MLB Network’s “Top 10 Now!” series concludes this week, with starting pitchers airing Wednesday at 8:00 PM ET and catchers airing Thursday at 8:00 PM ET. The annual countdown always has a fun and dynamic discussion about who cuts and who doesn’t and how players are rated by both human analysts and his MLB Network statistical algorithm, The Shredder. It is done.
But looking at the top 10 for each position made me think about the position itself.
Which spots have the most talent in MLB right now, and which can get help from new prospects?
Use this space to rank positions from best to worst while MLB Network ranks players.
Even when Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Alex Gonzalez, Edgar Renteria, and Ray Ordonez appeared shirtless on the cover of Sports Illustrated, MLB’s shortstop segment was so ripped apart. We have no shortage of star shortstops, as indicated by some pretty signatures (try that sentence he read three times faster). In the past 24 months, Francisco Lindor, Fernando Tatis Jr., Corey Seager, Treya Turner and Xander Bogaerts have all signed contracts worth over $280 million (Tatis may not be a shortstop). (and after the suspension, but that was when he signed the contract). ). No other position has signed as many contracts. And that doesn’t explain Carlos Correa’s six-year, $200 million deal after his whirlwind free agency saga.
Last season, the Astros’ Jeremy Peña became the first rookie shortstop to win a Gold Glove and the first rookie fielder to win the World Series MVP, but he didn’t even reach the top 10 on the MLB network. Top his prospects in the MLB pipeline He ranks No. 5 on his list If the Yankees’ Anthony Volpe lives up to the hype, perhaps this year will be even busier.
This ranking is not just about stars. It’s about depth. Prior to 2018, no season in MLB history had 10 shortstops above the minimum 4.0 replacement mark (calculated by Baseball Reference). It’s been happening for all of the last four seasons now. Last year, he had 12 such players, tying the high water mark set in 2019.
2. Relief pitcher
If there wasn’t much anonymity in the world of relief, this would rank number one. But anonymity is kind of the point.
We are in an era where unheard-of pitchers emerge from the minor leagues, throw absolute gas and curveballs with incredible moves, and sometimes disappear as soon as they arrive. of relief pitchers had 40 or more innings and a WHIP mark of 1.00 or less. Last year, there were 62 relief pitchers with an ERA of 150 or more over 20 innings, which tied for third place in history. Also, in the last five full seasons, he has recorded his innings total with five reliefs in MLB overall (his 3rd place ranking in 2022), so the impact that relief pitchers have on the game. is stronger than ever.
But remembering MLB Network’s Top 10 is useless. Because at least half of the list he’s changed a year from now. The only thing that hasn’t changed is that the mostly unknowns collectively he K’ing at least one hitter per inning.
3. Third baseman
Austin Riley, Jose Ramirez and Rafael Devers ranked in the top 10 in 2022 MLB slugging. Those spots instead went to Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado respectively (no surprise).
In other words, it shows how hot the top hot corner is right now. There are other accomplished stars at this location, including Alex Bregman, Justin Turner, and Matt Chapman (who inexplicably left him out of the MLB Network’s Top 10). And the Orioles have a potential star in Gunnar Henderson, who debuted late last year and is his No. 1 prospect in the MLB.
The bounce of Eugenio Suárez and the breakthrough of Yandi Diaz last season added to the overall potency of the position.
4. right fielder
In terms of star power, put right field over shortstop and third base, especially after Aaron Judge’s historic 2022 season (even though he ended up spending more time in center field). Done. Judge and Mookie Betts has two of the brightest lights in MLB. Ronald Acuna Jr. (further out of major knee surgery) and Kyle His Tucker could both be his MVP years, with George Springer moving from center (or rather center) in Toronto to right field. This strengthened its position.
But with Bryce Harper likely missing the field for the second year in a row due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, the right fielder could be short on one of its greatest talents. We rank them here because of their versatility.
Then there’s the X Factor presented by the monk. Juan Soto will start the season in right field for the Padres as usual, but he could move to left field to make room for Tatis.
Keep an eye out for some rookies like D-backs Corbyn Carroll (ranked second-best prospect in the game by MLB Pipeline) or perhaps Cardinals’ Jordan Walker (fourth). 2023 field.
5. Starting Pitcher
Raw staff is better than ever, as are relief pitchers. And of course, nothing beats Ace’s charm.
As such, four of the top five contracts by average annual value went to Max Scherzer ($43.3 million), Justin Verlander ($43.3 million), Jacob deGrom ($37 million) and Gerrit Cole ($36 million). I was.
With the arrival of high-profile starting pitchers like Hunter Greene for the Reds last year, Andrew Painter for the Phillies and Grayson Rodriguez for the Orioles this year, we breathlessly anticipate and build our watching schedules. That’s why.
Unicorns like Shohei Ohtani, reigning NL Cy Young winner Sandy Alcantara, recent Cy winners Corbin Burns and Shane Bieber, and emerging mound masters Alec Manoa and Dylan Seeds. That there is still tremendous talent among the starting pitchers. and Spencer Strider – undeniable. However, due to injuries and usage patterns, the overall role of starters has declined frustratingly over time. also had fewer quality full-season starts (1,776).
Hopefully, as time goes on, as rules tweaks and other evolutions take place, starting pitchers will return to a point where they’re on or near the top of the mountain.
6. Center fielder
Julio Rodriguez and Michael Harris II won Rookie of the Year last year and swept the scene to significantly improve their center strength. The position has long been led by Mike Trout, but J-Rod and Harris have definitely deepened the center field scene. I can’t wait to see what kind of activities these sophomores will show us.
However, Trout’s impact over the past two years, and much of Byron Buxton’s career, has been limited by injuries. And the team has recently found this spot difficult to fill. That’s why Bryan Reynolds is a coveted trade target.
The number of 4-WAR center fielders (7) last season was the lowest since 2010. You can’t find John Fogerty singing about it.
7. Second baseman
Houston’s Jose Altuve has been an overall prospect at this position for some time, and last season saw a breakout in Guardians’ Andrés Jiménez and a big offensive surge in Mets’ Jeff McNeill to move to second base. After all, he ranked in the top 20 all-time with a total of 96 weighted RBI plus (wRC+) on second base in 2022.
That said, the MLB pipeline’s top 100 prospect list doesn’t have many short-term double solutions, with recent injuries and discrepancies such as D-back Ketel Marte, Rays’ Brandon Lowe, and Yankees’ Gleyber arguing. can also be seen. Torres has prevented this position from reaching its full potential. Hopefully that will be the case this year.
8. First baseman
First, the good: At first base, you have one of the most exciting young sluggers in MLB. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays. Paul of the Cardinals has his Goldschmidt. Year. We have the Dodgers’ very consistent Freddie Freeman. Mets’ Pete Alonso at least seems to excel in his Derby performance with his 40 bombs and a memorable home run. Astros’ Jose Abreu signed his three-year contract at age 36, Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins spiked the bat in the postseason, and Luis Araez becomes the Marlins’ player to watch as he wins the batting title. .
In other words, there is a lot of talent here.
But it’s weird. The clichéd slugging first baseman is non-existent in his MLB today. Goldschmidt, Freeman, and Alonso were the only first basemen to hit .500 last year, and the fewest first basemen to do so since 1992. Totals at first base also totaled .422 SLG in ’92. It was the lowest since. Part of that is due to the availability of DH spots in both leagues now, but overall it looks a lot different than it used to be.
9. Left fielder
Broadly speaking, there are a lot of teams trying to piece together as well as they can in left field.
The lack of stars in this spot is evident as two of the top 10 left fielders come from the same team, according to MLB Network’s list. The Astros’ Jordan Alvarez (No. 1) and Michael Brantley (No. 8). Both are moving back and forth between left and DH. (For the record, Soto is also listed on the network, but we’re assuming he moved out to make room for Tatis.)
But anyway, left field gives us a continuation of Kyle Schwarber’s “shwarbomb,” Guardians’ Stephen Kwan’s electric play, and hopefully the Taylor Ward breakout we witnessed last year with the Angels. .
There aren’t many true full-time catchers these days. He was only four regular catchers to win the batting title last season (JT Realmuto, Will He Smith, Sean Murphy and Salvador Perez). Buster Posey has been ranked in the top 10 in catcher WAR for the last two seasons…and he retired in his 2021. Many teams use tandems in this position with varying degrees of success.
But the tide may be turning. In 2022, Adley Lutschmann made his O’s debut and, like Posey with the Giants over a decade ago, quickly proved himself to be a star and leader. , the Blue Jays traded top prospect Gabriel Moreno to Arizona, where Moreno could appear this year. may become. So while Backstop as a group is a bit behind other positions for now, it could catch up soon.
11. Designated Hitter
MLB Network shows don’t have DH listings. There are good reasons for this. Teams usually have players in and out of the DH spot. Last year, only 10 players had 300 or more at-bats as a DH. Also, the NL only hired DH on a permanent basis last year, so the 2022 numbers were more watered down as he could be batting some benches.
710 OPS from the DH spot last year was the lowest since 1981, though, and I could include that position here as well. 2023.
But hey, look on the bright side: Ohtani. That’s the bright side. And it’s pretty good.