MLB The Show 18: Basic Tips for Beginners

This tips and tricks guide will tell you all you need to know about MLB The Show 18 -- and to get started kicking butt in Franchise mode, Retro mode, Online, or any other mode in the newest entry in the baseball franchise.

The baseball season is just about to start, and you know what that means? MLB The Show 18 is here with a roster full of all-star players ready for you to knock one out of the park. Whether you're playing in the National League or the American League, we've got you covered with this guide to the best tips to get you started.

The control scheme for MLB: The Show 18 is deceptively simple, but the strategy that goes into each throw and swing is complex. However, once you get the bat in your hands or a fly ball headed your way, you'll find things can get a bit more complicated.

Standing in the Batter's Box -- Going on Offense

No one wins a baseball game without scoring at least a single run -- either in real life or MLB The Show 18. There will be a combination of thought and instinct that goes into playing offense. You gotta know when to swing the bat, but you also gotta know when to steal a base or make a sacrifice bunt.

A player for the Angels stands at bat against a Rangers pitcher in MLB The Show 18

The Bat-boy Becomes the Bat-man -- Choosing Batting Style

Before you get a chance to swing in MLB The Show 18, you will have to pick your batting style. There are three options to choose from:

  • Directional Hitting -- Move the left stick in any direction and press X for a normal swing, O for a contact swing, and Square for a power swing.
  • Zone Hitting -- Move the left stick in the direction of the pitch to adjust the Plate Coverage Indicator. When you align it with the ball, press X for a normal swing, O for a contact swing, and Square for a power swing.
  • Pure Analog -- Flick the right stick up for a normal swing, left or right for a contact swing, or down then up in a smooth fashion to do a power swing.

Experienced MLB The Show players have recommended the zone type, as it allows you to control where the ball will go when you hit it much more than the other kinds will. I also find that it's the most natural to use.

Batting is going to be something that you will just have to practice to get down in MLB The Show 18. No amount of tips will make you instantly great at it, but a big piece of advice is to not swing at every pitch.

Sometimes your opponent is going to throw a ball. Sometimes you're going to get hit with a strike that is not worth hitting because it might lead to a pop fly that gets caught. Use your normal swing most of the time. Use your contact swing when you need to make your runners move. Use your power swing when you have a home run hitter step up to plate and the bases are loaded. Use a sacrifice bunt with bad batters like your pitcher when you can get a run off a player taking a base.

Outfielders in MLB The Show 18

And I Raaan, I Ran to Third Baaase -- Baserunning Basics

Getting runs requires runners to run to the bases. There are different baserunning options to choose from in MLB The Show 18:

  • Default Baserunning -- L1 advances all of your players on base, R1 has all of them retreat. You can also use the left stick to highlight the player you want to select, then press the face button corresponding to the base you want them to run to.
  • Classic -- L1/R1 are the same as above. Press the face button that corresponds to the base of the player you wish to select, then press the D-Pad button that corresponds with the base you want them to run to.
  • Auto Baserunning -- The CPU automatically baseruns for you. You can override it by using L1/R1 like the other two.

Another good tip is to also have your runners lead off to get ready to run to another base or steal another base. The controls for both are relatively the same:

  • Leading -- Press L1 or R1 to increase or decrease the lead off distance of your baserunner. Push the L-stick towards the runner you want to lead off with using L1.
  • Stealing -- Same as above, but with L2 and R2. 

You will have to know the team you're playing against in MLB The Show 18 and know exactly where the ball is before you can get gutsy with taking more than one base at a time. But when getting gutsy, it's also important to remember your slides in case you need to pull them out. Your slides will depend on which base you're going to:

  • To 1st through 3rd: Press down on the R-stick to go straight, feet first; press up on the R-stick to go straight, head first; press left on the R-stick to hook to the left; and press right on the R-stick to hook to the right. Pressing down then up on the R-stick will help you during a double play.

  • To home: Press down on the R-stick to go straight, feet first; press up on the R-stick to go straight, head first; press diagonal down-right to go wide right, feet first; or press diagonal up-right to go wide right, head first.

Defense is essential to keeping your foe's sport points lower than yours. Strike out all of your opponents or catch a fly ball and throw it to second in time for a double play by following these MLB The Show 18 tips for pitching. 

View from behind the pitcher displaying his various pitch types in MLB The Show 18

Give 'Em the Ol' Fastball -- Tips and Tricks for Pitching

Pitching is where all the action starts in baseball, and MLB the Show 18 gives you all sorts of ways to do it. You can choose from the following four pitching methods:

  • Pitching -- You use the face buttons to pitch and the L-stick to aim. You press X to start the meter. You then press X at the top of the meter to determine your power, and X again when you come across the bar in the middle on the meter's return swing for accuracy.
  • Pulse Analog -- You use the face buttons to pitch and the L-stick to aim. Hold the right stick down until it approaches the sweet spot, then flick it upwards in the direction of the target to deliver the pitch.
  • Pulse -- You use the face buttons to pitch and the L-stick to aim. Press X when the pulse is at its smallest size for both increased accuracy and better pitching results.
  • Classic -- You use the face buttons to pitch and the L-stick to aim. Press X to deliver the pitch.

If you don't want to have to put much thought into your pitching in MLB The Show 18, classic is the way to go, but if you want to take this game seriously, you will have to pick one of the first three. I personally prefer the first method.

To perform a pitchout in MLB the Show 18, you hold L1 and press X. To intentionally walk your foe, you press O while holding L1.

A fastball is the fastest, straightest ball, with a 4-seam being the fastest of them.

A splitter breaks down suddenly before it reaches the catcher. A slider will go down and away from a hitter who uses their right hand.

A changeup is slower than a fastball but thrown with the same motion to trick your opponent.

There's more than just this, but you will learn them with practice. Each pitcher will have their own set of pitch types they can throw, so it will also depend on which team you go with. A good trick to remember, too, is that if you pick a pitch type on accident, you can press L1 to break from your stance

When you're pitching and you think someone on base is going to try and steal, you can hold L2 to check them as they're leading off in MLB the Show 18. Afterward, press the button of the base you want to throw it to and pick them off. This is an easy way to get an out if your opponent isn't careful.

a large baseball icon indicating where a fly ball will land in the outfield in MLB The Show 18

Getting a Double Play

MLB The Show 18 gives you a pretty simple but useful toolkit for playing defense aside from pitching. When trying to catch a ball, you can press R2 to dive or R1 to jump. The dive is useful for when a ball is just barely out of reach and might hit the ground before you get to it, but a jump is useful for when a ball is just barely about to go over the fence.

Just like the other areas of MLB The Show 18, you have options for how you can throw the ball. There are four styles:

  • Button Accuracy -- Press the button corresponding to the base you want before the ball is picked up to preload. After that, release the base button while in the green area for a good throw.
  • Buttons -- Preload. Just as simple as that.
  • Pure Analog -- Flick or hold right stick to preload.
  • Auto Throwing -- The computer does it for you.

When the ball is being thrown long distances, you can have players in between act as a cutoff and catch the ball by holding L1. This is useful for when you throw from the outfield to home but end up needing the ball near second.


That does it for this MLB The Show 18 tips for beginner's guide. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for more content for this game. If there's anything specific that would help you, let me know in the comments section, and I will try to answer your question if I can.

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World traveling English teacher, writer, and aspiring front-end developer.

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Published Apr. 2nd 2018

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