Despite being veritable celebrities of their own, the Little League World Series stars still idolize the professionals.Before the 2017 tournament, players filled out questionnaires on a variety of fun topics, ranging from superstitions to nicknames (read more later this week) to their favorite Major Leaguers. The result? A three-way tie between superstars
Despite being veritable celebrities of their own, the Little League World Series stars still idolize the professionals.
Before the 2017 tournament, players filled out questionnaires on a variety of fun topics, ranging from superstitions to nicknames (read more later this week) to their favorite Major Leaguers.
The result? A three-way tie between superstars Jose Altuve, Bryce Harper and Aaron Judge for favorite player among all participating in the LLWS.
Harper earned the majority of votes among U.S. players, while Altuve ran away with top honors among international players. Judge drew a strong and even split between the two groups.
While former NL Cy Young Award winner and MVP recipient Clayton Kershaw did not crack the top five among U.S. Little Leaguers, he is the second favorite player among the international teams, with David Ortiz, Felix Hernandez and Yadier Molina in a three-way tie behind him.
Some of the youngsters' choices for favorite player exemplified the broad reach of many fan bases.
Representing the Dominican Republic as part of Team Caribbean, Joustin Torres named Astros pitcher Francisco Liriano as his top pick. "He has good mechanics and curveball, and he throws a lot of strikes," Torres says. "He always keeps the game close."
Although Liriano has played for several teams, no matter where he ends up, Torres says he will remain loyal to his favorite player.
For Team Australia's Cole Buck, Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk, who played in the LLWS himself in 2003 and '04 with Lamar Little League (Texas), is his choice. "He hits bombs and he has an absolute cannon [of an arm]," Buck explains.
Meanwhile, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt dominated the discussion among this year's Southwest Region representatives, mainly due to his hometown ties and work with their team. Belt grew up in the same area as the players, and several of them note how much he has helped their team.
A few players noted that Mets Minor Leaguer Tim Tebow is their favorite baseball player.
"He's just that type of guy who can go from one pro sport to another and still be an average player … and someone I look up to when I play sports," Mid-Atlantic's Dean Daddio says.
Braden Campbell, of Great Lakes, echoes the sentiment. "I think he's really brave to go from football to baseball and still be pretty good at the sport," he says.
Some players revealed their preferences for Hall of Famers like Roberto Clemente or sure-fire future inductees, such as Derek Jeter and Molina. Drew Rutter of the West team from California explains that he chose Clemente because his dad is from Pittsburgh and loved Clemente growing up, which made his son appreciate how the Pirates legend played the game.
For Southeast's Jacob Calder and his fondness for Lonnie Chisenhall, it's all about the hometown ties. "He grew up in Newport, North Carolina, not too far from Greenville," Calder says. He and his teammates practice at the same training center that Chisenhall has used and although he hasn't met the Indians outfielder, Calder still views him as his favorite player.
As for the favorite MLB team among both U.S. and international players? No surprise there -- the honor goes to the New York Yankees with the Boston Red Sox in distant second place among both groups.
Adriana Belmonte is a contributor to MLB.com.