The Top 10 Players In MLB by Andres Chavez
Andres Chavez breaks down his top 10 players!
The 2021 MLB season is already two months old. It has brought breakout performances, surprising feats, and bitter disappointments, and we still have several more months to enjoy the best baseball in the world!
More than ever before, the players are the center of attention, as they should. Batters celebrate their home runs, pitchers scream after getting a big out, and fans and the baseball universe, in general, are starting to accept that, for the game to grow, players need to show their emotions.
But, more importantly, they need to show skill to back up words, stares, and celebrations. To make the list of the ten best players in MLB, I considered performance in the 2020 and 2021 seasons in most cases. Without further ado, here are the names:
10) Byron Buxton, OF, Minnesota Twins
A surprising name on the list, no doubt about it, Buxton has matured into a two-way contributor by blossoming as a batter (.370/.408/.772 with 9 home runs and five steals in just 24 games) and contributing his usual elite defense in center field. Oh, and if you think this is a one-season mirage, he had 13 homers in the 2020 shortened campaign and slugged .577. He is the real deal, and while being injured since early May, he is still the Minnesota Twins' leader in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), a cumulative stat, with 2.6.
9) Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Toronto Blue Jays
Guerrero Jr. was the only position player to finish the season's first two months with a WAR above 3.0, with 3.1 to be exact. He has taken the next step as a batter, lifting the ball and hitting it with authority: his .323/.430/.634 line indicates his skill, as he can have a high average while hitting for power and getting on base, all in one exciting package. The younger Vlad has a chance of becoming MLB's first Triple Crown winner since Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012.
8) José Ramírez, 3B, Cleveland Indians
While Cleveland has been slowly tearing apart its roster, dealing with Mike Clevinger and Francisco Lindor in the last two seasons, José Ramírez is now the franchise's face. He may not be too flashy, but boy, he can play. He had as good of a case for the MVP award as José Abreu last season, and this year, he already has 13 homers and six stolen bases while also being an asset with the glove and on the base paths. I want J-Ram on my team.
7) Gerrit Cole, SP, New York Yankees
Cole has been, with some difference, the best and most consistent pitcher in the American League this year. The Yankees would be lost without him taking the ball every five days: he leads all hurlers in WAR, with 3.0, and has a minuscule 1.78 ERA. If that isn't enough, he still strikes out hitters at a very high rate, as evidenced by his 12.35 punch-out's per nine innings. He is building an extreme case to win the AL Cy Young award.
6) Jacob deGrom, SP, New York Mets
Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. Period. Others come close, like Cole, and certainly dominate for long periods, but deGrom has been looming ever since he made his MLB debut in 2014. He is the rare case of a pitcher throwing harder as he ages, throwing 102 mph bullets at the letters, and making hitters look ridiculous. Do you want to talk numbers? Ok: he has a 0.71 ERA! He allows, on average, less than a run per nine innings pitched! That's as crazy as his 0.57 WHIP and 14.47 whiffs per nine frames.
5) Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves
As far as young stars go, Acuña Jr. is one of the most electrifying. He accurately represents how modern baseball should be viewed: exciting, relentless, fearless, and talented. Ronald leads MLB in homers with 16 and has six stolen bases and a .283/.380/.618 that shows just how much he has grown as a hitter, taking walks when the pitcher refuses to give him anything. Ronald has the highest chance of finishing a 40-40 season, aside from a young shortstop yet to appear on this list.
4) Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Mookie Betts can do it all on a baseball field: he is a fantastic hitter (.298/.373/.518 for his career), an outstanding baserunner, one of the league's best defensive outfielders, and a proven winner. In fact, in 2018, he became the first player in MLB history to win the MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, a batting title, and World Series in the same season. It's not a coincidence that the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for him before the 2020 campaign and finally won the title. He lifts the clubs in which he plays. He was phenomenal last year, batting .292 with 16 round-trippers and 10 thefts, and while he has been a little off his usual pace this year (.247/.365/.437, 5 HR, 5 SB), he is still among the greatest players of his generation.
3) Fernando Tatís Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
As we recently discussed, Fernando Tatis Jr. is the new face of baseball. He is charismatic, energetic, and has flair. But most importantly, Tatís Jr. backs up all that on the field. Together with Ronald Acuña, he is the best bet to achieve a 40-40 season in homers and steals: this year, he is already at 16 dingers and 12 stolen bases in just 38 games, which is extremely impressive. The guy is slugging .708! That's Ruthian, or Bonds-ian. Of course, that's not going to last over an entire season, but few other players can generate as much power as Tatís Jr while being so fast. He is truly a special ballplayer.
2) Shohei Ohtani, SP/OF, Los Angeles Angels
If Tatís Jr, Acuña, Betts, and other names in this list are unique, Ohtani is one-of-a-kind. Imagine having a slugger powerful enough to challenge the league lead in home runs and a frontline pitcher capable of being a number one or two in any rotation. Now, imagine having both of them in the same player. Ohtani is a homer shy of the league lead, with 15, and he is not just a slugger: he is a productive hitter, with a .263/.330/.597 line and he is fast, too, with seven steals. On the mound, he touches 100 mph, he has a disgusting splitter, and he has a 2.72 ERA with 50 strikeouts in 36.1 innings. He's a beast.
1) Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
If he decided to retire today, Mike Trout would be an automatic choice to enter the Hall of Fame, which is crazy because he is still only 29. He has been so good for so long: most hitters dream of having a .305/.419/.583 season. That's this man's career line. If we told all the kids (Acuña, Tatís Jr, Guerrero, Ohtani, and others) that they will be their final numbers when they call it quits, they would sign up in a hurry. When healthy – he is currently injured – Trout is, still, the greatest hitter in the game, as evidenced by his .333/.466/.624 line and eight homers in just 36 games prior to his calf injury. He is no longer a threat to steal 40 bags and doesn't cover as much ground in center field, but he still has several years left of elite hitting ability. Trout remains the cream of the crop among MLB players.
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox
Tyler Glasnow, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
José Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
Shane Bieber, SP, Cleveland Indians
Nolan Arenado, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Cody Bellinger, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Brandon Woodruff, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Corbin Burnes, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Kevin Gausman, SP, San Francisco Giants
Max Scherzer, SP, Washington Nationals
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves
Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals