Updating the Top 100 MLB Players at the Halfway Mark of the 2013 Season

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2013

Updating the Top 100 MLB Players at the Halfway Mark of the 2013 Season

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    The midway point of the 2013 MLB season is here, and while there is still a ton of baseball to be played this year, it has already been a memorable season.

    As with every season, a handful of unexpected breakout stars have emerged, while a number of players expected to carry their teams have battled injuries and poor play.

    That said, this is as good a time as any to take a look at the MLB landscape as a whole and name the top 100 players in MLB right now.

    Previous performance and reputation were not taken into account—only what the player has accomplished here in 2013 counts. So let's take a look at who cracks the top 100 midway through the 2013 season.

No. 100-96

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    100. RF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

    It's hard to justify putting Puig any higher on this list seeing as he's only played in 23 games, but he has to at least be mentioned. He's taken the league by storm, going 37-for-85 with seven home runs and flashing the full tool box.

     

    99. RP Jesse Crain, Chicago White Sox

    With nine big league seasons and 494 appearances under his belt, Crain entered the season as a useful setup arm, but it's safe to call his performance to this point something of a surprise. In 36 appearances, he's posted a 0.52 ERA and 11.9 K/9 while recording 18 holds.

     

    98. LF Daniel Nava, Boston Red Sox

    After hitting .243 with a .742 OPS as a reserve outfielder last season, Nava has played his way into everyday at-bats with a hot start this season. The 30-year-old has been a nice story as a late bloomer, as he has 10 home runs and 48 RBI in the first half of what will be his first season seeing everyday playing time.

     

    97. SP Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh Pirates

    After an up-and-down seaosn in 2012, and what has really been an up-and-down career, Liriano signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Pirates. A fractured non-throwing arm sidelined him to start the season, but he's gone 6-3 with a 2.30 ERA in nine starts since making his season debut, helping shore up the Pirates staff.

     

    96. RP Brett Cecil, Toronto Blue Jays

    Out of options and on the bubble to make the roster this spring, Cecil earned a spot in the Blue Jays bullpen after serving as a starter to that point. In 34 appearances, he's 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA, and he retired 38 straight batters without allowing a hit at one point this season.

No. 95-91

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    95. RP Tanner Scheppers, Texas Rangers

    A first-round pick in 2009, Scheppers made an uninspiring debut last season, with a 4.45 ERA in 39 appearances. He's been an absolute stud this year, though, going 5-1 with a 1.11 ERA and 16 holds as the key setup man for closer Joe Nathan.

     

    94. SP Chris Tillman, Baltimore Orioles

    After an subpar start to the 2012 season, Tillman stepped up big for the Orioles down the stretch, winning each of his last five starts and posting a 2.61 ERA over that span. The 25-year-old has pitched well again this season, going 9-2 with a 3.72 ERA through his first 16 starts.

     

    93. RP Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants

    Romo took the ninth-inning reigns last season when Brian Wilson was lost for the season, and he quickly proved more than capable of handling the pressure, closing out the season by saving three of the Giants' four wins in the World Series. He's 18-of-21 on saves so far this season, with a 2.40 ERA and 10.2 K/9.

     

    92. C Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves

    One of the better stories of the first half, Gattis has made the most of his first taste of big league action, and he currently leads all rookies with 14 home runs and 37 RBI. "El Oso Blanco" has moved to a super utility role now that Brian McCann is healthy, but he remains a force at the plate.

     

    91. SP Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Signed to a six-year, $36 million deal out of Korea, Ryu has been the No. 2 starter the team hoped they were getting when they gave Zack Greinke over four times as much money. The 26-year-old is currently 6-3 with a 2.85 ERA through 15 starts.

No. 90-86

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    90. 2B Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants

    More than a few experts questioned the Giants giving Scutaro a three-year, $20 million deal this offseason, as the .362 average he put up in 61 games with the team last year was by no means sustainable. However, he's managed to justify the deal with a .323/.378/.424 line so far. 

     

    89. SP Travis Wood, Chicago Cubs

    The Cubs acquired Wood from the Reds for reliever Sean Marshall prior to the 2012 season, and he went an unspectacular 6-13 with a 4.27 ERA. He's been a different pitcher this season, though, recording a quality start in 13 of his 15 outings and posting a 2.85 ERA on the season, though that's resulted in just a 5-6 record.

     

    88. RP Mark Melancon, Pittsburgh Pirates

    Who would have thought when the Pirates traded All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan to the Red Sox for a package of players including Melancon, they'd be getting the better pitcher? The former Astros closer has been masterful setting up Jason Grilli this year, with a 0.94 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and an MLB-high 22 holds.

     

    87. 2B Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians

    With 11 home runs and 20 steals at the All-Star break last season, Kipnis looked to be on his way to stardom before slumping in the second half to finish with just 14 home runs and 31 steals. He's been a first-half stud once again this year, with 11 home runs, 17 steals and an .882 OPS thus far.

     

    86. RP Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals

    The flame-throwing Rosenthal made 19 appearances out of the St. Louis bullpen last season, and he quickly assumed the role of primary setup man following the 'pen's early struggles. He looks the part of a future closer, as he has a 1.89 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 38 innings bridging the gap to Edward Mujica.

No. 85-81

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    85. RP Glen Perkins, Minnesota Twins

    A closer for the first time in the second half last season, Perkins went 16-of-20 on save chances, with a 10.0 K/9 mark in 70 appearances. He's been even better this year, converting 19-of-21 chances with a 0.80 WHIP and 12.6 K/9. 

     

    84. SP Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals

    Thrust into the starting rotation after Chris Carpenter went down with an injury last spring, Lynn went on to go 18-7 with a 3.78 ERA while making the All-Star team. He's an All-Star candidate once again this season, sitting at 10-2 with a 3.52 ERA through his first 16 starts, as the 26-year-old looks to have a bright future.

     

    83. LF Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels

    The trio of Hamilton-Pujols-Trout captured the headlines this offseason, and while Mike Trout has been great once again, it's Trumbo who has been the team's best run producer in the middle of the lineup. After slugging 61 home runs over the past two seasons, he has 17 home runs and 50 RBI with a .791 OPS so far this year.

     

    82. SP Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

    The Giants starting rotation, a strength during their recent run of success, has been subpar at best so far this season. That is, except for the performance of the 23-year-old Bumgarner. Coming off of a 16-win season last year, the left-hander is 7-5 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 16 starts on the season.

     

    81. CF Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks

    After posting a 1.7 WAR all of last season as the Diamondbacks' fourth outfielder, Parra has posted a 3.0 WAR already this season as one of the most valuable all-around position players in the game, per FanGraphs. He's hitting .307/.370/.467 on the season and has scored 47 runs while continuing to play Gold Glove-caliber defense.

No. 80-76

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    80. RP Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays

    Forced into closer duties last season when Sergio Santos was lost for the year, Janssen converted 22-of-25 save chances with a 2.54 ERA to secure the job for this season. He's been even better this year, starting off the year 10-of-10 with a 0.69 ERA in his first 13 games, and he's 17-of-18 with a 2.10 ERA on the year.

     

    79. 1B Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

    Still just 23 years old and with two full big league seasons already under his belt, Freeman hit 23 home runs with 94 RBI last season and is on his way to an even better season this year. Through 253 at-bats, he has an .825 OPS with seven home runs and 48 RBI.

     

    78. SP Justin Masterson, Cleveland Indians

    Despite a disappointing 2012 season in which he went 11-15 with a 4.93 ERA, Masterson got the Opening Day nod for the Indians this season. He posted a 1.85 ERA through his first five starts, and he's gone 9-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a pair of shutouts overall as the ace of the Indians staff.

     

    77. SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers

    After he hit .239/.305/.384 last season, the Tigers considered looking for a replacement for Peralta at shortstop in the offseason, but when a better option didn't present itself, they decided to pick up his $6 million option. That's proven to be a terrific decision, as he's hitting .320/.379/.476 for a career-high .855 OPS.

     

    76. RP Greg Holland, Kansas City Royals

    Holland was the Royals' primary setup man last season before Jonathan Broxton was dealt to the Reds, and he went 16-of-18 on saves with a 1.98 ERA and 11.5 K/9 in the closer's role the rest of the way. He's 16-of-18 on saves again this season with a 1.86 ERA and 14.6 K/9, as he's continued to thrive in the role.

No. 75-71

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    75. CF Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies

    After posting a .262/.355/.412 line through the first four seasons of his career, Fowler enjoyed a breakout season last year with a .300/.389/.474 line and career-best 13 home runs and 12 steals. Through the midway point this season, he already has 10 home runs and 12 steals with an .863 OPS to match last season's.

     

    74. SP Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds

    The Reds paid a steep price to acquire Latos from the Padres prior to last season, and he responded by going 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA. With Johnny Cueto battling injury this year, the role of staff ace has fallen to the big right-hander, and he's 7-1 with a 3.05 ERA and 8.7 K/9 on the year.

     

    73. RF Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

    Acquired from the Phillies at the deadline last season, Pence managed 24 home runs and 104 RBI between Philadelphia and San Francisco. He has given the team a reliable run producer alongside Buster Posey once again this season, with 12 home runs and 40 RBI, to go along with 13 steals.

     

    72. SS Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres

    Cabrera has been great in the role of table-setter for the surprise Padres so far this season. He currently leads the NL with 31 steals to go along with a .305 average and .800 OPS, though he's currently sidelined with a hamstring injury.

     

    71. SP Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds

    For a brief time when it looked like Aroldis Chapman was headed to the starting rotation, Leake was the odd man out and headed either to the bullpen or the minors. He was just 8-9 with a 4.58 ERA in 30 starts last season, but he's gone 7-3 with a 2.61 ERA so far this season in the midst of the best season of his career.

No. 70-66

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    70. SP Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay Rays

    Not a part of the Rays rotation to open the 2012 season, Cobb wound up going 11-9 with a 4.03 ERA in 23 starts, and he looked like a prime candidate for a breakout season this year. He was 6-2 with a 2.39 ERA through his first 11 starts, but his ERA jumped to 3.01 in two no-decisions following that before he landed on the DL following a scary head injury.

     

    69. RP Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies

    Brothers emerged as one of the better relievers in the game last season with a 3.86 ERA and 11.0 K/9 in 75 appearances. He's been even better this year, as he's allowed only one earned run in 32.1 innings spanning 35 appearances.

     

    68. 3B Pedro Alvarez, Pittsburgh Pirates

    He still strikes out a lot and remains one of the streakier hitters in the MLB, but Alvarez has emerged as a dangerous power threat. After hitting 30 home runs last season, he has 19 home runs and 51 RBI so far this season, and his average is a respectable .242 with an .820 OPS.

     

    67. RP Grant Balfour, Oakland Athletics

    Balfour lost the closer's job at one point last season, but upon returning to the job on August 11, he converted all 17 of his save chances with a 2.08 ERA the rest of the way. He's put up equally impressive numbers to this point, at a perfect 18-of-18 on saves with a 2.03 ERA and 9.3 K/9.

     

    66. SP A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates

    The Yankees traded Burnett in a prototypical cost-cutting move prior to last season, and the change of scenery couldn't have worked better, as he was 16-10 with a 3.51 ERA as the ace of the Pirates staff. He's currently shelved with an injury, but he's gone 4-6 with a 3.12 ERA and NL-best 10.0 K/9 in 14 starts and will be an integral part of the staff moving forward.

No. 65-61

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    65. C Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

    Pegged as a future star since he first broke into the league, Santana may finally be tapping into that vast potential this season. He's always had terrific on-base skills and solid power, but he's hitting .273/.385/.470 this season and ranks as one of the top all-around offensive catchers in the game.

     

    64. SP Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins

    Had it not been for injuries to Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez, the 20-year-old Fernandez likely would have opened the season in the minors. Instead, he's been the Marlins' best player on either side of the ball at 4-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 8.9 K/9 through his first 15 big league starts.

     

    63. LF Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

    Were it not for a knee injury that has limited him to just 44 games this season, Harper would no doubt be much higher on this list. The 20-year-old got off to a fantastic start this year, with a .287/.386/.587 line with 12 home runs in 150 at-bats.

     

    62. SP Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees

    After going 16-11 with 3.32 ERA as the Yankees' most reliable starter last season, Kuroda signed a one-year, $15 million deal to come back to New York. Through 16 starts, he's 7-5 with a 2.77 ERA as he continues to be a reliable arm even at 38 years old.

     

    61. 1B Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers

    Though he's once again been overshadowed by teammate Miguel Cabrera, Fielder remains one of the most productive first basemen in the game. He's hitting .281/.377/.473 with 12 home runs and 60 RBI, as he and Cabrera once again form arguably the league's best offensive duo.

No. 60-56

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    60. 3B Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics

    Sent down to the minors in mid-June last year after opening the season as the A's starting third baseman, Donaldson hit .290/.356/.489 with 26 RBI in 47 games after being recalled two months later. Expectations were tempered for the 27-year-old entering the season, but he's hit .308/.376/.507 with 12 home runs and 51 RBI as the A's top hitter.

     

    59. SP Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

    After spending his first two big league seasons in the bullpen, Sale moved to the rotation last season, going 17-8 with a 3.05 ERA to emerge as the ace of the White Sox staff. Given the way the team is playing, reaching 17 wins again will be tricky, and he's just 5-6 right now, but he has a 2.75 ERA and 9.5 K/9, and he remains one of the top young arms in the game.

     

    58. RP Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Brandon League opened the season as the Dodgers closer, but it was only a matter of time before Jansen seized the job from him. For his career, Jansen has struck out just over 40.2 percent of the batters he has faced (292-of-726), and he has a 2.31 ERA and 13.4 K/9 so far this year.

     

    57. SP Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

    He hasn't had the sort of dominant, unleashed season that some were predicting, but Strasburg is off to a great start nonetheless. Injuries cost him a couple starts, but he's 4-6 with a 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 9.0 K/9. The Nationals have been a major disappointment, and that has somewhat overshadowed what has been a solid all-around season for the hard-throwing right-hander.

     

    56. CF Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

    McCutchen has not put up the juggernaut numbers he did in the first half last season, but he hasn't needed to thanks to a more balanced Pirates offense. He has 23 doubles, eight home runs and an .804 OPS as the plate to go along with 15 steals and stellar defense once again. The 26-year-old remains one of the brightest young stars in the league and one of the faces of MLB moving forward.

No. 55-51

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    55. SP Ervin Santana, Kansas City Royals

    Acquired in a classic cost-cutting move by the Angels, Santana was coming off of a 2012 in which he went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA. He's done a complete 180 this year, though, going 5-5 with a 2.74 ERA, as the free-agent-to-be has positioned himself for a nice payday this coming offseason.

     

    54. 2B Howie Kendrick, Los Angeles Angels

    After hitting .285/.338/.464 with 18 home runs and 14 steals in 2011, Kendrick inked a four-year, $33.5 million extension with the Angels. His average was a solid .287 last season, but his OPS fell from .802 to .725. He's been back to his 2011 form this year, though, posting a .321/.364/.466 line with eight home runs and six steals.

     

    53. SP Mike Minor, Atlanta Braves

    Lost behind the remarkable second half that Kris Medlen put together, Minor quietly went 6-4 with a 2.16 ERA after the All-Star break last season. He's emerged from the shadows this season and been the Braves' best starter, going 8-3 with a 2.98 ERA and 8.3 K/9 mark that's up from 7.3 last season.

     

    52. RF Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

    The 26-year-old Bruce has improved his home run total each season since breaking into the league, hitting 34 with an .841 OPS last season to finish 10th in NL MVP voting. He's got a chance to keep that streak going this year, as he has 18 home runs and 55 RBI for an .847 OPS so far this season.

     

    51. RF Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

    With as much power as he has flashed in his four full seasons in the league, it's almost hard to believe Cruz has only topped the 30-HR mark once when he launched 33 back in 2009. He looks well on his way to a career year this season, as he has 20 home runs and 57 RBI so far to pace all AL outfielders.

No. 50-46

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    50. RF Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

    Healthy after missing significant time last year, Bautista has been out-hit by teammate Edwin Encarnacion so far this season, but his numbers are impressive nonetheless. He has 16 home runs, and while he's hitting just .247, his ability to draw a walk has led to an .821 OPS.


    49. SP James Shields, Kansas City Royals

    The Royals' decision to trade a package of their top prospects for Shields was a gutsy one, and while the team has been disappointing as a whole this year, it's been no fault of his. The workhorse right-hander is just 2-6, but he has a 2.92 ERA and has thrown 111 innings, good for third in the AL.

     

    48. DH Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays

    Lind looked well on his way to stardom back in 2009 when he hit .305 with 35 home runs and 114 RBI. However, he's failed to even approach those numbers since—that is, until this year. He's currently fourth in the NL batting race with a .322 average to go along with 11 home runs and 31 RBI.

     

    47. RP Joe Nathan, Texas Rangers

    After an impressive bounce-back season last year following Tommy John surgery in 2010 and a disappointing 2011, Nathan continues plugging along as one of the elite closers in the history of the game. He's 26-of-27 on save chances this year with a 1.62 ERA and 0.87 WHIP, and he looks to have plenty left in the tank at 38 years old.

     

    46. 2B Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

    Cano started out the season on fire, but like much of the Yankees lineup, he's fallen off of late, hitting .247 with a .777 OPS since May 1. That said, his overall numbers on the season are still impressive, as he's hitting .277 with an .851 OPS and 16 home runs, and he remains the top power threat at the second base position.

No. 45-41

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    45. SP Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics

    Whether or not the fountain of youth that Colon has found winds up getting him suspended for a second time in two years remains to be seen, but his numbers so far this season are tough to ignore regardless. The 40-year-old has gone 10-2 with a 2.93 ERA, and he's done it with just a 5.1 K/9 mark, as his control has been fantastic.

     

    44. RP Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

    Though he's blown three saves this year, Kimbrel remains arguably the most overpowering reliever in the game today. He's managed to lock down 22 saves, with a 1.53 ERA and 13.2 K/9, and it looks like the stretch starting at the end of April in which he blew 3-of-5 save chances was little more than a hiccup, as he's back to dominant form.

     

    43. RF Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies

    A year after being something of a disappointment in his first season in Colorado, Cuddyer has been terrific so far this year with a .344 average, 13 home runs and 45 RBI. He's also in the midst of a 23-game hitting streak, and while his home/road splits bump him down this list a bit, he's been worthy of recognition nonetheless.

     

    42. RP Edward Mujica, St. Louis Cardinals

    The Cardinals bullpen looked like it would be their undoing before Mujica stepped into the closer's role. He's gone 21-of-21 on save chances with a 2.20 ERA and 0.73 ERA on the season, and he's quickly emerged as one of the most reliable ninth-inning arms in the game.

     

    41. RF Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies

    It's come two years later than everyone thought it would, but Brown has emerged as a young, impact bat in the middle of an aging Phillies lineup. The 25-year-old currently ranks second in the NL with 20 home runs, to go along with 54 RBI and an .869 OPS, as he has been one of the breakout stars of the season.

No. 40-36

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    40. CF Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds

    Acquired in a three-team trade this offseason, Choo was brought in to fill the two biggest holes in the Reds' lineup—leadoff hitter and center field. He's given the team exactly what they hoped for to this point, posting a .419 on-base percentage to go along with 11 home runs and eight steals as a terrific table-setter for a loaded Cincinnati lineup.

     

    39. SP Jeff Locke, Pittsburgh Pirates

    One of the biggest reasons for the Pirates' success this year has been the surprise contribution of the back end of their rotation, and no one has been a bigger surprise than Locke. In 16 starts, he's 7-1 with a 2.06 ERA, and while his 3.84 FIP and .225 BABIP indicate that he's been incredibly lucky so far (h/t FanGraphs), that doesn't take away from what he's accomplished to this point.

     

    38. 2B Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

    A super utility player last year, the Cardinals transitioned Carpenter to second base in the offseason to help get his bat into the lineup on a regular basis. He quickly emerged as the team's leadoff hitter following the season-ending surgery of Rafael Furcal, and he's hit .316/.396/.468 on the season with a 3.7 WAR that's good for 10th among position players (h/t FanGraphs).

     

    37. SP Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers

    The five-year, $80 million deal that the Tigers gave Sanchez in the offseason raised more than a few eyebrows, but it's safe to say those skeptics have been proven wrong to this point. The right-hander has managed to build off of his late-season success last year to go 6-5 with a 2.76 ERA and 11.1 K/9 so far on the season.

     

    36. SP Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

    The Phillies core of superstars has gotten old quick, but Lee remains an elite talent and arguably the best player on the team right now. He's 9-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 16 starts, and even with $87.5 million left on his contract beyond this season, he could be an attractive trade chip if the Phillies opted to shop him come July.

No. 35-31

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    35. 2B Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

    Pedroia continues to be as consistent as they come at second base and in the middle of the Red Sox order, as he's hitting .317/.397/.425 on the season. With 98 hits and 42 walks, he ranks third behind Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto in total times on base so far this season.

     

    34. RP Mariano Rivera, New York Yankees

    Ignoring the pomp that comes with this being Rivera's final season, he has been one of the best closers in baseball this season regardless of reputation and side plot. He's converted 26-of-27 save chances with a 1.55 ERA and 8.4 K/9. Solid numbers for a 33-year-old, let alone a 43-year-old.

     

    33. C Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

    After coming back from an injury-plagued 2011 season to lead the AL with a .416 on-base percentage, Mauer is once again far and away the best catcher in the American League. Winning a batting title will be tough with Miguel Cabrera around, but his .337/.417/.505 line puts him second to Cabrera in average and on-base percentage in the AL.

     

    32. 1B Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals

    Craig was an absolute force last season after missing the beginning of the year recovering from knee surgery, as he went on to hit 22 home runs with 92 RBI in just 119 games. He's managed just eight home runs so far this season, but he's driven in a team-high 62 runs and posted a .320/.360/.473 line in the middle of a terrific Cardinals lineup.

     

    31. SP Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals

    The Cardinals let Kyle Lohse walk in free agency in part because they felt Miller was ready to step into a rotation spot. However, it's safe to assume they didn't expect the 22-year-old to be quite this good right out of the gates. In 15 starts, he's gone 8-5 with a 2.35 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 9.9 K/9, as he remains the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year at this point.

No. 30-26

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    30. CF Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

    Jones broke through as a legitimate superstar last season, hitting .287 with 32 home runs and an .839 OPS to finish sixth in AL MVP voting. He's been great once again this season, hitting .297/.321/.500 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI, though that may make him the third-best hitter in the Baltimore lineup this season.

     

    29. RP Jason Grilli, Pittsburgh Pirates

    Arguably the best setup man in baseball last season, Grilli had a 2.91 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 58.2 innings in 2012. Moved into the closer's role following the trade of Joel Hanrahan, he's been even better this season, nailing down 26-of-27 save chances with a 1.82 ERA and 15.1 K/9.

     

    28. SP Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

    The recipient of a then-record seven-year, $175 million extension this past offseason, Hernandez had plenty of pressure on him entering the season. He's proven worthy of the massive payday to this point, though, going 8-4 with a 2.70 ERA and 9.5 K/9 while throwing an MLB-high 116.2 innings.

     

    27. 2B Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds

    Forced into the role of cleanup hitter following the Opening Day injury of Ryan Ludwick, Phillips has stepped up big for the Reds so far this season with a team-high 60 RBI. He's never topped 100 RBI in a season and has also never started an All-Star Game, but it looks as though he'll accomplish both of those things this season.

     

    26. 3B Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

    Though he didn't burst into the league with the same fanfare that Bryce Harper and Mike Trout received, Machado has been phenomenal in his own right and is still only 20 years old. He continues playing elite defense at third base despite being a natural shortstop, and he's hitting .319/.349/.480 while doing it. No one has topped 60 doubles since 1936, but with 36 so far this season, he has a chance at reaching that mark this year.

25. SP Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

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    Stats: 16 GS, 11-3, 2.28 ERA, 80 K, 114.2 IP

    Overshadowed by Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg last season, Zimmermann has been hands down the team's best starter this season and one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

    Still only 27 years old, he's just entering the prime of his career, and if he keeps pitching like he has, the Nationals may consider buying out his final two years of arbitration and locking him up with a long-term extension.

24. 1B Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Stats: .271/.353/.542, 22 HR, 64 RBI, 51 R

    Encarnacion enjoyed a monster breakout season in 2012, as he carried the Blue Jays offense for much of the season and finished the year with 42 home runs and 110 RBI.

    Hitting now alongside a healthy Jose Bautista, he has proved to be the superior slugger to this point in 2013, as his 22 home runs are tied for second in the AL and his 64 RBI are good for third.

23. C Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

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    Stats: .314/.391/.515, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 32 R

    The reigning NL MVP, Posey has once again proven to be the Giants' most important player on the offensive side of things, and an argument can certainly be made for him being the best catcher in the game today.

    Giving a big money, long-term deal to a catcher is always a risky proposition, but the nine-year, $167 million extension that the Giants gave Posey in the offseason looks like a stroke of genius to this point, as he's the unquestioned face of the franchise and means as much to his team's success as anyone in baseball.

22. 3B David Wright, New York Mets

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    Stats: .305/.387/.523, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 41 R

    Also the recipient of a lengthy extension this past offseason, Wright re-upped with the Mets on an eight-year, $138 million deal and will be a primary building block in their push towards a return to contention.

    He hit .306/.391/.492 with 21 home runs and 93 RBI last season in what was a welcome bounce-back year following a disappointing 2011 campaign. He's been even better so far this year, and the 30-year-old is undoubtedly the best third baseman in the National League at this point.

21. SP Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox

20 of 40

    Stats: 12 GS, 9-0, 1.71 ERA, 81 K, 84.1 IP

    Buchholz falls down the list a bit due to the fact that he's made just 12 starts while battling a neck strain, but even with a smaller body of work than many of the other pitchers ranked this high, he's more than deserving of his spot.

    He currently leads all of baseball in ERA, and the bounce-back performances of him and Jon Lester atop the Red Sox staff have been among the biggest reasons for their drastic turnaround. If he can get back on the field soon and keep pitching like he has, he's got a real shot at AL Cy Young honors.

20. CF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

21 of 40

    Stats: .308/.384/.541, 13 HR, 51 RBI, 56 R, 19 SB

    Coming off of perhaps the greatest rookie season in the history of the game, Trout had his work cut out for him in avoiding the dreaded sophomore slump, as he looked to chase MVP-caliber numbers once again in his second full big league season.

    Still just 21, he's been fantastic once again this season as one of the few consistent producers in a disappointing Angels lineup. He has 19 steals to go along with his 13 home runs, as he is arguably the top power/speed threat in the game today.

19. CF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers

22 of 40

    Stats: .313/.355/.570, 12 HR, 37 RBI, 43 R, 15 SB

    Long one of the more athletically gifted outfielders in the game, Gomez finally turned potential into production last season when he hit .260 with 19 home runs and 37 RBI.

    That earned him a three-year, $24 million extension, and the Brewers may well have gotten one of the steals of the offseason with that contract, as he's taken the next step towards stardom this year. With 18 doubles, eight triples and 12 home runs, his 155 total bases are good for sixth-most in the NL.

18. SS Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

23 of 40

    Stats: .347/.413/.635, 16 HR, 51 RBI, 41 R

    Tulowitzki would almost certainly crack the top 10 if it were not for the fact that he's landed on the DL for an extended period of time once again. After playing in just 47 games last season due to a groin injury, he is now shelved with a broken rib until sometime after the All-Star break.

    Injury woes aside, Tulowitzki is undoubtedly the best all-around shortstop in the game today, and he was a big reason for the Rockies' hot start. Getting him back alongside Carlos Gonzalez in the middle of the lineup will be paramount in the team's chances of sticking around in the NL West race.

17. SP Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners

24 of 40

    Stats: 16 GS, 7-3, 2.26 ERA, 96 K, 107.1 IP

    Iwakuma quietly went 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 16 starts after joining the Mariners rotation in the second half of last season, and the team wisely re-signed him to a two-year, $14 million deal in the offseason.

    His 0.89 WHIP currently leads the AL and trails Matt Harvey by just 0.01 for the MLB lead, and perhaps most impressive of all, he's out-pitched teammate Felix Hernandez across the board to this point. The 32-year-old deserves serious consideration to start the All-Star Game, though that honor will likely go to Max Scherzer.

16. SS Jean Segura, Milwaukee Brewers

25 of 40

    Stats: .333/.366/.525, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 44 R, 24 SB

    Acquired from the Angels as part of the return in last July's Zack Greinke trade, Segura has not only seized the everyday shortstop job this season, but has also quickly emerged as one of the best hitters not just at the position, but in all of baseball.

    He became the first NL player to reach 100 hits on Tuesday, and he's not just slapping singles, as he has nine doubles, eight triples and 11 home runs on the season and his 159 total bases are good for fourth in the NL. Still only 23, he looks as though he'll be a key piece of the Brewers' future, and change may be in order for the franchise after they've struggled so badly in the first half.

15. SP Patrick Corbin, Arizona Diamondbacks

26 of 40

    Stats: 15 GS, 9-0, 2.19 ERA, 79 K, 102.2 IP

    After going 6-8 with a 4.54 ERA in 22 games (17 starts) as a rookie last season, Corbin entered spring training on the roster bubble battling with top prospect Tyler Skaggs and a few others for the No. 5 spot in the Arizona rotation.

    He seized the opportunity and has quickly emerged as the team's best starter and one of the best young pitchers in all of baseball. Still just 23, he was overshadowed by Trevor Bauer and Skaggs throughout his time in the minors, but he may wind up being the best of the bunch given the way he's thrown the ball so far this year.

14. DH David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

27 of 40

    Stats: .319/.405/.620, 16 HR, 57 RBI, 39 R

    The fact that he missed the first 15 games of the season recovering from last year's Achilles injury makes the above stats that much more impressive, as he's put up those numbers in just 61 games.

    It's hard to believe that Ortiz was all but written off following a .238/.332/.462 season back in 2009, as he may be as good a hitter now at 37 years old as he was in his prime. Keeping him healthy for a full season will be the biggest hurdle, but from an ability standpoint, Ortiz hasn't lost much if anything at this point in his career.

13. 3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

28 of 40

    Stats: .299/.368/.551, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 52 R

    I never tire of the stat that the Rays were 47-27 with Longoria in the lineup last season and 43-45 without him, as that speaks volumes to what he means to the team's success.

    He's been as healthy this season as at any point in his career, and he's well on his way to a career year as a result. He's an elite defender at a premium position and the unquestioned leader of a Rays team that continues to do more with less than almost any team in baseball.

12. 1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

29 of 40

    Stats: .322/.437/.519, 14 HR, 38 RBI, 55 R

    While there are a couple others at the position who are having better seasons and are ranked higher on this list, most would agree that Votto is the premier first baseman in the league today. 

    He has as good a batting eye as anyone in baseball, and while he can be overly patient at times, his ability to get on base ahead of fellow sluggers Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce makes him that much more valuable to the Reds lineup. He's led the NL in on-base percentage each of the past three seasons and is well on his way to doing so again this year. 

11. SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

30 of 40

    Stats: 17 GS, 6-5, 2.08 ERA, 118 K, 121.1 IP

    Kershaw has flown a bit under the radar this season due in large part to the Dodgers' struggles, but he remains arguably the best pitcher in the game and is having another fantastic all-around season.

    He's led the NL in ERA each of the past two seasons, and is currently just 0.03 behind Matt Harvey in that department. There have been rumblings of ongoing negotiations between Kershaw and the Dodgers as they look to come to terms on an extension, and the 25-year-old will no doubt be the highest-paid pitcher in the history of the game whenever that comes to pass.

10. RF Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals

31 of 40

    Stats: .308/.349/.546, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 41 R

    Though he slumped badly after a brilliant first half last season, Beltran has once again been a beast out of the No. 2 spot in the Cardinals lineup this season.

    The 36-year-old is slowly but surely putting together a pretty compelling case for the Hall of Fame, and if he can stay healthy and productive for a few more seasons, he has a real chance. While his above numbers are impressive, it's his clutch abilities that earn him such a high spot on this list, as he's hitting .455 with runners in scoring position this season.

9. SP Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers

32 of 40

    Stats: 15 GS, 11-0, 3.05 ERA, 122 K, 103.1 IP

    After a rocky first half last season, things finally seemed to click for the uber-talented Scherzer after the All-Star break, as he was 8-2 with a 2.69 ERA in the second half and served as a second ace alongside Justin Verlander.

    Though he hasn't been the best pitcher in the game this season, he's awfully close, and his undefeated streak is phenomenal regardless of what his peripheral numbers look like. He's the odds-on favorite to start the All-Star game for the AL and is more than deserving of the honor.

8. LF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

33 of 40

    Stats: .301/.370/.613, 21 HR, 58 RBI, 62 R

    Though Gonzalez has been incredibly productive for the Rockies over the past four seasons, that production has always been taken with a grain of salt due to his drastic home/road splits.

    Currently leading the NL in home runs (21) and runs scored (62), he's been doing just as much damage on the road (.976 OPS) as he has at home (.989 OPS) so far this year. That should make him a legitimate MVP candidate if he can keep it up, and with 14 steals thrown in for good measure, he may be in line for the first 30/30 season of his career.

7. SP Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

34 of 40

    Stats: 16 GS, 7-3, 2.95 ERA, 143 K, 106.2 IP

    After a solid rookie season in which he went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA and 221 strikeouts, Darvish has taken the next step this season and emerged as one of the few legitimate ace starters in the game today.

    He has a decent chance to be the first 300-strikeout pitcher in a decade, and he currently has 20 more punch-outs than anyone else. The Rangers took a big risk with the amount of money they shelled out to land Darvish prior to last season, but it looks like money well-spent here in year two.

6. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

35 of 40

    Stats: .310/.385/.571, 19 HR, 67 RBI, 52 R

    After seizing the starting first base job during the team's postseason push back in 2011, Goldschmidt enjoyed a solid first full season in the majors last season, as he hit .285 with 20 home runs and 18 steals.

    The 25-year-old has taken another big step forward this season and is now one of the top middle-of-the-order bats in all of baseball. His 67 RBI currently lead the National League, and his .957 OPS is best by a non-Rockies player, as he looks like a legitimate MVP candidate.

5. SP Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

36 of 40

    Stats: 16 GS, 10-5, 2.31 ERA, 106 K, 116.2 IP

    Wainwright was expectedly shaky in the first half last season after missing all of 2011 with Tommy John surgery, but he started to round into form in the second half.

    The Cardinals apparently saw enough to give him a five-year, $97.5 million extension, and they were right, as he has returned to his dominant pre-surgery form. His 4.0 WAR is tops among pitchers this season, per FanGraphs, and he's the unquestioned ace of a terrific Cardinals staff.

4. SP Matt Harvey, New York Mets

37 of 40

    Stats: 16 GS, 7-1, 2.05 ERA, 121 K, 110 IP

    Even with what he showed in 10 starts last season, going 3-5 with a 2.73 ERA and 10.6 K/9, it's been a surprise just how well Harvey has pitched every time he's taken the ball this season.

    He's flirted with a no-hitter on more than one occasion, and he's allowed more than two runs in a start just four times this season. He's also struck out double-digit batters four different times and, at 24 years old, is already in the conversation for best pitcher in baseball.

3. C Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

38 of 40

    Stats: .357/.400/.516, 6 HR, 44 RBI, 35 R

    One of the top defensive catchers in the game since he first broke into the league, Molina entered the 2012 season with a pedestrian .274/.331/.377 line for his career.

    The defense was there as always, but he took his offense to a new level with a .315/.373/.501 line and a career-high 22 home runs. He's only gotten better this year, as he currently leads the NL in batting average and is hitting .405 with runners in scoring position, and if the season ended today, he'd take home NL MVP honors.

2. Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

39 of 40

    Stats: .330/.404/.709, 28 HR, 73 RBI, 54 R

    Davis has had what would qualify as a solid season for a lot of players and it's not even July yet. He currently leads all of baseball in home runs with 28, six more than the next highest total.

    A flop in Texas, Davis got a fresh start in Baltimore and enjoyed a breakout season last year, but he's on another planet right now, as he needs just six more home runs and 14 RBI to top his full season totals from last year. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up for a full season. At 27 years old, this could be definitely be a legitimate sustainable breakout.

1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

40 of 40

    Stats: .370/.460/.657, 22 HR, 78 RBI, 59 R

    All due respect to Chris Davis, who has been amazing, but Cabrera is still the best hitter on the planet. Coming off an AL MVP and Triple Crown season, the slugger hasn't missed a beat this season hitting in the middle of a dangerous Detroit lineup.

    Currently leading all of baseball in batting average and RBI, and second to Davis in the AL in home runs, he has a chance to become the first ever back-to-back Triple Crown winner. It's a long shot, but at the same time, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him pull it off.