Baseball always has been, and always will be, filled with extremely cool human beings capable of achieving otherworldly feats in the blink of an eye. In fact I'd go as far to argue that being cool was a prerequisite to being considered good up until the analytics revolution of the early-2000s. It's weird how the second more math got involved kids checked out immediately. Kids famously love math, I have no idea why the pendulum swing from tape measure bombs to BABIP didn't bring in more young fans. A real puzzler.
Tyler and I used to discuss at length the genuinely cool baseball players of yesteryear through today in an effort to get him more interested in baseball. That led to last year's First Annual All Cool Teams. And while the nerds and their calculators will argue that analytics and advanced metrics are the only objective truths, I would harshly disagree. Cool is objective. You don't have to be cool to see cool. Bill Belichick didn't need to ever record a pick-6 to know that Ed Reed was a bad motherfucker. The reason I do this is because I love baseball, and baseball doesn't love baseball as much as it should.
Before we dive into the teams, I want to elect five (5) All Cool Hall of Famers. Guys near the end of their careers who have done enough to be enshrined forever. I do this for many reasons, but the most pertinent being baseball currently has too many cool players and I want to give shine to as many as possible. Thus, the First Annual All Cool Hall of Famers are: Andrew McCutchen, Johnny Cueto, Oliver Perez, Nelson Cruz, and Chris Davis. "Chris Davis? Surely that can't be correct." Oh, it's correct. Chris Davis hasn't homered since 2019. He hasn't played in 2021 because he's over the age of 30 and has back problems just like the rest of us. He's in the sixth year of a 7-year, $161 million extension and hasn't earned a goddamn penny of that contract. In my eyes, that gets you in the Hall.
This year's trio of honorable mentions are guys who are on the cusp of becoming regulars on these two teams. Akil Baddoo, Triston McKenzie and Ke'Bryan Hayes are knocking on the All Cool doors. To no fault of their own, they fall a little short this year. I have no doubts that Ke'Bryan Hayes has the potential to be the next generation's randomly nasty Pirates player people try and trade away to a real team every single year. McKenzie is one of my favorite body types for a pitcher, this guy is all bones. Like a tall skeleton throwing 100 mph. He elbows you in the chest and punctures your lungs because it slid between the openings of your rib cage that's how sharp this motherfucker is. Akil Baddoo may have the singular coolest name in all of baseball. No doubt in my mind he got recruitment letters from every SEC football program based off name alone. He started off hot to begin this season and has settled in on a Tigers team that is looking to stack top five picks for a few seasons. His time has only just begun.
SECOND TEAM ALL COOL
Yermin Mercedes, Unit, CHW
Where I see a future for Baddoo, Hayes and T-Mac, I don't for Yermin. Mostly because he wasn't even supposed to have a present. But this isn't fucking Fangraphs, I'm not here to project out WAR. Yermin Mercedes joined the White Sox and instantly became the face of a team loaded with options to become that face. Any time a big tank shows up and starts crushing dingers the people are going to immediately latch on. The Yerminator had a city well known for sandwiches create culinary delights as an offering to the god himself. I don't care if this is the only season he ever plays, or if he rides this momentum into a decade long career, Yermin Mercedes is forever immortalized as a confirmed cool baseball player.
Daniel Vogelbach, First Base, MIL
Allow me a chance to explain. These teams aren't chosen based on stats. At least, not in a traditional sense. As I was scouring all 30 rosters in an attempt to make sure I wasn't forgetting anyone, I came across Danny V. I clicked on his player profile page, assuming to see a decade career in his rearview, a couple hundred bombs and a low batting average. None of those were true. In fact, based off stats alone I think you could build a strong case that Dan isn't even a baseball player. He's played more than 39 games in a season once, ONE TIME. He has all the makings of a classic first baseman who slugs and picks one-hoppers all day long. The only time he played more than 39 games he did make the All Star Game as the Mariners' lone representative. All of this information leads me to one conclusion and one conclusion only: Daniel Vogelbach is extremely cool. Beloved by teammates and fans alike. There's no other reason someone in year six with such little production should still be starting for a first place team. Vogelbach makes the list, my hands are tied.
Bo Bichette, Shortstop, TOR
Our first shortstop of the list, certainly not the last. It's baseball's preeminent position for cool human beings. Bichette may not make a ton of these teams throughout his career at no fault of his own. That's how deep the position. As long as the Blue Jays keep this young core on the right path, and Bo never once considers cutting his hair, he'll always be in contention to make this list.
Francisco Lindor, Shortstop, NYM
I'm sure Mets fans are ready to disagree. But their arguments for disagreement are exactly my point. Lindor forced his way out of a terrible situation, moved to a better location and got PAID. Then? Instantly turned into just a regular guy at the plate. Getting booed by his new fanbase, the same people who creamed themselves when he signed his extension. Personally? I'm hoping for a decade of mediocre baseball out of Lindor. Maybe he gets fat, that would only improve his coolness in my eyes. But that's not going to happen. Lindor will get back to hitting, probably by the end of the week, and return to being the total package we know him as. And then Mets fans will calm the fuck down until the next time his bat goes cold and then they'll want him dead again. That's the vicious circle he elected to sign up for, he clearly doesn't care. Extremely cool, a staple to these teams.
Jazz Chisholm, Icon, MIA
His name is enough to get him on this list. But if that's not enough for you, just see for yourself. Words are a waste of time with a player this electric.
Nick Castellanos, OF, CIN
There is something to be said for showing up when it matters. I don't even mean in the World Series with the game on the line. I mean showing up in a moment that will live on forever regardless of the reason.
Castellanos had no idea what was happening on the broadcast, how could he? He didn't know the Reds announcer would be signing off for the last time ever after dropping a slur on live television. And in a moment of dead seriousness, Castellanos contributed to arguably the funniest thing that's ever happened in baseball. Then he came back this year, started Iverson-stepping over pitchers while looking like The Punisher.
Byron Buxton, CF, MIN
A couple universal truths: centerfielders are typically cool, and extremely fast people are also typically pretty cool. Byron Buxton may be the fastest man alive.
His breakout has been a long time coming. He got called up at 21, won a Gold Glove at 23, and then injuries hampered two developmental years before the COVID shortened season of 2020. This year? He's been THE MAN. A gold glove and a top five MVP finish feel like his floor. The Twins might - MIGHT - just end up being the coolest overall team in baseball.
Cedric Mullins, CF, BAL
I don't know if you've watched Cedric Mullins, but that's also not my problem. He's on the Orioles, so probably not. But if Baltimore does happen to come town, don't just toss three wins on the board and expect a boring weekend. Not as long as Mullins is in the lineup. This dude does everything. I think in the opening series against the Red Sox he hit over 1.000, which I didn't think was possible until he refused to get out. You catch the Orioles with John Means on the bump and Mullins in the lineup, your team is gonna be in for a bad time.
Randy Arozarena, OF, TAM
I don't want Arozarena's postseason run to get lost in the shuffle. The All Cool Team isn't a regular season award. You don't even technically have to be playing baseball to get on these teams. The only requirement is that you're cool and what Arozarena did last October was one of the coolest goddamn things I've ever seen happen at the major league level. We've seen players go on postseason tears before, we've seen guys have an incredible week at the dish or string together some dominant starts, but rarely do they begin someone's career. From the start of the ALDS through Game 6 of the World Series, Arozarena belted 10 dingers in 18 games. Which is patently absurd. He made you care about the Tampa Bay Rays, a thing absolutely no one else has ever been capable of. He's got enough juice to keep the Rays full time in one city, that's how cool he is.
Jose Berrios, SP, MIN
Here's my case for Berrios as one of the coolest pitchers in baseball: every time I watch him pitch I walk away enamored. The box score typically shows a solid pitcher, not one of the best in the League. But his "stuff" is right up there with anyone and everyone. I don't care about spin rate, I know his cureball is disgusting. His career ERA lives in the upper-threes, he's never posted some crazy win-loss record, but you sit down to watch him pitch and there's just something different about the ball coming out of his hand. An all time eye test guy. He's a multiple time All Star, he was a first round pick, his name is superb, he's got all the makings of an extremely cool baseball player which is really all I care about.
Taijuan Walker, SP, NYM
I'll be honest with you'll allow me: I don't know why I have Taijuan Walker on this list. I don't have a tangible thing I can point to that makes Walker cooler than the next man. When the season began I started a list of players to include and Walker was seventh on that list. So, somewhere in the first few weeks of the season he did something I found to be incredibly cool. And I'm not gonna fight with myself here. Past Me believed he was cool and who am I to call that guy an idiot? Sure, I can sit here and list countless examples of Past Me being the dumbest human being on the planet, but that doesn't seem all that relevant here. I don't have much, but I do have an eye for cool baseball, and if my eye at any point and time zeroed in on Taijuan Walker then he was meant to be included on here. I will be taking no further questions at this time, onto the First Team.
FIRST TEAM ALL COOL
Williams Astudillo, Unit, MIN
Two-time All Cool. If you don't know why La Tortuga is cool then you're on the wrong corner of the internet, my friend.
Miguel Cabrera, Semi-Retired, DET
Miguel Cabrera had the first highlight of the season. If you consume any amount of baseball that snow homer was instantly etched in your brain because of how fucking sick it was. Now, you're probably assuming Miggy is having a solid year because of this dinger. That he regained some of his youth and is back to being one of the best right handed hitters of all time. He is doing none of those things. He's hit one (1) more home run since this blast and hasn't done much of anything else. Much like Chris Davis, he's collecting what is owed and will be gone once the checks stop pouring in. He has a few more milestones to hit before he hangs 'em up, and that'll take a while at this pace, but he's got nowhere else to be.
Fernando Tatis, Jr., SS, SDP
Cover of The Show. Face of baseball. Proof that Mike Trout's marketability has shit to do with playing on the west coast and everything to do with him being human wallpaper. If you have ever used Tatis' fielding woes as a point of conversation, none of your friends or family actually like you. $12 mil after taxes every year for the next decade-plus to live in San Diego and crank dingers. His write-ups will get shorter and shorter as the years go on because there's no much more to say. The Coolest Man Alive until someone dethrones him.
Tim Anderson, SS, CHW
There's been some Tim Anderson erasure that's gone one since the emergence of Fernando Tatis, Jr., and I'm here to end that noise today. The deeper we get into Tatis' career the more he'll be credited with this bat flip revolution we've seen over the last few years and it's wildly inaccurate. For this generation, Tim Anderson is the original Fun Haver.
And since he was in one of those videos, let me talk about Trevor Bauer for a second. Bauer's not cool. That's not a dig, it's just a fact. He's a nerd. But he's a nerd who knows his place. He doesn't get in the way of a cool player doing something cool. He's like the nerd in "The Little Giants" who isn't good enough to play but drew up the Annexation of Puerto Rico when they needed a score. When Tatis took him yard and did the one eye celebration, most pitchers put a fastball in the next batter's ribs. Bauer truly doesn't care, and he's right for not caring. They can't bat flip a strikeout, do your job and stop crying. I appreciate someone speaking up from the other side and calling it fair play. Let everyone talk shit, it's much more enjoyable to watch.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, BOS
I'll probably just keep posting this picture of Xander every year until the rest of the League understands how bad of a man this really is.
You don't have to be loud to be cool. There's no handbook to this shit.
Luis Robert, OF, CHW
I can't write it better than I did last year:
Luis Robert signed an $88 million contract before he ever played a major league game. What number does he wear on the back of his jersey? #88. You cannot teach that kind of flash and pizzazz. La Pantera is an ELITE nickname and I will enjoy watching him hit tanks for the rest of his career. I cannot imagine what would have to happen for him to lose his cool status and I am not interested in finding out. If anything I see him racking up a stack of first teams throughout the next five years.
Yup, all correct. Still cool. Will continue to be cool and good at sports. See ya next year, Lou Bob.
Cody Bellinger, Highest Man Alive, LAD
You know how denies that they're high? Exclusively high people. Only a high person would use the term "faded" to talk about themself when they were 12. It's 2021, high athletes are en vogue now, AND you play in LA. Be the face of the movement. Having an MVP on this side of the war is the final push we need to get people to stop caring entirely about it ever again.
Juan Soto, OF, WAS & Ronald Acuña, Jr., OF, ATL
I'm combining these two because outside of Tatis I don't know if there are more obvious choices. Like if I had to write about Griffey being cool every year of the '90s I'd be tapped out of new things to say by '95. Soto is the only guy in the League who routinely taunts pitchers before he homers. Anyone can bat flip once they know they went bridge, it takes a man with titanium balls to do it in a 1-1 count.
As for Acuña, most eras he would be head and shoulders above his competition. Just leaps and bounds cooler than the next closest guy. But in today's game? He's Clyde Drexler to someone else's Jordan. He's a Hall of Famer. Comfortably the second coolest guy in all of baseball. But he's not cooler than Tatis. Could that ever change? I suppose. I wont rule it out. He somehow is as fast as Buxton now, so anything is possible. I don't remember that being true prior to this year, but the past is the past. Acuña is as cool as they come, he's the coolest outfielder baseball has to offer at the moment. And I don't see that changing any time soon.
Jacob deGrom, SP, NYM
Outside of being the best pitcher since Pedro, this moment is what really caught my eye when evaluating deGrom's coolness. Anyone can go out there and shove. Laughing about removing the soul's of your opponents is another level. Greg Maddux didn't give a fuck about your soul. He wanted you to ground to second on the second pitch he threw you. deGrom wants you and your entire bloodline to cease to exist when he's on the bump. He doesn't care about wins, mostly because he plays for the Mets he knows he doesn't have much control over that, so all he cares about is bring Mortal Kombat finishers to the mound every five days. If you can't respect that I don't want to know you.
Amir Garrett, Pugilist, CIN
Is Amir Garrett the best pitcher in the world? No, sure isn't. Lucky for him that's not what these teams are about. I would have him in my bullpen just to keep other teams on their toes. He might come in and pitch, might punch your hitting coach's head smooth off his shoulders. Hard to say.