Bryce Harper's ‘Harp' among top MLB playoff player nicknames


OK, so maybe baseball player nicknames aren’t quite what they used to be. 

It’s hard to compete with the monikers of yesteryear like “The Great Bambino,” “The Say Hey Kid,” “Hammerin Hank” or “The Splendid Splinter.” Or even some from baseball’s modern era like “The Big Unit,” “The Big Hurt” and “Big Papi.” 

Hear any of those nicknames, and most baseball fans immediately know who they belong to.

That’s not the case for current stars of Major League Baseball. Outside of a select few, there aren’t many household nicknames. 

So, let’s take a look at players competing in the 2022 playoffs who have some of the best. The postseason, afterall, is the best place for a baseball player to make a nickname for themselves.

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees - All Rise

The courtroom pun was quite fitting this season, as Judge made all rise to their feet in the stands for each at bat during his 62-home run season.  

Pete Alonso, New York Mets - Polar Bear

Alonso’s former teammate, Todd Frazier, inspired the nickname. “In spring training, he said ‘You look like a big, damn polar bear.’ And then it just kind of stuck,” Alonso said in 2019.

Juan Soto, San Diego Padres - Childish Bambino

This one is a mash-up of Babe Ruth’s “The Great Bambino” and hip-hop artist “Childish Gambino” dating back to when a 19-year-old Soto had a multi-home-run game at Yankee Stadium

Noah Syndergaard, Philadelphia Phillies - Thor

At 6-6 and with flowing blonde locks, Syndergaard resembles the Nordic superhero. It stuck after he tweeted a picture of himself dressed as Thor while lifting weights on Halloween in 2013.

“The home planet of Thor is called Asgard, which is like my last name,” he said on SNY’s “Mets Hot Stove.” ”It just kind of stuck with me. I guess a Mets fan gave it to me, and I’m not going to say, ‘No.’ It’s not a bad name to have.”

Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals - La Maquina (The Machine)

Pujols has been a home run machine throughout his career, but particularly since Aug. 14 of this year, as he hit 16 over the season’s final month-and-a-half to surpass 700 career homers.

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers - The Claw

When your arm is your livelihood and your last name rhymes with claw, nicknames are born. 

Francisco Lindor, New York Mets - Mr. Smile

The Mets shortstop has a million-dollar smile that runs in his family. “My mom is extremely happy. She’s always smiling. She’s a very happy woman. So, I get it from her,” he said

Manny Machado, San Diego Padres - El Ministro de la Defensa (The Minister of Defense)

When Machado robbed a few hits while playing third base for the Dominican Republic during the World Baseball Classic in 2017, his glovework led to a nickname

Triston McKenzie, Cleveland Guardians - Dr. Sticks

The slender Guardians pitcher is listed at 6-foot-5 and just 165 pounds. 

Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies - Harp, Bam Bam, Mondo

The origin of “Harp” is obvious. “Bam Bam” was bestowed upon Harper after he went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts during a game in 2012 and took his frustrations out by slamming a bat against the dugout wall. The bat ricocheted and hit Harper in the face, requiring 10 stitches to close the wound. Teammate Ian Desmond said, “It’s not Bryce, from now on he’s Bam Bam.” Mondo is a childhood nickname given to him by his Uncle, but even Harper doesn’t know why.   

Blake Snell, San Diego Padres - Snellzilla

The Padres pitcher stole the nickname when he was 11 years old from his older brother. “It was my brother's nickname when he was young and I took it from him,” Snell told in 2016. “I just kinda took it from him and everyone started calling me it. They're like, ‘It fits better.’ It took off from there, it was my social media account name. Now everyone calls me it.”

Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays - El Cohete Cubano (The Cuban Rocket)

The Rays outfielder, who was born in Cuba, combines speed and power. 

Jose Altuve, Houston Astros - El Pequeño Gigante (The Little Giant)

The second baseman is just 5-foot-6 but has won an MVP award, a World Series, a Gold Glove and three batting titles while making eight All-Star teams and hitting nearly 200 career home runs and counting. 

Jeff McNeil, New York Mets - The Squirrel

The 2022 National League batting champion first got the nickname because of his facial hair and nimbleness. He has also been called the “Flying Squirrel” thanks to his acrobatic catches. 

Carlos Carrasco, New York Mets - Cookie

The Mets pitcher once got caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Well, not really. He was simply eating cookies in the clubhouse in 2011 and given the nickname.  

Michael Brantley, Houston Astros - Dr. Smooth

The five-time All-Star earned the nickname while repeatedly coming through in the clutch with Cleveland.

Yuli Gurriel, Houston Astros -  Piña (Pineapple); Lourdes Gurriel - Piña Power (Pineapple Power)

The Gurriel brothers got their nicknames because their hairstyles resembled the top of a pineapple. It’s easier to show a picture than to explain:

Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers - The Cat Man

The Dodgers pitcher loves cats. No, like, he really, really loves cats. So much so that he calls Saturdays “Caturdays” and regularly wears cat T-shirts:

Max Scherzer, New York Mets - Mad Max

Scherzer got his nickname because of his intensity when it comes to pitching, dating all the way back to when he nearly punched his college coach in the face. Plus, he has two different colored eyes, so it just fits.

Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners - J-Rod

The AL Rookie of the Year favorite has taken the nickname format of another former Mariner award winner: A-Rod. 

Ronald Acuna Jr, Atlanta Braves - El Abusador (The Abuser)

The Braves star abuses baseballs. 

Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals - El Marciano (The Martian)

Why is the veteran catcher nicknamed “The Martian”? Because his talent is otherworldly. “He’s from another planet, he’s an alien, he’s ‘El Marciano,’” said his brother and former major leaguer Bengie Molina. “He’s so good, it’s like he’s from another planet.”

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