Ranking the Top 100 MLB Players at the Start of 2020 Regular Season

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterJuly 21, 2020

Ranking the Top 100 MLB Players at the Start of 2020 Regular Season

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    No. 1 is obvious, but what about the other 99 guys?
    No. 1 is obvious, but what about the other 99 guys?John Minchillo/Associated Press

    It may be happening four months later than expected, but Major League Baseball's 2020 season is finally set to open this week.

    We can think of no better way to mark the occasion than by ranking the 100 best players in the game. Though this was inherently a subjective exercise, we did abide by the following ground rules:

    • Track Records: Though the 2019 season offers the most recent evidence of players' abilities, what they did before then also matters.
    • Upside and Downside: Basically, we judged whether players are entering, exiting or are in the thick of their primes.
    • Health: We opted to exclude players who were injured for most of 2019, and we also considered the present statuses of the players who did make the list.
    • No Prospects: Because they get their own list.

    We'll begin with some honorable mentions and then get to counting down the top 100.

Honorable Mentions

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    Giancarlo Stanton
    Giancarlo StantonJulio Cortez/Associated Press

    Injured for Most of 2019

    • Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Cleveland
    • Tyler Glasnow, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays
    • Corey Kluber, RHP, Texas Rangers
    • Giancarlo Stanton, OF/DH, New York Yankees


    Elite Relief Pitchers

    • Aroldis Chapman, LHP, New York Yankees
    • Josh Hader, LHP, Milwaukee Brewers
    • Liam Hendriks, RHP, Oakland Athletics
    • Brandon Workman, RHP, Boston Red Sox
    • Kirby Yates, RHP, San Diego Padres


    On the Verge

    • Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays
    • Cavan Biggio, 2B, Toronto Blue Jays
    • Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B/DH, Toronto Blue Jays


    Just Missed

    • Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh Pirates
    • Charlie Blackmon, RF, Colorado Rockies
    • Matt Carpenter, 3B/DH, St. Louis Cardinals
    • Nick Castellanos, RF, Cincinnati Reds
    • Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Chicago White Sox
    • Mike Moustakas, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
    • Marcell Ozuna, LF, Atlanta
    • James Paxton, LHP, New York Yankees
    • Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
    • Zack Wheeler, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

100-91: Victor Robles to Jorge Polanco

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    Victor Robles
    Victor RoblesNick Wass/Associated Press

    100. Victor Robles, CF, Washington Nationals

    2019 WAR: 4.1

    At an average of just 80.7 mph, Victor Robles landed on the bottom of the exit velocity leaderboard in 2019. Yet he isn't an automatic out despite that, and he's arguably the best defensive outfielder in baseball.


    99. Andrelton Simmons, SS, Los Angeles Angels

    2019 WAR: 1.9

    He battled through injuries and a poor offensive performance in 2019, yet he carried on as an elite defender who trailed only Javier Baez in outs above average among infielders. More of that plus an offensive rebound should be expected for 2020.


    98. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 WAR: 3.3

    His stock has fallen since he was playing at an MVP level in 2015 and 2016. But for a shortstop, even his lesser self—i.e., the one that posted an .817 OPS with solid defense in 2019—is still a darn good regular.


    97. Keston Hiura, 2B, Milwaukee Brewers

    2019 WAR: 2.0

    Albeit in only 84 games, he turned heads by posting a .938 OPS and 19 home runs as a rookie in 2019. His underlying batted ball metrics were similarly impressive.


    96. Miguel Sano, 1B, Minnesota Twins

    2019 WAR: 3.0

    The solid .346 OBP and outstanding .576 slugging percentage that he posted in 2019 reflect his good eye for the zone and his extraordinary raw power.


    95. Jorge Soler, DH, Kansas City Royals

    2019 WAR: 3.6

    He demolished Kansas City's club record by hitting 48 home runs in 2019, and that's despite not really getting hot until the second half.


    94. Starling Marte, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks

    2019 WAR: 2.9

    He's a few years removed from his peak, but in a normal season he could still be counted on for an .800-ish OPS with 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases.


    93. Tommy Pham, LF, San Diego Padres

    2019 WAR: 3.8

    The Cardinals basically gave up on him in 2018, and he responded with an .870 OPS, 28 homers and 30 stolen bases in a season-and-a-half with the Rays. The Padres are hoping for more of that.


    92. Eduardo Escobar, 3B, Arizona Diamondbacks

    2019 WAR: 3.6

    There are better defenders out there, but he's quietly been one of the league's more reliable hitters over the last two seasons. To wit, he's coming off a career year punctuated by an .831 OPS, 35 homers and 10 triples.


    91. Jorge Polanco, SS, Minnesota Twins

    2019 WAR: 4.8

    According to his minus-14 outs above average, he was one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball in 2019. But his bat has always played, and it especially played last year to the tune of an .841 OPS and 22 bombs. He'll be looking to keep that and his sneaky-good baserunning up in 2020.

90-81: Chris Paddack to Jose Berrios

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    Jose Berrios
    Jose BerriosJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

    90. Chris Paddack, RHP, San Diego Padres

    2019 WAR: 2.9

    Though he wasn't the best rookie the Padres had in 2019, he nonetheless enjoyed a star turn with a 3.33 ERA and 153 strikeouts over 140.2 innings. If his curveball project bears fruit, he'll take the next step in 2020.


    89. Whit Merrifield, INF/OF, Kansas City Royals

    2019 WAR: 3.7

    Since 2017, an average season for him has included a .298 average, 16 homers, 33 steals and 4.0 WAR. He just can't be called "underrated" anymore after making the AL All-Star squad in 2019.


    88. Joc Pederson, LF, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 WAR: 3.2

    He's clubbed 61 homers over the last two seasons even though he's largely been limited to action against right-handed pitching. Last season was also a career year for him defensively.


    87. Michael Conforto, RF, New York Mets

    2019 WAR: 3.4

    His career took a slight detour in 2016, but since then he's averaged an .855 OPS and 29 home runs per season. Per outs above average, he also plays a solid right field.


    86. Ramon Laureano, CF, Oakland Athletics

    2019 WAR: 3.6

    His throwing arm might be his most famous asset, but don't overlook a bat that's produced an .853 OPS and 29 homers in 171 career games.


    85. Mitch Garver, C, Minnesota Twins

    2019 WAR: 4.1

    No other catcher came close to Garver's .995 OPS in 2019, and he also needed only 93 games to slam 31 long balls. That's definitely one way for a guy to put himself on the map.


    84. Willson Contreras, C, Chicago Cubs

    2019 WAR: 3.1

    His receiving leaves much to be desired, but his strong arm and outstanding bat—he had an .888 OPS and 24 homers in 2019—more than justify his continued presence behind the plate.


    83. Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees

    2019 WAR: 3.1

    Amid all the scrutiny that he's subject to, it's easy to lose sight of what he does very well. Namely, he hits home runs (34 in 2019), controls the running game and, as of last season, limits passed balls.


    82. Carlos Santana, 1B/DH, Cleveland

    2019 WAR: 4.6

    After a rough season in 2018, he rekindled his stardom in 2019 with a career-high .911 OPS and a career-high-tying 34 bombs.


    81. Jose Berrios, RHP, Minnesota Twins

    2019 WAR: 3.3

    Even though he's been a back-to-back All-Star en route to a 3.76 ERA over the last two seasons, it still feels like he has another level to reach. To his credit, the work he's put in on his curve and changeup could get him there.

80-71: Eduardo Rodriguez to Lorenzo Cain

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    Eduardo Rodriguez
    Eduardo RodriguezSteven Senne/Associated Press

    80. Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, Boston Red Sox

    2019 WAR: 5.9

    Despite leading the American League with 75 walks, he set career marks with a 3.81 ERA, 203.1 innings and 213 strikeouts in 2019. Here's hoping the weight of Boston's otherwise moribund rotation doesn't crush him.


    79. Marcus Stroman, RHP, New York Mets

    2019 WAR: 4.6

    His career has had its ups and downs, but let's focus on how he's pitched at an All-Star level in two of the last three seasons. That said, it would be ideal if his ground-ball rate came back up in 2020.


    78. Yu Darvish, RHP, Chicago Cubs

    2019 WAR: 3.5

    After an injury-marred 2018 and a slow start to 2019, he found a groove with a 3.45 ERA and, even better, a 151-to-12 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his last 18 outings. That's more like his true self.


    77. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 WAR: 3.1

    Alas, his speed is gone and his prime is over. Yet even a post-prime Kershaw still mustered a 3.03 ERA and 189 strikeouts in 178.1 innings in 2019.


    76. Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

    2019 WAR: 3.9

    Is he the guy who led all pitchers with 10.2 rWAR in 2018, or is he the guy who's pitched to a good-not-great 3.49 ERA over five seasons? Probably more so the latter, but that's still a really good pitcher.


    75. Shohei Ohtani, DH/RHP, Los Angeles Angels

    2019 WAR: 1.3

    Even after a step back in 2019, he still owns an .883 OPS and 40 home runs in 210 career games. He's also due to return to the mound, where his fastball/splitter combination should baffle hitters like it did in 2018.


    74. Paul DeJong, SS, St. Louis Cardinals

    2019 WAR: 5.3

    He's struggled to replicate the .857 OPS that he posted as a rookie in 2019. Yet he's at least kept the power coming (30 home runs last year) and he's one of the game's top defensive shortstops.


    73. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals

    2019 WAR: 2.4

    He fell hard and fast out of the ranks of baseball's elite players in 2019, but he at least finished strong with an .886 OPS and 18 homers in the second half. Plus, he had some bad luck throughout the season.


    72. Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 WAR: 4.1

    He showed some cracks last year and he'll be 36 by the end of this one. Even still, he'd remain a candidate for a .900 OPS and 25-to-30 home runs with quality defense in a normal season.


    71. Lorenzo Cain, CF, Milwaukee Brewers

    2019 WAR: 3.0

    He finally won an overdue Gold Glove in 2019, and he actually wasn't that bad offensively. His downturn from 2018 seemingly had much to do with bad luck.

70-61: Tim Anderson to Austin Meadows

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    Austin Meadows
    Austin MeadowsChris O'Meara/Associated Press

    70. Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox

    2019 WAR: 3.7

    He could stand to improve defensively, and his 15-to-109 walk-to-strikeout ratio from 2019 isn't a sight for sore eyes. Yet his MLB-high .335 average, 18 homers and 17 steals are different story. Plus, bat flips.


    69. Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals

    2019 WAR: 3.3

    He's one of the fastest players in baseball, and he's put that speed to use, swiping 159 bags in 482 career games. Throw in a .348 OBP, 20-homer power and a better-than-advertised glove, and there's little left to ask of him.


    68. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres

    2019 WAR: 4.1

    As a rookie, he had some issues on defense and may have also benefited from good luck on the offensive side. But hey, anybody who can put up a .969 OPS, 22 homers, 16 steals and over four WAR in only 84 games as a 20-year-old rookie deserves respect.


    67. Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres

    2019 WAR: 2.6

    His debut season in San Diego wasn't great, and it also marked his second foray into mediocrity just within the last three years. But 32 home runs is a pretty good silver lining in a "down" year, and he should still have MVP upside at the age of 28.


    66. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

    2019 WAR: 3.8

    It sort of feels like he's declining, but the .924 OPS and 27 home runs that he put up last year were more or less par for the course. He's also a three-time Gold Glove winner.


    65. Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs

    2019 WAR: 4.0

    An 86.9 mph fastball ought to be a major disadvantage in these velo-obsessed times. But he can bend and command everything he throws, resulting in an impressive 3.14 lifetime ERA.


    64. Mike Clevinger, RHP, Cleveland

    2019 WAR: 4.1

    Back and ankle injuries limited him to 21 starts in 2019 and he's already had knee surgery this year. But as evidenced by his 2.96 ERA and rate of 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings since 2017, he's one of baseball's top pitchers when he's healthy.


    63. Mike Soroka, RHP, Atlanta

    2019 WAR: 5.6

    He's struck out only 163 batters in 200.1 career innings. But when you can keep walks and home runs off the board while putting together a 2.79 ERA, well, who needs strikeouts?


    62. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

    2019 WAR: 4.8

    After moving from the NL to the AL, he shouldn't be expected to repeat last year's league-best 2.32 ERA. But he definitely has a grasp on pitching as an art form, so don't not expect it either.


    61. Austin Meadows, LF, Tampa Bay Rays

    2019 WAR: 4.0

    After landing in Tampa Bay via the Chris Archer trade, he went off for a .922 OPS, 33 home runs and 12 steals in his first full year as a Ray in 2019. If he can build on that in 2020, he could emerge as a dark-horse MVP candidate.

60-51: Zack Greinke to Jose Altuve

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    Zack Greinke
    Zack GreinkeMatt Slocum/Associated Press

    60. Zack Greinke, RHP, Houston Astros

    2019 WAR: 5.3

    He probably doesn't have any more seasons like his 2009 (Cy Young Award) or 2015 (1.66 ERA) campaigns left in him. Even still, the 3.11 ERA he's posted in the face of diminishing stuff over the last three years is a fine testament to his Maddux-ian craftiness.


    59. Michael Brantley, LF, Houston Astros

    2019 WAR: 4.8

    Even before he went to Houston, his .295 career average marked him as one of the best pure hitters in baseball. With Houston, he upped his game to a .311 average and a career-high 22 home runs in 2019. More of that, please.


    58. Max Kepler, RF, Minnesota Twins

    2019 WAR: 4.1

    He finally broke out offensively in 2019, posting an .855 OPS and slamming 36 home runs. He also carried over his outstanding defense in the outfield. Altogether, he's one of the game's top two-way players.


    57. Yordan Alvarez, DH, Houston Astros

    2019 WAR: 3.7

    It's slightly alarming that he's set to begin 2020 on the injured list for undisclosed reasons. But when he does come back, he'll be out to build on a triumphant rookie season in which he slashed .313/.412/.655 with 27 home runs in only 87 games.


    56. J.D. Martinez, DH, Boston Red Sox

    2019 WAR: 3.4

    Only Mike Trout has a higher OPS+ since 2014, and he mustered a .939 OPS and 36 home runs even in a "down" season in 2019. End of story.


    55. Matt Olson, 1B, Oakland Athletics

    2019 WAR: 5.4

    All he's done over the last three seasons is rack up an .862 OPS, 89 home runs and two Gold Gloves. On any other team, he'd be the best Matt in the clubhouse.


    54. Luis Castillo, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

    2019 WAR: 4.5

    Even if he isn't quite the best pitcher on the Reds, he'd be the best pitcher on most other staffs. Especially if he builds on last year's changeup-fueled 3.40 ERA and 226 strikeouts.


    53. Eugenio Suarez, 3B, Cincinnati Reds

    2019 WAR: 3.9

    He has his flaws, but power isn't one of them. He's increased his home run output every year he's been in the majors, peaking with a whopping 49 last season.


    52. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

    2019 WAR: 3.7

    His production sagged under the weight of a bum shoulder in 2018, and he didn't fully recover in 2019. Yet we know the MVP upside is there, and even a repeat of last year's numbers (e.g., a .903 OPS) would make him a star in 2020.


    51. Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

    2019 WAR: 3.8

    His durability and production have both suffered since he peaked as the AL MVP in 2017. Yet he's still coming off a .903 OPS and 31 home runs in 2019, during which he looked a lot more like his usual self in the second half.

50-41: Blake Snell to Nelson Cruz

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    Nelson Cruz
    Nelson CruzTony Dejak/Associated Press

    50. Blake Snell, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

    2019 WAR: 1.4

    After winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2018, he missed time with an elbow injury and finished with a 4.29 ERA over 23 starts in 2019. His rate of 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings, however, is solid proof that his Cy Young-winning stuff was alive and well.


    49. Lance Lynn, RHP, Texas Rangers

    2019 WAR: 7.5

    The surprisingly high WAR that he posted last year was the byproduct of a solid 3.67 ERA, 246 strikeouts and only 59 walks in 208.1 innings. It's doubtful that he can do any better than that, but he could take a step back and still be a top-tier pitcher.


    48. Shane Bieber, RHP, Cleveland

    2019 WAR: 4.6

    He looked like a sleeper Cy Young Award candidate going into 2019. Lo and behold, he became exactly that by way of a 3.28 ERA, 259 strikeouts and only 40 walks over 214.1 innings.


    47. Sonny Gray, RHP, Cincinnati Reds

    2019 WAR: 5.6

    He was essentially a reclamation project at the outset of last season. By the end, he had indeed been reclaimed to the tune of a 2.87 ERA and a career-high 205 strikeouts. He was also especially hot down the stretch with a 1.99 ERA over his last 16 starts.


    46. Ozzie Albies, 2B, Atlanta

    2019 WAR: 5.2

    He doesn't inspire as much excitement as that other youngster in Atlanta's lineup, but the .852 OPS, 24 homers and 15 steals that he posted last season were merely a taste of his upside.


    45. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

    2019 WAR: 3.5

    He's had trouble staying healthy over the last three seasons, playing in a total of just 294 games. But when he's right, he's an elite offensive shortstop—see his .926 OPS last season—who perhaps deserves a better defensive reputation. Per outs above average, he was one of the best at the position in 2019.


    44. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland

    2019 WAR: 3.4

    He racked up more rWAR between 2017 and 2018 than every position player except for Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. Last year was obviously disappointing in that context. But by posting a 1.105 OPS in the second half, he did salvage some dignity while putting himself on a good path for 2020.


    43. Joey Gallo, OF, Texas Rangers

    2019 WAR: 3.1

    He needed only 70 games to set a new career high for WAR last season. That traces back to a good-looking .389 OBP, 22 home runs and strong defense in the outfield. He can be an MVP candidate in 2020 if he builds on that performance.


    42. Gleyber Torres, SS, New York Yankees

    2019 WAR: 3.1

    His 62 home runs are the most by a middle infielder through his first two seasons in MLB history. He's been a little rough around the edges in other aspects, but it definitely bodes well that he's only 23 and that he's now back at his natural position after moonlighting as a second baseman in 2018 and 2019.


    41. Nelson Cruz, DH, Minnesota Twins

    2019 WAR: 4.4

    Sure, he's only a DH. But he's consistently been one of the top hitters in baseball since 2014, and he explored new heights with a 1.031 OPS and 41 homers in only 120 games last year.

40-31: Freddie Freeman to Rafael Devers

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    Freddie Freeman
    Freddie FreemanPatrick Semansky/Associated Press

    40. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta

    2019 WAR: 4.0

    Since the end of last season, he's had surgery on his right elbow only to have it flare up again in spring training. More recently, he had a harrowing battle with the coronavirus. But if he's anything like his usual self this year, he'll hit roughly .300 with a .900 OPS and good-to-great defense at the cold corner.


    39. Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets

    2019 WAR: 5.2

    He led the majors and set a new rookie record by launching 53 long balls in 2019. It helped that July was his only bad month, as he did no worse than an .873 OPS and eight home runs in the season's other five months. That gets at how he's a genuinely good hitter in addition to a dangerous slugger.


    38. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Chicago White Sox

    2019 WAR: 5.7

    The hype that accompanied him as a prospect went up in smoke as he posted a 6.13 ERA over 32 starts in 2018. It then came roaring back last year as he improved to a 3.41 ERA and 228 strikeouts in just 176.2 innings. He can further cement himself as a premier ace if he builds on that.


    37. Mike Minor, LHP, Texas Rangers

    2019 WAR: 7.8

    You're looking at the guy who led all pitchers in rWAR last season. That came from a 3.59 ERA over 208.1 innings, which was really just a continuation of his excellent finish (i.e., a 3.23 ERA over 17 starts) to the 2018 season. So, you'd best believe he's one of baseball's top starters.


    36. Patrick Corbin, LHP, Washington Nationals

    2019 WAR: 5.6

    After breaking out as an All-Star in 2013, he missed 2014 with Tommy John surgery and initially struggled to reclaim his acehood between 2015 and 2017. Over the last two seasons, however, he's found it again by way of a 3.20 ERA and a rate of 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings.


    35. Charlie Morton, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

    2019 WAR: 4.9

    Most pitchers don't wait until their mid-30s to hit their stride. Yet that's the route that Morton has taken with a 3.09 ERA and 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings across his age-34 and age-35 seasons in 2018 and 2019. At the heart of that performance is mid-90s heat and one of the game's great curveballs.


    34. Jeff McNeil, 3B, New York Mets

    2019 WAR: 4.9

    He was something of an oddity when he first arrived in 2018. Now he's a full-blown star after hitting .321 with an .896 OPS over his first 196 games. It's also a good thing that he's set to be a full-timer at third base, which has been his best defensive position.


    33. Max Muncy, INF/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 WAR: 5.7

    He authored a hard act to follow when he came out of nowhere to post a .973 OPS and 35 homers in 2018. Yet follow it he did with an .889 OPS and 35 more homers in 2019. When put together, his last two seasons have been worth a sturdy 9.8 rWAR.


    32. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, New York Yankees

    2019 WAR: 5.9

    Though he was a Gold Glover and a batting champion with the Rockies, the latter was easily dismissed under the tried-and-true "Coors" defense. But as he hit .327 with an .893 OPS and a career-high 26 homers for the Yankees in 2019, that notion vanished into thin air.


    31. Rafael Devers, 3B, Boston Red Sox

    2019 WAR: 4.9

    After taking his lumps in his first two seasons, he put it all together with a .311 average, a .916 OPS, 32 home runs and an MLB-high 359 total bases in 2019. Per outs above average, he was also a top defensive third baseman. All told, good stuff for a guy who didn't turn 23 until late in October.

30-21: Yasmani Grandal to Trevor Story

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    Trevor Story
    Trevor StoryDavid Zalubowski/Associated Press

    30. Yasmani Grandal, C, Chicago White Sox

    2019 WAR: 2.4

    His last four seasons have seen him average an .814 OPS and 25 home runs while also serving as one of the best strike-framers in the business. To these ends, Baseball Reference's version of WAR arguably doesn't do him justice.


    29. J.T. Realmuto, C, Philadelphia Phillies

    2019 WAR: 4.4

    Even in taking a slight step back in 2019, he was still an All-Star, a Gold Glover and a Silver Slugger. He's put up an .822 OPS with 46 home runs over the last two seasons, and he stands out defensively for both his catch-and-throw speed and his framing. Simply put, he's the game's most well-rounded catcher.


    28. Walker Buehler, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 WAR: 2.0

    From looking at his WAR, you might think that Buehler was nothing special in 2019. The opposite is true. He came through with a 3.26 ERA and a stellar 5.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 182.1 innings, which was all fueled by some of the best pure stuff in the sport. Rest assured, he's an ace with Cy Young upside.


    27. Jack Flaherty, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

    2019 WAR: 5.7

    He actually got off to a slow start to 2019 following his promising campaign as a rookie in 2018. But starting on July 7, he then ripped off a 16-start run in which he had a 0.93 ERA while holding hitters to a .139 average. With more of that, he'll be a Cy Young Award contender in 2020.


    26. Yoan Moncada, 3B, Chicago White Sox

    2019 WAR: 4.8

    It took a while for him to break out, but he finally did with a .315 average, a .915 OPS and 25 home runs in 132 games last year. It's equally exciting that his underlying metrics were almost uniformly well above average, as that may mean he can push his stardom even further.


    25. Bryce Harper, RF, Philadelphia Phillies

    2019 WAR: 4.3

    He's an easy target for the dreaded "O" word, but he generally plays at an All-Star level and he may not be finished contending for MVP awards. He might never reach the heights of his 2015 season again, but he's coming into 2020 off a stellar 1.006 OPS and 17 home runs in his last 49 games of 2019.


    24. Ketel Marte, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks

    2019 WAR: 7.2

    After a solid breakout campaign in 2018, he dabbled in superstardom with a .329 average, .981 OPS and 32 home runs in 2019. He also finished stronger than he started, as he hit .380 with a 1.104 OPS over his last 80 games. It's just too bad that he downgraded from center field to second base.


    23. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox

    2019 WAR: 5.9

    Because he isn't much of a defender, Bogaerts has to do other things to earn his keep as Boston's regular shortstop. To this end, he's found an offensive groove with a .914 OPS and 56 homers over the last two seasons. And while he isn't much of a base stealer, he's typically a productive baserunner anyway.


    22. Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs

    2019 WAR: 6.0

    Per his 19 outs above average, he was the best defensive infielder in MLB last season. That shouldn't surprise anyone who's watched him play the field. He's likewise been fun to behold on offense over the last two years, across which he's racked up an .863 OPS, 63 home runs and 32 stolen bases.


    21. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies

    2019 WAR: 6.1

    The Coors Field effect obviously has to be taken into effect, but it also only does so much to downplay the .916 OPS, 72 home runs and 50 stolen bases that Story has compiled since 2018. Considering that he's also an elite defender and a low-key speed demon, there's little that he can't do.

20-11: Aaron Judge to Matt Chapman

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    Aaron Judge
    Aaron JudgeTed S. Warren/Associated Press

    20. Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees

    2019 WAR: 5.5

    Because he's had some injuries over the last two seasons, it's not the best look that he's already had rib and neck issues in 2020. Yet there's little question that a healthy Judge is an MVP-caliber player. Indeed, even his injury-marred years still resulted in a .920 OPS, 54 homers and 11.4 rWAR.


    19. George Springer, CF, Houston Astros

    2019 WAR: 6.4

    He's yet to have a bad season in the majors, and last year was his masterpiece. Albeit in only 122 games, he set new career highs with a .292 average, a .383 OBP, a .591 slugging percentage and 39 home runs. He also notched a new personal best with 12 defensive runs saved.


    18. Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals

    2019 WAR: 6.2

    Despite averaging a career-low 93.9 mph on his fastball, he still had a career year in 2019. The regular season saw him post a 3.32 ERA over 209 innings, and he doubled down with a 1.98 ERA in October. So despite his history of injuries and disappearing/reappearing dominance, he's going into 2020 on a high.


    17. Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals

    2019 WAR: 5.7

    Last year was a tough one for him on account of various aches and pains that afflicted him in the regular season and the playoffs. Yet he still managed a 2.92 ERA while striking out a career-high 12.7 batters per nine innings. If he can stay healthy in 2020, he may have a fourth Cy Young Award in his future.


    16. Juan Soto, LF, Washington Nationals

    2019 WAR: 4.6

    He didn't turn 21 years old until last October 25, yet by then his career track record already included a .403 OBP and a .937 OPS in two seasons in the majors. He also took a step forward on defense in 2019, tying for the lead among left fielders in outs above average. Clearly, he's an MVP in the making.


    15. Ronald Acuna Jr., RF, Atlanta

    2019 WAR: 5.7

    The Soto vs. Acuna debate is as good as it gets, but for now we side ever so slightly in favor of the latter. He's already been a Rookie of the Year and an All-Star at 22, and he just missed a rare 40-40 season in 2019. At this rate, he could be the National League MVP as soon as this season.


    14. Marcus Semien, SS, Oakland Athletics

    2019 WAR: 8.9

    He was already an underappreciated star going into 2019, and then he thrust himself into the spotlight with an MVP-caliber season. All it took was an .892 OPS and 33 home runs, plus a defensive performance that made him a Gold Glove finalist. What more can you ask for from a shortstop?


    13. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Minnesota Twins

    2019 WAR: 6.0

    At his peak, he won an MVP and trailed only Mike Trout in rWAR between 2013 and 2016. After injuries diminished his stardom in 2017 and 2018, he found it again with a .900 OPS, 37 home runs and superb defense for Atlanta in 2019. So despite his 34 years, he has our confidence for 2020.


    12. Anthony Rendon, 3B, Los Angeles Angels

    2019 WAR: 6.4

    He was plenty good enough as he was putting up a .923 OPS and 49 homers across 2017 and 2018. He then became great in 2019, ultimately ending up with a 1.010 OPS, 34 home runs and characteristically solid defense. In pretty much any other city, he'd be his team's top MVP candidate for 2020.


    11. Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics

    2019 WAR: 8.3

    His defense alone is worth tuning in for, as there aren't many plays he hasn't been able to make in the process of piling up an MLB-high 79 defensive runs saved since 2017. What's more, he's also become a star hitter with an .855 OPS and 60 home runs over the last two years.

10-1: Nolan Arenado to Mike Trout

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    Mike Trout
    Mike TroutAssociated Press

    10. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

    2019 WAR: 6.7

    His 31.4 wins above replacement since 2015 are the most of any National League position player. This stretch has seen him average a .937 OPS and 40 home runs per season, and it's also netted him five of his seven Gold Gloves. All told, third basemen don't come any more reliable than him.


    9. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland

    2019 WAR: 5.0

    No other shortstop has produced as much WAR since 2015, and Lindor has also averaged 34 home runs and 21 stolen bases over the last three seasons. Assuming Cleveland doesn't trade him, he should be an MVP contender in the American League this year.


    8. Justin Verlander, RHP, Houston Astros

    2019 WAR: 7.4

    The 37-year-old's 2020 campaign got off to a rocky start when he came down with lat and groin injuries in the spring. He should be healthy now, though, and therefore ready to build on a track record with Houston that includes a 2.45 ERA, a 7.5 strikeout-to-walk ratio and, as of 2019, a Cy Young Award.


    7. Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets

    2019 WAR: 7.6

    He's won back-to-back National League Cy Young Awards and is now the clear favorite to win yet another this year. Even in "regressing" from a 1.70 ERA in 2018 to 2.43 ERA in 2019, he still struck out 211 more batters than he walked in 204 innings. As always, his stuff was basically unfair.


    6. Gerrit Cole, RHP, New York Yankees

    2019 WAR: 6.6

    There's a reason that he's now the richest pitcher in the history of baseball. It mostly has to do with his otherworldly performance for Houston in 2019, in which he led the AL with a 2.50 ERA and set an all-time record with a rate of 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings. That has much to do with his unparalleled fastball, though his slider and curveball are elite pitches in their own right.


    5. Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros

    2019 WAR: 9.1

    Go ahead and make your jokes about trash cans and buzzers, but Bregman's talent surely has something to do with his annually escalating stardom. Last year was especially impressive, as he had 36 more walks than strikeouts in the process of posting a 1.015 OPS and 41 homers. After finishing second in the American League MVP race, he's out to win the award this year.


    4. Cody Bellinger, OF/1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 WAR: 9.1

    He had an all-time-great rookie season when he broke through with a .933 OPS and what was then an NL-rookie-record 39 home runs in 2017. He was even better en route to the NL MVP last year, going off for a 1.035 OPS and 47 home runs while playing standout defense at multiple positions. If his newest teammate doesn't beat him to it, he'll chase another MVP this season.


    3. Christian Yelich, LF, Milwaukee Brewers

    2019 WAR: 7.0

    If he hadn't broken his kneecap on a wayward foul ball in September, Yelich might have edged Bellinger to win his second straight MVP award. As it is, his numbers since the 2018 All-Star break—e.g., a .342/.436/.705 slash line with 69 homers and 40 steals—cast him as arguably the top offensive force in baseball. To boot, he's a one-time Gold Glove winner.


    2. Mookie Betts, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers

    2019 WAR: 6.9

    Per his 39.5 rWAR, he's been more productive since 2015 than every player not named Mike Trout. He surely peaked with 10.6 rWAR in an MVP-winning 2018 season, but last year wasn't as big a step back as it might seem. He posted a .915 OPS and 29 homers despite some bad luck and remained great enough on defense to collect a fourth straight Gold Glove.


    1. Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels

    2019 WAR: 8.2

    It's been a while since he wasn't the de facto No. 1 player in baseball, and he's likely to keep that distinction for a similarly long while. His defense may be hit or miss, but it's good enough that he plays center field every day and that he's averaged a 1.081 OPS and hit 117 homers since 2017. It's a drag that this year has deprived him of a big chunk of his prime, but he should nonetheless pursue his fourth MVP.


    Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.