Four MLB The Show 24 Cover Athlete Candidates

Who are some candidates to be the next cover athlete for MLB The Show?

May 23, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) and Los
May 23, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. (13) and Los / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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MLB The Show 24 Cover Athlete Candidates

  1. Ronald Acuna Jr.
  2. Mookie Betts
  3. Julio Rodriguez
  4. Willie Mays

One of the most exciting announcements for MLB The Show players is who will be the next cover athlete. San Diego Studios announced that Jazz Chisholm would be the cover athlete for MLB 23 nearly a year ago today. It was also around this time in 2022 that they released the Shohei Ohtani cover for MLB 22. Since it seems like SDS will announce who the next cover athlete will be at the very end of January or the start of February, let’s take some guesses as to who could be the next MLB The Show cover athlete.

Now, do keep in mind that I am considering popularity more than performance. Performance is part of it. There aren’t too many players who are popular and are objectively bad at Major League Baseball. But the first thing you see when you buy a video game is the cover art. SDS wants a name and face everyone is going to recognize, from the die-hard fans to the ones who watch baseball on occasion.

Ronald Acuna Jr.
T-Mobile Home Run Derby / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Ronald Acuna Jr.

The National League MVP could easily be the next big-cover athlete for MLB The Show. Ronald Acuna Jr. set records last year after swiping 73 bases and clubbing 41 home runs. He is the founding member of the 40/70 club. Overall, he was a great batter, slashing .337/.416/.596 with a wRC+ of 170. He was tied with our next cover athlete candidate in position player fWAR at +8.3.

Acuna is obviously a very popular player. He sold the second most jerseys in 2023, surpassing former MLB The Show cover athletes, including Fernando Tatis Jr. and Aaron Judge, with Shohei Ohtani as the only player who sold more jerseys. It’s pretty obvious that Acuna would be a great pick for the cover athlete.

Sep 22, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits
Sep 22, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts (50) hits / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts could have easily won MVP as well. While he wasn’t a founding member of a prestigious club like Acuna was, he was also one of baseball’s best players. Betts batted .307/.408/.579 with a 167 wRC+. Betts mashed 39 dingers while taking 14 bases. Betts tied Acuna in position player fWAR at +8.3. He was also a human highlight reel at both second base and right field.

Betts is also an extremely popular player. He ranked fifth in jersey sales last year, surpassing Matt Olson and Jose Altuve. Betts is also one of the most popular players on social media, with 1.4 million followers on Instagram. As of late August, he had the seventh most followers on the social media platform. Plus, he plays for the LA Dodgers, which is the biggest market in baseball today. Betts is a fan favorite. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t like him, at least as a person.

Jul 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Julio Rodriguez (44) during
Jul 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Mariners center fielder Julio Rodriguez (44) during / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Julio Rodriguez

Julio Rodriguez has made a name for himself in Major League Baseball since debuting in 2022 and winning Rookie of the Year. Last season, he hit .275/.333/.485 with a 126 wRC+. That, of course, falls well short of both Betts and Acuna. But he was a member of the 30/30 club with 32 homers and 37 steals and had +5.9 bWAR throughout 155 games for the Seattle Mariners.

Rodriguez had the seventh most jerseys sold in 2023. His home run derby performance in 2023 also put his name on an even bigger stage. Rodriguez has become loved by most of baseball. He is an easy guy to root for, and you could easily see him become the cover athlete of the next MLB The Show game.

Willie Mays
2012 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

Willie Mays

The number 24 is a very baseball number. Eight teams have retired it, and all but one of the players who it is retired for is in the Hall of Fame. If SDS wants to lean into the “24” for MLB The Show 24, there would be no better candidate than Willie Mays. Mays is one of the greatest players of all time. He has well over 3,000 hits, has 660 home runs, a career 155 OPS+, +156.1 bWAR, a dozen Gold Gloves, and 24 All-Star games. He is enshrined in Cooperstown, and the story of baseball can’t be told without him.

The only thing is, SDS hasn’t had a retro cover since 2017, with Ken Griffey Jr. (who ironically also wore 24) as their primary cover boy. Sure, they had Jackie Robinson and Derek Jeter for MLB 21 and 23, but they were the cover athletes for the collector's edition. But they could definitely take that route too and make Mays the cover athlete for the collector's edition of MLB 24.