8 Baseball Players Who Are Totally Worth the Price of Admission

  • Yasiel Puig Dodgers

    Ron Reiring/Flickr Creative Commons

    Yasiel Puig

    There’s nothing quite like watching Yasiel Puig play baseball. He is almost cartoonish in some of the things he’s able to accomplish on the diamond; when he launches missles from the outfield or cracks a double on a pitch that most wouldn’t swing at, he is reminiscent of Vlad Guerrero during his prime.

    That free-swinging mentality extends to his persona on and off the field. While much of baseball gets wrapped up in playing the game a certain way, Puig expresses himself demonstratively. He flips bats, shows emotion when he makes a great play, and generally makes it easy to root for him. It’s hard not to get attached to someone who shows such outward joy for playing the sport; he acts like many fans imagine they would if they got a chance to play at the highest level.

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  • Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

    Andrew McCutchen

    As a star player who helped put a smaller market franchise back on the map, McCutchen was always going to have a big following in the city of Pittsburgh. But with the way he’s handled his business and the overwhelming niceness he displays from his public platform, you can see why fans have taken a liking to the Pirates center fielder.

    The man referred to as “Cutch” won over a lot of non-baseball fans with his proposal to long-term girlfriend, Maria Hanslovan, on an episode of Ellen. They got to see the man baseball fans had revered for years, whose surge to the forefront of baseball’s upper echelon never altered his chararacter.

    Despite winning an MVP and signing a $50-plus million contract, McCutchen has retained his humility and down-to-Earth personality. He’s the kind of guy you feel great about supporting.

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  • Jose Fernandez pitcher

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Jose Fernandez

    Fernandez had to sit out most of the 2014 season following Tommy John surgery, but he remains one of the most promising young pitching talents in baseball. There’s a reason he became the youngest Opening Day starter in baseball since Dwight “Doc” Gooden in 1986–the kid brings the noise.  

    Mixing four pitches that range from a 97 MPH fastball and a daunting slow curve, Fernandez makes it nearly impossible to stay in sync with what pitch is coming next. His return to the field this year seems like the stuff of legends; not only did he strikeout six batters in six innings of work, he also recorded a home run at the plate. Not a bad night’s work!

    To add to the on-field product, Fernandez’s story sounds like something out of a movie. His fourth (and ultimately successful) attempt to defect from his native Cuba required him to save his mother from drowning on the way to America. It’s fun to imagine the hero dressed in an outfit like this.

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  • Bryce Harper Washington Nationals

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    Bryce Harper

    Some fans will show up to boo Bryce Harper, others to cheer him on. One thing that everybody can agree on – man can that kid play.

    Harper is the guy who you love having on your team, the premiere talent whose engine is always running at maximum overdrive. He was liable to fall victim to some of the pitfalls that plague guys that are pegged as the future of the sport, but Harper has taken to that pressure in stride. He is by almost any measure one of the best current players in the world, and he’s still only 22 years old.

    He’s toned down some of the stuff that rubbed veterans the wrong way, such as the copious amounts of eye black, but the fire that he plays with has remained a constant. Injuries have been the only thing that can slow him down, and for the sake of the sport, here’s hoping he can keep a clean bill of health moving forward.

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  • Chris Sale sidearm

    Jon Durr/Getty Images

    Chris Sale

    Before a recent crusade by statheads to downplay the importance of pitcher wins, a guy like Chris Sale might have gone underappreciated. But it’s hard not to take notice of his dominance, despite being buried on an underperforming White Sox team.

    Sale is one of the most unique pitchers in baseball, uncorking an almost sidearm delivery from a lanky 6-6 frame. What makes it worth watching is how effective he is; Sale leads all of baseball in Sstrikeouts per 9, racking up a whopping 12.281 through his first 15 starts. He’s challenging strikeout numbers amassed by Pedro Martinez in 1999, widely considered one of the greatest pitching seasons in baseball history.

    There’s no other way to put it–Sale’s outings are must-see right now. At 26, he still has room to grow before he enters his prime, and that’s a scary thought for the opponents that he’s already mowing down with regularity.

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  • Dustin Pedroia Boston Red Sox

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    Dustin Pedroia

    While Yankee fans will surely take issue with a member of the Sox making this list, Pedroia is a joy for any fan of the game to see play.

    He’s a remarkably unique talent at the plate, having been used anywhere from spots 1-4 in the Boston lineup throughout his career. That’s rivaled by his glovework, with the second baseman earning the distinction of a Gold Glove on four separate occasions. This is all despite not exactly looking the part of a great player; at just 5-9 and around 175 pounds, Pedroia could probably blend into a crowd in street clothes.

    But that’s sort of what makes him a fun player to watch. The everyman appeal of his hustle and talent is matched by what looks like a remarkably “normal” body. Seeing him accomplish all that he has despite limitations is remarkable to watch.

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  • Giancarlo Stanton

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    Giancarlo Stanton

    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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  • Kris Bryant

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    Kris Bryant

    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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  • Yasiel Puig Dodgers
  • Jose Fernandez pitcher
  • Bryce Harper Washington Nationals
  • Chris Sale sidearm
  • Dustin Pedroia Boston Red Sox
  • Giancarlo Stanton
  • Kris Bryant

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