April 30, 2023 by Cory Dell
It was an eventful weekend for MLB The Show 23. We got our first Flash Sale of the year that created the usual market stirring. We also got our usual Diamond Duos pack drop as well as a special Retro All-Star Game Choice Pack on the marketplace. The Retro All-Star Game series is brand new and adds a ton of potential for cool and unique cards. With the Diamond Duos pack also featuring this series, we have plenty of cards to look at this week and dissect their current meta impact.
The first featured card in Diamond Duos Pack 11 is Willie McCovey. The towering lefty mashes RHP with 112 Con R and maxed 125 Pow R. McCovey has a fairly decent split against LHP with 94 Con/100 Pow and the 114 Clutch rating offsets the weaker Contact against LHP. You’re not getting a stellar fielder here. Though McCovey clocks in with a nice 69 Fielding rating, it’s important to remember that 1B defense actually matters this year. If you struggle with the new throw meter and make a lot of yellow-barred throws across the diamond, McCovey might end up costing you some baserunners since he’ll be less likely to pick bad throws. With that said, McCovey still ranks in as the 5th best overall 1B according to Meta Overall – barely behind Lou Gehrig. When you factor in all players that have 1B eligibility, Retro All-Star Game Willie McCovey still ranks in as the 9th best overall card according to Meta Overall.
I think this card is best served as a DH, but if you end up with him at 1B you’re still getting one of the better 1B currently available in the game.
The other card featured in this Diamond Duos set is Don Sutton. Sutton cards are always fascinating to me because they typically have very good Control with an interesting pitch mix. That doesn’t change here as Retro ASG Sutton features 109 BB/9 and 90+ Control on four of his five pitches. Even then – the Slider rates out with 87 Control which means your PAR size will be fairly small and you should have greater success locating if you’re nailing your inputs.
The big knock on Don Sutton will be the lack of velocity. You’re not going to blow anyone away with Sutton’s 4-Seamer or Sinker, but the interplay between the off-speed pitches is what will make or break him for you. He throws a Screwball at 74 MPH and a Knuckle-Curve at 79 MPH. With the elite Control, you can manipulate the opposing hitter’s timing with your sequencing since these two pitches will break in opposite directions at roughly the same speed. The timing window on Screwballs always catches me off-guard, so adding in a Knuckle-Curve that’s a bit faster and a Slider that will run up at 86MPH and you definitely have a recipe for some success.
Ultimately, however, this Don Sutton clocks in with an 89.51 Metal Overall rating that places him 17th overall in the current meta. I think this can be a fun card to use but there’s plenty of better options out there if you’re looking for the best and most complete competitive team.
The featured premium pack on the market this weekend was the Retro All-Star Game Choice Pack. Featuring the typical Base/Rare round format, this pack adds some spicy new versions of some popular players to the meta.
The base round features some interesting cards but none of them crack 100 according to Meta Overall.
As usual, this Giambi smashes RHP but is fairly weak against LHP. Pedestrian Fielding ratings make Giambi better suited in a platoon or as a Designated Hitter. First-Pitch Hitter, Dead Red, Breaking Ball Hitter and Bad Ball Hitter are a nice collection of Quirks that make Giambi somewhat interesting.
This Doolittle at least provides something that a lot of teams are typically looking for – decent LHP bullpen arms. A pretty stellar 117 H/9 and 108 BB/9 give Doolittle some solid attributes to stand with. Doolittle will run his two fastballs 95+ MPH with a Slurve featuring maximum 99 Break at 82 MPH. That’s a solid enough speed differential and there’s a Circle-Change rounding out the pitch mix. I think this Doolittle is serviceable in any bullpen, at the very least a decent option for low leverage situations. Meta Overall isn’t a huge fan of his with an 80.37 rating, however. In fact, this card ranks lower than some Gold relievers and plenty of free cards you can earn from grinding.
This card…is a card. Meta Overall absolutely hates this card with a 79.01 rating. Pineda throws hard with a fairly decent Slider, but overall his pitch mix isn’t the best. His two off-speed pitches are virtually the same speed while his three fastball variations are the same speed. Hitters can basically sit on either speed and absolutely light this card up. Yes, he throws a Cutter but that’s the most interesting thing about this card since he has no Quirks.
This Jason Kendall is actually a very usable Catcher in the current meta. A 97.64 Meta Overall rating places him 7th overall in Catcher rankings. Max Contact vs L with 113 Contact vs R will always play. Decent Power against LHP gives him enough pop to at least be a scary out for opposing LHP. Stock 84 Fielding with Arm Accuracy and Reaction that can both hit 90+ with Parallel grinding and 86 Speed/78 Stealing for a Catcher? Solid. That’s the best word for this card – solid. Kendall has enough going for him attribute wise to make him a nice play at Catcher.
One of the more interesting cards in this base round is Jimmy Rollins. Rollins’ switch-hitting and 94 Speed will make him appealing to many DD players. Solid Contact ratings at 101/102 with decent Power for a SS at 74/72 and 87 stock Fielding that will get a Diamond shield at Parallel 3 help buoy this card a bit. A very solid collection of Quirks on top make Rollins arguably the best base round card. He’s a good ways down the list in Meta Overall rankings, but this card will be a solid SS for you in every facet of the game.
Starting off the rare round is Juan Marichal. Marichal is always a fun pitcher to use with his windup/release, excellent Control and solid pitch mix. 107 H/9 is quite good and 112 BB/9 will give you a smaller PAR to dot with. A primary pitch Slider is always a good time, especially when it has 99 Control. You’ll have the ability to spot the Slider just about anywhere which will open up so many interesting tunneling options. The 4-Seamer is a firm 95+ MPH which can create some hilariously bad swings with the 74 MPH Screwball, 81 MPH Curveball and 74 MPH Changeup. You’re going to have some really good tools at your disposal while Marichal’a Meta Overall rating of 96.67 ranks him as the 8th best SP currently available.
Cal Ripken Jr. is arguably the greatest SS in baseball history and one of my personal favorite players of all-time. Within MLB The Show, however, Ripken often ended up a disappointing card. Typically great attributes that were mitigated by a terrible swing. That changed last year when Ripken Jr. seemingly was gifted a crisper swing that helped him actually perform to the standard we hoped. His first 99 overall this year is actually a 3B primary card representing his final All-Star game appearance in 2001.
Given that this version of Ripken is his 40 year-old self, it means he’s bringing some sluggish Speed with 46 stock. He maintains his SS secondary and that Speed will affect his ability to play there. Ripken still has solid enough Fielding at 82 with a strong and accurate arm and 86 Reaction. Offensively, Ripken’s 114/116 Contact ratings against RHP/LHP respectively is elite. The Power is fine at 101/96 and certainly pretty good for a SS. However, this being a 3B primary makes him a little less attractive than a lot of other 3B available.
Nonetheless, Ripken is currently the 8th best 3B according to Meta Overall. When you factor in the SS eligibility, he’s still a respectable 10th overall according to Meta Overall.
The final and arguably the best choice in this pack, at least according to Meta Overall is Dave Parker. Parker brings 122/113 Contact with 90/99 Power. Not the most gaudy Power numbers, especially for a corner OF but still good enough. Parker also features 86 Fielding with a tremendous 99 Arm with 99 Accuracy. His 72 Speed is fine in the OF but the 77 Reaction might cost you in the long run.
Why does this card rate out so well in the meta? Remember, the meta is currently dominated by RHP and Parker’s 122/90 Con/Pow profile against RHP will do plenty of damage. Meta Overall actually has this Parker ranked slightly higher than Charisma Ken Griffey Jr. That might be a bit shocking to some, but remember that Meta Overall factors in all attributes and Quirks compared to the current meta state.
As for me? I love quirky SP in Diamond Dynasty so I would probably pick Marichal if I landed the rare round. My 3B spot is locked down by Retro Finest Chipper Jones and I value Speed and overall defense at SS too much to put Ripken there. My OF is already pretty stacked too so Juan Marichal would be the easy pick for me.
What about you? Who would you take from this pack and why? Let us know in the comments!
Cory is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan and has been dropping his PCI since 2019.
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