MLB Superstar Power Rankings: How All 30 Teams' Biggest Stars Stack Up

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2018

MLB Superstar Power Rankings: How All 30 Teams' Biggest Stars Stack Up

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    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

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

    Ahead, we've ranked each team's biggest star.

    First, we had to decide who would represent each franchise, which presented plenty of tough choices.

    Bryce Harper or Max Scherzer for the Washington Nationals?

    Nolan Arenado or Charlie Blackmon for the Colorado Rockies?

    Francisco Lindor or Corey Kluber for the Cleveland Indians?

    Once a representative was chosen, players were ranked based on their overall expected contributions for the upcoming season. These rankings aren't based on a player's full body of work but on how they profile for the 2018 season.

    Let's get started.

           

    Included is a look at where each player ranked in B/R's preseason top 100 players list, which can be found here.

30. SP Michael Fulmer, Detroit Tigers

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: NR

    The Detroit Tigers still have a future Hall of Famer on the roster in first baseman Miguel Cabrera.

    However, the 34-year-old is coming off the worst season of his career. Even if he bounces back, it's fair to assume his days as a legitimate MVP candidate are behind him.

    Instead, Michael Fulmer is the clear pick to represent the rebuilding club.

    The 25-year-old won AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2016 and followed that up by earning a trip to the All-Star Game, emerging as one of the game's best young pitchers.

    Right fielder Nicholas Castellanos is also worth a mention after posting a 111 OPS+ with 26 home runs and 101 RBI last season.

29. C Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 97

    Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain departed in free agency, and Mike Moustakas offers little value aside from his home run power, so catcher Salvador Perez is an easy pick as the top player on the Kansas City Royals.

    Still just 27 years old, Perez is entering his sixth season as the team's everyday catcher.

    Over the past five seasons, he has posted a 96 OPS+ while averaging 26 doubles, 20 home runs and 73 RBI as one of the game's top offensive threats at the catcher position.

    It's his defense and leadership ability that really make him a superstar, though.

    During that five-year span, he's made five All-Star appearances and won four Gold Glove awards while helping the Royals to the AL pennant in 2014 and a World Series title in 2015.

28. RP Brad Hand, San Diego Padres

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    Orlando Ramirez/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 91

    The San Diego Padres are a team on the rise with one of the game's deepest farm systems and quality young players who are carving out a role at the MLB level.

    Wil Myers, Manuel Margot, Dinelson Lamet and Austin Hedges could be significant long-term pieces, and the team paid big bucks to add Eric Hosmer to the mix in free agency.

    However, the top player on the roster is still reliever Brad Hand.

    The left-hander made the full-time move to the bullpen after joining the Padres in 2016, and the past two seasons he's been lights out.

    In 154 appearances, he's racked up 22 saves and 37 holds while posting a 2.56 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings.

    That earned him a three-year, $19.75 million extension this offseason with a 2021 team option.

27. 3B Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 89

    Matt Olson was the headline-grabber among Oakland Athletics rookies last season thanks to his 24 home runs in 59 games.

    However, Matt Chapman turned in the more valuable debut, racking up 3.6 WAR in 84 games at the MLB level.

    The 24-year-old third baseman flashed intriguing power with a 110 OPS+ that included 23 doubles, 14 home runs and 40 RBI in 326 plate appearances.

    But his defensive work really drove his value.

    In just 727 innings of work in the field, he racked up 19 defensive runs saved, trailing only Nolan Arenado (20 DRS in 1,343.1 innings) among third basemen.

26. C J.T. Realmuto, Miami Marlins

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    Rob Foldy/Miami Marlins/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 87

    With Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon all traded during the offseason, catcher J.T. Realmuto is the last man standing of sorts for the retooling Miami Marlins.

    The 27-year-old took over starting catcher duties in 2015 and enjoyed a breakout offensive season in 2016, posting a 111 OPS+ with a .303 average, 31 doubles, 11 home runs and 12 stolen bases en route to 2.6 WAR.

    Few catchers are capable of providing a .300 average with double-digit home runs and stolen bases, all while offering plus defensive skills behind the plate.

    With team control through the 2020 season, he's by far the most valuable asset left on the Miami roster, and he may be flipped for prospects too before long.

25. SP Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 74

    It might only be a matter of time before Rhys Hoskins claims this spot for the Philadelphia Phillies.

    For now, it belongs to Aaron Nola.

    The No. 7 pick in the 2014 draft, Nola reached the majors in short order. After two seasons of showing intriguing potential, he emerged as one of the best starters in the NL last season.

    The 24-year-old went 12-11 with a 3.54 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 184 strikeouts in 168 innings on his way to 4.3 WARninth among NL pitchers.

    Adding veterans Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana in free agency signaled that the Phillies are ready to take a step forward.

    However, the continued development of Nola into a front-line starter could have the greatest impact on the team's long-term outlook.

24. LF Marcell Ozuna, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 57

    A phenomenal season by Marcell Ozuna in Miami went largely overlooked in the shadow of NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton.

    The 27-year-old hit .312/.376/.548 while ranking among the NL leaders in hits (191, fourth), home runs (37, third), RBI (124, third), OPS+ (146, fifth) and WAR (5.8, ninth).

    It cost the St. Louis Cardinals a package of four prospectsheadlined by Sandy Alcantara and Magneuris Sierra—to acquire him from the Marlins, but it was a price worth paying for a team that had lacked a true middle-of-the-order threat since Albert Pujols left town.

    Ace Carlos Martinez and longtime catcher Yadier Molina also deserve a mention.

23. 2B Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 56

    Robinson Cano is in the fifth season of the massive 10-year, $240 million deal he signed with the Seattle Mariners, and he remains one of the game's best offensive second basemen.

    The 35-year-old failed to match his 2016 production (138 OPS+, 39 HR, 103 RBI, 7.3 WAR) last year.

    However, he was still plenty productive with a 112 OPS+ that included 33 doubles, 23 home runs and 97 RBI in the middle of a powerful lineup.

    Over the course of his 14-year career, Cano has racked up 2,387 hits, 301 home runs and 1,186 RBI on his way to 66.3 career WAR, and he looks like a future Hall of Famer.

    Felix Hernandez is no longer pitching at an elite level, Nelson Cruz provides limited value as an everyday DH and James Paxton needs to prove he can stay healthy, so Cano is the clear choice to represent the Mariners.

22. CF Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 54

    There are good defenders and there are great defenders.

    Then there's Kevin Kiermaier.

    As a regular in the Tampa Bay Rays outfield the last four seasons, he's racked up 90 DRS, which leads all position players during that span except Andrelton Simmons (103).

    He's more than an elite glove, though.

    Last season, he posted a 114 OPS+ with 15 doubles, 15 home runs and 16 stolen bases, spending a good chunk of the season hitting first or second in the batting order.

    A 31st-round pick, Kiermaier is a great homegrown story for the Rays. They made him a long-term piece with a six-year, $53 million extension that could keep him in Tampa Bay through 2023.

21. RP Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Duane Burleson/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 52

    Felipe Vazquez?

    In case you haven't heard, the pitcher formerly known as Felipe Rivero legally changed his name to Felipe Vazquez earlier this week.

    The flamethrowing lefty began last season in a middle relief role but quickly moved into the ninth-inning gig, finishing the season with a 1.67 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and 10.5 K/9 while nailing down 21 saves in 23 chances.

    Armed with a fastball that touches triple digits, good changeup and wipeout slider, he can be unhittable when he's on his game.

    With Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole traded during the offseason and outfielders Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco taking a step back last season, it's the Pirates' standout closer who gets top billing.

20. 1B Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 51

    Jose Abreu has been a steady force for the Chicago White Sox since winning AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2014 following a stellar run in the Cuban League.

    In four full seasons, he's posted a 142 OPS+ while averaging 31 home runs and 102 RBI.

    The 31-year-old has limited defensive value and middling on-base skills as he walked at just a 5.2 percent clip last season, but he's a perennial threat for a .300/30/100 line and the clear face of a White Sox team in transition.

    The future belongs to the likes of Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

    For now, Abreu checks in as the team's biggest star.

19. 2B Brian Dozier, Minnesota Twins

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 47

    Brian Dozier set the bar high in 2016 when he became one of just four second basemen in MLB history to record a 40-homer season—joining Davey Johnson (43, 1973), Rogers Hornsby (42, 1922) and Ryne Sandberg (40, 1990).

    The 30-year-old did not match that total last year, but he was still one of the game's best offensive players, posting a 127 OPS+ with 30 doubles, 34 home runs and 93 RBI.

    Dozier will earn $9 million in the final season of a four-year, $20 million deal before hitting free agency for the first time.

    The 2009 eighth-round pick is part of a terrific homegrown core the Minnesota Twins have assembled and the centerpiece of one of the league's most potent offenses.

    If he walks in the offseason, look for budding ace Jose Berrios to assume the mantle of top player on the Minnesota roster.

18. LF Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 46

    The Milwaukee Brewers paid a steep price to acquire Christian Yelich.

    They shipped four prospects to the Miami Marlins: Lewis Brinson (No. 27 MLB.com prospect), Monte Harrison (No. 72 MLB.com prospect), Isan Diaz and Jordan Yamamoto.

    The 26-year-old was well worth the price, though, given his 5-WAR potential and team-friendly contract.

    Yelich has improved his offensive game the past two seasons, posting a 126 OPS+ while averaging 37 doubles, 20 home runs, 90 RBI, 89 runs scored and 12 stolen bases.

    The move from Marlins Park to Miller Park should boost his run production numbers, and moving back to left field should again make him a Gold Glove-caliber defender after he spent last season manning center field.

17. 3B Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

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    R. Yeatts/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 42

    Adrian Beltre is going strong even after turning 39 years old this month.

    While injuries limited him to 94 games last season, he hit .312/.383/.532 with 22 doubles, 17 home runs and 71 RBI in 389 plate appearances for 3.6 WAR.

    In the 21st season of his storied career, Beltre has likely already punched his ticket to the Hall of Fame, piling up 3,060 hits, 462 home runs and 1,644 RBI on his way to 93.8 WAR.

    Up-and-coming sluggers Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara and Willie Calhoun represent the future for the Texas Rangers, but Beltre still deserves top billing.

16. SP Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 29

    Noah Syndergaard saw his 2017 season come to a screeching halt when he suffered a partial tear of his right lat muscle April 30.

    He established himself as one of the game's best starters the previous 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.

    The 6'6" flamethrower can regularly touch triple digits with his fastball, and he backs it with a filthy low-90s slider and a good changeup.

    His uncanny command makes him elite, as he's walked just 1.9 batters per nine innings compared to a 10.4 K/9 strikeout rate.

    A strong showing over his first three starts this season shows that last year's injury is in the rearview mirror. He should once again be one of the game's most dominant starters in 2018.

15. SS Manny Machado, Baltimore Orioles

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    G Fiume/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 26

    Manny Machado will be one of the headliners of next winter's free-agent class, when there's a good chance he'll move to another franchise.

    For now, he's the face of the Baltimore Orioles.

    The 25-year-old turned in a down season last year, at least by his standards, posting a 107 OPS+ with 33 home runs and 95 RBI. Coupled with elite defense at the hot corner, he was still a 3.4 WAR player and finished the year strong.

    He's moved back to his natural position of shortstop this season and is off to a red-hot start at the plate.

    Given his age and track record, a $400 million payday doesn't seem like a stretch.

14. RF Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 20

    What will Aaron Judge do as an encore to his historic rookie season?

    That question is enough to limit him to the No. 14 spot in these rankings, but he could easily be a top-10 player in baseball by the end of 2018.

    There's always the risk of a sophomore slump when someone takes the league by storm. When that someone racks up 208 strikeouts and a 30.7 percent strikeout rate, that risk increases.

    However, Judge also walked an AL-best 127 times last season on his way to a .422 on-base percentage, and that advanced approach limits his regression risk.

    The towering 6'7" slugger looks to have all the makings of a perennial AL MVP candidate.

13. 3B Josh Donaldson, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 19

    After battling injuries early, Josh Donaldson finished the 2017 season on fire.

    From Aug. 1 through the end of the season, he hit .302/.410/.698 with 22 home runs and 47 RBI over 227 plate appearances in 50 games.

    The 2015 AL MVP has posted a 150 OPS+ and averaged 37 home runs, 100 RBI and 103 runs scored in his three full seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays.

    After earning an arbitration-record $23 million this season, he'll hit the open market as part of the vaunted 2018-19 free-agent class.

    With his run production skills, elite on-base ability and standout defense at the hot corner, he's sure to be a hot commodity, even entering his age-33 season.

12. SP Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox

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    Michael Reaves/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 17

    In his first season with the Boston Red Sox, left-hander Chris Sale racked up 308 strikeouts while going 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and 0.97 WHIP to finish second in AL Cy Young voting.

    Since joining the rotation full-time in 2012, he's gone 87-55 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.6 K/9 and a 5.4 K/BB ratio.

    The 29-year-old sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and pairs it with one of the game's best sliders, sprinkling in a good changeup to round out his repertoire.

    It's unclear whether giving up Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech to acquire Sale from the White Sox last offseason will be the right move long-term.

    For now, there's no question Boston has one of the game's best to front its rotation.

11. 1B Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 15

    Since turning in a breakout offensive season in 2013, Freddie Freeman has posted a 148 OPS+ that ranks seventh among all players with at least 1,000 plate appearances.

    The 28-year-old was well on his way to MVP-caliber numbers last season when a fractured wrist cost him nearly two months, though he still finished with a .307/.403/.586 line that included 35 doubles and 28 home runs in 514 plate appearances.

    As the Atlanta Braves make a climb back toward contention, Freeman will be the centerpiece of the roster with a long-term deal that will keep him around through the 2021 season.

    If he can stay healthy for a full season, a top-five spot in these rankings is within reach.

10. C Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

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    Buster Posey
    Buster PoseyEzra Shaw/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 13

    Buster Posey remains the best all-around catcher in the game.

    The 31-year-old made the All-Star team for the fifth time last season, finishing fifth in the NL batting title race with a .320 average.

    He also continued to be a standout behind the plate, throwing out 38 percent of base-stealers and once again grading out as an above-average pitch framer.

    Posey will continue to make a couple of starts a week at first base in an effort to keep him fresh over the course of a long season, but the San Francisco Giants have shown no indication that he'll make a full-time move.

    As long as he lines up primarily as a catcher, he'll be one of the league's most valuable players.

9. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 10

    One of these days, Paul Goldschmidt is going to win an NL MVP award.

    The Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman has finished second in the voting twice, and he finished third to Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Votto last season.

    The 30-year-old has a 151 OPS+ over the past five seasons, and he's a legitimate 30/30 threat with a 32-steal season to his credit in 2016.

    Goldschmidt will earn $11.1 million this season, and he has a $14.5 million team option for 2019 before his team-friendly contract is up and he hits the open market for the first time.

    If he were playing in a bigger market, he'd already be one of the faces of the sport.

8. RF Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 9

    Bryce Harper looks like a man on a mission as he begins a contract year.

    Through the Washington Nationals' first 10 games, he's hitting .345/.553/.966 with six home runs and 12 RBI while racking up 16 walks against five strikeouts.

    The 25-year-old bounced back from a disappointing 2016 season to post a 157 OPS+ with 29 home runs and 87 RBI last season despite missing six weeks with a left knee injury.

    Already in his seventh MLB season, Harper has racked up 27.1 WAR, and he'll enter free agency next offseason at a time when most players are just beginning the arbitration process.

    The contract he receives will shape the free-agent market for years to come, and where he decides to sign will alter the MLB landscape.

7. 3B Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 7

    On the surface, Kris Bryant turned in a disappointing encore to his 2016 NL MVP performance.

    His home runs (39 to 29) and RBI (102 to 73) totals both dropped significantly even though the Chicago Cubs again ranked among the best offensive teams in baseball.

    However, a closer look shows a still-developing hitter who took a positive step forward.

    The 26-year-old trimmed his strikeout rate (22.0 to 19.2 percent) and raised his walk rate (10.7 to 14.3 percent), continuing to deliver elite value in the process with 6.2 WAR.

    Anthony Rizzo deserves serious consideration, as he's emerged as the on- and off-field leader for this young Cubs team while establishing himself as one of the game's best offensive players.

    But the pick has to be Bryant.

6. SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 6

    A strong case can be made for Corey Kluber and Jose Ramirez to be the pick for the Cleveland Indians.

    However, two-way shortstop Francisco Lindor is the centerpiece of one of the most talented rosters in baseball.

    A standout defender from the time he was taken with the No. 8 pick in the 2011 draft, Lindor racked up 32 DRS in his first three seasons in the majors.

    It's the emergence of his offensive game that has been a pleasant surprise.

    The 24-year-old led all shortstops with 33 home runs last season, raising his OPS (.794 to .842) while posting his second consecutive 5-WAR season.

    There's still room for improvement from one of the game's brightest young stars.

5. 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 5

    Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon both finished in the top five in NL MVP voting last season.

    • Arenado: 131 OPS+, 87 XBH (37 HR), 130 RBI, 100 R, 7.2 WAR
    • Blackmon: 141 OPS+, 86 XBH (37 HR), 104 RBI, 137 R, 6.0 WAR

    There are two major areas that make Arenado the clear choice for the Colorado Rockies.

    The first is his road stats:

    • Arenado: .886 OPS, 19 2B, 18 HR, 54 RBI
    • Blackmon: .784 OPS, 17 2B, 13 HR, 44 RBI

    The second is his defensive production:

    • Arenado: 20 DRS, 5.9 UZR/150
    • Blackmon: -5 DRS, -1.2 UZR/150

    That's enough to make the star third baseman the Rockies' top player and one of the best all-around players in the sport.

4. SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Norm Hall/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 4

    Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer took home Cy Young honors last season.

    We're not looking at the 2017 season in a bubble, though, and Clayton Kershaw is still the consensus best pitcher in the world.

    The 30-year-old would be a Hall of Famer if he retired today with the following body of work to his credit:

    • 293 GS, 144-66, 2.36 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2,139 K, 1,954 IP, 59.2 WAR

    He's far from done.

    Kershaw can opt out of the final two years of his current contract this offseason, and a record-breaking payday will likely be waiting for him on the other end.

3. 1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 3

    Joey Votto is an on-base machine.

    With a .454 on-base percentage last season, he led the NL in that category for the sixth time in his career, and he did it while racking up far more walks (134) than strikeouts (83).

    That's an impressive feat for anyone, let alone a power hitter.

    While he's drawn some criticism in the past that his overly patient approach takes away from his run production numbers, Votto put together an elite performance across the board last year with 34 doubles, 36 home runs and 100 RBI.

    That earned him a second-place finish in NL MVP voting.

    Even at the age of 34, he's one of the best pure hitters in the game, and it's safe to expect more of the same in 2018.

2. 2B Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

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    R. Yeatts/Getty Images

    Top 100 Rank: 2

    Jose Altuve has developed from a top-of-the-order spark plug into one of the most dynamic all-around offensive players in the game.

    A .346 average won him his third career batting title last year, and he also led the AL in hits (204) while swiping at least 30 bases for the sixth straight season and tying his career high with 24 home runs.

    He took home AL MVP honors as he led the Houston Astros to a World Series title.

    The 27-year-old has had one of the most team-friendly contracts in baseball for years, and he finally cashed in this offseason with a five-year, $151 million extension.

    Another batting title and a run at repeating as AL MVP seem like reasonable expectations for 2018.

1. MIke Trout, Los Angeles Angels

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Top 100 Rank: 1

    Mike Trout is the best player on the planet until someone unseats him.

    The 26-year-old already has 54.8 WAR to his credit, and he was on his way to a career year last season when he suffered a torn thumb ligament.

    Even limited to 114 games, he hit .306/.442/.629 with 33 home runs and 22 stolen bases, and he finished fourth in MVP voting.

    With a better supporting cast on a Los Angeles Angels team that's expected to contend for a playoff spot, another run at MVP honors could be in the cards.

             

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