I’ve been on the road more than I’ve been off it this week, and I just don’t have it in me to take on Walker Hayes’s atrocious new single right now, so…let’s play ball!
As much as I enjoy MLB The Show 22, I have a dirty secret when it comes to the game: I am really bad at it. I had some credibility with a game like Triangle Strategy because I had a lot of success in it, but I don’t have the same sort of track record on the virtual diamond. So how do I write a post like this when I can’t practice what I preach consistently?
Actually, it’s quite simple: I have lost baseball games in every possible way over the last few months, and I’ve been able to identify a few common traits of successful teams,and even put a few of them into practice! Diamond Dynasty is a merciless mode, and players will come at you with entire teams of 95+ Diamond players featuring some of the most storied names of the game’s past and present. So what can you do to help tip the odds in your favor? Here are seven things you can do to put your best foot (and your best team) forward.
1. Use the Monthly Award programs to quickly build up a roster of Diamond-rated players. When you first start Diamond Dynasty, you’ll be given an initial roster made up of Silver, Bronze, and Common players…and you’ll immediately start facing Diamond-only lineups online. How do people get these cards so quickly, and what can you do to keep up? A great way to expand your options quickly are the Monthly Award programs, which offer a bunch of Gold & Diamond players as early rewards as you progress. You may have a lot of different positions to fill, but these players tend to be a pretty diverse group positionally, so you can usually find what you need to start filling the holes in your team.
2. Prioritize power in your players above all else. If there’s one word that defines the Diamond Dynasty meta (and the meta of actual baseball, tbh), it’s power: Everybody in the opposing lineup can hit the ball a mile, and everybody in the opposing bullpen has a high-90s fastball in their pocket.
This evolution makes a lot of sense: The home run is the quickest and easiest way to score (no need to string hits/walks together, no need for aggressive baserunning, etc.), and players online have a really hard time catching up to triple-digit speed on the mound (thus you can get more strikeouts, limit baserunners, and ensure that any home runs hit are solo blasts). A power-laden lineup means that you’re always a threat to score and thus never out of any ballgame, while a power-laden rotation and bullpen means that you’ve always got an option if you really need a strike (just throw a fastball somewhere in the zone and dare the other player to hit it), and it’s going to be really hard for your opponent to come back if you’re leading.
When you’re starting to build your ultimate team, keep an eye on the Power stats for your hitters and the fastball/sinker velocities of your pitchers. These are great starting points for deciding who should fill different spots on your team.
3. When picking pitchers, look for large speed differentials in their arsenals. Hitting in both the big leagues and in MLB The Show requires exquisite timing, as connecting with the pitch as just the right moment will lead to the best result (in theory at least; Twitter is full of clips of ‘perfect’ flyouts to the warning track). Having an extra-cheesy heater is great, but the best way to keep hitters off-balance is to have a large difference in velocity between your pitches, forcing the hitter to choose between looking for you fast pitch and your slow pitch (because they’ll never hit both).
Take Alec Mills, a seemingly nondescript Bronze member of the Cubs organization that the game can’t seem to figure out what position to assign him (Starter? Reliever? They’ve been flip-flopped between both this season). This dude has been lights-out for me in Diamond Dynasty play, to the point where he’s challenging Triangle Strategy‘s Frederica Aesfrost as the best video game character I’ve used in 2022, and I’ve been racking my brain to figure out why this is. His speed differential is the most likely answer: His sinker and fastball are “meh” by the game’s standards (they might reach 90 mph), but he pairs it with a changeup and slider that rarely make it to 80 mph, as well as a nasty curveball that wouldn’t even get a speeding ticket on the interstate! Timing up a 90 mph fastball isn’t that hard, but timing up a 90 mph fastball while also trying to wait long enough to get your bat on a 68 mph curveball? It’s darn near impossible, and it’s probably why Mills flummoxes so many hitters online.
If Mills can succeed with such a middling arsenal, imagine trying to wait for Randy Johnson’s 83 mph slurve when you know his 100+ mph heater could be coming! Forcing your opponent to deal with such varied velocity forces them to either guess what pitch is coming or identify it really quickly (while also trying to figure out if it’s in the strike zone or not), which is not a great recipe for success.
4. When picking hitters, make sure you lineup can take on both righties and lefties. Unlike the big leagues, you a) have no idea who’ll be starting the game against you, and b) have no idea who might be hiding in the opponent’s bullpen. Hitters have different Contact and Power attributes for left-handed and right-handed pitchers, so you’ll want to make sure your lineup can handle both lefties and righties adequately.
A good (albeit rough) heuristic for this is by having a balanced number of left-handed and right-handed hitters in your lineup. Hitters generally have more success against pitchers that throw from the opposite side (i.e., left-handed hitters are generally better against right-handed pitchers, and vice versa), so having a mix of lefties and righties in your lineup will help ensure that you’re prepared to face pitchers coming at you with either hand. (That said, there are some hitters, especially once you get to Diamond ratings, that are pretty good against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers, so pay close attention to the Contact and Power scores of each individual. Using switch hitters that can hit from either side of the plate can also make decisions easier.)
Another thing that can help is alternating different-handed hitters in your lineup: For example, if your leadoff hitter hits right-handed, have your #2 hitter hit left-handed, then have a right-handed hitter at #3, and so on. What this does is protect against the possibility of a reliever coming in and immediately having an advantage over several hitters in a row simply by being left- or right-handed. Players will try to take advantage of same-handed batters getting grouped together, so don’t give them that chance.
5. Play aginst the CPU. A lot. Triangle Strategy had mental mock battles, and MLB The Show 22 has the ‘Play vs. CPU’ option, letting you try out your Diamond Dynasty team against current MLB lineups. These games are great for a couple of reasons:
- You can earn parallel XP from your games, which can help you progress through current Programs and potentially earn better player cards.
- You can experiment with different players in a low-pressure setting, and sometimes find a hidden gem that you can then deploy in online matches. A player like Andres Sotillet (a 57-rated Common player) has absolutely no business on a Diamond Dyansty roster, yet the man is a fixture in my bullpen because his style just seems to mesh well with my pitch selections. Use these games to take some chances and find your own Sotillet for your team!
- More importantly, you can hone your own hitting technique against quality competition, improving both your timing, your pitch recognition, and your plate discipline (identifying balls and strikes). That last one is probably the most important one: At the All-Star level, plate discipline is the biggest differentiator between the ‘just okay’ and ‘actually good’ players, so being able to quickly and correctly decide which pitches to swing at will go a long way towards finding success online.
So yeah, play the CPU early and often, and use that experience to prepare for higher-level competition on the Internet.
6. Avoid running yourself out of an inning. Home runs might be the ideal end to an at-bat, but singles, doubles, triples, walks, and even getting hit by a pitch will improve your chances to score. However, I’ve found baserunning to be a very tricky proposition: You have to hold the steal button for a second or so before your player actually takes off, and if you’re too early, you’ll try to steal before the pitcher has even thrown the pitch. Even when you get the initial timing right, the jump you get never seems to be very good, and catchers will usually throw you out unless the other player is caught unaware (which is pretty rare considering the game has someone scream “Steal! Steal!” when you take off).
Given that a home run will score a baserunner no matter which base they’re on, there’s really no good reason to attempt to steal a base unless the circumstances are perfect (i.e., you have a super speedy baserunner and the opponent is too focused on the hitter). For the most part, you’re better off saving your outs for your at-bats.
7. Diversify your bullpen to surprise your opponents. You’ll have eight roster spots dedicated to relievers, so your goal will be to have these pitchers overlap as little as possible, forcing your opponent to be ready for anything.
The easy angle is the left-handed/right-handed split: Since hitters generally struggle against same-side throwers, you’ll want to have a few options from either side to exploit these matchups. (Also, as we’ve discussed before, having a few arms with plus velocity is never a bad thing.) A less-exploited tactic, however, is a pitcher’s release point: Most pitches use overhand or three-quarter deliveries to throw the ball, but a few (like our friend Darren O’Day above) use sidearm or submarine motion that deliver the ball from a very different angle, and if your opponent doesn’t have a lot of experience against them, they can be tough to track and time up. It’s not a foolproof tactic, but I’ve gotten a surprising amount of quality from Bronze/Silver relievers with unorthodox throwing motions, and sometimes this can be the difference between winning and losing.
These tips may not guarantee victory in MLB The Show Diamond Dynasty matches (sometimes you’ll run up against that person with five Diamond 99 players in their lineup and get knocked out in the third inning by the mercy rule), but they’ll help get you started and give you a fighting chance against most any opponent you take on. Now get out there and play ball!
If all else fails…you can’t go wrong with putting a Kyle or four on your roster.
One thought on “Seven Things You Can Do To Succeed In Diamond Dynasty In MLB The Show 22”
Point #3 was particularly interesting to me. I imagine the biggest reason I usually struggle at hitting in baseball games is because I tend to walk up to the plate without much of a plan and try to simply react to whatever the pitch is. This rarely results in much success because my timing almost always ends up hopelessly in-between, late on the fastball but early on the offspeed and breaking stuff. My odds of success would probably be far higher if I simply chose whichever pitch in the pitcher’s arsenal I feel I’m most likely to get in the current situation and try to time my swing based on that, which from everything I’ve heard is what big leaguers actually do!
Point #7 made me laugh. I am always utterly helpless against submariner relievers, especially when it’s lefty vs. lefty. I find that a pitcher’s motion in general matters a lot because some are much easier to read and time against than others. A pitcher with mediocre ratings but a funky motion could prove to be harder to square up than an ace-level pitcher with an easy-to-follow windup!
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