Finals SZN hit us hard so we took a brief hiatus from the articles, but now we’re back with the next installment of the top 100 players in the MLB right now. We’ve officially crossed the hump, and are now onto the top 50 players. Sure, the top 100 is nice, but the top 50 is what really separates the men from the boys, the superstars from the stars and the multi-millionaires from the millionaires. We’ve got some really hot takes, a guy who used to be compared to the best player in baseball and one of the most dominant starting pitchers in the history of the game. Not sure who I’m talking about? Well, keep reading.
No. 50 – Bryce Harper: Mike 50, Ben 36, Jorge 66
Ben: With the Nationals winning the World Series in their first year sans Bryce Harper while the division rival Phillies he left them for failed to make the playoffs, the narrative surrounding the enigmatic outfielder was largely negative in 2019. So negative, in fact, that most people did not know that he had 114 RBI’s (a career high) and 35 HR (second highest of his career) in his first year in Philly. The problem was that Harper only hit .260 and struck out 178 times for a team that went 81-81. After making such a big financial commitment to Bryce, Philadelphia brass just has to hope that their new manager, Joe Girardi, can bring out the best in the former NL MVP.
Eight years ago today, Bryce Harper hit his first career home run.
Since that one was with the Nationals, let’s look back at his first career home run as a Phillie.
— Phillies Nation (@PhilliesNation) May 14, 2020
No. 49 – Anthony Rizzo: Mike 55, Ben 47, Jorge 49
Mike: Last season Rizzo quietly had one of the best years of his nine-year MLB career, even though this was the first year since 2013 where he didn’t finish in the top-20 of the MVP voting. His .924 OPS was the second-best of his career and first .900-plus OPS since 2016 when he got a .928. He also picked up his third Gold Glove in four years.
No. 48 – Max Muncy: Mike 51, Ben 46, Jorge 52
Jorge: Max Muncy is the perfect example of a late bloomer. He played a total of 96 games with the Oakland A’s in 2015 and 2016 and didn’t do well (.611 OPS), resulting in him getting cut right before the 2017 season. He signed with the Dodgers but didn’t touch the Major League field in 2017, got called up a couple weeks into the 2018 season, tore it up, and the rest is history. He hit .251/.374/.515 with 35 homers and 98 RBIs in that stacked Dodgers lineup in 2019, splitting his time between second, first and third. He’s versatile, he gets on base (seems like the perfect player for Oakland, too bad they cut him) and he just flat out hits dingers.
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) February 23, 2020
No. 47 – Matt Olson: Mike 49, Ben 45, Jorge 55
Ben: Ah, yes. The other Matt on the Oakland Athletic’s. While Mr. Olson may be an afterthought on a roster with super-fielder Matt Chapman, he’s still a key piece to a really solid team. Though he’s not the Platinum-Glove caliber defender that Chapman is, Olson is no slouch defensively. Furthermore, the 1st-baseman’s bat is as good as (if not better than) Chapman’s. In 2019, both Matt’s crushed 36 homers and 91 RBI’s, but Olson had Chapman beat in batting average (.267) and OPS (.896). It’s fair to say that with these two, Oakland has the best 1-2 punch of Matt’s in the entire MLB.
No. 46 – Hyun-Jin Ryu: Mike 36, Ben 53, Jorge 59
Ben: Hyun-Jin Ryu may have a longer track record as an injury-plagued player than he does of being a true ace, but his recent play shows how good this guy can be when healthy. In 2019, Ryu led the entire MLB in Earned Run Average with a 2.32, good enough to earn him second place in National League Cy-Young voting. There’s really no doubt that this guy can pitch when he’s at full health, but his long injury history makes the 4-year $80 million contract he got from Toronto a high-risk/high-reward endeavor.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 23, 2019
No. 45 – Yasmani Grandal: Mike 35, Ben 54, Jorge 58
Mike: As the second-best catcher in baseball, behind J.T. Realmuto, Grandal was sort of high on my list. It didn’t feel right to have him in the 50-range when I have three right fielders in my top-10. That’s mainly why he’s so high, but his production as a catcher helps my case I think. His .848 OPS last year was the third-best in baseball among all real catchers – Kyle Schwarber does not count @ baseball-reference – while playing the most games of the top-3. His 109 walks last year led all catchers with more than 350 plate appearances by 58 (!!) walks, with the next closest coming in at a total of 51 walks in the form of Houston Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos. He was a huge get for the Chicago White Sox.
No. 44 – Clayton Kershaw: Mike 56, Ben 56, Jorge 35
Jorge: Eight All-Star games. Five ERA titles. A Gold Glove (why not). Three Cy Young awards. An MVP. A Triple Crown. Fifteen NCAA basketball national championships (he recently posted a picture in a UConn basketball shirt, so, yeah). Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher of his generation, and really it’s not even a question. He’s coming off the worst season of his professional career (besides his rookie season), where he put up a not so great ~checks notes~ 3.03 ERA in 178.1 innings pitched. Are you kidding me? This is what he’s getting knocked for? This narrative is ridiculous. Sure, he might not be the same pitcher who threw up ERAs of 1.83 and 1.77 in back-to-back seasons (holy $%*# he was good), but Kershaw is still one of the best starters in the MLB.
No. 43 – Kris Bryant: Mike 57, Ben 44, Jorge 44
Mike: For me personally I’ve always seen Bryant as overrated, which is why he’s so far down my list. He hasn’t driven in more than 77 runs in the last three seasons and he strikes out way too much for a guy that hits in the two or three-hole a majority of the time, as he struck out 145 times last year. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very good player that’s valuable, but he’s had a couple meh seasons in a row now. After his disputes with the Chicago Cubs regarding his service time, I don’t see him picking it up much until he’s with a new team this offseason.
No. 42 – Mike Soroka: Mike 37, Ben 82, Jorge 26
Jorge: As a Mets fan, I’m not excited to have Soroka in the division for the foreseeable future. The runner-up in the National League Rookie of the Year race last season, Soroka put up a fantastic 2.68 ERA in 174.1 innings pitched. His 0.7 Home Runs per nine innings led the entire NL, and he did so in probably the best division in the NL, one that contains sluggers by the likes of Pete Alonso, Juan Soto and Bryce Harper (very overrated IMO but still hit 35 homers). If he comes back with a similar performance whenever play resumes, he will establish himself as one of the top arms in the MLB.
No. 41 – Carlos Correa: Mike 43, Ben 40, Jorge 60
Ben: Correa is probably the worst franchise player on the Astros, but he’s still a franchise player. Ignoring the fact that he shares an infield with Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, Correa is still one of the upper-echelon shortstops in the MLB. In 2019, the former 1st-overall pick and do-it-all shortstop hit .279 with 59 RBI’s, 21 homers, 22 doubles, 25 walks and an OPS of .926 while playing the field well. The fact that 2019 was considered a down year for him tells you everything you need to know about the talent level this guy has. If and when baseball returns, something tells me Correa will be playing with a chip on his shoulder.