MLB The Show 21 Hitting & Pitching Extended Q&A

March 17th, 2021

We sat down with The Show’s Gameplay Development Team to answer some of your questions regarding the pitching and hitting updates in MLB The Show 21.

(If you missed the Hitting and Pitching Feature Premiere, you can view it here).

It was mentioned at the end of the stream that improvement/work went into bunting this year. Can you elaborate as to what improvements/changes were implemented this year?

We have made improvements to sacrifice and drag bunts specifically. Repeated drag bunt attempts become less effective as the defense becomes more alert and you lose the surprise factor.

How do the control and BB/9 attributes affect the PAR and how easy/difficult perfect input is to achieve?

The two most important attributes that influence pitch accuracy and thus PAR are BB/9 and the individual pitch accuracy for the selected pitch. The most accurate pitchers will have a high BB/9 and high control for that selected pitch. It’s good to note that generally the average fastballs are more accurate than other pitch types.

So does the change to check swings being based only on user input apply to directional batting as well, since directional otherwise relies on attributes as well as user input?

Checked swings are user driven on all hitting interfaces and as far as the main hitting engine goes, you determine the timing of your swing with Directional.


Practice seems great. But is it all current MLB teams or can you play against legends available in Diamond Dynasty?

We have three legend teams available to choose from when entering practice mode.

Will other pitching modes be allowed in Competitive besides Pinpoint pitching, Meter, and Analog? If so are the first three the only ones that will have the PAR Feature?

The PAR feature is available for Pinpoint, Meter, and Analog pitching. PAR is inherent in the pulse pitching mechanic and is displayed when the pulse circle is at its smallest point.

Can you explain the timing of the third move (12 to 6) in PPP? In the video, when Kyle said circles are on top of each other.

The first thing you are going to notice is that as you aim your pitch, the arrow and circle on the bottom move in relation to the ball placement in the zone. This location will be important when finishing your pitching motion.

Next you’ll see the pitch preview inside the interface. Each pitch type has a distinct motion that needs to be performed at the same speed as the preview. Your performance executing this input is known as the Gesture rating.

After you begin your motion, you will see a timing mechanic pop up at and the 12 o clock position where all pitches will finish. The gears will rotate and begin to close in on one another in an effort to help you keep the right pace when performing your gesture. The ideal timing is when the rings overlap, or it gives the appearance of just one ring. You may also notice that there is some dynamically colored feedback along your path that will help keep you on pace.
– green is “good”
– yellow means “slow down”
– red is “failing”

There will be another timing mechanic that looks exactly like the one at the 12 o clock position that is now in place of where you aimed your pitch in the first step. This mechanic here will help you time your release, along with the pitchers motion. The ideal timing is when the rings overlap, or it gives the appearance of just one ring. You may have noticed some variability in timing, which comes from the distinct motion that each pitcher has, some require you to wait longer, some shorter.  

As part of your final release down stroke, you must aim left/right depending on the target of your pitch. This is rated as Direction accuracy.

Casual mode for DD; is it just conquest/play v cpu or can we please use it for moments/showdowns as well?

The casual gameplay style setting can also be used in Custom Leagues.

What affects the timing windows and what causes them to change so frequently from pitch to pitch?

First and foremost, timing windows vary depending on the location of the pitch and pitch type. You won’t want to swing at the same time on an inside fastball as you would on one away. Players in real life and in our game have hit tendencies that can be viewed on each player card; some are great at pulling the ball, some use the entire field well, and other are good and going to the other way.  For example, a pull hitter in MLB The Show would have a slightly increased timing window on early swings and a slightly decreased timing window for late swings which can help when trying to turn on a 100mph inside fastball.

Why does meter have a smaller PAR circle than Analog? Analog is arguably harder.

Meter has a smaller PAR than Analog due to the huge asymmetry between underthrows and overthrows in timing (you are trying to hit perfect accuracy without waiting so long you throw into the dirt). With Analog, there is also a timing element that controls the over/under throws, but it is not as extreme like the meter (inherently because of the interface).

Will vision matter this year? Or will it be not as important like it was in The Show 20?

Vision is one of the most integral attributes for a hitter in The Show as the higher vision attribute a player has, the better they are at reducing swing and misses as well as strikeouts. 

At the end of the stream, baserunning was mentioned as being improved but not expanded upon. Can you elaborate as to what was changed/improved in terms of baserunning? Did the team address community issues with auto baserunning?

We’ve made improvements specifically when users had multiple runners on base and would attempt to advance all runners rather than targeting, as well as improvements to the way the CPU handles baserunning duties. For example, a runner was coming home to score from second on a base hit to the outfield where the ball is cutoff by the relay-man. You already sent your batter on his way to second thinking the throw was going home and now recognize that you need to send him back to first or he’ll be out. Previously, if you hit R1 to send the runner between first and second back to first, the runner heading home would also retreat back to third taking an easy run away from you, that will no longer be the case. 

Has the simulation mode had any additional gameplay balancing to make it “more sim” than in past years?

We are always striving to develop the best baseball sim out there, and just like previous years we use data from the MLB and internal telemetry data to keep pushing it forward.

How exactly do the casual, sim, and competitive styles modify the game differently and what makes them unique?

Each gameplay style has a unique set of base gameplay options from the outset. With casual defaulting to the easiest interfaces and competitive defaulting to the most difficult. These base settings can be adjusted at any time. 
– Casual prioritizes comfort adjustments over realistic stats and is best used for single-player play. For example, pitching interfaces are easier to perform successfully, timing windows are larger, checked swings are more likely to be more likely in your favor when hitting and when pitching. Penalties for excessive bunting or stealing have been removed as well as limited the numbers of pick-off or steal attempts the CPU could attempt in a row. We also have turned on fielding aids, tutorials, and guess pitch.
– Simulation is our tried and true experience and what you are used to playing with on MLB The Show. It’s a well balanced experience between player/team attributes and user input.
– Competitive is all about making user input the most important factor and our online head to head default for a reason. Wherever possible, randomness (wind/personalize umps) has been removed and an importance has been placed on mastering the most difficult mechanics as they are the most rewarding (good input matter more and bad input worse).

Had the PAR always been the largest/least accurate on Analog Pitching, or was that changed this year to differentiate it from Pinpoint Pitching?

Yes, Meter pitching has been more accurate then Analog and was not changed to differentiate it from Pinpoint. 

Are you doing away with discipline rating? If not what does the rating do since no longer for check swings?

Discipline rating is still a factor for increasing walks and directly influences swing decisions during fast forward/simming. High discipline makes checked swings easier to execute and affects the rate of automatically dodging near miss hit by pitches (i.e. preventing you from swinging at them).

If the modes (casual, sim, competitive) are separate, why was it necessary to change the check swing for simulation? I can understand for competitive and inflated DD ratings, but “simulation” should remain ratings based.

Whenever possible, we don’t do things so differently that what you learn doesn’t apply to the next difficulty level or gameplay style. So when accounting for discipline in checked swings, we felt that removing it from the equation and putting the result in the user’s hand would be a more rewarding experience. Discipline is still a factor during fast forwards or simming a game.

Are you going to nerf sinkers and cutters? 

Having reviewed feedback and telemetry from MLB The Show ’20, we feel confident with how each pitch type will be functioning at release. That said, we are always trying to be mindful of community sentiment and are always willing to make adjustments where we (and the community) feel it’s needed most.



A special thank you to everyone who submitted questions!