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.
9. Juan Soto (OF, Washington Nationals)
Despite only two MLB seasons under his belt, Soto’s production is enough to place him among the elite talent. During the 2019 season, he saw a 5.7% increase in his slugging percentage (.548) and 36.4% incline in RBIs (110).
Entering his age 22 season, the fact that Soto has yet to enter the prime of his career is admirable. After finishing 9th in National League MVP voting last season, it wouldn’t be a shock for him to contend for the award again in the upcoming campaign.
8. Ronald Acuna (OF, Atlanta Braves)
Much like Soto, the Atlanta Braves outfielder only has two seasons completed as well. However, during his 2019 season, Acuna led the MLB in runs (127) and stolen bases (37). As a result, he received his first career All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award.
The Braves are slowly emerging as a contending franchise in the National League, and Acuna is a centerpiece of that success. Entering his age 23 season, the spotlight is already on him.
7. Nolan Arenado (3B, Colorado Rockies)
Considering Arenado has five consecutive All-Star nods and Gold Glove awards, his spot on the list is justified. In fact, his 93 strikeouts during the 2019 season was a career-low among seasons in which he totaled 500+ at-bats.
His fielding percentage of 98% last season was also 0.9% higher than his career average, proving that he’s the top third baseman in the MLB. With another year of consistency, Arenado could make a solid case for the National League MVP.
6. Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
The reigning National League MVP deserved a fair evalutation, as his 351 total bases during the 2019 season was a league-high. In addition, Bellinger also totaled a career-high in batting average (.305), on-base percentage (.406), and slugging percentage (.629).
Los Angeles continues to dominate offensively, and also holds an elite starting rotation. With a rising star in Bellinger, they could resume their positions as the favorites in the National League.
5. Jacob deGrom (P, New York Mets)
In four of the last five seasons, deGrom has totaled 10+ wins for the New York Mets. In addition, his back-to-back Cy Young awards place him among the top pitchers in the MLB.
Looking ahead to the 2020 season, deGrom will need to carry more weight with Syndergaard expected to miss time. However, considering he has totaled 200+ innings pitched in each of the last three seasons, it doesn’t appear to be an impossible task.
4. Gerrit Cole (P, New York Yankees)
After inking a nine-year, $324M deal with the New York Yankees, the expectations can’t get much higher for Gerrit Cole entering the new season. During his two-year tenure with the Houston Astros, he was able to compile a 35-10 record and 602 strikeouts.
The Yankees, who are expected to contend for a World Series during the upcoming campaign, will need to depend on Cole to pitch at least 200 innings for the fourth consecutive year in order to get the most of their newfound ace.
3. Christian Yelich (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)
After two consecutive breakout seasons, it’s not secret that Yelich would be among the top MLB players entering next season. In fact, he has led the league in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS in each of the last two seasons. With a career batting average of .301, Yelich has been one of the most elite offensive talents as of late.
2. Mookie Betts (OF, Los Angeles Dodgers)
As a serious MVP contender in each of the last four seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts will look to repeat his success as the newest member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has led the MLB in runs during the last two seasons, marking a career-high 135 runs during the 2019 season.
The Dodgers received Betts at a discount during trade talks, and have additional superstar talent both within the lineup and starting rotation. It wouldn’t be a shock for the 27-year old contend for the National League MVP this season. In doing so, he would be the second player in MLB history, the other being Frank Robinson, to win the AL and NL MVP award.
1. Mike Trout (OF, Los Angeles Angels)
Is there any surprise here? In seven of the last eight seasons, Trout has finished in the top two in the American League MVP voting. In each of the last three seasons, he has led the league in OBP and OPS as well.
Despite an injury-riddled season in 2017, this is perhaps the easiest segment to put together. As the presumed face of the MLB, Mike Trout will go down as one of the most decorated players in the history of the sport.