WASHINGTON D.C. — In modern baseball, this is a pretty interesting question to ponder: Which players rise to the level of being a “superstar?” Before you answer, you might also need to think about this: What makes a superstar in 2018?
It’s a topic that’s gotten a good amount of attention this Major League Baseball season — both here on Yahoo Sports and elsewhere on the Internet. Rather than us opining about it more, this week’s MLB All-Star game offered us a chance to do something different in the “superstar” debate.
Ask the players themselves.
Superstardom is a tricky thing in 2018. The game, more than ever, is regionalized. The money in baseball comes from teams saddling up with regional cable networks who want to feed local fans every little bit of action, content and news about their favorite team. That’s why meeting the superstar threshold isn’t exactly what it was even 10 or 20 years ago. It’s often tougher to break past the regionality.
You have to be great on the field, of course, but what else? Do you have to master social media? Have personality? Be a good leader — both in the community and in the clubhouse?
With all the best players in the game in one stadium for back-to-back days this week, it provided the perfect opportunity to open the superstar discussion to the players. We asked them not only who are the superstars, but what are the tools required to be a superstar? Does MLB need more to keep up with the NBA or NFL? If so, how can it do that?
We talked to some of the game’s biggest names — Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge, for example. And we talked to rising stars like Alex Bregman, Josh Hader and Blake Snell.
There were a few things they mostly agreed on:
• Baseball has a lot of superstars — probably more than you think it does.
• Consistency is one of the biggest keys to superstardom. MLB players want to see a great player (or great personality) over years, not just in small samples.
• Mike Trout seemed to get mentioned a lot.
Alas, the idea of superstardom is subjective. The nature of fandom — especially in modern baseball — is that you love the players on your favorite team the most and everybody else is a not-even-close second. Except maybe the guys on your fantasy team.
So while fans might have their own definition of superstars. Players do too.
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