ESPN’s MLB Rank, 100-1: Baseball’s top players for 2020


Who will be the best players in major league baseball for the 2020 season?

To determine this, ESPN polled 40 MLB writers, analysts, contributors and insiders to determine the top 100 and rank them, voting on 200 players. For a basis of comparison, for each player, we’ve looked at where they ranked in 2019 — if they made the top 100 — as well as some additional info to consider about each going into the season.

Jump to … Top 50 | top 25 | top 10

Reaction: Who is too high, too low? | 2019 top 100

2019 rank: 99

Did you know? Conforto posted career highs across the board on offense, but the most encouraging stat might be his games played, as he topped 150 for the second straight year after coping with injury issues earlier in his career. Conforto’s contact rate also continues to improve and his plate discipline is excellent, lending hope that he’ll keep getting better.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Pham put up his second 20-20 season in the past three years, producing one for the Rays the year after they traded for him, and one for the Cardinals before his 2018 trade. Now that he has been traded to San Diego, can he add a third with the Padres?

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Hiura burst onto the scene after being called up from the minors for good at the end of June, forcing his way into the Brewers’ lineup. From July 1 on, he had 14 home runs, 43 RBIs and eight steals, with an OPS of .976, which ranked third among second basemen. Hiura’s downside was a 30.2% strikeout rate paired with an 8.2% walk rate. Improvement in those areas could move Hiura up these rankings in 2021.

2019 rank: 64

Did you know? After back-to-back solid offensive seasons with an OPS+ over 100, Simmons slipped in 2019 as he was limited to 103 games with a pair of ankle injuries. Even so, his Gold Glove-caliber defense remains: Simmons led AL shortstops in UZR and defensive runs saved. Still, he could use a resurgence at the plate in the final year of his contract.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? In his first year as a starter, Woodruff looked good — 11-3, 3.53 ERA, 5/1 K/BB ratio, .647 OPS allowed — before suffering an oblique injury July 21 that sidelined him for almost two months. He did return for a couple of appearances in September and appears to be all systems go for 2020.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Bichette made a big impact after finally arriving in the Show at the end of July. From the time of his call-up, Bichette was tied for fourth in baseball with 18 doubles, while his 29 extra-base hits were in the top 15 and his slugging percentage (.571) and wRC+ (142) both were in the top 30.

No. 94. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Through mid-August, Ryu was having a season for the ages, with a 1.45 ERA and just 17 walks and 10 home runs allowed in 142⅔ innings. Despite fading, he led baseball with a 2.32 ERA for the season. Additionally, the injury-prone Ryu, who has been on the IL 10 times in the past seven years, missed only 21 days, his fewest since 2013.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Since the start of the 2018 season, Brantley has the best contact rate in baseball at 90.8%, a number that rises to 96.5% on balls in the strike zone. Only 4% of the pitches Brantley has faced over the past two seasons have resulted in a swinging strike.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? DeJong has shown significant home run power, with 30 homers last year after averaging 22 over his first two seasons with somewhat limited playing time. His uppercut swing produces a lot of fly balls — and his average fly ball distance is in the 90th percentile — but his batting average has dropped every year, from .285 his rookie season in 2017 to .241 in 2018 to .233 last year.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? As part of the Twins’ Bomba Squad, Kepler broke out with 36 homers, a .519 slugging percentage and an .855 OPS in his age-26 season. He had big bumps in pull rate (53.4%) and hard-contact rate (42.4%) but not BABIP (.244), indications he might be able to keep that power surge going.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? You might say Meadows was burning at both ends of last season. Through June 1, he was third in baseball in OPS (behind Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich) and second in wRC+ and wOBA (minimum 170 PA). After a summertime cooldown, Meadows was second in baseball in those three categories (behind Alex Bregman) in September.

No. 89. Mitch Garver, C, Minnesota Twins

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? One of the most surprising breakouts of 2019, Garver entered his age-28 season with seven career home runs, then launched 31 in 311 at-bats for the best AB/HR ratio in baseball. Among catchers with at least 350 plate appearances, he was No. 1 in OPS (.995) and isolated power (.357) and second in hard-contact rate (47.4%).

2019 rank: 39

Did you know? After a fantastic 2018 season, Bauer took a significant step back last year. He struggled through 24 starts with Cleveland, in part because of a career-worst 9.4% walk rate, then was dealt to Cincinnati, where things went from mediocre to miserable (2-5, 6.39 ERA, 12 HR allowed in 56⅓ innings). The swing-and-miss stuff is still there, but will the results return?



Jesse Rogers breaks down why the White Sox decided to extend young infielder Yoan Moncada and how he fits in to their future.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Moncada took a big leap in 2019, his age-24 season. His batting average jumped 80 points (.315), his OPS 201 points (.915) and his OPS+ 45 points (141). A .406 BABIP suggests those numbers might be hard to sustain, but Moncada’s youth may suggest there’s still room to grow.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Soler blossomed into a full-fledged “three true outcomes” guy in 2019, leading the American League in home runs (48) and strikeouts (178) to go with 73 walks (tied for 11th). Entering the season, he had hit a homer every 26.4 at-bats in his career; last year, he went deep once every 12.3 at-bats.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? At last year’s All-Star break, Gallo had the fourth-best OPS in baseball (1.060), trailing only Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout. The key was a new patient approach, as Gallo’s OBP (.389) was way up and his swing percentage (38.9%) was way down. Gallo missed most of the second half of 2019 with a broken hamate bone; how he comes back is a huge storyline for the Rangers.

No. 84. Corey Kluber, SP, Texas Rangers

2019 rank: 16

Did you know? It’s all about health with Kluber, who was pretty much otherworldly from 2014 to ’18 (83-45, 2.85 ERA, 1.016 WHIP, 10.1 K/9 IP, 5.51 K/BB). Or is it? Kluber was only so-so toward the end of 2018, got shelled in his one postseason start, then was brutal in seven 2019 starts (5.80 ERA, 1.654 WHIP, 3.8 BB/9 IP) before suffering a broken arm when hit by a line drive. Will he bounce back? The Rangers are betting on it.

2019 rank: 83

Did you know? Wheeler cashed in on his second straight solid (and healthy) season with a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies. While his ERA jumped from 3.31 to 3.96 and his strikeout rate fell slightly (from 24.1% to 23.6%), his walk rate improved from 7.4% to 6.0% and his fastball velocity was better than ever (96.7 mph).

2019 rank: 31

Did you know? Two consecutive healthy, powerful seasons were erased by a lost 2019 for the injury-plagued Stanton, who dealt with biceps and knee issues and had just 59 at-bats. And now he’s dealing with a strained right calf and won’t be ready for the start of the season. In his 10-year career, Stanton has played at least 145 games only four times.

No. 81. Chris Paddack, SP, San Diego Padres

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Paddack was positively tantalizing out of the gate, with a 1.93 ERA, .156 batting average allowed, .257 slugging allowed, 9.8 K/9 IP and a 5-1 K/BB ratio over his first nine career starts. After that, he dipped but still wasn’t bad (4.13 ERA, .229 BAA, .443 SLG, 9.8 K/9 IP, 5/1 SO/BB over 17 starts). Overall, he had a 3.33 ERA and 0.981 WHIP, not too shabby for a 23-year-old rookie.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Through 18 starts last year, Darvish had a 5.01 ERA and an 11.7% walk rate (fourth worst in baseball). But something swung at the All-Star break, as over his last 13 starts, Darvish had a 2.76 ERA and a 2.2% walk rate, best in baseball. In the second half, he issued only seven walks, the same number he had in his March 30 start against Texas.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Blake Treinen‘s demise as A’s closer led to the unexpected rise of Hendricks, whose career numbers entering 2019 were 12-22 with a 4.72 ERA and minus-0.4 WAR over 245 appearances. From June 22, the date of his first save, until the end of the season, he led all relievers with 25 saves, 74 strikeouts, an 18.5 K/BB ratio and 2.6 WAR.

2019 rank: 49

Did you know? Seager didn’t match his pre-Tommy John production and missed time with a hamstring injury, but his strong finish could be a sign of things to come in 2020. Over his last 40 games (from Aug. 11 on), Seager led all shortstops with 40 RBIs and 16 doubles to go with a .920 OPS (fifth among shortstops) and 10 home runs.

No. 77. Whit Merrifield, OF/2B, Kansas City Royals

2019 rank: 75

Did you know? Take a bow if you knew Whit Merrifield led the majors in hits in each of the past two seasons. The last player to do that was Ichiro Suzuki, who was the majors’ top hit man from 2006 through 2010.

No. 76. Jeff McNeil, 3B, New York Mets

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? After hitting .329 in 63 games as a rookie in 2018, McNeil kept his average high but added significantly more power as his hard-hit rate jumped almost 10 percentage points and his OPS reached .916. He also showed great versatility, starting at least 15 games at second base, third base, left field and right field. He’s penciled in to play the hot corner this season.

No. 75. Jose Berrios, SP, Minnesota Twins

2019 rank: 72

Did you know? Berrios has established himself as an old-school top-of-the-rotation starter (or at least what that is in 2020 terms). He’s had 32 starts in back-to-back seasons and pitched into the sixth inning in all but five of them in 2019. Over the past two years, he’s third in the AL in innings pitched, seventh in strikeouts and eighth in ERA.

No. 74. Vlad Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

2019 rank: 68

Did you know? Given the hype and anticipation in advance of his debut, Guerrero’s 2019 season was bound to be a letdown; of 135 hitters who qualified for the batting title, Vladdy ranked 97th in slugging (.433) and 115th in hard-hit rate (34.4%). But the tools and enthusiasm are there, he did show some flashes (an .802 OPS in May — and maybe you saw the Home Run Derby), and he’ll barely be 21 on Opening Day.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Bell got off to an absolutely torrid start — his 57 extra-base hits through July 1 were the most through his team’s first 83 games since Hank Aaron in 1959. As one would expect, Bell eventually cooled off but still finished 16th in MLB with an OPS of .936, which was 136 points better than his previous career high.

2019 rank: 55

Did you know? Whether it’s the Coors Field effect or Blackmon’s metronomic consistency, it seems we’re taking the Rockies outfielder for granted. Over the past four seasons, he is third in baseball in batting average (.315), sixth in slugging (.558), 10th in home runs (127) and second in runs scored (429). And in 2019, his strikeout rate was its lowest and his average exit velocity its highest over that span.

No. 71. Lucas Giolito, SP, Chicago White Sox

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? With a new approach, Giolito, a first-round draft pick in 2012, finally reached his promise — in a big way — in 2019. He lowered his ERA by nearly three runs — from 6.13 to 3.41 — and improved his strikeout/walk ratio from 1.39 to 4.0. The biggest change for Giolito was essentially abandoning his sinker/curve in favor of a quicker four-seam fastball and changeup.

2019 rank: 92

Did you know? Contreras bounced back from a subpar 2018 campaign with career highs in home runs (24), slugging (.533) and OPS (.888) despite two trips to the IL (foot, hamstring). That earned him a winter of hearing his name in trade rumors, but the Cubs didn’t pull the trigger on any significant deals.

No. 69. Max Muncy, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Muncy proved his 2018 breakthrough with the Dodgers was no fluke, delivering 35 HRs in both years and becoming L.A.’s semi-regular second baseman. Like finding Justin Turner on the discard heap before 2014, Muncy shows that L.A. has a knack for discovering journeymen ready to rake.

No. 68. Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers

2019 rank: 53

Did you know? In his six seasons with the Dodgers, Turner has an OPS+ of 139, five points better than that of new teammate Mookie Betts over the same span. Other third basemen by OPS+ since 2014: Josh Donaldson 139, Kris Bryant 136, Anthony Rendon 128, Nolan Arenado 127.

No. 67. Nelson Cruz, DH, Minnesota Twins

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Since 2014, Cruz has 244 home runs, the most in the majors and 21 more than runner-up Mike Trout. And 2019 may have been his best year yet, as he had a career-best 1.031 OPS while batting .311 (his best mark since 2010) and leading baseball in fly ball exit velocity (99.9 mph) — all while turning 39 last July.

No. 66. Tyler Glasnow, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Another of last year’s stunning breakthroughs, Glasnow was perhaps baseball’s best pitcher over his first eight starts, posting a 1.86 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, with 55 strikeouts and nine walks over 48⅓ innings. That all came to a screeching halt with a forearm strain, and while Glasnow came back with four solid, yet abbreviated, September starts, health has to be a concern.

No. 65. Kirby Yates, RP, San Diego Padres

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Yates had one of those video-game type seasons as the Padres closer with 41 saves, a 1.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and a 15 K/9 IP. For the year, he issued just 13 walks and allowed just two home runs in 60⅔ innings.

No. 64. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

2019 rank: 13

Did you know? In his first year with the Cardinals, Goldschmidt had a career low OPS+ (113) and a slash line of .260/.346/.476, all full-season lows for his career. Was Goldy pressing with his new team? His swing rate of 46.4% was four points higher than his previous career high, set in 2018, and his chase rate also was a career high.

No. 63. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees

2019 rank: 67

Did you know? Just five regular catchers in MLB history have had 40-homer seasons: Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Roy Campanella, Javy Lopez and Todd Hundley. Heading into his age-27 season, Sanchez has 33 and 34 HRs in two of his past three campaigns. Is this the year he reaches 40?

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Alvarez had one of the most dynamic debut seasons ever, with his 1.067 OPS a record for rookies with at least 250 plate appearances. He also ranked in the top 15 in MLB in average exit velocity (92.2 mph) and barrel rate (10.3%), all at the tender age of 22. It will be interesting to see if pitchers are able to find any holes in his swing the second time around.

No. 61. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

2019 rank: 77

Did you know? Over the past two seasons, only Mike Trout has more home runs than Eugenio Suarez, who ripped 49 in 2019 and ranked fifth in HR/fly ball ratio (29.5%). Suarez has been consistent and durable, ranking eighth in baseball in homers and games played over the past four years, but he’s dealing with a shoulder issue and could miss the start of the season.

2019 rank: 54

Did you know? Yes, there are still a few base stealers out there, and Turner is chief among them — the only player with 30-plus swipes in each of the past four years. Turner also had an .850 OPS, his best since his abbreviated rookie season in 2016, and closed strong with an .898 OPS after July 23.

No. 59. Zack Greinke, SP, Houston Astros

2019 rank: 65

Did you know? Getting dealt to the Astros helped push Greinke past 200 wins for his career, and since he is under contract for two more seasons, that time in Houston could help him become just the 11th pitcher in MLB history to get 100 wins in both the American and National League. He’s earned 131 victories in the NL and is at 74 and counting in the AL.

2019 rank: 47

Did you know? With his fastball velocity down to the lowest average speed since 2013 last season, Chapman used his slider more than ever, 31.1% of the time. Changing up his mix helped him record the most saves he’s had in a year since that same ’13 season with Cincinnati, when he had 38 — still his career high.

No. 57. DJ LeMahieu, UT, New York Yankees

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? In reaching a single-season career high, LeMahieu hit as many home runs last year (26) as he had in his next two highest season totals combined. That wasn’t all just “year of the home run”-related, as Baseball Savant metrics show he produced career bests in his average exit velocity and launch angle to help generate his career year for power production.

2019 rank: 38

Did you know? Rizzo set career highs in batting average (.293) and OBP (.403) in 2019, but another key component in how he gets on base so often is his readiness to take one for the team, leading the majors for a third time in times being hit by a pitch last season. Having been pelted by a pitch 145 times already, he’s likely to move into the top 20 all time at some point this summer.

No. 55. Luis Castillo, SP, Cincinnati Reds

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Castillo is one of the hardest-throwing starting pitchers in baseball, as his 96.5 mph average fastball velocity ranked sixth overall in the majors. But perhaps what makes him especially devastating is how he mixes in his elite changeup, which he throws almost a third of the time and which was good for an MLB-best 29.4 runs above average, according to FanGraphs.

No. 54. Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics

2019 rank: 87

Did you know? Despite missing more than a month last season, Olson managed to hit a career-best 36 home runs while also winning the Gold Glove at first base a second straight year. He’s averaging 5.4 WAR per 162 games; to put that in perspective, Pete Alonso produced 5.8 in 161 as a rookie.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Entering 2017 (his age-33 season), Charlie Morton’s career record was 46-71 with a 4.54 ERA, an ERA+ of 84, a 1.441 WHIP and 6.3 K/9 IP. From 2017 to ’19, his record is 45-16 with a 3.24 ERA, a 131 ERA+, a 1.141 WHIP and 10.7 K/9.

No. 52. Aaron Nola, SP, Philadelphia Phillies

2019 rank: 24

Did you know? Not every pitcher can see his ERA go up by a run and a half in a year and still call it a successful season, but Nola’s follow-up to his 2018 breakthrough was still strong, as he established a career high in strikeout rate (10.2 K/9). Unfortunately, he also saw his fastball get hit hard in the Year of the Home Run, as he saw his slugging allowed on his four-seamer climb from .336 to .509. If the live ball is a thing of the past, he could climb back up these rankings.

2019 rank: 25

Did you know? You probably know or could guess that Thor led all major league starters in average fastball velocity last season, throwing his heat at an average of 97.7 mph. And although that wasn’t even his highest career single-season average, he also threw his fastball more often — 59.2% of the time — than in any year since his debut campaign in 2015.

No. 50. Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres

2019 rank: 19

Did you know? Machado had a dreadful end to his first season in San Diego (.209/.305/.348 with six HRs in 187 AB after Aug. 1) and tied for the major league lead by grounding into 24 double plays. The Padres obviously need better from their $300 million man.

No. 49. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

2019 rank: 27

Did you know? Correa’s hard-hit rate (44.9%) was the best in baseball last year among shortstops with at least 300 plate appearances. The catch? Correa played in just 75 games and has surpassed 110 games in just one of his five big league seasons.

No. 48. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

2019 rank: 41

Did you know? Heading into his age-32 season, Kershaw is already moving up all sorts of career leaderboards. He’s already the franchise career leader in WAR (65.4) and third in strikeouts with 2,464 (and sure to pass Don Drysdale this season). And having already eclipsed Sandy Koufax in wins (169) and with two years left on his contract, it’s conceivable he could become just the third pitcher to earn 200 wins for the Dodgers, joining Drysdale (209) and Don Sutton (233).

2019 rank: 14

Did you know? What to make of Jose Ramirez? After an MVP-caliber season in 2017, he was even better in 2018 — until mid-August, when he fell into a dreadful slump (.165/.304/.273 over his last 38 games). He wasn’t much better through July last season (.214/.309/.325), then snapped out of it big time over the rest of 2019 (.321/.356/.722 with 18 homers and 53 RBIs in 202 PA). Whether the great Ramirez or the horrible Ramirez emerges could tell the tale of the 2020 Indians.

2019 rank: 58

Did you know? Albies, who turned 23 in January, is the real deal. He improved on his 2018 All-Star season, leading the NL in hits (189) and scoring more than 100 runs for the second straight year. Add 43 doubles, 8 triples and 24 home runs for an .852 OPS, and you’ve got the best full-time second baseman this side of Jose Altuve.

2019 rank: 80

Did you know? Grandal is just the third switch-hitting catcher to string together at least four straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, joining newly elected Hall of Famer Ted Simmons and Jorge Posada. If he adds a fifth in 2020, he’ll tie Posada (2000-2004) for the record.

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Few, if anyone, matched the jump made by Marte in 2019. He entered the season with 22 home runs over the first four years of his career, and in 2018 he had career highs with a .768 OPS, 102 OPS+ and 3.3 WAR. In 2019, he mashed 32 home runs, had a .981 OPS, 149 OPS+ and 6.9 WAR. Plus, he started 89 games in center field, adding versatility to his burgeoning value.

2019 rank: 9

Did you know? It’s no wonder Sale dropped 34 spots in the rankings, as he’s coming off his worst season since he became a full-time starter in 2012 (six wins, 4.40 ERA, 109 ERA+ and 1.5 HR/9 IP, all career lows). Sale was shut down with elbow issues in mid-August, and while he avoided surgery, he has experienced elbow discomfort this spring after already being behind schedule because of pneumonia. Not the sort of spring Red Sox fans had hoped for.

No. 42. Mike Soroka, SP, Atlanta Braves

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Soroka’s rookie season was tremendous, as his total of 5.7 WAR was the highest from any rookie pitcher in 2019 and the best single-season mark from a first-year hurler since Jose Fernandez in 2013. His 169 ERA+ ranked second among all rookies to qualify for the ERA title since 1947, again trailing just Fernandez (176).

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? With his 152 OPS+, Tatis set the MLB record for a rookie shortstop (minimum 300 plate appearances). If not for the back injury that shut him down for the season, Tatis would have also had a clean shot at breaking Nomar Garciaparra’s MLB record for home runs from a rookie shortstop (30) or Trevor Story‘s NL rookie record (27), but he had to settle for 22. Having demonstrated that much value in his injury-shortened first season, it’s easy to anticipate he’ll rocket up these rankings if he gets a handle on his throwing miscues at short.

No. 40. Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland Indians

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Some projection systems bet high on Bieber (looking at you, ZiPS) and were right to anticipate a big sophomore season from the right-hander. Using FanGraphs’ pitch value metrics, the only other pitchers besides Bieber whose four-seam fastball and their slider were 12 runs or more above average were guys named Verlander, Scherzer, deGrom, Flaherty and Cole. If he doubles down on that, he’ll go higher still in his third season.

No. 39. Mike Clevinger, SP, Cleveland Indians

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Since 2017, when Clevinger made it to the big leagues for good, the Indians righty has been one of the AL’s best pitchers, ranking fourth in ERA (2.96), eighth in wins (38), seventh in WHIP (1.15) and fifth in BA allowed (.215). And he’s still getting better — his velocity, strikeout rate, walk rate and HR/9 IP all were career bests in 2019. Clevinger may miss the start of the regular season after having knee surgery in mid-February.

No. 38. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Minnesota Twins

2019 rank: 90

Did you know? After playing just 52 games in 2018 (and nearly falling out of MLB Rank), a healthy Donaldson bounced back in a big way, approaching his MVP-level form of 2013-16. From June 1 on, he had 30 home runs (second among third basemen), 139 wRC+ (third among 3B), a .388 wOBA (third) and a .934 OPS (fourth).

2019 rank: 37

Did you know? If not for a hamstring injury that cost him five weeks, Springer could have had a monster season in 2019. His production over 162 games would have translated to 51 home runs, 127 RBIs and 376 total bases, with a .974 OPS. Another season like that — but injury-free — in his walk year would mean huge bucks for Springer next winter.

No. 36. Josh Hader, RP, Milwaukee Brewers

2019 rank: 33

Did you know? Having demonstrated his 2018 season was no fluke, Hader has led the majors with an eye-popping 47% strikeout rate over the past two seasons, and among all pitchers used only in relief has put up years that rate eighth and 11th all time in total strikeouts in a season among relievers, that despite never having pitched as many as 82 innings in a season.

No. 35. Marcus Semien, SS, Oakland Athletics

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? With career highs in hits, walks, extra-base hits, doubles, homers, runs, RBIs, average, OBP and slugging, Semien’s mind-boggling breakout season wasn’t just unexpected: By adding up to an 8.1 WAR season, his 2019 now ranks as the single greatest season by any shortstop in A’s history, no mean feat when we’re talking about one of the original eight clubs of the AL.

No. 34. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Los Angeles Angels

2019 rank: 74

Did you know? You already know there’s almost nothing Ohtani can’t do, especially with the anticipation of his return to the mound in May building. But with his ability to hit and hit for power, he could take another big step forward if last year’s improvements against big league breaking stuff are any indication. As a rookie in 2018 he produced a .304 wOBA against breaking pitches, but he boosted that to .351 in his second stateside season.

No. 33. Patrick Corbin, SP, Washington Nationals

2019 rank: 52

Did you know? Only one major league lefty starter threw his slider more often than Corbin, who used the pitch 37% of the time, and finishing second to Clayton Kershaw at something done on the mound isn’t something to be ashamed of. But the Nats southpaw topped all big league lefties in value generated with his slider, with FanGraphs assessing the pitch at plus-21.8 runs.



Gleyber Torres is an emerging star for the Yankees and gets his motivation from what remains back in his home country of Venezuela.

No. 32. Gleyber Torres, SS, New York Yankees

2019 rank: 78

Did you know? Torres made a big move toward the top, but middle infielders who can hit 38 home runs in a season are rare birds. The only regular shortstop or second baseman in Yankees franchise history to hit more than that? Just Alfonso Soriano with his 39 in 2002 and 38 more in 2003 — enough to make him a worthwhile bargaining chip to get Alex Rodriguez from the Rangers. But now that Torres should settle in as the everyday shortstop, there’s little danger of his getting traded.

No. 31. J.D. Martinez, OF, Boston Red Sox

2019 rank: 17

Did you know? We’ll let the numbers do the talking for Martinez. His ranks in baseball over the past three years: first in home runs (124); second in OPS (1.001), slugging (.615), RBIs (339) and wOBA (.411); third in wRC+ (156); and fourth in batting average (.312). He’s one of the best hitters in the game.

No. 30. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

2019 rank: 48

Did you know? Over the past four seasons, Story is the leading shortstop in wOBA (.367) and leading the position in home runs with 122. (Only a certain shortstop from the Indians has more than 100 as well, but more on him later.) But Story has top-tier value on defense as well — Sports Info Solutions reports he just put up his second season worth 14 defensive runs saved.

No. 29. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

2019 rank: 10

Did you know? Altuve may have tumbled from the top 10, but to put his career 126 OPS+ in perspective: Since Jackie Robinson’s debut, just three Hall of Fame second basemen have a higher mark — the immortal Jackie, Rod Carew (who spent half his career at first base) and Joe Morgan. If Altuve’s career bests in home runs and slugging last season are any indication, he’ll belong in any future conversations about Cooperstown.

2019 rank: 57

Did you know? Bogaerts, who established career highs in doubles, homers, RBIs and total bases, led all shortstops in 2019 with a .939 OPS, .555 slugging percentage and .390 WOBA.

No. 27. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? Devers led baseball with 359 total bases in 2019, having one of the best age-22 seasons of the 2000s. His total-base mark was better than the age-22 seasons of Mike Trout in 2014 and Bryce Harper‘s MVP season in 2015.

No. 26. Blake Snell, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

2019 rank: 12

Did you know? Despite an injury-shortened campaign that didn’t live up to his Cy Young season in 2018, Snell improved his strikeout rate from 31.6% to 33.3%. Lefty starters with reliable mid-90s velocity are rare enough, and that was key to Snell’s success in both of the past two seasons; his ability to move back up the rankings will depend on his getting equally big results from his off-speed stuff.

No. 25. Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

2019 rank: 15

Did you know? Harper’s first year in Philadelphia yielded his most home runs since his MVP campaign back in 2015, but some bad luck on balls in play despite career bests in barreling pitches and exit velocity contributed to the perception that it was a disappointing introduction to Phillies fans. If he keeps hammering what he’s given, expect even better results.

No. 24. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

2019 rank: 21

Did you know? Bryant has averaged 5.0 WAR and 31 home runs per year over his first five seasons with the Cubs. In fact, his career total of 25.1 WAR in those five years is a franchise best for the Cubs, bettering even Hall of Famers Ernie Banks (22.8) and Ryne Sandberg (21.2).

No. 23. J.T. Realmuto, C, Philadelphia Phillies

2019 rank: 28

Did you know? No other player stands head and shoulders atop his position the way Realmuto does among catchers — over the past three years his WAR is 12.6, with Gary Sanchez a distant second at 8.4. In that span, Realmuto is No. 1 among catchers in plate appearances, runs (40 more than runner-up Yasmani Grandal), RBIs, doubles, triples and stolen bases, and is third in home runs, batting average and slugging.

No. 22. Jack Flaherty, SP, St. Louis Cardinals

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? In his age-23 season, Flaherty had a 4.64 ERA at the All-Star break, then broke out with an absurd second half in which he led baseball in ERA (0.91, third best in MLB history), WHIP (0.71), batting average allowed (.142) and HR/9 IP (0.45). For the season, he was the best in baseball at inducing soft contact (23.6%).

No. 21. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

2019 rank: 29

Did you know? Baez had the best OPS in the National League against curveballs, hammering benders at a 1.132 clip. And he was also among the best cleanup hitters in the league, with his .570 slugging percentage while batting fourth rating as the third-best power production in the NL.



Pete Alonso drives to the ballpark with Tim Kurkjian and discusses how his life changed over the previous year as he’s become more well known.

No. 20. Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets

2019 rank: not ranked

Did you know? You probably already know that his 53 home runs set a major league record for rookies, but Alonso also hit almost as many home runs as a Met as he did in his entire minor league career (59) across three seasons. The Mets chose to play him from the start of the season instead of manipulating his service time, and they were amply rewarded.

No. 19. Walker Buehler, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers

2019 rank: 42

Did you know? With an average fastball of 96.5 mph and the ability to mix in high-quality sliders, cutters and curves, Buehler was top 10 in baseball with a 1.04 WHIP and 5.81 K/BB ratio. He showed his tremendous upside with two games of at least 15 strikeouts and no walks last season; the rest of the league had four such games.

No. 18. Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics

2019 rank: 34

Did you know? Over his first three seasons in the major leagues, Chapman has 79 defensive runs saved, almost twice as many as any other third baseman, with Nolan Arenado’s 40 ranking second. If you prefer Statcast’s outs above average, he’s neck-and-neck with Arenado, 28-27. Suffice to say they’re MLB’s two premium defenders at the position.

2019 rank: 18

Did you know? One of the steadiest players in the game, Freeman has averaged 31 home runs, 98 runs, 95 RBIs and a .944 OPS since 2016, and his 21.4 WAR in that span is best among first basemen (Paul Goldschmidt is second at 18.9).

2019 rank: 46

Did you know? With his career-best 18 victories last season, Strasburg became the first 100-game winner on the Washington side of franchise history, while his 251 strikeouts put him ahead of Steve Rogers for the highest total for the Nationals and Expos.



Stephen A. Smith is concerned about Aaron Judge’s broken rib, but is confident that the Yankees will be able to overcome injuries like they have in years past.

No. 15. Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees

2019 rank: 11

Did you know? When healthy, Judge hasn’t just shown that his 2017 season was no fluke, he has also flashed Gold Glove-caliber defense, generating an MLB-best 37 defensive runs saved over the past two seasons in right field despite playing just 182 games there.

2019 rank: 22

Did you know? Verlander didn’t just lead the majors in wins, he got there by throwing the most strikes (2,361) while allowing the lowest batting average on balls in play (.218). That combination might be tough to repeat going into his age-37 season, but at 225 wins and counting, Verlander has more than a trip to Cooperstown in his future: Sports Info Solutions estimates he has a 54% shot at reaching 300.

No. 13. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Los Angeles Angels

2019 rank: 32

Did you know? Rendon has averaged 146 games per season over the past four years with a 134 OPS+ over that time — not to mention a .425 wOBA in high-leverage situations. It’s a developed record for durability that the Angels are banking on after signing him to a seven-year, $245 million deal.

No. 12. Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros

2019 rank: 6

Did you know? With improvements upon his main counting stats and rates in each of the past four seasons, Bregman looks like he has become the signature star in the Astros’ constellation. He already has 99 career home runs, but just 44 of them have been hit in Houston.

No. 11. Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals

2019 rank: 35

Did you know? Seeing Soto rise this high this fast might shock some, but he’s a hitter good for 34 home runs and an OBP north of .400 (thanks in part to more than 100 walks) before his 21st birthday. He showed marked improvements in some areas of his game, slugging .584 against off-speed stuff as a sophomore after managing a mark of just .306 as a rookie; more of that kind of growth won’t just keep him here, it would take him even higher.

2019 rank: 8

Did you know? While notching his third straight season with more than 30 home runs, the Indians phenom ended his five-year introduction to the major leagues with 28.6 WAR, edging Cal Ripken Jr. (28.4) for the most from an MLB shortstop in his first five seasons.

No. 9. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

2019 rank: 5

Did you know? Arenado’s past five seasons have been nothing short of epic, as he’s averaged .300/.362/.575 and 40 home runs while producing an average of 6.2 WAR per season. His 30.9 WAR over those years is third in the majors behind two guys named Trout and Betts. And to be clear, that value comes on both sides of the ball — he’s averaging 15 defensive runs saved per season over that same stretch.

2019 rank: 20

Did you know? In 2019, Acuna was three stolen bases shy of joining the exclusive 40 homers/40 steals club. The only players with 40 homers and 35 steals in a season are Acuna, Alfonso Soriano (2006), Alex Rodriguez (1998), Barry Bonds (1996-97) and Jose Canseco (1988).

No. 7. Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals

2019 rank: 3

Did you know? Scherzer led the NL in strikeout rate with 12.7 K/9 (second only to Gerrit Cole‘s 13.8 in the majors), and he did it in part by posting his highest average fastball velocity of his career (94.9 mph) in his age-34 season.

No. 6. Cody Bellinger, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

2019 rank: 61

Did you know? Bellinger’s MVP season was the product of just the fourth season worth 9.0 WAR or more in Dodgers franchise history, ranking fourth overall behind L.A.’s Adrian Beltre (9.6 in 2004) and Brooklyn’s Jackie Robinson (9.7 in 1951) and Duke Snider (9.3 in 1953).

No. 5. Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

2019 rank: 2

Did you know? Betts is one of three players to finish in the top 10 in MVP voting in each of the past four years (along with Mike Trout and Nolan Arenado) and joins Trout as the only players with a top-15 WAR in each of those seasons. His average WAR of 8.45 trails only Trout’s 8.95 over that span.

No. 4. Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

2019 rank: 7

Did you know? Yelich built on his MVP season in 2018 by posting a higher average, OBP and slugging percentage, hitting more home runs and stealing more bases — all that despite missing the last month of the season after fouling a ball off his knee. This kind of mid-career growth earned him a nine-year, $215 million contract extension to stay in Milwaukee.

No. 3. Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets

2019 rank: 4

Did you know? With a huge second half, finishing second in MLB in both ERA and FIP after the All-Star break, deGrom earned a second Cy Young award, becoming the first Met to win the award in back-to-back seasons.

No. 2. Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees

2019 rank: 30

Did you know? Cole won two-thirds of the AL pitching triple crown, leading the league in strikeouts and ERA. In the past nine seasons, just two other pitchers have gotten as high as No. 2 in our rankings — Clayton Kershaw and Cole’s former teammate, Justin Verlander.

No. 1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

2019 rank: 1

Did you know? Our No. 1 player for seven straight years despite missing time in each of the past three, Trout nevertheless set a career high in home runs (45). You can’t go any higher than this, but if Trout puts together a full season while helping power the Angels back into contention, you could ask yourself if he’ll be here for another seven.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

July recruiting tracker: No. 4 Koa Peat has a new suitor
Padres welcome back Bogaerts for Braves opener
Bradley ‘surprised’ by call to captain Ryder team
Sources: Utd see £50m Branthwaite bid rejected
Southgate believes in England’s Euro final ‘dream’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *