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As the biggest professional baseball league in the world, Major League Baseball has quite the list of active people associated with it, from players to managers to announcers. Here's a list of the big names to know in MLB right now.

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    Infielders 

  • Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels is a first baseman and designated hitter who, during his days with the Cardinals, was seen by many as baseball's best player for most of the 2000's, and, strangely enough, is actually polite, charitable, and well-liked. Lots of fans hope he'll break Barry Bonds's records someday. He is nicknamed "The Machine" due to his formerly incredibly consistent production. For a 10-year stretch from 2001 to 2010, he hit .300 with at least 30 Home Runs and 100 RBI's every year. He won 3 MVP awards in this time (2005, 2008, 2009), and the only reason he didn't win more is because Barry Bonds was putting up ridiculous numbers from 2001 to 2004. After he left the Cardinals at the end of the 2011 season, his production has noticeably slowed due to age and injury, and it's looking unlikely he'll ever be as good as he once was, or that he'll even come close to being as valuable as the huge contract the Angels signed him to (10 years, $240 million). In 2017, his production declined even further- though he became the newest member of the 600-homer club, he also set career lows in most offensive categories, putting up the sort of hitting stats that would be considered bad even for a good defensive shortstop (for comparison, the average shortstop had a triple slash line of .260/.315/.407 in 2017; Pujols hit .241/.286/.386), let alone a player like Pujols who mostly DH's, a position with the sole job of hitting. His year was bad enough that plenty of analysts questioned whether he should be a full-time player anymore, with some questioning whether he might have been the worst player in baseball than year. That said, he can still occasionally hit like his old self from time to time—he even managed to pass 100 RBIs in 2017, despite his otherwise bad hitting (spending most of the season hitting after Mike Trout probably helped). He was only slightly better in 2018, although he did manage to collect his 3000th hit in May, becoming just the 4th player ever to have both 3000 hits and 600 home runs. The following season, he became the third player to officially reach 2000 career RBIs.note 
    • He's also called "El Hombre" (The Man), although he has said that the nickname "The Man" only belongs to the former Cardinals slugger Stan Musial, to whom the name is a Shout-Out and Call-Back.
  • Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers is currently a first baseman, though he has also played third base and in the outfield at other points in his career. A week before the 2014 season began, he signed a 10-year, $292 million contract extension with the Tigers, at the time the largest contract in baseball history. He originally came up with the Florida (now Miami) Marlins halfway through the 2003 season, and put up decent numbers for a then-20-year-old rookie and contributed a bit to the Marlins' World Series win that year. He spent the next few years in relative obscurity despite several all-star appearances, as the Marlins were fairly mediocre and he was outshined by several other players, like Albert Pujols. Then, during the 2007 offseason, he and the Marlins' ace pitcher Dontrelle Willis were traded to the Tigers for a package of very good prospects. People's opinions of the trade were somewhat mixed at the time, and as Willis was never even remotely good after this point and the Marlins finished 10 games better than the Tigers in 2008, it made the trade look initially bad on Detroit's part. However, none of the prospects the Tigers gave up ever had any success with the Marlins (though one or two of them had some degree of success with other teams), while Cabrera would reach far greater heights than he had with the Marlins. Spending the next several years as the Tigers' first baseman, he made a few more all-star appearances and led the majors in batting average in 2011, and helped lead the Tigers to the playoffs that year. He moved to third base in 2012 to make room at first for Prince Fielder, who the Tigers had signed to a massive contract during the offseason. In that season, he hit .330 with 44 home runs and 139 RBI's, and became the first winner of the hitting Triple Crown (leading his league in batting average, home runs and runs batted-in/RBIs) since 1967, a feat that many had once thought was no longer possible in the modern game, due to batters becoming more specialized more in either hitting for average or power at the cost of the other. As a result, he won his first MVP handily, although many think that Mike Trout should have won it—Cabrera was certainly a better hitter than Trout that year, but Trout was a much better defender and a much faster baserunner. Incredibly, he did even better the following season in most of his statistics and looked like he might become the first back-to-back triple crown winner, but injuries at the end of the season limited his power greatly, and though he finished with a .348 batting average, 44 home runs, and 137 RBI's, he still fell well short of the triple crown, thanks to Chris Davis hitting 53 homers. He did still win his third consecutive batting title and second consecutive MVP award. He went on to win yet another batting title in 2015, despite suffering both lingering pain from an offseason ankle surgery and a midseason calf strain that put him on the disabled list for the first time in his career. He rebounded a bit in 2016, but then had an uncharacteristically bad year in 2017, ending a streak of 7 consecutive all-star appearances and failing to get any MVP votes for the first time in his career. He started off 2018 looking like he was going to bounce back a bit, but injuries ended up costing him most of the season. Only time will tell if he can bounce back to his earlier levels of play. As of the end of the 2018 season, he's the leading average hitter among active players, though only fractionally ahead of José Altuve (see below).
  • David Freese, currently a third baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, was a true Hero to His Hometown during his days as a St. Louis Cardinal, having grown up in a suburb just a few miles from their stadium. He's best remembered for his amazing performance in the 2011 NLCS and World Series that won him the MVP of both series. In particular, he's remembered for the game-tying triple he hit in game 6, with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the bottom of the ninth and the Cardinals down by two, and the walk-off home run he hit two innings later. While he hasn't able to regain his previous level of success since the Cardinals traded him to the Los Angeles Angels in 2013, followed by moves to the Pittsburgh Pirates and now the Dodgers, he's still been a relatively solid (if unspectacular) player overall.
  • Robinson Canó, a second baseman for the New York Mets, made his name with the Big Apple's other team, the Yankees, before signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners in the 2013-14 offseason. Following the beginning of Alex Rodriguez's decline from his age and injuries in 2009-10, Cano became generally regarded as the Yankees' best player, and possibly the best second baseman in the game, thanks to his great defensive skills and power numbers that would be impressive even if he wasn't a middle infielder. At the 2011 Home Run Derby, he won and broke the record for most home runs hit in the Final Round with several outs to spare. He was being pitched to by his dad, a once minor league pitcher who never quite made it to the big leagues. Canó was named the AL Captain of the next two derbies, but didn't have nearly as much success, and was booed relentlessly by Kansas City Royals fans at the 2012 Derby (in Kansas City) for not picking any Royals to go to the derby when he originally said he would. He had a rough first half of 2015 thanks in part to acid reflux, but managed to recover his mojo in the second half despite a sports hernia, and seems to have mostly bounced back in the years since. He tested positive in 2018 for a medicine banned because of its known use as a masking agent for PEDs, was held in violation of the anti-PED policy because the officials determined that was likely what he was using it for, and dropped his appeal, accepting an 80-game suspension. He was dealt to the Mets during the 2018–19 offseason.
  • Joey Votto is the Cincinnati Reds' first baseman. The Canadian has been on almost everyone's short list of the best hitters in baseball since his 2010 MVP season, although he also somehow manages to be a bit more obscure and underrated than one would expect. He ends up in debates about sabermetrics a lot, thanks to his high walk totals that have given him a career .427 on-base percentage (the highest of any active player). Because of his great plate discipline and frequent walks, some, including his former manager Dusty Baker, have criticized him for not being aggressive enough and not driving in enough runs for a middle-of-the-order hitter, even though he usually puts up decent RBI totals and has hit 100 RBIs twice. In addition, as sabermetricians will point out, he probably contributes more runs by getting on base as often as possible at the cost of a few home runs rather than swinging for the fences on pitches well outside the strike zone like some seem to want him to, and his RBIs are largely dependent on the hitters before him getting on anyway.
  • Troy Tulowitzki is best known for his career as the Colorado Rockies' shortstop. He was perhaps the best power-hitter in the game among shortstops, a position that typically lacks power (especially after the end of the steroid era) and this, combined with his amazing defense, has caused him to be widely considered one of the best shortstops, if not the best shortstop, in the game. Sadly, he's also frequently injured, playing in more than 150 games in one year only twice, and as some of his detractors will note, his power numbers are partially a product of the immensely power-hitter-friendly Coors Field. He gained a small amount of internet fame in 2013 when a gif of a line drive he hit being caught thanks to an amazingly quick reaction from Marlins pitcher José Fernández circulated around for a while. A few days before the 2015 trade deadline, he was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays, due to the Rockies being last place in their division. So far his time with the Blue Jays hasn't gone as well as hoped, with Tulowitzki performing well under the level he'd played at when he was with Colorado and becoming even more of an injury magnet, missing most of 2017 and all of 2018 with various injuries. At the beginning of 2019, he joined the ranks of the very team of his idol, Derek Jeter - the New York Yankees, and was originally expected to play regularly at shortstop with the Yankees' regular shortstop Didi Gregorius missing the first few months of the season with an injury, but after getting off to a decent start, Tulowitzki suffered yet another injury barely one week into the season, and after spending months unsuccessfully rehabbing it, he decided to retire in July.
  • Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs is primarily a third baseman, though he also plays in the outfield. He has been getting attention for his amazing power since being picked 2nd in the draft by the Chicago Cubs in 2013 and has drawn many accolades for it: Over 4 consecutive years, he won the Golden Spikes Award (given annually to the top college baseball player in the United States), then the Minor League Player of the Year Award (more or less what it sounds like), then the NL Rookie of the Year, then the NL MVP (no other player ever even won all 4 of those awards at all, much less in consecutive years). Along with several other star players, Bryant was instrumental in ending the Cubs' 108-year World Series drought in 2016. Though most of his stats are impressive, he also has a reputation for being terribly un-clutch, with his hitting stats generally being worse in higher-stakes situations than they are in lower-stakes situations.
  • José Altuve plays second base for the Houston Astros. At 5 feet, 6 inches tall, Altuve is the shortest currently active player in baseball, and some doubted whether someone his size could succeed at the big league level. He had some initial struggles, but since 2014 has become one of the best players in the game, twice leading the AL in batting average, to go along with lots of stolen bases and packing a pretty good amount of power for a second baseman. His development into a superstar has helped the Astros become a perennial playoff contender after years of being a laughingstock. Along with several other homegrown stars, Altuve led the Astros to their first World Series victory in 2017, thanks in part to his 7 home runs in the 2017 postseason (including 3 in one game in the ALDS), and he won his first MVP Award shortly after. His short stature has been fodder for quite a few memes over the years, and led to some baseball fans using his height as a unit of measurement called an "Altuve" (for example, Randy Johnson, at 6' 10" tall, could have his height expressed as 1.24 Altuves).
  • Manny Machado is a third baseman and shortstop for the San Diego Padres. Drafted #3 overall by the Baltimore Orioles in 2010, he progressed quickly through the minors, making his MLB debut in August 2012. In his first full season with the O's, he set a new MLB record for most multi-hit games before turning 21 (a record previously held by Ty Cobb), made the All-Star Game, and led the AL in doubles. On top of that, he won the AL's Gold Glove at third and the AL's Platinum Glove as the best fielder at any position—even drawing comparisons to Brooks Robinson (the third baseman for the great Orioles teams of the 1960's and 70's, who is commonly considered the best defensive third baseman in history) in the field. Machado went on to help elevate the O's out of their Dork Age and into a period of success where they made the playoffs 3 times in 5 years, in which Machado made three more All-Star Games and established himself as a player good for 30-plus homers a season with a decent average, while retaining his top-notch fielding skills. With Machado becoming a free agent at the end of the 2018 season and the Orioles in the middle of a terrible season, the O's dealt him to the Dodgers in midseason for a slew of prospects, where he helped them to a World Series appearance. At the end of the 2018 season, he and Bryce Harper (below in the "Outfielders" folder) were seen as having the potential to sign long-term deals for at least $300 million... but wound up being the unwilling faces of a free agency market that had apparently dried up on them. In the end, Machado got his $300 million deal over 10 years with the Padres, signing shortly after the start of spring training in 2019.

    Outfielders 

  • Manny Ramirez, over the course of his career, has been one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, but also one of the sport's most unpredictable characters. His frequent mental lapses, both on and off the field, have cost his teams a game or two and have been referred to as "Manny being Manny". Most controversially, in the latter part of his career, he acquired a reputation for playing outstanding baseball his first few months with a new team, but at some point thereafter wearing out his welcome and resorting to childish outbursts and lackadaisical play until he's shipped off somewhere else. He twice tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs; after the second test, he chose to retire rather than face a 100-game suspension. Or not. He requested a reinstatement, and signed with yet another team (the Athletics), then another one (the Rangers), then joined the Cubs' AAA team in 2014 as a player/coach to mentor some of the Cubs' top prospects (and maybe have some chance of getting back to the Major Leagues, where he hasn't played since his 100-game suspension/retirement). He spent 2015 as a hitting consultant for the Cubs, and though he hasn't officially retired yet, it's looking more and more like his playing days are over. Is currently making yet another comeback attempt, with the Kochi Fighting Dogs of the Shikoku Island League Plus, an independent Japanese league.
  • Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is considered by many to be the best player in baseball. Trout made his major league debut late in the 2011 season, at the age of 19, and initially struggled, despite showing some impressive skills. He was not with the big league team team at the beginning of the 2012, receiving a call up to the majors about a month into the season. Trout proceeded to set the league on fire with his hitting, baserunning, and fielding abilities, finishing near the top in several offensive categories. Trout's fantastic season sparked a discussion at the end of the season. While Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown (finishing first in batting average, home runs, and RBIs, a feat that hadn't been accomplished in almost half a century), an argument using statistical analysis was made that Trout actually had the more valuable season, since his hitting numbers were close to Cabrera's, and Trout had clearly outperformed Cabrera in fielding and baserunning. Cabrera wound up winning the MVP, with Trout taking a close second. However Trout was a unanimous selection for AL Rookie of the Year (his time in the big leagues in 2011 was too short to make him ineligible for the award). He placed either first or second in the AL MVP voting for the next four years, finishing second to Cabrera again in 2013 and second to the Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson in 2015, and won the MVP in 2014 and 2016. Though he missed out on the top 3 in MVP voting in 2017, that was only because he missed six weeks due to a thumb injury that required surgery; his stats for that season (adjusted for missed time) were comparable to his past numbers. Amazingly, as good as Trout has been so far in his career, he might be getting even better, with his offensive and defensive statistics in 2018 exceeding anything he's done so far- he's hitting for more power than he has in the past, and he's noticeably improved his throwing arm, long considered one of the few minor weaknesses in his game. Nonetheless, despite leading MLB in on-base percentage and OPS that year, he was a distant second to Mookie Betts of the Red Sox (who had a pretty awesome season as well) in MVP voting. All this caused the rest of MLB to drool at the prospect of a 28-year-old Trout entering unrestricted free agency in 2020. The Angels poured cold water on all of that shortly before the start of the 2019 season, ripping up the final two years of his previous deal and replacing it with a 12-year, $430 million contract—setting a new record for the richest per-season deal in MLB history, and a new record for the richest total deal in any sport.note 
  • Bryce Harper, now with the Philadelphia Phillies, made his debut in 2012 for the Washington Nationals, on the same day that Mike Trout was called up for the first time that year. While he had an impressive beginning to his career, he did tail off later in the year. Overall, however, he still had a good year - perhaps the best year ever for a 19-year-old - earning an All-Star selection and easily winning the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year. He has occasionally been compared to fellow young phenom outfielder Mike Trout - coming into 2012, Harper and Trout were widely considered the best prospects in the game and hailed for their incredible talents and potential. Like Trout, Harper possesses the tools to excel at all aspects of the game and has had success at a very young age. However, those comparisons didn't quite seem to hold up for their first few years in the league, when Trout put up otherworldly numbers while Harper wasn't able to get quite the same level out of his talent. He also suffered a few injury-related setbacks. That changed in 2015, when Harper had a historically great offensive season despite still only being 22 years old, winning the NL MVP and looking every bit as good as Trout - maybe even better. However, his performance ended up taking a massive step backwards in 2016, with him "only" being a somewhat above-average player that season. The 2017 season saw him return to his 2015 form before his season prematurely ended with an August knee injury. Then in 2018, he got off to a horrific start, but returned to superstar form after winning the 2018 All-Star Home Run Derby. Has an interesting and polarizing reputation amongst fans and other players, particularly in 2016 after an interview where he made his intention use his career to shift the culture of baseball to allow for more personality and freedom of expression without the antiquated unwritten rules of the game getting in the way, though in his "walk year"note  of 2018 he toned down those sentiments. Depending on your view of Harper, this painted him as somewhere in between a punk who dishonors the game and a well-needed breath of fresh air looking to shake up a sport that had gone stale. After his MVP season, views on him as a player range from Hype Backlash to Worthy Opponent and, to some managers, even The Dreaded. Along with Manny Machado (in "Infielders" above), Harper had an unexpectedly prolonged free agency period, finally signing with the Phils for $330 million over 13 years during 2019 spring training.
  • José Bautista, who's been an outfielder for most of his career, spent the early part of his career going between a lot of different teams, frequently getting cut for bad performance. Then he joined the Blue Jays. The rest is history: "Joey Bats" became one of the best hitters in the game, leading MLB in home runs in 2010 and 2011. He didn't hit nearly as many in 2012 and 2013, though, as injuries prevented him from playing for several months, but he was still near the top before getting injured. He returned to being a solid and consistent player the next two seasons, managing to take first place on the Blue Jays all-time home run list in 2015 despite a lingering right shoulder injury (which still didn't stop him from playing in almost every game that year), but struggled to find his groove in 2016 (though he was still a solid player), and he struggled with both injuries and underperformance again in 2017, finishing the year with the lowest qualified batting average in baseball, among other negative statistics. Because of this, he was only able to sign a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves after the 2018 season had already begun, but did well enough in his few weeks in the minor leagues to convince the Braves to promote him to the big league team and make him their everyday third baseman, even though he hadn't played the position regularly in nearly a decade; perhaps not surprisingly, the Braves ended up releasing him after only 12 games, though he was then quickly signed by the New York Mets. Gained national headlines for his series-clinching three-run homer in the 2015 ALDS against the Texas Rangers. Many, however, remember his celebratory bat flip more than the home run itself, and the resulting debate about whether it was an appropriate piece of flair, or if it was Unsportsmanlike Gloating. The fallout from this incident carried over to the following season when the two teams played each other again. A Rangers pitcher threw a pitch into Bautista's back, and on a subsequent play, Bautista responded with an aggressive slide into the second baseman (such a slide had been made illegal because of another incident in the 2015 postseason where a player had his leg broken). This resulted into a shoving match between Bautista and much smaller Rangers 2B Rougned Odor, which escalated after Odor threw a solid right hook that caught Bautista flush and quickly became fodder for internet humor. A bench-clearing brawl ensued.
  • Ryan Braun is an outfielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. In the early part of his career in the late 2000's and early 2010's, before his issues with PEDs surfaced and injuries cost him some of his power, many argued he was the best hitter in the game, or at least in the top 5, routinely having some of the best statistics in just about every major offensive category. He won the MVP award in 2011... and almost immediately after, it was leaked that he failed a drug test, although the accompanying suspension was overturned on what some view as a technicality. He was also one of the players named in connection to the Biogenesis scandal in the 2012-13 offseason, although like everyone else involved, he flatly denied that this meant he was using steroids; he ultimately accepted a 65-game suspension and made an admission of wrongdoing around the same time the Brewers lost any hope for the 2013 season. His multiple steroid connections and lack of punishment made people consider him either a big Karma Houdini or an innocent man who was the victim of multiple bad coincidences — at least until, as mentioned above, he was finally officially caught and suspended for his connection to Biogenesis. He's had a lot fewer defenders in the time since- he routinely gets booed in the stadiums of other teams in the NL Central, and he also attracts plenty of hate from Diamondbacks fans on account of Braun's hitting in 2011 leading the Brewers narrowly past the Diamondbacks in the playoffs that year, and from Dodgers fans, who feel he cheated Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp out of the 2011 MVP Award (Kemp was also a friend of Braun's at the time, and one of many players who stood by Braun in the years between the leak of his test and his suspension in connection with Biogenesis- Kemp understandably felt rather betrayed and upset when he learned that Braun had been cheating and lying the whole time). It probably also didn't help his cause that he spent months trying to defame the administrator of his positive test. His 2014 season was his worst of his career up to that point, thanks to a thumb injury that necessitated surgery at the end of the season. He rebounded a little over the next two years, but after that, age and injuries took their toll, turning him from a great hitter to a fairly pedestrian one and leading the Brewers to relegate him to a more part-time role after they acquired two new all-star outfielders in the 2017-18 offseason in Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain.
  • Yasiel Puig is a outfielder from Cuba. After signing a large 6-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, he began to tear up the low minor leagues and had an absolutely incredible 2013 spring training that probably would have led to a big league call-up if the Dodgers hadn't already had three highly-paid all-star outfielders in Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier. He continued destroying minor league pitching and eventually ended up in the big leagues in June following some injuries in the Dodgers' outfield. He proceeded to crush major league pitching almost as much as he had crushed minor league pitching, hitting over .400 in his first month, and came very close to getting an all-star selection despite only playing for about a month before the 2013 all-star game. He continued to go on a tear in 2014, but his 2015 season was completely derailed thanks to hamstring issues, and a resurgence of those issues in 2016 plus his reputation as a bit of a slacker and a "bad clubhouse presence" led to a brief demotion to the minors, and the Dodgers even tried (unsuccessfully) to trade him a few times. However, he's bounced back somewhat since 2017, staying mostly healthy for the first time in years, and has seemingly mellowed out a bit. Nonetheless, that didn't save him from becoming one of several LA players who were traded to the Cincinnati Reds after the end of the 2018 season, which was largely seen as an attempt by the Dodgers to shed salary. His raw talent and incredible speed and power are a sight to behold, and he often puts his talents to good use - but he also makes frequent mental errors on the bases and in the field, overthrowing infielders by 10 feet almost as much as he makes incredible plays to get people out. He also gets some hate from other players for infractions of the "unwritten rules of baseball", like his exaggerated bat flips on home runs, and his part in the Dodgers' celebration of their 2013 NL West Title—they clinched it with a win against the Arizona Diamondbacks and celebrated in Arizona's pool just beyond the outfield wall after the game.
  • Andrew McCutchen is an outfielder for the Phillies who was considered one of the best players in the National League in the early 2010's, with the tools to excel at virtually every aspect of the game, though in recent years his skills have declined somewhat (in particular, he's lost quite a bit of speed). Previously, he had quickly become the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates after his major league debut in 2009, and in 2013 he both won the NL MVP and led the Pirates to their first playoff berth and first winning season since 1992, ending what had been the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons in the history of MLB - or any other professional North American league. He was also well-known for his long dreadlocks, until he had them all cut off for a charity auction before the 2015 season. This and many other charitable acts, as well as having another great season in 2015, resulted in him winning the Roberto Clemente Award, one of the most prestigious awards in professional baseball (Clemente being a legendary Pittsburgh Pirate himself just makes the award even more special). He had an uncharacteristically bad year in 2016, which along with some pitching injuries led to the Pirates missing the playoffs after winning a wild card spot the previous 3 years. His struggles continued at the start of 2017, but a few months into the season, he finally turned it around and started hitting like he had in previous years (though his fielding and base-stealing abilities have sadly not returned, and his hitting has generally been more good than great). Despite this, the once-again struggling Pirates traded him to the San Francisco Giants before the start of the 2018 season, but within months of his stay with the Giants, was traded later in the season to the Yankees. He signed with the Phils as a free agent after that season.
  • Giancarlo Stanton, formerly Mike Stanton, note  is an outfielder for the New York Yankees. Known mainly for his incredible power, hitting lots of home runs and hitting most of them very, very far- During his time with the Miami Marlins, he led the NL in Home Runs in 2014 despite playing in one of the largest ballparks in the MLB half the time, and from his debut in 2010 to his trade to the Yankees after the 2017 season, he hit more homers than any other player in the NL despite both the unfavorable conditions of his ballpark and frequent injuries costing him playing time. note  In the 2014-2015 offseason, he signed a 13-year, $325 million contract with the Marlins, both the longest and the most expensive contract in baseball history (though not the highest by average salary per year), which came as a surprise to some, given the usual penny-pinching tendencies of former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and Stanton's previous public disagreements with the franchise (on account of Loria's penny-pinching, they rarely ever spent money trying to field a decent team and occasionally went through fire sales, most notably a series of trades in 2012 that saw the Marlins trade virtually every player they had making any amount of money). However, Stanton's contract is heavily backloaded—the Marlins were on the hook for "only" $30 million in the first three years of the deal, and after those three cheap years were up, the Marlins' new ownership group, looking to cut payroll, traded him to the Yankees for a very light return just so that the Yankees would pay his salary. Stanton is due $77 million for the next three years, after which he has an option to opt out. He put on an amazing show in the 2016 Home Run Derby with 61 home runs across 3 rounds, shattering the old record for most home runs in the derby. And then in 2017, he became the first of two players to join the 50-homer club that season, falling just short of entering the 60-homer club (59), and ultimately winning the NL MVP award for his efforts. He had somewhat of a slow start in 2018, and that along with some persistent strikeout problems and a reputation for being unclutch led to criticism and the occasional booing from Yankees fans, though he overall had a perfectly fine year by his typical standards.
  • Aaron Judge, currently the tallest position player in baseball at 6'7" (2.01 m, or 1.20 Altuves), plays right field for the Yankees. He made his MLB debut as a late-season call-up in 2016, but didn't do too great at first, striking out in close to half his plate appearances that year, and he missed the last three weeks of the season with an injury, which meant that for award purposes, his rookie season would not come until 2017. Judge burst onto the national scene in that season, putting up MVP-level numbers for the first half of the season and breaking Joe DiMaggio's team record for homers in a rookie season before the All-Star break. He was chosen as an All-Star starter, and also won the Home Run Derby on the night before the game. He fell into a slump for about a month after the break, but eventually adjusted well enough to become the first rookie ever to hit 50 homers in a season, also being named unanimously as AL Rookie of the Year. He was also mentioned as a possible MVP candidate for much of the year, ultimately finishing in second place, behind José Altuve. Since Altuve is the shortest player in baseball, with a playing style almost the exact opposite of Judge's (speed and contact hitting, as opposed to Judge's hard-swinging, high-power approach), they naturally elicited lots of comparisons with each other. Best known for prodigious power; besides hitting 52 dingers as a rookie (breaking Mark McGwire's old rookie record), he twice set records for exit velocity of a batted ball. He also became the first player in over 60 years to collect 100 walks as a rookie, but also struck out more than 200 times (placing him in the top 10 in MLB history for single-season strikeouts by a batter). One of the most prominent examples of a "Three True Outcomes" (walks, strikeouts, home runs) hitter, he ultimately set the rookie record in all three categories. He has something of a reputation as being an all-or-nothing player, subject to incredible hot streaks and horrific slumps—in addition to his positive records, he also set records for most consecutive games with a strikeout and most strikeouts in one postseason, even though the Yankees only played 13 games and didn't reach the World Series (though that record ended up being broken just two weeks later by the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger). Judge lost a good chunk of the 2018 season when a pitch hit and broke his right wrist. Yankee fans consider him the heir apparent to Derek Jeter due to their similar work ethics and professional personalities.
  • Mookie Betts plays right field for the Red Sox, and is at least in the conversation for the title of "best player in baseball", although as of 2018 Trout is still the consensus leader for that accolade. He started out as a second baseman, first being called up by the Bosox in the middle of the 2014 season—though he also played center field in that season, and moved to right near the end of the 2015 season. Despite being much closer in size to Altuve than to Judge (5'9"), he has above-average power at the plate; he's also one of the relatively few members of the so-called "30–30 club" (30 homers and 30 steals in a season), reaching the milestone in 2018. He won Gold Gloves in each of the last three seasons (2016–2018), finished runner-up to Trout in 2016 AL MVP balloting, and in 2018 led the majors in batting average, slugging, and runs scored on the way to MVP honors.

    Catchers 

  • Buster Posey is the catcher for the San Francisco Giants. He was called up to the majors at the end of May 2010, and took off like a rocket, winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award and playing a major part in the Giants' World Series run and victory. His 2011 season was cut abruptly short, however, in a horrific collision at home plate in a game against the Marlins that left him with a broken leg and several torn ankle ligaments. His return to catching—even his ability to ever play at the same level he had played at before—was questioned. He returned to catching in 2012, and seemed to be preforming at a respectable level... until the second half of the season, where he ignited and proceeded to have one of the best seasons ever by a catcher. He finished with the highest batting average in the whole league, making him the first catcher to lead the NL in batting average in 70 years, won the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, and won the NL MVP Award by a landslide. And the Giants won the World Series... again. Since then, his offense has remained consistently excellent, and he has continued to be one of the best catchers in the game (winning yet another series with the Giants in 2014).
  • Yadier Molina has been catching for the St. Louis Cardinals since 2004. He was long widely regarded as the best defensive catcher in the game, in part for his great skill at throwing out opposing base-stealers and also for his above-average ability to frame pitches.note  His offense was a bit more inconsistent, though later in his career he developed into a solid offensive player. Even for a catcher, he's a very slow runner- to the point that his speed (or lack thereof) is constantly joked about by fans and sportswriters alike. Though his value as a framer has taken a sharp dive since the 2013 season (due to both age-related decline and better framers coming into the game), he's managed to remain an above-average catcher. He was named the 2018 Roberto Clemente Award winner for his humanitarian efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which devastated large parts of his homeland of Puerto Rico in 2017.

    Pitchers 

  • Daisuke Matsuzaka, former Boston Red Sox pitcher, is another Japanese player. An insanely dominant pitcher for the Seibu Lions who came to international prominence during the 2006 World Baseball Classic, he was offered $51 million by the Sox just to negotiate a contract, and somehow was the subject of hysterical rumors that he knew how to throw a mysterious pitch known as the "gyroball". He is nicknamed Dice-K, an Anglicized pronunciation of his first name and pun on the symbol scorekeepers use for a strikeout (the letter K).
    • Later, Matsuzaka has earned infamy for being one of the biggest-name busts from the Japanese posting system. The Red Sox ended up forking over about $100 million for six years of a pitcher who has been above-average at best ('07 and '08) and downright painful at worst (not to mention frequently injured). After brief stints with the Indians and Mets, he ended up returning to Japan to pitch for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, but pitched only one game in three seasons with that team due to still more injuries, and was released after the Hawks won the 2017 Japan Series. He managed to catch on with the Chunichi Dragons, and amazingly (given his injury history) had a reasonably good 2018 season, making the NPB All-Star Game and earning the league's Comeback Player of the Year award.
  • Justin Verlander, who played his entire MLB career with the Detroit Tigers before being dealt to the Houston Astros at the 2017 deadline, was one of the best starting pitchers in the game in the late 2000s and early '10s. Though his poor performance in 2014 and early 2015 cast doubt on whether he could keep it up, he was able to quickly reestablish his status as an ace; by 2016 he once again led the American League in strikeouts. Playing for the Tigers, he pretty much walked away with the 2011 American League Cy Young by winning the Pitching Triple Crown: most wins (24), strikeouts (250) and lowest ERA (2.40). He was instrumental in the Tigers running away with the American League Central division title. He won the American League MVP award that season as well, which is seldom awarded to a pitcher because of strong feelings that it should go to an everyday player, and not one who plays every four or five days. He came within a hair of winning a second straight Cy Young in 2012, finishing second to Tampa Bay's David Price in the closest Cy Young vote since 1969. In 2016, he again came within a hair of winning a second Cy Young, finishing a close (and controversial) second to Rick Porcello of the Red Sox. He again had a slow start in 2017, then improved over the course of the season, ultimately pitching tremendously well for the Astros over the final month and in the playoffs, helping them win their first World Series. He's been absolutely fantastic since joining the Astros, looking a lot more like the early-2010's Verlander who was one of the game's best pitchers than the mid-2010's Verlander who was struggling and often injured. Off the field, he's most notable as the husband of supermodel Kate Upton.
  • Yu Darvish, a starting pitcher who signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2018, is known for being the Michael Jordan of Japan. Yu started out as a top level prospect, with MLB teams scouting him in Junior High. However, he wanted to go with a Japanese baseball league instead. In Japan, Yu posted extraordinary numbers, with a 1.99 average ERA. At 25, he wanted to go to America, and the Texas Rangers won his services with a huge bid. He is known in MLB as having seven pitch types (in comparison, normal MLB pitchers have 3-5 pitch types). On April 2, 2013, he nearly threw a perfect game against the Astros, but it was broken up by the Astros' Marwin Gonzalez with 2 outs in the 9th inning. The question of his durability, however, is now somewhat up in the air, as he underwent Tommy John surgery just before the start of the 2015 season, didn't return until late May 2016, and was quickly put on the DL again from mid-June to mid-July 2016. He was traded from the Rangers to the Dodgers in July 2017 for the latter team's postseason run. The results of that trade were mixed—he had some good starts, some bad starts, and was absolutely destroyed by the Astros in both of his starts in the World Series. It's since come out that Darvish was inadvertently tipping his pitches—in other words, his pitching patterns were such that the Astros were able to figure out what he was going to throw. Also, several pitchers in that World Series, including Darvish himself, complained about the balls being slicker than normal. His struggles have only continued since joining the Cubs, and time will tell if he's able to get back to being the pitcher he once was.
  • Stephen Strasburg, a starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals, made his debut in 2010. He was on his way to an impressive rookie year when damage to his elbow forced him to undergo surgical repair. He briefly returned at the end of 2011, then returned in full force in 2012 and was impressive again. However due to concerns about overtaxing his surgically repaired elbow so soon after the surgery, his season was ended early by management. This was controversial among the press and the fans, especially after the Nationals were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. However, time will tell if this will have been something that helped him in the long run; he had two solid seasons after that (despite a brief stint on the DL in 2013), but his career hit something of a nadir in the first half of 2015. Former Tigers star Max Scherzer was brought into D.C. on a long, lucrative contract, causing many to question whether the signing signaled a lack of faith in Strasburg to be the staff ace going forward.note  Strasburg initially didn't do much to assuage those questions, with him spending large chunks of the season on the DL and woefully ineffective when he did pitch. This caused many to seriously begin questioning whether Strasburg would ever be able to reach and maintain the elite level expected of him when he was first drafted. However, he returned from his second 2015 DL stint having taken a noticeable level in badass. In May of 2016 (his contract year), he somewhat shockingly signed a 7-year contract to stay in Washington. Strasburg had his best season to date in 2017, with a career-best ERA, and he ended up with a third-place Cy Young Award finish, behind Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer.
  • Max Scherzer, another Washington Nationals starting pitcher, who as mentioned above joined the team in 2015 after having spent the earlier parts of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers. After some ups and downs in his earlier years, he started to put it all together with the Tigers in 2012 when he was 2nd in the league in strikeouts behind his teammate Justin Verlander, who Scherzer tended to live in the shadow of during Verlander's dominant run in the early 2010's. The next year, he improved further and made himself one of the best starters in the game, starting the season 13-0, ultimately leading the AL in wins, and being near the top in several other categories, which led to him winning the 2013 AL Cy Young Award for his efforts. Two years later, he joined the Nationals, and seemingly elevated his game to a new level, though some will note that his improved statistics may be partially because of slightly weaker competition thanks to the NL's lack of a DH. He threw two no-hitters in 2015, one of which was almost a perfect game except for a controversial hit batter with 2 outs in the 9th inningnote . In 2016, he struck out 20 batters in one game, tying the record for strikeouts in a single 9-inning game—the feat was also previously achieved by Roger Clemens (twice), Kerry Wood, and arguably Randy Johnsonnote . At season's end, he was awarded his second Cy Young Award, becoming just the sixth pitcher to win the award in both leagues. He won a third Cy Young Award in 2017, making him just the 10th pitcher ever to win 3 Cy Youngs. His power-pitching style and good control leads to him regularly being among the league leaders in both getting strikeouts and not allowing walks, but he also tends to allow a disproportionate amount of home runs on the rare occasions where the batters facing him make contact. He's also well known for his Mismatched Eyes—his right eye is blue, and his left eye is brown.
  • CC Sabathia began his pro career as a Cleveland Indian and began turning heads in the Major Leagues. Despite being a big man - looking overweight in his baseball uniform - Sabathia quickly proved to be an ace pitcher who could strike out a number of batters. Baseball experts also noticed how long he could last during each outing, regardless of him being twice as big as most starting pitchers who lose stamina and get tired during the nine innings. The experts began calling him a "workhorse" or an "innings eater" because of this. He had his most dominant year in 2007, where he quickly reached 1,000 strikeouts and ended up winning a Cy Young Award - being the second pitcher in franchise history to do so. The Cleveland Indians were able to build a competitive team around Sabathia's pitching and make a couple of playoff appearances. After failing to make it to the World Series, however, Sabathia eventually became too expensive and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, leading them to their first playoff appearance in 26 years. However, they too would fail to reach the World Series, and Sabathia left after the season to become a free agent. He eventually got a $161 million contract with the New York Yankees, becoming one of the most highly paid pitchers in baseball history. The Yankees didn't regret it, as he would lead them to a World Series title in 2009 with dominant pitching during the playoffs and was even named MVP of the ALCS that same year. Having been the best or second best pitcher on generally very good teams for his entire career, many predicted Sabathia to become the next (and possibly the last) pitcher to accumulate 300 lifetime wins, though his physical condition, workload, and more recent mediocre performances have in the end kept him from getting there. He stands at 246 wins entering the 2019 season, which he's announced will be his last. Sabathia did reach one major statistical milestone early in his final season, joining the 3,000-strikeout club. Surprised everyone when he went on a weight loss campaign that began in 2012, and as of 2014, Sabathia was the thinnest he's been his whole life. This didn't prevent him from having his worst season yet, as he's lost a bit of his fastball velocity and suffered many injuries to his legs. He regained weight in 2015, but was still unable to quite recapture his old magic; at the end of the regular season, he decided to check himself into rehab for alcoholism, shocking even insiders due to the fact that he had shown virtually no public symptoms beforehand. This seems to have done Sabathia some good, and he has put up solid (though not spectacular) performances since 2016. After his long contract with the Yankees expired in 2017, he wound up signing a series of one-year deals with the team for relatively little money, and has settled into the added role of mentor for the Yankees' young pitchers. In May of 2019 he record his 3,000th strikeout, being the 17th pitcher in MLB history to achieve this feat, which along with his other career accomplishments, give him a strong chance to make it to Coopers Town (Hall Of Fame) according to many experts. He also announced his retirement at the end of the 2019 season.
  • David Price, currently of the Boston Red Sox, is another one of the best starting pitchers in the game. He started his career with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, pitching a few games for them late in the season and in the playoffs. He showed great promise in the 2008 ACLS, where he won the deciding game from the bullpen and helped the Rays reach their first World Series by defeating the Boston Red Sox, but they ended up losing the series to the Philadelphia Phillies. He became a full-time starter in 2009. Over the next four years, David Price cemented himself as the Rays' best pitcher, quickly taking over that title from "Big Game" James Shields, the best starter on the Rays staff in 2007-09. In 2010, he was in the running for a Cy Young Award with CC Sabathia and Félix Hernández. As mentioned above, Hernández ended up winning despite a poor win-loss record caused by the Mariners' historically awful hitters, which the voters didn't blame him for. Price had a solid but not quite Cy Young-caliber year in 2011, and also surrendered Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit. In 2012, David Price had his most dominant year. He won 20 games - becoming the first pitcher in franchise history to do so—and had the lowest ERA of the American League with 2.54. He finally won the Cy Young Award at the end of the year, beating Justin Verlander by one vote. He continued to be dominant over the next few years, and the small-revenue Rays started to have difficulty affording his contract, leading to frequent trade rumors surrounding him. He ultimately was traded to the Tigers in 2014, giving the Tigers a starting rotation with 3 Cy Young winners (Price, Justin Verlander, and Max Scherzer; Scherzer has since left for the Nationals, while Price, despite still being good, was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays just before the 2015 deadline). After the 2015 season, the Red Sox signed him to a seven-year, $217 million contract, the largest for a pitcher in MLB history. His time in Boston has gone a bit less well than hoped, though, with Price struggling to live up to expectations, getting into occasional spats with the Boston media, and having some elbow problems. Despite the setbacks, David Price ultimately proved to be worth the money for Boston Red Sox in 2018. He made up for his mediocre post season performances over the years by winning 3 straight postseason starts with good pitching, ending with him being the winning pitcher in Game 5 of the World Series by out pitching Clayton Kershaw to seal the championship.
  • Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers is considered by many to be the best pitcher in the game right now. And the statistics appear to back up this claim: He leads all active starting pitchers with a career ERA of 2.36, has more career strikeouts than innings pitched (more than 2100 Ks in less than 2000 innings), more than four times as many career strikeouts as career walks, and he won the pitching triple crown and Cy Young Award in 2011. To be fair, he does pitch a lot of games in the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, but even accounting for that, no other active starter comes close to his numbers. His curveball, dubbed "Public Enemy No. 1" by Vin Scully, is so good that it became a minor story when he allowed a home run off it in May 2014, since he hadn't allowed a home run off it in almost 5 years. And he's still pretty young and seems to be getting even better; He followed his Cy Young season by leading the National League in ERA again in 2012 and 2013, winning a second Cy Young in 2013 thanks largely to an amazing 1.83 ERA. He did even better than that in 2014, leading the NL in ERA for the fourth year in a row and winning the Cy Young and the MVP—even though he was injured for the first month of the season! Signed a 7-year, $215 million deal in January 2014, making him the highest-paid player in the game on a per-season basis. He threw one of the best-pitched games in baseball history against the Rockies on June 18, 2014, striking out 15 batters in a no-hitter that would have been a perfect game if not for an error by Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramírez. In 2015, he became the first pitcher with 300 strikeouts in a season since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling both reached the mark in 2002, although his 4-year streak of leading the entire MLB in ERA was broken, as he finished third to Zack Greinke and Jake Arrieta. He seemed like he was getting even better for the first few months of 2016, for a while looking like he'd break the single season record for Strikeouts per Walk, but then he missed two months with a back injury. He had some injury issues again in 2017 and was also caught up in the home run spike that afflicted pitchers all over the MLB that year, and set (by quite a bit) a career high in home runs allowed despite pitching fewer innings than he typically does; despite that, he still had an overall good season and still managed to finish second place in the Cy Young Award balloting. His injury problems have continued into 2018, leading some to wonder if he'll ever be fully healthy and dominant again.
  • Aroldis Chapman, currently of the New York Yankees (again), is best known for his time as the Cincinnati Reds' closer. He currently holds the world record for the fastest fastball, having reached velocities as high as 106 MPH, and often throws over 100 (in fact, MLB's website had to add a special filter to their fastest pitches leaderboard due to the fact that almost all of the top 50+ have been thrown by Chapman). His high fastball velocity has made him one of the best in the game at striking people out, retiring nearly half the batters he faces that way, an insanely high number even for a relief pitcher. In early 2016, MLB gave him a 30-day suspension for a domestic violence incident that occurred in October 2015 during which he, among other things, shot a wall with a handgun 8 times in anger. That didn't prevent the Yankees from acquiring him from the struggling Reds during the 2015-2016 offseason. With free agency looming, the Yankees dealt him to the Cubs during the 2016 season, where he helped them break their "curse"; after the end of the season, he signed a big deal to return to the Yankees.
  • Johnny Cueto, currently a starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, was the ace for the Cincinnati Reds in the early 2010s. While other ace pitchers got more press, Cueto quietly emerged as one of the most dominant pitchers for the National League. In 2012 he won 19 games and had an ERA of 2.78. Got off to a good start in 2013 before going on the DL because of a back injury. But came back strong in 2014 by winning 20 games with an ERA of 2.25, the first pitcher in franchise history to do so since 1988. These would normally be Cy Young-worthy numbers, but Cueto, unfortunately, is also a victim of Always Second Best. Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the game from 2011-2014 is also a National League pitcher and produced better numbers in 2012 and 2014, leaving Cueto to finish second in wins and the ERA title in both years. Fortunately, his great year in 2014 was recognized by his baseball peers and he won a GIBBY award for best bounce back player after an injury. Cueto is known for his pitching delivery, in which he does an almost 180 degree turn of his upper body so batters have a hard time reading him. This pitching motion, however, is what caused his back injury in 2013 and time will tell if he's able to keep doing it in the years to come. In the middle of the 2015 season, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals due to the struggling Reds needing to rebuild; though he struggled to pitch consistently well for his new team in the second half of the 2015 regular season, he would prove to be a vital piece of the Royals' starting rotation in the postseason, where he helped led the team to a World Series Championship with quality pitching, especially in World Series Game 2, where he pitched a complete game two-hitter against the New York Mets.
  • Madison Bumgarner is a starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. An imposing left-hander with a deceptively easy delivery, Bumgarner was mostly known for two things - being the junior member of the heralded Giants rotation (he debuted in the majors at the age of 20 and pitched in the World Seriesnote  as a 21 year-old rookie), and for being the second-best left-handed pitcher in the NL West division, overshadowed by the downright unbelievable Clayton Kershaw. However, Bumgarner achieved national prominence in 2014 when, with the rest of the Giants' once-vaunted pitching staff in tatters around him, he put the Giants on his back and carried them to a championship. His overall postseason stats - 52.5 innings with a 1.03 ERA, 45 strikeouts to 6 walks - were some of the greatest in baseball history, and he emphatically cemented his case by coming into the deciding Game 7 as a reliever, on two days' restnote  and throwing five shutout innings for the win. His postseason stats as a whole are impressive- he has a 2.14 career postseason ERA- but his World Series stats are absolutely insane. In 36 innings over 5 World Series games in 2010, 2012, and 2014, Bumgarner has allowed a grand total of one run, good for an 0.25 ERA. Also notable as one of the best hitting pitchers of recent years—his home run stats since 2013 would project to 30-plus homers over a full season. In fact, on June 30, 2016, with the Giants set to meet their cross-Bay rivals, the A's, in Oakland with Bumgarner starting, Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced that the team would not use a DHnote  and let Bumgarner bat for himself. This would be the first time in 40 years that a team deliberately chose to let a pitcher hit instead of a DH.note  The move worked–Bumgarner doubled in his first at-bat of the night, leading to a 6-run third inning for the Giants. Spent about half of the 2017 season on the DL because of a shoulder injury he got when he crashed his dirt bike, and also missed a lot of time in 2018 after breaking his hand in Spring Training.
  • Félix Hernández is a pitcher who has spent his entire career thus far with the Seattle Mariners. He was one of the best pitchers in the game from 2009 to 2014, winning the AL Cy Young award in 2010 and throwing a perfect game in 2012. During that time, he routinely finished in the top 5 of most pitching statistics, with the notable exception of Wins. Because the Mariners had some of the worst hitters in baseball during his prime, he often failed to win games in which he pitched well simply because the Mariners didn't score many runs, and has a reputation for often losing games by scores like 1-0 and 4-2 (though he occasionally also wins some of those games 1-0 or 4-2). Because of this, he had a win-loss of record of 13-12 when he won the Cy Young Award in 2010 (the worst win-loss record any Cy Young-winning starting pitcher has ever had). He was known for usually being incredibly consistent in his performance- he broke a somewhat obscure record in 2014 by going 16 straight starts with at least 7 innings pitched while allowing 2 runs or fewer in each start. He hasn't been his usual self since mid-2015, though, thanks to several injury issues, and it's hard to say whether he's still capable of being nearly as good as he once was; he still shows flashes of his earlier brilliance from time to time, though.
  • RA Dickey is currently a free agent. He was drafted in the first round of 1996 for the Texas Rangers before a medical exam discovered his throwing arm completely lacked an ulnar collateral ligament (he was either born without one, or it was weak enough to have withered away in his youth).note  This mystified doctors, who said he should be experiencing intense pain from merely turning a door-knob, let alone pitching a baseball. In the end, the Rangers still signed him, but at a drastically reduced price ($75,000 instead of $810,000). Their expectation was that he would quickly suffer an injury and retire. That didn't happen, but, he had an underwhelming early career until he decided in 2005 the only way to stay competitive was to develop into a knuckleball pitcher. It took years for him to perfect the pitch, during which he was passed around various teams, including the occasional stay in the minors, but he ended his first full season for the New York Mets in 2011 with an ERA of 3.28, which was 12th best in the entire National League. His performance peaked in 2012 when he became the first and only knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young award and finished the year with an ERA of 2.73. After this, he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, where his performance sort of leveled off from spectacular "ace"-level numbers to an ERA averaging around 4.00, resulting in him signing with the rebuilding Braves for the 2017 season. He's still notable as one of only two pitchers currently in the major leagues to use a knuckleball as their primary pitch (the other being Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox). He is very much One of Us, and uses either the Imperial March or the opening to Game of Thrones as his warm-up music. At age 40, he became the oldest player to make a postseason debut when he pitched as a starter for the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth game of the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers.
  • Jake Arrieta, currently a pitcher for the Phillies, was one of the ace starting pitchers for the Chicago Cubs over the past few years. Before he was a Cub, he struggled heavily during his earlier years with the Baltimore Orioles. He on occasion displayed a great amount of talent, but the results were poor, with an ERA of close to 6.00 during his time in Baltimore. After being traded to the Cubs in 2013, though, he improved immensely. He developed a very good cut fastball after being discouraged from throwing the pitch with Baltimore (the Orioles believe cut fastballs lead to a greater chance of injury, and so tell their developing pitchers not to throw them), and almost immediately went from a terrible pitcher to a decent one, and then, in 2015, a great one, reaching amazing heights in the second half of the season and allowing an ERA of just 0.75 after the All-Star break (1.77 overall), winning the NL Cy Young Award in the process. He continued his dominance at the start 2016 - in fact, over a 31-start stretch dating from the end of June 2015 to the end of May 2016, he had an ERA of 1.09, 25 wins, and more no-hitters (2) than losses (1)! Even better, in the last half of 2015, he hit more home runs (2) than he gave up (1). However, since mid-2016, Arrieta seems to have faltered a bit, and while still a good player hasn't been nearly as good as he was in 2015. He signed a contract with the Phillies in 2018, which was notable for its rather unique structure and combination of team and player options—it's technically for 3 years and $75 million, but Arrieta can opt out of the last year... but if he does, the Phillies can void that opt-out with a 3-year option of their own.
  • Bartolo Colón, currently a free agent, is currently the oldest active player in baseball and the longest-active pitcher, having pitched since 1997. He was a moderately successful pitcher early in his career, pitching for the Cleveland Indians, Montreal Exposnote , Chicago White Sox, and Anaheim Angels between 1997 and 2005, and making a few all-star appearances. He won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award, although many think he only got that award because he led the league in wins, a generally poor indicator of pitcher performance - most other pitching statistics would say he was good that year, but not the best pitcher in the league, and maybe not even the best pitcher on his own team. In any case, his career was sadly derailed for a few years after that by arm injuries, and he struggled to pitch well or stay on the field. He then successfully made a comeback with the Yankees in 2011, not quite returning to his old skill level but pitching effectively nonetheless. In years since, he's remained a fairly average pitcher (though that's actually kind of impressive considering that almost 90% of his pitches are 84-91 mph fastballs, meaning that he relies almost exclusively on his ability to locate pitches), but he's been much more famous for his excessive weight (which nonetheless hasn't stopped him from being a surprisingly effective fielder who provides his fair share of defensive highlights) and (ever since his 2014-2016 stint with the New York Mets) his comical plate appearances, where he frequently flails wildly at pitches and swings hard enough to make his helmet fall off. His goofy swings were once half-jokingly cited by Rob Manfred as a good reason to not bring the DH to the National League, because that would rob fans of the entertainment of watching Bartolo try to hit. Although he's usually been pretty terrible at the plate, he occasionally gets decent results, and he managed to hit his first big league home run on May 7, 2016, a few weeks shy of his 43rd birthday, the oldest age ever at which a player hit his first big league home run. He struggled a bit in 2017 and was unable to find a major league job the following year, instead settling for a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers. The Rangers' pitching injuries soon got Bartolo back to the majors, and he's actually been pretty decent so far.
  • Corey Kluber is the current ace of the Cleveland Indians, a right-hander who has won two AL Cy Young Awards (2014 and 2017). He had a rather prolonged path to the majors, first going undrafted in 2004 out of high school (after overuse-related injuries), and then after three solid college years at Stetson having a mediocre three years in the Padres' system. He was traded to the Indians during the 2010 season, initially being assigned to Double-A. Kluber had a cup of coffee with the Tribe in 2011, pitching 3 games in relief at the end of the season, and then while in Triple-A the following year, mastered a two-seam sinking fastball, which proved to be his ticket to The Show. He was called back to Cleveland in 2012, this time as a starting pitcher, but didn't pitch particularly well and ended up spending the first few weeks of 2013 in the minor leagues before being called up again in mid-April, this time for good. He was a decent but not spectacular pitcher in 2013, but then he had a breakout season and established himself in 2014 as one of the AL's best pitchers, narrowly winning the Cy Young Award over Félix Hernández note . Kluber went on to finish third in Cy Young voting in 2016, win the award again in 2017, and win 20 games in 2018. Known for stoicism on the mound, he's a power pitcher whose best pitches are the aforementioned two-seamer and a breaking ball that variously resembles a slider and curve.
  • Shohei Ohtani is a Japanese pitcher who signed a deal with the Los Angeles Angels after the 2017 season, following spectacular success with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league. His talents got him the attention of some MLB teams straight out of high school, a pretty uncommon feat for Japanese players. He started getting more attention when he put up dominant pitching stats as a teenager in his first couple of seasons, and then he also had a breakout season at the plate in 2016, he became well-known internationally, even among American baseball fans, which is extremely rare; even dedicated baseball fans in the US have seldom heard of any players that aren't currently or formerly playing for an MLB team or a minor league affiliate of an MLB team. His hitting talents are so great that he's been used as a DH on days when he isn't pitching, and his combination of great hitting and pitching have led to Ohtani being dubbed "The Japanese Babe Ruth". He decided to come over to an MLB team after the 2017 season, even though changes to the international signing rules meant that by not waiting until he was 25, he was costing himself potentially tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars in his initial contract. With the signing rules heavily limiting how much he would cost and Ohtani not seeming to care too much about how much he was paid, pretty much every team in baseball could see him fitting into their budgets, and his rare combination of talents led to most of the 2017-18 offseason talk dominated by speculation about where Ohtani would sign, and just how good he could possibly be at both pitching and hitting when he got to MLB. Ohtani struggled mightily in spring training, leading to speculation as to whether he was worth the hype... until proceeding to homer in each of his first three regular-season games as a hitter and pick up wins in his first two pitching starts. He slowed down slightly after that, but still continued to do some pretty amazing things as both a hitter and a pitcher... at least until he ominously went on the disabled list with a sprained UCL. Ohtani ultimately finished the season as solely a hitter, and had Tommy John surgery after the season; he is not expected to pitch in 2019, but has returned as a hitter.

    Managers and Owners 

  • Billy Beane is the Oakland Athletics' executive vice president for baseball operations, as well as a former major league outfielder. Entering the sport with high expectations due to his high school success, he performed poorly for most of his professional career, barely qualifying for a major league spot, and ultimately retired at the age of 27, accepting a job with the A's in the front office and rising to become general manager in 1998. Constrained heavily by Oakland's small budget, he constantly has to come up with ways to find players that are being undervalued by the rest of the league for Oakland to compete. He's mostly been successful, particularly during the early 2000s, when Oakland was practically the only team to embrace sabermetric principles, where they had 4 straight playoff appearances. His job got a lot harder when the rest of the league copied his ideas, but he's actively working to find other ways to stay ahead of the game, and still has been able to give Oakland a few surprisingly competitive seasons, though he's also made some less-than-stellar moves along the way, notably trading away star third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2014-15 offseason for an underwhelming package of prospects, only to watch Donaldson win the AL MVP the following year and lead Toronto to their first postseason appearance in 23 years. After the 2015 season, Beane was kicked upstairs to oversee the A's baseball operations, while his former assistant took over the day-to-day GM job. Brad Pitt played him in Moneyball, a movie that followed the A's 2002 season.
  • Theo Epstein was one of the first general managers of a big market team to copy Beane's ideas. He was first hired by the Red Sox in 2002 at the ripe old age of 28, shortly after an unsuccessful attempt by the Red Sox to hire Beane himself. Epstein's use of sabermetrics combined with a much bigger budget than the A's had an immediate impact on the Red Sox, and they won the World Series for the first time in 86 years in 2004. Following a disappointing season in 2011 that saw the Red Sox suffer one of the biggest late-season collapses in history and fall one game short of the playoffs, Epstein left the team to join the Chicago Cubs. Not content with ending just one baseball "curse", Epstein spent the next few years rebuilding the team from the ground up and in 2016, the Cubs had their first 100-win season in more than 100 years, made the World Series for the first time since 1945, and won it for the first time since 1908.
  • Buck Showalter was most recently manager of the Baltimore Orioles. A former minor league player for New York Yankee Affiliated teams, and since the early 90s, a manager for the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks, Texas Rangers, and in-between those, and baseball analyst for ESPN he was hired by the Orioles in the middle of the 2010 season. As this was during the O's Dork Age (an age where fans were abandoning the team, and holding the "Free the Birds" walk out movements to protests Peter Angelos' poor ownership of the team), he had a rather large task in front of him. He immediately got to work as he coached the worst team in the league at the time, and finished their season with 34 wins of 57 games played under him. Additionally, he made it clear to the team and fans, consistent under performance would have you on the bus to the AAA Norfolk Minor League team until your skills improved. His first full season with the O's in 2011 was another rebuilding year, capping it off with the now famous "Game 162", on September 28th, 2011, "The Best Night of Baseball" where the last place in division O's knocked their rivals the Boston Red Sox out of the playoffs on their last game of the season. This fired up both the team, and fan base for the next season. And it showed as in 2012, the Dork Age officially ended, with the O's securing a Wildcard playoff, knocking out the Texas Rangers, before losing to the Yankees in the playoffs. 2013 was another winning season above .500 win average, and 2014 Showalter managed the team to a dominating 96-66 Win-Lose Record as the AL East champions, preventing the playoff regular Yankees from even making it to the playoffs and receiving the American League Manager of the Year award. However, a new Dork Age, including a disastrous 2018 season that saw the O's lose a franchise-record 115 games (yes, more than in any of their seasons as the St. Louis Browns!), ended with both Showalter and GM Dan Duquette being shown the door. Nonetheless, if you need any further proof of how popular and successful he's been, fans cheered him on just as much as the players, with chants and signs of "The BUCK stops here!" and "BUCKle Up!"
  • Derek Jeter is the current CEO and part owner of the Miami Marlins. A former shortstop who retired at the end of the 2014 season after playing his entire career with the New York Yankees, he was generally thought of as the "heart and soul" of the run of great Yankees teams from the mid-'90s to the 2010s, although he was usually not their best player statistically. In his last season, Jeter was the only active player with 3,000 career hits. He is also personable and charismatic, and had a tendency to play well in clutch situations. However, sportswriters and Yankees fans often had a Godlike reverence of him to the point of causing a Hype Backlash for everyone else (though even with the backlash, nobody seems to have anything actually bad to say about him). Immediately after he retired, the Hall of Fame put up a web page that considers his first-ballot induction in 2020 a foregone conclusion. He went on to help start a website dedicated to publishing stories written by athletes, The Player's Tribune, before joining the ultimately successful effort to buy the Marlins from Jeffrey Loria. While he's now running the baseball and business operations of the Marlins, the vote in owners' meetings belongs to the lead investor, hedge-fund billionaire Bruce Sherman.note  His more famous but controversial decision as owner - the December 2017 trade of the aformentioned Giancarlo Stanton to his former team, which, while sending shockwaves to baseball in general, did not deter the Yankee fans, who thanked him for the trade which while it cost them Starlin Castro, also repeated a prior incident in 1919, when the Yankees got Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox and gave the team, for the first time in almost a century, two HR leaders at the same time. The 2017-18 offseason would also see several of Stanton's former teammates moving teams as well under his watch (most notably Christian Yelich to the Brewers, Marcell Ozuna to the Cardinals, and Dee Gordon to the Mariners, with J.T. Realmuto also being traded the following year), in what was criticized by many as a fire sale along the lines of the sales that Loria used to make regularly. Aside from his duties for the team, in his role as team president he has been active in engaging with the people of Miami that have supported their team through the years, including the huge Latino community present there, such as exiles from Cuba and people from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and many others.
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    Announcers 

  • Jaime Jarrín: The most famous baseball broadcaster you've never heard of... unless you speak Spanish. Born in Ecuador, he came to the US shortly before his 20th birthday having never seen a baseball game. He soon rose to become news and sports director for a Spanish-language station in Los Angeles, just in time for the Dodgers to arrive in 1958 and his station to pick up the team's Spanish radio rights. Jarrín joined the Spanish broadcast team the next year, became the lead Spanish announcer in 1973, and has remained with the Dodgers to this day (and is under contract through 2020). Like his now-retired English-language counterpart Vin Scully (see the "Historical People to Know" page), he's a Frick Award recipient. Now paired with his son Jorge in the broadcast booth.
  • Joe Buck has been the central commentator for Fox Sports baseball and American football coverage for the past two decades. As Fox has held the broadcast rights to the World Series since 2000 (currently signed to do so through 2021), this means that he is probably the one sportscaster every baseball fan has heard, having covered every World Series in that period (as well as in 1996 and 1998). He's also not the most well-liked broadcaster, with fans of both baseball and football criticizing him for his seeming lack of excitement in big moments and for what they perceive as bias in favor of certain teams (leaning into this, Buck's twitter bio starts with "I love all teams EXCEPT yours"). The son of long-time Cardinals caster Jack Buck, Joe has proved that baseball broadcasting calling runs in his family. His traditional catch phrase of "We'll see you tomorrow night",note  in response to a Game 6 outcome forcing the final deciding game of a 7 game series, is a regular feature of October play.

    Other 

  • Rob Manfred succeeded Bud Selig as commissioner in January 2015. Manfred first worked with MLB as an outside counsel in 1987, became a full-time MLB employee in 1998, and became Chief Operating Officer at the end of the 2013 season. His first significant headlines came after the the 2015 season when he shot down Pete Rose's latest bid for reinstatement to MLB. However, he would later allow the Reds to enshrine Rose in the team's Hall of Fame and formally retire his number in 2016. One of his top priorities so far in his time as commissioner has been improving the pace of play of the game, pushing for changes such as requiring batters to keep one foot in the batter's box at all times, replacing the four-pitch intentional walk with a hand signal, limiting the amount and length of mound visits by coaches and managers, and adding a pitch clock to minor league games, requiring pitchers to pitch the ball in no more than 20 seconds when no runners are on base. Though so far he hasn't been as surrounded by controversy as some previous commissioners have been, there has been controversy over rising home run rates. Since the middle of 2015, major league baseball has seen an explosion in home runs, with rates of home runs even higher than they were during the "steroid era" of the late 90's and early 2000's. Many analysts have concluded that changes to the ball are responsible for the rising home run rates, with balls being tighter-wound than they have been in the past, causing them to fly farther. Manfred has denied making any intentional changes to the ball, despite a significant amount of evidence suggesting the ball has been "juiced" since mid-2015.
  • Roger Angell is a longtime writer for The New Yorker magazine, whose reverently erudite essays on baseball (published sporadically since 1962 and later collected in numerous books) have led many to deem him the game's unofficial "poet laureate". In 2014 the Hall of Fame presented Angell with the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, making him the first non-beat writer (and first non-member of the BBWAA) to receive the honor.note 

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