MLB Midseason Position Power Rankings: B/R's Top 100 Players

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2017

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve follows through on a three-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the third inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 23, 2017, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

Over the past month, we've taken a position-by-position run through the league with our midseason positional power rankings.

Now it's time for an all-encompassing look at the league's 100 best players.

Simply put, this is meant to be a look at the best of the best in 2017. Previous track record and future expectations were a non-factor; only this season's production was taken into account.

With that in mind, let's dive into our midseason rankings.

 Top 100 Players 
1img Jose Altuve2B/1
2img Aaron JudgeOF/1
3img Bryce HarperOF/2
4img Max ScherzerSP/1
5img Clayton KershawSP/2
6img Chris SaleSP/3
7img Nolan Arenado3B/1
8img Anthony Rendon3B/2
9img Carlos CorreaSS/1
10img Mookie BettsOF/3
11img Paul Goldschmidt1B/1
12img Joey Votto1B/2
13img George SpringerOF/4
14img Corey KluberSP/4
15imgMike TroutOF/5
16img Justin Turner3B/3
17img Charlie BlackmonOF/6
18img Alex WoodSP/5
19img Jose Ramirez3B/4
20img Corey SeagerSS/2
21img Zack GreinkeSP/6
22img Zack CozartSS/3
23img Marcus StromanSP/7
24img Marcell OzunaOF/7
25img Daniel Murphy2B/2
26img Gio GonzalezSP/8
27img Kris Bryant3B/5
28img Buster PoseyC/1
29img Freddie Freeman1B/3
30img Dallas KeuchelSP/9
31img Cody Bellinger1B/4
32img Giancarlo StantonOF/8
33img Michael ConfortoOF/9
34img Robbie RaySP/10
35img Andrelton SimmonsSS/4
36img Jason VargasSP/11
37img Justin Smoak1B/5
38img Justin UptonOF/10
39img Kenley JansenRP/1
40img Craig KimbrelRP/2
41img Luis SeverinoSP/12
42img Andrew MillerRP/3
43img Ryan Zimmerman1B/6
44img Jacob deGromSP/13
45img Stephen StrasburgSP/14
46img Travis Shaw3B/6
47img Tommy PhamOF/11
48img Jake Lamb3B/7
49img Chris TaylorOF/12
50img Felipe RiveroRP/4
51img Ervin SantanaSP/15
52img Ender InciarteOF/13
53img Jonathan Schoop2B/3
54img Yu DarvishSP/16
55img Michael FulmerSP/17
56img Carlos MartinezSP/18
57img Greg HollandRP/5
58img Logan Morrison1B/7
59img Anthony Rizzo1B/8
60img Marwin GonzalezUT/1
61img Jedd Gyorko3B/8
62img Steven SouzaOF/14
63img Willson ContrerasC/2
64img Jimmy NelsonSP/19
65img Miguel Sano3B/9
66img Aaron HicksOF/15
67img James PaxtonSP/20
68img J.T. RealmutoC/3
69img Corey DickersonDH/1
70img Avisail GarciaOF/16
71img Archie BradleyRP/6
72img Chase AndersonSP/21
73img Didi GregoriusSS/5
74img Carlos CarrascoSP/22
75img Andrew McCutchenOF/17
76img Dustin Pedroia2B/4
77img Francisco LindorSS/6
78img Domingo SantanaOF/18
79img Kyle FreelandSP/23
80img Roberto OsunaRP/7
81img Nelson CruzDH/2
82img David PeraltaOF/19
83img Justin Bour1B/9
84img J.D. MartinezOF/20
85img Yonder Alonso1B/10
86img Robinson Cano2B/5
87img Raisel IglesiasRP/8
88img Wade DavisRP/9
89img Yasmani GrandalC/4
90img Eric Hosmer1B/11
91img Ivan NovaSP/24
92img Salvador PerezC/5
93img Josh Harrison2B/6
94img Lance McCullersSP/25
95img Corey KnebelRP/10
96img Mike Moustakas3B/10
97img Jackie Bradley Jr.OF/21
98img Scooter Gennett2B/7
99img Alex AvilaC/6
100img Whit Merrifield2B/8


                

The Young Guns       

Cody Bellinger
Cody BellingerJohn Minchillo/Associated Press

There were 16 players under the age of 25 who earned a spot in our rankings, including reigning Rookie of the Year winners Corey Seager (23) and Michael Fulmer (24), 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper (24) and 2016 AL MVP runner-up Mookie Betts (24).

The youngest of that group is current NL Rookie of the Year front-runner Cody Bellinger, who turned 22 on July 13, just days after he became the youngest position player to make the All-Star Game in Los Angeles Dodgers history.

Roberto Osuna and Carlos Correa are also 22 years old, and both players are already in their third MLB season after debuting at 20.

Seager and Bellinger are joined by Correa and Lance McCullers of the Houston Astros and Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians as the only teammates under 25 to make the cut.

While Aaron Judge isn't part of this "young guns" group after turning 25 in April, he is one of just three rookies to earn a spot, joining Bellinger and Colorado Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland.

Third baseman Miguel Sano (24), outfielders Michael Conforto (24) and Domingo Santana (24), starter Luis Severino (23) and reliever Archie Bradley (24) round out the under-25 group. 

Meanwhile, with stars such as Mike TroutKris Bryant and Carlos Martinez joining Judge in the 25-year-old bracketon top of all the other young talent mentioned aboveit's safe to say the game is in good hands.

      

Aging Like a Fine Wine

Nelson Cruz
Nelson CruzElaine Thompson/Associated Press

The elder statesmen are not quite as well-represented.

Just 12 players over 31 earned a spot, which further shines a light on the risks that come with spending big money on free agents and the importance of developing in-house talent.

Seattle Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz is the oldest player on our list and one of just two primary designated hitters to earn a spot. He's still going strong at 37 years old with an .863 OPS and 20 home runs to go along with an AL-leading 75 RBI.

Ervin Santana edged out Jason Vargas by 52 days for the title of oldest pitcher as both veteran hurlers turned 34 before the season started. While they've both regressed of late, their early work is still enough to warrant recognition.

As if Harper's looming free agency wasn't reason enough to say the Washington Nationals need to seize the opportunity in front of them, Max Scherzer (32), Ryan Zimmerman (32) and Daniel Murphy (32) aren't getting any younger.

Indians relief ace Andrew Miller (32) has helped lead the current bullpen revolution, while the Dodgers weren't afraid to give Justin Turner (32) a four-year, $64 million deal in the offseason—a signing that's looked like a clear win thus far.

Robinson Cano (34), Joey Votto (33), Zack Greinke (33) and Dustin Pedroia (33) have long been among the game's elite, and they're showing no signs of slowing down.

      

Who Saw Them Coming?

Yonder Alonso
Yonder AlonsoMarcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Forget the long-established star players; let's turn our attention to the guys no one expected to be anywhere near a top-100 players list when the season began.

Yonder Alonso and Justin Smoak went from afterthoughts at first base to earning spots on the AL All-Star roster, while Justin Bour has learned how to hit left-handed pitching and turned in a huge season as a result.

The Milwaukee Brewers are contenders thanks in large part Santana's contributions in the middle of the lineup, Jimmy Nelson and Chase Anderson in the rotation and Corey Knebel at the back of the bullpen.

Former Big Apple top prospects Conforto and Severino are finally living up to expectations after both players spent time in the minors last season. Bradley was also one of the game's top prospects not all that long ago, and he's found a home in the bullpen after struggling as a starter.

Speaking of minors, that's where Chris Taylor and Tommy Pham began the year for their respective teams before emerging as key contributors.

Further proof that the bargain bin is always worth perusing, Alex Avila ($2 million) and Logan Morrison ($2.5 million) are making good on cheap free-agent deals, while Scooter Gennett has been the waiver claim of the year.

Jonathan Schoop is an emerging offensive star, Avisail Garcia is finally realizing his potential, Felipe Rivero has made Pirates fans quickly forget about Mark Melancon, and Marwin Gonzalez is baseball's most dangerous Swiss army knife.

The most surprising name on this list: Whit Merrifield in the No. 100 spot.

The 28-year-old hit a respectable .283/.323/.392 in a utility role as a rookie last season, but little was expected of him going forward.

Instead, he's seized the everyday second base job and hit .291/.334/.491 with 22 doubles and 11 home runs on his way to a 3.1 WAR in 82 games.

      

Where Did They Go?

Josh Donaldson
Josh DonaldsonGAIL BURTON/Associated Press

The goal of this list and the positional lists that came before it was to look at the 2017 season in a bubble.

With that in mind, a number of superstar-caliber players were excluded.

Third basemen Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson would have had a strong case for spots inside the top 10 on preseason lists, while Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera is dealing with some nagging injuries and suffering through a down year.

Jonathan Lucroy is likely costing himself a good deal of free-agent money with a down season of his own, and the same can be said for Cubs starter Jake Arrieta.

What looked like a deep second base group has instead been thin as Ian KinslerBrian DozierJason KipnisBen ZobristJonathan Villar and Rougned Odor have all fallen flat.

Budding stars Starling MarteKyle Seager and Christian Yelich have failed to build on strong 2016 campaigns, while the big money spent on Yoenis Cespedes and Dexter Fowler in free agency looks like a mistake.

Shifting to the mound, injuries have robbed time from Noah Syndergaard and Madison Bumgarner, and the same goes for elite closers Aroldis ChapmanZach Britton and Jeurys Familia.

In fact, the list of presumptive top-tier starting pitchers who have fallen short of expectations is a long one.

Kyle HendricksDavid PriceAaron Sanchez and Felix Hernandez have all missed time to injury, while others such as Jon LesterJohnny CuetoJustin Verlander and Masahiro Tanaka simply haven't performed up to their potential.

The biggest flop of all might be Melancon, who landed a four-year, $62 million deal in the offseason only to convert 73.3 percent of his save chances for San Francisco with a 4.35 ERA. He's not entirely to blame for what's been baseball's most disappointing team, though.

              

Best Offseason Addition (Hitter): 46. 3B Travis Shaw, Milwaukee Brewers

Derik Hamilton/Associated Press

If only the Boston Red Sox had a quality third baseman with a middle-of-the-order bat, solid glove and several years of team control remaining.

Someone like Travis Shaw, for example.

The Red Sox sent Shaw and a pair of prospects to the Brewers during the offseason in exchange for setup man Tyler Thornburg—who underwent thoracic outlet surgery before he could make his Boston debut.

Shaw posted a .726 OPS with 16 home runs and 71 RBI in his first extended action at the MLB level last season, but he's become a force this year with a .943 OPS that includes 24 doubles, 23 home runs and 73 RBI en route to a 3.5 WAR.

In his absence, the Red Sox have gotten a dismal .589 OPS from the hot corner.

A year from now, prospect Rafael Devers might be a budding star and Thornburg might finally be contributing out of the bullpen. If that's the case, all may be forgotten.

Until then, trading Shaw looks like a major misstep for the Red Sox and a huge boon to the rebuilding Brewers.

             

Best Offseason Addition (Pitcher): 6. SP Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

The Red Sox might have swung and missed on the Shaw trade, but they knocked it out of the park with their winter meetings blockbuster to acquire Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox.

He came at a steep price as Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech headlined a package of four prospects that went to Chicago in the deal, but where would the Red Sox be without Sale this season?

Price is still searching for consistency after missing time early, Rick Porcello has looked nothing like the guy who took home 2016 AL Cy Young honors and Eduardo Rodriguez has only made 12 starts while dealing with his own injury issues.

That's made Sale's dominance all the more important.

The 28-year-old leads the AL in wins (12), ERA (2.48), FIP (1.96), WHIP (0.89), strikeouts (200), strikeouts per nine innings (12.7) and innings pitched (141.1).

And with two years and $26 million left on his contract, Sale will be the gift that keeps on giving.

      

Best Upcoming Free Agent (Hitter): 22. SS Zack Cozart, Cincinnati Reds

John Minchillo/Associated Press

J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Santana, Lorenzo Cain and Jay Bruce are among the top position players who will reach free agency this coming offseason, and Justin Upton will join that group if he exercises his opt-out clause.

However, Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart claims the top spot in our rankings among upcoming free agents.

The 31-year-old has long been one of the league's better defensive shortstops, and this season is no different as he's tallied 4 DRS and a 7.6 UZR/150.

But it's his offensive game that has reached new heights.

A .246/.289/.385 career hitter entering the year, Cozart is batting .317/.402/.568 with 20 doubles, 12 home runs and 39 RBI.

He might not land a megadeal on the open market, but he's all but guaranteed himself a multiyear pact and a decent raise over the $5.325 million he's making this season.

      

Best Upcoming Free Agent (Pitcher): 36. SP Jason Vargas, Kansas City Royals

Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Yu Darvish will likely sign for north of $100 million this winter, and others such as Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb appear to be well-positioned for lucrative, multiyear deals as well. Relievers Greg Holland and Wade Davis will also be hot commodities on the open market.

However, soft-tossing Jason Vargas ranked highest among upcoming free-agent pitchers.

With an average fastball velocity of 86.9 mph that's backed by a changeup/curveball/sinker mix, the 34-year-old has gone 12-4 with a 3.08 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 84 strikeouts in 114 innings.

Vargas made just 12 total appearances the past two seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he's in the final season of a four-year, $32 million deal.

He might have to settle for a one-year deal given his age and recent injury history, but a raise over the $8 million he's due in 2017 could be in order after Bartolo Colon landed a one-year, $12.5 million deal last winter.

              

Teams Who Got Shut Out

Brad Hand
Brad HandLynne Sladky/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres were the only teams without a representative in our midseason top 100.

Reliever Pat Neshek was the Phillies' lone All-Star and their best candidate for inclusion here as well. The 36-year-old has posted a 1.12 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 10.0 K/9 with 10 holds in 43 games and figures to join a contender before the trade deadline passes.

Outfielder Aaron Altherr (.288 BA, .898 OPS, 20 2B, 14 HR, 44 RBI) and starter Aaron Nola (15 GS, 7-6, 3.38 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 97 K, 93.1 IP) also made our preliminary list.

It was a similar story for the Padres, whose only All-Star and best candidate for this list was lefty reliever Brad Hand, and he could also be on the move before the deadline. He's pitched to a 2.12 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 11.6 K/9 in 46 games and comes with team control through the 2019 season.

First baseman Wil Myers (.248 BA, .797 OPS, 17 2B, 20 HR, 48 RBI) was the only other player to receive initial consideration from San Diego.

            

Baseball's Most Stacked Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

With a 70-31 record and a 12.5-game lead in baseball's best division, it should come as no surprise that the Dodgers led all teams with eight representatives on the top 100 list.

Starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw (5) and Alex Wood (18) and closer Kenley Jansen (39) were joined by catcher Yasmani Grandal (89), Bellinger (31) at first, shortstop Corey Seager (20), Turner (16) at third and second baseman/outfielder Taylor (49).

The Nationals had all seven of their representatives ranked inside the top 50—including three of the top 10 with Harper (3), Scherzer (4) and Anthony Rendon (8)—and the Arizona Diamondbacks had seven players find their way onto the list as well.

The American League side of things was also fairly predictable, as the first-place Astros led the way with six players. That was followed by the Red Sox and something of a surprise in the Royals—who had five each.

Team success and individual performance are obviously two different things, but having a bevy of players on this list doesn't hurt a team's chances of playing in October.

        

Notes

  • Players born in the United States (68), Dominican Republic (10), Venezuela (9), Netherlands (4), Cuba (3), Canada (2), Puerto Rico (2), Japan (1) and Mexico (1) appeared on the list.
  • There are 34 former first-round picks, including four No. 1 overall picks—Upton (2005), Stephen Strasburg (2009), Harper (2010) and Correa (2012).
  • Conversely, seven players were drafted after the 10th round—Robbie Ray (12th), Murphy (13th), Scooter Gennett (16th), Tommy Pham (16th), J.D. Martinez (20th), Morrison (22nd) and Bour (25th).
  • Of the 100 players, 36 never appeared on a Baseball America preseason top 100 prospect list—including Jose Altuve (1), Paul Goldschmidt (11), Corey Kluber (14), Turner (16), Charlie Blackmon (17), Wood (18), Jose Ramirez (19) and Murphy (25) among players ranked inside the top 25.
  • With the trade deadline looming, it's worth noting that 39 of the players have been involved in a trade at some point in their career. That number is eclipsed by the 53 players who are still playing for the team that originally signed or drafted them.

          

All standard stats and WAR totals courtesy of Baseball Reference, while advanced stats come via FanGraphs. Stats are accurate through Monday's games.

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