Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training with position players not too far behind, and baseball season is almost back! For the past few years, Mike Trout has been the undisputed best player in the game and his 2019 MVP campaign only further proved that point. With so many other highly talented players in the league, like Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts, the discussion shifts to who is the second best? The DC Sports staff decided to hash this one out amongst themselves.
The Red Sox may have just traded away the second-best player in all of baseball this week in outfielder Mookie Betts. There is no real weakness in Betts’ game. He’s a fantastic contact hitter, he has surprising pop for a guy that stands just 5-foot-9, he has both an outstanding glove and arm and he possesses elite speed and instincts on the basepath. In his 2018 MVP season, Betts was the key in a 108-win and World Series winning campaign as the best leadoff man in the game and one of the clutchest hitters. Sure, Mookie had a bit of a dip in 2019, but his ridiculous hand speed and ability to engage pitchers in long at-bats makes him one of the toughest outs in all of baseball and a guy you really want in your lineup in the biggest moments.
"It's the best game I've ever seen Yelich have." – Craig Counsell pic.twitter.com/QRl0MI5Mti
— MLB (@MLB) September 8, 2019
Christian Yelich is the second-best player in baseball and it is not particularly close, as Yelich is superior to Betts and Bellinger in just about every offensive aspect of the game. Just as a reminder, Betts was not even the best player on his own third-place team last year. All I heard at the beginning of last season was how Yelich’s 2018 National League MVP season was a fluke. It turns out that Betts’ 2018 American League MVP campaign is the one that is more likely to be an outlier, as he failed to even be a top 10 player in the league last year. Yelich, meanwhile, finished 2019 with a 7.8 fWAR, tied for third in all of baseball. The only two players to finish higher were Trout, a freak of nature, and Alex Bregman, a known cheater. He tied with Bellinger despite playing 26 fewer games. Yelich posted another monster year at the plate, and actually was better than Trout in OPS. To top it off, with 30 stolen bases, Yelich was the only player in that upper echelon to bring a true running game. Betts and Bellinger were lethal in 2018 and 2019 respectively. But unlike them, Yelich was an MVP finalist in both of those seasons.
— New York Mets (@Mets) February 11, 2020
It’s time to show pitchers some love. He’s coming off a completely dominant season, and while his team didn’t win the World Series, it’s through no fault of his and his relatively new mega-deal. He also currently plays in the biggest market in professional sports, New York. Yes, Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher — and second-best player — in baseball. Did you think I was talking about someone else? The back-to-back National League Cy Young Award winner has been not only the flat-out best but also the most consistent pitcher in baseball over the past two seasons, combining for an ERA of 2.05 (!!) over 421 (!!) innings pitched. Mike Trout is the best hitter, Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher. Pitchers deserve love too on these lists; they’re just as important if not more so than the hitters — as Trout knows all too well. Maybe with Jake on his team, he’d actually make the playoffs.
Gold Glove. Silver Slugger. MVP.
— MLB (@MLB) November 15, 2019
I’m going to have to disagree with Jorge about the value of pitchers. Someone that only participates in 20% of his team’s games cannot be valued as much as a player who plays in 140-plus games every season. That is why even the best pitcher in baseball (which may or may not be deGrom) can’t have a claim as the second-best player in baseball or even a top five spot. In my mind, there are five players with legitimate claims on that No. 2 spot: Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich, Cody Bellinger, Nolan Arenado and Jose Altuve. Personally, I feel Betts is the best overall player out of that bunch, but since he’s already been mentioned, I’ll go with his new teammate. Bellinger is the youngest player out of the group at just 24, which means we may not have even seen the best he can offer yet. If he can improve from his ridiculous 2019 MVP season (.305 BA, 47 home runs, 115 RBI, 1.035 OPS), then we may be looking at one of the best players of this era. Bellinger has an infinitely high ceiling, which gives him my vote as the second-best player in baseball.
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