MLB The Show 21’s career mode, Road to the Show, has long been hailed as one of the best career modes in sports video games. With an added wrinkle to the mode in this year’s version, this page looks at the best teams for your ballplayer to join in Road to the Show.
This year, The Show continues its long tradition of offering a high-quality career mode in Road to the Show, with an added dimension: you are a two-way player like All-Star and American League MVP frontrunner Shohei Ohtani.
Here, we’ll be identifying the ten teams that are best suited to your two-way player. Five will be rebuilding teams, while the other half will be contending and fringe-contending teams. This is because you should expect, depending on difficulty, sliders, and production, to reach the Majors within three seasons. It is also highly likely that you will be drafted by a rebuilding team as opposed to a contending team, should you leave it to chance.
What you need to know about your two-way player in Road to the Show
In The Show 21, you can’t import your Road to the Show player from the previous edition of the game. Instead, you will begin as a young two-way prospect just before draft day. You will be a starting pitcher and the position of your choice for fielding, but you will spend many games at designated hitter.
You can select the team that you would like to draft you by selecting them through the conversation with your agent. Or, you can leave it up to chance and say that you just want to play ball. If you identify a team, you should be drafted by said team.
Under “My Player,” The Show has also instituted a “Loadout” page for your player. On this page, there will be a loadout for both pitching and hitting. You can select your archetype and sub-archetype to the top-left and your equipment as you scroll down your player.
On the main “My Player” page of the “My Ballplayer” tab, you can select “Appearance” to work on your player’s appearance as well as modifying your chosen equipment. This is also the option that you select for “Motions & Sounds,” to enter the “Batting Stance Creator” to either create your own stance or choose or modify an existing stance, and then equip home run animations. You can select your pitching motion from the “Animations” option.
About a month into the AA season, you will be asked if you want to maintain your current two-way load, modify your two-way load by switching to a relief role, focus only on hitting and fielding, or focus only on pitching. The choice is really predicated on your playstyle.
With that, the list begins. These are the best teams for you to join in Road to the Show on MLB The Show 21.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (National League West)
At the time of writing, Arizona is 36-80 with the worst record and win percentage in all of MLB. Like with every rebuilding team, Arizona needs pitching and hitting. This is where you can step in and become the franchise savior.
The roster is anchored by Ketel Marte in center field and Madison Bumgarner in the rotation. However, in accordance with their record, the rest of the roster does need help.
Nearly every position, even center field because of Marte’s versatility, could be yours. However, if you make your player a lefty, it might be advisable to limit your fielding choice to the outfield, and first base as throwing left-handed from the other infield positions to first base may present some issues.
Further, Chase Field is a fun place to hit because of the pool in right-center field and the high wall in center field. The ball can jump out of the park, so be a bit cautious when pitching – particularly to left-handed power hitters.
By the time that you reach the majors – and with their roster, that could be sooner rather than later – you could become the fulcrum of a turnaround and potentially bring the first World Series title, virtually, to the franchise since 2001.
2. Baltimore Orioles (American League East)
A team stuck in a rebuild on the heels of the great teams led by Chris Davis and Adam Jones at the beginning of the 2010s, the Orioles seem to be on their way to contention sooner than some teams on this list. Just overlook their second-worst record and win percentage at the time of writing, though.
Led by All-Star center fielder Cedric Mullins, Home Run Derby participant Trey “Boom Boom” Mancini, and ace John Means, the O’s have a nice young core. Becoming the fourth member of the core could be your calling, possibly at shortstop, to follow in the footsteps of Hall of Famer and Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr.
Camden Yards is also a wonderful ballpark, both visually and to play. It also carries the history of being the ballpark where Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s record for consecutive games started.
A little bit of history for the franchise and the stadium are good selling points, but having three other anchors for the team also helps ease the burden on your player. So, Baltimore should make for a good fit.
3. Detroit Tigers (American League Central)
Detroit is a unique team because pundits’ expectations for the team were low heading into the season, yet they sit in a second-place tie in the AL Central, at the time of writing, with a record of 57-60.
The fact that they are in second place in their division with a losing record should still indicate that the team is not yet ready for contention, but is moving in the right direction. Still, it helps that the AL Central has been the worst division in baseball for multiple seasons.
Detroit’s roster is headed by newly re-signed Jonathan Schoop at second base, Eric Haase at catcher, and future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera at designated hitter and first base. That said, the Venezuelan will probably retire in-game and in reality before you reach the Majors.
They have young pitching in Casey Mize, Tyler Alexander, and Michael Fulmer heading the rotation, so the burden of ace would not necessarily be on your shoulders once you reach the Tigers.
You can play first base or third base, picking up Cabrera’s old spots once he retires. Should your player have some speed, making him a center fielder to man the expansive outfield in Comerica Park could also be a fine option.
Comerica is one of the bigger ballparks, so don’t expect to hit too many home runs with your player unless your loadout is built for power, which would hinder your fielding if playing center field.
If you want to have a hand in a rebuild while also contending as soon as possible, Detroit just might be your team in The Show 21.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (National League Central)
A franchise that has traded long bouts of success with equally long droughts of ineptitude, Pittsburgh is in another rebuild after the success of the Andrew McCutchen years. All is not lost, though.
Young phenom Ke’Bryan Hayes mans third base for a team that also has All-Star Bryan Reynolds in center field and Jacob Stallings at catcher. You can take one of the remaining key defensive positions in second base or shortstop, or a less demanding fielding toll by taking first base or a corner outfield spot.
Your best work for the Pirates may come as a pitcher, however, as the rotation and bullpen need help. After trading away Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow in recent seasons, and Chris Archer not reaching his levels from Tampa Bay, the Pirates desperately need a top-of-the-rotation arm. Should you decide that you want to go down more of the closer route, their bullpen will welcome you just as happily.
By the time that you make it to the Majors, Pittsburgh should at least be in contention for that second Wild Card spot. PNC Park is also one of the best ballparks to play in everyday, so enjoy the scenery as you play your career.
5. Seattle Mariners (American League West)
As the team with the longest active playoff drought streak, dating back to 2001, the Mariners are the one team in this first five that has a winning record at the time of writing. However, do not let that record fool you.
The Mariners have had intermittent winning seasons since 2001 but usually follow those with losing seasons. What should make you more cautious about the current team being a contender is their run differential – generally a marker of true team ability and record – is a ghastly -49. That means they have scored 49 runs less than their opponents, yet are still six games above .500 as it stands.
The caution is where you come into play as potentially the next great Seattle player after Ken Griffey, Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Ichiro Suzuki, and Felix Hernandez.
The M’s have a lot of young talent, meaning that they are probably not yet ready to be perpetual contenders. Both the rotation and bullpen need help, so your player can slot into either seamlessly.
In the field, Kyle Lewis is in center, J.P. Crawford has had a career resurgence at shortstop since moving from Philadelphia, and Seager and Haniger have third base and right field locked down, respectively. That still opens first base, second base, and left field for you to leave your mark in Seattle.
T-Mobile Park is considered a pitcher’s park like Comerica, so expect decent numbers for your pitcher at worst, and possibly average numbers for you as a hitter while playing at home.
Presuming that Seattle misses the playoffs this year, can you be the one to help break their 20-year playoff drought?
6. Atlanta Braves (National League East)
The first team here to be properly classed as contenders, Atlanta is a strong team filled with exciting and fun players. The issue with Atlanta, and every contending team, is finding a path for your ballplayer to reach the Majors sooner rather than later.
Ronald Acuña Jr. may have torn his ACL earlier this year, but he is still one of the best players in the game, Freddie Freeman is the defending Most Valuable Player, and Ozzie Albies is having a wonderful year. The pitching staff and bullpen have been good, with the likes of Charlie Morton, Mike Soroka, and Max Fried providing a strong trio for the rotation.
Every team can always use more pitching. So, regardless of whether you remain a starter or move to the bullpen, you should find ample playing time once your attributes and performance make you a silver player.
As a position player, the safest bet would be to aim for a corner outfield position with center field manned by Acuña Jr. Freeman and Albies have first and second bases locked down, but the left side of the infield is less stable with Dansby Swanson at shortstop and Austin Riley at third. So, you could also aim for one of those positions.
Regardless of if you are called up within a year or three, Atlanta should be a contending team with playoff hopes every season.
7. Chicago White Sox (American League Central)
Coming off of a thrilling walk-off victory over the New York Yankees in the “Field of Dreams” game, there may not be a more exciting team to join than the Chicago White Sox. You could add to that excitement.
Reigning MVP José Abreu has been a stalwart at first. Shortstop Tim Anderson is one of the best hitters and personalities in the sport, and his bat flips are of the epic variety. Luis Robert, who recently returned from injury, adds that elusive combo of speed and power from center field.
Add in a strong rotation helmed by Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon, and Lance Lynn with a dominant bullpen featuring two bona fide top-end closers in Liam Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel, and this is a team to contend for the next few years.
Becoming the fourth or fifth starter for the White Sox would allow you to focus more of your efforts on developing your hitting and fielding in training, as the burden of being an ace would not be on you. The same can be said for becoming a reliever, although overtaking the closer’s role would be unlikely unless both Hendricks and Kimbrel move from the team.
On the fielding side, a corner outfield spot is the safest bet, with third base and second base more of a challenge due to the presence of Yoan Moncada and Cesar Hernandez, respectively.
A drawback is that Guaranteed Rate Field is rather basic for a ballpark. Its dimensions are standard, and there aren’t any significant or identifying designs like the Crawford Boxes in Houston or Triples Alley in San Francisco.
Still, this is a team that should be in contention for years to come, so while you can try to rush to make the team, the chances are that they will still be the king of the AL Central by the time that you make it to the Majors.
8. Philadelphia Phillies (National League East)
The Phillies saw a few down years after the core of the Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels teams ended. Still, they’ve found their way back to the top of the NL East thanks to two players acquired in recent years.
Bryce Harper is having another MVP season and has been well worth the 13-year, $330 million contract that he signed in early 2019. Zack Wheeler is pitching like a Cy Young candidate after signing with the Phillies in winter 2019.
Harper is joined by Jean Segura (second base), J.T. Realmuto (catcher), and Rhys Hoskins (first base) as the anchors of the lineup, while Wheeler is joined by Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson at the top of the rotation. That is a solid team base to join.
While veterans McCutchen and Didi Gregorius occupy starting positions, both are also in the latter half of their careers, meaning that you could usurp them with great production, should they remain with the team. Third base and center field are even less solid with Alec Bohm (who has potential) and Odubel Herrera.
As a pitcher, becoming the closer might be the better option. Ian Kennedy is also on the downside of his career at the age of 36, so you could very well slide into that position immediately if he retires or leaves the team.
Citizens Bank Park is also a fun-looking stadium with its high wall in right, flower beds in left, jutting wall in left-center, and greenery in center. It is more of a hitter’s park, so keep that in mind.
With Harper around for another decade and Wheeler the ace for another couple of years, Philadelphia will be right there in contention whenever you manage to climb to the Majors.
9. San Diego Padres (National League West)
Two teams from the NL West made this list, but neither team is the Los Angeles Dodgers. That team just has too much depth. Instead, the Padres are like the Braves and White Sox in that they have a young, exciting core that should keep them in contention for years to come.
Fernando Tatis Jr. is the cover athlete for The Show 19 because he is just that good and that exciting. While his repeated shoulder injury is concerning, he recently signed a 14-year contract, so he should be on the team when you make it to the Padres, forming what should be a dangerous duo for opposing pitchers.
Manny Machado is locked in at third base. Recently acquired Adam Frazier is at second, moving Jake Cronenworth to first. Tommy Pham is in left field, Trent Grisham is in center field, and Wil Myers is in right field.
The good news is, while it seems like every position is locked, that is not quite the case. Players like Frazier, Cronenworth, and Meyers have positional flexibility, and the outfield positions are more precarious in their positional safety based on production – so, aim for that precariousness.
The rotation is solid and can be spectacular with the likes of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Chris Paddack, and Joe Musgrove. The rotation will be harder to crack for your ballplayer than the bullpen, so like with the Phillies, aiming for the role of closer might be the better option.
Petco Park is more of a pitcher’s park, but it does have that unique Western Metal Supply Co. building in left field. It creates a nice bit of scenery when you can launch a ball into the stands along the building.
The NL West is going to be a challenge to win for years to come, so playing for the Padres can help a team that has yet to win a World Series land their first Commissioner’s Trophy.
10. San Francisco Giants (National League West)
The Giants are a historic franchise that’s coming off of three World Series victories in the 2010s. After a few down years and just missing the playoffs in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, few predicted San Francisco to finish above third place in the division behind the Dodgers and Padres.
Resurgent years from longtime core members Buster Posey (catcher) and Brandon Crawford (shortstop) have led a team that has utilized matchups and defense to their advantage. The other remaining member of that core, Brandon Belt (first base/left field), has battled injuries, but has had some pivotal at-bats when healthy.
Mike Yastrzemski usually starts in left field. Recently acquired Kris Bryant can play third, first, and all outfield positions. The returning Evan Longoria is planted at third. Steven Duggar has had a career year in center field, while LaMonte Wade Jr. and Alex Dickerson have done solid work when playing. Donovan Solano and Tommy La Stella have done well platooning at second base.
Kevin Gausman looks like a new pitcher with the Giants, having a Cy Young season if Jacob deGrom didn’t exist. Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers have done an outstanding job at the back end of the bullpen.
However, while they are the best team in baseball, few positions are safe. The two positions that seem the safest are left field with Yastrzemski and shortstop with Crawford. Belt’s contract expires after this season, and the other positions have a rotation to them.
Gausman might be having a Cy Young season, but this is also the first season that he’s shown ace potential. It is fair to wonder if he can sustain that success into the future. Johnny Cueto’s contract expires, and the rest of the rotation has been solid, not spectacular.
This means that outside of being a shortstop or left fielder, you could join a team that’s ready to contend for years at your desired position. You could pull a complete Ohtani and be the ace of the rotation and top threat in the lineup (one that features Mike Trout, no less).
You could aim to be the next great Giants outfielder like Willie Mays or Barry Bonds, the next great second baseman like Jeff Kent, the next great first baseman like Willie McCovey, or an ace like Juan Marichal, Tim Lincecum, or Bumgarner.
Oracle Park is also an expansive ground with unique dimensions that, once you understand the intricacies, can play to your advantage if you build your ballplayer to suit the park. The Giants are a team with an aging core, but also one that is readying for the future. Maybe you can help usher in another decade of championships. While you are at it, aim for some splash hits in McCovey Cove!
There may be other teams that you feel belong on this list, including your favorite team. Regardless, if you would rather have more control over your destiny, choosing one of these ten teams should give you the desired outcomes. Tinker around with your ballplayer and the loadouts, and set forth on your journey to Cooperstown.