MLB players explain what makes baseball's top 'dogs' so special

Not long back, professional athletes may have chafed at hearing their name discussed in the very same sentence as “dog.”

After all, no one likes to be informed they’re “dogging it.” The grimmest, most popular stretch of the summertime is still the “dog days,” stimulating pictures of lazy naps and climate-induced inactiveness.

But times modification, therefore does language. And now, in a sport that values valiancy above all, that rewards the capability to victory over tiredness, despair and dullness, there’s little appreciation in a baseball clubhouse greater than being called a pet.

Perhaps you understand the expression in a different way, that a solid rival acts that method due to the fact that she or he “has got that pet dog in ‘em.” Dawg, too, is acceptable.

Throughout Major League Baseball, the phrase is bestowed for those who fiercely contest every pitch. That might shatter the silence of a moribund clubhouse. That will lie through their teeth to the manager that ‘yes, I’m fine, I can take the ball a 4th time in 5 days, why do you ask?’

Above all, they assist make 162 video games over 190 days accessible – ideally battled with every bit of a group’s competitive ability, despite situation.

A three-time All-Star, DJ LeMahieu has actually won 2 batting titles in his profession (2016 and 2020)

“It’s something you need. You need to be pushed sometimes,” states New York Mets outfielder Mark Canha, who was amongst a half-dozen gamers that mentioned his colleague, ace Max Scherzer, as the supreme pet dog. “It helps the season go by a little faster. You’re not dwelling so much; you’re staying on task.

“You need reminders – not so subtle reminders in Max’s case sometimes. He’s loud and does his thing and gets us fired up.”

So, who are the supreme pets throughout the video game? U.S.A. TODAY Sports queried 20 gamers for their reactions, going for those who’d bet numerous groups, and got reactions both foreseeable and illuminating. A tasting of the leading elections:

DJ LeMahieu, Yankees infielder

(Nominated by Yankees starter Nestor Cortes)

“Even though he’s very quiet and he’s the same every day, you can see underneath that, there is that person that wants to succeed at everything he does and at every moment. He’s the first one in, last one out of the clubhouse. I remember the Sunday morning before the All-Star break, going into the video room, he’s watching video alone. That’s what makes him great – that dog in him that you might not see. But he has in there for sure.

“No words – he’s a leader by action. What he’s done over the years exemplifies the leader he is.”

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Jose Ramirez, Guardians infielder

Jose Ramirez has finished in the top six of AL MVP voting four times in the past five seasons.

Jose Ramirez has actually completed in the leading 6 of AL MVP voting 4 times in the previous 5 seasons.

(Nominated by Pirates outfielder Greg Allen)

“He brings it to every game, every pitch, the way he runs the bases – he’s as aggressive but just as smart as anyone. He plays the game hard, he plays to win, and just kind of has you on the edge of your seat. I’ve seen him do some incredible things.

“He’s a dog, without a doubt. You don’t always get that – sometimes guys have that dog in them, but the talent is not at the same standard. Then, you get some special ones where the talent meets that caliber of player when those things come together. He brings good energy. A guy you want on your team, for sure.”

Joey Wendle, Marlins infielder

(Nominated by Angels reducer Aaron Loup)

“An unsuspecting one. He flies under the radar. Just a really good baseball player. Not a big rah-rah guy, or real flashy, but you know you’re getting everything he’s got. He puts together great ABs, plays great defense, just a great guy. I have a lot of respect for him.

“To me, he’s one of those guys that leads by example. I’ve had a chance to play with him, I’ve faced him a few times and he’s a tough at-bat. He has a good approach. And he’s not afraid.”

Christian Vazquez, Astros catcher

The Astros landed Christian Vazquez in a trade with the Red Sox.

The Astros landed Christian Vazquez in a trade with the Red Sox.

(Nominated by Rays reducer Matt Wisler)

“I’m honestly impressed how much he catches; the guy’s out there every single day, having good years, and it’s not an easy position. You see the wear and tear of what those guys do.

“For catchers, it’s usually two days on, one off, three on, and he’s out there four or five days in a row, which you don’t see very often anymore.”

Rangers 2nd baseman Marcus Semien Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette

(chosen by Blue Jays reducer Jordan Romano) 

“Every day, it’s like, Marcus is not just a good player, he’s a dog. It’s competitiveness and a never-ending drive. It’s like no matter what’s going on, every day, he’s putting his work in regardless of if he’s tired or playing bad and he’s going to try to beat you.

“Bo Bichette, no matter how he’s playing, he’s showing up to compete and he wants to win more than you. He’s super talented and young, a little flashy but underneath the hood, there’s that dog. And there’s a lot of work nobody else gets to see other than his teammates.”

Mariners lefty Robbie Ray

(Nominated by Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales)

“He’s probably as low key and easygoing as they come every other day of the week, but when he toes it up, it’s just that level he goes to that’s special to watch. When he’s rolling and he’s locked in, he’s able to elevate his game in a way that you know, no one can touch him. He knows it, everyone in the park knows it, and that’s been fun to watch.”

Yankees reducer Clay Holmes

Clay Holmes pitched the eighth inning of the AL's All-Star Game win.

Clay Holmes pitched the 8th inning of the AL’s All-Star Game win.

(Nominated by Yankees reducer Lucas Luetge)

“I’m with him in the bullpen a lot and no matter how much he’s thrown that week or pitched in a game, how many pitches he threw the night before, when you ask him how he feels he’s like, ‘I’m ready to pitch.’ When I think of a dog, whether you’re fresh or not, or doing good or not, it’s wanting to be out there. That’s what I look at teammates who I want around me. Whatever your performance, whatever happens, happens. But as long as you’re busting your ass every day and wanting to get out there and play no matter what, to me, that’s what a dog is.

“You could give up the house the night before, if you’re ready to go the next day, that’s who you want on your team.”

Orioles 2nd baseman Rougned Odor

(Nominated by Orioles right-hander Austin Voth)

“I feel like when you see Odor play the game, you see it. You see the intensity, the way he walks to the plate, the way he has that swagger to him. He comes up and he’s got a plan, every time. He’s always searching for one pitch and he’s not going to get cheated. With one swing, he can make a difference. And he’s a good teammate.”

Red Sox starter Nate Eovaldi

Nathan Eovaldi was an All-Star for the first time in 2021.

Nathan Eovaldi was an All-Star for the very first time in 2021.

(Nominated by Rangers pitcher Garrett Richards)

“That’s a straight up competitor right there. That’s a dog. As competitors, we go into a certain mode of competing. You can tell that some guys operate on a higher level than others. For whatever reason, some of us have to take ourselves to a higher level. And others operate better when they’re just kind of hanging out, chilling.

“When he’s on the bump, it’s a different guy. He’s totally focused, totally convicted in what he’s doing. Goes through a game plan, does his homework totally, fully prepared and ready to compete. In his eyes, he’s going to dominate every time. He’s got great stuff and you take that attitude and you’ve got a special player. It was totally fun to watch him pitch last year and carry us down the road a little bit. He lives for the big moment.”

Yankees reducer Scott Effross

(Nominated by Cubs reducer Rowan Wick)

“3-2, two outs, bases loaded, he punches out (Cardinals infielder) Tommy Edman on a backdoor slider. That was a dog moment.”

Mets starter Max Scherzer

Max Scherzer, right, in the Mets dugout with Jacob deGrom.

Max Scherzer, right, in the Mets dugout with Jacob deGrom.

(Nominated by Canha and a number of others)

“He wears his emotions on his sleeve and doesn’t care what people think. It’s ingrained in him. It’s hard to come to the ballpark for 162 games and flip a switch every time. He’s seemingly able to do that and have that mentality.

“He’s a guy you want in the clubhouse, because he’s constantly on the ball with making sure we’re in that compete mode and in that fight mode.”

Nationals starter Josiah Gray

(Nominated by Nationals reducer Brandon Finnegan)

“He pitches with a lot of intensity and you can see how bad he wants it while he’s out there. You really appreciate that – a guy you’re confident is giving it everything he’s got while he’s out there. He’s a workaholic. He’s constantly doing something to make himself better. He has a really good idea of what he’s trying to accomplish and what he needs to do to get that done.

“This team is going to need young guys to step up as we move along in this phase. I think Josiah’s a good candidate to lead that charge. He’s still fresh here, but he’s getting his roots planted a little bit and getting a lot of respect in the clubhouse for the way he pitches and competes. He’s going to be a huge piece of this going forward.”

Mets starter Jacob deGrom

(Nominated by Angels infielder Jonathan Villar)

“Jacob deGrom is an incredible guy. He’s joking all the time and when he comes to pitch on his day, he takes it easy, he listens to music, he’s working just a little bit in the training room and weight room and getting focused for the game. He’s talking with us. He has good concentration when he’s pitching. I like that.”

Retired catcher Russell Martin

(Nominated by Angels reducer Ryan Tepera)

“He had a presence about him. He was a winner. I think at one point in his career he was 11 for 12 in making the playoffs. True professional. A dog. He was that older veteran guy when I was (in Toronto).”

Pirates outfielder Ben Gamel

(Nominated by Pirates infielder Bligh Madris)

“He’s willing to put his body on the line, puts together good at-bats no matter who’s on the mound, doesn’t fear any situation. That’s my main definition of it – willing to fight power with power, willing to attack any situation. It’s a guy you want in a big situation. Willing to take it on head on. Keep going. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, who we’re facing, just gets out there and attacks.

“If you play with that attitude and mindset every single at-bat, you’ll be able to play this game a long time. It’s something you can’t teach; it’s just instilled with you, coming through the minors and grinding through it.”

This post initially appeared on U.S.A. TODAY: MLB’s leading pets: Baseball gamers discuss who’s got ‘that pet dog in them’

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