MLB's Ultimate Gamers
Michael Young, Rangers
Not only is Young a very dangerous hitter, he's another guy who will do whatever his team needs. He came up with the team as a second baseman, but shifted to shortstop once Alex Rodriguez left. Then, when Elvis Andrus emerged, Young made another switch, this time to third base. He'll accept what is best for the team. I think Young is underappreciated, and if he was playing in New York, people would be talking about him as a Hall of Famer. He's not the biggest name on his team, but he's the leader of the organization.
Shane Victorino, Phillies
The "Flyin' Hawaiian" doesn't get the notoriety of the other hitters on his team, but he's a big part of their offense and plays great defense in center field. He's a hardnosed player in a similar mold to Aaron Rowand. He's an outspoken guy, but he accepted a move down in the order when the team acquired No. 2 hitter Placido Polanco. Anything to help the Phillies win a third straight NL pennant.
A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox
A lot of people don't like Pierzynski, but he doesn't care. He just wants to help his team win. He did it the other day by convincing the umpire he was hit by a pitch in a game against the Blue Jays, even though he was not. The next hitter, Alex Rios, hit a home run to break up a no-hitter. Pierzynski will say things to irritate his opponents. He'll annoy people, and get into scraps. But in the end, he makes the White Sox better.
Torii Hunter, Angels
Hunter was tutored by Kirby Puckett when he came up with the Twins, and he brings the same attitude that Puckett brought to the game. He'll smile and be personable off the field, but when it comes to game time Hunter will do anything to beat you. He really changes personality once the bell rings, and he can beat you both offensively and defensively. Hunter tried to run through a fence to catch a ball last season and ended up missing some time. He just couldn't help but play hard. It's just the way he is.
Chone Figgins, Mariners
Figgins made his mark as a leadoff hitter with the Angels. Now he's with the Mariners, and he knows who the leadoff hitter is in Seattle. Figgins will do whatever it takes. He not only did he switch positions from third base to second base with Seattle, he moved a spot down in the order behind Ichiro. He knows what his job is and takes to it eagerly. He'll take extra pitches to help give Ichiro a chance to steal. He'll never quit learning the game.
Aaron Rowand, Giants
Rowand, San Francisco's center fielder and leadoff hitter, will always give his all, particularly out in the field. He'll run into walls tying to make a catch - in fact, he once broke multiple bones in his face while making a catch against the fence in Philadelphia - and he also brings that fighter's mentality to his gritty at-bats.
Nick Punto, Twins
Punto isn't much of a hitter, but he plays hard and does whatever it takes to win a game. He'll move the runners over, he'll fight through every at-bat. And the biggest thing is that he means so much to the club defensively. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was a gamer himself, likes Punto for his enthusiasm and how he goes about his business. He often finds himself saying "if Punto doesn't make that play, we don't win."
Brandon Inge, Tigers
Inge played through two bad knees last year and didn't come out of any games. And he has always been open to doing whatever his team needs. Here's a kid who was a pitcher and a shortstop in college. He entered pro baseball as a catcher. Now he's a third baseman because that's what the Tigers need. Guys like Inge are very important to their teams.
Eric Chavez, Athletics
Chavez was a very good player earlier in his career, but has often had trouble staying healthy. He is still trying to keep his career going despite all the injuries he has suffered, and still trying to compete at a high level. Through all the pain he has been in, he doesn't want to give up. When he was in his prime he was known as a hardnosed third baseman. Now he's the designated hitter and trying to resurrect his career by playing hard.
Derek Jeter, Yankees
Jeter is one of those guys you watch and admire. He plays the game the right way and is one of the sport's ultimate gamers. He conducts himself well on and off the field, and he leads the Yankees by example. Whether he's knocking in the winning run or diving into the stands for a ball and coming up with a bloody nose, he's the type of guy who will give his all game in and game out. He goes out and shows an intensity level that is higher than everyone else.
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
Pedroia is sort of a miniature Jeter who plays second base. It's all out for this guy game after game. He's a guy who his teammates watch and want to play like. He's always got that little man syndrome going, not backing down from anyone and looking for a scrap. He's well loved because of how hard he plays.