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‘MLB The Show 24’ cover athlete: Why Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is headlining the video game

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. could be considered a prince of baseball. A former No. 1 prospect and the son of a Hall of Famer, Guerrero is in prime position to take over the baseball world.

Now he is taking over the cover of the sport’s premier video game. Guerrero will be on the cover of “MLB The Show 24,” San Diego Studio announced Tuesday.

As part of the announcement, “MLB The Show” traveled to the Dominican Republic in December to produce a documentary about Guerrero.

“Choosing Vlad Jr. was really easy,” said Ramone Russell, Sony’s “MLB The Show” product development, communications and brand strategist, per MLB.com. “But we really wanted to go further. And that’s why we shot the documentary for our cover announcement.”

MORE: Baseball Hall of Fame 2024 voting results

The selection of Guerrero will undoubtedly surprise to some baseball fans. Though the 24-year-old is coming off his third All-Star appearance, he had a down year, slashing a modest .264/.345/.444 with 26 home runs. He walked in 9.8% of his plate appearances and struck out at a 14.7% clip.

Still, Guerrero is a massive name in the sport. Here’s a look at why he was picked.

Why Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the cover athlete

Guerrero became a baseball star before he even made the majors. He was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the sport in 2019 by MLB Pipeline, and many expected him to produce Miguel Cabrera-esque numbers.

He debuted in 2019 and finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting. He showed steady improvement in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, then exploded onto the scene in 2021, leading the majors with a 1.002 OPS, .401 on-base percentage and .601 slugging percentage. He also hit 48 home runs. In any other year, he would have been the American League MVP. Instead, Shohei Ohtani delivered a historic two-way season and earned the award.

Though Guerrero has yet to replicate his 2021 successes, he remains a star presence in the game with a shining personality and his penchant for delivering in big moments. He has thrilled fans in back-to-back home run derbies, winning his first at the 2023 All-Star Game.

MORE: Who is on the Hall of Fame ballot in 2025?

And there is, of course, the legacy factor as well. Guerrero’s father, Vladimir Guerrero Sr., was a Hall of Famer in his big-league career and graced the cover of “MLB 2006,” an earlier version of the video game now headlined by his son.

“It was an emotion that I can’t really explain,” Guerrero Jr. told ESPN of being on the cover. “When you see something like that, a lot of things cross through your mind from when you were little, playing PlayStation with your friends, with your family. You look up one moment and suddenly it’s you on the cover. It’s just a huge honor for me.”

Though Guerrero’s numbers weren’t as electric in 2023 as they have been in the past, there is plenty of reason for optimism. He ranks in the 80th percentile or higher in xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, average exit velocity, hard hit rate and strikeout rate, per Baseball Savant, and his impressive plate discipline portend a return to star status.

“I’ve said this since last year — that this is my season, and that this is when people are going to know about me,” Guerrero told ESPN. “It’s going to be either ‘Vlad Jr. is back’ or ‘Vlad Jr. stayed behind.’ But I’m focused on what I have to do and, with God’s grace, 100% confident in myself that this year is going to be great.”

List of ‘MLB: The Show’ cover athletes

Guerrero is now the 18th different MLB player to be on the face of the “MLB The Show” video game series. Last year, Marlins breakout star Jazz Chisholm made the cover. 

Year Player Team
2006 David Ortiz Red Sox
2007 David Wright Mets
2008 Ryan Howard Phillies
2009 Dustin Pedroia Red Sox
2010 Joe Mauer Twins
2011 Joe Mauer Twins
2012 Adrian Gonzalez Red Sox
2013 Andrew McCutchen Pirates
2014 Miguel Cabrera Tigers
2015 Yasiel Puig Dodgers
2016 Josh Donaldson Blue Jays
2017 Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners
2018 Aaron Judge Yankees
2019 Bryce Harper Phillies
2020 Javier Baez Cubs
2021 Fernando Tatis Jr. Padres
2022 Shohei Ohtani Angels
2023 Jazz Chisholm Jr. Marlins
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