What does it mean to have fun?
Is it epic performance? Flash? Pizzazz? Excitement? Humor?
Whatever it is, Major League Baseball hasn’t had a lot of it throughout its history.
While baseball — the “kid’s game” — is constantly in danger of being hijacked by traditionalist blowhards who want the sport to be as entertaining, plodding and painful as a trip to the proctologist, there is a new generation of star players coming up who don’t believe in such conformities.
The only pain in the ass here, though, is that baseball could still, all these years later, do better by its athletes to showcase their unique talents and personalities. They’ve absolutely made strides in that area, but we have a ways to go.
After all, gone are the days of telling rookies to shut up and carry bags. Players come up and they’re being themselves more and more, and hopefully we’ll reach a point where it’s the norm and not the outlier. Do they still get crucified for it at times? Absolutely. But these guys won’t be denied.
So, SN has come up with a list of MLB’s All-Fun team ahead of the 2021 season — some of the best talent with the personalities to match.
Talk your smack. Hit a jack. Moonwalk back.
Here’s the 2021 MLB All-Fun team:
MLB All-Fun Team 2021
First base: Pete Alonso, Mets
Who says Polar Bears are going extinct?
Whether it’s the dad bod, his openness with his personality, the epic “LFGM” speech or his pure fire when playing, Pete Alonso has absolutely cemented his status as one of baseball’s most fun and watchable players in the short time since he entered the league in 2019.
Runner up: Freddie Freeman, Braves. Freeman has long been one of baseball’s most underrated, and, in turn, one of its most fun players. He’s also very gif-able.
Second base: Ozzie Albies, Braves
Albies is one of three Braves on here, and while he’s exciting himself, his bromance with fellow Brave Ronald Acuña Jr. is the stuff of baseball legend, and quickly becoming one of most fun things to watch in baseball.
Just watch this. It’s so wholesome, and will warm your cold, chiseled hearts.
Runner up: Jose Altuve, Astros. Yes, we get it, he’s short … but it never really gets old, does it? Altuve is a firestarter, and though he had a down 2020, expect him to bounce back in a big way.
Third base: Alex Bregman, Astros
Regardless of how you feel about the Astros and their past transgressions, no one gets the people going quite like Alex Bregman.
Bregman is never short on words and he has the talent to back it all up.
Runner up: Manny Machado, Padres. It isn’t often when you can hijack another player’s catchphrase, but “Manny being Manny” is a very real thing in San Diego, and alongside Fernando Tatís Jr., the pairing is one of the most electric in baseball.
Shortstop: Fernando Tatís Jr., Padres
Fernando Tatís Jr. has slammed his way on the scene and become one of the preeminent faces in baseball in such a short amount of time, and it’s not just for his ridiculous on-field play. His style, flair and flash have all played into his aura as a baseball player, and for the first time in what seems like a very, very long time, San Diego is relevant again. Sure, some of that came when Manny Machado signed, but Tatís is the reason fans stick around.
Runner up: Javy Báez, Cubs. From the second that Báez came up with the Cubs and took hacks like an untrained Jedi, he’s captured the attention of fans everywhere.
Catcher: Willson Contreras, Cubs
Catchers get the crap kicked out of them non-stop for more than 100 games in a season, so it’s probably hard for backstops to really showcase that pride, emotion and fun. That’s not the case for Willson Contreras, though, who has one of baseball’s most electric personalities.
No one showcases as much pride in his arm as Contreras, and when he’s on, oh is it fun to watch. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt when Javy Baez is snagging outs at second, too.
Runner up: Willians Astudillo, Twins. “La Tortuga” plays more than one position, but he absolutely deserves a spot on this list. Therefore, he is going here.
Outfield: Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
Hustle, hustle, hustle — Who cares?
As long as a guy can hit a baseball to the gosh darn moon, then he can take as long as he wants around the basepaths.
There’s something about Acuña that’s just exciting: It’s probably a combination of the youth, the hair, the hamburger meat hangin’ out (before his offseason haircut, anyway), the chains and the pure, electric talent that eminates from his pores.
Outfield: Juan Soto, Nationals
The stare. The shuffle. The Soto.
Soto is quickly emerging as one of baseball’s best, if he’s not already there, and he just turned 22 in October. Twenty-two.
He’s got some quirky in-box mechanics, but no one really cares when he’s walloping balls over the right field wall in Nationals Park, something he’s done a lot in his career: Soto has 69 very nice home runs in 313 career games, and he’s got a pretty fair shot to make it to 100 dingers early in his career if he stays healthy in 2021.
Outfield: Mookie Betts, Dodgers
“See, that’s where all the trouble began. That smile. That damn smile,” the Red Sox front office, somewhere.
Mookie Betts and his million-dollar smile were traded to the Dodgers last year, and he parlayed that million-dollar smile (and his otherworldly talent) into a 12-year, $365 million extension with Los Angeles.
There are few more fun players in baseball than Betts. You hate to overuse the word swagger, but Mookie’s definitely got it, and he has that rare charisma that baseball greats all seem to have.
Runners up: Bryce Harper, Phillies. Say what you will about Harper, but the man who once spearheaded a “Make Baseball Fun Again” campaign is still one of the more passionate and fun players to watch.
Mike Trout, Angels. Sure, his personality might not be what everyone wants it to be (and he doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone, anyway), but Trout is putting together a Hall of Fame career right now,
Starting pitcher: Johnny Cueto, Giants
Baseball is worse when Johnny Cueto isn’t on his game. The shuffles, the shimmies, everything he does on the mound is pure entertainment. It’s nothing new, either: Cueto is one of baseball’s most entertaining people.
And if you think Cueto is fun during the season, just check out his Instagram page during the offseason and check out all the amazing food he cooks. Cueto is one of a kind, and we should all be glad to have him back again this season.
Runner up: Noah Syndergaard, Mets. While “Thor” is on the shelf while recovering from Tommy John surgery to start the year, arguably no one has used social media to their advantage more than Syndergaard.
Relief pitcher: Jordan Hicks, Cardinals
Relief pitching in and of itself is an exciting thing in baseball, especially when everyone and their mother throws 100 mph coming out of the bullpen now. Hicks, who hasn’t pitched since 2019, was throwing over 100 in spring outings this year. So, much like John Wick, we’re thinking he’s back.
While the game is lacking a Grant Balfour, José Valverde or Francisco Rodriguez right now, let the pure, disgusting stuff be your entertainment instead.
Runner up: Liam Hendriks, White Sox. Any time a reliever leaves the A’s, an angel loses his wings. The Aussie reliever heads to Chicago for 2021, but his personality was pure Oakland before the move.