MLB The Show 23: Season 4 Breakdown

September 4, 2023 by Cory Dell

September has arrived which brings a fair share of change with it. School is back in session, the MLB regular season is wrapping up and fall is right around the corner. In the Diamond Dynasty world, it also means that Season 4 has officially launched and brought a whole slate of new cards to the game. There’s a lot to cover so let’s get right into it.

MLB The Show 23 Season 4 Breakdown

A new season means a new rotation. Set 2 is no longer legal in Ranked or in other various modes that require a season eligible squad.

The Sets and Seasons model has been met with criticism from a lot of hardcore players. I’ve seen plenty of people say they like it as well and I fall into that camp. This warrants an article by itself as its a nuanced discussion, but part of why I like it is the launch excitement. Every new season so far has felt like launch night all over again. The bevy of new cards immediately available, including new collections and Team Affinity. Part of the excitement is simply seeing what is in the content drop. I was incredibly busy for pretty much all of Season 3 and had to spend a lot of time catching up. I thought Season 3 was excellent and had a ton of great cards to earn and use and was looking forward to being around for the launch of Season 4.

After seeing the cards in Season 4, that excitement isn’t quite there. There’s still some interesting elements but for me personally – the totality of Season 4 started off stuck in the mud.

Snapshot Series

Not only are new cards part of Season 4 but there’s also a new card series. The Snapshot series features off-the-field photographs of players and highlights a different side than you usually see. Most appear to be All-Star Red Carpet or award ceremony photos, players clad in fancy and sometimes outrageous garb. There’s some pretty interesting photo choices and ultimately I think it’s a fun card series.

Early reactions weren’t as kind on social media as a lot of players in the community were downright confused. For those unaware, this series seems to be inspired by an actual Topps set called Archives Snapshots.

I’m an avid collector so the border and card design are very reminiscent. The actual Archives series uses standard photography with players in uniform, so the Snapshot series in MLB The Show 23 adds a fun flair to the design.

Head Start Rewards

As usual, there’s also a group of head start rewards available for those that grinded out Season 3. This has been one of my favorite features of Sets and Seasons as it rewards hardcore players for time spent, but also pays out rewards if you complete the required programs after the new season launches.

There’s typically nothing too crazy here, but it’s a bit of a throwback to the old-world Diamond Dynasty where you could collect the previous Bosses for a jumpstart on the new Inning.

To earn the head start rewards, you must complete the following from Season 3:

  • Season 3 XP Reward Path (earn at least 650,000 XP)
  • Number Retirement Program
  • All-Star Week Program
  • Set 3 Collection (lock in at least 150 Set 3 cards)
  • Team Affinity 3 Collection

Completing each of these tasks will earn you the following rewards:

  • Total of 35,000 XP
  • 7,500 Stubs
  • Ballin’ Is A Habit 5-pack bundle
  • Guaranteed Diamond Duos player pack

The guaranteed Diamond Duos pack is a plus to help round out any old collections you need. Don’t forget that all cards become legal in Ranked again in a couple months. That means you’ll be able to use the big collection cards that might have rotated out already.

*You’ll also be able to use a variety of cards in the upcoming Point Series Events at ShowZone. Stay tuned for all posted events and the ruleset for each!*

A final worthwhile note before getting into the cards is the wheelspin rewards for Season 4. If you complete the Season 4 XP Reward Path Program (earn 650,000 XP) you’ll then get a wheelspin for every additional 25,000 XP you earn. The potential rewards that can be earned from the spin are as follows:

  • Random Diamond Duos set pack
  • 5-pack standard Show pack bundle
  • Guaranteed Diamond Duos player pack
  • Season 4 XP Reward Path Boss Pack
  • Season 4 Chase pack

Presumably, that Season 4 Chase pack will include any other Chase cards that might release during the season. Mike Trout’s monstrous Milestone card was the latest Chase card in Set 7 and certainly included, but if he rotates out during the season I’m assuming the new Chase player will “take his place” so to speak. Of course, you’ll be pulling a random 85 overall anyway so it doesn’t matter.

Season 4 XP Reward Path Program Rewards

Along the XP Reward Path for Season 4, you’ll have a chance to earn the usual filler rewards like Stubs, XP, bat skins and other inventory fodder. In addition to the Boss pack, there’s the usual 97 overall “Henchmen” Choice Pack. Season 4’s 97 Overall Choice Pack features the following cards:

  • 2B Future Stars Termarr Johnson (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • 3B Incognito Always Intense! [Matt Chapman] (Toronto Blue Jays)
  • SP Snapshot Martin Perez (Texas Rangers)
  • SS Kaiju Honus Wagner (Pittsburgh Pirates)
  • C Future Stars Kevin Parada (New York Mets)
  • RF Awards Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)
  • SP Snapshot Bob Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals)

Interestingly, Awards Aaron Judge actually cracks a Meta Overall rating over 100 and could actually be a decent addition to some squads in Events or elsewhere. These Henchmen packs are never anything more than binder fodder, though. That to me is one of the biggest misses with Sets and Seasons. These cards should be viable on their respective theme teams, but they just end up being random cards thrown into the choice packs. Bob Gibson is the perfect example. You might think to yourself, gee, a new Bob Gibson I can pair with my Cardinals pitching Captain and juice up to be competitive! Except Bob Gibson was the pitching Captain in Set 3 and can’t be used with the newest Gibson. You would either have to choose the newest Gibson, a 97 overall clunker of a card, or use the Set 3 version for the Captain boosts. The illusion of choice is strong here and this is one of the more egregious oversights this year.

I think SDS has shown that they can iterate on ideas that don’t quite land. I’m entirely confident that Captains will not only return in MLB The Show 24 but be a much stronger feature. But, it’s still 2023 and it still feels bad that we’re missing the mark on these aspects that could help level-up the content.

You’ll be able to earn all of these cards as seven of the Henchmen Choice Packs are scattered across the XP Reward Path.

SP Snapshot Max Fried (Atlanta Braves)
Meta Overall rating: 99.10 – #32 SP

At 200,000 XP in the Reward Path, you’ll earn yourself a free 99 overall Max Fried. The Handsome Hurler has been one of the best SP in Major League Baseball the last several seasons, yet his Diamond Dynasty offerings are never quite strong enough to be viable. This might be the best version of him we’ve seen and I’m still not sure he’ll slot in anywhere. Fried has exceptional 114 BB/9 and 125 Clutch but H/9 at 102 usually won’t cut it with lower velocity cards. Sure, Fried’s 4-Seamer sits at 95 MPH but that’s usually not enough to blow people away even on All-Star. The 12-6 Curve features 99 Control and 99 Break and can be paired nicely with the Slider, Sinker and Circle-Change. The pitch-mix isn’t terrible, but the stuff just isn’t quite there. This is a card I’d happily take onto the field with my Braves Theme Team now that Season 4 Captain Craig Kimbrel can provide a solid set of boosts. On its own, however, this Fried is just another card.

LF Snapshot Jim Rice (Boston Red Sox)
Meta Overall rating: 104.47 – #8 LF

A bit further at 300,000 XP in the program and you’ll land this Jim Rice. Jim Rice cards are typically pretty well balanced and this is no exception. 111 CON L, 120 CON R, 102 POW L, 115 POW R with 125 Clutch is pretty balanced and solid across the board. Rice gets 88 Fielding with 90 Arm Strength, 92 Accuracy and 90 Reaction for a decent Fielding suite, yet the 65 stock Speed will hamper his overall effectiveness in the field. Rice rates out as a top-10 LF so that’s a pretty good card to earn for free along the way. Then again, he has absolutely no Quirks to speak of as well. Which is almost impressive as a better suite of Quirks might have upped his Meta Overall rating.

MLB The Show 23 Season 4 XP Reward Path Bosses

3B Snapshot Manny Machado (Baltimore Orioles)
Meta Overall rating: 105.75 – #8 3B

CP Milestone Eric Gagne (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Meta Overall rating: 109.12 – #2 RP

SS Milestone Ernie Banks (Chicago Cubs)
Meta Overall rating: 106.34 – #6 SS

SP Snapshot Cliff Lee (Philadelphia Phillies)
Meta Overall rating: 100.24 – #28 SP

RF Awards Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins)
Meta Overall rating: 105.38 – #8 RF

When I first saw the names for this collection of Bosses, I’ll admit that I was a bit underwhelmed. These are all fantastic players, mind you, but we’ve also already seen 99 overall versions this year. Manny Machado had a pretty sweet 99 overall WBC card and Eric Gagne’s Prime 99 was part of the first Ranked season. With so many players available, all the various card series and the fact that SDS can get away with juicing players beyond belief this year – it’s massively disappointing to see repeat 99’s so early. Yes, with rotation it means you can use these players in the current season but there’s so many other players that could get cards. These same cards could have been released later in the Season, closer to Season 5’s launch, and filled the content gap perfectly while we used newer cards early in the season. It doesn’t change minimize how good these cards are (they’re mostly quite good) it’s hard to be excited about a different version of these guys so soon.

Cliff Lee is arguably the worst card in this pack. Barely cracking the 100-mark in regards to Meta Overall, this is the same Cliff Lee you’ve grown to expect. With no velocity, the 100 H/9 will make Lee batting practice for any semi-competent hitter on All-Star. The elite BB/9 and Control ratings can make him a dangerous ace on Legend in the right hands. I’d say this is an easy pass from the pack and simply buy this card for close to quick-sell when it drops.

Manny Machado has a great swing and unreal Fielding on pretty much every card. It will always boil down to the offensive attributes. This card rates out slightly better than the WBC version overall, netting 100+ ratings in each of the four major categories. 103 CON L, 117 CON R, 100 POW L and 112 POW R will all play, and they’ll all play up with Machado’s swing. I’d argue the main difference for this card is the Baltimore Orioles designation, meaning he’ll be a mainstay on all Orioles theme teams.

Ernie Banks is another card that typically plays better than the attributes – which is a great thing with attributes like this. 115 CON L, 112 CON R, 111 POW L and 113 POW R is about as balanced as you can get. Banks also has 95 Fielding but carries 58 Speed which is way too slow for me at SS. This Milestone version does carry 1B and 3B eligibility, so Banks enthusiasts can fit him into the lineup without sacrificing defense up the middle. Dead Red and Breaking Ball Hitter Quirks also help Banks rank out as a nearly top-5 SS in the game.

Giancarlo Stanton gets an absolutely nasty card in this pack. A common theme here with the hitters in this pack is the great swings. Stanton, to me, has one of the best swings in the game and even his lower-rated cards can absolutely mash. This is no low-rated card. Say it with me: 125 CON L, 104 CON R, 125 POW L, 125 POW R. Those are absolutely monstrous attributes and this card is a card that I will legitimately fear pitching against. If you make contact, there’s a chance this ball is hit 500 feet with regularity. There’s also the fun wrinkle that this card is actually passable on defense! Yes, you heard that correctly. Stanton gets 85 Fielding with 89 Arm Strength and 83 Accuracy. The 78 Reaction is a bit mediocre, but Stanton also gets 70 Speed (!!) which can at least help him get to some balls. The 6’6” frame should also give him some extra play as it can offset that lack of Reaction or Speed with the superhuman reaching animations.

Finally, Eric Gagne is simply one of the best RP in the game. You get everything with this card. 125 H/9, 125 K/9, 125 Clutch with an Outlier 4-Seamer and the outrageous speed differentials. An Outlier Fastball, 83 MPH Vulcan Change, 70 MPH Curveball, 86 MPH Splitter and 87 MPH Slider gives Gagne one of the nastiest pitch-mixes in Diamond Dynasty. With a little bit of funk to his windup, Gagne is tough to hit across the board. I can sit on the Curveball, purposely stay back longer and still be very early on my swings and look like an absolute fool. This Gagne will torch inexperienced or even average hitters and still dice up the very best.

Papadell’s Picks

You get three of these Bosses as there are three Choice Packs in the XP Reward Path. My easy number one pick is Gagne. The bullpen options took a steep dive with Set 4 rotation, so adding the #2 overall RP to the bullpen will most likely be a priority for everyone. I love Gagne and he’s always one of my favorite relievers to use. My second pick is also a no-brainer with Stanton. Without hesitation, this card will slot into DH for me. There’s a million options for DH but getting a Stanton card like this – I have to use him. The fact that he has 70 Speed and won’t be an absolute liability on the bases genuinely excites me. My third pick is a toss-up between Banks and Machado. Neither of these dudes will see the field for me as I’m forever rocking Chipper and Jeter on the left side of the infield. Even with the other positional eligibilities in play, I’m just not going to use these on my main squad. I’ll probably take Banks just because I’m a sucker for vintage players, but I do think it’s pretty much a toss-up between these guys if you’re actually looking to slot them into your lineup.

The Closer

Season 4’s launch is a bit of a dud for me. There’s definitely some really cool cards in the mix, but even including Team Affinity 4 and the Set 4 Collection (both of which we’ll talk about soon) – Season 4 just feels flat. I don’t even feel burned out on the game like I typically do at this time. Gameplay is better than it’s ever been and there’s more content than ever before. Ultimately, I think the lack of real use for Captains is sinking the Sets and Seasons model as we just end up with a giant collection of cards sitting in our binders. A more nuanced way to use Captains would help, like a Captain Clash playlist or any theme team centric playlist. No matter what, Season 4 does absolutely nothing to reinvigorate Diamond Dynasty as it’s the same old hat as usual. Not surprising as we typically follow the same patterns, it’s just disappointing. I’ll still be playing regularly, but with games like Starfield and Baldur’s Gate 3 already unleashed and NBA 2K24 upcoming – I almost appreciate the lack of excitement so I can balance my gaming schedule.

What are your thoughts on Season 4? Are you excited for any particular cards? What’s your gameplan for attacking all the new content? Let us know in the comments below! Check back in the coming days as we break down the Set 4 Collections and look at Team Affinity 4!

About the Guest Author

Cory Dell

Cory is a freelance writer that currently features for Operation Sports and ShowZone and has dabbled in streaming from time to time. Cory has been a diehard Atlanta Braves fan since birth and has tortured neighbors and family alike with avid guitar playing for the last twenty years.

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