Wednesday, May 30, 2018

My personal list of big league superstars

As a baseball fan who ends up objectifying players' careers through collecting baseball cards and autographs - it's fun to consider who are the baseball guys who have achieved some sort of national prominence in the game.

On a larger scale, it does make my head hurt when I stumble upon certain discussions on whether guys are superstars or not - there maybe a divide between the guys who account for more of the 'it' factor [does a guy look like a star, does he play the part of just kind of shies away from the attention] to qualify a player as a superstar vs. the experts who just throw out all the fancy, new age stats that are supposed to win the conversation.

MLB players seem to be more conservative, less flashy and because of how the game is structured around traditional values, there might not be that in-you-face guy that is going to be a household name - there is a big consideration as far as the guys who put up the numbers.

I'm just spitballing things out, maybe making this as a glorified slideshow to see which players capture my attention - which current guys I'd continue to collect or generally look for as far as cards go, even if most of these guys don't play for my 'home team.'

Mike Trout - Trout is definitely not going to create notoriety for himself so he's a little basic, but he's the All-American, metronomic 5-tool guy seemingly putting up historic numbers every year.

Bryce Harper - he's obviously a once in a generation talent, though I'm iffy on him because his counting numbers tend to fluctuate year to year for a supposed superstar.

He's also kind of arrogant, which probably rubs some people the wrong way at times - but because he's been the next great hope ever since he was in high school, he gets a pass otherwise for the occasional tantrums he throws.

For the numbers guys, his stardom has rested on his age and his OPS/WAR totals compared to legends and icons - he has the fame, but it's going to be interesting to see if can maintain an elite level of performance for a prolonged period of time.

Kris Bryant - he maybe the best the sport can do as far as down to earth, no frills player who maybe the people's choice, whether you want him hitting home runs or doing set-up pranks.

Max Scherzer - he is probably the most dominant pitcher in the game, though he needs be part of a championship team to sort of top off his accomplishments.

Justin Verlander - he might have been on the decline as far as being a No. 1 ace for a contender, but the trade to the Houston Astros last summer reinvigorated his career.

Verlander won a World Series championship in 2017 and this year, has been as good as he's been since his prime years with the Detroit Tigers - it doesn't hurt he is married to a supermodel and can be quite the Twitter personality.

Albert Pujols - as long as he is an active MLB player, his accomplishments can't be denied, while all the work he has done off the field, being a face for developmentally disabled individuals in particular.

Jose Altuve - at 5′ 6,″ his improbable story as a professional baseball player and high level of performance makes him a superstar; he maybe the guy that takes the title from Ichiro as a universally loved player since people can sort of identify with the height thing.

Clayton Kershaw - though he's 30 now and has gotten dinged up in recent years, he's been pitching golden boy of a longtime franchise for a decade; his 'faith based' humanitarian work humanizes him quite a bit.

Joey Votto - he's toils for a bottom feeder MLB baseball team, but he's the only pro athlete who can be petty enough to disrespect the achievement of his own country's athlete and still continue to be bulletproof.

Smart, right baseball fans love this guy and it's got to be more than the fact his on-base percentage is well north of .400 - I personally see some of his antics as a bit boorish, though at least he is a very good player.

Aaron Judge - focusing on the good things he did in 2017 and playing in New York, he's a superstar but I want to see if how things play out at the end of the year before really going all in on the idea that he's elite.

Not quite there, but just about, knocking at the door

Shohei Ohtani - checked all the boxes as a superstar in Japan, but the Angels have been almost too careful about his usage, so the hype seems relatively muted among MLB fans.

Francisco Lindor - has the personality, the ability but the only Cleveland player I know is Lebron James.

Manny Machado - puts up the numbers but it may hurt that he's going to be seen as more of a high priced mercenary and perhaps fans still ding him for flair ups in his career.

Nolan Arenado - probably the best third baseman in baseball but gets dinged for playing half is games in Coors Field and not being Kris Bryant.

Mookie Betts - this guy has improbably put up superstar numbers and plays for a big market team.

It helps that he is very athletic and is probably quite strong - despite being listed at only 5'9" and 180 pounds.


Brett Alan said...

The great baseball writer Joe Posnanski recently had an article about the possibility that Bryce Harper might not be a superstar.

Back in the day Baseball Hobby News used to define "superstar" as a Hall of Fame level player, with occasional exceptions for someone like Roger Maris. As such, it's hard for me to put Judge or Ohtani in that category at this point,but certainly they're the players people are excited about. OTOH Adrian Beltre is clearly Hall-bound, so to me he's a superstar.

Fuji said...

Love seeing another collector who lists Altuve as a superstar. I feel that baseball fans around the world have a deep respect for his game. However... he's hadn't really caught on with card collectors as a whole, which blows me away. The guy has three batting titles, a World Series ring, and is on pace to collect 200 hits for the fifth consecutive season.