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5 players who may look odd in their new uniforms

January 10, 2019

Of all the oddities of the 2018 MLB season, the strangest sight, the one thing I never quite got used to, was seeing Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria in Giants uniforms. Each player was a legend with his previous team -- McCutchen won an NL MVP Award with the Pirates,

Of all the oddities of the 2018 MLB season, the strangest sight, the one thing I never quite got used to, was seeing Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria in Giants uniforms. Each player was a legend with his previous team -- McCutchen won an NL MVP Award with the Pirates, and Longoria remains the greatest Ray of all time -- and then, suddenly, there they both were, in Giants jerseys. The disconnect was so disorienting that McCutchen didn't even look that strange in a Yankees jersey when he was traded to The Bronx late in the season; you had time to get used to the oddness. It's the first switch that gets you.
That's an old baseball tradition, though, seeing players you had grown accustomed to playing in one uniform suddenly wearing a different one. Remember how odd it was to see Nomar Garciaparra in a Cubs uniform for the first time? Or Mike Piazza in a Marlins one? (For a few days, anyway.) Heck, remember Manny Machado those first days in a Dodgers uniform? It's a sensation I call Cognitive Uniform Dissonance, and you'll spend most of Spring Training, Opening Day and April dealing with it.
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So today, we look at the five players you're going to be experiencing the most Cognitive Uniform Dissonance this season, the ones you're going to have to squint and shake your head to get your eyes to adjust to the sight of them in new duds. These guys will take some getting used to.
And we're still waiting to see if Bryce Harper will join this list.
Michael Brantley, Astros. Brantley lived through three whole generations of the Indians during his time in Cleveland, and he went from a hot prospect to a disappointing prospect to an MVP candidate to injury-prone fading star to an All-Star again at the end of his tenure. The peculiar part here isn't that Brantley will be playing for the Astros; it's that it gives him a legitimate shot to play against the Indians in the playoffs. After all, he played against the Astros last postseason.

Robinson Cano, Mets. This one has a bit of an asterisk because, to be honest, many people hadn't quite adjusted to Cano wearing a Mariners uniform after years with the Yankees, even though he was in Seattle for five seasons. He'll be under contract to the Mets for five more, and maybe by the end of that, we'll stop thinking of him in Yankee pinstripes.

Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals. Goldschmidt has been the single constant for the D-backs for nearly the past decade, and you knew they were making major changes when they shipped him to St. Louis in the last year of his contract. Perhaps the strangest thing about Goldschmidt being a Cardinal now, and another thing to get used to, is that he won't be wearing his signature jersey number 44 like he did in Arizona all those years. He'll be sporting No. 46 while wearing the birds on the bat. Why? He apparently was never wedded to 44 in the first place: "I got 44 because it was hanging in my locker," he said at his introductory news conference. He took 46 because he didn't want to take 44 from Luke Gregerson.

Yasiel Puig, Reds. The Reds are becoming a bit of a haven for high-profile, controversial players who have been flashpoint superstars in major media markets. Last year it was Matt Harvey -- who looked particularly strange in a Reds jersey; it's hard to be the Dark Knight while wearing bright red with Mr. Redlegs on your shoulder -- and this year it's Puig. The notion of Puig launching moonshots into the Ohio River is an exciting one, though you can imagine his particular style being the sort of thing that might get under the skin of the broadcasters over there. And that uniform is going to look so bizarre on him. He even looks strange in the hat! Look!
Teammate Matt Kemp might also inspire some Cognitive Uniform Dissonance as well, but he's so well-traveled that we're used to it. Of course, with Puig a free agent after the 2019 season, we might not have time to adjust to his new threads either.

Troy Tulowitzki, New York Yankees. There were a few other possibilities here -- Kemp or McCutchen to name a couple -- but Tulo is the one we landed on. The Yankees have a long history of players who made their names with other teams looking peculiar in their uniforms, but something about Tulo jumps out this year. Perhaps it's because his last two uniforms, in Colorado and Toronto, were so colorful. It can be tough to go from a big goofy rhinoceros and powder blue to the staid, dead-serious pinstripes.

By the time you grow accustomed to seeing all these players in their new uniforms, the Trade Deadline will be here … and you'll have to go through the whole thing again.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.