5/4/2014 2:09 P.M. ET
A View From Studio 3: 'Stop and Watch' players
By Matt Yallof / MLB.com
Don't deny it. You know you've been waiting anxiously. Pacing the floors and chomping on your fingernails. Checking the website regularly, perhaps hourly, for this year's edition of the "SAW" list -- players you need to Stop and Watch.
The players in today's game who demand your attention because of elite athletic skills or for their ability to make us scratch our heads in wonder. The players even 92-year-old Aunt Bea needs to know about, even though she hasn't watched a baseball game since the Dodgers moved out of Brooklyn.
The following list reflects how fast a player can become a household name. Some were barely on our radar 13 months ago when the inaugural SAW list debuted.
5. Dee Gordon Let's face it , we love speed -- fast cars, fast Internet service, fast food. Gordon can change a baseball game with blinding speed on the basepaths, but he also provides the average fan with a reality check. While some of us think we can still move at a good pace in the weekend softball game, Gordon is so fast that he makes some of the quickest players look pedestrian. There's a "wow" factor you have to see to understand. He's 5-foot-11 and weighs about 160 pounds soaking wet. When his father Tom played in the Majors, his nickname was "Flash" Gordon. Well, Gordon 2.0 takes that moniker to whole new level.
4. Jose Abreu As the influx of Cuban stars continues to elevate the level of play in the Major Leagues, Abreu stands out above his countrymen. As a first-year player, Abreu set a rookie record with 10 home runs in the first month of the season. That's certainly impressive, but his polish and calm demeanor make him look like a 10-year veteran. Abreu reminds me of Albert Pujols. Others mention Miguel Cabrera. Like those two future future Hall of Famers, Abreu is big bodied, with a quiet approach at the plate. His ability to hit with power to all fields makes him difficult to get out. The White Sox paid $68 million for the Cuban slugger. Looks like a bargain.
3. Yasiel Puig Like his style or not, Puig is a lightning rod. He could be the most polarizing player in the game. If Puig drives 100 mph or if he sneezes crooked, the Dodgers star ends up in the headlines. We "SAW" Puig because at any moment at the plate or in the field, he could hit a ball close to 500 feet or screw up a routine popup. His celebratory antics in last year's postseason had some fans irate, while others were elated. Puig's incredible gut-wrenching story of how he defected from Cuba adds to the intrigue and mystery.
2. Mike Trout This is the best all-around player in the game. But you knew that already. Want your son or daughter to play the game the right way? Play Trout highlights on a loop. There's no need to rehash his physical attributes, but it is worth mentioning how well he's handled megastardom. Trout is real. Nothing phony, nothing contrived. He's a dude who likes to bunny hunt in the winter and kick butt on the field in the summer. When Derek Jeter retires this fall, Trout will inherit the unofficial title of "Face of the Game."
1. Troy Tulowitzki So this is what Tulo looks like when healthy. An absolute beast. Like a computer-generated hitting machine. There have been so many injuries in the last few years, it's easy to forget how great the Rockies' shortstop truly is. Tulowitzki has been on our radar for so long, I did a double take when I read that's he only 29 years old. Despite having only played 150-plus games twice in his career, his stats compare with Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Ernie Banks, Gary Carter and Barry Larkin. With Tulo, we "SAW" to see his world-class offensive and defensive abilities. But we also do so while holding our breath that he doesn't suffer an injury that will derail an MVP-caliber season.
Next week, A View From Studio 3 will highlight the list of pitchers you must Stop and Watch.
Matt Yallof is the co-host of The Rundown on MLB Network from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.