SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- When Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez was a kid, Derek Jeter was one of his favorite players. Now Baez has become a fan favorite himself -- especially among kids playing at the Little League World Series. And not just kids from the U.S. "El Mago" has a worldwide following.
"Like his nickname says, he's a magician on the field," said Lachlan Vella, one of four players on the LLWS team from Australia to name Baez as No. 1. "Even though he's small, he can get big with his swing."
Baez was voted by players at the LLWS as their favorite MLB star for the second year in a row, topping Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Jeter, who is now retired, for the honor. Twenty-nine players overall chose Baez as their favorite.
"He's the most fun to watch," Jaxon Knutson, a shortstop for Minnesota, said of Baez. "He knows how to make awesome plays and he's really energetic."
At Sunday's Little League Classic against the Pittsburgh Pirates, where Baez flashed some of his signature fancy glove work, it was obvious what the Little Leaguers see in him. And Baez, who spent part of Sunday afternoon taking selfies and watching some LLWS action with the players, said it was an honor to be named their favorite.
"Great to know that little kids follow me and they want to do the things I do and have fun out there," Baez said. "My advice for every kid out there: to practice and to have fun out there."
Every year, the LLWS players fill out questionnaires that ask them their favorite things in different categories -- everything from baseball team to TV show to food. With help from the ESPN Stats & Information group, we went through every questionnaire -- more than 200 overall -- for all 16 teams. Among the other favorites: "Stranger Things," "The Sandlot" and ... AC/DC? We asked the players to explain their choices.
FAVORITE BASEBALL PLAYER
1. Javier Baez, Cubs
Curacao's Jurdrick Profar was the only player to choose Oakland A's second baseman Jurickson Profar as his favorite MLB player -- and he has a good reason: Jurickson is his big brother. The eldest Profar (middle brother Juremi also played in Williamsport in 2007 and 2008) helped Curacao win the 2004 LLWS title. Asked if he had received any advice from his favorite player, Jurdrick said Jurickson simply told him: "Keep your eye on the ball, never take your eye off it, and just have fun."
FAVORITE BASEBALL TEAM
The LLWS team from New Jersey is almost evenly split between Yankees and Mets fans, which led to some "serious trash talking" this season, said pitcher Jayden Capindica. He and teammate Derek Escobar are best friends and die-hard Bronx Bombers fans, although they enjoyed getting a shoutout from Mets third baseman (and former LLWS hero) Todd Frazier. "Our dream is to play for the Yankees together when we grow up," Capindica said. Maybe it's destiny? After all, "I was named after Derek Jeter," Escobar said. "He was my mom's favorite player."
Runner-up: "The Avengers"
"The Sandlot" (22 votes) edged out "The Avengers" (21) for favorite flick. Like many Little Leaguers, Louisiana third baseman Will Andrade can quote all the lines from the 1993 coming-of-age baseball comedy. "Any time I do something that bugs my dad, he says 'You're killin' me, Smalls!'" Andrade said.
Runner-up: Adam Sandler
Harrison Ford is an outfielder for the LLWS team from Australia. Was he named after the famous guy? "Nope," Ford said. "My mom didn't name me after him, they just liked the name. But Harrison Ford is my favorite actor. He would be even if I didn't have the same name." Why? "Because Indiana Jones is awesome, mate."
It's no surprise that Gen Z'ers chose the chart-topping, jock-jam-producing rockers at No. 1. But AC/DC? "My dad got me into them," said Rhode Island outfielder Matt Fede, one of 10 Little Leaguers to choose the '70s and '80s hard-rock Hall of Famers as his favorite. "I like the guitar and the drums. If I were a major league player, 'Thunderstruck' would be my walk-up song."
FAVORITE TV SHOW
Runner-up: "The Simpsons" and "Impractical Jokers"
The science fiction series set way back in the '80s intrigues these 12-year-olds. "I like 'Stranger Things' because even though it's a horror show, it can still be funny," said Wyatt Myers, a catcher for Minnesota. "Once you start watching, you can't stop." Which character would be the best baseball player? "Steve Harrington, because in Season 2 he used the bat with nails in it to beat up the Demogorgon. He knows how to hit."
Louisiana second baseman Derek DeLatte is a foodie. He first tried sushi was he was 4. Now it's the 12-year-old's go-to meal. "I usually get a crunchy roll with seaweed, avocado and crab meat," he said. Yuto Inaba, a left fielder for Japan, favors pizza. "Sushi is OK," Inaba said with a smile. "But pizza is yummy!"
FAVORITE VIDEO GAME
MLB The Show
Kentucky's Chaze Huff said that playing Fortnite "teaches you teamwork and how to communicate with your teammates and friends. It also helps me learn to keep my emotions cool when I lose." But his dad, Randy, said Chaze has to earn his playing time. "He gets one of hour of electronics for every hour of exercise," Randy said.
The father of Canada's Matt Shanley told @SebiSalazarFUT why his son's nickname is Beef Dip.— ESPN (@espn) August 18, 2019
"One day, I think he looked at himself in the mirror without a shirt on and said, 'I'm Beef Dip now.'" #LLWS pic.twitter.com/QWioONH4mV