Let me start by saying this: I personally have no love for MLB The Show 17, nor do I have any love for San Diego Studios.
From being blocked on Twitter for posting a review of MLB 16 on my personal blog and giving a 7/10 score to a 'community leader' harassing me, my experiences with this company are not great. Factor in the awful servers, broken gameplay, and offline modes being ignored year after year because they don't generate revenue (despite those being the modes most people play and bought the game for!) and you can see why my usual sense of humor is missing from this intro.
But for as bad as the gameplay, servers, and representatives can get, the in-game player ratings are absolutely abysmal. As someone who only played franchise and Road to the Show by using the Operation Sports Full Minors (the key word is played, as I skipped this year's edition and will continue to until changes come), I never paid much attention to Sony's ratings after day one. All those told me was, again, that the people doing the ratings didn't watch enough of the sport.
But as the game unfortunately focuses more and more on their online modes, the official Sony ratings do matter. How bad are some of these ratings, you ask?
For the record, I'll be using ratings from the July 21 update because, unlike what you'd expect, these aren't updated weekly. Why? Don't ask that question about Sony San Diego...
15 Gerardo Parra, Colorado Rockies (77)
Here's the thing, folks: I don't think Gerardo Parra's overall should be insanely high - at max, I'd have him around an 84-85 - even if he was hitting over .350 in 66 games through the end of July. Whether it's a guy having a career year or someone taking advantage of the juiced baseball, I don't know, and I also want to make it clear I don't think his overall should be raised on batting average alone. Let's just say Brian Kenny, Keith Law, and the sabermetrics movement are making a difference.
But with how much Sony San Diego continues to emphasize those traditional stats like batting average and RBIs over more advanced metrics when considering a player's overall, seeing Parra at a 77 is shocking. I'd think off his average alone, one of the raters would suggest putting him over 90, but 77? Average aside, the guy really has hit well this year, so something seems strange here...
14 Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (89)
A common argument you'll see make in this article is that the people at Sony San Diego, for the most part, seem not to watch baseball. If they do, they're watching the fragmented highlights on ESPN (why would SportsCenter put Adrian Beltre's 3000th hit nearly a quarter of the way into their July 31 SportsCenter? Was Lavar Ball really more important?) to see who's hot and who's not. That is far from the correct strategy to use when working on a sports game.
While the New York Mets have been dismal this year as they've dealt with various injuries, former Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom has been phenomenal, really doing his best to keep the team far away from the National League East's basement. Yet, despite having a dark horse Cy Young case, deGrom is still an 89 overall in MLB 17. I don't see any way to defend this, not when deGrom is on pace to set a career-high in strikeouts and post the second best WAR of his career.
13 Michael Wacha, St. Louis Cardinals (82)
No one is going to deny that 2017 has been a disappointing year for the St. Louis Cardinals, especially given how weak the National League Central was for the season's first four months, but Michael Wacha has really been a bright spot. After posting a career-high 5.09 ERA last year, Wacha has rebounded to lower his ERA back down to 3.71 and has won the hearts of Cardinal fans back - so long as he doesn't get traded in August, that is.
Wins don't make the pitcher the way they once did (thank you, sabermetric movement!), but again, Sony San Diego still bases so many of their ratings off the traditional stats. Why isn't a pitcher with eight wins and a nice ERA through July higher than an 82 overall? Is it because the Cardinals upset the LGBTQ+ community? Is it because the raters think he's related to Fozzie Bear? I don't think we'll ever know...
12 Zach Britton, Baltimore Orioles (90)
Now to be fair to Sony San Diego, they screwed this one up AT RELEASE by making Britton - he who was 47-of-47 in save attempts last year and posted a minuscule 0.54 ERA in 69 games with the Orioles - only a 92 overall at release. Allow me to understand. Britton has a serious case for Cy Young last year (whether or not he should have had that serious case is up to you) and doesn't blow a save - a flawed statistic, but we digress - and he's still three points behind the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen??
Unfortunately for the injury-plagued Orioles, Britton has battled injuries this year, but hasn't pitched terribly when he's been healthy. Why is Britton only a 90, though? If he's being penalized for bad pitching, fine, but it comes off like the raters are trying to spite Britton for no reason.
11 Sergio Romo, Tampa Bay Rays (77)
When you have a WAR that's nearing negative one (meaning you're worth one less win than a replacement player...that's not good at all) and an ERA over six, I'd have to think your overall is in the low 70s. But here Sergio Romo, now of the Tampa Bay Rays after a disappointing stint with the Dodgers earlier this year, sits with a 77 overall rating.
I get the feeling that, because Sony San Diego is obviously on the west coast, this is them trying to play it safe and boost a guy by way of name brand. Even then, though, this isn't keeping Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain in the low 80s when they're pitching to an ERA in the low fours - we're talking about a reliever whose job is to get people out and hasn't done that all year. What is happening?
10 Joe Blanton, Washington Nationals (76)
If you thought things were bad with Sergio Romo, you'll be thrilled to know that veteran journeyman Joe Blanton, despite having been terrible all year with the Washington Nationals and currently boasting an ERA in the mid sevens, is still a 76 overall. I have no doubt Joe Blanton is a good person and I respect the man for working his way back to the big leagues in 2015, but midseason ratings for a relief pitcher shouldn't be so dependent on a feel-good story.
If Blanton's ERA started in the sevens in April, but he worked his way down to the high fours or maybe even low fives, that'd be one thing. But we're in August and the guy has been horrific all year. He hasn't gotten anyone out! Why is he still in the high 70s??
9 Ian Kinsler, Detroit Tigers (88)
Again, Sony San Diego somewhat screwed the pooch with Kinsler's day one ratings, putting him at an 89 overall after the four-time All-Star slashed .288/.348/.484 with 28 home runs, 83 RBI, 29 doubles, and a 4.8 WAR. This is why I make the argument day one ratings mean nothing: the majority of them are wrong and make no sense. If you believe the idea Sony uses a three season pattern for their ratings, I'd have to think a .286/.332/.443 with 56 home runs and 248 RBI is higher than an 89 for a second baseman, right?
What confuses me, then, is that Kinsler is in the midst of a career-worst year and is still an 88 overall. For all intents and purposes, that means Kinsler is one of the top five or six second basemen in baseball this year despite being fairly unimpressive. Can Sony find some sort of middle ground with their ratings system?
8 Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals (91)
Let's all laugh and point at Sony San Diego for messing up yet another overall rating. Some will say that Daniel Murphy is fine at a 91 overall and to an extent, I agree this number works after he was given an 88 overall on day one. It's good to know the raters and developers have paid attention to Murphy's play over the past few years! But with Murphy having another solid season with he Nationals and on pace to have career-highs in home runs, RBI, walks, doubles, and even on-base percentage...why is he only at a 91?
Maybe there's an argument to be made that Murphy's abysmal defense is enough to cost him a point or two, but that shouldn't be enough to make him a 91 instead of a 94 where he belongs. Come on! Show the Murph Man some love.
7 Sonny Gray, New York Yankees (83)
Honestly, you could take everything I said earlier about Michael Wacha and repost it for Sonny Gray: young, recognizable pitcher coming off a bad 2016 season that has turned it around in 2017 and is looking like he's regaining his All-Star form of years past. Even if Gray isn't quite near his 2015 form that really had a legitimate case for Cy Young, an 83 overall reeks of being way too low.
What makes this even worse is that because of a 2016 season that saw Gray go 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts, Gray wasn't even among the team's top three players on release day. I get that no one tends to care about the Oakland Athletics and Gray's ratings will probably be rectified with his trade to the Yankees, but this is upsetting.
6 Jonathan Schoop, Baltimore Orioles (85)
Personally, I think Yankee killer Jonathan Schoop should be at least a high 80 based off his success against the Bronx Bombers alone, but I digress to again ask what Sony is thinking with these ratings. Schoop has been among the best second baseman in baseball this season and is on pace for career-highs in every offensive stat - and he's already walked a career-best 24 times. Hooray!
So with all of that said, why is Schoop only a 85 when he's hit 24 home runs, 76 RBI, and been worth 3.4 WAR to the Orioles? The poor guy even appeals to the old-school stats! Why was Schoop rated below the Phillies' Cesar Hernandez on these day one ratings? We're really getting to the point where I want my brain to be bashed by whoever thinks this is an acceptable rating for Schoop.
5 Luis Severino, New York Yankees (85)
Like with Gray, I want to hope the people who do the ratings figure out this is too low for a pitcher that has a legitimate Cy Young case this season, but that would mean having faith in Sony San Diego to do something right with their MLB game. With Masahiro Tanaka being inconsistent, Michael Pineda on the disabled list, and C.C. Sabathia having the occasional bad start, Severino has stepped up to be the Yankees ace and could possibly reach 200 strikeouts this year. Not bad for a player who was demoted to the bullpen last year!
If Severino was an 88 or so, that'd make sense, but an 85 says he's more or less a middle of the road starting pitcher that could go either way. Severino has been one of the American League's best pitchers this year, so what gives? I need to stop asking these questions...
4 Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (93)
In Sony San Diego's defense, everyone tends to underrate Joey Votto, but this is getting ridiculous. This guy is doing all he can to make Reds baseball watchable and is on pace for career-highs in nearly every major offensive category, but a 93 is all he gets? Why isn't Votto in the high 90s at this point, guys? Even on a dismal Reds team, Votto is going to have a serious MVP case and has been worth 4.4 WAR, but he's only a 93?
I know this may seem like I'm complaining about nothing given some of the other ratings, but what else does this guy need to show in order for him to be rated properly? He can't be blamed for the Reds being bad when he's having another excellent season. Come on, Sony...
3 Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals (96)
Well, we know which side of the Mike Trout-Bryce Harper debate Ramone Russell and Sony San Diego Studios have taken. You mean to tell me that when he's likely going to win the National League MVP and is having another fantastic season, Harper is still three overall points behind Mike Trout, who missed a month and a half? I love Mike Trout, don't get me wrong, but this is such a middle finger to Harper and I don't understand why Sony is doing this.
For all intents and purposes, Harper has been the National League's best player this year and you're putting him at 96 overall in a game that has three 99 overalls: Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, and Jose Altuve. If this was a game that reserved 99 for legends, fine, but to have three players with that rating and Harper not being one of them...
2 Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (90)
Even with Correa's recent thumb injury that will keep him out until mid to late September, this makes no absolutely sense when the guy has been probably the best shortstop in all of baseball this year. Correa has done everything except steal bases and is even hitting .320 - which should be more than enough to please the raters - with 20 home runs and 67 RBI, but he's only a 90? Why isn't Correa at least in Joey Votto range?
I could keep going about how bad Sony San Diego is with ratings and...well, everything, but that Correa only comes in at number two on this list is not a good sign. If you want to know why fans are getting more and more frustrated with this series and the people behind it, there you go.
1 Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (88)
How? How are we four months into the season where Aaron Judge has taken the world by storm, put the Yankees into prime playoff position, and is en route to winning an American League MVP and he's still only an 88? If he was a 91 or a 92, that'd still be a bit too low based on everything he's done this year, but to give him the same overall rating as Ian Kinsler? What??
This right here is why overall ratings mean nothing, especially not the ones handed out by companies. If you're looking for correct ratings that actually have effort put into them, stick to offline play and download an OSFM set with Judge in the low to mid 90s. What are the people at Sony San Diego doing??
Which of these ratings is the most despicable to you? Make sure to let us know in the comment section below.