As opening weekend approaches for pro baseball, we can’t help but get a little jazzed for another season of America’s favorite pastime. No, it’s not binge-watching your favorite show on the couch, though that’s definitely a close second. America’s pastime has been and (we hope) will always remain baseball.
We’d argue it’s better to watch with a taco in hand (what isn’t?), and we love having baseball fans cram our tables to watch the game while they cram their faces with nachos, quesadillas, chips and queso and tacos. Eat all of those at once, and that’s what we call a home run, folks.
So with that said, here’s a rundown of our favorite baseball players, as we get ready to “play ball!”
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles, LHP
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Kershaw is being hailed as the greatest pitcher of his generation. Though he had to ride the bench with a back injury part of last season, he still finished fifth in Cy Young voting, with a 1.69 ERA (earned run average), 0.73 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched), 0.7 walk rate and K/BB ratio of 15.64. Most impressively, he struck out 172 batters and only walked 11 (one was intentional).
It’s always fun watching a Hall of Famer in the making.
Adrian Beltre, Texas, 3B
It might be because of our Texas roots (howdy, Fort Worth!), but we love Adrian Beltre. The Gold Glove winner hit 32 home runs and had 104 RBIs last season and is closer in age to 40 than 30. He’s on track to make 3,000 hits this season (2,942) and is likely to surpass 500 HR (445).
Plus, he has this weird thing about people touching his head, and it’s hilarious.
Manny Machado, Baltimore, 3B
Machado has been a home run machine in his past two 30-plus HR seasons and had a career-high .294 in 2016. He has finished in the top five for the MVP and boasts a pair of Gold Gloves.
Buster Posey, San Francisco, C
It’s just a fun name to say, isn’t it? Say it with us: Buss-ter Poh-zee
Although 2016 wasn’t his best year, he still outperformed most catchers in the league. In four of the past five seasons, he’s had at least 80 RBIs and 70 runs scored. Plus, during the past two seasons, he’s thrown out nearly 40 percent of attempted base stealers. We don’t like thieves either, Buster.
Bryce Harper, Washington, OF
Harper is 24 years old. Only five players in the history of the major leagues have totaled a .500 slugging percentage, 50 stolen bases and 100 home runs in 500 career games played by the time they turned 24: Orlando Cepeda, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Trout (more on him in a second) and Bryce Harper.
Kris Bryant, Chicago, 3B
Man, we really like third basemen, huh?
Regardless of whether you enjoyed watching Chicago win it all for the first time in 108 years, it was history and it was awesome. Kris Bryant was a big part of that story, with his 39 HRs and .939 OPS (on-base plus slugging), snagging the National League MVP title in the process.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles, OF
Ever since Trout entered the league in 2012, he’s displayed pure dominance (he must eat Fuzzy’s regularly). Last season, he earned his second MVP in three years and has never finished higher than second place since joining the league. Oh, and that year, he won Rookie of the Year.
Plus, his name sort of reminds us of our fish tacos. So he’s got that going for him, too.