Players Gracing the Covers
While your favorite MLB team – whether it’s the Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants, or even the Chicago Cubs – only plays 162 regular season games a year, it’s not always enough. Even a trip from the postseason to the World Series may not entirely quench your thirst for nine more innings of baseball.
Thankfully, video game developers are aware of this need, and titles like “MLB: The Show” give the baseball-obsessed a chance to enjoy the sport year-round. These games, released across different video game systems over the years, allow fans to digitally guide their favorite players and help them achieve a career worthy of Cooperstown.
What baseball positions are most featured on the cover of these games, and who are some of the most famous faces on the packaging? Here’s a look at recent MLB video games and what their covers can tell us.
Select A Team
No player without their own video game franchise (sorry, Ken Griffey Jr.) appeared on more covers than former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. He graced the cover of “Major League Baseball 2K5”, “Major League Baseball 2K6,” and “Major League Baseball 2K7” – three consecutive years not just as the face of the Yankees’ franchise but of this particular video game series. Those were some of the best years of Jeter’s career. In 2006, he finished second overall in MVP balloting behind Minnesota Twins player Justin Morneau.
Ken Griffey Jr. was featured on four covers, all from the series using his name and image. While the other players rounding out the top five appeared on two or more covers, only one was a pitcher. Pedro Martínez, a 2004 World Series champion with the Boston Red Sox and Hall of Famer, lent his visage to the covers of “World Series Baseball 2K1” and “World Series Baseball 2K2.”
Seven video game series have had Boston Red Sox players featured on the cover, the most of any one team. In addition to Pedro, recently retired designated hitter David Ortiz was on the cover of “MLB 06: The Show.” The only currently active Red Sox to appear on a cover was second baseman Dustin Pedroia for “MLB 09: The Show.” Adrian Gonzalez and Nomar Garciaparra were also Red Sox players when chosen as cover boys.
Two teams – the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays – with only one MLB player on a video game cover have only done so very recently. In the last two years, Dodgers’ right fielder Yasiel Puig and Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson shared the responsibility of gracing “MLB: The Shows” cover in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Puig was 19th in MVP voting in 2014, and Donaldson knocked in 41 home runs and 123 RBIs in 2015, where he finished first in MVP balloting.
After outfielders, shortstops and pitchers were the most common positions to be featured on the covers of baseball video games. At six apiece, there are plenty of famous faces in this bunch. Derek Jeter for “Major League Baseball 2K” and Pedro Martínez of the Boston Red Sox in “World Series Baseball 2K” help lead this group.
You’re less likely to be the face of a video game franchise if you’re a second or third baseman. Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox and David Wright from the Mets, helped to further the cause of being considered for cover-star greatness.
Press Play to Play Ball
While there have certainly been players from small market teams who’ve made their way onto video game covers, stars from some of the MLB’s biggest teams – like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees – make more regular appearances on the boxes of these digital baseball games.
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Video Games Franchises Covered
MLB: The Show, Major League Baseball 2K, Triple Play, Ken Griffey Jr., The Bigs, Home Run King, World Series Baseball 2K, Microsoft Baseball, MLB ‘98, MVP Baseball.