There are very few players around Major League Baseball who frequently leave you with your jaw hanging open; Giancarlo Stanton is on MLB’s short-list of awe-inspiring athletes.
As baseball’s home run numbers have settled back into a more “normal” range, hitters that can regularly launch 400-plus foot bombs have become rarer and rarer. We’re thankful that someone like Stanton exists, because watching him hit moon shots to all fields is one of the most captivating activities in baseball.
It certainly helps that Stanton does it with a little style, too. After taking a nasty fastball to the face last season, he had to adorn a protective guard to protect him from further damage this year. Stanton’s choice to embed a capital G into the guard shows that he knows how closely fans follow his every move.
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While the rest of the players on this list are what you’d call “established,” Bryant is the young upstart already making a name for himself out of the gate.
Widely considered the No. 1 prospect in baseball entering the 2015 season, Bryant was briefly sent back to the minors in spring training before being called up on April 17. He’s taken full advantage of the opportunity, knocking in 50 runs and earning himself an appearance in both the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game.
Bryant is already doing things that place him in elite company–he’s the first Cubs rookie to hit two grand slams in a season since 1961–and figures to be a fixture in highlight shows for years to come. Don’t turn your back or take a bathroom break if Bryant is almost up, because you’ll probably regret it.
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As baseball and sports in general have transitioned into the high-definition era, many fans have become content to watch the game from their couches. After all, home presentation has never been better; you can see the feats of your favorite athletes accomplished in crystal-clear quality without having to leave the comfort of your own home.
Still, the aesthetic experience of going to the ballpark will never quite fade from the picture. Heading down to a game on a mid-summer evening is something that resonates even with non-sports fans. The thud of a fastball hitting the catcher’s mitt, the crack of a home run coming off a bat, and the bark of the guy selling peanuts are a part of summer’s soundtrack that everyone should experience.
Of course, the sights and sounds need exciting players and personalities to bring them to life, and the All-Star Game is usually a perfect platform for those guys to shine. It’s where you see some of the game’s biggest characters stand out with talent and charisma, winning fans over with spectacular plays and style. These are all guys who are really good at what they do, but it helps to do it with some flair, to inject some individuality into mastering the sport.
In celebration of what some of our favorite stars have accomplished, we’re highlighting a few of the players that stand out in our minds, the players who make it worth purchasing tickets and heading down to see a game on a random weeknight in July. These are the 8 Baseball Players Who Are Toally Worth the Price of Admission.
Follow Kyle on Twitter at @kyleneubeck
image via Winslow Townson/Getty Images