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Original Issue


The best ballplayer on the planet? Yup—you guessed it. But when SI's baseball experts got together to rank the game's top players—based on past performance, injury history and future predictors— there were many surprises (Bryce Harper barely in the top 20?), plenty of fresh faces (hello, Ronald Acuña) and compelling stories (Shohei Ohtani— the hitter—is still a game changer). With a new season upon us, here is the game's new pecking order ...

Mookie Betts

OF, Red Sox

No, there is no case for anyone except Trout at No. 1—but there is also no case for anyone but Betts at No. 2. In fact, Mookie's 2018 season was, according to WAR (10.9), better than any of Trout's. Betts, 26, became the first player to win the World Series, AL MVP, a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove in the same year.

Matt Chapman 3B, A's

Swiveling out of a tight spin move to fire a rope across the diamond? Making a perfectly timed acrobatic leap? Charging in with soft hands to spoil a well-placed bunt? Chapman makes it all look effortless. He took a step forward in 2018 at the plate and is among the best at the hot corner.

Jacob deGrom SP, Mets

Judges (in the Bible) tells the story of Samson, who derives his strength from his locks until they are shorn by his lover, Delilah. After the 2017 season, DeGrom, at the time known just as much for his big hair as his big fastball, asked teammate David Wright to chop it all off. He then had the best season for any pitcher, by Fangraphs WAR, since '04. He won the NL Cy Young, despite the Mets' going 14--18 in his starts. Move over, Richard Dawkins—that's how you rebut Scripture.

Alex Bregman 3B, Astros

The list of the last 12 men to produce 30-homer seasons while walking more than striking out, under 25 years old: Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Johnny Bench, Don Mattingly, Frank Thomas, Gary Sheffield, Ken Griffey Jr., Albert Pujols, Alex Bregman. Nice company, huh?

Ronald Acuña Jr. OF, Braves

Acuña's Rookie of the Year season repudiated the notion that baseball forces you to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. It never humbled the 20-year-old, who blasted 26 homers, stole 16 bases and, in just 111 games, posted a 4.1 WAR, which was higher than Giancarlo Stanton's. One can only wonder what comes next for this future superstar.

Shohei Ohtani DH, Angels

Ohtani, who had 22 homers in his rookie season, is rated based on what he is likely to do this year, when he will be a DH only. Still, he's reshaped what was thought possible: Front offices are growing more comfortable with two-way players.

Gleyber Torres 2B, Yankees

Torres made a strong case for Rookie of the Year after slashing .271/.340/.480 with 24 homers in just 123 games, but lost out to Ohtani. He has too much swing-and-miss, but when he connects, the ball goes a long way. At 22, he's still a baby.

Jesús Aguilar

1B, Brewers

Aguilar led Triple A in home runs in 2016, which is a little like being the best student in driver's ed. He finally got a chance at a regular big league job when he was picked up by Milwaukee in 2017, and last year he blasted 35 homers. The 28-year-old also lowered his strikeouts and boosted his walks. He might keep cruising at this level for a while.

Walker Buehler SP, Dodgers

The ace-in-the-making announced his presence with authority in the 2018 playoffs, fanning 29 batters in 232/3 innings and shutting out the Red Sox for seven frames in Game 3 of the World Series. That was the exciting cap on a brilliant season: a 2.62 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 137 1/3 innings.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

OF, Blue Jays

Vlad Jr. is coming, and when he arrives he's poised to deliver some serious thunder. Consider what he accomplished at Double A and Triple A last year at 19 years old: .402/.449/.671 at the former; .336/.414/.564 at the latter; and fewer walks (36) than strikeouts (37). The son of a Hall of Famer who was one of the best natural hitters of his era, Vladito promises to be a special player when he gets called up—even if he should have debuted last year.

1. Mike Trout OF, Angels

2. Mookie Betts OF, Red Sox

3. Max Scherzer SP, Nationals

4. Francisco Lindor SS, Indians

5. José Ramírez 3B, Indians

6. Chris Sale SP, Red Sox

7. Jacob deGrom SP, Mets

8. Nolan Arenado 3B, Rockies

9. Corey Kluber SP, Indians

10. Aaron Judge OF, Yankees

11. Justin Verlander SP, Astros

12. Alex Bregman 3B, Astros

13. Manny Machado 3B, Free Agent

14. Christian Yelich OF, Brewers

15. José Altuve 2B, Astros

16. Paul Goldschmidt 1B, Diamondbacks

17. Kris Bryant 3B, Cubs

18. J.D. Martinez OF, Red Sox

19. Freddie Freeman 1B, Braves

20. Bryce Harper OF, Free Agent

21. Matt Chapman 3B, A's

22. Anthony Rendon 3B, Nationals

23. Lorenzo Cain OF, Brewers

24. Aaron Nola SP, Phillies

25. Joey Votto 1B, Reds

26. Carlos Carrasco SP, Indians

27. Clayton Kershaw SP, Dodgers

28. Luis Severino SP, Yankees

29. Giancarlo Stanton OF, Yankees

30. Gerrit Cole SP, Astros

31. Zack Greinke SP, Diamondbacks

32. Anthony Rizzo 1B, Cubs

33. Carlos Correa SS, Astros

34. Ronald Acuña Jr. OF, Braves

35. Trevor Bauer SP, Indians

36. Justin Turner 3B, Dodgers

37. Juan Soto OF, Nationals

38. Eugenio Suárez 3B, Reds

39. Javy Báez SS, Cubs

40. Corey Seager SS, Dodgers

41. Matt Carpenter 1B/3B, Cardinals

42. Stephen Strasburg SP, Nationals

43. J.T. Realmuto C, Phillies

44. Charlie Blackmon OF, Rockies

45. Andrelton Simmons SS, Angels

46. Trevor Story SS, Rockies

47. Blake Snell SP, Rays

48. George Springer OF, Astros

49. Xander Bogaerts SS, Red Sox

50. Noah Syndergaard SP, Mets

51. Gary Sánchez C, Yankees

52. Justin Upton OF, Angels

53. Kyle Hendricks SP, Cubs

54. Whit Merrifield 2B, Royals

55. Cody Bellinger 1B/OF Dodgers

56. James Paxton SP, Yankees

57. Andrew Benintendi OF Red Sox

58. Shohei Ohtani DH, Angels

59. Tommy Pham OF, Rays

60. Yasmani Grandal C, Brewers

61. Rhys Hoskins 1B, Phillies

62. Jean Segura SS, Phillies

63. Patrick Corbin SP, Nationals

64. Travis Shaw 3B/2B/1B, Brewers

65. Nelson Cruz OF, Twins

66. Mitch Haniger OF, Mariners

67. Starling Marté OF, Pirates

68. Josh Donaldson 3B, Braves

69. Marcell Ozuna OF, Cardinals

70. Gleyber Torres 2B, Yankees

71. Brandon Nimmo OF, Mets

72. Walker Buehler SP, Dodgers

73. Mike Clevinger SP, Indians

74. Chris Taylor IF/OF, Dodgers

75. Josh Hader RP, Brewers

76. Jack Flaherty SP, Cardinals

77. Michael Brantley OF, Astros

78. Aaron Hicks OF, Yankees

79. J.A. Happ SP, Yankees

80. Jameson Taillon SP, Pirates

81. Craig Kimbrel RP, Free Agent

82. Robinson Canó 2B, Mets

83. Buster Posey C/1B, Giants

84. Dallas Keuchel SP, Free agent

85. Khris Davis OF, A's

86. Edwin Díaz RP, Mets

87. Kyle Freeland SP, Rockies

88. Blake Treinen RP, A's

89. Scooter Gennett 2B, Reds

90. Carlos Martínez SP, Cardinals

91. German Márquez SP, Rockies

92. Jesús Aguilar 1B, Brewers

93. Miles Mikolas RP, Cardinals

94. David Price SP, Red Sox

95. José Berríos SP, Twins

96. Jackie Bradley Jr. OF, Red Sox

97. Madison Bumgarner SP, Giants

98. Charlie Morton SP, Rays

99. José Abreu 1B, White Sox

100. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. OF, Blue Jays