MLB Superstar Power Rankings: How Each Team's Biggest Star Stacks Up

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2017

MLB Superstar Power Rankings: How Each Team's Biggest Star Stacks Up

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Some MLB teams are blessed with more talent than others, but every team has a best player.

    Ahead, we've taken a crack at ranking each team's biggest star here at the onset of the 2017 MLB season.

    First things first: A decision had to be made on who would represent each team and that made for plenty of tough decisions right off the bat.

    Bryce Harper or Max Scherzer for the Washington Nationals?

    Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo for the Chicago Cubs?

    Franciso Lindor or Corey Kluber for the Cleveland Indians?

    Once a representative was finally chosen, the players were then ranked based on their overall expected contributions for the upcoming season.

    While a player's track record helped make that decision, these rankings aren't based on a player's full body of work, but simply on how they profile for the 2017 season.

    With that cleared up, let's get started.

30. Oakland Athletics: LF Khris Davis

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Khris Davis is the clear choice of top dog on the Oakland Athletics now that Josh Reddick is gone and Sonny Gray is still trying to get healthy in an effort to return to front-line form.

    Davis joined the A's last offseason in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers and promptly turned in the first 40-homer, 100-RBI season by an Oakland player since Jason Giambi.

    The 29-year-old is never going to post a great on-base percentage and he's a below-average defender in the outfield, but that power is legit and enough to make him the closest thing the team has to a superstar on the roster.

    Franchise Runner-Up: C Stephen Vogt

29. Philadelphia Phillies: CF Odubel Herrera

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    The best a team can hope for when they select a player in the Rule 5 draft is getting someone capable of contributing in a limited role who offers a bit of upside.

    Cases like Odubel Herrera are extremely rare.

    The 25-year-old played his way into the starting center field job after being taken in the 2015 draft and then emerged as a deserving All-Star last season, when he raised his walk rate from 5.2 to 9.6 percent on his way to a .286/.361/.420 line and a 4.3 WAR.

    The Phillies gave him a five-year, $30.5 million extension in the offseason that could keep him around through 2022 if a pair of team options are exercised, so it looks like he'll be a central piece of the team's rebuilding efforts.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Aaron Nola

28. San Diego Padres: 1B Wil Myers

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Wil Myers finally stayed healthy last season after battling wrist injuries the previous two years and he put together a breakout performance in the process.

    He posted a .797 OPS with 28 home runs and 28 stolen bases and did the bulk of his damage at notoriously pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

    The Padres rewarded him with a six-year, $83 million extension, and at this point, the 26-year-old appears to be the one long-term building block on a team that is in the early stages of a full-scale rebuild.

    He became the first player of 2017 and the second player in Padres history to hit for the cycle on Monday.

    Franchise Runner-Up: 2B Yangervis Solarte

27. Kansas City Royals: C Salvador Perez

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    While he does have some holes in his game, Salvador Perez is still one of the best all-around catchers in the game and the heart and soul of the Kansas City Royals.

    The 26-year-old walked at a meager 4-percent clip last season for a .288 on-base percentage, and his pitch-framing skills leave a lot to be desired.

    However, he's a consistent 20-homer threat, he locks down the running game and he's been an absolute horse over the past four seasonscatching 80.5 percent of the team's innings and 247 more innings than any other backstop.

    With Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain all headed for free agency and all coming off down seasons relative to previous performance, Perez is a fairly easy choice as the face of the Royals and their representative on this list. 

    Franchise Runner-Up: 1B Eric Hosmer

26. Tampa Bay Rays: SP Chris Archer

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    There's no question Chris Archer has the stuff to be one of the game's elite pitchers.

    However, after going 9-19 and watching his ERA climb from 3.23 to 4.02 last season, he has something to prove here in 2017.

    The 28-year-old is armed with a mid-90s fastball and one of the game's best sliders, and his changeup has been a steadily improving third option.

    That repertoire has helped him rack up 485 strikeouts over the past two seasonsthird-most in the majors during that spanand with two strong starts under his belt so far this year, he looks poised to return to front-line form.

    Franchise Runner-Up: 3B Evan Longoria

25. New York Yankees: SP Masahiro Tanaka

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Amid ongoing concerns over the partially torn UCL in his throwing elbow, Masahiro Tanaka pitched a career-high 199.2 innings last season and finished third in the AL with a 3.07 ERA.

    As long as the 28-year-old doesn't further injure that elbow, he'll remain the ace of the Yankees staff and the closest thing the team has to an established superstar during what is something of a transitional period for the franchise.

    He can opt out of the final three years and $67 million of his contract this coming offseason, and provided he stays healthy and gets things on track after a rocky start, he'll almost certainly exercise that in search of a longer deal.

    Franchise Runner-Up: C Gary Sanchez

24. St. Louis Cardinals: C Yadier Molina

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    Tim Spyers/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    This one was a tough call.

    A strong case can be made that Carlos Martinez is now the best player on the St. Louis Cardinals roster, and following the injury of Alex Reyes, his role as the ace of the staff has taken on that much more significance.

    On the flip side, it's hard to say there's a more indispensable player on the St. Louis roster or any other roster for that matter than Yadier Molina.

    The 34-year-old is essentially a second manager on the field and his offensive game bounced back nicely last year, when he hit .307/.360/.427 and ranked ninth in the NL with 38 doubles.

    He's not quite the player he was in his prime, but he's still deserving of the superstar distinction.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Carlos Martinez

23. Chicago White Sox: SP Jose Quintana

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    Paul Beaty/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Jose Quintana figures to be a popular man all season as the rebuilding Chicago White Sox continue to field offers for their best remaining trade chip. He could wind up being the prize of this year's trade deadline, if he's not traded sooner.

    While he's just starting to get some long-overdue recognition, the 28-year-old has been a standout performer for several years now.

    He's reached the 200-inning mark in each of the past four seasons, pitching to a 3.35 ERA and 1.22 WHIP during that span, and his 18.1 WAR that ranks seventh among all starting pitchers.

    It might not be long before Yoan Moncada assumes the mantle here.

    Franchise Runner-Up: 1B Jose Abreu

22. Minnesota Twins: 2B Brian Dozier

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Is Brian Dozier going to hit 42 home runs again?

    Probably not, but he's still the best player on the Minnesota Twins and one of the most productive second basemen in the league.

    The 29-year-old posted a .990 OPS with 28 home runs after the All-Star break last season and he finished the year with a career-best 6.5 WAR.

    He's owed $15 million through the end of 2018 and that team-friendly deal made him a sought-after trade target this past offseason. It will be interesting to see if the Twins finally decide to pull the trigger on moving him at some point or if they seek an extension.

    Franchise Runner-Up: 3B Miguel Sano

21. Miami Marlins: RF Giancarlo Stanton

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Giancarlo Stanton has the potential to be a top-10 player on this list.

    However, it's impossible to overlook his inability to stay on the field for an entire season; he's played 145 games or more only twice in the his seven years.

    Despite the laundry list of injuries he's suffered to this point in his career, he's still one of just 16 players in MLB history with at least 200 home runs through his age-26 season.

    His .288/.395/.555 line and 37 home runs over 638 plate appearances during the 2014 season earned him a second-place finish in NL MVP voting, and those are the type of numbers he's capable of over a full season.

    Franchise Runner-Up: CF Christian Yelich

20. Milwaukee Brewers: LF Ryan Braun

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Ryan Braun followed up his 2013 suspension for performance-enhancing drugs with a pair of seasons that fell short of his previous level of production, and there were some legitimate questions whether his days as a superstar-caliber player were a thing of the past.

    Those questions were effectively erased last season when he posted a .903 OPS with 30 home runs and 16 stolen bases, turning his remaining contract into more of an asset than a burden.

    The 33-year-old could still wind up being a trade chip for the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers in the years to come, but there's no rush to unload his salary simply for the sake of saving some money.

    Franchise Runner-Up: 2B Jonathan Villar

19. Seattle Mariners: 2B Robinson Cano

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    There's nothing like a massive 10-year, $240 million contract to heap on the pressure.

    Robinson Cano didn't exactly struggle in his first two seasons with the Seattle Mariners, hitting .300/.358/.450 and tallying a 9.8 WAR, but his power production dipped with the move to Safeco Field.

    It returned in a big way last season, though, as he posted an .882 OPS with a career-high 39 home runs and 103 RBI hitting alongside a pair of other 30-homer sluggers in Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.

    The 34-year-old might not match that total this season, but another 30-homer, 100-RBI campaign with plus defense at second base is a reasonable expectation.

    Franchise Runner-Up: 3B Kyle Seager

18. Texas Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Adrian Beltre was recently pegged by yours truly as the best player in baseball over the age of 35.

    The 38-year-old turned in another elite-level season last year, posting an .879 OPS with 32 home runs and 104 RBI while also tallying a 15 DRS and a 13.2 UZR/150 at third base.

    At this point, his 90.2 career WAR ranks fourth all-time among third basemen—trailing only Mike Schmidt (106.6), Eddie Mathews (96.2) and Wade Boggs (91.1).

    He's cemented his place as a future Hall of Famer, no question.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Yu Darvish

17. Pittsburgh Pirates: CF Starling Marte

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    Fred Vuich/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    It's weird calling Starling Marte a center fielder and it's even weirder not automatically picking Andrew McCutchen to represent the Pittsburgh Pirates on this list.

    There's little question Marte has passed him as the team's best player, though.

    The 28-year-old has piled up 20.7 WAR over the past four seasonstrailing only Mike Trout (37.1) among all outfielders—and he's still making strides offensively, so we might not have seen the best he has to offer just yet.

    He set career highs in batting average (.311), on-base percentage (.362), OPS (.818) and stolen bases (47) last season, albeit while watching his home run total drop from 19 to nine.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Gerrit Cole

16. Atlanta Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Freddie Freeman doesn't always get the recognition he deserves while serving as the lone superstar on a rebuilding Atlanta Braves team.

    There was no ignoring a career year last season, though.

    The 27-year-old hit .302/.400/.569 with 43 doubles, 34 home runs and 91 RBI, and he did it with little-to-no protection in the lineup prior to the summer acquisition of Matt Kemp.

    As the Braves start to make the climb back toward contention, he should start to get more of the attention he deserves on a national level.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Julio Teheran

15. Cincinnati Reds: 1B Joey Votto

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    Benny Sieu/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Just because it's fun to look at, let's toss out Joey Votto's second-half stat line from a year ago:

    • 314 PA, .408/.490/.668, 19 2B, 15 HR, 55 RBI

    That's pretty good.

    The 33-year-old is the active leader in on-base percentage (.424) and that's also good for 14th on the all-time list, as his pitch recognition and patience at the plate are simply unmatched in the game today.

    His .312/.423/.535 career line speaks for itselfthe man can just flat-out hit.

    Franchise Runner-Up: CF Billy Hamilton

14. Detroit Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera

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    Mike Stone/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    At some point, Miguel Cabrera is going to start to decline.

    However, fresh off a 38-homer, 108-RBI season that featured a .316/.393/.563 line and just two years removed from winning his fourth batting title, it's probably not wise to start betting against him just yet.

    The 33-year-old is 54 home runs away from the 500 mark for his career, and his .320/.398/.561 batting line makes him one of the most complete hitters to ever play the game.

    He's a living legend at this point and one who is still capable of making a run at MVP honors if he can avoid injury.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Justin Verlander

13. Colorado Rockies: 3B Nolan Arenado

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    There will always be detractors who point to a Colorado Rockies player as a product of his environment.

    It's hard to say Nolan Arenado doesn't benefit from playing half his games at Coors Field. Take a look at his 2016 splits:

    • Home: .312 BA, 1.030 OPS, 25 HR, 85 RBI
    • Away: .277 BA, .832 OPS, 16 HR, 48 RBI

    That doesn't mean the 25-year-old isn't a superstar, though.

    He's bidding to become the first player since Babe Ruth to lead his league in home runs and RBI in three consecutive seasons, and his elite defense at third base has nothing to do with his home park.

    Franchise Runner-Up: CF Charlie Blackmon

12. New York Mets: SP Noah Syndergaard

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    It hasn't taken long for Noah Syndergaard to climb to the top of a stacked New York Mets pitching staff.

    After an impressive rookie season, he emerged as a legitimate ace last year, going 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 218 strikeouts in 183.2 innings to finish eighth in NL Cy Young voting.

    Armed with a fastball that consistently touches triple digits and a borderline unfair low-90s slider to go along with an improving changeup-curveball combination, the 6'6" right-hander is an absolute force on the mound.

    And at 24-year-old, he's still improving. A scary thought for the rest of the league.

    Franchise Runner-Up: LF Yoenis Cespedes

11. San Francisco Giants: SP Madison Bumgarner

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    Alex Gallardo/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Madison Bumgarner boasts quite the career resume.

    He's 100-68 with a 2.99 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over his nine-year career and that includes four All-Star Game appearances and four top-10 finishes in NL Cy Young voting.

    The burly left-hander is also already one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time, with an 8-3 record, 2.11 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 102.1 playoff innings.

    He has three World Series rings and won NLCS and World Series MVP honors in 2014, when he tallied three wins and one of the greatest saves in baseball history over five appearances.

    And all before his 28th birthday.

    Franchise Runner-Up: C Buster Posey

10. Houston Astros: 2B Jose Altuve

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Jose Altuve went from dynamic table-setter to legitimate middle-of-the-order threat last season with the addition of some newfound power.

    The 26-year-old won his second career batting title with a .338/.396/.531 line that included 216 hits, 42 doubles, 24 home runs, 96 RBI, 108 runs scored and 30 stolen bases.

    He's an established superstar in the prime of his career on a team that includes a good mix of up-and-coming talent (Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman) and veteran leadership (Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann).

    His 7.6 WAR ranked third among AL position players and he finished third in AL MVP voting.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SS Carlos Correa

9. Toronto Blue Jays: 3B Josh Donaldson

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    For as good as he was during his AL MVP campaign in 2015, a case can be made that Josh Donaldson was even better last season.

    While his home run (41 to 37) and RBI (123 to 99) totals dropped, his on-base percentage climbed from .371 to .404 thanks to a spike in his walk rate (10.3 to 15.6 percent) and the result was a career-best .953 OPS.

    Regardless of which season you prefer, we can all agree he's a terrific player.

    The 31-year-old has topped 7.0 WAR in each of the past four seasons, and his 31.2 WAR during that span is second only to Mike Trout (37.1)

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Aaron Sanchez

8. Arizona Diamondbacks: 1B Paul Goldschmidt

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    If Paul Goldschmidt were playing in a larger market, he'd be one of the faces of the sport.

    The 29-year-old provides a rare mix of power, speed and plate discipline that makes him one of the league's truly elite offensive players.

    He's posted back-to-back seasons with at least a .290 average, 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 100 walks and 100 runs scored.

    Barry Bonds (six), Bobby Abreu (four), Joe Morgan (three), Jeff Bagwell (two), Mike Trout (two), Chipper Jones (one) and Carl Yastrzemski (one) are the only other players in MLB history to post such a stat line.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Zack Greinke

7. Cleveland Indians: SS Francisco Lindor

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    Aaron Josefczyk/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    It's been a meteoric rise to superstardom for Francisco Lindor.

    Always a standout defender during his time in the minors, Lindor exploded offensively with a .313/.353/.482 line and 38 extra-base hits in 438 plate appearances to finish second in Rookie of the Year voting to Carlos Correa in 2015.

    He proved that was no fluke with an equally impressive first full season in the majors, helping lead the Cleveland Indians to the World Series while finishing ninth in AL MVP voting.

    The 23-year-old should be a consistent .300 hitter going forward and his budding power could make him a perennial 20/20 threat, all to go along with an elite glove that earned him Platinum Glove honors last year.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Corey Kluber

6. Washington Nationals: SP Max Scherzer

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Max Scherzer became just the sixth pitcher in MLB history to win Cy Young honors in both leagues last season.

    The 32-year-old went 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA while leading the NL in WHIP (0.97), strikeouts (284) and innings pitched (228.1) and he made the All-Star team for the fourth consecutive season.

    He's a fierce competitor on the mound, and his fastball-changeup-slider-curveball repertoire can be completely overpowering when he's at his best.

    Look no further than his 13 double-digit strikeout games last season, including a 20-strikeout performance against the Detroit Tigers on May 11.

    Franchise Runner-Up: RF Bryce Harper

5. Baltimore Orioles: 3B Manny Machado

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    A lot is made of how quickly Mike Trout and Bryce Harper have emerged as superstars and two of the faces of the sport.

    For whatever reason, Manny Machado isn't part of that same narrative.

    That despite the fact that he's 11 months younger than Trout and just three months older than Harper.

    Machado has turned in back-to-back top-five finishes in AL MVP voting. He's posted an .869 OPS while averaging 35 doubles, 36 home runs, 91 RBI and 104 runs scored while posting a 13.8 WAR that's good for fourth among position players.

    Throw in his elite defense and he's one of the true all-around superstars in today's game.

    Franchise Runner-Up: CF Adam Jones

4. Chicago Cubs: 3B Kris Bryant

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Kris Bryant made the leap from standout rookie to bona fide superstar in helping the Chicago Cubs to a World Series title last season.

    He posted a .939 OPS with 35 doubles, 39 home runs, 102 RBI and an NL-high 121 runs scored en route to a 7.7 WAR while splitting his time between third base and the corner outfield spots.

    The 25-year-old also showed the ability to make significant adjustments as he trimmed his strikeout rate from 30.6 to 22.0 percent after leading the NL with 199 punchouts as a rookie.

    There's no shortage of superstar-level talent on the Cubs roster right now, but the reigning NL MVP has quickly emerged as the face of the franchise.

    Franchise Runner-Up: 1B Anthony Rizzo

3. Boston Red Sox: RF Mookie Betts

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Mookie Betts turned in the closest thing we've seen to a Mike Trout season since the reigning AL MVP broke into the league.

    The Boston Red Sox right fielder hit .318/.363/.534 with 214 hits, 42 doubles, 31 home runs, 113 RBI, 122 runs scored and 26 stolen bases in 30 attempts for a 9.5 WAR.

    Those 31 long balls came after he hit just 23 in his first two seasons in the league, and that emerging power made him a legitimate five-tool standout.

    On top of his offensive game, he also tallied 32 DRS and a 17.2 UZR/150 in right field.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SP Chris Sale

2. Los Angeles Dodgers: SP Clayton Kershaw

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Clayton Kershaw was on his way to perhaps the best season of his storied career when back problems cost him two months.

    He still finished 12-4 with a 1.69 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and a ridiculous 172-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 149 innings of work to check in fifth in NL Cy Young balloting.

    The 29-year-old returned strong down the stretch, so there's really no cause for concern over that back injury going forward.

    He's finished inside the top five in Cy Young voting in each of the past six seasonswinning the award three times and taking home four ERA titles and three strikeout titles along the way—and he has to be considered the front-runner for the award once again.

    Sorry, Corey Seager. This is still Kershaw's team for now.

    Franchise Runner-Up: SS Corey Seager

1. Los Angeles Angels: CF Mike Trout

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Superstar Profile

    Here's what I wrote about Mike Trout while ranking him as the league's best center fielder:

    "Fresh off his second AL MVP award and another season with over 10.0 WAR, Mike Trout remains the best all-around player on the planet, though Mookie Betts closed the gap considerably last year.

    "His career WAR now stands at 48.5.

    "That's the highest total ever for a player prior to his age-25 season, ahead of the likes of Ty Cobb (46.7), Mickey Mantle (40.9), Alex Rodriguez (38.0), Ken Griffey Jr. (37.0), Mel Ott (36.8), Rogers Hornsby (36.1) and Jimmie Foxx (36.0).

    "Soak that in for a second.

    "We're witnessing history here, folks."

    That pretty well sums it up. 

    Franchise Runner-Up: SS Andrelton Simmons

     

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted.