For the second iteration of our top-100 right now, the staff gets closer to a consensus. These players are the best MLB players right now, from 81-90. Jorge Eckardt, Ben Berg and Mike Mavredakis went through 91-100 here, if you missed that. The rules and rankings are fully explained there as well. Let’s get into it!
No. 90 – Chris Sale: Mike 58, Ben NR, Jorge NR
Mike: Sale was this high on my board solely for his potential to be great when he’s healthy. He has not been nearly healthy enough, but the talent is otherworldly – for about two-thirds of a season, he’s lethal. Any other year, Sale is an easy top-15 player, but because of his Tommy John surgery and relatively meh performance in 2019, he fell on this list. In 147.1 innings last year, he had a 4.40 ERA and 218 strikeouts. His FIP was only 3.39, though, so maybe he’s not as bad as his ERA presents. We’ll see with time.
No. 89 – Yuli Gurriel: Mike 96, Ben 84, Jorge 96
Ben: It’s fair to call Yuli Gurriel a late bloomer. At the age of 35 and in his third full year in the majors, Gurriel turned in a career year and proved he’s a driver, not a passenger on the loaded Houston Astros. In 144 games in 2019, the first-basemen hit .298 with 31 HRs, 104 RBI’s, 37 BB’s and an OPS of .884, all career highs. This monster slash line added up to a player worth 3.2 wins-above-replacement, good for seventh at his position. Is it possible for a 35-year-old to get better in back-to-back seasons?
No. 88 – Manny Machado: Mike 90, Ben 86, Jorge 90
Jorge: I think it would be fair to say Machado is one of the most overpaid players in baseball right now, but he still is just good enough to crack into our top-100. However, when the Padres handed him a 10-year, $300 million deal last offseason, I don’t think they were hoping to see his OPS drop over 100 points from 2018 to 2019. Still, with a line of .256/.334/.462, 32 home runs and 85 RBIs plus his track record, Machado is still one of the top players in the game.
No. 87 – Jose Abreu: Mike 92, Ben 91, Jorge 84
Mike: I have been a Jose Abreu fan since he first came into the bigs in 2014. He has been a model of consistency since then, posting five straight 100-plus RBI, 145-plus game seasons to start out his career. He somewhat struggled in 2018, but bounced back with a league-leading 133 RBIs in 2019. Abreu is a fit in any lineup, but is even more intriguing considering the young potential around him in Chicago.
No. 86 – Aaron Nola: Mike 100, Ben 83, Jorge 82
Jorge: Aaron Nola didn’t have quite as dominant of a year in 2019 as he did in 2018 when he had an ERA of 2.37 and came in third in the NL Cy Young Award race, but he still had a very solid season. Finishing with an ERA of 3.87, Nola also broke the 200 innings mark for the second straight season which is always valuable. He obviously came back down to earth after his absurd 2018, but he proved that even if he’s not putting up otherworldly numbers he can still be an above-average big-league pitcher. Still only going into his 27-year-old season, there’s a lot of time left for him to be great, and while I don’t think he’ll ever reach that peak of 2018 again, he could definitely make it back to that All-Star level.
No. 85 – Justin Turner: Mike 72, Ben NR, Jorge 77
Jorge: The one that got away as a Mets fan, Justin Turner has turned himself from average platoon guy in New York to legitimate star and franchise cornerstone in Los Angeles. An .881 OPS and 4.1 WAR in 135 games last year for the Dodgers, Turner put up his fourth-straight season of a WAR over 4 and sixth-straight season of an OPS over .800. It was the lowest OPS and WAR for Turner in a couple of years, and at age 35, you have to wonder if it’s the beginning of the inevitable dropoff. However, for now, you can still expect the consistent production he’s made normal in his time in LA.
No. 84 – Tommy Pham: Mike 99, Ben 73, Jorge 87
Ben: It’s hard to explain why Tommy Pham is so good. He’s somewhat of a jack of all trades, master of none. Last year he hit .273 with 21 HR, 68 RBI’s, 81 BB’s and an OPS of .818. He’s a good but not great defensive outfielder as well. The only Pham stat that really jumps off the page is his 25 stolen bases, which was good for 10th in the majors. That all being said, he is just one of those players that’s worth more to a team than the sum of his parts. He has that IT factor and he’s not a liability in any area of the game. He’s just a good ball player that pretty much any team could use. Cheers to the Padres for bringing him in.
No. 83 – Willson Contreras: Mike 91, Ben 89, Jorge 75
Mike: This is a situation in which Contreras might be a reach. I personally had him the lowest out of all of us, albeit by two spots. His main issue has been staying on the field. When he plays, he’s productive. Last year in 105 games, he hit 24 home runs and finished with a .888 OPS. Now coming into his age-28 season, we may have hit the prime of Contreras’ career. He reminds me of Gary Sanchez quite a bit, honestly. He’s proved his plate discipline likely isn’t going to improve, with just 38 walks last year to go along with 102 strikeouts. He got K’d in nearly 25% of his plate appearances last year. That’s pretty rough.
No. 82 – Tyler Glasnow: Mike 89, Ben 65, Jorge 100
Ben: Make no mistake. When Tyler Glasnow was healthy, the Rays had the best pitching staff in baseball. After coming over from the Pirates along with OF Austin Meadows in exchange for RHP Chris Archer (my god trade was a disaster for Pittsburgh), Glasnow proved to be an ace in the making. The 26-year-old righty played in only 12 games last year, but he’s always had electric stuff and his 2019 numbers can back it up. The young stud tossed 60.2 innings for Tampa with a 1.78 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, striking out 76(!) batters en route to a 6-1 record. It’s a shame he spent so much time on the IL, because this kid is good.
No. 81 – Bryan Reynolds: Mike 84, Ben 62, Jorge 97
Mike: For someone stuck on a mediocre team as a rookie, Reynolds shined last season. Through 134 games, he hit 16 home runs to go along with a .880 OPS and 37 doubles. He finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year competition. He also shared time at all three outfield positions, with a majority, 79, of his games in left field. His .314 average was also the seventh-best in the NL last year. With five years of control left for the Pirates, the former 2nd-rounder could be quite the find.