MLB The Show 19 is, as far as we’re concerned, the best sports game available on the PlayStation 4 right now. It is, however, incredibly niche. Unless you live in the United States or parts of Asia, there’s a good chance you may not know baseball’s rules – pretty tricky if you’re planning to play a simulation of the sport. In this guide, we’re going to get you up to speed on all of the baseball basics so that you can make the most of October 2019’s free PS Plus game. We’ll also explain some basic controls and gameplay strategies, and then set you free with some tips and tricks so you too can dominate the diamond.
How to Play MLB The Show 19
MLB The Show 19 is a baseball simulation, so you should expect a highly realistic experience. This means that you need to abide to the real-world rules of the sport, although fortunately baseball is much easier to pick up than the likes of American football.
An Introduction to MLB
The MLB – or Major League Baseball – consists of 30 teams divided into two leagues: the National League and the American League. Each league is divided into three conferences based on location. Each team will play over 100 games per season, before the post-season sees the best squads competing for a shot at the World Series.
The Basic Rules of Baseball
As you’re no doubt aware, the basic objective of baseball is to hit the ball back into the field, giving time for the batter to round four bases. A batter is “safe” as long as he’s at a base, but fielders will try to tag batters out by throwing the ball to a base before the batter has reached it – or by physically touching them with the ball while they’re on the move. An out can also be registered by a fielder catching a hit ball before it touches the ground, or by being struck out.
In baseball, the battle between the pitcher and the batter is at the heart of the game. The pitcher must throw the ball into the “strike zone”, which is represented by a rectangular box in MLB The Show 19. If the ball is thrown within the strike zone and the batter fails to hit it, then this is known as a “strike”. A strike also occurs when the batter swings for a ball and misses, regardless of whether the pitch passes the strike zone or not.
A batter is only allowed three strikes before he’s dismissed and the next batter steps into the game. A traditional baseball match is made up of nine innings, and an inning ends once the defending team has registered three outs. A batter doesn’t have to swing on every pitch, and if the pitcher misses the strike zone then a “ball” is registered. Four balls will allow the batter to “walk” putting them safely on first base without having to make a hit.
The objective of the game is to score runs by rounding all four bases. One run is registered when a batter passes fourth base. In order to maximise the number of points scored, teams will attempt to “load the bases”. This occurs when batters are positioned on the bases. If, for example, there are batters on the first, second, and third bases and a home run is hit, this will result in four points for the attacking team.
It’s possible for batters to “steal bases”, which is when a batter runs early and tries to make it to the next base before they can be fielded out. This is a risk-reward play. Of course, good defences are able to pick off these kind of plays, helping to retire the side more efficiently. A “double play”, for instance, occurs when the ball is swiftly fielded to the second and then first base, resulting in two outs when executed quickly enough.
When playing nine inning matches in MLB The Show 19, you’ll need to make use of your bullpen. This is, in essence, a warm-up area for your pitchers. Each team has a handful of starting pitchers, who are used to pitch through the first five or six innings of the match. However, they will tire, as indicated by their energy levels in the game. You’ll need to manage your bullpen, bringing in relief pitchers to see out any remaining innings in the match. Closing pitchers are typically specialists who are used in the final inning to finish off the match.
One other strategy worthy of note is pinch hitting. This occurs when, for example, the bases may be loaded and you need a big hitter to come in clutch to get you a home run. You may also use it to swap out a slower player already at a base for a player with a bit more pace. This is particularly effective when you’re looking to steal bases. It’s best to think of these like substitutions in a soccer match, as they function in much the same way.
MLB The Show 19 Tips and Tricks
Now that you understand the general rules and strategies of baseball, we’re going to share some tips and tricks specific to MLB The Show 19 to help you to get to grips with the game.
Explore the Control Options
MLB The Show 19 has a great on-boarding system, allowing you to experiment with the game’s controls across the various phases of play. Our recommendation for beginners is to start with directional batting and one button pitching; this makes the game incredibly easy to play, and will give you opportunity to learn the finer details of the sport. Remember to set the difficulty to Rookie, and if you’re still losing, play around with the sliders in the Settings menu to make the gameplay that bit more accessible. Once you feel like you’ve got to grips with things, you can always increase the difficulty again.
Watch the Ball Carefully
The temptation for baseball beginners is to swing on every pitch, but this isn’t what you’ll see pros do in the Major Leagues. Watch the arc and direction of the ball as it approaches your batter; is it going to cross the strike zone? Baseball, as mentioned earlier, is a battle of wits between the pitcher and the batter – try to put the pressure on the pitcher by allowing some balls and getting them down in the count.
Think About Your Swing
There are three types of swing in MLB The Show 19: Square is used for power; X is used for a standard swing; Circle is used for contact. If you’re ahead in the count – say 3-0 – then you’re in a good position to swing for the fences with Square. Why? Because even though you may look wild, a miss is going to put you in a 3-1 situation, so you’re still ahead in the count. Get a good connection with a power swing, however, and you could be looking at a home run. Contact, meanwhile, is used in the opposite situation; if you’ve already got two strikes against you, then you’re going to want to simply put the ball back into play and get to first base. Remember that if you hit the ball and it bobbles behind the line, this will register as a strike up until you’ve got two strikes. However, fouling the ball a third time will keep you in the game, rather than strike you out. As such, it can be a good strategy to foul balls off while you wait for a favourable pitch.
Play Road to the Show
While you’re learning the rules of baseball, MLB The Show 19’s single player campaign mode Road to the Show can be a great place to start. In this mode, you’ll create your own rookie player and work your way up to the big leagues. You’ll be responsible for just your player, which means you don’t have to think about much else besides your individual role. If you choose to play as, for example, a first baseman, then you’ll be responsible for basic batting and fielding responsibilities. Even better, the game will simulate everything apart from your most important moments, so you can really focus on your own play.
March to October Will Get You Through a Season Fast
While you may be tempted to begin your own Franchise mode, we’d recommend starting out with MLB The Show 19’s excellent March to October mode. This effectively sees you playing “highlight” moments in a chosen team’s season, with wins building momentum through simulated matches. Challenges are dynamic, so at one point you’ll be asked to hit a homerun with a specific player, at another point you’ll be tasked with closing out a game. The good thing is that once you’ve completed your first season in this fashion, you can then segue into a more traditional career mode season, where you’ll hopefully have a better grasp on how to play.