There is no question that the MLB The Show franchise is the king of baseball video games. It has been so far ahead of the competition that 2K Sports stopped making their version and now the former Sony PlayStation exclusive is available on Xbox systems, which was unheard of in the past.
The consistency of the series is a remarkable highlight of it, with almost every entry being well received by fans and critics. That makes it interesting to see which installments of the games scored the highest on Metacritic to find the best ones. This list only features the games subtitled The Show, which dates back to 2006.
10 MLB The Show 20 (83)
It might come as a surprise but the most recent iteration of the series, MLB The Show 21, doesn’t actually rank in the top ten. The highest rating it scored was an 80. However, the prior year’s game does make the cut, continuing the series’ long tradition of positive reviews.
The gameplay mechanics, graphics, and presentation aspects were up to their usual high standards but what made this even better were some new additions. Minor League players were fully licensed to appear for the first time and gamers could now edit logos and jerseys to create their own teams.
9 MLB 08: The Show (85)
One thing that hasn’t changed a ton about the franchise is the gameplay. Although there are tweaks and minor improvements over time, it has mostly played the same since its inception. So, in order for each installment to stand out, it needs to bring something else to the table.
With MLB 08: The Show, the third entry in the series, it was all about statistics. This game added the Batter/Pitcher Analysis feature and Progressive Batting Performance, which were both designed to give a more realistic feel to the overall experience.
8 MLB The Show 16 (85)
MLB The Show 16 was the first time that the game flipped the order of the title where the year comes after “The Show” and not before it. It was also the final entry released on the PlayStation 3. This took a lot of what worked for the series and added to it.
The game added Conquest Mode, which helped expand on the popular Diamond Dynasty mode and it debuted a ShowTime feature to slow things down in Road to the Show in clutch situations. There was also a unique Battle Royale mode to make things more fun.
7 MLB The Show 17 (85)
NBA 2K experimented with putting legends on the cover of their games with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, and others. MLB The Show did it in 2017 with the iconic Ken Griffey Jr. and it worked wonderfully to focus on the stars of yesteryear.
The main thing to note here is that there weren’t a ton of other new additions to this iteration. It just continued the success and made interesting changes regarding the story aspect of the popular Road to the Show. Hardcore fans appreciated the Hall of Fame edition that came with a ton of bonuses.
6 MLB The Show 19 (86)
The best of the most recent entries in the series came with MLB The Show 19. A welcome addition was on the presentation side of things, with Heidi Watney joining as a sideline reporter, making each game feel more like one you’d see on TV.
All of the iconic modes like Franchise and Road to the Show were back but there was a major one added. Moments Mode was cool in that it allowed the gamer to relive some of the most iconic moments in MLB history from the Cubs winning the World Series to some of cover athlete Bryce Harper’s career highlights.
5 MLB 12: The Show (87)
Whenever a new generation of gaming consoles arrives, sports series tend to struggle. Adapting to the new technology while still releasing versions for the old systems could be tough. MLB The Show never really had that problem but stopping PS2 production and focusing on the PS3 certainly helped.
Although it also wasn’t released for PSP, it did come out for the PS Vita. There wasn’t all that much about this installment that changed or innovated but it was just a great baseball game that sharpened the things that were well-received in prior entries.
4 MLB 13: The Show (87)
Take what worked in MLB 12: The Show and add in some new modes and you can see why MLB 13: The Show was such a success. For starters, Steve Lyons replaced Dave Campbell on the commentary team, giving the game a fresh feeling that was a bit overdue.
The game included a Postseason Mode, letting players experience the intensity of playoff baseball without going through a 162-game season. There were also changes to RTTS presentation, player development and budgeting in Franchise, and new throwing meters for fielders.
3 MLB 09: The Show (90)
There’s no question that the height of the series came within a three-year span between the end of the 2000s and the beginning of the 2010s. MLB 09: The Show featured “hot shot fielding,” which meant there were smooth animations from those playing defense, including fancy things like barehanded flips.
There were also updates made to RTTS, giving the player more interactions with their coaches, while Franchise Mode had interesting inclusions like salary arbitration and September callups. Add in deeper stat tracking and the SportsConnect in-game updates and this was fantastic.
2 MLB 11: The Show (90)
If there was ever a game that was perfect for the PlayStation Move, it was MLB The Show. This version was the first to be compatible with it, allowing gamers to swing their motion controller to do many of the things that a real baseball player would pull off.
Along those same lines, this game also introduced the Pure Analog Control System, which let players use the analog stick to hit, pitch, and field. On top of that, there was a Rivalry Mode as well as a Co-Op mode, allowing players to split defense in both the outfield and infield.
1 MLB 10: The Show (91)
Apparently, the peak of MLB The Show came when Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer was on the cover, which he was in both 2010 and 2011. While the gameplay was as strong as it typically is, this version did just enough with adding new creative concepts to the mix.
For example, the game added Catcher Mode. This put the player into a first-person perspective as a catcher who had to completely call pitches and the entire game. They also threw in Home Run Derby and polished many other aspects.
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