MLB The Show 21
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MLB The Show 21’s Team Affinity Season 4

MLB The Show 21 released (for both PlayStation and Xbox) April 16, 2021 – a full month later than baseball fans are accustomed to because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, San Diego Studios has been dropping absolute fire all season long. Friday, Sep. 10, Team Affinity Season 4 went live, and there are incredible players that you need to add to your Diamond Dynasty squad ASAP. It also offers plenty of free stubs, XP, and packs – and who doesn’t like free, am I right?

The Team Affinity Season 4 programs are broken into each of the six divisions, just like the previous three seasons. Unlike Season 3, however, Season 4 will require 150 program stars to be completed instead of just 100. You can earn a choice pack containing all five of the featured TA 4 players at 60, 90, 110, 130, and 150 program stars, but remember you can only choose one per pack. You are going to want to pick cards of players that are the best and will allow you to field the best team possible. Let’s rank them by division:

AL East

  1. CF Mickey Mantle, New York Yankees – Mantle is most likely the second-best hitter to be released in TA 4. This year’s 99 Mantle is an upgrade to last year’s live series collection card in just about every hitting category. Along with left and right field eligibility, The Mick is also a switch hitter, something extremely valuable now that there 99 overall pitchers are a dime a dozen. His high speed and defensive ratings are going to allow him to track down flyballs that most others wouldn’t.
  2. C Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles – The #1 prospect for 2021 finally has a 99 overall. Rutschman is a beast in the video game world and real life. This future stars edition card has triple digit attributes in nearly all hitting categories. He may not be JT Realmuto fast, but 56 speed before any parallel progress will do just fine for a switch-hitting catcher. Although he may not have any secondary positions, he brings elite defense, and will have maxed out fielding, arm strength, and blocking on his superfractor.
  3. 3B Wade Boggs, Boston Red Sox – Boggs has had some pretty juiced cards for the past few years now. If you are looking for a lefty stick with high contact, Boggs is the man for you. Boggs can play third and first base, positions that typically call for power bats, but he still meets the infamous 80 power threshold against both sides, meaning his perfect-perfect swings will result in homers. Every year there seems to be a lack in lefty bats minus the likes of Ken Griffey Jr. and Babe Ruth, who are going to be released in the upcoming months. Boggs is a good hold-me-over option until then.
  4. SP David Price, Tampa Bay Rays – The first pitcher to break down is also the first non-99 overall. Price’s new signature series card is just a 97 but offers a five-pitch mix from the left side. There’s no sinker or slider, but there is a two-seam fastball that sits at 97 mph and has 97 break, as well as a cutter. This card should be effective against both lefties and righties, despite having just 90 H/9.
  5. 1B John Olerud, Toronto Blue Jays – This card is kind of underwhelming, but Blue Jays fans can’t complain because there has been some serious heat north of the border this year. He’s no 99 Vlad Jr., but Olerud is an okay lefty bat. He compares to Boggs, frankly, with less contact, better defense, and no secondary eligibility.

AL Central

  1. 1B Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox – Okay, okay, okay. This is it. This is the card that will have users throwing their controllers straight through their monitors. I mean, c’mon, 125s everywhere except contact vs. righties. Oh yeah, and that’s 120. Who even cares about his 57 fielding and 49 speed? You won’t need those at first base or when he’s rounding the bases after a 470-foot homer each time he comes to the plate.
  2. SP Bob Feller, Cleveland Indians – If you want a stud pitcher, the AL Central is the program for you. Feller and Johnson are close, but I’m going to rank Feller second here mainly because he has one extra pitch in his arsenal. He has outlier, so his four-seam fastball will hit triple digits consistently. Pair that with a 20+ mph difference on his 12-6 curve AND changeup, and you have a nasty mix. His control is a tad lower, and he has a long windup, but once you get the hang of it, you should be able to overpower hitters.
  3. SP Walter Johnson, Minnesota Twins – Johnson has just four pitches, a four-seamer, sinker, curveball, and changeup. His power pitches both have outlier. Although he has better control and H/9 than Feller, not having a slider is a little worrisome. He can also hit a little, with mid 50s contact vs. righties and mid 30s power against both sides.
  4. SP Hal Newhouser, Detroit Tigers – Hal is basically a lefty Feller without outlier. Most stats lineup to be the same or very similar to Feller’s, but not being able to hit 102 will make a difference. He has 100 H/9 and 84 control. Use his sweeping curveball often, it’s his best pitch.
  5. SP Bret Saberhagen, Kansas City Royals – 99 Saberhagen comes in the form of a milestone card this year, highlighting his no-hitter from 8/26/1991. This card will not overpower your opponent as he only has a four-pitch mix and a fastball that sits at 95 mph. His equalizer is his 116 H/9, the highest among all TA 4 pitchers. That is elite, elite, and should eliminate long at-bats, foul balls and bloop singles. By the way, Royals fans, 99 future stars Bobby Witt Jr. is now up on the marketplace.

AL West

  1. 2B Craig Biggio, Houston Astros – This is now back-to-back years with a Biggio that is bonkers. His 115+ contact, 80+ power, and 85 speed are eligible not only at 2B, LF, and RF, but catcher, too! That’s by far the fastest catcher in the entire game, and his gold fielding will stay true behind the plate. Don’t be fooled by 81 and 82 power, this 5’11” demon still hits bombs.
  2. RF Julio Rodriguez, Seattle MarinersBaseball’s #2 ranked prospect has checked in. He can play each outfield spot with 90 fielding and a firehose for an arm at 97. He only has 67 speed, so you’ll want to place him in a corner spot. JRod stands 6’4”, 225 pounds, meaning his 100+ hitting attributes will most likely play higher.
  3. 1B Jason Giambi, Oakland Athletics – This 99 awards series Giambi is probably his best card ever in MLB The Show Diamond Dynasty. He’ll be stuck at first base, but the best way to use him will be as a pinch hitter or a platoon bat. Giambi has 118 contact and max power vs. right-handed pitching, so if there’s a righty on the mound you need a bomb, give him a call off the bench.
  4. C Ivan Rodriguez, Texas Rangers – We get a 99 Pudge every year at this point. Is this his best version? I think so. He has 110+ contact and mid-80s power against both sides, finally meeting that 80-80 threshold. Of course, when we think of Pudge, we think of elite defense, and this card has it. How about 96 fielding, 96 arm accuracy, and 99 arm strength before parallels? That’ll do just fine, and so will his 72 speed. I just value Rutschman’s switch-hitting more than him.
  5. CF Jim Edmonds, Los Angeles Angels – Jimmy Baseball is an elite defender that mashes righties. He can play all three outfield positions, but his 64 speed will probably serve you best in a corner spot. He’s sub-100 against lefties, so I would stick to using him as a platoon bat or defensive replacement in the late innings of a tight ballgame.

NL East

  1. RF Gary Sheffield, Miami Marlins – Last year’s National League live series collection card just got better somehow. Gary has 100+ in every hitting attribute and 73 speed. Although he’s typically used in each of the corner outfield spots, he has third base and newly added shortstop flexibility. Shortstop might be a little sketchy with his low fielding rating of 65, so I would take advantage of his 91 arm strength from the outfield.
  2. SS Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies – The 2007 MVP is here. Rollins is a speedy, switch-hitting, defensive wizard with some pop. He has everything you want in a shortstop, even if he lacks secondary positions. One thing he lacks is drag bunting ability, so you’ll have to try to take advantage of his speed in other ways. Try to stretch doubles into triples, considering he had 20 that season, which is second-most since behind Curtis Granderson’s 23 that same year.
  3. SP Tom Seaver, New York Mets – Seaver has five pitches including a sinker and slider. His 12-6 curveball is slow, coming in around 72 mph, which will offer a big difference in hitter timing from his four-seam fastball that sits at 97. Tom has 99 H/9 and 88 control. He’s an all-round great pitcher.
  4. 3B Eddie Mathews, Atlanta Braves – Eddie Mathews has become a folk hero for some in the MLB The Show community over the years. This card with first base eligibility is solid, but I would try to limit using him against lefties, considering he only has 80 contact. He does have gold defense and a solid arm, so he’ll be reliable at the hot corner.
  5. C Gary Carter, Washington Nationals – Another day, another catcher added to MLB The Show 21. SDS has done a great job giving users plenty of solid options for a position that usually is limited to one or two guys each year. Carter has good but not great hitting attributes. He’s an elite defender that can be put in RF if need be.

NL Central

  1. SS Honus Wagner, Pittsburgh Pirates – The NL Central gets my vote for the best TA 4 program of the six. Honus Wagner needs to be on your Diamond Dynasty team. He has 116+ and 89+ power against each side. He has 95 fielding and 90 arm strength and can play each infield position and left field. He even has 95 speed and 99 drag bunting. Yeah, this card is disgusting.
  2. SP Bob Gibson, St. Louis Cardinals – If Wagner didn’t play five positions, Bob Gibson would most likely top him. This card is almost a carbon copy of the new 99 Pedro Martinez card that is part of the 6th Inning Program. Gibson has five pitches and will hit 100 mph with his four-seamer. Tunnel his sinker and his 90-mph slider to confuse the hell out your opponent.
  3. SP Greg Maddux, Chicago Cubs – Many expected Maddux’s 99 card to be from the Atlanta Braves, but Cubs fans rejoice! It’s hard to make pitchers that don’t throw hard super effective in this video game, but SDS might have nailed it. He throws slow, slower, and slowest with insane movement and control of all his five pitches. Good luck to anyone trying to distinguish them out of his hand.
  4. SS Barry Larkin, Cincinnati Reds – Like many others, Larkin has had a 99 overall card for a few years running. This 30/30 milestone series version has 100+ in every hitting attribute, as well as high 80s fielding and 91 speed. The only things hurting Larkin is that he is a right-handed hitter with no secondaries.
  5. 3B Paul Molitor, Milwaukee Brewers – At first glance, this card doesn’t look like a 99. But once you get past his silver fielding and mid 70s power, you realize that this card is solid. Molitor can play every infield position except for shortstop, while also having center field as an option. Paul’s game revolves around contact and speed, and both of those attributes are elite on the card.

NL West

  1. LF Luis Gonzalez, Arizona Diamondbacks – Gonzo rally had 57 homers during the 2001 season, didn’t he? Yes, and this 99 overall milestone series card reflects it. He has 105+ in every hitting category from each of the corner outfield positions, spots where you want guys who can rake. He’s not fast, but he’s not slow, and he has high 70s fielding, which will get the job done.
  2. CP Trevor Hoffman, San Diego Padres – The second of three non-99s is the second best closer of all-time. 97 Hoffman has five pitches that all move. His four-seamer is even sneaky fast at 94 mph. He has 112 H/9. To get the most out of him, use this Hoffman card for an inning or two after using a flamethrower.
  3. 3B Vinny Castilla, Colorado Rockies – Vinny Castilla is the only new legend from TA 4 announced into the MLB The Show community. I’d say this is a decent debut card. He has gold fielding at both third base and shortstop, but third base might be better considering his 51 speed. It’ll be tough for him to cover the same ground as a Rollins or Wagner, for instance. Castilla’s hitting attributes reflect his 1998 Silver Slugger-winning season, where he hit 46 homers. He has triple digits in every hitting category.
  4. SS Marco Luciano, San Francisco Giants – I was not expecting Luciano to get a 98 overall, but since Witt Jr. just dropped on the marketplace and Spencer Torkelson won’t be in the game until next year, baseball’s #5 prospect it is. He has solid all-round hitting attributes and good defense on the left side of the infield. He also runs well with 70 speed. Still, there were better shortstops dropped in TA 4.
  5. CF Duke Snider, Los Angeles Dodgers – This card screams platoon bat. I’ve seen gold cards with better attributes against lefties. Much like Edmonds, this Duke Snider card can be used as a pinch hitter or defensive replacement at best. 72 speed is good enough to play all three outfield spots.
Read another baseball rankings piece. Karl Heiser ranks the AL MVP seasons of the 2010s.

Outro

The fun regarding Diamond Dynasty in MLB The Show 21 is that you have full control of who cracks your lineup and who is left sitting in your collection. If you love the Dodgers and its history, then go ahead and play Duke Snider in center field. Or if you prefer to use only speed threats, use Barry Larkin. Or even if you value elite defense with okay to good hitting over elite hitting with bad to okay fielding, then give Jim Edmonds the start. No one is going to bully you for it. It’s always fun matching up against other user’s teams that have different players than yours. That means SDS has done a great job feeding awesome content consistently over these five months. I’m just here to tell you how each TA 4 card can help or hurt your squad, and if you are looking for the best of the best, refer to the #1 guy in each division.

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