The MLB lockout was tough. It was tougher to deal with than being rejected from the Salty Spitoon. It was tougher than, plainly, anyone that was allowed into the Salty Spitoon. The only thing you could get from MLB Network was reruns of old baseball movies and Ken Burns documentaries.
The only thing you could get from baseball Twitter were irrational mock trades. But now the madness is over and I, for one, believe we should be thanking The Batman (as well as Justin Herbert) for it.
Is it a coincidence that after months of bickering and blatantly manipulative reporting that, soon after the release of the latest Batman movie, we get a new deal? I think not!
The Batman knows how to settle conflicts. He brings balance; he brings justice; and most importantly, he inspires hope in the darkest of times. So, in honor of Batman saving baseball, let’s dive into which current MLB player shares the most in common with the caped crusader.
Nominee: Mike Trout
Recommended by our analytics maestro Colby Olson, Mike Trout doesn’t really need much of an introduction at this point. When healthy, he’s almost unanimously agreed upon to be the best player in baseball or, at the very least, had the best overall stretch of any player over the last decade. Like Batman, he’s accomplished many wonders that feel almost mythological. But really, aside from the on-field pedigree, it’s hard to see him being the perfect comparison to Batman.
Through to no fault of his own, he’s lacking in signature moments aside from FanGraphs articles and WAR leaderboards. While this isn’t meant as a slight, there’s no aura to Trout that feels dark, or even vengeful. Instead, he’s more of a happy fellow — perfectly content with who he is — that simply enjoys being absolutely filthy at baseball. He’s more Superman, or even the Flash, if anything.
Nominee: Giancarlo Stanton
This one goes out to the Yankees fans, who have suddenly pretended they weren’t slandering this man for years just because he had an awesome end to his 2021 season. Giancarlo Stanton is probably the greatest embodiment of power that exists in the game today, and the soullessness with which he crushes baseballs into the great beyond. He hits home runs the way Batman punches criminals; he’s a deliverer of pain, and does so with sternness in the great land known as New York City, which is a location that is a suitable enough comparison to Gotham City.
The problem is that Stanton isn’t exactly damaged, and his herculean strength isn’t quite something Batman is known for. He feels almost too invincible, as a specimen, to match the rather bedraggled nature of Batman. It doesn’t feel like there’s a narrative to Stanton that suggests he’s had a tragic career or anything. He’s close, but not quite Batman.
Nominee: Tyler Glasnow
It’s genuinely unnerving how much Tampa Bay Rays ace pitcher Tyler Glasnow looks like actor Cillian Murphy, who is perhaps best known for his role as Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie trilogy. So, there you have it; that’s the only Batman connection with Glasnow, because he’s too young and hasn’t had, despite his talents, enough of an impact on the game (yet) to earn the title of the Batman. Admittedly, this nominee is more of a troll on my part because I like to amuse myself.
Nominee: Tim Anderson
He’s the counter-culture. He’s the one that doesn’t like to play by the rules, particularly those that are unwritten. His name is Tim Anderson, and he’s a badass. Being a badass, and a rebel, is essential to the Batman ethos. He’s ready to break whatever barriers are in place to accomplish his goals, and we go absolutely nuts every time he does. Oftentimes, he’s doing so for the perceived greater good, and such is the case with Anderson, the shortstop of the Chicago White Sox, who brings a much-needed unapologetic swagger to the sport of baseball.
But unfortunately, Anderson is a bit too cool. Don’t get me wrong, Batman is cool, but there’s something unique to Anderson’s passion — something more relatable and more tangible. Batman can be a bit too self-seriousness and isn’t quite relatable, dressing up as a bat and beating criminals to a bloody pulp and then casually living in upper-class society, drinking (probably) $30,000 dollar bottles of wine after a night of chasing around the Joker. They’re on two different levels, you see?
Nominee: Nelson Cruz
One thing about this exercise is that, depending on your favorite interpretation of Batman, there’s more players that could fit the mold. In this case, Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns — perhaps the single-most groundbreaking Batman story of the 1980s, and beyond — sees a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne come out of retirement to battle against not just criminal forces, but the literal United States government, AND Superman. I’m focusing on the age here, as there’s perhaps no greater example of defying age than Nelson Cruz.
The slugger is known for his consistency despite his age. His ability to still produce at 40-plus years of age is the baseball equivalent of taking on Superman and the government. But unfortunately, Cruz doesn’t quite have that level of badassery associated with the Dark Knight, and his much-publicized love for sleeping is another detriment to his case. The Batman does not sleep; he only has time for vengeance.
Nominee: Trevor Story
One key attribute to a good Batman is the emphasis on the double-life he lives. You need the masked vigilante, with all his detective knowledge, fighting expertise, and brooding demeanor as he scours the city of Gotham looking for criminals to punish at night. And during the day, you need the arrogant, playboy billionaire who dismisses the working class in favor of apathy and luxury. You know who else lives a double-life? That’s right, the newest member of the Boston Red Sox Trevor Story.
But instead of personality, Story is more known for his home/road splits being particularly extreme. In the hitter-friendly confines of Coors Field, he’s a monster. But everywhere else? He’s average. He’s been one of the greater Yin & Yang performers in baseball over the last few years. On top of that, he lives a similarly tortured lifestyle to Batman, except instead of living in Gotham City he’s been forced to be a part of the Colorado Rockies organization.
But due to Story leaving for greener pastures, he doesn’t quite earn the Batman cowl. Instead, there is one more.
Winner: Jacob deGrom
“It’s a big city. I can’t be everywhere. But they don’t know where I am. We have a signal now, for when I’m needed. When that light hits the sky, it’s not just a call- it’s a warning. To them. Fear is a tool. They think I’m hiding in the shadows. But I AM the shadows. I wish I could say I’m making a difference, but I don’t know. Murder, robberies, assault- 2 years later, they’re all up. And now this. This city’s eating itself. Maybe it can’t be saved, but i have to try. PUSH MYSELF. These nights all roll together in a rush, Behind the mask. Sometimes in the morning I have to force myself to remember everything that happened.”
This is an excerpt from the monologue that takes place at the beginning of the newly released The Batman — a movie that’s taken the culture by storm, and so much so that even baseball-obsessed Aram Leighton went out to see. It’s the words of a cynical Bruce Wayne, pondering whether or not he’s making a difference despite his odds. It’s both emo and hopeful, and it’s also how I like to imagine Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom has felt at points throughout his career.
The Mets are a team that’s been viewed, like Gotham, as beyond saving. Drama, discourse, and even memes have been born from the fact that Jacob deGrom seems to have his incredible talents wasted on such an underperforming team. In his 2018 Cy Young season, he barely reached 10 wins despite having a minuscule 1.70 ERA in 217 innings pitched. That’s right, just 10 wins. I can see it now: a man, having just pitched eight innings, giving up no runs, and striking out 12 batters, with an emotionless and eerie face of dread after his efforts are rendered useless yet again.
But that’s not all. Jacob deGrom not only has the serious, intimidating look of the Batman on the mound, but he also has the mythmaking. He’s become viewed as more than just a man, the same way Batman has.
How did Batman survive in the vacuum of space? How did Batman dodge Darkseid’s lasers, which literally change direction and chase their target? How did Batman defeat Superman?
The answer, often, for fans is simple: because he’s Batman.
How did Jacob deGrom win multiple Cy Young awards? How did Jacob deGrom just throw that 118 MPH curveball? How did Jacob deGrom have a stretch where he had more RBIs than runs allowed? The answer, often, for baseball fans is simple: because he’s Jacob deGrom.
It’s for these reasons that there is no better choice. Jacob deGrom is the Batman.