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Jeimer Candelario Silenced The Hater

Jeimer Candelario celebrates after hitting a home run
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Athletic's poll of MLB players opened my eyes to the presence of silent and mysterious beefs all throughout baseball. Specifically, I have questions for some of the 59 anonymous guys who didn't beg off the topic of "Most Overrated Player."

The top of these answers is about as legible as these things go. Jazz Chisholm has a video game cover. Anthony Rendon has a $245 million contract. Tim Anderson has a very famous enemy in José Ramírez, who fought him at second base last year and then said he'd "been disrespecting the game for a while." But it's the "one vote" category at the bottom that I love. These are people who have ticked off one person—and only one person—badly enough that they want it printed in the newspaper. Some of the names are wealthy superstars whom one could easily imagine prompting envy. Some of the picks have enjoyed past success and are now struggling. And then there's Jeimer Candelario, a fine infielder with a knack for hitting doubles who, since debuting in 2016, has yet to even make an appearance in the playoffs. Sure, he signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the Reds. But "most overrated"? Who is out here overrating Jeimer Candelario? Who is even rating him?

Somewhere in MLB, there is a person who thinks Jeimer Candelario is receiving far more adulation than he deserves. But boy, did they look like a fool on Wednesday night. In front of 42,000 strong in Cincinnati, flooding the ballpark for the Ohio derby and the Elly De La Cruz bobblehead, the Reds defeated the Guardians 4-2, thanks to Mr. Overrated himself.

Candelario announced his presence on the very first pitch he saw, blasting a high fastball to deep right-center to score the first run of the game. Imagine clocking in for your shift at the "I hate Jeimer Candelario" factory and immediately being confronted by this serious malfunction.

For a while, that sockdolager was the only significant mistake made by Cleveland starter Tanner Bibee. Candelario even struck out. Ha ha! But in the sixth inning Bibee allowed a couple of singles to bring up Public Enemy No. 19-Way-Tie-For-12th. In a 1-2 count, Candelario fouled a slider off his leg, let two bad fastballs speed by, then stretched out to foul another that was closer to the edge of the zone. On the eighth pitch, he saw a low changeup for the third time in the AB, and he reached down to send it high into the sky. The ball carried, and carried, and it landed in the bullpen by the right-field foul pole for an emphatic three-run shot. On a team best known for the promise of its up-and-comers, the only starter in his 30s played the hero on this night.

I desperately need to know what Jeimer Candelario's sole hater felt upon seeing these dongs. Was it you, Tanner Bibee? Is that why you thought you could sneak a third off-speed pitch by him? Was it you, former Chicago Cubs teammate Ian Happ? Did you feel beads of sweat dripping down your brow upon learning that the 33-35 Reds had kept pace in the NL Central standings? How about you, Elly De La Cruz? Candelario's now tied for the team lead in homers. What do you think about that? Whoever you are, you're real quiet today.

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