May 6, 2023 by Cory Dell
We’re officially one month into the MLB season which means we get our first Monthly Awards program in Diamond Dynasty. Not only do we get our first Lightning Guy, but we get a glimpse of the Monthly Awards formatting in MLB The Show 23 for the first time.
To complete the April Monthly Awards program and earn Lightning Matt Chapman, you must earn 150 program stars within the program. You have various means of earning program stars and at least on the surface it appears the grind might not be as strenuous as last year.
Firstly, the new Event is currently live and features Live Series, Topps Now and Monthly Awards cards with a max team rating of 90. Every win in this Event will award you 1 program star in the Monthly Awards program. This can help reduce the amount of overall grinding you need to do, especially when combined with the PXP grind to maximize efficiency.
For those not interested in online play that prefer the offline grind, here’s a recommended order of operations to tackle the new program.
Start with the Moments. There are 18 Moments that award 2 program stars each upon completion. This will get you to 36 program stars in the reward path and you’ll earn Mark Prior and Carlos Santana, the two Monthly Award Captains. You’ll also earn 4 of the 95 overall April Monthly Award Choice Packs that you’ll be able to add to your lineup when you begin grinding.
From here, you can start the PXP and stat mission grinds to continue progressing in the program. The following stat grind missions will earn you 7 program stars upon completion:
Captains Mark Prior and Carlos Santana are included in these categories.
For the PXP grind, you can earn a whopping 20 program stars by earning a total of 5,000 PXP with all April Monthly Awards players. Individual pitchers require 500 PXP for completion and hitters require 200 PXP for completion and earn 5 program stars each upon completion.
There’s also an optional collection that awards 15 program stars for collecting the 8-95 overall April Topps Now cards (Jeffrey Springs, Stone Garrett, Andrew Heaney, Jake Cronenworth, Brandon Nimmo, Drew Smyly, Alex Cobb and Cal Raleigh).
Suffice to say, there’s a couple different pathways to completing this program and ultimately you don’t have to grind everything. If you prefer online play, you’ll still need to grind some of the offline stuff purely for sanity as I doubt anyone will grind out 150 Event wins. But you’ll be able to significantly cut down the actual grinding required if you put some serious time into the Event. For everyone else, the fact that all Topps Now cards and Monthly Awards cards are No Sell this year should bode well as you can earn all these cards at your own pace. Then tackling whatever missions you prefer should make this feel a little less like busy work compared to MLB The Show 22’s format.
In addition to the Lightning Guy, we’ll get a handful of 98 overall cards that possess some strong attributes and provide intriguing options for your squads. The main one that jumps out is Jose Alvarado of the Philadelphia Phillies. Alvarado is a burly LHP with an Outlier Sinker and Cutter combo that brings 112 H/9 and 125 K/9. Alvarado’s Pitching Clutch rating is a pretty mediocre 88, especially for a Closing Pitcher, but he also has 92 BB/9 which is fairly decent for a pitcher like this.
Alvarado’s only Quirk is the Outlier on his Sinker, but this card should prove to be pretty good in any bullpen. Alvarado’s only true off-speed pitch is the 12-6 Curveball with mediocre Break and Control, but the true strength in this card is the Outlier Sinker/Cutter combo with a 100 MPH 4-Seamer to boot.
This Alvarado card has a Meta Overall rating of 96.28 which ranks him 6th amongst all relievers and slots him in as the 3rd best LHP relief option currently in the game, slightly below Retro Topps Now Josh Hader.
And he’s free.
The man of the month is none other than Matt Chapman of the Toronto Blue Jays. Chapman’s incredible April delivers a 99 overall card (with animated card art!) that packs a pretty punch.
Chapman features 114 Con R and 125 Con L with 95 Pow R and 102 Pow L and a Clutch rating of 101. These are solid, if unspectacular numbers for a 3B but they’re plenty good enough. Chapman is known as a terrific defender which is showcased with the 90 Fielding, 90 Arm and 87 Reaction. The 82 Speed is actually a bit higher than I would have anticipated coming in, which certainly helps to round out this card as a very viable starting option at 3B for anyone.
Depending on your personal collection, this Chapman could easily be your best 3B or simply one of your better options. That’s a true nod to how excellent the Sets and Seasons model is this year. Firstly, we’re getting a true 99 overall card as the Lightning Guy as opposed to watered down 95 overall versions. This is one of the biggest wins of the new Monthly format for me.
Secondly, with so many cards already available, dumping more cards like this into the meta makes team building so much more fun. Sure, the most competitive and meta-focused teams might still gravitate toward the same big name players. But a card like this warrants a look and at least increases the options when it comes to variety and diversity. It’s also worth noting that Chapman comes with SS eligibility and can maintain a Diamond badge at SS at Parallel 5. At that point, he’d have 87 Speed to go with the Diamond shield and 90+ Reaction which makes him good enough to slot in at SS with some really good hitting attributes to prop up his viability.
So how good is the first Lightning Guy of the year?
Matt Chapman’s Meta Overall rating of 101.92 at 3B ranks him as the 8th best pure 3B in the game. That’s not too shabby for a free card, especially when the rest of the cards in the top 7 are premium pack cards or collection cards like Chipper Jones (with the exception of Munetaka Murakami who was an XP Reward Path boss choice).
Overall, the new Monthly Awards program format looks to be pretty well designed on paper. Only time will tell if it holds up compared to last year but I like the chances of this program being a fun grind each month. We’re getting 99 overall Lightning Guys each month which could bring some heavy duty cards later in the year without sacrificing attributes for the sake of power creeping like we’ve seen in the past.
What are your thoughts on the Monthly Awards format and the debut cards for the year? Will Matt Chapman make your squad?
Cory is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan and has been dropping his PCI since 2019.
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