MLB Superstar Power Rankings: How All 30 Teams' Top Stars Stack Up at Midseason
We've blazed through the All-Star break and thus the midseason mark (though technically the season is more than half over). It seems as good a time as any to update our MLB superstar power rankings.
Here's how it works: We pick the biggest star from all 30 clubs and rank them 1-30. The hardest part is choosing each team's top star.
In some cases, it's obvious. In others, it's a coin toss. There's an undeniable degree of subjectivity. Basically, we're considering a combination of stats, ability, potential, track record and a certain indefinable something. The French call it je ne sais quoi.
After the selection process, we rank each star according to his first-half FanGraphs WAR and use Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) as a tiebreaker. We also place hitters ahead of pitchers in tie situations, since hitters play (virtually) every day and thus impact more games.
No. 30- No. 21
No. 30: Eric Hosmer, 1B, San Diego Padres
FanGraphs WAR: minus-0.5
Eric Hosmer signed a franchise-record eight-year, $144 million deal with the San Diego Padres this winter. So far, he's hit .249 with 10 home runs and a .714 OPS for the Friars.
Perhaps even more damningly, the four-time Gold Glove winner owns a minus-4.5 ultimate zone rating (UZR) for his play at first base.
He's been below replacement level with the bat and the glove while making superstar money for a rebuilding team. Ouch.
No. 29: Adam Jones, CF, Baltimore Orioles
FanGraphs WAR: 0.0
Manny Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers is virtually a done deal as of this writing, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman.
Assuming there are no snags and Machado dons Dodger Blue, the Orioles' biggest star is Adam Jones, a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner.
Jones himself could be a trade target, though his .723 OPS and .299 on-base percentage don't exactly jump off the stat sheet. Neither do the minus-17 defensive runs saved (DRS) he's posted in center field. All of it adds up to a star's resume but merely replacement-level production in 2018. And that might be generous.
No. 28: Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
FanGraphs WAR: 0.0
Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu could also be dealt by the deadline, as he's a veteran with a big bat toiling for a losing, rebuilding team.
His value isn't sky-high at the moment, however. The slugging Cuban sports MLB career lows in batting average (.253) and OPS (.752).
On the other hand, his 13 homers speak to the power that made him a top-14 American League MVP finisher in 2017 and earned him a second career All-Star nod this season despite his production dip.
No. 27: Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals
FanGraphs WAR: 0.3
A six-time All-Star, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez toils for a team that's 41 games under .500.
His own performance isn't up to his usual career standards. He's hitting only .221 with a .259 on-base percentage. His All-Star nod this season was more about legacy than current performance.
Still, he remains the center of a Kansas City team in transition and a warm reminder of the 2015 world championship glory days.
No. 26: Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers
FanGraphs WAR: 0.5
An almost-surefire future Hall of Famer, Adrian Beltre is the biggest star on the last-place Texas Rangers even at age 39.
He's missed time to injury but is slashing a respectable .286/.345/.394 in 65 games and posted a .832 OPS with 14 RBI in June.
There may be gas sloshing in the tank of the six-time top-10 MVP finisher. Enough to engineer a deadline deal? Perhaps.
No. 25: Marcell Ozuna, LF, St. Louis Cardinals
FanGraphs WAR: 0.6
When the St. Louis Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins this winter for a package of prospects, they hoped the 27-year-old would anchor their offense.
Ozuna was coming off a superlative campaign in which he clubbed 37 homers with a .924 OPS and picked up stray MVP votes.
Instead, Ozuna has posted a .693 OPS for the Cards and barely managed to contribute more than your average minor league call-up.
No. 24: Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
FanGraphs WAR: 0.6
Josh Donaldson was the AL MVP in 2015 and a valuable player up to and including last season.
In 2018, injuries have thrown a wrench in his gears.
A nagging calf ailment has limited Donaldson to just 36 games. He's hit five home runs, driven in 16 runs and displayed flashes of his old self during that time, but it hasn't been enough for a Toronto Blue Jays team that's buried under .500 in the top-heavy AL East and must now be kicking itself for not trading Donaldson when his value was high.
No. 23: Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
FanGraphs WAR: 1.3
Right hander Blake Snell is rising fast as the Tampa Bay Rays' best pitcher and franchise player.
For now, the Rays' biggest, most recognizable star is righty Chris Archer.
He's having a typically Archer season, with a ho-hum ERA (4.29) that's contextualized by his FIP (3.79). He's also struck out 9.2 per nine innings, though he missed time with an abdomen injury.
Snell looks like the future in Tampa Bay, meaning the small-market Rays might try to trade Archer at some point.
No. 22: Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
FanGraphs WAR: 1.3
Bryce Harper is fresh off a dramatic win in the Home Run Derby, secured in front of his hometown D.C. fans. He hit 23 homers in the first half while drawing an NL-leading 78 walks.
So why is the brash Washington Nationals star and (ahem, likely) impending free agent ranked so low?
For one thing, Harper is hitting a paltry .214. He's also posted minus-10 DRS for his play in right field.
It could be an aberration. But Harper needs to remedy those numbers if he wants to rejoin the game's elite and score a record-breaking contract this winter.
No. 21: Michael Fulmer, RHP, Detroit Tigers
FanGraphs WAR: 1.4
With Miguel Cabrera lost for the season to a ruptured biceps tendon, right-hander Michael Fulmer assumes the mantle of biggest star on the Detroit Tigers.
The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year winner and 2017 All-Star hasn't pitched up to those standards in 2018, as his 4.50 ERA and 3-9 record attest.
He got off to a strong start, posting a 2.76 ERA in June, and has shown flashes of the player Detroit is undoubtedly hoping to construct its rotation around—or possibly trade for a glitzy prospect package.
No. 20-No. 11
No. 20: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
FanGraphs WAR: 1.6
Only injuries place the best pitcher of his generation so low on the list.
Back and bicep issues have limited Clayton Kershaw to 75.2 innings. During that span, the Dodgers southpaw and three-time NL Cy Young Award winner has a 2.74 ERA with 9.3 strikeouts per nine.
Those are very Kershaw-esque numbers. Meaning, if he can avoid further ailments, he should shoot back up these rankings as L.A. concurrently maintains its position atop the NL West standings.
No. 19: Nelson Cruz, DH, Seattle Mariners
FanGraphs WAR: 1.8
With second baseman Robinson Cano in performance-enhancing drugs suspension purgatory, Nelson Cruz becomes the biggest star on the Seattle Mariners.
The six-time All-Star has clubbed 22 homers with a .902 OPS for the M's. His value is dinged by his role as a DH, since he accumulates no defensive credit.
Nevertheless, he'll be a key piece of Seattle's effort to end 16 years of postseason futility.
No. 18: Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants
FanGraphs WAR: 2.0
The stats might suggest Buster Posey has ceded his title as the best catcher in baseball (more on that in a moment).
Let's get real, though: With apologies to Madison Bumgarner, Posey is the face of the San Francisco Giants and remains an all-world catcher with three world championships, an NL MVP Award and a batting title in his back pocket.
This season, he's slashing a steady .288/.366/.408, though a balky hip that caused him to miss the All-Star Game could slow him in the second half.
No. 17: Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
FanGraphs WAR: 2.2
If anything, Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is a victim of his own success.
He won NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2015. He took home the NL MVP Award and helped break baseball's longest, most infamous World Series drought. Last season, he finished seventh in NL MVP balloting.
In 2018, he's hitting .280 with an .867 OPS and 10 home runs. For most guys, that would be a solid output.
Bryant isn't most guys.
No. 16: Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
FanGraphs WAR: 2.6
Joey Votto leads the National League with a .422 on-base percentage. His OPS is down to .863 from 2017's NL-leading 1.032.
Overall, however, the Cincinnati Reds first baseman is having a very Joey Votto season.
The 34-year-old plays for a last-place team that's probably at least a year or two away from contention, meaning just as the Reds hit their stride, Votto could be on the downslope. Yet he's signed at least through 2023, and in 2015 indicated he had no intention of waiving his no-trade clause.
A Red for life? Maybe.
No. 15: Starling Marte, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates
FanGraphs WAR: 2.9
After a PED suspension tarnished his reputation in 2017, two-time Gold Glove winner and 2016 All-Star Starling Marte has been on a forgiveness tour with his performance for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season.
Marte posted an .813 OPS prior to the break with 13 homers and an MLB-leading 25 stolen bases.
On a Bucs club that's floating around .500 but unlikely to seriously enter the NL playoff picture, Marte has been a nice redemption story.
No. 14: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
FanGraphs WAR: 3.3
At his best, the Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt is not only one of the best first basemen on the planet, he is one of the best players on the planet. Period.
Goldy hasn't quite lived up to his lofty reputation in 2018. There are warts, including his NL-leading 110 strikeouts.
Then again, he's got 21 homers and a .921 OPS. He's still Goldschmidt, and he'll be the centerpiece of the Snakes chase for a second straight playoff berth.
No. 13: Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics
FanGraphs WAR: 3.5
The Oakland Athletics are among the coolest under-the-radar stories in baseball. At 55-42, they're playoff contenders coming out of the break.
Who saw that coming?
Maybe third baseman Matt Chapman, who has 10 homers and a .342 OBP to pair with an eye-popping 22 defensive runs saved at third base.
The A's face an uphill climb to make the dance, but Chapman's presence at the hot corner is an unequivocal plus.
No. 12: Lorenzo Cain, CF, Milwaukee Brewers
FanGraphs WAR: 3.5
As the Milwaukee Brewers jostle for alpha dog status in the NL Central, they've gotten a big boost from Lorenzo Cain.
Signed over the winter for an in-hindsight bargain five-year, $80 million pact, Cain is hitting .293 with eight home runs, 18 stolen bases and an .820 OPS.
Yes, that contract might sting in 2022 when the Brew Crew will pay Cain $18 million in his age-36 season. For now, they're reaping the rewards of a toolsy veteran with extensive playoff experience from his days with Kansas City.
No. 11: J.T. Realmuto, C, Miami Marlins
FanGraphs WAR: 3.5
So about that catcher who might have eclipsed Posey?
It's Miami Marlins receiver J.T. Realmuto, who has a .310 average and .902 OPS for the Fish. Will he be the next star player to exit South Beach?
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported to the contrary.
"The Marlins want to keep Realmuto, who is under team control through 2020, and have internally discussed the possibility of making a long-term offer," Jackson noted. "A team would need to make an astronomical offer for Miami to even consider a trade."
10. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
FanGraphs WAR: 3.9
The Atlanta Braves were supposed to be an emerging hopeful stocked with young players clawing for relevance in 2018.
Instead, they're just a half-game out in the NL East at 52-42 and appear to be a genuine postseason factor.
Credit emerging stars such as Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. Until further notice, though, the biggest star on the Braves is first baseman Freddie Freeman.
Freeman stuck it out through the lean years with Atlanta, as Bleacher Report's Danny Knobler outlined. Now, he's hitting .315 with a .938 OPS for a winner.
His patience, in other words, has been rewarded.
9. Eddie Rosario, LF, Minnesota Twins
FanGraphs WAR: 3.9
The Minnesota Twins are six games under .500 entering the second half. That's good enough for second place in the mediocre AL Central, but it won't be good enough for a second straight postseason appearance.
If the Twinkies miss the dance, it won't be Eddie Rosario's fault.
After a strong 2017 season, Rosario has fully broken out in 2018, to the tune of 19 home runs, a .311 average and eight DRS in left field.
"He's got a lot of things he can do to help teams win," Twins skipper Paul Molitor said, per Mike Berardino of Twincities.com. "On the defensive side, with his bat, with his power. I don't know if a lot of people projected the power to this point, but if you've got that kind of bat speed and those kind of hands, it was a matter of time before he figured some things out offensively."
8. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros
FanGraphs WAR: 4.0
Take your short-stature jokes and shove 'em where the sun don't shine.
It's past time to acknowledge that Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve is far more than his 5'6" frame.
He's the reigning AL MVP and a six-time All-Star. He paces baseball with 129 hits and boasts a .332 average. He's cracked nine home runs and 23 doubles while swiping 14 bases.
At some point, Altuve may be eclipsed on the Houston Astros' star chart by physically larger teammates such as shortstop Carlos Correa and third baseman Alex Bregman.
That day is not today.
7. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies
FanGraphs WAR: 4.1
Nolan Arenado is almost certainly the best defensive third baseman in baseball and arguably one of the best of all time.
On top of that, consider his .312 average, .981 OPS, 23 home runs and 68 RBI. Adjust for the Coors Field effect if you must. Those are undeniably impressive numbers, even if you discount the exemplary glove work.
At 51-45, the Colorado Rockies are hanging on the fringes of the Senior Circuit playoff race. They made the NL Wild Card Game in 2017 but lost to the Diamondbacks. That was Arenado's only career taste of the postseason.
If the Rocks fall short in 2018, might he ask for a trade?
Here's a hint: "I don't want to lose anymore. I just hate it," Arenado said on July 1, per USA Today's Bob Nightengale. "It's tough on you."
6. Aaron Nola, LHP, Philadelphia Phillies
FanGraphs WAR: 4.2
The Philadelphia Phillies come out of the break as the first-place team in the NL East. Even the most optimistic Philadelphia Phillies fans probably didn't see that coming.
Here's one major reason for the Phils' success: right-hander Aaron Nola.
Through 129 frames, the 25-year-old Nola sports a 2.30 ERA with 131 strikeouts. He teased ace potential in 27 starts last season. Now he's cashing in on said potential and inserting himself into the NL Cy Young Award conversation.
In the All-Star Game, Nola pitched one inning and faced the Royals' Perez, the Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts, the Astros' Altuve and the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout, all guys you have met or will meet on this list.
The result? Two strikeouts (against Perez and Betts), one single (to Altuve) and a pop-up (by Trout). Not bad, kid...not bad at all.
5. Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets
FanGraphs WAR: 4.4
If anyone is ahead of Nola in the NL Cy Young Award race, it's the New York Mets' Jacob deGrom.
Yeah, deGrom is pitching for a disappointing last-place Mets team that will likely shift to sell mode before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.
Forget that for a moment and consider his MLB-leading 1.68 ERA and 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings. Those stats scream ace among aces, which deGrom decidedly is.
Will he be traded out of Queens for a massive package of prospects or keep dealing for a basement-dweller? Stay tuned.
4. Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
FanGraphs WAR: 4.7
Aaron Judge is a crusher of baseballs. He hit an AL-leading 52 home runs last season and has 25 at the break.
Fence-clearing explouts aren't all Judge brings to the table, however. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year also boasts 12 DRS and an 8.1 UZR for his play in right field. He's a double threat, even if the dingers garner all the attention.
Fellow New York Yankees bopper Giancarlo Stanton is the defending NL MVP, but the 26-year-old Judge has officially passed his doppelganger for the title of biggest star in the Bronx.
3. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians
FanGraphs WAR: 6.5
Francisco Lindor is one of the best shortstops in the game, if not the best. Corey Kluber is a two-time Cy Young Award winner with a 2.76 ERA this season.
It's time to admit it, though: Third baseman Jose Ramirez is the biggest star on the Cleveland Indians.
Ramirez is still climbing toward household-name status. He's not as famous as other players on this list. His production, however, is impossible to ignore.
The 25-year-old is tied for the MLB lead with 29 homers. He's driven in 70 runs and boasts a 1.029 OPS. That's MVP pace, and it doesn't even take into account Ramirez's superlative defense at the hot corner.
He's shining near the apex of the big league firmament—and it's past time we all admit it.
2. Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
FanGraphs WAR: 6.5
What's this? Mike Trout at No. 2?
This is no knock against Trout. He's tied with Ramirez and the only player we placed ahead of him in the WAR department. Only that pesky wRC+ tiebreaker bumped him down a notch.
Technicalities aside, the Los Angeles Angels' center fielder is in the midst of a ludicrous season, even by his lofty standards.
He's hit 25 home runs, leads MLB with a .454 OBP and continues to play well-above average defense at a premium position.
He's Trout. He doesn't get the attention or widespread name recognition befitting a superstar, but we're all dang lucky to watch him.
1. Mookie Betts, RF, Boston Red Sox
FanGraphs WAR: 6.5
With 202 wRC+ to Trout's 187, the Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts slips into the top spot.
It's not as if he's undeserving.
Betts leads baseball with a .359 average, .691 slugging percentage and 1.139 OPS. He's hit 23 home runs, stolen 18 bases and has a 7.9 UZR in right field.
"He has such special talent," former teammate and Sox legend David Ortiz said of Betts, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. "I'm not surprised what he's doing. To me, to be honest with you, he's going to get better. This is how Mookie is—Mookie is always hungry."
Trout—or Ramirez or someone else, for that matter—could overtake him after the break. For now, the 25-year-old Betts is baseball's top star.
Eat it up, Beantown faithful.