For those who don’t know him, Yuli Gurriel is a 32-year-old Cuban infielder who plays first base for the Astros. Houston signed him last season to a five-year, $47.5 million deal, and although he struggled in his first taste of American baseball, hitting just .262/.292/.385 in 137 MLB plate appearances, he’s been a more productive presence at first for the Astros in 2017, upping his slash line to .274/.311/.389 with a pair of homers.
We’re not here, though, to talk about Gurriel’s stats, season or approach at the plate (which, based on his 16/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio, is set at “attack-dog aggressive”). No, we’re here to discuss what sets him apart from the rest of the sport by miles and miles: his hair.
There are many ways to describe what Gurriel has done to his head, but all of them fall short of capturing it accurately. He’s like a cockatiel gone rogue, a mutated carrot or pineapple, a rabbit’s tail being electrocuted. He’s a feather duster being pulled toward the heavens, a bird’s nest thrown into an airplane engine, a bag of grass clippings dipped in mustard and powdered sugar, one of the dudes from Kid ‘n Play having just woken up. Gurriel’s hair is a towering nonsense of angles and points, a stained glass window that exploded. His hair is Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2” descending a staircase end over end as the staircase itself collapses into rubble. His hair is a slow-motion photo of an explosion freeze-framed just as the bomb goes off.
There is no reason for hair to be this way, other than the kind of boredom that comes from being a major league player and having little to do in those moments between at-bats and games. What’s funny is that Gurriel came to spring training looking positively normal, even fashionable, with shorter hair neatly slicked to the side.
Then at some point before the season, Gurriel decided that he wanted his hairstyle to look like a child’s drawing of a forest, and we’ve been blessed with it ever since.
Imagine the product needed to keep something like this aloft—the gel or spray required to manipulate hair into the shape of a star exploding. There are secrets within Gurriel’s hair that we will never know, buried on his scalp. Amid the hard lines and tufts, there’s an air of mystery that can’t be breached. There is just the hair.
There are many other players with good hairstyles in baseball: Bryce Harper, Taylor Motter, Andrew Benintendi. But there is no one else who has dared scale the Cubist heights of follicular fashion like Gurriel has. For that, he should be applauded—and perhaps even feared.