While the MLB season is temporarily on hold, it’s not too soon to look ahead at what could be an exciting campaign. With new managers and heated rivalries around the league, the 2020 season will be one to remember. With that, four analysts from The Athletes Hub worked diligently on individual lists ranking out the top 50 players for the current year. Those lists were then averaged out, creating the most fair results.
19. Javier Baez (IF, Chicago Cubs)
After another productive season, the Chicago Cubs infielder finds himself among the top 20 players for the upcoming season. The 2018 campaign seemed to be a ceiling for Baez, as he led the league with 111 RBIs. Still, he didn’t drop drastically in any offensive category.
His runner-up finish in the NL MVP voting during 2018 was enough of a spark to wind up in his current position. As a fielder, he finished with a 97.3% fielding percentage; his highest since the Cubs’ 2016 World Series run.
18. Aaron Judge (OF, New York Yankees)
Although his numbers are steadily declining, Aaron Judge is one of the top powerhouse names in the MLB. Last season, his slugging percentage of .540 rose 2.2% despite missing time due to lingering injuries.
If he can remain healthy during the 2020 season, the potential of Judge is roughly 35 home runs and 100 RBIs. However, he has only played 115 games or more once in the last three seasons.
17. Stephen Strasburg (P, Washington Nationals)
After a league-leading 18 wins during the 2019 season, we finally saw a glimpse of what a healthy Stephen Strasburg can accomplish. He led the league with 209 innings pitched, and posted a career-high 251 strikeouts.
With 15 or more wins in three of the last four seasons, the Washington Nationals can rely heavily on Strasburg moving into the 2020 campaign. If he maintains consistent play, a Cy Young award is not an unreasonable request.
16. Walker Buehler (P, Los Angeles Dodgers)
In each of his first three seasons, Buehler has begun to evolve into an elite talent for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last season, he compiled a 14-4 record and 3.26 ERA across 182.1 innings pitched.
With Clayton Kershaw getting progressively older, it may be time to consider Buehler as the true ace in Los Angeles. The 2019 campaign marked his first career All-Star nomination, and it certainly won’t be his last.
15. Freddie Freeman (1B, Atlanta Braves)
The veteran first baseman managed to total 175+ hits in three of the last four seasons, and his 2019 campaign resulted in a .549 slugging percentage. With a career-high 121 RBI’s last season, Freeman has rightfully earned his spot as a premier player in the MLB.
Freeman, 30, is likely to see another 650+ at-bats during the 2020 season. With a career fielding percentage of 99.5%, he is ranked as the second-best first baseman entering the new season.
14. Justin Verlander (P, Houston Astros)
Was there really any surprise? Last season, Verlander led the MLB in wins (21), innings pitched (223), WHIP (0.803) and hits per nine innings (5.5). Since joining the Astros, he has a combined 42-15 record as a starter.
Despite the scandals, Verlander has been one of the most dominant starters over the last 15 seasons. He has also received Cy Young considerations in each of the last four seasons, winning the award once during that stretch.
13. Anthony Rendon (3B, Los Angeles Angels)
After a career year with the Washington Nationals, the star third baseman managed to ink a seven-year, $245M deal with the Los Angeles Angels in free agency. By the end of the 2019 season, Rendon led the MLB in doubles (44) and RBIs (126).
Despite joining a new team, the potential of Rendon places him at the top tier talent in the MLB. He maintained a career-high in almost every offensive category, and any numbers similar to his totals from last season would be phenomenal.
12. Max Scherzer (P, Washington Nationals)
Considering Scherzer has finished within the top five in Cy Young voting in each of the last seven seasons, this was a no-brainier decisision. However, the 2019 season resulted in only 172.1 innings pitched for the 35-year old; the lowest total since 2009.
With the Nationals remaining as a contender in the National League, Scherzer has enough weapons around him to accumulate another 10+ wins next season. His 12.7 strikeouts per nine innings were a league-high in 2019, and marked the second consecutive season in which Scherzer has led the league in that category.
11. Francisco Lindor (SS, Cleveland Indians)
In each of the last five seasons, Lindor has totaled 120 or more hits and has a career batting average of .288. Considering he has been viewed as a standout talent each season, it’s difficult to pinpoint which season has been the ‘best’ for the shortstop.
In 2019, Lindor saw his lowest amount of plate appearances (654) since his 2015 rookie campaign. Consider he still put together 32 home runs and 74 RBIs on a .284 batting average, there is very little reason to worry about his production this season.
10. Alex Bregman (3B, Houston Astros)
After leading the league with 119 walks, Bregman also finished the 2019 season with a career-high in batting average (.296), on-base percentage (.423), and slugging percentage (.592).
The talent of the Astros will clearly hinder on the opinion revolving around their cheating scandal, however, Bregman has been an efficient talent in each of his first four seasons. He has posted 99 career home runs and holds a career batting average of .286.