From showcase to Cooperstown– how to be a monster in MLB 14: The Show
MLB 14: The Show hit the PS3 and PS Vita on Tuesday. It’s a great game and all that, but this isn’t a review. It is a guide to get you ready for the REAL MLB 14: The Show when it hits the PS4. This guide will have you smashing baseball records in the Road to the Show mode.
I wrote a similar guide to get people ready for NBA 2K14 when it released to the PS3 a month before the PS4 launch, and it seemed to go over well (700,000 unique views and 151 comments in six months).
Let’s break some faces.
It is important to set your player up for success. You can do this in three ways:
Don’t break it: You are a realist. You want that authentic feel. That’s good– so am I.
There are two ways to prepare without breaking the rosters: pick a team and create your player to fit that team’s need, or pick your chosen position and find a team that has a need in that position.
For instance, if I want to create a catcher, then the White Sox are a great choice. Tyler Flowers is a 73 with C potential, so he is no threat to you. This is what I did for my first RTS player on MLB 14 and I was the MLB starter by September call-ups in my first season. Check the rosters carefully before creating a player.
Break it: There are some reasonable changes you can make to the rosters to accomplish your goals.
If you want to play first base for the Yankees, you have a bit of a problem. Teixera has an immovable contract for a 33 year old at $16.3m per for three years. You could create your 1B prospect and simply do so well that you pass him on the depth chart, but then you have that salary eaten up by a bench player. The AI, even the Yankees AI, isn’t going to like that.
So why not move him in the roster screen beforehand? The Yankees desperately need some pitching and second base help, so move him for a decent second baseman and a few prospects. Do what Brian Cashman can only dream about.
Smash it to pieces: Nobody will stop you.
Baseball is a team game. One player can only do so much. Would you rather hit a solo homer or a grand slam? Which one will help you pass the untouchable 191 RBI record?
Pick your team. Give it all the best players. Win 150 games. It is a video game, and you are its master.
Whatever you do: Do something. Your player should have a clear road to the majors out of the gate. That means nobody on the roster at his position is above an 80, and there aren’t any 75-with-A-potential rookies lurking either.
Note: If you are creating a pitcher, then you don’t really need to do all that. Teams always need pitchers, so you can pick any of them. I would suggest a good one. The better the team, the more run support you get.
Position Player: Your goal is to prioritize contact, power and vision. These are the keys to effective hitting, and effective hitting is everything. Make sure you use your 5 points to max out power and contact if possible. Use any excess points on whatever you wish.
Even if you want to be a 14-time Gold Glover, prioritize these three attributes. Hitting will get you to the majors faster, which will allow you a head start on accumulating the stats that will change the game forever. Hitting will also allow give you a hell of a lot more points than any fielding achievements. If my catcher throws out a baserunner, I get 10 points. If he hits a 2-run shot on the sixth pitch of the at bat, I get 50 points. Simple math.
Left field and first base get the best starting stats, followed by third base and right field. You can be any position you want, but those four get the advantage.
Make your player short. As short as you can stomach. Short players have a smaller strike zone, and the game doesn’t really equate size to power the way the real world does. A 5’6 player can hit homers at the same rate as a monster if the stats are equal, so give yourself the advantage of a smaller strike zone. On that note, your batting stance should be as low to the ground as possible. I recommend Legend Stance 65. Sure, you look silly, but your strike zone will be the size of a walnut, and your walks will skyrocket.
ALWAYS create a switch hitter. It is a free way to give yourself a vision advantage in every at bat. Those sidearm deliveries can be tricky to pick up in a righty on righty matchup, especially when you are wearing a white jersey.
Resist the urge to create a speedy player. Crank the hitting stats, then use those excess points to turn him into a demon on the basepaths. A stolen base is also worth very little when compared to extra base hits.
Pitchers: I am a little more relaxed on pitcher creation.
I suggest getting velocity and control to 4 notches and using whatever is left in the makeup stat. This will get your fastball to 95 mph and give you the command and stamina to use it effectively.
Height, weight, stance, etc. are all optional. I suggest going switch hitter here too because it is a free bonus.
For pitches, I find that fastball, changeup and slider work the best together. The curveballs are too slow and wild to be effective. You can add those later. The 4-seam fastball is the fastest, which I think is an important attribute of a fast… ball. Use your changeup down and away as the CPU can’t hit that, and use your slider for the strikeout pitch.
I would select an American League team to skip batting altogether.
Note: Set the mode’s baserunning opportunities to none. Until you are fast enough to be a stolen base threat, they are just a waste of time. If you don’t want to field, turn that off too. I don’t blame you, but I like the fielding.
Use your 500 training points on contact, power and vision. If you are a pitcher, I would pour some into your control and stamina stats. H/9 gets an honorable mention.
Do your best in the showcase. It isn’t super important, but your team will love you more if you play well.
As a position player, be patient. The showcase pitchers are wild, so take the walks and crush the mistakes.
As a pitcher, go after them. Throw strikes. The players you are up against are pretty bad. Go for the strikeout as much as possible because your defense is also pretty bad.
NEVER GO TO COLLEGE. You will be in the majors before you are 19 years old. No need for schooling.
Once you are in the minors, the fun begins.
You can pretty much skip most of the minor leagues. If you are doing well–and you will be–just play the first 40ish games and then simulate the rest. As a pitcher, get about a month and a half into the season then start simulating. Unlike the previous versions, you get almost as many points simulating as you would if you were playing them all. If you want to play them all, you will be a monster by the end of the season. I went from a 58 to a 74 while simulating 100ish games, so you will probably be in the high 80s by year’s end.
The games you play will allow you to build your stats up to gaudy minor league levels. I was hitting .450 when I began simulating. You will get called up to Triple A by month two or so, and the major league call-up should come in September. Remember to spend most of your points upgrading the key stats, but also make sure your other stats don’t decay (this happens every eight weeks or so).
Patience, patience, patience. The minor league pitchers are wild. Learn to draw the walk, and you will be unstoppable. I like to use classic guess pitch mode too. That way if you guess correctly but it is going to be out of the zone, you know about it. I almost always guess low fastball, because that is the most common pitch. If you are in a double play situation, guess low because they want you to ground out. If you are 0-2, guess a low breaking ball because they will want you to chase. Sony San Diego did a great job making the pitchers throw where pitchers throw, so use that.
As a pitcher, don’t be afraid. Most minor leaguers don’t have the power to take you deep on a high fastball, so keep it moving. Remember, as a general rule of baseball, you want to go fastball in and offspeed out. Practice keeping the ball down and busting batters inside. You will need that.
Now that you’ve made it, it will be rough. Keep in mind that your player’s first month will be the hardest of his entire career. If you are getting smoked up there, consider lowering the difficulty until you are more comfortable and your player is in the 80-90 overall range.
I like the pure analog hitting setting. It just feels right. Zone makes you do too much, and buttons are too easy/make you feel like it is the 90s. Do whatever feels right to you though.
I also like pure analog fielding. The little 90-degree angle notches are useful and the colors let you know when you make a mistake. You are going to get errors even when you perform the motion perfectly, but I find you get less of those errors with analog.
I like the pulse pitch mode. You feel like you are really doing something. Once you get your control up to the 80ish range and get your timing down, you will have no problem locating.
Keep plugging away at those core attributes, which I will repeat:
Position Player: Contact, Power, Vision. After those, consider speed, durability, and arm stats (unless you are a 1B or LF, then fielding). Don’t touch bunting.
Pitcher: Control, Stamina, H/9. Your velocity should be good on you fastball, but ramp it up on your slider. Don’t touch K/9 or BB/9. You will be in charge of your own strikeouts and walks.
Pitchers, be sure to start keeping the ball low against the #3-5 hitters. This is the majors and they will crush high pitches, even if it is blue on the chart and you locate perfectly. I like to throw high fastballs out of the zone and low pitches in the zone. That way, you change the eye level, but you won’t get burned.
Depending on how much you play vs how much you simulate, you should hit 99 ovr in the first year or two. If you play every game, I would guess that you will hit max stats by year eight or so. The progression on this game is insane. You get more points and each point goes even further than any previous Show game. You will be a monster in no time!
“MLB 14: The Show” is a hard game. My guide will set you up with as many advantages as are possible, but you still have to go out and execute. You have to take balls. You have to hit strikes. You need to move the runner. Baseball is the most difficult sport, and its game is the most difficult sports game.
Just keep at it. Consider lowering difficulties, messing with sliders and changing options if you aren’t doing well. It is a game. It should be fun. You will get better at it.
Also, remember that you don’t need this guide at all. Create a player that can’t hit at all. You will have a harder time of it, but you will still get to the majors. At the end of the day, you will max out every stat. My guide will just get you to that point as fast as possible.