No joke: Baez is Baseball's Funnest Player

Cubs infielder overtakes lifelong pal Lindor in final round

September 26th, 2017

Of all the wonderful GIFs of Javy Baez, there's one that stands out.

Gif: scores winning run with smooth slide

Seriously, look at that slide. That was actually a game-winning run he scored, but with Baez, that is beside the point. Look at what happens after he crosses the plate. He smoothly, gracefully, elegantly keeps on sliding, like a stone skipping along the water. And then Baez pops up like a dancer, raises his arms over his head -- it really might be the most aesthetically pleasing slide in baseball history. It is like the moonwalk of baseball slides.

And this is why Baez won our Baseball's Funnest Player Tournament.

When we first came up with this idea -- we are Joe Posnanski and Michael Schur, co-hosts of the critically ignored PosCast -- we were not quite sure that we could get across what we meant by "Funnest." This is because: (A) Funnest is not a word; and (B) Communication isn't necessarily our strong suit.

Sure enough, there were many people who wondered why very funny players like Los Angeles pitcher were not in the tournament. It so happens that we are friends with McCarthy. He's is very funny. He'd be on any Funniest Player list. But Funnest Player? No. Not even close. Brandon wouldn't even vote for himself.

So what does "Funnest" mean? In the end, the voting confirmed that people got it. Funnest is about the sheer joy they inspire in all of us when we watch them play. is not a great player. But it is so much fun to watch him steal bases, beat out infield hits, chase down fly balls in the outfield. is not a great pitcher. But he's old, chubby and he's still out there making us believe that our own Major League dream is not dead yet.

So what did we learn? One thing that probably should not have been surprising was how personal people take "funnest player." People in Kansas City were outraged that catcher was not in the tournament. People in Cincinnati griped about the absence of Joey Votto. St. Louis fans wondered how you could even have a funnest player tournament with . And so on. Fans from all 30 teams felt like their funnest player belonged in the tournament. We should probably take that into account next year.

But the opposite was true also -- fans of certain teams found it hard to see any fun attributes in players on rival teams. Bill James, who works for the Boston Red Sox, tweeted this: "Speaking as a Red Sox fan, is about as much fun as a bad, hacking cough."

Another: It seems that for most people, "Funnest" means defense over power. We came into this fully expecting the game's biggest sluggers -- and -- to go far. But Judge was beaten in the first round by the all-around genius of . And Stanton was knocked out decisively by Cleveland's smiling maestro and James' hacking cough Lindor.

The final matched Baez and Lindor, a marvelous battle between two lifelong friends. Baez and Lindor were both born in Puerto Rico, and both have spent much of the past week distracted by the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria and searching for ways to help. They are about the same size, both moved to Florida when they were young, and both are middle infielders who play the game with joy.

Lindor had the early edge, in part because it is impossible not to derive great joy from a shortstop who makes incredible plays, hits home runs, runs the bases with zeal and smiles all the time, in part because Cleveland fans are particularly engaged these days now that the Tribe only loses every two or three weeks.

But then, actor, comedian, Cubs fans and all-around genius Nick Offerman weighed in.

"Here is the place where fans of Justice and/or Cubs can rightly vote for Javy Baez as the most fun player of all."

We would have to say: That helped turn things. Cubs fans were mobilized behind their man. Offerman's tweet also led to our favorite exchange of the entire tournament, when a Lindor fan made the point that because Lindor has better range than Baez, he doesn't have to dive for as many balls -- he makes spectacular plays look routine.

To which Offerman responded: "Whoopsie, less diving sounds like less fun. Thanks for confirmation and glad you're not my lawyer."

It is hard to argue with such overpowering logic ... and hard to argue with Baez's victory in our Funnest Baseball Player Tournament. Now, we're going to go and watch a few Javy Baez GIFs … and probably some GIFs, too, because if he had been healthy, we suspect he might have won the whole thing.