Updated MLB Position-by-Position Rankings, July Edition

Joel ReuterJuly 1, 2022

Updated MLB Position-by-Position Rankings, July Edition

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    Sarah Stier/Getty Images

    Who are MLB's 10 best players at each position midway through the 2022 season?

    That's the simple question we set out to answer, and it required casting aside past performance, expectations and long-term projections.

    In other words, name recognition and previous success don't mean anything here. We're just looking at how players are performing in 2022.

    We'll have monthly updates to paint a more accurate picture of how things stand. With the July 19 All-Star Game right around the corner, this should be a good indication of who you can expect to see in this year's Midsummer Classic.

    For consistency, players are ranked at the position where they have played the most innings this season.

    Let the debate begin!


    Note: Included in parenthesis after each player's name is where they ranked in last month's version of this article, which can be found here.

Catchers

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    Alejandro Kirk (Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Top 10 Catchers

    1. Alejandro Kirk, TOR (2)
    2. Willson Contreras, CHC (1)
    3. Will Smith, LAD (6)
    4. Travis d'Arnaud, ATL (NR)
    5. Tyler Stephenson, CIN (4)
    6. Jose Trevino, NYY (NR)
    7. Jonah Heim, TEX (3)
    8. William Contreras, ATL (10)
    9. J.T. Realmuto, PHI (9)
    10. Jorge Alfaro, SD (NR)


    No. 1 Spot: Toronto Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk hit .346/.459/.654 with seven home runs and 18 RBI in June to take over the top spot. The 23-year-old ranks ninth among all qualified hitters with a 166 OPS+, and he has posted more walks (30) than strikeouts (23) en route to 3.2 WAR through 66 games.


    Rising: After a quiet May, veteran Travis d'Arnaud hit .323/.380/.753 with five doubles and seven home runs in 71 plate appearances in June. The 33-year-old has a 122 OPS+ with 11 home runs and 36 RBI on the year, and he ranks among the best pitch-framers in baseball.


    Falling: Up-and-comer Keibert Ruiz was No. 8 on the catcher list last month, but he fell out of the top 10 after batting .216 with a .572 OPS and just four extra-base hits in June. The 23-year-old remains one of the few promising long-term pieces on the Nationals.

First Basemen

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    Paul Goldschmidt (John Fisher/Getty Images)

    Top 10 First Basemen

    1. Paul Goldschmidt, STL (1)
    2. Pete Alonso, NYM (3)
    3. Josh Bell, WAS (7)
    4. Ty France, SEA (2)
    5. Luis Arraez, MIN (6)
    6. Freddie Freeman, LAD (5)
    7. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR (10)
    8. C.J. Cron, COL (4)
    9. Anthony Rizzo, NYY (NR)
    10. Jose Abreu, CWS (NR)


    No. 1 Spot: The NL leader in batting average (.342), on-base percentage (.424), slugging percentage (.630), OPS+ (201), hits (96) and total bases (177), Paul Goldschmidt has put together an MVP-caliber first three months. He also has 24 doubles, 19 home runs, 65 RBI and 4.2 WAR in 74 games.


    Rising: Switch-hitter Josh Bell was already expected to be one of the most sought-after bats on the trade market this summer when his walk year began, and he has boosted his stock considerably by hitting .319/.402/.507 for a 163 OPS+ with 11 home runs and 46 RBI. The free-agent-to-be has a 1.142 OPS and 16 extra-base hits in June.


    Falling: Atlanta Braves slugger Matt Olson narrowly missed claiming the No. 10 spot after checking in at No. 8 last month. However, his 128 OPS+ is lower than that of anyone who did make the list, and his .808 OPS in June represented a downturn in production.

Second Basemen

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    Tommy Edman (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)

    Top 10 Second Basemen

    1. Tommy Edman, STL (1)
    2. Andres Gimenez, CLE (5)
    3. Jazz Chisholm Jr., MIA (2)
    4. Jose Altuve, HOU (4)
    5. Jeff McNeil, NYM (3)
    6. Gleyber Torres, NYY (6)
    7. Ketel Marte, ARI (10)
    8. Jorge Polanco, MIN (NR)
    9. Luis Guillorme, NYM (8)
    10. Jake Cronenworth, SD (NR)


    No. 1 Spot: With more starts at second base (43) than shortstop (30), Tommy Edman is still part of the second basemen list. His production atop the lineup and up the middle defensively has been worth a staggering 4.5 WAR, which gives him the MLB lead.


    Rising: It's time to start taking the Andres Gimenez breakout seriously. The 23-year-old is hitting .309/.354/.493 with 20 extra-base hits, six steals and 3.2 WAR in 63 games. He tallied just 1.8 WAR over his first 117 games in the big leagues, and he's already matched his home run total from the previous two years with eight long balls.


    Falling: After a red-hot stretch in mid-May when he homered seven times in seven games, Trevor Story has crashed back to earth with a middling .232/.289/.390 line and a 29.8 percent strikeout rate in June. With 12 home runs and 10 steals, he is on track for his fourth career 20/20 season.

Third Basemen

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    Manny Machado (Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Top 10 Third Basemen

    1. Manny Machado, SD (1)
    2. Jose Ramirez, CLE (2)
    3. Rafael Devers, BOS (3)
    4. Nolan Arenado, STL (4)
    5. Austin Riley, ATL (5)
    6. Ke'Bryan Hayes, PIT (6)
    7. Brandon Drury, CIN (NR)
    8. Eugenio Suarez, SEA (NR)
    9. Alex Bregman, HOU (10)
    10. DJ LeMahieu, NYY (NR)


    No. 1 Spot: It's a coin toss between Manny Machado (173 OPS+, 30 XBH, 46 RBI, 3.9 WAR), Jose Ramirez (178 OPS+, 45 XBH, 63 RBI, 3.4 WAR) and Rafael Devers (168 OPS+, 44 XBH, 3.7 WAR) for the top spot among third basemen. Machado is the best of the bunch defensively by a decent margin, and that serves as the de facto tiebreaker.


    Rising: Despite an MLB-leading 105 strikeouts and a 32.3 percent strikeout rate, Eugenio Suarez has been a 2.1-WAR player for the Seattle Mariners. He has a 123 OPS+ with 16 doubles and 13 home runs, and he's tallied 3 DRS and a 5.2 UZR/150 defensively.


    Falling: The New York Yankees have been a juggernaut over the past month, but veteran Josh Donaldson has had little to do with that. The 36-year-old is hitting .215/.286/.342 with one home run and 25 strikeouts in 91 plate appearances in June, dropping him out of these rankings after he was No. 7 last month.

Shortstops

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    Xander Bogaerts (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

    Top 10 Shortstops

    1. Xander Bogaerts, BOS (3)
    2. Dansby Swanson, ATL (7)
    3. Trea Turner, LAD (6)
    4. Tim Anderson, CWS (1)
    5. Carlos Correa, MIN (NR)
    6. Jeremy Pena, HOU (4)
    7. J.P. Crawford, SEA (2)
    8. Nico Hoerner, CHC (NR)
    9. Francisco Lindor, NYM (5)
    10. Amed Rosario, CLE (NR)


    No. 1 Spot: The Boston Red Sox were one of the hottest teams in baseball in June, and Xander Bogaerts was a big reason why as he hit .337 with an .878 OPS in 103 plate appearances. He's hitting .326/.397/.469 on the year, good for a career-high 140 OPS+ through 73 games.


    Rising: A free agent at season's end, Dansby Swanson saw his stock trend upward in a big way after he hit .339/.400/.578 with seven home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games in June. That production has also played a major role in Atlanta's surge up the NL East standings.


    Falling: After hitting just .232 with a .566 OPS in May, Wander Franco spent the bulk of June on the injured list nursing a quad injury. The 21-year-old phenom is batting .262 with an ugly .294 on-base percentage in 204 plate appearances, and he has some work to do to climb back into the top 10.

Left Fielders

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    Austin Hays (Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    Top 10 Left Fielders

    1. Austin Hays, BAL (2)
    2. Kyle Schwarber, PHI (NR)
    3. Joc Pederson, SF (3)
    4. Ian Happ, CHC (6)
    5. Andrew Benintendi, KC (1)
    6. Jurickson Profar, SD (7)
    7. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., TOR (NR)
    8. Mark Canha, NYM (5)
    9. Steven Kwan, CLE (NR)
    10. David Peralta, ARI (10)


    No. 1 Spot: With a six-homer, 23-RBI June, Austin Hays has built a compelling case to be the Baltimore Orioles representative at the All-Star Game. The 26-year-old is hitting .279/.336/.475 for a 130 OPS+, with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, 45 RBI and 2.4 WAR in 72 games.


    Rising: Slugger Kyle Schwarber is hitting .273/.390/.667 with 11 home runs and 24 RBI in 118 plate appearances in June. With that, he raised his batting average 32 points and moved into a tie for the NL home run lead with 22 long balls.


    Falling: Trevor Larnach was hitting .299/.375/.515 at the end of May, and that was good enough for him to claim the No. 4 spot on this list. However, the 25-year-old is unranked after he hit .127/.191/.238 with a 35.3 percent strikeout rate in 68 June plate appearances before undergoing core muscle surgery.

Center Fielders

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    Aaron Judge (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

    Top 10 Center Fielders

    1. Aaron Judge, NYY (1-RF)
    2. Mike Trout, LAA (1)
    3. Byron Buxton, MIN (7)
    4. Julio Rodriguez, SEA (5)
    5. George Springer, TOR (2)
    6. Brandon Nimmo, NYM (3)
    7. Bryan Reynolds, PIT (9)
    8. Adolis Garcia, TEX (NR)
    9. Luis Robert, CWS (6)
    10. Mike Yastrzemski, SF (5-RF)


    No. 1 Spot: AL MVP front-runner Aaron Judge has played more innings in center field (329.0) than right field (226.2), so he shifts from the right field list to the center field list this month. Mike Trout has a slight edge in OPS+ (190 to 183) and WAR (4.2 to 3.8), but Judge has been the best player on the best team in baseball, and his 29 home runs lead the majors.


    Rising: Adolis Garcia is quietly hitting .314/.348/.581 with seven home runs and 18 RBI in 112 plate appearances in June. An All-Star as a rookie last season, he's never going to be a major on-base threat and is always going to strike out a ton, but he's well on his way to another 3-WAR, 30-homer season.


    Falling: Versatile catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho was a breakout performer in the early going for the D-backs, but his production has fallen off a cliff. After checking in at No. 4 on this list last month, he's hitting .176 with a .488 OPS in 95 plate appearances in June.

Right Fielders

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    Kyle Tucker (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

    Top 10 Right Fielders

    1. Kyle Tucker, HOU (6)
    2. Mookie Betts, LAD (1)
    3. Taylor Ward, LAA (3)
    4. Ronald Acuna Jr., ATL (10)
    5. Juan Soto, WAS (4)
    6. Starling Marte, NYM (9)
    7. Hunter Renfroe, MIL (NR)
    8. Manuel Margot, TB (7)
    9. Max Kepler, MIN (8)
    10. Anthony Santander, BAL (NR)


    No. 1 Spot: With 3.8 WAR in 69 games, Kyle Tucker is a full 1 WAR up on Mookie Betts for the lead among right fielders. The 25-year-old has a 141 OPS+ with 15 home runs and 14 steals in 15 attempts, and his 14 DRS in right field lead all outfielders, as he's well on his way to his first Gold Glove award.


    Rising: Sidelined for the first 19 games of the 2022 season while he continued to recover from a torn ACL, Ronald Acuna Jr. has quickly made up for lost time. The 24-year-old has a 127 OPS+, 1.6 WAR, 15 extra-base hits and 13 steals in 43 games, though he is day-to-day after fouling a ball off his foot.


    Falling: The Tampa Bay Rays were dealt a major blow when Manuel Margot was placed on the 60-day injured list earlier this month after he crashed into the outfield wall and suffered a sprained knee. The 27-year-old was hitting .302/.365/.423 for a 133 OPS+ in 200 plate appearances.

Designated Hitters

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    Yordan Alvarez (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

    Top 10 Designated Hitters

    1. Yordan Alvarez, HOU (2)
    2. Bryce Harper, PHI (3)
    3. J.D. Martinez, BOS (1)
    4. Shohei Ohtani, LAA (6)
    5. Giancarlo Stanton, NYY (4)
    6. Michael Brantley, HOU (NR)
    7. Trey Mancini, BAL (5)
    8. Charlie Blackmon, COL (NR)
    9. Nelson Cruz, WAS (NR)
    10. Miguel Cabrera, DET (8)


    No. 1 Spot: The Houston Astros signed Yordan Alvarez to a six-year, $115 million extension this month, and that is already looking like a bargain. He leads the AL in OPS+ (203) and is hitting .316/.412/.658 with 23 home runs and 56 RBI. The 25-year-old has also made 31 starts in left field after playing just 41 games in the outfield all of last season.


    Rising: Coming off a full-season-worst 96 OPS+ in 2021, Charlie Blackmon is proving he still has something left in his age-35 season. He's hitting .308/.336/.523 with 12 extra-base hits in 113 plate appearances in June, and after starting the year in right field, he has settled in as the team's primary DH.


    Falling: Catcher-turned-DH Mitch Garver was No. 9 on this list last month, but he's hitting just .152 with a .547 OPS and four RBI in 53 plate appearances in June. He suffered a flexor strain in his throwing arm in May and has not strapped on the catcher's gear since May 8.

Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

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    Sandy Alcantara (Eric Espada/Getty Images)

    Top 10 Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

    1. Sandy Alcantara, MIA (2)
    2. Justin Verlander, HOU (6)
    3. Tony Gonsolin, LAD (10)
    4. Alek Manoah, TOR (5)
    5. Joe Musgrove, SD (4)
    6. Corbin Burnes, MIL (1)
    7. Logan Gilbert, SEA (9)
    8. Dylan Cease, CWS (NR)
    9. Miles Mikolas, STL (NR)
    10. Aaron Nola, PHI (NR)


    No. 1 Spot: While Tony Gonsolin has an MLB-best 1.58 ERA in 74 innings, Sandy Alcantara sports a terrific 1.95 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and a .198 opponents' batting average, and he's thrown 41.1 more innings despite making just two more starts than Gonsolin.


    Rising: With Lance Lynn missing significant time and Lucas Giolito looking shaky with a 5.19 ERA, Dylan Cease has emerged as the clear ace of the Chicago White Sox staff. The 26-year-old has a 2.56 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 81 innings, and he's allowed just one earned run while piling up 32 strikeouts in 18 innings over his last three starts.


    Falling: After strong starts to the year, Pablo Lopez (5 GS, 1-2, 5.34 ERA), Paul Blackburn (5 GS, 1-2, 5.13 ERA) and Kevin Gausman (5 GS, 1-3, 3.96 ERA) each had a rocky June to fall out of the rankings.

Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

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    Shane McClanahan (Tyler Schank/Getty Images)

    Top 10 Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

    1. Shane McClanahan, TB (3)
    2. Martin Perez, TEX (2)
    3. Carlos Rodon, SF (10)
    4. Nestor Cortes, NYY (1)
    5. Julio Urias, LAD (9)
    6. Max Fried, ATL (6)
    7. Framber Valdez, HOU (5)
    8. Jordan Montgomery, NYY (NR)
    9. Tyler Anderson, LAD (NR)
    10. Jeffrey Springs, TB (NR)


    No. 1 Spot: After going 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA and 141 strikeouts in 123.1 innings as a rookie last year, Shane McClanahan has taken another step forward to emerge as one of the best pitchers in baseball this season. The 25-year-old leads the AL in ERA (1.77), WHIP (0.83) and strikeouts (123), and he's rattled off nine straight quality starts entering July.


    Rising: McClanahan's teammate Jeffrey Springs had not started a game in the majors since 2018 entering the year, but he's been a revelation since moving into the starting rotation May 9. All told, he has a 2.25 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 60 innings spanning 10 starts and eight relief appearances.


    Falling: The three newcomers at the bottom of this month's top 10 list took the place of Tarik Skubal (6 GS, 2-4, 5.85 ERA), Jose Quintana (6 GS, 0-2, 4.80 ERA), Eric Lauer (5 GS, 1-2, 6.83 ERA), who all struggled in June.

Relief Pitchers

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    Clay Holmes (Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

    Top 10 Relief Pitchers

    1. Clay Holmes, NYY (2)
    2. Josh Hader, MIL (1)
    3. Ryan Helsley, STL (4)
    4. Emmanuel Clase, CLE (NR)
    5. A.J. Minter, ATL (7)
    6. Jorge Lopez, BAL (NR)
    7. Ryne Stanek, HOU (NR)
    8. David Bednar, PIT (5)
    9. Edwin Diaz, NYM (8)
    10. J.P. Feyereisen, TB (3)


    No. 1 Spot: Plenty of stats display just how dominant Clay Holmes has been this season, from his 0.49 ERA to his 14 saves in 15 chances. However, his absurd 82.4 percent ground-ball rate is perhaps the most impressive stat of all.


    Rising: With a 0.73 ERA and 13 saves in 32 appearances, Jorge Lopez has been one of the breakout pitchers of 2022 while closing games for a better-than-expected Baltimore Orioles team. Also worth a mention here are Jhoan Duran (MIN), Devin Williams (MIL), Michael King (NYY) and Eli Morgan (CLE), who were the toughest cuts from the top 10.


    Falling: Left-hander Taylor Rogers ranks second in the majors with 22 saves, but he also has four blown saves, two of which came in June when he posted a 5.59 ERA in 10 appearances at the back of the San Diego Padres bullpen.


    Statistics via Baseball Reference, Statcast and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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