Through the years, Major League Baseball has licensed – and has been credited for – a number of mobile games for iOS and Android devices, including the RBI Baseball series, MLB.com Line Drive, MLB.com Franchise Manager, and more. The league’s latest licensed offering is MLB Home Run Derby 19, and while it’s been close to a month since this year’s tournament took place at Progressive Field, we might as well cover this game as we draw closer to the MLB playoffs, with the trade deadline having passed a few days ago.
MLB Home Run Derby 19 features various PvP and PvE modes, including the standard Home Run Derby mode, Arcade mode, and Multiplayer tournaments. You can unlock dozens of players, including this year’s Home Run Derby participants, as well as players from several recent Derbies, and even a number of hard-hitting MLB Hall of Famers! As the game’s description suggests, there should be more players to come in the future as more updates come in.
There’s no fielding, no baserunning, no pitching rotations, and no batting orders to manage here – it’s all home runs, all the time, and that should make for simpler gameplay than your average high-end baseball title for mobile devices. But we’re still here to help you out if you’re having a hard time driving in those home runs and mastering the various game modes. Check out our MLB Home Run Derby 19 beginner’s guide, which includes nine tips, cheats and strategies that cover everything you need to know in order to succeed and become the king of the derby!
1. The Basics Of MLB Home Run Derby 19
As the name of the game suggests, this is all about the MLB’s annual Home Run Derby that takes place during All-Star Weekend. In the tutorial stage, you’ll start out controlling this year’s runner-up, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and competing against eventual winner Pete Alonso in the final round of the eight-man tournament. Your objective is to hit two home runs to win the final round, and follow the game’s instructions on how to swing.
When it comes to swinging your bat, it’s as simple at first as centering the locator as close as possible to the middle of the square, within the game’s so-called “sweet spot” (the smaller grid within the square), then letting go of your finger at the moment the ball enters the square – not more than a moment too soon or too late. If your timing is Great, Good, or OK, as the game would indicate, that would give you the best chances of hitting a home run – swinging too early or too late would result in a strike, or would result in a foul ball. (For those not familiar with the mechanics of baseball, hitting the ball into the stands if it’s in the foul zone does not count as any kind of hit!) But it’s more than just timing that matters here; once you’re a few pitches in, regardless of mode, the pitcher will change things up – it’s impossible to tell if they’re actually throwing changeups, but they might as well be going off-speed to change the trajectory of the ball.
Once that happens, you’ll notice the ball’s trajectory going higher or lower, or leaning inside or outside instead of in the middle. That’s when you’ll need to make adjustments, as much as possible on the fly – you’ll need to move the locator upwards or downwards and left or right to match the path the ball is taking. You may miss at first or you may not get a home run, but the balls seem to travel the same or similar trajectory at least twice in a row in most cases. So if you notice the ball traveling in a more inward direction, you can move the locator to the left. And if you hit the ball but fail to get home run (or don’t register a hit at all), you can move the locator up or down to match the ball’s trajectory more accurately.
In Derby mode, only home runs count, with longest home run distance serving as a tiebreaker. However, there are other game modes which we’ll be discussing in a bit where you will get credited for the total distance the ball travels across all hits. Generally speaking, coins will be awarded depending on your total homers and how many consecutive homers you hit once a round is completed.
2. How To Unlock More Players
At the moment, MLB Home Run Derby 19 comes with the Home Run Derby competitors from the last 10 iterations of the event, as well as a handful of MLB legends from decades past. After completing the tutorial stage, you’ll unlock the aforementioned Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays, and while he may be of Common rarity, his stats are pretty good compared to most other Common players. There are only two stats for each unlockable player, and these are Power and Contact – as this game focuses on hitting as many homers as possible, it’s understandable that the developers have limited things to just two stats per player.
Now how do you unlock the rest of the players? The simple answer here would be to keep on playing the game across all the different modes, as that will allow you to level up and win player packs. These packs include player cards – collect enough of one player’s card in order to unlock them – as well as boosts, equipment, coins, and/or MLBucks, which is the game’s premium currency. The packs with the MLB All-Star Weekend 2019 design are the most common packs out there and don’t really offer much in terms of player cards, coins, and MLBucks, but you may also be lucky enough to open Bronze, Silver, or even Gold packs once you level up.
Aside from winning player packs after leveling up, you can also purchase them in the in-game store, which can be accessed by tapping on the Market tab. Bronze packs cost 55 MLBucks, Silver packs cost 175, and Gold packs cost 425, so you’ll want to save up that premium currency if you want the best possible packs. That, of course, allows you to get more cards and increases your chances of unlocking rarer, higher-quality players. Additionally, you have the option to play MLBucks to unlock players outright – common players cost 100 MLBucks, Rare ones cost 325, while Epic ones are worth 625.
Once you’ve collected enough cards to unlock a player, you’ll need to do this manually by tapping on the Equip tab, going to the year in which the player competed in the Home Run Derby, then tapping on their card to unlock them. They will then be automatically selected as your default player, though you can always change this at any time by going to Equip, going to the player you want to use, and tapping on the Select Player option. And while we’re still on this topic, be sure that you’re upgrading players whenever applicable – the more cards of a certain player you obtain, the sooner you can level them up, though it should be clear to everyone that it’ll take much longer to upgrade a Rare or Epic player than a Common one.
3. To Boost Or Not To Boost?
Not satisfied with your players’ stats? MLB Home Run Derby ensures you won’t be alone out there, as there are a number of Boosts which you can earn by opening packs or by purchasing them individually with coins. The operative word here is “individually,” as these are not permanent boosts – they are only good for one use, and not even for one day. But you can choose between Active Boosts and Passive Boosts, or both – Active Boosts include those that could eliminate foul balls or widen the contact zone for a given number of pitches. You can even purchase Active Boosts that turn the next few hits into home runs! Meanwhile, Passive Boosts last the entirety of the round and improve your player’s stats (Power or Contact), except in the case of the most basic Eagle Eye boost, shows you the direction of a pitch for a given number of pitches.
As your coins will add up quickly, there’s no harm in purchasing any of the Passive or Active Boosts available, although it’s better if you let them add up as you win them, and only use them during multiplayer games, where the stakes are typically higher and you’re competing against other human players. We especially like the Called Shot Active Boosts, as these are the ones that turn a given number of hits into home runs – this is useful if you’re up against a player who’s got a far superior competitor than yours!
4. Equipment Applies To Everyone On Your Team
While Boosts are only temporary, the benefits of Equipment are, well, permanent as long as they’re activated. As we mentioned above, you can earn Equipment cards when you open packs, and these may include bats, gloves, and cleats – you can also purchase them with your MLBucks, and they come comparatively cheap in comparison to the packs we mentioned earlier. But the best thing abut Equipment is that it’s shared, so to say, among all players you’ve unlocked so far. That means you can switch from one player to the next without having to worry about getting new Equipment for them that would improve their Power and Contact stats accordingly. Just make sure to upgrade your Equipment whenever applicable, much like you improve your players!
With the above mind, the option to purchase new Equipment cards with MLBucks for an item you already have is not available, which is why it’s better to go big or go home if you’re planning to purchase an item with premium currency. There are also some items under Equipment that can only be unlocked by collecting cards, and not by purchasing them with MLBucks, such as the Classic items.
5. Complete The Objectives Under Series
If you’re looking to load up on those rewards, we highly recommend playing Series mode, which we would call MLB Home Run Derby 19’s equivalent of quests. So far, we’ve noticed that the Daily Objectives under Series do not change – win one Home Run Derby, open two packs, and play three Tournament games, win or lose. Completing all three within the same day gets you 10 MLBucks, 1,000 coins, and 25 Series Points – once you reach 50 Series Points, you can open a Silver Pack, and if you reach 300 after that, you’ll have a chance to open a Gold Pack!
As for the Series Objectives, these do not come with any specific deadline to complete, and these could run the gamut and cover all game modes. For example, there’s one that would earn you Series Points for hitting any 2x target in Arcade, and another where you could further add to those Series Points by completing a certain number of Multiplayer (Tournament) games. Or you could be asked to hit a homer that travels to a certain part of a stadium, such as Cleveland’s Progressive Field – the default stadium, as well as the location of this year’s actual Home Run Derby. Keep completing Daily and Series Objectives alike and you’ll be on track to open a Gold Pack sooner than you may have expected, all without having to pay any premium currency at the in-game store!
6. Practice Your Swing While Playing Arcade Mode
Arcade Mode is, without a doubt, the mode in MLB Home Run Derby 19 that has the lowest stakes. In here, you aren’t competing against any AI or human-controlled players – sure, you’ll still have an AI pitcher throwing the ball, but you don’t have any actual opponents here. The goal, quite simply, is to score as many points as possible in a minute by hitting home runs or simply registering a hit that doesn’t go foul. You can also multiply your current score per hit in this mode by driving the ball toward certain zones that correspond to 2x, 3x, or 5x icons – the higher the multiplier, the harder it is to hit the ball toward that zone!
Once again, we should reiterate that the stakes in Arcade Mode are very, very low. Completing Arcade Mode helps you in the leveling up process, and some Series Objectives can be accomplished by playing this mode. But otherwise, there’s not much pressure involved in this mode, and you can use it to practice your swing before playing one of the other modes, such as the classic Home Run Derby and multiplayer Tournament mode.
7. Winning The Home Run Derby May Be Easier Than You Think
The next mode we’ll be discussing is the classic Home Run Derby mode, which allows you to recreate – in a way – this year’s recently concluded Derby, either while using your default player Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or any other unlocked player in Guerrero’s place. If you’re familiar with the brackets and seedings in the real-life Derby, don’t be surprised when the game randomizes this information. However, player performance appears to be fairly accurate based on their in-game stats and real-life abilities – for example, you may have a harder time competing against the likes of Pete Alonso and Ronald Acuna Jr., who are Epic and Rare players respectively in the game, as well as pretty formidable home run hitters in real life.
Each round in the Derby lasts three minutes, which explains why each player’s total homers per round may seem substantially fewer than what their real-life equivalents register. As mentioned above, the player with more homers wins the round, with greatest HR distance breaking any ties.
Based on our experience with this mode, it’s fairly easy to win the Home Run Derby, which, just like in real life, features eight competitors in a three-round tournament. Winning gets you 10 MLBucks and a completed Daily Objective in Series mode, finishing second is worth 5 MLBucks, and a third-place finish (i.e. losing in the semifinals and having more home runs than the other semifinal loser) gets you 3 MLBucks. We’d actually suggest this mode as a good form of practice for PvP games, considering how easy it is (in comparison) to perform well, if not actually win the tournament!
8. Multiplayer Tournaments – Testing Your Skills Against Human Opponents
Want to open more Classic player packs and get a chance to unlock MLB legends such as Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams, and Reggie Jackson? Or maybe you’re looking forward to the Bronze Packs (or better) that you can earn after winning a game against a human rival. Either way, you can tap on the Tournament tab and let the game match you up against someone of comparable ability and/or experience. Each multiplayer game consists of a single four-minute round, and the same mechanics we discussed in the first tip will apply – let go of your finger to swing once the ball enters the square for the first time, adjust the locator based on the trajectory of the ball, but keep it centered for the first few pitches. Failing to hit a homer could add to your total distance if you’re able to spray the ball to left, right, or center field, and your total distance at the end of the round will serve as the tiebreaker.
Winning a game in Multiplayer mode will earn you, in most cases, a Bronze Pack, though you may sometimes get lucky and end up with a rarer pack – either way, you can hold a maximum of three of these packs and you’ll have to wait at least two hours (depending on pack rarity) for each pack to open, one at a time. You can also spend MLBucks to expedite the process and open the packs without waiting, but we typically do not recommend doing this.
Once the weeklong tournaments wrap up, your ranking will be taken into consideration, and depending on which Championship Tier you finish in at the end of the tournament (there are eight in total), you can win one or two Gold, Silver, Bronze, or Small Classic Player Packs. Rankings are mainly based on total home runs and average distance, so don’t worry if you lose more multiplayer games than you win – keep driving in those dingers and maximizing that total distance and you should be fine.
9. Watch More Videos And Open Your Free Packs Every Four Hours
Last, but not the least, let’s cover one topic that is quite easy to overlook, but nonetheless necessary in any beginner’s or intermediate strategy guide. MLB Home Run Derby 19 comes with several opportunities to watch some videos and get yourself some extra rewards, mainly after completing a Home Run Derby, Arcade, or PvP game. Simply watch the 30-second video and you’re all set – you can double your coin and MLBucks totals just by watching that one clip! You can also watch a video before opening a card pack, as that will “upgrade” the pack and add a few more cards to it. Likewise, the main menu has an option on the left side of the screen (right next to your active player) that allows you to watch a video to earn bonus coins or MLBucks for free.
Apart from the ad videos, the game also has a staple of many a mobile game – free rewards every four hours. Granted, you shouldn’t expect too many cards or too much currency when you open these free packs, but these will add up over time, especially if you have your notifications turned on.
That’s all for now as far as our MLB Home Run Derby 19 beginner’s guide is concerned. If you have discovered other tips or just want to share your thoughts about the game, then feel free to leave us a message in the comment area below!