MLB

MLB Position-by-Position Player Power Rankings, July Edition

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2014

MLB Position-by-Position Player Power Rankings, July Edition

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    Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

    Position-by-position MLB power rankings will once again be a staple this year, and as we have just passed the midway point of the season and turned the calendar over to July, it's time for another update.

    My preseason rankings came out March 7, with subsequent updates coming on April 17 and June 3, all leading up to these July positional rankings.

    What follows is a look at the 10 (or 15, in the case of outfielders) best players at each position based on the numbers they have accumulated up to this point.

    I have taken into account players' all-around offensive abilities, their defensive contributions and what they have meant to the success of their respective teams.

    Also included in my statistics is each player's Baseball-Reference WAR, or rWAR. While WAR is a useful stat in gauging a player's value, it is not the be-all, end-all stat that some view it as. As such, do not expect this to simply be a list of the top 10 in WAR at each position.

    So with that, here is a look at the top players at each position here in July. There has been a good deal of shuffling once again and several new players join the ranks this month as well, so this is a much different-looking list than a month ago.

     

    *Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference and cover games through Thursday, July 3.

Catchers

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    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    Top 10 Catchers

    NameBAOPS2BHRRBIRWARPrev
    1. Jonathan Lucroy, MIL.331.91129843404.31
    2. Devin Mesoraco, CIN.3141.026121541293.03
    3. Derek Norris, OAK.309.91611835252.34
    4. Evan Gattis, ATL.290.900101639291.95
    5. Salvador Perez, KC.283.780171029333.0NR
    6. Buster Posey, SF.287.77814941331.910
    7. Miguel Montero, ARI.262.770121149311.7NR
    8. Yan Gomes, CLE.267.73211930342.28
    9. Yadier Molina, STL.287.74914728291.62
    10. Kurt Suzuki, MIN.303.75516234221.99

     

    Position Overview

    One of the most underrated players in baseball for years now, Jonathan Lucroy appears to finally be getting the attention he deserves. He's been the best all-around catcher in baseball this season by a decent margin and is making a late push to start behind the plate for the NL side in the All-Star Game.

    Staying on the NL side of things, Devin Mesoraco has been one of the breakout stars of 2014. He missed 22 games due to injury early on this year, but he has continued raking at the plate when healthy and looks to have as bright a future as any backstop in the game at 26 years old.

    Slugger Evan Gattis has quickly made Braves fans forget about the departed Brian McCann, while the NL's top two catchers entering the year in Yadier Molina and Buster Posey are again having solid seasons as well. Miguel Montero has also bounced back from a rough 2013 season, as he is again one of the top offensive catchers in the league.

    In the AL, it's been a breakout year for Derek Norris as well, as he's given the Oakland Athletics another offensive weapon in his first season as the everyday option.

    Salvador Perez and Yan Gomes both bring terrific defense and a plus bat, and Perez, 24, has quickly emerged as the game's best young catcher. Rounding out the top 10 is veteran Kurt Suzuki, who has been a steal for the Minnesota Twins on a one-year, $2.75 million deal.

First Basemen

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    Top 10 First Basemen

    NameBAOPS2BHRRBIRWARPrev
    1. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR.281.967212669573.21
    2. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI.308.942301555623.75
    3. Miguel Cabrera, DET.316.925321467532.92
    4. Jose Abreu, CWS.280.955172667452.26
    5. Brandon Moss, OAK.276.901161962413.03
    6. Anthony Rizzo, CHC.281.894131744562.4NR
    7. Adam LaRoche, WAS.302.906101244382.38
    8. Freddie Freeman, ATL.290.882241344561.84
    9. Justin Morneau, COL.318.874191359352.010
    10. Matt Adams, STL.318.84719933272.0NR

     

    Position Overview

    Edwin Encarnacion remains in the top spot here, as he has kept things going after his huge month of May. He currently leads the AL in home runs (26) and RBI (69). His 104 home runs since the start of the 2012 season are the most in all of baseball.

    Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Cabrera took home the Hank Aaron Award last season as the top all-around offensive players in their respective leagues, and they are putting up big numbers once again. They may not have the home runs of some other guys on this list, but they do rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the MLB in doubles.

    Slugger Jose Abreu leads all of baseball with a .624 slugging percentage, and he has made the transition from the Cuban League to MLB look like a cakewalk. The Chicago White Sox have dropped off significantly after a surprise start, but Abreu has continued to rake.

    Freddie Freeman, 24, is not quite putting up the numbers he did last year, but he remains one of the game's biggest young stars. After a disappointing season last year, Anthony Rizzo has bounced back in a big way, and he too looks like a budding superstar.

    Veterans Justin Morneau, Adam LaRoche and Brandon Moss have continued to produce at a high level this season, while Matt Adams has been one of the few bright spots in the St. Louis Cardinals lineup in his first year as an everyday player.

Second Basemen

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    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Top 10 Second Basemen

    NameBAOPS2BHRRBIRWARPrev
    1. Ian Kinsler, DET.306.828251145593.82
    2. Jose Altuve, HOU.347.83526226433.43
    3. Robinson Cano, SEA.323.82919651462.84
    4. Chase Utley, PHI.287.78124639462.51
    5. Brian Dozier, MIN.236.765121538612.65
    6. Scooter Gennett, MIL.311.83520627351.6NR
    7. Daniel Murphy, NYM.300.77219734522.210
    8. Dee Gordon, LAD.294.76014225472.17
    9. Dustin Pedroia, BOS.282.74024432473.29
    10. Neil Walker, PIT.271.766101137320.68

     

    Position Overview

    Opinions were fairly split as to who won the Prince Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler trade when it happened last offseason. Three months into the season, there is no question the Detroit Tigers have gotten the better end of that deal. Kinsler leads all second basemen in WAR (3.8), and has been terrific setting the table and hitting for power.

    Jose Altuve and Robinson Cano have combined for fewer home runs (eight) than Kinsler has so far (11), with the power outage by Cano obviously being the big surprise there, but they do rank first and fourth in the AL batting race, respectively. Altuve also leads the league in hits (121) and steals (37).

    Chase Utley got off to a red-hot start, and while he has cooled off a bit since, he remains the most productive second baseman in the National League. Daniel Murphy leads the NL in hits and has been one of the few bright spots offensively for the Mets, while Scooter Gennett batted .397 in June.

    Dee Gordon has been a pleasant surprise for the Los Angeles Dodgers after completely disappearing the past two years, and he currently leads the NL with 40 steals in 49 attempts. Brian Dozier has been the best power/speed guy at the position, with 15 home runs and 15 steals.

    Veterans Dustin Pedroia and Neil Walker round out the top 10 here. Pedroia remains among the WAR leaders at the position despite average offensive numbers, while Walker was having a great season before missing time following an appendectomy.

Third Basemen

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Top 10 Third Basemen

    NameBAOPS2BHRRBIRWARPrev
    1. Josh Donaldson, OAK.245.784121861574.61
    2. Todd Frazier, CIN.289.859151747523.32
    3. Kyle Seager, SEA.283.855211359363.64
    4. Adrian Beltre, TEX.335.88919944432.78
    5. Anthony Rendon, WAS.280.815171248562.710
    6. Lonnie Chisenhall, CLE.344.96020938352.0NR
    7. Matt Carpenter, STL.290.77821432542.97
    8. Pablo Sandoval, SF.265.740141036392.2NR
    9. Aramis Ramirez, MIL.282.811101140270.8NR
    10. Casey McGehee, MIA.311.76620150311.29

     

    Position Overview

    It was a rough month of June for Josh Donaldson, as he hit just .181/.223/.286 in 105 at-bats. He remains atop the list for now, though, as he has once again played Gold Glove defense and is still on pace to blow past his run production numbers from a year ago.

    It's fair to say that Todd Frazier and Kyle Seager are two of the more underrated or at least underappreciated players in the game today. Both players are having career years at the plate, and both are plus defenders at the hot corner.

    Adrian Beltre has caught fire after a slow start to the season, while fellow veterans Aramis Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval have also rounded into form offensively as the season has gone on.

    Anthony Rendon is back to second base now that Bryce Harper has returned to the Washington Nationals lineup, but he showed the pop and the glove to be a dynamic third baseman long term. Lonnie Chisenhall has also established himself as the everyday guy in Cleveland, after a string of disappointing seasons made this year perhaps his last chance to prove himself.

    Matt Carpenter has made the move from second base to third this year, and while he has not quite matched his MVP-caliber numbers from a year ago, he has still been an on-base machine. Casey McGehee rounds out the group here, as he ranks seventh in the NL in RBI despite having just one home run on the year.

Shortstops

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Top 10 Shortstops

    NameBAOPS2BHRRBIRWARPrev
    1. Troy Tulowitzki, COL.3501.049171847665.31
    2. Hanley Ramirez, LAD.269.828211146391.85
    3. Starlin Castro, CHC.288.804251148391.510
    4. Alexei Ramirez, CWS.294.74814841422.52
    5. Jhonny Peralta, STL.241.764231238313.54
    6. Erick Aybar, LAA.277.73120642422.87
    7. Chris Owings, ARI.277.77115621262.28
    8. Brandon Crawford, SF.246.75513736341.99
    9. Alcides Escobar, KC.295.74624228391.8NR
    10. Jose Reyes, TOR.259.71718623451.9NR

     

    Position Overview

    Troy Tulowitzki home/road splits have been ridiculous this season, with a .441/.522/.765 line in Coors Field and a .265/.367/.463 line on the road, but he remains the top guy on this list regardless. He leads all of baseball in WAR (5.3) and is having the superstar season he has always been capable of when healthy.

    Three offensive-minded guys follow him on this list in Hanley Ramirez, Starlin Castro and Jhonny Peralta. Ramirez has rounded into form after a slow start, while Castro is enjoying a big bounce-back year. Peralta has been surprisingly good with the glove after signing a four-year, $53 million deal almost exclusively for his bat.

    Alexei Ramirez tops the AL crop of shortstops, edging out Erick Aybar, as both guys have been plus run producers and solid fielders. Aybar is well on his way to smashing his previous career high of 59 RBI, as he has been a big part of the Angels' potent offense.

    Rookie Chris Owings has quietly gone about his business this season and emerged as a consistent producer for the Arizona Diamondbacks after edging out Didi Gregorius for the starting job in the spring.

    Brandon Crawford and Alcides Escobar have always been known more for their gloves than their bats, but both have been solid offensive contributors this season as well. Toronto Blue Jays table-setter Jose Reyes rounds out the list, despite having a less-than-stellar season to this point.

Outfielders

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Top 15 Outfielders

    NameBAOPS2BHRRBIRWARPrev
    1. Mike Trout, LAA.3141.017231962565.16
    2. Giancarlo Stanton, MIA.313.991212161604.91
    3. Jose Bautista, TOR.304.964151751563.95
    4. Andrew McCutchen, PIT.315.939241249443.78
    5. Carlos Gomez, MIL.306.888201345523.44
    6. Nelson Cruz, BAL.278.914142668502.43
    7. Michael Brantley, CLE.312.880201254563.113
    8. Yasiel Puig, LAD.309.908211146452.72
    9. Alex Gordon, KC.267.78023942463.5NR
    10. Adam Jones, BAL.308.842181653503.0NR
    11. Yoenis Cespedes, OAK.269.809211455503.0NR
    12. Hunter Pence, SF.294.819171131602.9NR
    13. Justin Upton, ATL.271.835151646411.57
    14. Ryan Braun, MIL.293.857171149451.812
    15. Seth Smith, SD.282.89018925333.09

     

    Position Overview

    Two months ago, people were wondering what was wrong with Mike Trout. Since then, everything has rounded into form for the Los Angeles Angels superstar, as he leads the AL in WAR (5.1) and all of baseball in OPS (1.017). He just edges out Giancarlo Stanton for the top spot here, as Stanton is finally healthy and putting up the monster numbers which he's always been capable of producing.

    The on-base skills of Jose Bautista earn him the No. 3 spot, while the all-around power/speed/defense games of Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gomez earn them spots in the top five as well.

    Nelson Cruz has been an absolute steal on the one-year, $8 million contract the Baltimore Orioles signed him to, as he leads all outfielders in home runs (26) and RBI (68).

    Budding star Michael Brantley has been the best player on the Cleveland Indians roster this year. Yasiel Puig has proven his rookie season was no fluke, and Alex Gordon remains a dynamic player at the plate and in left field for the Kansas City Royals.

    The next five guys on this list can really be put in any order, as Adam Jones, Yoenis Cespedes, Hunter Pence, Justin Upton and Ryan Braun are all proven veterans who bring slightly different skill sets but remain imperative to the success of their respective teams.

    Seth Smith rounds out the list, as he has been the only hitter in the San Diego Padres' league-worst offense to put up respectable numbers.

Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Top 10 Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

    NameW-LERAWHIPBAAKWARPrev
    1. Johnny Cueto, CIN8-61.990.868.1761303.41
    2. Adam Wainwright, STL11-41.890.895.1971064.13
    3. Masahiro Tanaka, NYY12-32.270.970.2241304.32
    4. Felix Hernandez, SEA10-22.100.919.2061373.77
    5. Julio Teheran, ATL8-52.290.952.2081083.76
    6. Yu Darvish, TEX8-42.421.179.2221283.54
    7. Anibal Sanchez, DET5-22.630.976.197662.8NR
    8. Zack Greinke, LAD11-42.661.182.2561192.88
    9. Henderson Alvarez, MIA5-32.331.269.279672.8NR
    10. Jake Arrieta, CHC5-11.811.005.210742.7NR

     

    Position Overview

    If the season ended today, there would be no clear-cut Cy Young candidate in either league.

    In the NL, Johnny Cueto has rebounded nicely from an injury-plagued season but is being matched start for start by St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.

    Over in the AL, Masahiro Tanaka has made the transition from Japan to MLB look incredibly easy and emerged as the ace of the New York Yankees staff. Felix Hernandez remains one of the best in the business, though, and is putting up his best numbers since his Cy Young campaign in 2010.

    Behind them, Atlanta Braves young ace Julio Teheran heads the second tier of right-handed starters that also includes strikeout machine Yu Darvish, reigning AL ERA leader Anibal Sanchez and Los Angeles Dodgers second ace Zack Greinke.

    Henderson Alvarez earns a spot for the job he's done stepping into the role of ace following the season-ending injury of Jose Fernandez, who underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. Alvarez leads the league with three shutouts on the season.

    The final spot could have gone to a number of different guys, but Jake Arrieta gets the nod. He has been out of his mind recently with a 0.92 ERA in six June starts, including making a serious run at a no-hitter in his last two starts.

    Sonny Gray, Garrett Richards, Tim Hudson, Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber, Josh Beckett, Max Scherzer, Jason Hammel and Phil Hughes also received strong consideration for a spot here.

Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

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    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Top 10 Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

    NameW-LERAWHIPBAAKWARPrev
    1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD9-22.040.920.2091073.010
    2. Chris Sale, CWS7-12.300.894.194843.24
    3. Scott Kazmir, OAK9-32.611.026.216912.33
    4. Dallas Keuchel, HOU8-52.781.100.234833.52
    5. Madison Bumgarner, SF9-63.091.196.2481201.27
    6. David Price, TB7-73.501.084.2461531.4NR
    7. Mark Buehrle, TOR10-52.501.214.253673.71
    8. Jon Niese, NYM5-42.881.194.247741.86
    9. Jon Lester, BOS9-72.921.184.2481151.88
    10. Cole Hamels, PHI2-52.981.217.238942.3NR

     

    Position Overview

    After both guys missed time early with injuries, Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale are right back where they were on this list heading into the season, as the top left-handed pitchers in their respective leagues. Both guys are still very much in the Cy Young picture, provided they can keep from missing any further time.

    The decision to let Bartolo Colon walk and sign Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22 million deal has been a brilliant one by the Oakland Athletics. He is the biggest surprise on this list outside of Dallas Keuchel, who was 9-18 with a 5.20 ERA entering the season but now looks like a solid building block for the Astros.

    It's been business as usual for the likes of Madison Bumgarner, David Price, Jon Lester and Cole Hamels, who were all certainly expected to be on this list when the season began.

    Mark Buehrle has dropped off after his 10-1 start, but he remains the leader of the Blue Jays staff.

    Jon Niese has also stepped into the ace role for the New York Mets with Matt Harvey sidelined following Tommy John surgery and Dillon Gee missing time.

    A pair of Kansas City Royals southpaws in Danny Duffy and Jason Vargas were the toughest guys to leave off the list. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Quintana and C.J. Wilson were also considered for a spot.

Non-Closer Relievers

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Top 10 Non-Closer Relievers

    NameGW-LHLDERAWHIPK/9WARPrev
    1. Dellin Betances, NYY364-0111.500.75514.32.01
    2. Wade Davis, KC345-2161.230.84514.21.84
    3. Pat Neshek, STL382-0110.820.5458.71.66
    4. Joaquin Benoit, SD343-0131.300.72110.11.3NR
    5. Jake McGee, TB403-0101.210.80410.61.87
    6. Jonathan Broxton, CIN274-0100.680.7976.21.4NR
    7. Tony Watson, PIT395-0210.931.00911.21.6NR
    8. Neil Ramirez, CHC251-171.250.87712.50.9NR
    9. Drew Storen, WAS312-1101.030.7977.51.19
    10. Tony Sipp, HOU231-041.540.64312.01.1NR

     

    Position Overview

    Picking 10 middle relievers is always tough, as there are so many of them around the league. On top of ERA, a low WHIP and a high strikeout rate are generally what teams look for out of their ace setup guys, and Dellin Betances has been the complete package for the Yankees this year.

    Like Betances, Wade Davis has also found a home in the eighth inning after a failed run as a starter, and those two guys are both worthy of serious All-Star consideration when the teams are announced this weekend.

    Pat Neshek has been a terrific find for the Cardinals after signing a minor league deal in the offseason, and the same can be said for Tony Sipp, who will likely be a valuable trade chip for the Astros after being released by the Padres in May.

    Joaquin Benoit, Jake McGee, Jonathan Broxton and Tony Watson are no strangers to being elite setup guys, and they are putting up fantastic numbers once again. Drew Storen was once an elite closer, but after some injury issues and some struggles, as has turned himself into a dominant reliever once again.

    The biggest surprise here is Neil Ramirez, who was acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza trade last July. The Cubs have quietly had one of the better bullpens in the league the past couple months, and Ramirez has been the best of the bunch.

Closers

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    Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

    Top 10 Closers

    NameGW-LSVERAWHIPK/9WARPrev
    1. Huston Street, SD301-022/220.900.7679.61.51
    2. Koji Uehara, BOS383-218/191.400.75011.41.93
    3. Greg Holland, KC341-223/241.931.04113.81.35
    4. F. Rodriguez, MIL423-227/302.340.87410.41.24
    5. Rafael Soriano, WAS341-020/221.060.8538.51.66
    6. J. Papelbon, PHI342-119/211.350.9308.11.8NR
    7. Craig Kimbrel, ATL360-126/302.100.96115.51.02
    8. Aroldis Chapman, CIN230-216/182.660.84517.50.6NR
    9. Zach Britton, BAL363-111/131.450.9007.11.5NR
    10. Sean Doolittle, OAK391-312/152.900.66913.20.7NR

     

    Position Overview

    Huston Street remains in the top spot for closers, as he is still perfect on the year at 22-of-22 on save chances. With an ERA under 1.00 and terrific peripheral numbers across the board, he'll be a hot commodity if the Padres make him available at the deadline.

    Koji Uehara and Greg Holland are the best of the AL crop, as each guy has only blown one save on the year and both are striking out well over a batter an inning. They should both find themselves in Minnesota when the All-Star rosters are announced.

    Veterans Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano and Jonathan Papelbon were all viewed as midlevel closing options entering the season, but they have been lights out for their respective teams so far.

    Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman once again have video-game-esque strikeout numbers but have been far from perfect so far. Kimbrel has already matched his blown-save total from a year ago but remains perhaps the most overpowering arm in baseball when he's on.

    Setup men-turned-closers Zach Britton and Sean Doolittle round out the list ahead of guys like Fernando Rodney, Joakim Soria, Casey Janssen and others. Doolittle has one of the most impressive stat lines in baseball right now with 59 strikeouts and just two walks in 40.1 innings.

     

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