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MLB The Show 23 Gameplay Feature Premiere Analysis

mlb the show 23 gameplay

MLB The Show 23

MLB The Show 23 Gameplay Feature Premiere Analysis

MLB The Show 23

MLB The Show 23’s pre-release hype train keeps chugging as we got the second feature premiere on February 14. Coming off the heels of last week’s deep dive into Storylines featuring the Negro Leagues, this week brought a closer look at gameplay.

During my Year In Review series looking back at MLB The Show 22, I spoke about the importance of gameplay in the overall Show experience. I touched on several areas I hoped to see some improvement, including fielding and hitting. I’m happy to say that this feature premiere addressed some key points. As usual, my focus will be on how the gameplay changes will directly affect online play in MLB The Show 23.


SDS talked at length about changes coming to outfielder “first step” transitions and how it affects jumps. This is something that’s been addressed in the past but hasn’t led to significantly notable variance in gameplay. Essentially, SDS upped the frequency that bad fielders will get bad animations on jumps in the outfield. Claiming that the changes are “very noticeable,” only time will tell if this change actually shows up on a regular basis.

The importance here is that poor fielders often end up showcasing spectacular playmaking ability that doesn’t correlate to their fielding rating. A slower, lower-rated fielder should struggle to get consistently good jumps and chase down tough gap shots or line drives. I’m not necessarily saying that we never saw poor fielders get bad jumps or animations, simply that it wasn’t happening as much as you’d expect.

It sounds like SDS addressed this, so it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. If we get more realistic outcomes with poor fielders, it could absolutely shake up the meta that develops if big bats with bad gloves cost you runs in the field.

As usual we will get hundreds of new animations, with a special call out to urgency animations. Again, only time will tell if this actually results in a varied gameplay experience or if it’s just stream fodder.

One of the specific areas I spoke about in my YIR series was the throw meter. SDS has made a change in this department that will indeed create more of a skill gap in MLB The Show 23 with a moving “sweet spot” in the throw meter.

So far, it appears that the meter only moves to the right. Whether it’s a ranging play on the infield or a throw from the outfield, the sweet spot slides to the right. If this is a stagnant movement, players will most likely adapt and start nailing perfect throws with regularity. If there’s a unique cadence based on direction, speed, or other variables then we’ll see some seriously unique outcomes every single game. Anything that increases a skill gap will be welcome in the Diamond Dynasty sphere. It was way too easy to nail perfect throws last year, which meant it was often impossible to stretch for extra bases or even tag up on deep fly balls. This is a great step in at least providing some variety on these particular fielding opportunities.

Another new addition is something that I specifically called out and asked for, although in a different form. Force throws to first base will now have an added layer of depth. If you release your throw in the yellow portion of the throw meter, it will be a guaranteed dirt ball each time. The significance here is that the first baseman will have to pick the ball on the bounce and the success rate will be determine by the first baseman’s fielding attribute. This isn’t the fully fleshed out idea that I had, but it’s definitely a good start. This can reduce the overall success rate on tough plays by poor fielding first basemen like Frank Thomas. Will it happen enough to cost you runs and make you question using Thomas at 1B? Only time will tell, but this is hugely exciting to me if it plays out the way SDS said it will.

We’ll talk more about the addition of the universal DH, but these fielding changes tie directly into that addition. If these changes truly do affect fielding and poor fielders finally become a significant liability, the addition of the DH will allow DD players to continue using their favorite hitters while not having to sacrifice fielding. That’s a huge win for the integrity of gameplay and the competitive meta.


One of the many aspects of Diamond Dynasty that often led to confusion was the Quirks system. We’ve seen countless Quirks over the years and there’s never been a true explanation on what they are or what they do. SDS finally directly addressed this by flat out removing the passive Quirks from the game and leaving only active Quirks. Those passive Quirks were things like Bomber that simply correlated to a specific attribute threshold and didn’t actively affect gameplay.

Active Quirks do affect gameplay and that’s why they’re now the last Quirks standing. Additionally, four brand new Quirks made it into the game: Pickoff Artist increases pickoff success rates, Break Outlier helps a pitcher maintain break as they get tired, Table Setter boosts performance of hitters with no runners on base, and Bad Ball Hitter presumably increases contact on pitches outside the strike zone.

These new Quirks will definitely affect gameplay but the removal of passive Quirks is more of a quality-of-life improvement. Reducing screen clutter on cards and just entirely removing a useless feature will streamline the experience for the best.

Clutch Attribute

Speaking of significant gameplay changes, we’re getting a pretty big one with the clutch attribute modification. When runners are in scoring position, both pitchers and hitters will now see their clutch rating come into play. Contact and H/9 have long been hugely important in the pitcher/batter battle. Now, a batter’s contact rating goes out the window in favor of their clutch rating with runners in scoring position. The same will be true with pitchers (both SP and RP) as their H/9 rating disappears in favor of their pitching clutch rating.

This has the potential to be a powerful dynamic in Diamond Dynasty. For years now, Contact and Power ratings were the be-all-end-all for hitters while H/9 was the main attribute the community focused on. This change with Clutch becoming important in key situations will affect card evaluations and potentially alter the meta landscape. Much of this will depend on how SDS pumps out attributes this year, but I think this will be a really interesting change of pace and add a cool wrinkle to DD.

Swing Analysis

One of the much maligned aspects of Diamond Dynasty gameplay has always been swing feedback. We’ve been told many things over the years about gameplay that didn’t quite make sense. Swing feedback has always been one of the most head-scratching elements to Diamond Dynasty, and SDS is addressing that in MLB The Show 23. Firstly, SDS took accountability during the feature premiere when they admitted they haven’t properly explained feedback in previous years. SDS is notoriously quiet and not great at communicating, so hearing them take accountability for some of that mass confusion was music to my ears. Secondly, the revamped swing analysis is geared towards providing that specific feedback we’ve been craving.

Notably, we’ll now see the batter’s most important attributes displayed at the top of the feedback window. We’ll also get instant feedback on timing and PCI placement, respectively left to right, with contact rating, launch angle and exit velocity at the bottom. In essence, we’re getting all the data that leads to the batted ball’s outcome in one sleek looking window. Strictly from a UI point-of-view, this new analysis window looks great and feels more modern. Instant feedback will just be more of a “feel good” reaction versus waiting to find out if we hit another perfect-perfect lineout.

SDS again reiterated that swing timing is the most important variable in swing outcome. PCI placement is the second most important factor. The center dot remains the perfect-perfect sweet spot, but SDS removed the perfect flyball and perfect grounder dots.

Perhaps most importantly, SDS has revamped the outcomes in the hitting engine to better correlate to the contact rating of your swings. Stressing that “good” contact grades should rate out more often as hits, it sounds like SDS has truly taken steps to redefine competitive gameplay. I’ve long wanted the feedback and outcomes to simply make sense and these changes definitely take strides toward that very matter.


mlb the show 23 gameplay

Easily the most talked about aspect of online gameplay, hitting is also getting some direct tweaks.

A focus was placed on a more competitive environment for MLB The Show 23. One of the biggest issues in MLB The Show 22 was the excessive amount of foul balls. Outstanding pitching often resulted in prolonged at-bats because hitters were fouling off nearly every single pitch, and it just felt absolutely awful.

A specific change here is the reduction of the vision attribute by 50%. That means the outer PCI is shrinking a considerable amount, which SDS says should “significantly reduce” the number of foul balls and bloop hits. Very late swings are also supposedly going to result in contact at a much lower rate, which means those bloops and bleeders will happen way less than we’re used to seeing. This all sounds amazing and I certainly hope gameplay reflects the chatter during the feature premiere.

However, I do have some concerns about mid-to-late game cycle gameplay when batters with juiced up vision start dropping into the marketplace. While I’m speaking strictly about the feature premiere here, it is worth pointing out that some early Tech Test experience shows massive outer PCIs on 99 overall cards. If this gameplay tweak is exclusively tied to vision, we might still see an incredible amount of foul balls and bloop hits later in the game cycle. For now, I’m going to remain hopeful that SDS made the right tweaks and hitting will improve overall.

Rule Changes

Major League Baseball is adopting some new rules for 2023 and one of the big ones is the defensive shift ban. The shift has long been a conversation in baseball circles as it overtook the league and changed the way defenses lined up on the field. With infielders now being reduced to two infielders on both sides of second base and on the infield dirt, MLB The Show 23 will follow suit. These shift changes are implemented, and while you’ll still be able to tweak your alignment, your options will be limited to the new rules.

Diamond Dynasty always had an AFK pitch timer, forcing pitchers to throw the ball after six seconds of inactivity. The actual pitch clock will not be in the game per MLB’s rules, but the DD pitch clock remains. The pick-off limit rule is also being skipped in favor of the overall gameplay experience, and I think that’s a good call. It would guarantee extended griefing with players continually exceeding the limit and forcing balks, prolonging the game. It would also lead to way too many steals as the limit was approached, so I applaud SDS for skipping this, at least for now.

Ranked Co-Op

One of the biggest additions in last year’s game was co-op. Allowing you to play online DD games with your friends (and strangers) with a combined card collection, it initially appeared to be a franchise-altering addition. Unfortunately, the mode was plagued by inconsistencies all year, and players like me couldn’t even connect to co-op games to try it. The mode was essentially broken all year with no true patches being released to address the issues. There was also no reward system in place, as SDS stated they wanted the mode to function properly before adding rewards.

That’s all changing in MLB The Show 23 as Ranked Co-Op is being introduced. Following the traditional Ranked Seasons ladder, Ranked Co-Op will have the same divisions we’re used to seeing. It remains to be seen if the reward structure is exactly the same or if co-op will pay out different packs or have separate World Series rewards. If solo Ranked and Co-Op Ranked both pay out the same World Series rewards, that will give players a third way of earning those rewards if the program structure from last year returns. If we don’t see a similar program, perhaps SDS will simply replace it with Co-Op Ranked to encourage people to actually play the game more if it’s based on wins.

Designated Hitter And Two-Way Players

mlb the show 23 arm

Finally, the DH has come to Diamond Dynasty. After the universal DH was implemented last year, many of us were hoping to see the DH in DD, but it didn’t happen. We had to wait another year but at least it’s finally here.

This is one of the biggest possible changes to gameplay we could see. I wrote about this last year when I pitched a new Competitive Ranked Seasons mode in Diamond Dynasty. There’s always been a lot of talk in both real baseball and DD that pitchers hitting created an element of strategy. I’ve always disagreed with that and asserted that an additional hitter in the lineup creates plenty of strategy itself. In addition to the three-batter minimum, an extra hitter to deal with can create incredibly challenging decisions for the pitching team.

You can essentially platoon a DH and force the pitching change that will give you an advantage. If you capitalize, you can swing momentum in your favor. Blow your opportunity and you could potentially burn a bat for no reason, and your bench will be short later in the game. This is a welcomed change not just to mirror the actual sport, but to make Diamond Dynasty more fun.

No longer do I have to debate using Gary Sheffield in the outfield despite his shaky defense. If the fielding changes we discussed earlier are actually significant, it’ll be a huge detriment to play guys like that in the field just to have their bat in the lineup. Now, I can slide Sheff to DH and use him every single game and not worry about being bitten for that decision on defense.

Additionally, we’re finally getting true two-way player usage. Except for real this time. When Shohei Ohtani was announced as the cover athlete last year, we were told that that SDS rewrote a ton of code to make two-way players possible. Maybe that was true, but we didn’t actually get to use players as advertised. Now, Ohtani and players like him will be starting pitchers by default but possess secondary positions in the field. This will ensure you can utilize them however you wish, including having them DH akin to MLB’s actual rules with two-way players.

Bottom Line

mlb the show 23

It’s easy to get caught up in pre-release hype for every game. We do this song and dance every year and so much can change between now and getting our hands on the game. I was incredibly excited for MLB The Show 22 only to be entirely underwhelmed and disappointed in the gameplay experience. But so far, everything SDS has announced truly sounds amazing and has me more excited for ‘23 than I was for last year’s game at this time.

There’s plenty of nuance in the gameplay tweaks that can lead to significant improvements or end up being trivial bullet points. I look at the additions of Dynamic PAR and Dynamic PCI last year as perfect examples. Those tweaks looked great and sounded as if they’d actually lessen the gameplay woes we’ve been experiencing. Instead, those features were nerfed compared to their Tech Test versions and ultimately didn’t seem to affect gameplay positively at all. No matter how disappointed I was last year, I’m on the hype train for MLB The Show 23 and can’t wait to see what else is in store.

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