Get your popcorn ready, and settle in for this electric ride of tantalizing energy, overflowing passion for the game, and larger than life personalities. We’re putting a twist on the best that the majors has to offer. Rather than looking at the top producers at each position, we’re picking those that exude the most fun on and off the field!
We’ll be highlighting nine hitters and two pitchers to form the 2020 edition of The All Fun Team. These players bring extraordinary exuberance to the game through a variety of ways that is a pure watch for all baseball fans to watch. As long as they aren’t dominating your favorite team… In which case you’d likely dislike the player, but secretly wish he were on your side. Let’s dive in and see who our starting catcher is.
Catcher: Willians Astudillo
This arguably couldn’t be a better player to kick off the entertainment. The center of a handful of viral moments, Willians Astudillo, or ‘La Tortuga’ (due to his sturdy physique) is a perfect example of how ones’ love for the game can touch and inspire people around the world. One of those viral moments occurred when he smoked a ball over the fence while going to his knee, and admiring his work in a Venezuelan league game:
— ESPN (@espn) January 9, 2019
While he is far from a power hitter, he can play just about any position on the diamond, and his bat to ball skills are very impressive as he essentially puts everything into play (hardly strikes out or walks), which only adds to the lure of the legend that is Willians.
Maybe you love the fact he looks like he would have a cheeseburger with you, or maybe it’s his charisma, or maybe it’s the sneaky speed. Whatever it may be, there is a lot of smile about when watching Astudillo play baseball. Let’s take a look at his bolt around the bases (11.63 seconds 1st to home) that also made the rounds on social media:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 13, 2018
Get this man some oxygen, my goodness! Who knows what we might see Willians do next in 2020, but I’m here for all of the shenanigans.
When asked how he does it, he gave some insight to his mentality, “I just go out onto the field, enjoy myself and enjoy the game, and that’s why the fans engage with me,” Astudillo said. “It’s because I’m being myself. I’m not trying to be anybody else.”
That’s what this All Fun Team is all about and is a testament to why Astudillo was the clear favorite for the catcher position.
Honorable Mentions: Willson Contreras, Yadi Molina
First Base: Pete Alonso
Here’s your definition of a heavy hitter. The ‘Polar Bear’ mashes baseballs for a living, and has a heck of a time doing it. Given the nickname due to his lovable nature, Pete Alonso burst onto the scene with humor the size of the Big Apple, and somehow an even bigger heart.
I’ll probably tell my future kids about the battle that took place in DC one summer night. Where one young phenom clashed with another, trading punches until only one remained. The 2019 Home Run derby was a pure joy to watch as Alonso and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. locked horns for what seemed like hours. Crushing home runs one after another. Alonso won, donated 10% of his winnings to two charities (Wounded Warrior Project, and Tunnel to Towers), and put a smile on every baseball fan watching.
Fast forward to September, and Alonso has purchased custom cleats for all of his teammates to wear on the 18th anniversary of 9/11. This was his way of honoring the victims, and those involved with the tragedy. That shows how much this game and those around it means to Alonso, and how big the heart of a polar bear is.
I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of Alonso on future all fun teams. But if that wasn’t enough to convince you that Pete Alonso is one of the young passionate stars of this game, this video of him inspiring the youth outta do it:
This young fan was ready to swing when Pete Alonso broke the rookie HR record 👏
This young fan was ready to swing when Pete Alonso broke the rookie HR record 👏
— ESPN (@espn) September 29, 2019
Second Base: Max Muncy
Oh boy, be careful around Max Muncy or he might tell you to go get it out of the ocean. That line is from one of the most iconic moments of the 2019 season and is likely a significant factor as to why Muncy secured this spot on the All Fun Team. Here’s the monster shot that ended up in the cove:
— ESPN (@espn) June 10, 2019
That was an absolute blast. I especially love a splashdown. Who doesn’t love dingers? Ah that’s right, pitchers. MadBum was surely doing his part to live up to his nickname.
Muncy’s fire surely stems from his journey, which not too long ago included reworking his swing at a local high school field hoping to get another shot after being cut by the Athletics in 2016. People, and certainly myself, love a comeback story, and Muncy is living proof that it isn’t too late to go after your dreams. It’s no coincidence he is easy to root for, and this is coming from a Diamondbacks fan. Count me in for more mega blast admirations in 2020.
Honorable Mentions: Derek Dietrich, Enrique Hernandez
Third Base: Josh Donaldson
Warning: you are entering the intensity zone. Josh Donaldson is definitely a different breed of fun. More of that rough around the edges, passion oozing out on every pitch, yelling from the dugout, holding an imaginary umbrella around the bases, I’m going to wear my heart on my sleeve type of fun. His laser focus when it comes to the game may be second to none.
His breakdown on MLB Network, over a million views on YouTube, a few years ago is legendary. It also gave us an inside look at Donaldson’s uncanny ability to blend tons of information with humor as he tossed a few jabs at Mark DeRosa, and about youth coaches:
“If you’re ten years old, and your coach tells you to get on top of the ball..(pause)… tell them no.”
There are teammates that say he’s a jokester in the clubhouse, but a steel trap come game time. Kris Bryant, who seems to have more of a playful persona, and Anthony ‘the cool cat’ Rendon, both were worthy of this spot, but I believe Donaldson’s intensity really transfers well to fans that care deeply about the game. If I were a hitter trying to get better, he would be one I’d be studying.
— Paul Byrd (@PaulByrd36) September 18, 2019
Shortstop: Francisco Lindor
Shortstop is an electrifying position, one that often houses the best fielders on the diamond, and usually a mountain size amount of swag. With players such as Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, and Fernando Tatis Jr., excitement is in no short supply here.
However, there can only be one starter on the All Fun Team, and Mr. Smile is very well deserving of the starting spot. The 2019 All-Star game gave us another window into his fun, and goofy side as he was mic’d up for part of the game, joking with players, and umpires.
His energy can be described as infectious, and he has a legitimate case to currently be the most fun player in the game. In 2016, he had a fun exchange with Javy Baez as he tried to make a diving play to get Baez at first, but to no avail. Here is the play below:
— Baseball Bros (@BaseballBros) April 26, 2018
That looks like they are having a lot of fun. Lindor is a lock for any team that’s involving fun, or dynamic personalities.
Honorable Mentions: Javier Baez, Fernando Tatis Jr.
Left Field: Juan Soto
You know we are in the thick of things when it comes to a showdown between Juan Soto, and Ronald Acuna Jr., two of the most breathtaking young athletes in the game. As you can see above, the ‘Soto Shuffle’ won out, and while there are two sides to the coin, I can’t argue with Soto’s electric fire for the game. That other side of the coin is maybe this is an example of a bit of recency bias as a World Series full of Acuna bat flips could have flipped this thing right on its head. But let’s not discredit Soto’s swag. Carrying the bat in Game 6 to mimic Bregman was very bold.
The 21-year-old seems way ahead of the time. He carries himself and prepares to the point where teammates say no moment is too big for him, and that he already acts like a veteran. He delivered in the World Series against some of the top pitchers in the game (Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander), and really seemed to enjoy himself while doing so. He is another player that is a must-watch when he is locked in (which is often).
To do what he has done at his age is truly sensational, and to think he is only getting started is quite mind-boggling. I’m a huge Soto fan for everything he brings to the game, and few can match his passion.
🤣 gotta love this kid! pic.twitter.com/pVi2UVRIdD
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 31, 2019
Honorable Mentions: Ronald Acuna Jr., Andrew McCutchen
Center Field: George Springer
Leadoff dinger anyone? What about a sprawling web gem to get the blood flowing? Well, you get a tall order of both when it comes to the dynamic Houston Astros centerfielder, and that is why he tops the list when it comes to the Most Fun CF. You also get an extra side of goofiness which we got to see on full display when George Springer decided to rock a different uniform during pre-game:
Teammates love that kind of stuff as it brings levy to the uphill battle grind that is a 162 game season. Described by his teammates as the Stros’ igniter of the offense, Springer’s fiery passion is tough to miss. We saw that come through during the 2017 World Series against the Dodgers. Having been ice cold, and striking out four times in Game 1, Springer bounced back with crushing five monumental home runs, slashing .379/.471/1.000, and oh, he took home the MVP honors.
Springer is also a frequent top stepper, cheering on his teammates, and always having fun playing the game we all love. His teddy bear smile, antics infused with passion that bubbles over, and did I mention the Springer Dingers?
What did this baseball ever do to you, George Springer?
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) August 31, 2019
Right Field: Yasiel Puig
We’re just piling on the fun at this point. Another stacked position with well-deserving players such as athlete phenom Mookie Betts, and the leader of the Judge’s Chambers in NY. But those two didn’t have enough juice to squeak by the winner.
Wild Horse anyone? Yep, that’s Yasiel Puig’s nickname. Let’s not even get into how he got that one, but let’s say it fits him well. Puig is no stranger to showing emotion on the field, and while it sometimes can be negative, his love for the game translates as clear as day through his ‘kid that’s just having fun playing the game he loves’ attitude.
Puig has given the fans a lot of material to smile about, whether it was imitating Little League World Series kids’ stances, diving headfirst into third and showing everyone his excitement, or one of my personal favorites, that can’t really be summed up in words:
— Kent (@RealKentMurphy) July 19, 2019
That is just too funny. He also took on the entire Pirates team, which I’m not sure how many people would do. Puig lets his Cuban roots flow through the game, and I will always respect him for that. His journey is quite the story as well, and I recommend reading it to provide more insight into who is Yasiel Puig.
Designated Hitter: Shohei Ohtani
You want some more electricity you said? How about a player that can dominate on both sides of the ball?
*Shohei Ohtani has entered the chat*
Having not pitched since 2018, maybe some have slightly forgotten how tantalizing Ohtani can be. Being able to hit for average, power, and do damage on the base paths is plenty to get the fans excited, but Ohtani can go out on the mound and pump 95+ with a devastating splitty. And if that didn’t get you ready to go run through a wall, Joe Maddon is floating ideas like he could DH during his starts. Don’t play with our emotions, Joe.
Another aspect I love about Ohtani is his arrival to LA has given us more inside looks at Mike Trout’s personality. The two seemed to hit it off rather quickly, and while we don’t get to see all of the clubhouse fun, there is a hilarious five-minute video special where Trout and Ohtani try stadium food. I’m looking forward to a full dose of Ohtani fun come Spring:
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer
Back to the intensity zone we go! Dialing the passion and fun to ‘max’ capacity for our starting pitcher, Max Scherzer. I absolutely love Max Scherzer and I’m not afraid to say it. This guy emulates hard work and dedication, and that is a joy for all to watch. Pouring all his energy and grittiness into everything he does is inspiring.
When he isn’t breathing fire on the mound, he can be found celebrating a walk-off win… in the 8th inning (oops Max), or reciting lines from his favorite movie, Happy Gilmore. I was going to post the video of him refusing to leave the mound as that depicts his passion perfectly, but it is a bit too colorful to post.
There is just something so enticing with the fire that Scherzer brings, and he is a blast to watch compete. He is Max Scherzer after all:
World Series Game 7 starter Max Scherzer was ready to come out of the bullpen in Game 6. Only one problem…@Max_Scherzer: Doo, how do you guys get ready@whatwouldDOOdo: … you’re literally Max Scherzer. pic.twitter.com/e4v6TMQXlI
Relief Pitcher: Sean Doolittle
That video is a perfect segue as it also highlights our closers’ lovable personality! There is little doubt that Doctor Sean Doolittle is firmly in the conversation for most fun MLB player. His Twitter presence is awesome, he’s a great teammate, and apparently a Jedi in his spare time:
Sean Doolittle everyone.
“What’re you guys talking about?” pic.twitter.com/Bo7vUGNfVF
— Monty Taylor (@Mdavistaylor) October 16, 2019
Sure looks like that’s not the first time he’s wielded that thing. And the buck doesn’t stop there. You ready for this? Make sure you are sitting down…In order to bring more fun to the game, he encouraged hitters to celebrate the home runs they hit off him, and offered to match the hitter’s fine with a donation to the charity of their choice. What? Is Sean Doolittle even a real person, or an angel we’re all blessed to witness? There were some other fun nominees, but Doolittle locks this one down, with ease.
Manager: Terry Francona
The ultimate prankster, Francona is the perfect manager to keep this clubhouse in order, and boy would it need a lot of order. I can only begin to fathom what that clubhouse dynamic would be like.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Maddon, David Bell
Imagine being in that clubhouse. Wow. Would we reach the limit of fun one can have in a single day? Is that even possible?