August 8th, 2014
I have aging kidneys. No, in true disclosure I have to admit I have old kidneys. I watch lots of live baseball every year; from spring, to summer, to fall. That’s lots of trips to the bathroom. And, of course, I love to eat. So that’s getting up for food late in games as well. But there are times when my kidneys have to be put in a holding pattern. There are times I just have to let my stomach grumble. Those times are when these guys come to the plate. I am glued to my seat. I don’t want to miss an at-bat.
Keep in mind, I have countless other guys that I love to watch. Guys like Paul Goldschmidt and Sal Perez. Guys like Michael Brantley, Hunter Pence and Christian Yelich, Chris Sale and Corey Kluber. My guys are special to me. I talk about them on the radio and in the podcast because they’re special players-their my guys.
But the guys I list below-well, I can’t miss an at-bat, a pitch or a defensive play. They have an electricity about them that makes me marvel at their talent. I can’t take my eyes off them. So here they are, in no particular order of importance or talent.
Andrew McCutchen- Every time I watch him in person he does something special. He barrels the bat and hits the ball over the wall or he motors from first to third in a flash. Or he makes a fantastic play in the field. But his at-bats are special. He has a knack for hitting a baseball to the right place at the right time. And he isn’t bothered by pressure.
Jose Altuve-Just to watch him play is a treat. Small in physicality but huge in heart and talent, Altuve is the engine that can spark any team. He just makes contact at the plate at-bat after at-bat, gets base hits and steals bases. He’s electric. Uniform? Dirty.
David Ortiz-I just think something special will happen every time he gets into the box. I don’t want to miss it. The shift has hurt him, but the long bombs still beat the shift. He hits in the clutch and I’ve seen him carry his team-like in the 2013 World Series. The ball makes that “special sound” coming off his bat. He’s huge.
Mike Trout- Is there anything this guy can’t do? I love to watch him hit a ball to the gap and take off running. I saw him very early in his career and I’ve seen the progress. He’s special because he hits for average and power, runs and plays amazing defense. His eye-hand coordination and his instincts are off the charts. I hope he can stay healthy.
Pablo Sandoval- He blows me away every at-bat with his lack of plate discipline and the fact that he can hit a ball in the dirt or over his head. He’s a tremendous hitter. I want him to get in better shape, but he can do it all now. He’s a much better fielder and runner than people think. He has power and hits line drive darts. He’s the Panda.
Yasiel Puig-Say what you will about his antics, Puig is some kind of special player. He can hit a ball over the wall, hit the ball to the gaps or swing and miss while screwing himself into the ground. I don’t want to miss a moment. His arm is huge. His speed is real and he plays bigger than life. He’s reckless and fearless. He’s one of a kind now.
Gregory Polanco- My newest “can’t take my eyes off you” guy. Long legs, long arms. Loping strides. Gap hits. Sweet swing (although a little long). I see a star in the making. He’s a tremendous player to watch. He’s still learning. I hope he keeps the hustle. The at-bats from the 2 hole let him show off his speed. He made my list very quickly.
Billy Hamilton- Woosh-there he goes. He’s a blur out of the batter’s box. He’s a blur on the bases. Watching him hit a triple is poetry. I’ve seen two. And seeing him close on a ball in center field is something special. He’s made himself into a fine outfielder. The speed is beyond special. Seeing him bunt for a hit is a thrill for me. Love to watch him.
Dee Gordon- I’ve seen him steal second base on the throw back to the pitcher from the catcher. He gives 100% every at-bat. He wants to contribute to his team. And he does it with his legs. He gets some dink and dunk hits, but they’re still hits. He’s getting better at every phase of the game. He’s found a home as an All Star second baseman.
Bryce Harper- I know he’s scuffled. I know he’s been hurt. But watch him play. Watch him run into the fence. Or swing from his shoes. This guy is just in the beginning stages of what I think will be a great career. He can hit for average and for power. The way he does it is what is so neat. I don’t want to miss an at-bat because something special is going to happen. He’s never boring. Never average.
—–a couple pitchers—–
There are pitchers I can’t keep my eyes off, too. I want to see every pitch. Sure, I love to watch Kershaw and Ryu. Anibal Sanchez and Wainwright. But these two guys have me mesmerized each and every pitch.
Aroldis Chapman- I enjoy watching the 100 mph to 104 mph fastball. But I like watching the slider after the fastballs even more. See ya. The guy has an amazing arm. It’s much more electric in person than on television. The anticipation is tremendous.
Yu Darvish- Everything moves. Every pitch. He can get a hitter with a fastball or any pitch ever invented. He doesn’t look tired on the mound. He doesn’t look like he’s in trouble, even if he’s in trouble. He has ice water in his veins. And I never know what I’m going to see. That’s why I don’t like to miss it.
There are three infielders that make me sit up in my seat and marvel at their talent. I don’t quite know how they do it play after play. I know there are many, many more infielders with fantastic talent, but these guys make it look so easy. The ball just disappears in their gloves. And they throw bullets to first base-even off balance.
Didi Gregorius-One of the most athletic players in the game today. He floats to the ball. He has a cannon for an arm. His footwork and soft hands are lightning quick.
Alcides Escobar- I saw him when he played his very first game in the Fall League. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Skinny and raw, he flashed range that I hadn’t seen since Omar Vizquel in his prime. He has a great arm with tremendous instincts. Super.
Andrelton Simmons- Another magician at shortstop. He makes impossible plays and he has to be seen to be appreciated. I will never take him for granted. I’m jus thankful I’ve gotten to see him play shortstop. It really is poetry in motion.
—–On The Cusp—–
Here are guys that I may not be able to take my eyes off real, real soon:
Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Francisco Lindor, Oscar Taveras, Jose’ Abreu, George Springer and Masahiro Tanaka.
My old kidneys don’t have to wait while these guys are at the plate anymore. But-I admit that I find it very, very hard to get out of my seat when they come to the plate:
Albert Pujols, Adam Dunn, Ryan Howard, Miguel Cabrera.
That’s my list. Those are guys I can’t keep my eyes off. I’m sure you have your guys that are “electric” to you. I hold auditions all the time for new players to emerge and a I encourage a few existing players to add a few volts of juice to their game.
Thanks for reading my work on MLBPipeline.com and for following me on twitter @Bernie Pleskoff. As always, your support is greatly appreciated.
That’s it. I’m done.