B/R MLB 500: An Introduction to This Year's List

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B/R MLB 500: An Introduction to This Year's List
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Grab your peanuts and Cracker Jack, and then find your seat. It's time.

Time for the B/R MLB 500.

This is Year 2 of the MLB 500, and the idea is the same as in Year 1: Gather up the top players at every position, score their assorted talents and then rank them accordingly. First come the individual position rankings, and later comes the big list of 500.

And like in Year 1, the idea isn't so much to rank the top players for the 2014 season as much as it is to look ahead to the 2015 season.

That means we'll be taking some 2014 performances and projecting whether they'll get better or worse. It also means that, with help from B/R prospect guru Mike Rosenbaum, we'll be looping in top prospects who are poised to break through. We'll also be looping in some (not many) players who will be returning from lengthy or yearlong absences, albeit with conservative expectations for how they'll perform.

Lastly, there's this: We're not interested in players who won't be around in 2015. Sorry, Derek Jeter.

Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The big change this year? We've done away with the health component of last year's scoring system. Rather than score players on their ability to stay healthy, we'll just be applying any health concerns we have to the individual category (or categories) that might be affected.

As for how the scores have been determined, myself and Mr. Rosenbaum didn't completely ignore the eye test. But for the most part, the scores were influenced by something else:

Data.

It's impossible to watch every single game in a baseball season, so it's a good thing for us that we're living in the golden age of baseball data. We can take a hitter and look at how often he expands the strike zone, hits breaking balls for line drives and swings through high fastballs. Likewise, we can take a pitcher and look at how often his secondary pitches miss bats, how often his sinker gets ground balls and how good he is at pounding the corners. Simply put, the data sees everything.

Now that you know what the project is all about and how it came together, here's when you can expect to see everything:

Slideshow Date
 Top 35 First Basemen  Monday, Sept. 1
 Top 35 Catchers  Wednesday, Sept. 3
 Top 150 Starting Pitchers  Friday, Sept. 5 
 Top 35 Second Basemen  Monday, Sept. 8 
 Top 35 Shortstops  Wednesday, Sept. 10 
 Top 35 Third Basemen  Friday, Sept. 12 
 Top 55 Relief Pitchers  Monday, Sept. 15 
 Top 40 Center Fielders  Wednesday, Sept. 17 
 Top 10 Designated Hitters  Friday, Sept. 19 
 Top 70 Corner Outfielders  Monday, Sept. 22
 Full MLB 500  Monday, Sept. 29

Whenever you're ready to get started, first basemen are live and ready for reading. Enjoy.

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