This is an extended version of a story that appears in ESPN The Magazine's March 31 MLB Preview Issue. Subscribe today!
THIS SPRING MLB announced a rule change that all but eliminates the home plate collision. As part of our Confidential series, we surveyed 143 players and found that a strong majority (65 percent) dislikes the new rule. "They're changing baseball," says one veteran catcher. "It's a terrible rule." As you can see from the results below, players also had strong feelings on several other topics.
Who will win the World Series?
NL starting pitcher: "I think if the season had been a little bit longer last year, the Nationals might have won the World Series. So watch out for them. I think it will be the Nationals against the Cardinals in the National League, with the Cardinals winning in seven games, then winning the World Series too."
If you could have any player in MLB for the next three years, who would it be?
1. Mike Trout, Angels: 45 percent; 2. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: 25 percent; 3. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 9 percent
If Mike Trout were a free agent, what salary would you pay him? What about Miguel Cabrera?
Average answer for Trout: $27.8 million per year
Average answer for Cabrera: $27.3 million per year
NL outfielder on Mike Trout: "What he's doing is sick. I'd pay Trout $1 more than Cabrera, whatever that would be. The numbers Trout has put up the past two years are about as good as you'll ever see, and Cabrera is right there with him."
AL reliever on Miguel Cabrera: "He's transcended the game from a hitting aspect and made a position change two times in the last few years."
Do you agree or disagree with Joe Girardi that MLB is ready for an openly gay player?
NL All-Star: "We come in here and we're all trying to do the same thing. Who cares what a guy does in his own time?"
NL infielder: "Are there people who are going to give a guy a hard time? Yeah, but not too many. There will be a couple of jerks. But the majority of people are going to be like, 'So what?'"
Would you vote to kick A-Rod out of the union?
NL All-Star: "I was very disappointed he was suing the union. It's a union that's helped him make so much money and given every advantage to so many players. It's like a fraternity brother saying he's out of the fraternity and going with another one. He had a choice to make, and he's made it about him, not about us together."
AL outfielder: "With A-Rod's drug involvement history being so expansive, I don't have any tolerance for that. I mean, guys who have played the game clean are getting overshadowed by guys who are still getting away with using drugs."
In your best estimate, what percentage of MLB players are still taking PEDs?
AL All-Star: "It's close to zero. The awareness has gotten better each year. Players realize they're not going to get away with it. The system has worked, and the players who were on the fence aren't doing it."