Here are six guys who have captured my imagination for one reason or another.
Johan Santana - SP, Mets: Ok, yes. I miss him. Fortunately, I’m over being bitter about losing him (I think). He still has that devastating changeup. He still makes very good batters swing funny. I miss his butt wiggle. I miss his confident strut when he strikes someone out. You’ve got to admit that no one else looks as good as he does when he pitches. And even though he’s off to a bit of a slow start this year (which is typical for him), he’s still very good at what he does.
Micah Owings - SP/PH, D-backs: This guy totally embodies everything that’s cool about the National League. He’s a starting pitcher with solid numbers. But he’s also a good hitter. In fact, he’s a good enough hitter that they confidently ask him to pinch-hit, with good results. Last month, he hit a pinch-hit walk-off three-run blast to the opposite field. He’s tied for second behind Livan Hernandez for three-hit games among active pitchers. Livan’s been pitching 12 years; Micah has been less than two. How cool is that? And he’s not so bad to look at either.
Matt Holliday - LF, Rockies: I developed a crush on him during the playoffs and World Series last year. First of all, he’s pretty darned good-looking, especially when he smiles. But he’s also a great player. He was second in voting for the National League MVP last year, and won the Silver Slugger last year and the year before.
Chipper Jones – 3B, Braves: He’s 36 years old, and it’s fun to see him doing so well. He recently hit his 400th homerun, and he’s batting above .400. I don’t know if he’ll be able to finish the season above .400, but it’s sure fun to see if he will. And he’s handling all the attention like a class act. But the great thing is that he’s always been good. Braves fans are very lucky to have him around. He’s been banged up lately; everyone hopes he’ll be ok again soon. And, yes, I think he’s good looking, in a regular-guy kind of way (except for this year’s official MLB photo – I wonder what he had on his mind at that exact moment to take such an awful picture).
Geovany Soto – C, Cubs: Probably one of the top defensive catchers in the National League, he’s really making a name for himself this season. It seems like he hits a homerun every day, but he says that catching is his main priority. And he’s young – only 25 – so he’s got a great future in front of hime. I don’t know if he’ll win the Rookie of the Year, but I wouldn’t count him out. Oh, and Sports Illustrated recently had an article on him with a picture of him looking very good. Mmmm.
Jonathan Papelbon – RP, Red Sox: As a closer, he’s almost as good as Joe Nathan – very good and very reliable. He really shined in the playoffs last year. However, if the Red Sox wanted him to be a starter, he’d do it, which shows how versatile he is. But I really like him because I think it’s absolutely adorable when, as he’s looking into the catcher for the sign, he purses his lips like he’s blowing bubbles. Cute.