With no sports to watch, I turned to MLB The Show 20 to fill the void of Northwestern sports. I took to the game’s career mode, Road to the Show, and simulated the careers of Northwestern’s three players drafted last year: Jack Dunn, Alex Erro and Nick Paciorek. Road to the Show begins with player creation and a draft showcase, and it ultimately leads to the player starting out in Double-A (AA) for the 2020 season. A player’s individual attributes, such as contact and fielding ability, can be increased through gameplay and mini-games. Here’s how the first three years of Dunn’s career played out:
The character creation for Dunn was pretty simple. He is a pure shortstop who excels in small ball. Dunn struggled to hit in the scout showcase but put on a clinic from the shortstop position. He hit well in the games themselves, going 5-for-10 with a double, three RBIs and a run in two games. Dunn was drafted by the Nationals in the 15th round, five rounds earlier than in real life. He was ultimately assigned to the Harrisburg Senators, the Nationals’ AA affiliate.
The Senators started hot, but Dunn did not. Through the first 10 games of the season, Dunn hit only .161, but due to his strong play in the field, he kept his starting spot with his team sitting at 8-2. Dunn began to heat up from the plate, raising his average to .250, but the rest of the team got cold. With the season skidding out of control, the manager wanted to make some changes, so he moved Dunn to third base. When the team needed him, Dunn stepped up, and his hot streak led the Senators to a winning record at the All-Star break. Hitting .283 with 19 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .343, Dunn drew some eyes and was named to the All-Star team.
With the team struggling in the second half of the season, he didn’t get much attention. However, he finished a quality season with an average of .284, 35 RBIs and an OBP of .359.
Dunn eventually got the promotion his play warranted. Midway through the offseason, he signed a one-year contract worth $90,000 to start for the Nationals at the AAA level. The relationship was short-lived, as Dunn was quickly dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Dunn didn’t make the Spring Training roster but got to start the season at the AAA level, landing at the top of the depth chart for the Indianapolis Indians, the Pirates’ affiliate. With Dunn hitting well and his team struggling, he was an easy choice to represent the Indians in the AAA All-Star Game. He entered the break hitting .283 with a home run, 34 RBIs and an OBP of .333. He had an unassuming midsummer classic, going 2-for-5 from the plate with two singles, no RBIs and no runs.
Two games after the ASG, he sustained a finger contusion and chose to go on the IL. This may have been the wrong choice, as Dunn slumped after his return, adding only 14 RBIs and lowering his season-long batting average to .278 and his OBP to .333.
Despite his overall solid season, Dunn saw his pay take a hit and was signed a one-year deal for $80,000 to remain a starter at the Triple-A level.
Despite being a starter for the AAA affiliate, Dunn once again saw no playing time during spring training. He struggled early in the season, hitting .111 through the first 10 games. He bounced back but not to the success he had in the prior season. Dunn entered the break hitting .264 with 22 RBIs and an OBP of .343, missing the All-Star team.
It wasn’t the season that Dunn wanted, as he ended the season hitting .272, six percentage points below his average from the season before. His 39 RBIs was lower than his second-year total of 48, but his .352 OBP marked an improvement.
The poor campaign hurt Dunn greatly. While he was projected to get called up, he only received an offer to play on Indy’s bench — a one-year deal for $79,000. Although it didn’t happen this year, I would be surprised if Dunn didn’t end up in the pros, both in the game and in real life. With a ton of passion, a solid bat and the capacity to lead, Dunn will likely be a valuable addition to any team he plays for.