Major League Baseball
2024 MLB player poll names Shohei Ohtani best in baseball; Who's most overrated?
Major League Baseball

2024 MLB player poll names Shohei Ohtani best in baseball; Who's most overrated?

Updated Jun. 10, 2024 7:55 p.m. ET

With the 2024 MLB season entering the month of June, The Athletic published its annual player poll, anonymously interviewing more than 100 MLB players with questions about who they think is the best player in baseball, who they deemed most overrated, which players they would most want to play with and what they think about the prevalence of analytics in the game and the Los Angeles Dodgers' big-market spending spree.

Best player in baseball: Shohei Ohtani

Ohtani won a massive plurality in the "best player in baseball vote" with almost half the responses naming the two-way Dodgers superstar who won his second American League MVP award last season, his last with the Los Angeles Angels. Some players who did not place their vote for Ohtani even agreed that he probably deserves the title, but did not vote for him "for fear of being too predictable." 

Still, Ohtani garnered votes from 46% of respondents. Atlanta Braves star and 2023 National League MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. came in second with 26.5% of the vote. Ohtani's Dodgers teammate Mookie Betts and New York Yankees star Aaron Judge tied for third with 8.8% of the vote, while Mike Trout of the Angels came in fifth at 3.9%. 


"There is no comparison," one player told The Athletic about Ohtani. "Everyone has a comp, he's got no comp."

Ohtani has continued to bring massive attention in his first year with the Dodgers, even though his torn UCL will keep him away from the pitcher's mound and exclusively as a designated hitter this season. The two-time MVP signed the biggest contract in North American sports history last offseason with Dodgers, a deferral-heavy deal wirth $700 million over 10 years. He is a three-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger, and was the 2018 AL rookie of the year. 

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on what makes Shohei Ohtani so special

Still, some players said Ohtani is not the only elite superstar who belongs in the conversation of "best in the sport."

"It's tough not to go with Ohtani, but Acuña is pretty close," one player told The Athletic. "I saw [batting practice] the other day, I was impressed, and playing against [him] for the past five years. But it's tough. [With Ohtani] you've got two guys in one."

Why one player thinks Juan Soto is ‘overrated'

Several players opted not to answer this question, leaving only 59 responses.

Roughly 20% of those agreed that Jazz Chisholm Jr. was the most overrated player in baseball. The Miami Marlins center fielder was an All-Star in 2022, yet is ranked 76th overall in batting average and 90th overall in on-base percentage this season.

While respondents did not give their reasoning for choosing Chisholm, one player questioned why Chisholm was the cover of last year's "MLB The Show 23" video game. 

Surprisingly, another player cast his "overrated" vote for Juan Soto, the 2019 World Series champion who is an AL MVP frontrunner in his first season with the Yankees. 

"Could be a spite pick, to be honest," the player said. "I feel like all he does is walk and hit singles, and doesn't hit for power like he's portrayed. Also not a good fielder."

Soto is a three-time All-Star, a four-time Silver Slugger, and in 2020, at only 21, he became the youngest player to win the National League batting title. He is set to be the top player available in MLB free agency next winter.

Was the Dodgers' offseason spending good for the game?

If there is jealousy within the rest of MLB over what the Dodgers did last offseason, committing more than $1.4 billion in contracts to free agents, other player do not appear to hold it against L.A. A whopping 92% of respondents to The Athletic's survey agreed that the Dodgers' offseason spending was good for the sport.

"It's good for baseball, and any team could have done it," one player said.

"It makes the Dodgers must-see TV and everyone plays the Dodgers, so that's good for everybody," said another.

"Yes, absolutely great for the game," said a third. "People like box office-type stuff. When the game was at its best, big-market teams were spending a lot of money. In basketball, the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors were crushing, they were getting more views. Fans don't like to admit it, but they do like super teams."

How Shohei Ohtani remains dominant in L.A. amidst controversy and DH role

Only about 5% of respondents believed that the Dodgers' offseason spending was not good for the game. 

"I just think other teams should be able to spend like that," one of those players said. "I feel like the Dodgers are always the team that can get all the best players in the world." 

Besides Ohtani, the Dodgers also signed 25-year-old Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million contract, handed fellow star pitcher Tyler Glasnow a four-year, $115 million contract extension after acquiring him via a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, and brought in power-hitting outfielder Teoscar Hernández on a one-year, $23.5 million deal. In recent years, the Dodgers also gave out large contracts to former MVPs Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

What else did players say?

Players also took an overwhelmingly positive stance on another often-controversial baseball issue, with 76% saying the use of analytics in the sport has overall helped their career. 

"Analytics get a bad rep," one player said. "Why wouldn't you want more information to help better inform your decisions?"

Betts, the Dodgers star, was ranked as the player most other players would want to have as a teammate "solely on vibes," getting 12.6% of the vote. Ohtani came in second at 6.3%. The Braves, Boston Red Sox, Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Yankees and Chicago Cubs were among the top teams players would most like to play for besides their own if things like state taxes, contracts and rosters were a non-factor, while the Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Angels and New York Mets were seen as having the worst reputations among players for MLB organizations.

68.3% of players also disagreed with the Angels' Anthony Rendon's statement that the 162-game MLB season is too long, and also overwhelmingly voted against the idea of ever having a salary cap-salary floor dynamic that exists in leagues like the NFL and NBA.

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Shohei Ohtani
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Los Angeles Dodgers

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