Glu is a company that’s known for a diverse array of mobile games across various genres, including Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, the Deer Hunter franchise, and Cooking Dash. They’ve also got a long-running entry in the world of mobile baseball games, and MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 is now here for iOS and Android games, right on time for the start of the 2021 Major League Baseball season.
Once again, this title promises realistic, exciting, and easy-to-play MLB action, with all real-life teams and real-life players from the 2020 season, as well as various game modes. Not only do you get to control your players on the field with just one tap on your screen (hence the franchise’s name), you’ll also have several ways to build your team and make your way from the lowest division to the highest.
Regardless whether you’ve played earlier iterations of Tap Sports Baseball or not, this is a game that still has a fair bit of a learning curve due to the various existing features, as well as some new ones that have been added on this year’s version. So with that being said, here’s our MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 strategy guide for beginner and intermediate players — this would mean those who are in the Amateur division or lower — as we cover every possible topic we believe you’ll need to pick up in order to dominate these divisions.
1. The Basics Of MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021
If you’ve been playing previous versions of MLB Tap Sports Baseball, you may want to skim through this part, but even if you have, it might be worth going through the basics of playing the game. If you’re a returning player, you will be asked if you wish to go through the tutorial stage or not, and if you choose the tutorial, it will be best if you pay close attention as the game shows you how the batting mechanics work.
Unlike other leading baseball games for mobile, you’ll only have control over the batters in this game — the AI, just as usual, handles all the pitching and fielding, largely basing your performance in those areas on player attributes and other factors mostly beyond your control. The batting, however, is all on you, and the main thing you’ll need to do here is to focus on the trajectory of the ball as it’s thrown by the opposing pitcher.
You may need some knowledge of how the baseball strike zone works — that’s the area extending from a batter’s armpit to their knees, and if the ball travels through that area and you do not connect, that’s counted as a strike. The game will hammer this point home quite frequently while you’re new — you should only swing at strikes, and if the ball is moving outside of the strike zone — especially if it’s far away from the batter — you should not swing at all. It may take some practice, but it shouldn’t take too long for you to get the hang of timing your swing so that the bat makes solid contact with the ball.
Of course, it wouldn’t be as simple as making contact with the ball. On your end, you’ll need to make sure you don’t settle for lazy, looping attempts that result in a standard, run-of-the-mill grounder. And even if you make solid contact, there’s always the chance of flying out, which is what happens when an outfielder catches the ball after it’s been hit.
Also be wary of foul balls — if you aren’t able to make good contact with the ball, it may be sprayed left or right to foul territory, and during the first two times this happens in an at-bat, it will count as a strike. Any subsequent foul balls will not count as a strike, unless it’s a foul tip — which is when you hit the ball only for it to land in the catcher’s mitt.
Timing your swing properly may be at the heart of MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 in terms of the in-game action, but building a competitive team is equally as important. Regardless whether you’re a new or returning player, the game will ask you to choose from one of the 30 Major League Baseball teams, though you may also notice that the operative word in the instructions is “favorite.”
That’s because you won’t get the actual rosters for the team you choose; you will get several players from that team, but you may also notice some pretty glaring exceptions in the form of missing star players. For example, we went with the Philadelphia Phillies but that lineup didn’t feature Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew McCutchen, and other high-profile members of the team’s 2020 lineup.
Regardless of which team you choose, the bottom line remains the same — you are likely going to end up with a ragtag assortment of scrubs from your team’s real-life equivalent, scrubs from other teams, and maybe a good player or two. (Our Phillies roster featured catcher J.T. Realmuto and pitcher Jake Arrieta, and the latter is a stretch because he’s arguably past his prime!)
But you don’t need to worry about the initial lack of talent — Glu was generous to give us a nice package of draft picks and special boxes with All-Star-caliber players as a pre-registration gift, and we ended up with three skilled outfielders in Charlie Blackmon, Juan Soto, and Ronald Acuna Jr., all of whom had base ratings in the 70-75 range. (For comparison, almost all of our default players had ratings of 50 or lower!)
As you can see, it’s all about drafting, opening boxes, or buying players from the entire MLB (and not just your team’s real-life equivalent) in order to build a powerhouse lineup. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg as far as MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021’s management aspect is concerned.
2. How Do Games Work In Tap Sports Baseball?
Just about anyone with a vague knowledge of the rules of baseball should know that each game lasts nine innings, but could go into extra innings if the game remains tied at the bottom of the ninth. That also applies to games in MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 — technically, the games aren’t abbreviated, though they do go by quickly because your side only controls the batting, as mentioned above.
But you can also make games even quicker by autoplaying innings — this option will be available only for non-playoff games where you’re facing an AI-controlled opponent. Bonus Games are known as such because it’s the AI who’s controlling the opposing team, and you have the option to autoplay all nine innings if you want.
However, we’ve found that it’s often better to handle things yourself if you’re up against a team that’s stronger than yours —or similar in terms of overall rating. You can also use the autoplay feature in Season Mode, which we will be discussing in greater depth at another time, but you cannot use it against human-controlled opponents in regular games, and you can’t use it either in certain situations in playoff games against AI opponents. It’s also possible to pause a Bonus Game at any time you wish, then resume it later in the day — or whenever you feel ready to head back to the field.
Chances are you’ll usually be playing Bonus Games more often than not, as this would allow you to progress faster from your current division to a higher one by winning enough games. Playing games against human opponents is generally more challenging, as you’re playing against someone who may be making real-time adjustments and controlling their own batting lineup. But it’s all too common for these human opponents to take too long to complete their half of the inning — you can use the Nudge feature to prompt them to get back into the game, but it’s not always guaranteed to work!
Once you win a game, you can earn different types of rewards, including draft picks, Bonus Games, cash, and special items, such as Ice Packs that allow you to circumvent the rest period for your best pitcher and Energy Drinks that allow tired pitchers (particularly your ace) to keep on throwing even when they’re supposed to be tired. You can also earn rewards if you lose, though they usually won’t be as good as the rewards you can get for a victory.
3. Make Sure to Level Up Your Better Players!
When leveling up your players in MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021, you’ll need two basic resources — cash, which is the common currency, and experience points (XP). These resources should be quite plentiful even in the early goings of the game, but you should avoid the temptation to upgrade all of your top batters and pitchers right away!
That’s because you will ultimately get better players at just about every position as you keep playing the game, and while this won’t happen right away, we have established that there are multiple ways to improve your roster by adding new players. That means you should ideally limit your efforts on a select group of players when leveling them up — you can go to the Team menu by tapping the second-to-left button on the bottom of your screen.
Once there, you will be taken to the Improve sub-menu, and the game will automatically have your best players sorted based on their overall rating. This gives you a quick and handy snapshot of who your top players are, so keep your eye on them going forward — unless, of course, you end up with even better players that you can focus on once they’ve been added to your roster.
You should also take a look at each player’s star rating, because you just won’t get too far if you’re leveling up players who have two stars or less — their upside is severely limited to begin with, and you’ll likely end up sacrificing them in order to earn more XP. (We shall get back to this later!) Tap on the small “i” to the left of each player’s photo in order to view their Player Info.
That doesn’t just include their individual and overall ratings at the moment, as well as their in-game stats, but also their maximum potential rating next to the number of stars. Just as in previous editions of the game, we would suggest laying off players whose Max Overall rating is below 100 — sure, they may theoretically get to a point where they stand out as the top guys in your lineup or rotation, but you’ll usually need a whole lot of cash and XP to get there!
4. Team Upgrades Are Also Important, So Don’t Overlook Them
Player upgrades are all well and good, and it’s definitely nice to have several players with ratings above 80 at such an early point in the game. But while on the Team menu, you will notice the button that reads “Upgrades” — this is where you will be given a chance to upgrade several aspects of your team’s performance. It’s best to think of these upgrades as passive ones, as they do not directly impact each player’s ratings individually but rather improve the entire team’s performance as a whole. (Or all of your batters/all of your pitchers depending on the type of upgrade.)
There are several types of upgrades to choose from, starting with Offense (Hitting Coach to improve your team’s batting average, Base Coach to improve the chance of successfully stealing bases), and Trainer (more extra base hits) and Defense, which covers both your pitching and fielding skills — your Pitching Coach upgrades can help your team get more outs, Catcher Arm improves your catchers’ ability to nab opposing players who are trying to steal bases, Infield Hands reduces the odds of botched grounders, and Outfield Arms helps you catch more fly balls.
Those are just a few of the upgrades available for Offense and Defense, and we would suggest working on a few areas — Hitting Coach, Trainer, Pitching Coach, Infield Hands, and Outfield Hands — even as you make it to the Amateur status and unlock more possible upgrade types.
What happens once you get promoted to the Amateur division? As far as upgrades are concerned, you will be able to improve your team’s Intangibles, and that would primarily include clutch performance. If you’re having difficulty in the later innings and find yourself losing a lot of close games, this section of the Upgrades menu will be very helpful!
There’s nothing that could increase player frustration than a series of games that you lost in the final three innings, so if you’re experiencing this a bit too often for comfort, make sure to improve your team’s Intangibles once you make it to Amateur. (You can also upgrade Intangibles that allow you to improve your momentum after a win or allow you to bounce back quicker after a loss if you’re having trouble doing either!)
5. You Can Get Better With Draft Picks, But Keep Your Expectations Reasonable!
We did mention draft picks earlier as one of the ways you can improve your roster in MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021. Draft picks allow you to randomly pick anyone from the entire MLB talent pool, with higher picks resulting in better-quality players, and you can earn them by winning games in various modes, but most notably if you’re able to win the playoffs and get promoted to a higher division or perform well in certain events.
You can go to the Store section to “make” your picks, and there are different types of picks — #1 Draft Picks are those that give you the best odds of ending up with a high-quality keeper of a player, First-Round Draft Picks are “great players with potential,” Second-Round Draft Picks are described as “someone solid with upside,” and Late-Round Draft Picks are usually uninspiring scrubs, though you might just get lucky and end up with someone who has potential.
New to this year’s edition of the game are Four Star or More Picks, which are self-explanatory — you get a four-star player or better after making the pick. It appears you can only get these picks as rewards, unlike #1 Draft Picks, which still can be bought in a bundle of five for 1,500 gold.
When it comes to draft picks, it’s important to keep your expectations reasonable. As we mentioned above, you will be getting a random player, unlike actual real-life drafts, where you can select the player you want to add to your team. And the term “random” may not even be the best term to use — just as it is in previous versions, we noticed that you will often end up with less than glamorous players that you may have more than enough of at a given point in the game.
We’re talking about short and middle relievers, as opposed to starting pitchers or closers, and believe us when we say you’ll likely end up with a lot of these comparatively unexciting players. However, it is what it is, and if you’ve got a ton of #1 Draft Picks — as you would thanks to the pre-registration gift — you’re bound to get someone really useful with a good base rating and a ton of potential.
On occasion, the game will give you the opportunity to watch an ad video in order to re-roll your draft picks. This option won’t always be available, but if you end up with another unglamorous long, middle, or short reliever who you don’t need anyway, you’ll want to spend 30 seconds watching the clip so you can get another chance at making the pick and, hopefully, getting someone that could really help your team.
6. Address Your Weaknesses By Creating A Legend
We’ve established that due to the nature of the game’s randomization process, you can’t expect to always end up with someone who will fill your lineup needs by relying solely on draft picks. But there’s one thing you can do to manually address your lineup’s weaknesses, and that’s by creating a Legend.
This is MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021’s version of the Create a Player feature present in so many sports games, but since this is a mobile title, you can only create one custom player. The good thing about this? This player is guaranteed to be a great one, with a base rating much higher than everyone else on your team and a perfect five stars.
When creating a Legend, you can choose any first name, last name, or nickname you wish based on the limitations — on this year’s version, you’re limited to eight characters for all three fields, and just as usual, we would strongly warn against using abusive language or profanity when naming your player! You can choose any non-pitching position you wish, and decide whether you want your Legend to bat with his left or right hand. The next dropdown box allows you to choose the type of player, with Balanced being the default option.
Your choice here will largely depend on your preferred play style, so if you want your custom player to hit a lot of long balls, you’ll want to choose Home Run King under Player Type. Finally, you’ll have to choose your Legend’s special skill in the Skill section — among other options, you can choose whether he will be strong against left-handed pitchers or right-handed pitchers, or you may make him a clutch player by making him especially deadly when there are two outs.
After you’ve chosen the basics for your Legend, you can then customize his appearance — you can choose his skin tone, bat color, batting stance, hair length, facial hair, and uniform number, and while this is all cosmetic, this does help make your created player stand out.
Take note that once you’ve finalized all the information and create your player, you cannot change any of the information you already entered! (You can reset your Legend if you change your mind for some reason, but that’s going to cost you 500 gold and reset all attributes and statistics!) After that, the only thing you can change would be whether you want him to play his natural position or be listed as a Designated Hitter. That Legend will be added automatically to your lineup and will be placed in the batting order based on his player type and special skill.
Performing team upgrades can be done by paying cash, though you also have the option to use Gold — the game’s premium currency — if you don’t want to spend some cash. We would recommend using Gold only if you’re making the first few upgrades AND if you have more than enough available — there are better things to buy with your Gold, so use it sparingly if you choose to pay premium currency to make team upgrades!
7. You Can Also Fill Your Needs Temporarily By Buying a Franchise Player
Aside from creating a Legend, you have the option of using your Franchise Coins to purchase a Franchise Player. You can do this by tapping on the Store button on the bottom left corner of your screen, then going to the Franchise sub-menu. You will see a list of five players that changes on a daily basis, but regardless of position, they will typically have ratings of 90 and above.
Usually, these cost Franchise Coins, which are a premium currency that can be earned via the pre-registration gift or as a prize for getting promoted to the next division, but sometimes you can buy one of these high-end players for cash. There is, however, one major catch — you can only have them on your roster for five games.
Buying a Franchise Player is best done if you have a glaring weakness in your batting lineup — for example, if you’re weak at the shortstop position and see a shortstop or two available in the Franchise section, you can go ahead and buy one of them. But you should also remember that you are essentially just renting these players, and with that in mind, it’s best to limit your purchase to just one Franchise Player at a time.
You also have the option to pay one Franchise Coin in order to extend their “contract” by another five games, but you’ll need to make it quick — once that player’s contract expires, they’re gone from your lineup forever! Still, it’s not advisable to keep relying on Franchise Player contract extensions — the sooner you can draft someone good to fill your needs at a given position, the better.
8. Trade In Players You Don’t Need For Additional XP
With all the draft picks you may have used in your first few days of playing MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021, chances are you’ll soon have a plethora of players in your inactive list. These are players whose ratings are too low to be included in your starting lineup, bench, rotation, or bullpen, thus forcing the game to render them inactive. And since these players likely won’t be of any help going forward, you may be wondering what to do with them and whether they can still serve some purpose for your team in the future.
Just as it did in previous versions, the game lets you convert, or “trade in,” your inactive players for XP. You can do this by going to Team and going to the Trade-In section, and once there, you will be given a list of all your inactive players, the number of stars each of them has, and their XP value if traded in.
You can manually trade in individual players, which could take a while, but could be useful if you see some players that might come in handy sooner or later — this probably won’t be the case very often. Typically, the best thing to do is to simply tap on “Trade In All Inactive” in order to automatically convert everybody into additional XP, as indicated by the total next to the button.
One thing you should keep in mind before trading in your inactive/unneeded players is that once you hit the Trade-In or Trade In All Inactive button, those players will be gone forever! (That is, of course, unless they appear among the draft options and you end up selecting them with your pick!)
9. Should You Use Your Ice Packs And Energy Drinks?
Ice Packs and Energy Drinks are special items that you can use for your pitchers, particularly your starters, and these can come in quite handy if your pitching still isn’t on the up-and-up. But how often should you use them, considering they won’t always be among the postgame rewards you can earn?
We would suggest using the Ice Packs right before playoff games, especially those against tougher opponents with a higher team strength than yours. Although these are AI opponents, the fact that their lineup is stronger than yours (in such a situation) may make it hard for you to limit their offense, so with that in mind, an Ice Pack could instantly allow your top pitcher, or your ace, to return to action and make the start for your team.
As for Energy Drinks, these are also best used sparingly, but in this case, we would recommend using them during tightly contested games, especially in the playoffs. Using an Energy Drink could keep any pitcher, may it be one of your starters or one of your relievers, in good condition for a little longer than usual, and if your bullpen doesn’t have that much depth, it would certainly be a good thing if a pitcher who’s doing well on the mound is able to stay in there for another inning or two.
10. When Should You Try To Steal A Base?
For those who aren’t too familiar with baseball’s rules, stealing a base takes place when a baserunner advances to the next base before he’s entitled to go there, usually while a pitcher is throwing a pitch. If you’ve got players with good Speed, this is a great way to make further progress down the base paths and get in better position to score, but it’s also risky — if you get caught stealing, that will count as an out, thus making your attempt counterproductive at the end of the day. So when should you steal bases when playing MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021?
Our best suggestion, assuming you’re in the Amateur division or lower, would be to steal bases first of all if you’ve got a man on base whose speed is 60 or higher, but especially if it’s above 70. This figure, however, will increase as you go along and progress to the higher divisions. You should also limit your base-stealing attempts to situations with one out or fewer. Stealing a base with two outs is especially dangerous — a high-risk move that might not even have a high reward if you’re only trying to steal second!
Also keep in mind that stealing third is harder than stealing second, and stealing home is the hardest of all, so you’ll want to save those attempts for situations where you’ve got a baserunner with truly elite speed. The bases may be of equal distance to each other, but as you get closer to home plate, it gets harder to steal the next base.
It’s also recommended that you employ such a strategy mainly if you’re playing AI opponents in Bonus Games. You will see in Playoff Games and regular games if your opponent is upgrading their Catcher Arm, and if you see that their Catcher Arm level is higher than your Base Coach level, it’s best to lay off and play it safe.
11. How Do Playoff Games Work?
As we mentioned earlier in this guide, MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 allows you to skip the waiting time for other players/managers by playing Bonus Games, which are a nice way to quickly go through opponents and get promoted from one division to a higher one. Getting promoted often allows you to unlock new features — for example, Season Mode becomes available once you become a Novice and the aforementioned new upgrades become available when you reach the Amateur division.
And you can also win a ton of rewards for promotion — this includes cash, gold, Franchise Player Coins, Bonus Games, and more but usually those first three, especially if you’re in the earlier divisions. But before all that, you will need to win the playoff game against an AI-controlled team.
How do playoff games differ from Bonus Games or regular games against human-controlled opponents? Just like the Bonus Games, playoff games are played against AI opponents, but unlike your roster, your opponent’s roster will be based on that of their real-life equivalent. That means you can expect to see last year’s Kansas City Royals or Detroit Tigers, for instance, if they’re your playoff opponent in a given division. Your team, however, will likely have an edge in terms of overall team strength during the early playoff matchups.
Another key difference we’ll be discussing in greater depth is the fact that the autoplay option is not always available, as we noted above. As long as you’re leading — or losing — by two runs or fewer, you will have no choice but to control your batters. That adds to the stakes of the game, putting the burden on you to get out to a comfortable lead — or to make up a small deficit. If you’ve got a big lead, then you can autoplay innings, which makes sense — the stakes are lower, and you can relax a bit. However, this can work in your favor if you’re down by more than two runs, as autoplaying just might allow the AI to help rally your team to victory!
What happens if you lose the playoff game? Conventional wisdom may suggest that you’ll get another chance, which is true — but it won’t happen right away. Instead, MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 will roll back the number of wins you need to reach the playoffs by one, which means you’ll need to win another game after losing the playoff matchup before getting another shot at the playoffs. (It’s also worth noting that once you reach the higher divisions, you’ll need to win more than just one playoff game to get promoted!)
When playing playoff games, we suggest being more focused than usual due to the importance of the task at hand. Also remember that just like Bonus Games, you can pause these games at any time — considering how it’s very easy to get frustrated if you’re having a bad run of form at the bat, stepping away from MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 for a few hours could potentially help you regroup and regain your form. That’s a luxury real-life players and managers don’t have, so don’t hesitate to pause a game if you’re struggling!
12. Complete Achievements For More Cash And Other Goodies
MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 has an Achievements section that allows you to earn rewards for accomplishing certain statistical milestones in the game. Truth be told, it may be a bit hard to find if you’re a new player, so you’ll need to go to the Games menu, then tap on Challenges on the upper half/left side of the screen — you’ll see the button right below the one that shows you your division and how many wins you need before making the playoffs.
Once you’re in the Challenges screen, you should be in Achievements by default — we’ll focus on that section here, as this shows you a list of tasks that can be completed by playing the game as normal. For example, you could win cash for winning a certain number of games overall or for certain player achievements, such as hits, home runs, runs, or doubles in a game. You may also be asked to pick up a certain number of walks in a game or improve/level up players to a certain level.
Depending on the achievements, you may earn cash or gold, and while the rewards may not seem like much for the Beginner tier achievements, the rewards will keep adding up, and will get progressively better as you complete harder ones! For example, in the Expert tier, you’ll need 100 wins, two triples in a game, 50 hits for one player, and 25 homers for one player to complete the first four achievements in the list. All these (except the triples requirement, which will get you 10,000 cash) are worth 5,000 cash each, and that’s certainly more than the 1,000-1,500 cash you could get for the beginner rewards.
The achievements that reward you with gold, such as those in the Impossible tier (50,000 games for 300 gold — that IS a lot), are typically harder to complete than the ones that reward you wish cash, so if you want to achieve them faster, it’s best to review them in the Achievements section so that you have an idea of what to work on in your next few games!
13. Free Gifts And Mystery Boxes
The pre-registration gift we mentioned is not the only one you can receive while playing MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021. Glu tends to be very generous toward regular players, and you can expect to receive gifts on an almost daily basis due to the many promos they have. For example, the company is giving out MLB Opening Day boxes, Player of the Month boxes, as well as lots of cash, XP, and other resources as added bonuses.
You can claim these rewards by tapping on the Inbox button on the top half of the Games screen, or when opening the app for the first time in the day — after you’ve claimed them, you can go to the Store and tap on the Mystery Boxes button on top of the screen. These boxes may contain new players, XP, EVO Tokens (which we’ll be explaining in a later guide), and other goodies that can help you improve your team even further.
You can open your free boxes in this sub-menu, though you can also purchase certain Mystery Boxes with cash (usually just 1 or 2 respectively for the Daily Reward and the monthly Login Box) or gold. Take note that these boxes, which include the Player of the Week Box, usually cost hundreds of gold, so this is what you’re going to want to save up for when it comes to your premium currency!
There you have it! This ends our MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2021 beginner’s guide. If you have anything to add to our list of tips and tricks, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!