After spending nearly every single day together on the diamond, in the dugout, on team buses and in hotels during a gruelling six-month MLB season between that lasts from March to September, most guys would welcome a respite from their teammates and a chance to get away from it all when they finally have a sliver of precious free time. Then again, Major League Baseball players are a rare breed.
There’s no denying that every MLB player is a member of a rare brotherhood of traveling athletes. With all that time spent together and with all the familiar faces at all the different stadiums, it’s inevitable that close friendships will develop over time. So much so that some players even make a point to hang out together away from the ballpark when their baseball obligations aren’t tying up all their time.
Sometimes they’re fellow countrymen who strike up a friendship based on their common heritage. Other times, guys were close pals as kids or came up through the minor league ranks at the same time. Still others develop an unwavering bond through their on-field play that spills over into their personal lives.
On the field, whether they’re teammates or opponents, guys know when to get down to brass tacks. It’s all business (although the dugout is notorious for facilitating a lot of in-game shenanigans), even if it’s a friend or close confidant who just threw some 90 mph chin music on a 2-2 count.
But when the final out is recorded and the stadium lights go out, it takes a lot more than a uniform and a glove to keep baseball buddies from engaging an off-field bromance. Clearly, it’s more than a game for these 15 MLB stars who are buds off the diamond.
15 Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa
If there wasn’t almost an entire foot’s difference in height between these two, they could totally pull off the whole brothers shtick. In reality, though, they’re probably closer than a lot of real siblings are. While they aren’t from the same country, didn’t grow up together and didn’t even enter the big leagues at the same time, there was an instant connection when the younger shortstop, Correa, joined the Houston Astros in 2015. These days, when they’re not turning ground balls up the middle into double-plays for the Astros, they’re grabbing lunch, hanging out on the road and posting sweet nothings about each other on social media. Their lighthearted clubhouse banter seems to brighten the mood in every room the walk into, and they even have a sweet post-game celebration dance that requires a lot more coordination than I could ever dream of.
14 Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford
Star in a cheesy TV commercial together? Check! Run a popular online blog together? Check! Have the exact same first name? Check! It’s confirmed; these two are definitely two peas in a pod. But in all seriousness, the San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford are a couple of really good dudes who have a lot in common. Belt, a first baseman and Crawford, a shortstop, have made a habit out of making some spectacular defensive plays on the infield, and you could argue that they have just as much synergy off of it. If their blog, Brandon and Brandon, isn’t enough, it’s worth your time to experience their custom website, brandonsoftheworld.com, which even the most serious among us can’t help but laugh at.
13 Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus
Admit it. You love these two. Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus are the Tom and Jerry of Major League Baseball, and with their relationship, everybody wins. Admittedly, it’s mostly their on-field antics that make them two of the best pals in the Majors, but you can’t just make a baseball-buddies list and not include them. Best described as a love-hate relationship, the younger Andrus is notorious for causing mischief on the field – even during live gameplay. He gets under Beltre’s skin like a relentless younger brother pushes his elder sibling’s every button, but you know Beltre secretly loves it. It’s probably more 90/10 love-hate, if we’re being honest. Beltre will be the first to tell you that Andrus keeps him young, and their on-field chemistry makes them an even better left side of the infield for the perennial AL powerhouse Rangers.
12 Joe Ross and Mallex Smith
Joe Ross and Mallex Smith’s bromance sparked when they were both prospects in the San Diego Padres organization. They made fast friends after meeting as teammates on the Padres Cactus League squad in 2012, and they roomed together in the minors for a while, where their friendship developed into more of a brotherhood. Eventually, both were traded on the same day late in 2014, Ross to the Washington Nationals and Smith to the Atlanta Braves. Ross made his big league debut in 2015 before Smith did, but as luck would have it, Smith was called up for the second time in his career in September of 2016, when the Braves were on a roadie to Washington. Like any good friend would do, Ross actually picked Smith up from the airport when he landed in D.C. and escorted him to his team’s hotel. While the two haven’t yet faced each other on the diamond, there’s always room for a little friendly trash talking when these best buds get together off the field.
11 Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda
Poor Lucas Duda. In a perfect example of guys spending way too much time together during the grinding MLB season, I present to you New York Mets Duda and Curtis Granderson. When he’s not fake filming Duda trot around the bases after another one of his towering dingers (just Google it), Granderson is chronicling all of the most mundane and yet somehow intriguing aspects of Duda’s off-the-field life through a wildly popular @WeFollowLucasDuda Instagram account. Walking to his car? Yep. Eating a meal? Sure. Making awkwardly candid faces at inanimate objects? You know it. It’s probably a product of too much time on their hands, but the surprisingly hilarious Granderson has opened up a whole new perspective into the secret life of a major leaguer, and we’re all too happy for it. Fortunately, the soft-spoken Duda doesn’t seem to mind TOO much, and they seem to have bonded pretty well over it.
10 Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar
Dominican buddies Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar share a tight-knit bond they built during their four years together with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim between 2012 and 2015. The bigger, stronger and older – and not to mention future Baseball Hall of Famer – Pujols took his younger compatriot under his wing when he arrived on the scene in Southern California in 2012, and Aybar was eager to absorb every pointer the veteran was willing to dish out. After just a season or two, the pair were inseparable, riding together on the team bus, eating meals together and taking batting practice at the same time. While it was all business on the field, they still managed to joke around with each other like they were still kids in the Caribbean. Now on separate teams, Pujols is still a mentor for Aybar, never more than a phone call or text message away.
9 Walt Jocketty and Doug Melvin
Granted, these two don’t exactly play per se, but when two general managers for competing teams have this close of a relationship, you can’t let it go undocumented. Cincinnati Reds GM Walt Jocketty and Milwaukee Brewers GM Doug Melvin met while they were running farm teams way back in the day and built a lasting friendship along with their wives and children. In 1994 Jocketty and Melvin were hired as major league GMs just days apart, and by the end of that decade, the pair would begin a tradition – one that remains alive and well today – of vacationing together in exotic locations every fall. Though they’re rivals during the season, they don’t talk much shop when they’re traveling the world. They bond over movies, updates about their kids and supporting the other’s charitable pursuits. During the season, when their teams match up on the field, there is a standing invitation for the visiting GM to watch the game in the home-team GM’s suite. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!
8 Chase Utley and Corey Seager
Los Angeles Dodgers Chase Utley and Corey Seager couldn’t be more unalike. At 15 years apart in age and with completely different backgrounds, they’re the odd couple of this group by a longshot. Utley is nearly old enough to be Seager’s father, as he embarks on the twilight of his legendary career, while Seager is just getting started. Somehow, the combination works, though, because with a similar demeanor and a shared work ethic, they’ve drawn close not only as teammates but as true friends. They tend to do a lot of things together, especially the unique pre-game routine they share. The elder Utley has taken Seager under his wing as a counselor, imparting wisdom on the youngster as he develops his skills. But don’t let their dedication to the game fool you; they still know how to have fun. A friendly – if not silly – bet between the two last season forced Utley to dye his hair a different color, and Seager clearly got a kick out of it.
7 Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard
Before their tragic separation via an offseason trade between the 2014 and 2015 seasons, bullpen buddies Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were a dynamic duo for the Washington Nationals who goofed off away from the ballpark and enjoyed showing off their shared downtown Washington apartment. Jokes about Bieber Fever and their lack of cooking skills were bandied about in a special bromance only late-game pitchers could develop while they spent downtime together in the bullpen. When Clippard was traded to the Oakland A’s early in 2015, Storen tweeted a mournful “tribute” to their time together with a clip from the movie “Old School,” which perfectly illustrates their offbeat relationship. Clippard is now a New York Yankee, while Storen is a free agent, so who knows, maybe a super brotastic reunion in a new city is in store.
6 Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman
Toronto Blue Jays teammates Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman are so tight they have their own celebrity nickname: StroChez. That ought to tell you something about their relationship away from the ballpark. The tight-knit duo met in the minors and both made the big leagues with the Blue Jays in 2014. They have completely different backgrounds, and their personalities are on opposite sides of the spectrum, but apparently that’s what makes them so great together. Roommates in Toronto, the two enjoy exploring the city, working out, carpooling and professing their love for each other on Twitter. Basically, they’re attached at the hip 24/7. When one is pitching, the other is his biggest cheerleader and first to meet him in the dugout. They’re even comfortable enough with each other to “propose” marriage and play the Newlywed Game together. Precious.
5 Clay Buchholz and Josh Tomlin
What started as a fierce competition for an infield position in junior college ironically turned into a full-on friendship between two major league starting pitchers. Josh Tomlin was the shortstop for Angelina, a school of about 5,000 in Lufkin, Texas, when Clay Buchholz showed up and zeroed in on his favorite position. The battle didn’t last long, as Tomlin held onto his spot in the infield, and Buchholz transitioned into a relief pitcher. Eventually the pair went pro, landing on opposing teams as starting pitchers. They still hang out during the offseason, text on an almost weekly basis, and have even made pilgrimages back to Angelina together to work out and visit old coaches. Tomlin’s Cleveland Indians swept Buchholz’s Boston Red Sox in the 2016 ALDS, but don’t worry, they’re still buddies – off the field at least.
4 Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis
How dare the Los Angeles Dodgers break up the best bromance in the National League? Whatever their reasoning behind splitting up the dynamic pitcher-catcher duo who met in the minors and played together in L.A. for nine years, it didn’t go over well with basically anybody. Ellis and Kershaw had an unbreakable bond on the field. Ellis caught Kershaw’s one-and-only no-hitter in 2014, after all, and he was Kershaw’s preferred backstop and close confidant for a long time. That partnership overlapped over into their personal lives, and when Ellis was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in August 2016, tears were shed as the duo was ripped apart in a shocking trade that devastated the entire team. Still, their friendship lives on, and they both dream of playing together again sometime down the road.
3 Roberto Osuna and Rougned Odor
These two won’t let bad blood between their respective teams get in the way of their buddy-buddy relationship off the field – even during the playoffs. Roberto Osuna’s Blue Jays teammate, Jose Bautista, tried to slide into Texas Rangers’ infielder Rougned Odor at second base during an attempt at a double-play in a regular season game earlier in 2016, which led to hockey-style fisticuffs and season-long tension between the squads. But that didn’t stop Osuna from crossing into enemy territory to give his pal a hug during warmups prior to the start of the Rangers vs. Blue Jays 2016 ALDS matchup. While we don’t know a whole lot about their off-field relationship, they’re close enough to ignore the potentially negative tone of their teams’ impending playoff clash, and I can respect the depth of that bromance.
2 Terry Francona and John Farrell
First, they were teammates on the Cleveland Indians way back in 1988. Then, they were coworkers with the Boston Red Sox from 2004 to 2011. Now, they are rival American League managers who face off from opposing dugouts several times each year during the long MLB season. They even faced each other in the 2016 ALDS when Francona’s Indians and Farrell’s Red Sox met in the first round of the playoffs. But the one thing that has remained since that season in Cleveland in 1998, is their everlasting friendship, a brotherhood that transcends the uniform. Off the field, these two would literally give the other the shirt off his back if he asked. Francona even accompanied Farrell to chemotherapy treatments when he was battling cancer, providing support during a challenging time. No matter what life throws at them, these buds are never more than a phone call away.
1 Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant
Ultra-talented Chicago Cubs infielders Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant immediately clicked when they became major league teammates in the spring of 2015. With adjacent lockers in the Cubs’ clubhouse, they’ve sung a national anthem duet on live TV, and they even have a TV commercial with a fake souvenir baseball company. Together, they are “Bryzzo.” With all that chemistry – their Twitter tomfoolery and off-field antics notwithstanding – it’s no wonder they pose a dual threat both at the plate and on defense. What makes this friendship even sweeter is the fact that Bryant fielded a grounder in the 10th inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series and tossed it to his good buddy Rizzo at first base to record the series’ final out and secure the Cubs’ first championship in 108 years.
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