MLB The Show 23 Ultimate Hitting Guide & Tips: How to Hit, Home Runs Tips, PCI, IQ, & More

Here is the ultimate and comprehensive guide and tips for how to hit better in MLB The Show 23. In this guide we deep-dive into all of the components and intangibles of hitting in the game, including pitch recognition, how to scout the pitcher and what to look for, how to hit homeuns, PCI tips, and much more!

Also See:

Pitch Recognition

Pitch recognition is a big part of becoming a great hitter in MLB The Show 23. Use the graphic below to see the most common pitch types in MLB The Show 23 and real baseball and how to recognize different pitches you’ll face in the game.

credit: AppliedVisionBaseball

MLB The Show 23 Hitting Controls

Hitting Controls – Zone Interface (Buttons)

ACTIONXBOX 1/SERIES X/SPS4/PS5
Aim the PCILSLS
Press Early & Hold for Sacrifice BuntYTriangle
Press Late for Drag BuntYTriangle
Power SwingXSquare
Contact SwingBCircle
Normal SwingAX
Hitting Controls – Zone Interface (Analog)

ACTIONXBOX 1/SERIES X/SPS4/PS5
Normal SwingRight Stick UpRight Stick Up
Contact SwingRight Stick Left or rightRight Stick Left or right
Power Swing / Stride & SwingRight Stick Down then UpRight Stick Down then Up
Check SwingRelease Right StickRelease Right Stick
Direction in ZoneRight Stick Diagonal Up Left or Up RightRight Stick Diagonal Up Left or Up Right
Batting Misc.

ACTIONXBOX 1/SERIES X/SPS4/PS5
Quick Menu (Excluding Player Lock)Dpad UpDpad Up
Pitcher Attributes / Player QuirksDpad LeftDpad Left
Pitching & Batting BreakdownDpad RightDpad Right
Call TimeoutDpad DownDpad Down
View Defensive Positioning & RatingsClick RSClick RS
Control the CameraRSRS
Guess Pitch TypeRT + A, B, X, YR2 + X, Circle, Square, Triangle
Guess LocationRT + LSR2 + LS
Batting – Bunt Influence Pre-Pitch

ACTIONXBOX 1/SERIES X/SPS4/PS5
Cancel Current Influence
RS UpRS Up
Influence Drag BuntRS LeftRS Left
Influence Push BuntRS RightRS Right

Things to Know Before Getting in the Batter’s Box

  • Learn all the Hitting Controls
  • In the gameplay settings, set up your preferred PCI for more precision and control for hitting. Use a PCI display that you’re comfortable with, trying out different displays to test how they affect the success rate of your hitting.
  • Go into practice mode to practice any pitches and/or locations you have trouble with
  • Test out different camera angles for hitting that works the best for you and recognizing pitches. Zoomed in camera angles work well for that.

Things to Know While in the Batter’s Box

  • Observe / study each pitch type and pitch speeds (see Pitch Recognition section) and get used to them via repetition.
  • Study your opponent’s tendencies and try to learn their patterns and then adjust to it, especially online vs human opponents. For example, do they tend to throw only on the outside of the plate? Do they throw a lot of balls to get you to chase? Do they have a favorite go-to pitch or location that they keep going back to? Things like that.
  • Always be aware of the opposing pitcher’s best pitches and worst pitches in their arsenal.
  • If you’re not sure, check your players attributes vs LHP and RHP to see how they fair vs the current opposing pitcher.
  • Be aware if your batter is a pull hitter, push hitter, or balanced and use that to your advantage
  • Be aware of your players hot zones and cold zones in the strike zone and use that to your advantage
  • Be aware of the pros and cons of each Swing Type: “Contact”, “Normal”, and “Power” swings. Power swings are harder to time, harder to check, and have less plate coverage than regular swings but give more chance of home runs and extra-base hits. Contact swings helps avoid strikeouts but less extra-base potential.
  • Sacrifice bunts are good for moving a runner forward. Bunting for a base hit is most effective as a late surprise vs a sagged-off defense and with a speedy hitter.
  • Learn from the Swing Info display, which shows the timing, contact, pitch speed, and pitch location results of the last pitch.
  • Practice Plate Discipline — Patience is key, especially online! Many players online will try to bait you into swinging at bad pitches. Take the first pitch of the at-bat if need be, just to get used to taking a pitch and not swinging at everything.
  • Be aware of the count to predict the next pitch. A pitcher is more likely to throw strikes when behind in the count, more likely to throw balls when ahead in the count.
  • Observe how the defense is playing your batter and adjust. Look for gaps in the infield or outfield to aim for / hit the ball to those locations.
  • As a strategy, before or during a pitch, move your PCI near your ‘weak spots’. For example, if you have problems with high and in fast balls, cheat towards that area with the PCI so that you’re more prepared to protect a zone vs a pitch you have trouble hitting. Knowing the pitcher’s tendencies (location, speeds, pitch types, etc.) also can give you cues on where to pre-position the PCI.

How to Hit for Power / Hit Home Runs

  • Obviously one of the best way to hit home runs is to use a player with a high HR rating. Also choosing a power swing, having excellent timing on your swing, great precision with the PCI, and vs a cold pitcher or with low stamina all contribute towards increasing the success rate of homers.
  • The best way to maximize your chance of hitting home runs is to just become a great hitter overall as far as having a good strategy at the plate (hopefully these tips in this Hitting Guide will help you). The know-how of all these things – and practicing them often – should end up giving you a better perception vs pitching, improving your timing, and much more.
  • Another good way to increase hitting HR’s is to practice hitting home runs in the Home Run Derby mode to get down your timing and more.

Read on further if you want to get more of a deep-dive / detailed, comprehensive guide to hitting in MLB The Show 23!

Getting Started

When using button hitting, press A (Xbox) / X (Playstation) to swing at a pitch just before it crosses the plate. If you change your decision mid-swing, letting go of the A / X button quickly will check your swing.

After any swing, you can see what happened in the “Swing Info” display. This shows the timing, contact, pitch speed, and pitch location results.

The key to a good swing is timing and location. If you swing too early, you’ll miss or foul to the batter’s side. If you swing too late, you’ll miss or foul away from the batter.

Avoid swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone, as this tends to result in missing, fouling or hitting the ball weakly. Since the standard pitch is a fastball, the opposing pitcher will sometimes switch to slower breaking pitches to get you to swing early or out of the strike zone. You can improve your swing by aiming your “Plate Coverage” with the Left Stick before a swing.

The pitcher will vary his pitch type and location to challenge you, and you need to read and react to them accordingly.

Timing-wise, you must swing earlier on a fastball than on a changeup or other off-speed pitch. The same applies to swinging early on inside pitches (those on the batter’s side of the zone) and later on away pitches.

Location-wise, low and off-speed pitches tend to induce more ground balls, while high and fast pitches tend to induce more pop-ups. You have to judge if these pitches are worth swinging at, but you can also compensate against them using the “Plate Coverage Indicator” (PCI).

Every pitcher you face has a different set of pitch types, velocity, and effectiveness. To see info on a pitchers’ pitches, bring up the pitcher-batter matchup display.

If you’re having trouble reading and reacting to pitches, you can make hitting more strategic by using the “Guess Pitch” feature.

Plate Coverage

When using Zone hitting, the key to improving solid contact is to use the Left Stick to control your PCI. This is especially important as you play on higher difficulty levels from All-Star to Legend.

When using Pure Analog hitting, similar concepts apply for aiming left/right – an accurate left/right input will improve the ‘automatic’ up/down input for the better.

The PCI shows you the approximate solid contact region (excluding tip fouls, popups, and choppers), and there is some overlap between each hit type to represent the natural variation in every swing.

Pressing up on the Left Stick will cover high pitches better, and pressing down will cover low pitches better. These directions can potentially reduce op-ups and weak grounders if you aim correctly, or increase them if you cover the wrong direction.

Pressing left or right will cover inside and outside pitches better. This has an added benefit of shifting timing slightly, allowing the batter to hit some pitches fair instead of foul.

Your swing timing also has some influence on your aim. Swinging too early will lift your PCI and influence ground balls, and swinging too late drops your PCI and increases fly balls. This effect is amplified when the batter swings too early on an outside pitch (‘rolling over’), or too early on an inside pitch (‘jammed’).

A pitcher knowing this may challenge you with an outside changeup or inside fastball, hoping for a weak chopper or pop-up.

You can adjust the batter’s zone of coverage until the moment you press the Swing Button (A/X or B/Circle or X/Square). After every swing you can see your actual coverage using Swing Info.

One strategy with zone hitting is to present your coverage to a specific area, and ignore pitches on the other side of the plate. This keeps your eyes focused on a smaller area as you try to pick a good pitch to swing at. It can also help filter out pitches designed to fool you, such as off-speed pitches. Due to the way pitches move relative to the batter’s eye, it’s often easier to filter inside or away (left or right side of the plate) than to look for high or low pitches. You gain a big advantage in calling balls and strikes because you only have to judge one side, but you’ll miss out on a few decent pitches to the opposite side.

Another strategy is to react mid-pitch with a small adjustment. The key here is to keep the direction of your adjustment simple, and hold off on swinging if the pitch moves out of your reach.

Remember that certain pitches like the changeup work by appearing as high or middle fastballs but landing low or below the strike zone. There are always telltale signs of the pitch type and location, but an effective (and accurate) pitch only gives itself away at the last moment.

As an advanced strategy, you can use the PCI Anchor mechanic to pre-set the center of your PCI before a pitch. To use, press down the Left Stick, and then move the Left Stick in any direction. An OSD will appear, showing you 9 zones of selection within the strike zone, highlighting the currently selected zone of centering. Picking one of 8 directions will re-center where the PCI rests for he rest of he at-bat. This changes the sensitivity of input, giving you finer control in the side or corner you’ve set. For example, if you lock your PCI Anchor to be high, you can more easily cover the bottom 2/3 of the strike zone with just the bottom half of your Left Stick’s range. Also when setting PCI lock to any of the 4 corners, you will get slightly further coverage out of the strike zone on that corner. This can help when an opponent is predictably throwing to a certain corner.

Hitting will not be effective unless you’re selective about what you swing at, instead of free swinging. This is a key skill that can generate hits that are better at advancing your runners and getting the batter extra bases.

The overall size of plate coverage is the average of the batter’s Contact and Vision attributes, modified by the pitchers’ attributes. Contact emphasizes the chances of getting line drives, whereas Vision deals more with the chance of fouling instead of missing of missing. These attribute are modified by the pitcher’s attributes of H/9 and K/9, respectively. There is an additional size adjustment for Power, but this is a visual aid only and reflects the fact that power hitters can sometimes get a hit that would have been an out for a weaker hitter.

You can see how plate coverage works in real-time by turning a visual reticle on in the Gameplay Options.

Guess Pitch

Guess Pitch adds a strategic component to hitting by allowing you to guess pitch type, pitch location, or both. Your guess is made before the pitcher’s delivery while holding RT / R2, and the guess results are displayed during the pitcher’s windup.

To guess location, hold down RT / R2 and push the Left Stick in the direction you’re guessing. A visual and audio feedback will actively confirm which zone you’ve selected.

To guess pitch type, hold down RT and press the button that matches the pitch type you want to guess. For example, pressing A / X would guess against the pitcher’s best pitch (typically a fastball).

Guessing the location correctly will light up the zone you guessed. Guessing pitch type correctly will light up the baseball itself. Guessing both will instead light up the zone and the corners of the strike zone. Both results play a unique feedback sound in case you have the strike zone turned off.

When guessing both type and location, both must be correct for you to see any feedback and receive a contract bonus. Guessing either or both wrong is treated as the same result and incurs a small contact and power penalty.

When guessing wrong, don’t be afraid to swing at a good pitch. You’ll want to be selective and work the count. If you guess every pitch, you’ll get a correct guess roughly once an at-bat. Pay attention to pitch location on correct guesses, as this can mean the difference between a home run, foul, or miss.

When guessing just type or just location, the feedback is delayed until pitch release. This extra challenge balances out against the valuable information you receive whether you guess right or wrong. It may help to assume you will guess correctly and prepare to swing, but then hold your swing if the pitch location or guess result is unfavorable.

Since guessing only type or only location will give you valuable timing information even when you guess wrong, the timing window is always narrowed regardless of the guess result. Additional contact and power penalties apply if you swing when guessing wrong. This reflects the hesitation in the batter swinging at a pitch he wasn’t initially looking for. Lastly, guess pitch balance is adjusted when facing pitchers with only three pitches or when guessing against a pitcher’s less frequent pitches.

The standard guess pitch option is ‘Quadrant’, where you choose one of 8 directions, each covering 1/4 of the strike zone. You can also use guess pitch without displaying any right/wrong feedback by switching the Guess Pitch option to ‘No Feedback’. Although you will not be told if your guesses were correct or not, the bonuses are higher and penalties lower. There is also an option to use ‘Classic’, which shows the exact pitch location when you correctly guess the zone. Although this gives a big strategic advantage, the bonuses and penalties are strongly skewed in this mode. This reflects the fact that the batter doesn’t truly know the exact pitch location even if the user is being shown. One last option called ‘PCI’ lets you freely move your PCI around even after a correct location guess.

When guessing zone, there is a small bonus region added to the edge of the guessed zone, granting you extra coverage. This means that all guessed zones will cover a pitch dead center and overlap beyond what the OSD shows. This bonus region is bigger on Rookie and smaller on Legend. It’s also smaller on Classic.

On higher difficulties, the bonuses for guessing correctly are smaller and the penalties are bigger. There are also small adjustments to compensate for pitchers with only three pitch types.

Other Ways to Hit

In addition to swinging normally with the A / X button, you also have the option of using Power Swing, Contact Swing, or to Bunt.

Power Swing is most useful when the batter is ahead in the count and confident about his swing. It can help to advance runners from second or third, especially with fewer than two outs. To power swing in button hitting, use the X / Square button.

Power swings are harder to time, harder to check, and have less plate coverage than regular swings. They are especially less effective at hitting pitches bordering or outside of the strike zone. But the extra power can turn a deep fly ball into a home run, turn a single into a double, or advance runners extra bases. The drawback is a big increase in misses and strikeouts and a decrease in line drives. The ideal pitch to power swing against is a fastball deep in the middle of the strike zone, which is most common on ahead counts.

Contact Swing is most useful when the batter is behind in the count and not confident about his swing. It can help to avoid strikeouts and even prolong a difficult at-bat into a walk, but at a significant cost to extra base potential. To contact swing in button hitting, use the B / Circle button to swing.

Contact Swings are easier to time, easier to check, and have more foul coverage than regular swings. They are especially helpful in catching pitches outside of the strike zone that are normally very difficult to get. However, these hits do not travel as far as with regular swings and generally are not as valuable for offense.

Unlike Power Swinging, which helps a good hitter achieve extra bases, Contact Swings are mainly for helping weak hitters avoid a strikeout. Situations where this may matter include certain close game situations such as scoring a runner from third with less than two outs. In unique situations, by sacrificing the overall potential for multiple runs you are increasing the chance of a single run to tie or win the game as with a sacrifice bunt. It’s best to use Contact Swing sparingly.

To sacrifice bunt, hold down the Y / Triangle button after the pitcher has selected his pitch. Continue holding Y / Triangle until the pitch has reached the plate to bunt into play, or let go of Y / Triangle if you want to take the pitch. Sacrifice bunts are a reliable way to advance baserunners at the cost of an out to the batter.

To bunt for a base hit, wait until the pitcher has already released his pitch. With the pitch in midair between the pitcher and batter, press Y / Triangle to bunt. A good bunter will try to hit the ball in between all the infielders and beat the throw to first. To keep the ball away from the pitcher, these bunts will often be foul. Bunting for a base hit relies on surprise, and repeated bunts of this type will make the defense more alert in reacting against them.

Only a few elite hitters can consistently bunt for a base hit. Most other hitters lay down an occasional bunt and rely on surprise against the defense, especially in low scoring games where simply getting on base is at premium.

Other Tips

Directional hitting is a new mode of hitting that acts as an extension to Timing-only hitting. Depending on how you use it, you can trigger either Directional hitting or classic Timing-only hitting when set to this mode. To continue using Timing-only hitting, just swing normally as before. Or, you can push the Left Stick in any of 8 directions to trigger the new Directional hitting behavior. The basic idea of Directional hitting is to ‘Push in the direction you want to hit.’ Pushing up will influence flyballs, while pushing down will influence groundballs. Pushing in to the batter’s side will influence pull hits, while pushing away from the batter will influence push hits. For example, just under half of balls hit into play are groundballs normally. When influencing groundballs by pushing down, a solid majority of hits will be groundballs. The type and location of the pitch still remain an important factor in the hit type, in addition to your swing timing.

To access classic Timing, only hitting without Directional, set the Hitting Interface to ‘Timing’ and the Input Type to ‘Buttons’. This is a good starting point for beginners, because it is important to master timing before focusing on aiming/location. Your PCI is simulated and automatically set in this mode, similar to the CPU. Note that when using Directional but not pushing any direction, it is identical to this mode.

When hitting, you can now choose your swing method, whether button or analog, independent of the hitting mode. In the Hitting Interface section of options, Input Type will determine whether you swing using A / X or using the Right Stick. As a result, you can now use analog swings with Timing-only hitting (i.e. set input type to analog and the hitting mode to Directional).

Another significant change is that you no longer have to pull back to preload a normal analog swing. To analog swing, just push up at the time you want to swing. For Contact swings, push left or right. For Power swings, hold down ahead of time and push up when you want to swing.

When bunting, choose your bunt direction (left/right) with the Right Stick before the pitch. Bunt towards 3rd by pushing left or towards 1st by pushing right.

Within an at-bat, the batter’s counts (balls-strikes) can be grouped into 4 types:

  • Early Counts: 0-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-1
  • Behind Counts: 0-2, 1-2, 2-2
  • Ahead Counts: 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1
  • Full Count: 3-2

The pitcher’s counts can be grouped this way as well, except the Behind and Ahead counts are flipped within the pitchers’ perspective.

For each type of pitch count, there is a basic strategy for the batter:

  • Early Counts: The batter should be patient and look for a good pitch. When in doubt, don’t swing.
  • Behind Counts: The batter must protect the plate from strikeouts.
  • Ahead Counts: The batter should look to either hit his ideal pitch, or draw an easy walk.
  • Full Count: The batter must protect the plate, but hold off if it’s an easy ball 4.

Early in the at-bat, the batter should be patient and look for good pitches to swing at. The pitcher is going to make mistakes, and on average you’re going to see one good pitch within an at-bat. The most important key is not to try to cover the whole strike zone, and to take a strike if you’re not prepared to hit a pitch well. When in doubt, avoid swinging at borderline pitches. Wasted swings tend to miss, foul, or hit into an easy out.

On strike 2, the batter must project the plate against strikes or he’ll strike out looking. On the other hand, the pitcher knows this and will tend to pitch around you with breaking pitches. For example, on 0-2 counts, typically 2/3 of the pitches are out of the strike zone and almost 1/2 of them are non-fastballs.

On ahead counts, the batter has the advantage and can expect mostly fastballs. The pitcher is trying to avoid walking you, and most of his pitches will be strikes. Avoid all borderline pitches and focus on finding your ideal pitch, a fastball down the middle. You’ll want to be patient here because a walk is a guaranteed trip to first and a dep strike can be an easy hit.

MLB The Show 23 New Changes

The ‘Competitive’ gameplay setting has been re-worked and has several important changes. It is the default in Diamond Dynasty and all online two-player games. Overall, the Competitive setting penalizes bad input more. You will notice more misses, fewer popups and choppers, and the hits put into play will be slightly better to make up for fewer balls being put into play. Visually you will see the outer PCI region is reduced in size, while the inner is unchanged. Very late and very early timings are now misses rather than having some chances of barely making contact. Certain problem hit types that succeed by luck are greatly reduced in frequency, but they can still happen occasionally for hit/play variety.

When hitting, the most important player attributes are Power, Contact, Vision, and Clutch. Power and Contact are split for right and left handedness. Clutch replaces Contact when runners are in scoring position (see the Attributes section for more details). Note that right-handed pitchers are more common than left, so Power Right and Contact Right are overall more valuable than their lefty versions. Power is worth more than Contact, and Vision and Clutch are roughly as valuable as Contact Left. All the attributes are worth more in certain situations, such as Clutch in RISP situations, Vision when even an out would advance runners or score a run, and Contact when bases are empty. Speed is also an important attribute that can help a runner reach base safely on even a weak hit, or advance a runner one more base than they should have. Batters specializing in one attribute can complement each other – normally you start your line up with your highest Contact hitter because any base hit can be turned into a run by your Power hitters later in the line up. That first hitter might also have high Speed to help him steal bases or advance an extra base on hits in combo with the batters that follow him.

Note that the pitcher attributes Hper9, Kper9, and Clutch directly counteract the batter attributes of Contact, Vision, and Clutch. So a 99 Hper9 pitcher facing a 99 Contact hitter will have the same PCI, timing window, and hit variety as a 60 vs a 60 matchup. However, the pitcher also has BBper9 which represents pitch accuracy, that the batter has no influence over. And the batter has Power, which represents how hard he swings the bat that the pitcher has no influence over. So although a good pitcher can throw hard or accurately against a power hitter and deny good contact, if the power hitter does get solid contact, he will hit it hard. In Diamond Dynasty with higher-tier teams, this often means a ‘full build’ team will have more home runs, more deep fly outs, and fewer singles. It’s the natural result of what happens when you gather all the best players and play them against each other.

Not all line drives are equal. A line drive hit off the center of the PCI is going to hit harder than one off the extreme left and right sides of the PCI. The harder line drive has more extra base potential¬† even at the risk of occasionally being caught, but even a weak line drive can geta¬† single due to its ideal angle. The importance of centering the PCI applies to fly balls and ground balls, though power matters much more for fly balls. And of course, a batter’s attribute also plays a critical role in hit speed – a high power hitter can be a home run threat no matter how he hits the fly ball, as long as it is not too high and especially if they pulled it.

We hope this guide has helped you and you come out of this with more understanding on the strategic nuances of hitting that will give you a leg up on the MLB The Show 23 competition!