MLB the show
Credit: Sony

Are MLB The Show Cover Players Cursed Like Madden?

The Madden Curse is very real. Essentially a star player gets on the cover of the popular game, and ends up having a terrible year, gets injured, or flat out retires. Look what happened to Antonio Brown after he appeared on the cover of Madden ’19. He basically shot himself into a downward spiral, joining the many other athletes who’ve suffered due to their appearance on the video game. Another popular sports game that appeals to baseball fans is MLB The Show. Is there a curse for the players who appear on it? Let’s find out.

David Ortiz: 2006

The game debuted in 2006, with Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz. How’d he do that season? He had perhaps his best offensive year at the plate, hitting 54 home runs and driving in 137 runs, and played ten more seasons essentially injury-free. So no, he wasn’t affected by “the curse.”

David Wright: 2007

Moving on to ’07, MLB The Show featured New York Mets third baseman David Wright. 2007 was a career year at the plate for him, hitting .325 with 30 home runs and 107 runs batted. Five years down the road, however, he did become plagued with injuries, but I don’t attribute that to the curse. So no curse for Wright either.

Ryan Howard: 2008

In 2008, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard appeared on it. No curse here at all as he led the league with 48 home runs and 146 runs batted in that year. Like Wright though, he slowly started declining, but nothing dramatic yet as seen for Madden curses.

Dustin Pedroia: 2009

2009 had Red Sox second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, on the cover, which may be one of the few perhaps affected by any sort of curse. In his first two seasons, he crushed Major League pitching, but 2009 offered a slower decrease into just a solid everyday second baseman not anywhere near a superstar. He did bat .297 with 15 home runs in ’09, so who’s to say if there’s a curse here or not.

Joe Mauer: 2010, 2011

2010 and 2011 both featured Minnesota Twins catcher/first baseman, Joe Mauer. 2010 went well for him, hitting .327 with a .404 on-base percentage. 2011 was a different story as his average fell to .287 and only appeared in 83 games due to injury. He did bounce back the next two years appearing in two all-star games but afterward started to slowly but surely decline. Still no real hard evidence of a curse yet.

Adrian Gonzalez: 2012

2012’s game had Red Sox first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez. This was an interesting year for the slugger as he came off an exceptional 2011 campaign for Boston. In 2012, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers midway and didn’t quite feature the production he had in Boston or San Diego. He only hit 18 home runs, but still had a solid .299 batting average. He was Los Angeles’ starting first baseman until 2017, yet never acquired that superstar status again. Could this be the work of a curse?

Andrew McCutchen: 2013

2013 featured Pirates Outfielder Andrew McCutchen. There was certainly no curse this year, as the outfielder won his first MVP award, hitting .317 with 21 home runs and a .404 on-base percentage. He followed that up with a few more All-Star campaigns, and a great career so far.

Miguel Cabrera: 2014

2014 had Tigers first baseman, Miguel Cabrera, on the cover. He was coming off a runner-up to MVP Mike Trout. 2014 featured a high batting average, but a dramatic dropoff home run rate, a trend that would define the next few years. Injuries started to pile on him as well, leading to less and less offensive production per year. Could be curse-related…

Yasiel Puig: 2015

2015’s MLB the Show cover featured Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who was a controversial choice in my opinion since he was never really a star, just all flash. The curse may have taken full effect as the outfielder hit an abysmal .255 batting average with only 11 home runs. His next highest batting average in any of his following seasons was only .267. I think the curse had a say in this.

Josh Donaldson: 2016

In 2016, the previous year’s MVP winner, third baseman Josh Donaldson appeared on the cover. He followed his MVP campaign with a very solid year, finishing third in MVP voting. Unfortunately, his career took a downfall the following years marred by injuries. He was the comeback player of the year however in 2019, so there’s still hope that it wasn’t the curse.

Ken Griffey Jr: 2017

In 2017, Ken Griffey Jr. appeared on the cover, but he already had an illustrious career that the curse couldn’t reach.

Aaron Judge: 2018

In 2018, Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge appeared on the cover. He was coming off a season where he finished runner-up in MVP voting and slugged over 50 home runs. In his last three seasons since, the home run rates have been there, but he hasn’t been able to play a full season due to the injury bug. Definitely cursed.

Bryce Harper: 2019

In 2019, Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper was featured on the cover. He actually improved from the previous season, hitting 35 home runs and driving in 114. The solid player was never cursed, but let’s see what happens this upcoming 2021 campaign for Harper.

Javier Baez: 2020

2020’s cover featured Cubs’ second baseman, Javier Baez. The previous season, he was an All-Star who slugged 29 home runs. He miserably dropped off in his 2020 campaign, batting .202 with only eight home runs and a .599 on-base plus slugging. There may be some curse involved, but let’s see what he does in 2021.

Fernando Tatis Jr: 2021

That brings us to this year. The young Padres phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. was announced as the cover athlete for MLB the Show 2021. He was second in the league in home runs last year with 17 and fourth in runs batted in with 46. The shortstop also just signed a 14 year deal with San Diego, so there’s a lot riding on next season. Will the curse have a say in it? Who’s to say. So far, there hasn’t really been much evidence of a curse at all for MLB the Show. Maybe the real reason is the pressure of being in the spotlight, and being on a video game cover is the definition of that. Football is also arguably the most popular sport in the nation, and that caters toward the spotlight, resulting in a “Madden curse.”

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