Road to the Show has been an MLB The Show staple for years. The create-a-player campaign mode lets you step into the shoes of the fledgling prospect, work your way up the farm system, and eventually, if you play well enough, become a Major League legend. The mode returns in MLB The Show 18 for PlayStation 4, but with a significant change to its progression system. This time around, it places more emphasis on each plate appearance and fielding opportunity than ever before. To help you navigate Road to the Show’s new system, here are a few things you should know and do throughout your journey to the Hall of Fame.
How player progression works
You don’t have the same control over stats as you did in previous iterations. What you do on the diamond impacts your statistical categories automatically. Gone are the points that you can apply to power, contact, vision; in comes a system that allows for both progression and regression. Whether you create a player or import your player from MLB The Show 17, they will be bound by these new rules.
First, you choose an archetype, each of which has clear strengths and weaknesses. We chose to be a power-hitting first baseman, so while our prospect started off with solid power and contact stats, his speed, and thus his stealing, started off low.
Now, all of this doesn’t mean you don’t have control over your player’s stats. For the most part, you do — by performing well on the field. For example, position players have 10 major stat categories (with numerous secondary categories): Contact R, Contact L, Power R, Power L, Vision, Stealing, Speed, Reaction, Arm, and Fielding. If you swing and miss, your contact rating versus a right or left-handed pitcher goes down. If you take a ball or foul off a pitch, your plate vision increases. If you get a base hit, your contact rating goes up. If you catch a fly ball, your reaction and fielding rating goes up. If you steal a bag, yeah, you guessed it, your stealing attribute increases.
It’s important to note that elevating a stat from one value to the next takes many successful net gains. If you are sitting on 67 Power versus right-handers, it will take a good number of positive gains to move to a 68. With that in mind, don’t be alarmed when you mess up on a play and a stat drops.
Sometimes it doesn’t work perfectly
So here’s the thing: While the new system does make each game in a long season’s grind feel more important, the stat boosts don’t always work as they should, particularly at the plate. You can hit a blooper to center field, dig out a double and see your power increase. Conversely, you can smoke a shot to the warning track that is caught at the wall and get no boost in any category at all. Also, if you swing and miss twice, yet hit a homer on the 0-2 pitch, you still get knocked for your plate vision despite hitting a home run in the at-bat.
Focus on increasing stat caps in training
While most stat increases come from on-the-field play, in between series, you will get to utilize training sessions. Sadly, these are non-interactive but result in instant, full stat gains or stat cap increases. At first, you only have the batting cage which focuses on power, vision, contact, and plate discipline. As you progress through your first season, you unlock the practice field and training facility, the latter of which has some crossover with the batting cage.
You can only choose one training category each time, and one of the three exercises available within. These exercises provide boosts for one to three stat categories. We suggest looking through all three categories before zeroing in on your decision. If there is an exercise that raises a stat’s cap (they will be the ones completed with teammates), almost always choose that one. All of your stats have caps and they start off much lower than the all-mighty 99 limit. The only way to raise the cap is through training, whereas you can always improve stats in games.
It may be hard to pass up two power stat points, but trust us, if you don’t pick stat cap exercises, you wind up hitting your cap in a category, which means that it can only stay the same or degrade until you raise the cap. The only time it may be a good idea to not choose an exercise that increases a stat’s cap is when you are nowhere near the current cap. For instance, we decided to pass on moving our Batting Clutch cap from 85 to 90 because our guy only had a 56 at the time.
Showtime and Perks
Showtime, which lets you enter slow motion, can be helpful in pivotal situations. It’s a meter at the bottom of your screen that maxes out at 120 points. In reality, you can use almost all of it one at-bat if you press R2 to trigger it seconds before the pitcher’s windup. The meter is automatically filled at the beginning of the game, but once used, it’s gone. So when should you use it?
It’s a matter of personal preference, but we like to use it when there are runners in scoring position that we can knock in with a hit. Wait for the ball to leave the pitcher’s hand first, though, since you don’t want to activate it if the pitch is clearly outside of the zone. Showtime lets you square up a pitch with great timing really easily since the baseball basically crawls through the air.
The other time we like to use Showtime is when we want to steal a base. Activating it zooms in on the pitcher. As soon as you see his throwing arm twitch, you can initiate a steal, exit Showtime, and voila, you got an excellent jump and have a great chance to steal a bag effectively.
You can also allocate some or all of your Showtime meter to perks, which you can access by viewing your player. Perks can do things like lower the velocity of a pitch or automatically cause a fly ball on contact. You can activate an assigned perk by pressing the D-pad. Personally, we prefer to stick with the full Showtime meter, but if you find yourself not using it, perks can provide a sure-fire means to getting the result you want on a given play.
No two journeys to the Majors play out the same
Lastly, know that your road to the Majors can be confusing at times. One of our gaming writers here at Digital Trends was about to get called up to the Majors just a few months into his first year. He was batting around .350 at a position his MLB club needed. However, another one of our writers played through a whole season in AA (150+ games) batting over.400 at a position in need and never even sniffed AAA. He started the next season in AAA, and one month in with similar numbers, and still hadn’t received an inkling from his manager that he would be making the next step anytime soon.
Your trajectory as a player and control over your own destiny becomes yours as your career progresses, but while in the farm system, just know it may take some time.
If you’re having trouble at the plate, make sure to check out our MLB The Show 18 batting guide.