MLB Position-by-Position 2016 Player Rankings at Quarter Pole
Who are MLB's best players at every position at the quarter pole of the 2016 season?
This updated version of our position-by-position player rankings takes into account players' all-around offensive abilities, their defensive contributions and what they have meant to the success of their respective teams.
To put it simply, this is an overview of the top 10 players at each spot based solely on what they have done during the 2016 season.
On top of naming the top 10 overall players at each position, we've included a quick look at the top rookie performers to shine light on future stars at each spot.
Top 10 Catchers
|1. Buster Posey, SF||.290||.826||26||12||56||63||6||8||3.7|
|2. Wilson Ramos, WAS||.331||.921||20||19||67||53||0||-4||3.1|
|3. Jonathan Lucroy, TEX||.294||.866||18||19||61||55||5||5||3.5|
|4. Salvador Perez, KC||.256||.736||23||16||51||42||0||9||2.2|
|5. J.T. Realmuto, MIA||.307||.754||23||5||33||43||11||-5||1.8|
|6. Yadier Molina, STL||.285||.735||26||4||37||40||3||0||1.6|
|7. Cameron Rupp, PHI||.276||.823||18||14||42||32||1||-2||1.9|
|8. Yasmani Grandal, LAD||.234||.839||10||19||52||35||1||-3||2.0|
|9. Welington Castillo, ARI||.264||.757||17||12||42||32||2||5||1.8|
|10. Stephen Vogt, OAK||.270||.742||22||9||34||40||0||-2||2.0|
In something of a down year by his lofty standards, Buster Posey remains the game's best all-around catcher. On top of his strong offensive numbers, he's thrown out an NL-best 45 percent of base stealers and ranks as the league's best pitch-framer, per StatCorner.
Going strictly on offensive production, Wilson Ramos is having the best season of any catcher. He ranks third in the NL in batting average (.331) and picked a great time for a career year with free agency awaiting in the offseason.
Jonathan Lucroy was the prize of the trade deadline as he went from Milwaukee to Texas, and he'll be more than just a rental for the Rangers with a $5.25 million option for next season.
Veterans Salvador Perez and Yadier Molina both have their shortcomings offensively, but they are absolute horses when it comes to catching on a daily basis, and they remain the gold standard defensively in their respective leagues.
Second-year player J.T. Realmuto looks like a keeper for the Marlins, while Cameron Rupp has impressed with the bat for the rebuilding Phillies.
Yasmani Grandal continues to provide a good mix of on-base skills, power and pitch framing, Welington Castillo could be in line for an extension with the Diamondbacks and Stephen Vogt is one of the few steady producers in Oakland.
1. Jett Bandy, LAA
2. Willson Contreras, CHC
3. Trevor Brown, SF
Top 10 First Basemen
|1. Anthony Rizzo, CHC||.292||.966||34||25||85||71||3||8||4.7|
|2. Miguel Cabrera, DET||.310||.934||23||27||77||66||0||2||4.0|
|3. Paul Goldschmidt, ARI||.298||.915||27||18||74||73||17||3||3.5|
|4. Freddie Freeman, ATL||.287||.918||29||23||54||66||4||4||3.9|
|5. Brandon Belt, SF||.280||.879||31||14||61||58||0||8||3.5|
|6. Wil Myers, SD||.274||.840||24||23||70||78||21||5||3.0|
|7. Joey Votto, CIN||.303||.937||23||19||63||73||7||-11||2.3|
|8. Mike Napoli, CLE||.266||.878||20||29||85||76||4||-7||1.5|
|9. Joe Mauer, MIN||.284||.801||17||10||44||62||2||4||2.7|
|10. Hanley Ramirez, BOS||.275||.802||22||16||71||57||7||-3||1.3|
Even with a home run drought that stretched from July 20 to Aug. 14, Anthony Rizzo remains one of the league's top run producers in the middle of a stacked Cubs lineup.
Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt are not far behind in the running for the No. 1 spot at the position, as they have once again been two of the league's most dangerous sluggers and the faces of their respective franchises.
Freddie Freeman is having a strong season for the last-place Braves despite being "protected" by the likes of Nick Markakis, Adonis Garcia, Jeff Francoeur, Matt Kemp, Tyler Flowers, Kelly Johnson and A.J. Pierzynski.
The five-year, $72.8 million extension given to Brandon Belt in April has looked like money well spent for the Giants, while Wil Myers is finally healthy and once again performing like one of the best young hitters in the game as a building block for the Padres.
Joey Votto struggled to get things going early in the season, but he's hitting a ridiculous .451/.543/.696 since the All-Star break and leading the NL in on-base percentage (.427) once again.
One of the best under-the-radar signings of the offseason has been Mike Napoli, as he leads the first-place Indians in home runs (29) and RBI (85) on a one-year, $7 million deal.
Joe Mauer and Hanley Ramirez may be two of the more overpaid players in the league at this point in their respective careers, but they have been productive once again this season after disappointing 2015 performances.
1. Dae-Ho Lee, SEA
2. Tommy Joseph, PHI
3. Tyler White, HOU
Top 10 Second Basemen
|1. Jose Altuve, HOU||.365||1.002||32||19||74||86||26||0||7.0|
|2. Daniel Murphy, WAS||.348||.999||34||22||87||71||3||-5||4.0|
|3. Robinson Cano, SEA||.291||.861||27||26||74||77||0||9||5.2|
|4. Ian Kinsler, DET||.286||.827||23||22||63||92||13||8||4.7|
|5. Dustin Pedroia, BOS||.307||.823||29||12||53||78||5||11||4.4|
|6. Brian Dozier, MIN||.265||.865||27||26||70||70||8||0||4.1|
|7. Jean Segura, ARI||.312||.824||29||10||45||71||24||1||3.5|
|8. Jason Kipnis, CLE||.294||.857||26||20||66||72||11||1||3.3|
|9. DJ LeMahieu, COL||.342||.913||24||9||45||79||9||-2||3.4|
|10. Ben Zobrist, CHC||.276||.827||25||13||58||71||4||-2||2.8|
Perhaps the easiest choice for the No. 1 spot at any position, Jose Altuve is having an MVP-caliber year for the Astros.
He currently leads the AL in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.429), hits (170) and OPS+ (173), and he's already set a new career high in home runs (19) and RBI (74) in his transformation from catalyst to run producer.
Daniel Murphy joined the Nationals on a three-year, $37.5 million deal only after the team failed in its attempts to sign Ben Zobrist and trade for Brandon Phillips. He has proven to be a tremendous "Plan C" as he leads the NL in batting average (.348), slugging (.611) and doubles (34).
Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia have long been the cream of the crop on the AL side. They take a backseat to Altuve this season but remain among the league's most productive players at any position.
Still one of the most underrated players in the game, Brian Dozier is tied for the MLB lead with 12 home runs since the All-Star break. He has a career-best .865 OPS and is on his way to new bests in home runs and RBI.
Jean Segura has benefited greatly from an offseason change of scenery, while Zobrist has been the perfect person to add a veteran presence and on-base ability to the Cubs lineup.
Jason Kipnis is once again hitting for power with a career-best 20 home runs, and DJ LeMahieu has proved his 2015 offensive breakout was no fluke with a .342 average that ranks second in the NL.
1. Trea Turner, WAS
2. Ryan Schimpf, SD
3. Whit Merrifield, KC
Top 10 Third Basemen
|1. Josh Donaldson, TOR||.291||.962||26||28||80||95||6||7||6.3|
|2. Kris Bryant, CHC||.290||.931||28||28||73||91||8||2||5.5|
|3. Manny Machado, BAL||.305||.911||34||26||69||81||0||9||5.4|
|4. Nolan Arenado, COL||.279||.899||27||30||95||86||2||15||4.2|
|5. Kyle Seager, SEA||.284||.870||31||22||79||67||1||8||4.9|
|6. Matt Carpenter, STL||.289||.950||26||15||56||61||0||2||3.2|
|7. Adrian Beltre, TEX||.287||.811||21||19||77||60||0||11||4.0|
|8. Evan Longoria, TB||.292||.892||31||27||72||62||0||-3||4.0|
|9. Justin Turner, LAD||.274||.839||26||21||67||57||3||6||3.7|
|10. Jake Lamb, ARI||.268||.896||22||24||75||60||5||-13||2.0|
Reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson is having a better season in many respects in 2016.
His OPS is up (.939 to .962), and he has made significant improvements to both his strikeout (18.7 to 17.2 percent) and walk (10.3 to 14.4 percent) rates. He's also been more important to the Blue Jays' success since Jose Bautista has missed significant time.
Meanwhile, Kris Bryant has followed up his Rookie of the Year performance by emerging as a legitimate NL MVP candidate for the Cubs. After leading the NL in strikeouts last season, he has slashed his strikeout rate from 30.6 to 23.2 percent.
Manny Machado is once again having a brilliant season offensively, and he's done it while shuffling between third base and shortstop. Nolan Arenado is second at the position in home runs (30) and leads in RBI (95) as well as Defensive Runs Saved.
Overshadowed by his younger brother, Kyle Seager has continued his quiet improvement this season with career bests in batting average (.284), on-base percentage (.359) and slugging (.511) for a contending Mariners team.
Matt Carpenter remains a catalyst for the Cardinals with his top-tier contact skills and on-base ability, while Adrian Beltre is proving he has plenty left in the tank at 37 years old as he adds to his Hall of Fame resume.
Evan Longoria is having his best offensive season since 2010 in an improved Rays lineup, Justin Turner is setting himself up for a sizable payday in the offseason and Jake Lamb has been a surprise offensive standout behind Paul Goldschmidt in the Diamondbacks lineup.
1. Cheslor Cuthbert, KC
2. Ryon Healy, OAK
3. Alex Bregman, HOU
Top 10 Shortstops
|1. Corey Seager, LAD||.307||.888||33||21||56||75||1||1||4.4|
|2. Francisco Lindor, CLE||.311||.816||22||14||62||80||15||14||4.8|
|3. Carlos Correa, HOU||.277||.851||29||18||82||59||10||-4||5.1|
|4. Xander Bogaerts, BOS||.312||.820||25||14||69||83||13||-13||2.5|
|5. Brandon Crawford, SF||.269||.769||20||11||71||48||4||18||3.8|
|6. Trevor Story, COL||.272||.909||21||27||72||67||8||4||3.0|
|7. Aledmys Diaz, STL||.312||.894||25||14||57||64||4||-3||3.2|
|8. Jonathan Villar, MIL||.299||.820||28||9||41||63||46||3||2.9|
|9. Addison Russell, CHC||.244||.743||17||14||72||47||4||12||3.2|
|10. Brad Miller, TB||.260||.836||21||24||55||57||6||-15||1.7|
One of the favorites to win NL Rookie of the Year honors entering the season, Corey Seager has exceeded even the loftiest of expectations to emerge as a legitimate NL MVP candidate for the Dodgers in his first full season.
Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa battled it out for AL Rookie of the Year honors a year ago, and now they are in a tight race with Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts for the title of top shortstop in the AL.
It was an upset of sorts when Brandon Crawford took home NL Gold Glove honors over Andrelton Simmons a year ago, but he should have no problem repeating this season as he leads the position with 18 DRS. He's no slouch with the bat either, leading the Giants with 71 RBI.
Rookies Trevor Story and Aledmys Diaz are both currently on the disabled list, and Story is done for the season with a torn UCL in his thumb, but those two were among the biggest stories of the first half with their unexpected impact performances at the plate.
Speaking of unexpected performances, Jonathan Villar was supposed to be a placeholder for the Brewers until top prospect Orlando Arcia was ready. Instead, the 25-year-old has been a dynamic catalyst atop the Milwaukee lineup while ranking second in the majors with 46 stolen bases.
Addison Russell caught a lot of guff for earning the starting spot in the All-Star Game, but he's one of the best young players in the game in his own right. Along with his dazzling defense up the middle, he has been a steady run producer for the Cubs with 72 RBI.
Slugger Brad Miller rounds out the list despite a recent move to first base following the Rays' addition of Matt Duffy. He has provided Tampa Bay with the second power bat they've been searching for since the days of Carlos Pena.
1. Corey Seager, LAD
2. Trevor Story, COL
3. Aledmys Diaz, STL
Top 10 Left Fielders
|1. Starling Marte, PIT||.316||.834||29||7||40||65||41||16||4.6|
|2. Ryan Braun, MIL||.325||.954||19||22||65||61||13||7||4.2|
|3. Christian Yelich, MIA||.316||.880||33||13||69||62||5||5||4.1|
|4. Adam Duvall, CIN||.243||.813||23||27||76||64||4||14||2.7|
|5. Khris Davis, OAK||.254||.807||17||30||75||58||1||2||1.9|
|6. Michael Saunders, TOR||.265||.850||27||20||49||60||1||-5||2.2|
|7. Melky Cabrera, CWS||.298||.790||28||9||54||48||1||-5||1.4|
|8. Melvin Upton Jr., TOR||.246||.696||11||16||47||49||23||10||1.5|
|9. Yasmany Tomas, ARI||.264||.804||21||23||51||53||2||-7||-0.1|
|10. Matt Holliday, STL||.242||.768||20||19||60||47||0||-7||0.2|
Starling Marte is not hitting home runs at the same rate he did a year ago, but he has improved his hard contact rate from 29.1 to 37.6 percent, and his batting average is up 25 points as a result. He remains an elite defender in left field and a game-changer on the bases, and that complete package of tools earns him the top spot here.
Not far behind, Ryan Braun is having a terrific season for the Brewers with a .954 OPS that ranks third in the NL. The four years and $76 million left on his contract remain a major roadblock in the team's efforts to trade him, though.
No one has benefited more from the Marlins' addition of Barry Bonds as hitting coach than Christian Yelich. He's already posted career highs in doubles (33), home runs (13), RBI (69) and is on pace to add batting average (.316) and OPS (.880) to that list. Still just 24, he deserves far more national attention.
Adam Duvall has been a nice find for the Reds after coming over from the Giants in the Mike Leake trade. A third baseman by trade, he has been a standout defensively in left field, and his power production from the minors has carried over. A .295 on-base percentage and 27.9 percent strikeout rate limit his upside, but take nothing away from his production.
The A's traded for Khris Davis in an effort to add some punch to the middle of their lineupm and he's done just that with 30 home runs. He's also under team control through the 2019 season, so Oakland got far more than just a rental.
Michael Saunders should be the front-runner for AL Comeback Player of the Year after suiting up for just nine games in 2015. The Blue Jays' addition of Melvin Upton Jr. at the trade deadline added another comeback performer to the Toronto lineup.
Veterans Melky Cabrera and Matt Holliday have produced as expected, while Yasmany Tomas is enjoying a breakout season offensively after a somewhat disappointing rookie campaign. His 12 home runs since the All-Star break are tied for the MLB lead.
1. David Dahl, COL
2. Hyun-Soo Kim, BAL
3. Alex Dickerson, SD
Top 10 Center Fielders
|1. Mike Trout, LAA||.311||.982||26||23||77||92||20||3||7.7|
|2. Charlie Blackmon, COL||.323||.924||26||21||60||82||15||4||3.8|
|3. Jackie Bradley, BOS||.282||.874||26||19||66||69||7||7||4.6|
|4. Ian Desmond, TEX||.290||.815||25||20||70||84||18||-4||3.0|
|5. Dexter Fowler, CHC||.280||.850||21||9||37||58||8||2||2.9|
|6. Joc Pederson, LAD||.252||.856||24||18||51||49||5||3||2.8|
|7. Yoenis Cespedes, NYM||.289||.910||18||22||59||49||2||-6||2.2|
|8. Odubel Herrera, PHI||.284||.782||14||12||41||64||19||0||2.7|
|9. Marcell Ozuna, MIA||.281||.826||20||20||61||61||0||-9||1.9|
|10. Adam Jones, BAL||.274||.777||16||23||70||70||1||-9||1.3|
Considering the cleanup spot in the Angels lineup has produced a .249/.317/.442 line on the year, the numbers Mike Trout has managed to put up in the No. 3 spot are all the more impressive. His strikeouts are back down to a reasonable level, and he's running again with 20 steals for the first time since 2013.
Charlie Blackmon is the rare Rockies player who has actually hit better on the road (.326 BA, .949 OPS) than he has at home (.319 BA, .899 OPS). His performance along with the emergence of rookie David Dahl could make a trade of Carlos Gonzalez in the offseason easier to swallow.
After hitting just .213/.290/.349 in 785 plate appearances over his first three season, Jackie Bradley Jr. has put it all together here in 2016 to join Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts as budding stars for the Red Sox.
Ian Desmond has made a seamless transition from shortstop to center field and delivered a huge return on the one-year, $8 million deal he signed in the offseason. The 30-year-old should finally cash in this coming winter.
The Cubs are 60-26 (.698) with Dexter Fowler in the lineup compared to 15-17 (.469) without him. His value as an offensive catalyst can't be overstated.
Joc Pederson has settled in nicely after a rough second half last season, Odubel Herrera has proved his surprise rookie performance was no fluke and Marcell Ozuna has once again established himself as a big part of the present and future for the Marlins after spending time in the minors and on the trade block a year ago.
Yoenis Cespedes still has more games played in center field this year, but he's made it clear he prefers left field, and the defensive metrics support that stance. Even with time missed to injury, he'll cash in big if he decides to exercise his opt-out.
Adam Jones rounds out the list with his usual strong production across the board in a dangerous Orioles lineup.
1. Tyler Naquin, CLE
2. Travis Jankowski, SD
3. Keon Broxton, MIL
Top 10 Right Fielders
|1. Mookie Betts, BOS||.315||.926||34||28||89||93||18||18||6.9|
|2. George Springer, HOU||.258||.822||22||23||68||85||7||13||4.8|
|3. Carlos Gonzalez, COL||.321||.934||30||23||79||73||2||4||2.8|
|4. Adam Eaton, CWS||.275||.767||18||10||41||58||12||22||4.7|
|5. Stephen Piscotty, STL||.274||.808||27||17||65||65||4||7||2.4|
|7. Carlos Beltran, TEX||.308||.893||25||24||72||56||0||-8||2.0|
|6. Gregory Polanco, PIT||.274||.835||26||17||67||61||11||2||1.9|
|8. Mark Trumbo, BAL||.258||.836||20||34||85||66||1||-4||1.2|
|9. Bryce Harper, WAS||.238||.828||16||20||60||61||15||2||1.6|
|10. Jay Bruce, NYM||.255||.839||23||27||85||65||4||-13||0.5|
With the Red Sox set to say goodbye to David Ortiz at the end of the season, the franchise appears to be in good hands with Mookie Betts set to headline the next generation of stars in Boston.
He has turned himself into a bona fide power hitter this year without sacrificing anything in the batting average department, and he remains an elite-level defender in right field.
George Springer has spent the bulk of the season hitting in the leadoff spot for the Astros, where his impressive mix of power, speed and on-base ability makes him a dangerous weapon. The 26-year-old is still just scratching the surface of his vast potential.
Staying on the field has always been the big hurdle for Carlos Gonzalez, and he's managed to stay healthy for a second consecutive season. He'll be entering a contract year in 2017 and will no doubt continue to hear his name pop up in trade rumors all offseason.
Adam Eaton leads all of baseball with 22 DRS on the year after playing primarily center field in the past and he has continued to be a solid table-setter as well with a .358 on-base percentage.
Stephen Piscotty is as clutch as they come with a .379 average with runners in scoring position, while Carlos Beltran is tacking onto his Hall of Fame resume and gearing for another postseason run.
In a down season for center fielder Andrew McCutchen, the Pirates have gotten a breakout performance from Gregory Polanco as he has stepped into more of a run production role this year.
Mark Trumbo and Jay Bruce are limited defensively but enjoying strong seasons at the plate, while Bryce Harper has seen his production plummet after a sizzling start. His .828 OPS and 20 home runs still earn him a spot here, but he could drop out of the top 10 by season's end the way he's trending.
1. Max Kepler, MIN
2. Nomar Mazara, TEX
3. Mac Williamson, SF
Top 5 Designated Hitters
|1. David Ortiz, BOS||.313||1.028||37||27||92||56||2||3.8|
|2. Edwin Encarnacion, TOR||.270||.918||27||34||100||75||2||3.2|
|3. Nelson Cruz, SEA||.287||.917||19||30||74||68||0||3.3|
|4. Victor Martinez, DET||.301||.847||17||21||69||47||0||1.4|
|5. Carlos Santana, CLE||.240||.799||20||25||62||61||4||1.0|
It's hard to believe David Ortiz is going to retire given the type of season he's having. The 40-year-old leads all of baseball with a 1.028 OPS, and he's well on his way to the 10th 30-homer, 100-RBI season of his storied career.
Edwin Encarnacion was the first player to 100 RBI this season and is tied for the AL lead in home runs with 34. Those numbers are even more impressive when you remember that he posted a .694 OPS with just three home runs and 15 RBI in April.
No one has hit more home runs since the start of the 2014 season than the 114 slugged by Nelson Cruz. In year two of his four-year, $57 million deal he has helped transform the Mariners' offensive attack.
After posting a .667 OPS with 11 home runs and 64 RBI last season, Victor Martinez has returned to form with numbers closer to what he put up in 2014, when he finished second in AL MVP voting and landed a four-year, $68 million contract in the process.
Rounding out the list is Carlos Santana, who doesn't provide much in the way of batting average but knows how to work a walk and is well on his way to surpassing his previous career high of 27 home runs.
1. Byung-Ho Park, MIN
Top 5 Utility Players
|1. Jose Ramirez, CLE||.311||.817||30||8||51||64||20||3.1|
|2. Javier Baez, CHC||.280||.772||15||13||47||36||9||2.4|
|3. Steve Pearce, BAL||.304||.894||12||10||29||28||0||2.3|
|4. David Freese, PIT||.282||.804||20||11||46||52||0||2.1|
|5. Eduardo Nunez, SF||.286||.755||18||13||50||56||29||1.8|
In this section, we're looking for players who have played at least three different positions this season, with the two corner outfield spots counting as one position since most players who can play one can play both.
Players who receive everyday at-bats without a clearly defined position and true bench players who have made the most of their limited playing time were both considered.
Jose Ramirez earns the top spot among utility players, as his unexpected offensive contributions have gone a long way in easing the loss of Michael Brantley. He has split the bulk of his time between third base (74 games) and left field (48), while also seeing time at second base (9) and shortstop (5).
The Cubs opted against trading Javier Baez during the offseason, and he has begun to live up to lofty expectations this year, thanks in no small part to trimming his strikeout rate from 41.5 to 30.0 to 24.5 percent over his three-year career.
He has seen time at third base (53), second base (36), shortstop (14), first base (5) and in left field (2).
The Rays gave Steve Pearce a one-year, $4.75 million deal in the offseason as they searched for some cheap offense, and that's exactly what he's provided while manning first base (31), second base (14), right field (3) and third base (2).
David Freese was one of the last notable free agents to sign during the offseason, agreeing to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Pirates on March 11.
After helping bridge the gap to Jung-Ho Kang's return from a leg injury, he has split his time between third base (61) and first base (41), while also seeing time at second base (2).
The final spot here goes to All-Star Eduardo Nunez, who has settled in as the everyday third baseman for the Giants. On the year, he's actually seen more time at shortstop (54) than third (48) with a few starts at second base (6) as well.
Right-Handed Starting Pitchers
Top 10 Right-Handed Starting Pitchers
|1. Michael Fulmer, DET||10-3||2.25||1.017||.209||103||120.0||5.1|
|2. Jose Fernandez, MIA||12-6||2.81||1.090||.218||198||137.2||3.2|
|3. Max Scherzer, WAS||12-7||2.95||0.942||.194||211||167.2||4.7|
|4. Kyle Hendricks, CHC||11-7||2.19||1.007||.209||124||140.0||3.3|
|5. Julio Teheran, ATL||3-9||2.81||0.965||.205||119||134.2||3.8|
|6. Corey Kluber, CLE||13-8||3.15||1.025||.217||163||163.0||4.3|
|7. Jacob deGrom, NYM||7-5||2.29||1.050||.228||129||133.1||4.6|
|8. Jake Arrieta, CHC||14-5||2.55||1.034||.188||149||148.0||3.7|
|9. Stephen Strasburg, WAS||15-3||3.07||1.037||.207||176||143.2||4.1|
|10. Justin Verlander, DET||12-7||3.44||1.046||.213||176||167.1||4.0|
Already the heavy favorite for AL Rookie of the Year honors, Michael Fulmer is also a legitimate Cy Young candidate. After throwing a complete-game shutout in his last start, he now qualifies for the AL ERA title.
The 23-year-old has made last year's decision to deal Yoenis Cespedes look like a stroke of genius, as he was the key piece acquired from the Mets in that trade.
Jose Fernandez gets the nod for the No. 2 spot on the strength of his 198 strikeouts in just 137.2 innings, good for a 12.9 K/9 strikeout rate. That's easily the best among all MLB starters and looks more like a closer number than something you see from a starter.
The one-two punch of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg has been lethal for the Nationals, and the Cubs have developed their own dynamic duo with reigning NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta joined by emerging star Kyle Hendricks.
Hendricks doesn't blow anyone away with an average fastball velocity of 87.7 mph, but he has fantastic command of all of his pitches, and he generates a lot of ground balls (51.2 percent) and soft contact (25.6 percent).
Julio Teheran is once again proving that win-loss record is a terrible gauge of how good a pitcher is with just three victories on the year. A bounce-back season has turned him from a trade chip into a building block for the Braves.
Corey Kluber and Jacob deGrom have been the best pitchers in two of the best starting rotations in baseball, while Justin Verlander is 10-4 with a 2.65 ERA since starting the year with a 6.49 ERA through his first six starts.
Noah Syndergaard, Aaron Sanchez, Jason Hammel, Chris Tillman, Johnny Cueto, Rick Porcello, Tanner Roark, Carlos Martinez and Tyler Chatwood deserve a mention here as well.
1. Michael Fulmer, DET
2. Junior Guerra, MIL
3. Kenta Maeda, LAD
Left-Handed Starting Pitchers
Top 10 Left-Handed Starting Pitchers
|1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD||11-2||1.79||0.727||.185||145||121.0||4.8|
|2. Madison Bumgarner, SF||11-7||2.11||0.996||.203||189||170.2||4.6|
|3. Danny Duffy, KC||10-1||2.73||0.985||.215||143||132.0||3.9|
|4. Jose Quintana, CWS||9-9||2.85||1.110||.235||136||157.2||4.8|
|5. Cole Hamels, TEX||12-4||2.88||1.304||.243||149||153.1||4.8|
|6. Chris Sale, CWS||14-6||3.30||1.039||.224||157||160.2||3.8|
|7. Jon Lester, CHC||12-4||2.93||1.090||.222||139||141.1||2.7|
|8. J.A. Happ, TOR||16-3||2.96||1.140||.229||143||132.0||3.4|
|9. Drew Pomeranz, SD||9-9||2.99||1.153||.204||147||135.1||3.6|
|10. Steven Matz, NYM||9-8||3.40||1.209||.257||129||132.1||2.7|
Sidelined since June 26 with a back injury, Clayton Kershaw still takes the top spot among left-handed starters thanks to what was his best season to date through his first 16 starts.
Madison Bumgarner is making a strong push for that No. 1 spot, though, and he has to be considered the favorite for NL Cy Young at the moment. His ERA (2.11), WHIP (0.996) and K/9 (10.0) would all represent career bests if they hold up.
The Royals had Danny Duffy pitching out of the bullpen until May 15, and he's gone 10-1 with a 2.68 ERA, 0.947 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in 114 innings since moving to the rotation. In a wide-open AL Cy Young race, he's a legitimate candidate.
White Sox teammates Chris Sale and Jose Quintana remain the best lefty duo in the majors, and it's the vastly underrated Quintana who is having the better season.
Cole Hamels has shouldered the load for an injury-riddled Rangers rotation, proving to be well worth the steep cost Texas paid to acquire him from the Phillies last summer.
The Cubs have the best starters' ERA in baseball at 2.81, and Jon Lester has certainly played his part with another strong season across the board.
J.A. Happ has been worth every penny of the three-year, $36 million deal he signed in the offseason, Drew Pomeranz is starting to find his footing in Boston after a brilliant start to the year in San Diego and Steven Matz has lived up to lofty expectations as a rookie.
1. Steven Matz, NYM
2. Tyler Anderson, COL
3. Blake Snell, TB
Top 10 Non-Closer Relievers (Fewer Than 10 Saves)
|1. Brad Brach, BAL||53||7-2||19||1.61||0.929||10.3||2.7|
|2. Addison Reed, NYM||58||3-2||30||1.91||0.882||11.3||2.3|
|3. Kelvin Herrera, KC||53||1-4||23||2.05||0.911||11.3||1.8|
|4. Dellin Betances, NYY||57||2-4||27||2.20||1.012||16.0||1.8|
|5. Edwin Diaz, SEA||32||0-2||13||1.64||1.061||16.4||1.4|
|6. Nate Jones, CWS||55||5-2||24||2.13||0.891||10.0||1.9|
|7. Ryan Dull, OAK||55||5-3||10||2.25||0.783||8.7||1.9|
|8. Hector Neris, PHI||60||4-3||23||2.35||1.011||11.3||2.0|
|9. David Phelps, MIA||53||6-6||22||2.48||1.145||11.2||1.9|
|10. Neftali Feliz, PIT||55||4-0||27||2.85||0.993||10.1||1.2|
It's always tough to narrow down the 180 or so non-closer relievers employed around the league at any given time to just 10, but there are a handful of guys who have separated themselves from the pack.
Brad Brach has done a tremendous job setting up the league's best closer Zach Britton, and he was a worthy All-Star selection.
The Mets picked up Addison Reed in an August waiver deal last year and surprised some people by paying him $5.3 million this season rather than non-tendering him. That's been money well spent, as he leads the majors with 30 holds and has a sub-2.00 ERA.
Kelvin Herrera and Dellin Betances joined the aforementioned Brach on the AL All-Star, roster and Betances has now moved into the closer's role for the Yankees after the team moved Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller at the deadline.
The Mariners turned over closer duties to rookie Edwin Diaz after Steve Cishek struggled and then landed on the disabled list, and he's gone 7-of-7 on save chances. His 16.4 K/9 is the highest by any pitcher with at least 10 innings of work on the year.
Ryan Dull has been another standout rookie and could eventually take over closer duties in Oakland, while Nate Jones and Hector Neris look like future closers as well for the White Sox and Phillies, respectively.
The Marlins have utilized David Phelps in a number of different roles this season, most recently as a starter, and his versatility has been extremely valuable.
Neftali Feliz rounds out the list, as he's gotten his once promising career back on track in Pittsburgh after signing a one-year, $3.9 million deal in the offseason. Another one for the Ray Searage highlight reel.
1. Edwin Diaz, SEA
2. Ryan Dull, OAK
3. Tony Barnette, TEX
Top 10 Closers (10-Plus Saves)
|1. Zach Britton, BAL||52||2-1||37/37||0.54||0.820||10.6||3.1|
|2. Alex Colome, TB||41||1-3||27/28||1.98||1.024||11.9||1.5|
|3. Aroldis Chapman, CHC||42||3-0||26/28||1.76||0.780||13.0||1.8|
|4. Roberto Osuna, TOR||52||2-1||26/28||1.89||0.860||11.0||1.8|
|5. Mark Melancon, WAS||52||1-1||34/37||1.48||0.884||8.3||1.9|
|6. Jeurys Familia, NYM||57||2-3||40/43||2.86||1.288||9.5||1.5|
|7. Cody Allen, CLE||50||2-4||23/25||2.29||1.000||11.5||1.5|
|8. Andrew Miller, CLE||51||6-1||10/12||1.50||0.722||14.7||2.6|
|9. Seung-Hwan Oh, STL||60||2-2||12/14||1.88||0.850||12.1||2.1|
|10. Craig Kimbrel, BOS||40||2-3||21/23||3.23||1.103||14.1||0.9|
Zach Britton is the best closer in baseball this year, and it's not even close.
Armed with the best sinker in baseball, he's coaxed a ridiculous 80.4 percent ground-ball rate and allowed a grand total of nine fly balls the entire season.
With only one blown save on the year, the No. 2 spot goes to Alex Colome, who only found himself in the closer's role after Brad Boxberger landed on the disabled list during spring training.
Aroldis Chapman and Roberto Osuna have two blown saves each with a sub-2.00 ERA and a strikeout rate over 10.0 K/9, so they are easy choices for spots inside the top five as well.
Chapman was not the only big-time relief arm on the move at the trade deadline, as Mark Melancon and Andrew Miller also found new homes on a pair of contenders in the Nationals and Indians, respectively.
Jeurys Familia has an ERA on the high side at 2.86 and a similarly unimpressive 1.288 WHIP. He leads baseball with 40 saves, though, and he's only blown three on the year, so he's worthy of a spot despite those peripherals.
Cody Allen is still technically the closer in Cleveland as Miller fills more of a fireman role, and he's been rock solid once again as one of the more underrated stoppers in the game.
Seung-Hwan Oh has been lights out since taking over for a struggling Trevor Rosenthal in St. Louis. The final spot goes to Craig Kimbrel, as his save percentage and impressive strikeout rate offset the time he has missed to injury.
1. Seung-Hwan Oh, STL
2. Carlos Estevez, COL