Although MLB The Show 17 is a serious baseball sim at its core, the game remains accessible to casual fans thanks to its refined, relatively simplistic control scheme. Even with its pick-up-and-play identity, though, if you go into a game swinging away at pitches without giving it much thought, you’re going to run into some trouble with friends. Worse still if you plan to tangle with hardcore baseball fans in online matchmaking. While batting difficulty scales according to your skill against the computer, when facing a real opponent, it helps to strategize.
If you’re looking to hang some serious numbers on the scoreboard, here’s what you should keep in mind.
Putting bat to ball
In order to score some runs, you will have to hit the ball. Since baseball is a game of reaction time and reflexes, there’s no better teaching mechanism than stepping into the box and swinging away. Still, if you find yourself striking out a lot, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate your strategy.
- Watch the windup: Each pitcher in The Show has a unique pitching motion. Some motions are elongated, some are abrupt, and many are in-between. Keep your eyes on the pitcher’s throwing hand to see the point of release. By watching the ball from the moment it leaves the pitcher’s hand, you’ll have a better chance of tracking it as it pummels towards the plate. This becomes even more important when playing in a match with one of the pitch guessing sensors on such as PCI. Here, you’ll have to move the cursor towards where the pitch crosses the plate to make solid contact.
- Check pitches: Each pitcher has up to five different pitches, from four-seam fastballs to curveballs to changeups to sliders, and more. Depending on your settings, you can check the opposing player’s list of pitches by pressing R2. Now, it’s hard to guess what pitch your opponent will throw, but knowing which types of pitches are possible certainly doesn’t hurt your chances.
One swing to rule them all
You have three different swing options at the plate: Normal, contact, and power. How you use these swings is important, but not for the reasons you may think. Out of those three, you’re best served using the normal swing 90 percent of the time. The normal swing is a jack-of-all-trades. You can hit screeching liners, high smacks in the gap, and dingers that wind up in the back row of the bleachers.
This isn’t to say that you should avoid using contact and power altogether, but you’ll probably fare better if you save them for special situations.
- Contact: The contact swing is great when you are down in the count and you absolutely need to put the ball into play to advance runners on base. If you have a poor batter at the plate — such as your pitcher — the contact swing is your best bet.
- Power: Certainly the most enticing of the three, the power swing is the hardest to execute successfully, and using it can lead to a fair number of strikeouts and walks. If you are up in the count, and have a home run hitter — usually your third, fourth, and/or fifth hitter in the lineup — at the plate, the power swing can be useful. In our experience, pitches lower in the strike zone are ideal for the power swing.
Left, center, right — use the whole field
After making contact, the most important aspect of batting is making a conscious effort to control where the ball goes on the field. The Show 17 helps you with its directional arrows which can be pointed at three different heights across right, left, or center field. While using the arrows can go a long way towards steering the ball, you also have to do some of the work yourself. By timing your swing properly, you can start to gain control of ball placement.
- Right handers: Naturally, the ball pulls to left field; to send it up the middle, you’ll have to sit on the pitch for a moment longer before swinging. To hit it the opposite way, you have to swing even later, almost to the point where you feel as if you’ll whiff. Keep in mind that hitting the ball the opposite way is easiest when the pitch is over the outer half of the plate.
- Left handers: With a tendency to pull the ball to right field, you’ll have to wait on the pitch to hit it up the middle, and delay your swing even longer to knock it the opposite way into left. Like with right handers, pushing the ball into opposite field is easiest when the ball is on the outer half of the plate.
Diversifying where you hit the ball helps keep your opponent on edge. Since fielders tend to position themselves based on whether a right or left hander is at the plate, using the opposite side of the field when given the right opportunity can often create seams in the defense that otherwise wouldn’t be there.