The Most Entertaining MLB Players of the 2021 Season
As much as we love numbers in baseball, there is nothing like a breathtaking highlight.
Sure, the name of the game is winning, and every player's goal should be to contribute in such a way. But for the spectator, this is about entertainment and having fun.
Whether your team is competing for a division title, a wild-card spot or planning for the future, the least it owes is to entertain.
Sometimes, this includes doing the splits to avoid being hit by a pitch, just before striking out. Other times, it might mean a dejected starting pitcher throws his belt at an umpire after those awkward foreign-substance checks.
Whatever the case, let's take a look at the most entertaining MLB players with one month left in the regular season.
Keep in mind, these are not necessarily the best players this season. Our lists can be different, especially with so many qualified players.
You might remember this cool thing where select All-Stars this year were mic'd up during the game. Not just the way we're used to, but some of them conducted interviews while they were on the field.
When Chicago White Sox reliever Liam Hendriks was live in the ninth inning, he could not hear the booth, and therefore he had no idea the entire world could hear him.
So Hendriks appeared to ignore questions from broadcasters and let the cuss words fly, which he would tell you was totally on-brand.
In addition to the theatrics, Hendriks has successfully converted six straight save opportunities since Aug. 16. Across 10 innings in that span, Hendriks held opponents to a single run with a 13-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
How did the Los Angeles Dodgers' newly acquired Trea Turner respond to a throwing error which tilted the scale against the San Francisco Giants last Friday? By showing up the next day with a leadoff home run and a perfect defensive outing.
Earlier in Friday's game, Turner's bat slipped out of his hand after offering at a 1-2 pitch, and he had fun with a fan who considered keeping the bat.
See, Turner gets it.
As one of MLB's wins above replacement leaders, he definitely contributes to winning.
But in the entertainment aspect of the game, Turner does it with the best of them.
Need proof? Look no further than what has to be the coolest slide we've seen all year.
The White Sox's All-Star pitcher landed on the 10-day injured list with knee inflammation toward the end of last month, but he's been plenty entertaining in his time on the mound this year.
A known innings-eater, Lance Lynn hit the ground running on the South Side, tossing the first home-opener shutout in 45 years.
While he was touched up by the crosstown-rival Chicago Cubs in his most recent outing, the knee issues hampered his last several starts.
Lynn, who would get more consideration for the American League Cy Young Award if not for Gerrit Cole, was candid in his reaction to giving up seven runs to the Cubs.
He called it "just a s--tty" night on my part" and noted "it's not good to suck."
When he's not holding himself accountable for bad performances, Lynn might call out an umpire for an untimely foreign-substance check and toss his belt at the official in disgust.
Here for it.
No one has hit a baseball harder than Giancarlo Stanton this year, as his maximum exit velocity of 122.2 mph is a league-high.
His walk-off single to beat the Baltimore Orioles last week was hit 121.1 mph, the hardest-hit ball for a walk-off tracked by Statcast since 2015.
With a slash line of .268/.361/.493, there are much better hitters than Stanton. But the entertainment value, with that strength and ability to drive the ball?
This is a rare athlete.
Watch Stanton, standing 6'6" during a postgame interview, just disappear as the 5'10" Brett Gardner tries to douse him with ice.
According to Baseball Reference, he started Sunday ranked second among all position players in WAR (5.7), leading all American League shortstops in home runs (21) while ranking second in OPS (.844), RBI (72) and slugging (.477).
Correa ranked third among American League shortstops in fielding percentage (.982).
When the season is over, this should be the most coveted free agent. At 27 years old, he will be the youngest available shortstop on the market.
Correa's biggest moments usually happen in the postseason, and the Astros are in a position to win the American League West.
As the runaway leader for the American League Cy Young, Cole is a must-watch right now.
Whenever he's pitching, it feels like something special might happen.
Think about Cole's throwback performance against his former team in July, when he threw 129 pitches in a complete-game shutout at Minute Maid Park just before the All-Star Game.
He dialed up 99 mph to strike out Yordan Alvarez on that final pitch, his 12th strikeout of the day.
Cole's demonstrative refusal to be pulled from that game in Houston was just as entertaining as the performance itself.
In another sort of homecoming, Cole just recorded a season-high 15 strikeouts over seven innings against the Los Angeles Angels.
Mookie Betts has not necessarily been great this season, dealing with injuries and struggling at times offensively.
Still, he is no less entertaining than he's ever been.
The numbers are down this year, but Betts hit a home run and blew his mother a kiss on his own bobblehead night.
Last week against the Atlanta Braves, Betts kicked it into high gear on the basepaths, going 27.5 feet/second from first to home.
Even in a supposed down year, it's necessary to watch this guy play.
After the White Sox shortstop hit a walk-off homer against the New York Yankees in the "Field of Dreams" game last month, Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck called for Tim Anderson to be the face of baseball.
Anderson was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left hamstring strain. Prior to being sidelined, he was slashing .302/.331/.458, and the White Sox have struggled this year when he's been out of the lineup.
The "Field of Dreams" game is enough to get Anderson on this list, but not just for the walk-off home run.
Anderson was mic'd up for the game. Watch and listen to how much fun he's having with his teammates.
You get the sense he's just as entertained as the rest of us.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
The San Diego Padres' best player missed some time after the All-Star Game with a partially dislocated shoulder, which he's still favoring now.
It has not stopped Fernando Tatis Jr. from being one of the most entertaining players in baseball.
The injury limits Tatis as a third baseman, so instead he's playing in right field.
This allows his bat to continue leading off San Diego's lineup, and that's as entertaining as it gets.
Tatis along with Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are arguably the best hitters in baseball right now. But Tatis has two fewer home runs than Guerrero (37 to 39) in 114 fewer at-bats.
Imagine what we would have seen if Tatis had not missed so much time.
If it's not enough for Shohei Ohtani to lead MLB in home runs as a frontline starting pitcher at the same time, he's also stealing bases.
Where does Ohtani get off being tied with Myles Straw, and just one behind Tatis, for the fifth-most stolen bases (23) with a month left in the regular season?
He's leading MLB in home runs, has a 9-1 record as a starter and is top five in stolen bases.
Anyone who manages to be slugging second in MLB, all while being a high-end starting pitcher, is easily the most entertaining.