The 5 MLB Players Making Baseball Fun Again

The future of baseball is extremely bright

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Even though Major League Baseball offers the most robust online streaming offering to its fans, baseball has often felt out of step with modern times. Games are long, and measures to make them shorter have been unpopular. The league’s TV deals have been so lucrative that owners don’t really care if you come to the games or not. The players might strike. Baseball’s future is cloudy unless the sport finds a way to keep its die-hard fan base coming back for more.

Luckily, there is hope, thanks to the new generation of players, who are overturning stereotypes about the game being slow, old and unexciting. Here are the five most exciting players building baseball’s new narrative.

Francisco Lindor

While the Puerto Rican Lindor is not exactly a scrappy up-and-comer—only 25, he’s already participated in three All-Star games—he’s proof that premium defense doesn’t come at the cost of hitting prowess. Lindor is about as dynamic a two-way player as they come, and as he enters his prime, the cumulative numbers are going to continue to pile up.

However, while Lindor’s box score and Baseball Reference page tell a good story, it doesn’t begin to capture the spirit of his style. For a crystallized look at that, look no further than how the folks back home reacted when he played in the Puerto Rico Series in San Juan last year.

Adalberto Mondesí

Of all the pro athletes competing in the four major American sports, baseball players have an earned reputation as the slowest. But Royals SS Adalberto Mondesí is challenging that standard: What if a baseball player were fast as hell?

Mondesí, who is in his first year as an everyday player with the Royals, is young (23) and his speed closes distances in a way you’re not used to seeing in baseball. Despite being a right-handed hitter, he can get to first faster than hitters running from the other side of the dish. This year’s Royals could steal 200 bases, with Mondesí leading the way. He brings a ton of noise and motion to a largely static game. 

Ronald Acuña Jr.

Alongside 2B Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuña Jr. is one of the most outstanding young players in the National League. A young player who’s been a household name in baseball circles since he was a teenager, Acuña Jr. has lived up to a seemingly insurmountable level of hype.

The Braves have Albies and Acuña Jr. locked down for a long time, and a powerhouse could emerge if the Braves build around them smartly. 

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani—who is a tremendous pitcher and a tremendous hitter, something unseen on U.S. shores since the Babe—has an impenetrable mystique. While many prognosticators thought Ohtani’s adjustment to Major League Baseball could be slow, he found his footing quickly. While an elbow injury ended last year’s season of pitching—as well as this year’s—he’ll be hitting as a DH this year for Anaheim.

In the past, gargantuan Nippon Professional Baseball numbers have not always translated to the majors. But Ohtani hits moonshots and is only improving as a hitter. It’s uncanny to watch.

Mookie Betts

Calling the reigning American League MVP an “exciting player” might scan as a cop-out, but in the case of Mookie Betts, it’s worth reasserting. While diminutive (5-foot-9, if that), Betts led the hitter-happy AL in slugging percentage (.640). He also led the league in runs. Only 26, he’s already piled up 35.5 WAR, more than Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado, and in fewer full seasons. 

That Betts isn’t a household name speaks to the marketing problem MLB currently has. There’s nothing quite like watching Betts work to unlock a pitcher and to get around on pitches inside, outside and below the strike zone. 

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