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.
50. Jose Ramirez (IF, Cleveland Indians)
After seven seasons with the Cleveland Indians, some may be shocked to see Ramirez start off this segment. The 2019 season marked the fourth consecutive year in which Ramirez knocked 100 hits and 75 RBIs. Even with a career batting average of .280, his game didn’t come without faults.
Perhaps it was the stellar season Ramirez had in 2018, but the following year didn’t feel as special. His slugging percentage of .479 was the lowest its been since 2016, and his on-base percentage of .327 was the lowest we’ve since 2015.
There is a lot of value in Ramirez for the upcoming season, but finding a sense of consistency will be important. With the ability to play all around the infield for the Indians, the stock of the 27-year old will likely rise.
49. Mike Clevinger (P, Cleveland Indians)
With Clevinger edging his way onto the list, he is marked as the second consecutive member of the Cleveland Indians. With three straight seasons of 10 or more wins, the entry of Clevinger is well-deserved.
He made 11 less appearances in the 2019 season, but made the most of every opportunity. With a record of 13-4, he finished the year with a career-high 12.1 K/9 (169 K in total). Even with a starting rotation that includes Shane Bieber, one could argue that Clevinger is the most productive member of Cleveland’s pitching staff.
48. Yasmani Grandal (C, Chicago White Sox)
After agreeing to a four-year, $73M deal with the Chicago White Sox in free agency, Grandal joined his fourth MLB franchise in nine seasons. Having spent the 2019 campaign with the Milwaukee Brewers, the seasoned veteran did enough to earn himself a payday.
Grandal finished the year with a career-high in hits (126), home runs (28), RBIs (77), and walks (109). His season impressed fans enough to receive his second career All-Star nomination, and he also was considered for the National League MVP; finishing in 15th place.
47. Shohei Ohtani (P, Los Angeles Angels)
The dual-threat from Japan is recognized as an asset with both his arm and bat. Coming off a season that resulted in Ohtani winning the American League Rookie of the Year, he followed it up with another productive season.
Due to a season riddled with injuries, the 2019 campaign marked the first year in which Ohtani did not pitch for the Angels. Instead, he managed to put up 110 hits, 18 home runs, and 62 RBIs offensively. Although his ceiling has not been met to date, the expectation is that Ohtani will total a 2020 season worth remembering.
46. Manny Machado (3B, San Diego Padres)
At one point in time, one could argue that Manny Machado was one of the best players in all of baseball; let alone within the top 50. However, the 2019 season provided very little promise at times for the Padres third baseman.
His 150 hits from the 2019 season marks the fifth consecutive season in which Machado has totaled 150 hits or more. However, the 27-year old saw a 20% decrease in RBIs, 13% decrease in home runs, and a 19% increase in strikeouts when comparing his 2018 and 2019 seasons.
While the name value of Machado alone was enough to warrant an appearance, the expectations may need to be lowered moving forward.
45. Paul Goldschmidt (1B, St. Louis Cardinals)
After inking a five-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals nearly a year ago, Goldschmidt remained consistent during his 2019 season. He finished with 34 home runs, which marks the third consecutive season in which the veteran has hit for 30 home runs or more.
Even entering his age 32 season, we know Goldschmidt is capable of 30 home runs and 90 RBIs. Despite his batting average of .260 being its lowest since his rookie season with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011, there is no argument to be made about Goldschmidt’s placement.
44. Clayton Kershaw (P, Los Angeles Dodgers)
As one of the most confident pitchers in baseball, many critique whether Kershaw can remain as dominant in the postseason stages for the Dodgers. With a regular season record of 16-5, Kershaw posted a 3.03 ERA; his worst since his rookie season with Los Angeles in 2008. Then again, optimists will point out that Kershaw led the league in ERA in five different seasons.
Despite how one may feel about Kershaw, his #44 ranking showcases that he is able to climb up the ranks within his age 32 season. With eight All-Star nominations, three Cy Young awards, and one National League MVP under his belt, the 2020 season will hold high expectations.
43. Max Muncy (1B, Los Angeles Dodgers)
Entering his third season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, having spent 2015-16 with the Oakland Athletics, Muncy is coming off a career year for himself. By the end of the 2019 season, he ended with a career-high 122 hits en route to a career-high 98 RBI’s.
While his strikeout rate saw a 12% increase, Muncy also witnessed a 12.2% increase in walks last season. With a bit more discipline at the plate, he could play a major role in the success of the Dodgers.
42. Patrick Corbin (P, Washington Nationals)
After spending six seasons with the Arizona Diamonds, Corbin and the Washington Nationals agreed to a six-year, $140M deal. During the 2019 season, Corbin managed to showcase why he was worth every dollar.
He ended the campaign with a 14-7 record, posting a 3.25 ERA. When comparing him to someone of Kershaw’s caliber, remember that Corbin is two years younger. In addition, Kershaw hasn’t pitched 200 innings or more since his MVP reign in 2015, while Corbin has pitched 200 innings or more in each of the last two seasons.
41. Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves)
Despite only three seasons in the MLB, Albies has turned himself into a household name with the Atlanta Braves. The 2019 resulted in a league-leading 640 plate appearances, which ultimately resulted in a league-high 189 hits. As a result, Albies won his first career Silver Slugger award.
With a fielding percentage of 99.4% last season, the 23-year old showcased why he is valuable both offensively and defensively. With plenty of room until he hits his respective ceiling, Albies gives Braves fans a reason to be hopeful for the 2020 campaign.
40. DJ LeMahieu (IF, New York Yankees)
Most of us, even the New York Yankees, didn’t expect for DJ LeMahieu to emerge into the cornerstone player that he has become today. After one season with the Chicago Cubs and seven with the Colorado Rockies, the 2019 season with the Yankees proved to be his most impressive to date.
LeMahieu finished with a 25.4% increase in hits (109), 42.3% increase in home runs (26), and 39.2% increase in RBIs (102). As a result, he finished in fourth in voting for the American League MVP, but received his third All-Star nomination and first career Silver Slugger award. As New York continues to pass around the injury bug, LeMahieu will be integrated as a leader for this franchise.
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