This year’s nominees for the ESPY award for Best MLB Player were Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, Shohei Ohtani, and Jorge Soler. Also known as three historically great players and – Jorge Soler.
The way every baseball fan reacted after hearing that list for the first time is exactly how MLB insider Jeff Passan responded Monday night when Soler’s name was mentioned.
Prior to Monday night’s Home Run Derby, Passan, Tim Kurkjian and Kevin Connors had the privilege of announcing the ESPY award winner for Best MLB Player, but first, they were forced to run down the list of finalists, assessing why each player was worthy of the honor. But when it came to Soler, Passan was fresh out of compliments.
Jeff Passan echoed every baseball fan after learning Jorge Soler was nominated for the Best MLB Player ESPY pic.twitter.com/A2wpmJPwi2
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) July 19, 2022
“Is Jorge Soler in the same category?” Passan asked.
The answer is obviously no. And that’s no offense to Soler. I know he won the World Series MVP with the Atlanta Braves last year and sent a mammoth home run out of Minute Maid Park, but we’re talking about a list that features a first ballot Hall-of-Famer in Harper, a power hitter chasing 60 home runs with Judge and a transformative two-way player in Ohtani. Soler just doesn’t fit.
I’m not sure how ESPN came to decide Soler deserved to be on the list, but it feels like an example of the network caring so little about baseball that they couldn’t even take the time to have a reasonable group of finalists for their Best MLB Player award. The only time ESPN attempts to force baseball conversations onto their debate shows is when they throw Chris “Mad Dog” Russo a bone on First Take. MLB pales in comparison to the NFL or NBA in terms of the national conversation, but like, at least humor the fans with a reasonable final four.
Thankfully, baseball fans didn’t double down on ESPN’s blunder by voting Soler the winner. The award ultimately went to Ohtani. And while the ESPYs are a rather meaningless sports accolade, Soler winning Best MLB Player would have been the most egregious fan voting error since Peyton Hillis landed on the cover of Madden.