MLB 14: The Show finally made its PlayStation 4 debut last week, and like many early-season callups to the bigs, it showed some potential. It has beefed-up graphics, and a few minor tweaks to various game modes make a major difference.
However, it is one of the more complicated games in recent memory. If you are new to the franchise or to sports games in general, MLB 14’s various menus and modes can be pretty daunting. The main menu alone has 22 different options, most of which just take you to a submenu.
Fear not. This guide will give you a strong base on which to build a Hall of Fame career.
Whether you’re looking to amass individual accolades through the Road to the Show mode, build a baseball dynasty through shrewd business moves in Franchise mode, or taste the anguish of your foes in the various online modes, you will find your answers here.
Feel free to leave any additional tips or suggest changes in the comments section. I created this guide after reviewing the PS3 version, playing the PS4 version extensively, and with years of The Show experience in mind.
The most important tip I can give you is to not be afraid of tweaking the difficulty or sliders if you aren’t having success. I recommend reducing the pitch speed slider by 2 right off the bat. This will give you some extra time to react to pitches, which can be invaluable in a game where hitting is quite difficult.
Your first step should be to play an exhibition game. If you don’t score any runs, the difficulty is too high. If you score 15, then you may want to turn it up some.
Go to gameplay options and set the “Guess Pitch” option to classic. Now your player will know exactly where the pitch is going if he guesses pitch type and location correctly. This doesn’t happen often, but a correct guess almost guarantees a hit. Any advantage you can get in a game where failing seven out of 10 times makes you an All-Star is a plus.
Once you step into the batter’s box, have patience. Patience is the most important aspect to hitting in this game. If you swing at strikes and let balls go, you will win consistently regardless of player or team skill. I usually follow the Joe Mauer rule: Like the Minnesota Twins’ first baseman, don’t swing at the first pitch. Unless I have guessed the pitch correctly, I keep the bat on my shoulders for the first pitch or two. The effectiveness of this tactic in all game modes will surprise you.
If you are using the analog sticks to hit, make sure you pull back on the right stick right as the pitcher puts his arm back. I have found that this will give you perfect stride timing more often than not, which will set you up for success early.
I usually guess fastball up in the strike zone if my player is a power hitter and fastball down if he is a speed threat. These are the most common pitch selections, especially if you are ahead or even in the count. If you get down two strikes, guess breaking ball (curveball, slider, sweeping curve, etc.) low. Those pitches are the hardest to lay off, and pitchers will try to get you to chase them with two strikes.
If your hitter has a power rating above 50 (you can check this during your at-bat by pressing up on the D-pad), you should use the Square button to power swing more often than not. I like to turn it off in two-strike counts, because it does add to your swing-and-miss percentage.
If your hitter is a speed threat, press Circle in two-strike counts to make sure you make contact. A slow ground ball down the third base line can be a hit, and a hit means the opportunity to steal a base. Don’t be afraid to bunt at any time, as this tactic is very effective in this year’s Show.
The A.I. pitchers all have a nasty pick-off move. This takes some time to get used to, so you should be especially wary of stealing bases until you have adjusted.
Make sure that you are using the “Pure Analog” interface. The stick gives you way more control over a throw’s trajectory and strength. Remember not to just hold it down, or you will throw it over the first baseman’s head every time. Hold it for about a second and then release.
It takes some experience to get the pitching interface’s timing down. It is different for each pitcher based on that player’s control rating, so it is just something you will master with practice.
In general, keep the ball down. If you are pitching against the A.I., you will have to mix locations a bit because the computer will start guessing low.
Road to the Show
Road to the Show is MLB 14: The Show’s flagship mode and my personal favorite. It is easy to get frustrated if you haven’t built your character well, so here are some steps to help avoid creating a lame-duck player.
The key to putting Major League Baseball on notice is setting a character up for success. This section isn’t 100 percent necessary, but it will give you a huge advantage before you even hit the field.
The first step is to select the proper situation for your player. If you want to play center field for the Angels, you will have to displace Mike Trout. This is an unnecessary pain in the neck. Even if you succeed, you now have one of the best all-around players in baseball riding the bench. The better option would be to pick a position of need on the Angels, like right field. You could even change Trout’s position to right field in the “Create/Edit a Player” menu before starting your Road to the Show player. Just make sure you select “current” rosters when prompted.
Once you hit the create button, always select custom build. Then follow one of three builds:
This is my preferred build. This player is looking to put every ball in the seats. Create a switch-hitting left fielder, first baseman, or right fielder (note: Every player you make should switch-hit). These three positions can max out contact and power before getting started, which gives players a large advantage from day one.
Make your player as short as possible. I know that a short power hitter will look silly, but height and weight don’t affect your skills like they would in the real world. Choose legend batting stance 65. This will put you as low to the ground as possible. Your strike zone will be the size of a thimble, which will create more walk opportunities.
I recommend turning off all baserunning opportunities in the mode-specific options. This guy is too slow to steal, so sitting on the bases is just a waste of time.
Pour all of your training points into the contact and power attributes. Keep contact and power versus right-handers about 5 points higher than versus left-handers. You’ll see more right-handed pitchers than lefties, so you are playing the odds here.
Vision is your next priority. This will slow down the ball for you when you are hitting. Plate discipline and clutch are also useful.
These five attributes need to be in the 60s by the time you get called up to the big leagues, which is usually at the end of your first season (or the beginning of your second).
Your focus should be on those attributes, but you can’t let the others decay. After about eight weeks, an attribute will begin to decrease. Make sure you are putting one level in each attribute every seven weeks or so.
You will be tempted to level up your fielding statistics. Stay strong. The 50 home runs you will hit at age 23 will give you plenty of training points. Spend those on whatever you want.
MLB 14: The Show is the first incarnation that enables you to create a Billy Hamilton-like speed threat from day one. The Speedster is a new build for me, but it works pretty well if you have the patience to draw out walks and the timing to steal properly.
Create a center fielder, second baseman, or shortstop and crank that speed stat to 5. Any leftover skill points should be used on contact. Make him a short, switch-hitter with legend stance 65.
The player will start out with a 90 in the speed attribute, which will enable him to steal 100 bases in his first season if you can get on base often enough. Make sure you take as many pitches as possible when at the plate.
The Speedster should also bunt in all sacrifice situations (man on first or second with zero or one out). A successful sacrifice will net you some points and won’t count against your batting average, and your player is fast enough to beat out some throws to first. Free hits are huge.
Once you get on base, steal. You should steal every single time you are on first. Don’t increase your lead due to the aforementioned pick-off moves. Hold R1 to lean forward from your standard lead, and crank that left stick as soon as the pitcher moves. Slide with an up-and-right flick of the right stick and dust yourself off. You just stole your first base, and thousands more are in your future.
Follow the same training-points regimen as the Bomber. Your speed stat is high enough from day one, so focus on being a better hitter. This will take some time, so don’t let a low batting average frustrate you. It will all work out.
The Control Pitcher
The image of that dominant pitcher with a cannon for an arm is endearing to baseball fans, but the Control Pitcher build bypasses flash for results.
Create a pitcher and give him a four-seam fastball, a changeup, and a slider. These are the three best pitch choices in my opinion, but they aren’t absolutely necessary.
Make sure there are 5 points in control, then use the rest to get makeup and velocity to 3. A 3 in velocity will have your fastball up in the low-to-mid 90s, which will be just fine. Break is useless when compared to effective changes in pitch speed and location.
Height and batting stance aren’t important for a pitcher, but I still go with the usual suspects. I like the crazy sidearm wind-ups, but I don’t think different stances affect the A.I. any differently.
Spend your points on upgrading your pitches for the first month or two of the season. If you can put a good pitch where you want it, it will neutralize the sting of having bad H/9 (hits per nine innings) or stamina attributes. Starters should then crank stamina up, while closers should level pitching clutch. The spending options on a pitcher aren’t as serious as a position player, so you have some freedom if you think an attribute needs more juice.
If you are looking for that old-fashioned season mode, then MLB 14’s Franchise mode is for you. This wide-open mode gives players total control over as many teams as they want.
You have many, many ways to build a successful franchise, but all general managers will want to a few things when starting a franchise.
The first thing you should look at is if you can fill any needs in free agency. At the time of writing this guide, some great players like infielders Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew are still on the market. Even if you just need depth, scour around for bargain players with particular skills like OF/1B Shelley Duncan.
Next, get your training assignments in order. Highlight a player, move right to the “Not Training” option, and then move back left. This will automatically select a training option to fit that particular player. If you really want to fine-tune your players, you can select drills for them individually.
The final step in preparing for the season is to set up your scouting. Select the “View Scouts” option and make sure you have one from each of the four regions: Central, West, East, and International. Fire and hire scouts if necessary. Direct all of your scouts to search their respective areas for position players and pitchers that you need. Keep this up for about a month, and then start using your scouts to check out individual players before the draft in June. Keep a watchful eye on the scouting menu throughout the season.
I like to prioritize pitching as far as trades and free agent moves go. It seems like every year the team with the best starting pitching pulls out the World Series win. That is just a personal preference. The sky’s the limit in this mode.
Online Games and Diamond Dynasty
These modes are tricky to create a guide for because they are still quite buggy. Latency issues and freezes are pretty common in the online modes, but I did figure out a few things.
Patience, patience, patience. The timing of the pitch interface can be tough to master, and an opponent’s natural instinct is aim for the corners with every pitch. These two factors mean that a lot of pitches are going to be out of the zone, which you should capitalize on.
Don’t be afraid to bunt. Hitting is pretty tricky, so get that guy into scoring position and plan to win low-scoring games.
It’s a good idea to guess fastball in a the blue areas of your player’s strike zone. Opponents see that blue and attack it, but you will change their minds if you guess correctly and use that bonus to take them deep.
Keep the ball low. Use your offspeed pitches frequently. Opponents are going to be guessing fastball a lot, and they will look ridiculous clubbing at that low curveball.
In general, force them to lay off bad pitches. Most real players are so antsy that they will try to knock anything close out of the park. Force them to lay off bad pitches. If your opponent has the necessary discipline, start throwing more strikes.
Diamond Dynasty Notes
I like to keep all player cards that are above a 70 in overall rating. I recycle the other ones into one B+ to A- Major League card.
Prioritize pitching when you are buying new cards/training players. It is difficult to hit in MLB 14, so make it harder on your opponents by putting quality starters on the field.
Follow the instructions above when playing games.
The most important thing to remember is that this is a game. It should be fun. Don’t be afraid to experiment in the name of having a good time. This is just a reference point for those looking for direction. It is possible to have success in all game modes without following any of these tips.