second base and third base on the left side of the field.
- Left Field: Occupies the left-side of the outside field.
- Centre Field: Occupies the central area of the outside field.
- Right Field: Occupies the right-side of the outside field.
A good defensive performance begins with the pitcher, who is able to strikeout batters from the mound. However, a hit is registered when the batter is able to bat the ball into the field and find safety at a base. Should a hit occur, then the defensive unit must work in unison to prevent the batter from passing all four bases and scoring.
Foul Balls, Stealing, the Bullpen, and More
While the basics of how to play baseball are explained in the above sections, there are several other idiosyncrasies to the sport that you should be aware of. For starters, foul balls occur when the batter makes contact with the ball but fails to put the ball into play, meaning that it falls behind the line. In an at bat, a foul ball counts as a strike, until the batter has accumulated two strikes. After that point, foul balls do not contribute to strikes, meaning that a batter can continuously foul the ball to help tire the pitcher out.
Stealing occurs when a baserunner attempts to sprint to another base during the pitcher's motion. This allows them to move between bases without the batter having to hit the ball. However, the stealing player will need to have the agility to reach the next base before the defensive team tag them out, making this a high-risk manoeuvre.
Due to the demands of pitching, MLB teams have a roster of pitchers that they'll use throughout a match. The starting pitcher is usually the one with the highest endurances, and will play on average five to eight innings. Other pitchers can warm up throughout the duration of a match in the bullpen, and each team will have different types of pitchers in their roster, such as light relief pitchers, medium relief pitchers, setup pitchers, and closing pitchers. Each of these plays a different role over the course of a nine inning match.
Finally, pinch hitting and pinch running refers to the substitution of a player for another player. Pinch hitting occurs when the next batter in the lineup is swapped for a different player in the roster to bat. Similarly, pinch running occurs when a player who's on base is substituted for another player, typically ne who's faster and has more agility to steal.
MLB The Show 21 Guide: Studs, Ballplayers, and Programs
MLB The Show 21 is divided into almost a dozen different modes, each of which focus on different ways to play baseball. For the next part of our MLB The Show 21 guide, we'll explain each of the modes available in the game.
- Road to the Show: A single player mode where you use your created Ballplayer to rise through the ranks, from the minor leagues to the major leagues.
- Diamond Dynasty: A card collecting mode where your objective is to build a fantasy squad of players from past and present, which you can then use both online and offline. For more information on getting started in Diamond Dynasty, then check out the following link: MLB The Show 21: Where to Start in Diamond Dynasty.
- March to October: A truncated, single player season mode where you take a team to World Series glory, influencing their season at key moments along the way.
- Franchise: A multi-year single player mode where you manage all the aspects of a chosen franchise, including their roster and strategy.
- Challenge of the Week: A rotating arcade objective with leaderboards where you compete for the highest score and can even win real-world prizes.
- Home Run Derby: A single player and local mulitplayer mode where you can compete to win the annual Home Run Derby competition, either against the computer or with friends.
- Exhibition: An offline and online mode where you can take control of real-world MLB teams using live rosters and compete.
- Custom Practice: Offline practice mode where you can test out your pitching and batting approach in a variety of different preset scenarios.
Your Ballplayer represents your personal MLB player in both Road to the Show and Diamond Dynasty. You can adjust your Ballplayer's appearance and create unique loadouts for them, altering their effectiveness in different positions. For more information on making the most out of your Ballplayer, check out the additional MLB The Show 21 guides below.
- MLB The Show 21: Best Ballplayer Loadouts
- MLB The Show 21: How to Upgrade Your Ballplayer and Unlock Perks
Stubs are the universal currency in MLB The Show 21 used to purchase MLB Players in Diamond Dynasty, as well as Sponsorships in Franchise, Equipment and Perks for your Ballplayer, and various cosmetics for your profile. You can also bid on items in the Community Market or purchase card packs from The Show Shop. For more information on how to get the most from your Stubs, refer to the additional MLB The Show 21 guides below.
Programs are Battle Pass style unlock strings which award you with Stubs, The Show Packs, MLB Players, and much more. Sony San Diego will be adding more Programs to the game beyond launch to ensure there are always new things for you to do. For more information on Programs and how they work, take a look at the other MLB The Show 21 guides below.
MLB The Show 21 Guide: Tips, Tricks, and Advice
For the next part of our MLB The Show 21 guide, we'll be sharing tips, tricks, and advice to help make you a better baseball player. If you're a beginner player, then pay attention while explain where to start with this year's game.
Start with Dynamic Difficulty
If you're new to MLB The Show 21 or haven't played a baseball game for years, then during the onboarding process we'd recommend selecting Dynamic difficulty. This adjusts the difficulty depending on how you're performing, and the settings are independent for both Pitching and Batting. For example, if you're getting lots of strikeouts but can't hit the ball, then the game will scale so that pitching is harder while batting is easier. As you get better at the game, the difficulty will gradually increase, allowing you to get to grips with the gameplay comfortably at a pace that works for you. For more information on batting specifically, refer to the following: MLB The Show 21: How to Hit the Ball Better.
Spend Some Time with the Options Explorer
When you first play MLB The Show 21, you'll be encouraged to play through the Options Explorer. Don't worry if you skip this, because you can always replay by selecting it from the main menu. The idea here is that you're able to test out all of the game's systems, such as hitting interface and pitching type. Get a feel for them all and try to understand the pros and cons of each one. Once you've settled on your favourite, use Custom Practice to hone your skills and get better at each mechanic.
Get Comfortable with Diamond Dynasty
Even if you don't intend to play much Diamond Dynasty, you should familiarise yourself with its interface and features because the entire game is built around the mode. Archetype Programs, for example, use a similar setup to Inning Programs. In fact, all of the XP you earn in the game will help to advance the latter. Remember that there are single player modes in Diamond Dynasty, like Conquest, and you can find out more about that through here: MLB The Show 21: How to Win at Conquest. If you're still struggling to get started in Diamond Dynasty, then take a look at our beginner's guide: MLB The Show 21: Where to Start in Diamond Dynasty.
Don't Forget Your Bullpen
If you're new to baseball, it can be tempting not to explore some of the finer features, such as your Bullpen. Unfortunately, you will get crushed if you don't adequately bring your relief pitchers into the game at the right time. Pay attention to the Confidence and Energy of your starting pitcher; if they're beginning to tire or they're having a bad game, make sure there's always someone loosening up in your Bullpen that you can put on the mound in their place. You can manage your Bullpen from the quick menu by pushing up on the d-pad before you pitch the ball.
Have Fun and Be Patient
Baseball can be a challenging sport, but it's rewarding when you hit a walk-off Grand Slam. If it was easy to do then it wouldn't feel anywhere near as satisfying. Remember to stay patient in each at bat, try not to swing at every single pitch, and take your time to learn all of the modes and options available to you. This is an extremely customisable game, so you can make it as difficult or easy as you'd like to, so take a bit of time to explore and tailor the title to your tastes.
That just about does it for our MLB The Show 21 guide. Do you have any tips, tricks, and advice to share? What are some of the strategies that have helped you to excel at the baseball simulation? Nail a nasty homer in the comments section below.