Ranking the five most exciting players in baseball

May 11, 2016

When it comes to making baseball fun again, Bryce Harper is far from alone. In fact, he's not even at the top of the list.

For all the talk about needing to fix the game, MLB has its fair share of exciting players generating highlight-worthy plays on a nightly basis. And when they bust out their superhuman abilities, the evidence ends up on Vine.

We went through the official MLB Vine account and tallied up all the loops on in-game action from the 2016 season to see which players rate as the most exciting in baseball. Harper scored well, as you'd imagine. But his histrionics pale in comparison to a certain player in Dodger blue.

(A note on methodology: We only included Vines of game action from this season. Curtain calls, warmups and the like didn't count. And yes, we're as surprised as you are that Mike Trout isn't on this list. He's definitely one of the most exciting players in baseball -- but as we all know, if you play for the Angels, you're basically in purgatory. All Vine numbers were as of midnight ET on Tuesday night.)


Honorable mention: Clayton Kershaw, Bartolo Colon

We stuck to position players for this list, but both Kershaw and Colon had us considering expanding our parameters. For a guy who only plays every few games, Kershaw has racked up a ton of Vines this season. When you throw this kind of filth, that'll happen:

If we could somehow come up with a way for Kershaw to pitch every game -- a time machine, perhaps? -- then he'd soar to No. 1.

As for Colon, we don't really consider him a pitcher. He's his own amazing position, and we're all better off for his existence.

GET OUT, BASEBALL. You belong to Bartolo now.

5. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox DH/1B (985,000 Vine loops)

It's admittedly stretching the definition of the word "exciting" to include Ortiz, but you've got to give the people what they want. Ortiz's Vine numbers are certainly skewed by this being his retirement tour. Everything he does this year is reason to celebrate. Come on, though; it's Big Papi. He's worth the price of admission to a Red Sox game just for the chance that he'll crush a baseball at Fenway.

Or, if you're really lucky, you might get to see Ortiz take off for a stolen base. That, friends, could be the single most exciting play in baseball. 

Next season, someone like Jose Altuve, Yoenis Cespedes, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado or some bolt out of the blue will take Ortiz's empty spot on this list. For 2016, however, we're down to keep celebrating Papi, just like social media users apparently are.

4. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins OF (1,275,000 Vine loops)

Stanton's highlights all look really similar, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. First, the camera pans over the pitcher's shoulder from second base. Then, the pitch -- before Stanton turns on the offering and sends it skyward, searching for its own seat in the stands.

Who knew repetition could be so much fun? Stanton's currently tied for fifth in the majors with 10 homers, each more majestic than the last.

3. Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles 3B (1,335,000 Vine loops)

The sluggers get all the credit, so it's nice to see Machado racking up the views on his ridiculous glovework at the hot corner for the Orioles.

Of course, he can mash a little too. Machado has equaled Stanton's 10 homers while posting a mind-boggling 1.147 OPS so far in 2016:

But with Machado, it always comes back to that glove:

2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals OF (1,400,000 Vine loops)

When it comes to Vine highlights, the Harper vs. Mike Trout debate isn't even a contest. Trout's most popular clip on MLB's Vine is the Angels outfielder shooting free throws at a Golden State Warriors practice. It sucks that he's languishing in Anaheim, where no one pays attention, but that's not Harper's problem.

Even his walks draw tons of views: 

It's not all fun and games with the Nationals star, of course. You take the good with the bad. But Harper at his best is just so much fun that it makes you want to overlook the outbursts.

Plays like that certainly live up to the "make baseball fun again" creed.

1. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers OF (6,600,000 Vine loops)

Having one Vine with over 6,000,000 loops on its own puts Puig in his own stratosphere, which works for us.

He's officially on board with Harper's campaign to make the game fun; unlike Harper, though, whose upside comes with the risk of a significant downside, Puig simply makes us love the game. How can you not love this guy?

Does Puig help you win baseball games? Maybe. Maybe not. But that's not our concern -- not here. This list is about the guys you'd pay money to go watch at the ballpark.

And for our dollar, there's no better choice than Puig. The numbers don't lie.