Top 5 Players Right Now
Spring training is upon us, and that means opening day is just a few weeks down the road. To celebrate this I've decided to create a list of the top 5 players going into the 2017 season, and why I believe they deserve this honor. This is all based on my opinion, but I will use statistics to back my claims up. I've ranked the players bases on their past success, and how I believe they'll do in the 2017 season. So without further wait, here are my top 5 players in the MLB right now:
5) Nolan Arenado - Colorado Rockies:
Nolan Arenado is one of, if not the most underrated player in baseball. Despite winning multiple gold gloves at 3rd base, and putting up MVP like numbers with a bat, Arenado continues to fly under the radar for most people. Now this lack of attention given to Arenado can be blamed on 2 thing, the Coors' effect, and the fact that the Rockies haven't made the playoffs with Arenado on the team. Now the Coors' effect is the effect that the thin air in Colorado gives hitters an advantage against pitchers, that would be absent in other ball parks. Now despite this is still believe Arenado is one of the best players for 3 reasons. The first reason is his stupendous defensive ability. Arenado's strong arm, slick glove, and defensive instinct makes him one of the best defensive third basemen in the game, only rivaled by players like Manny Machado, and Josh Donaldson. The second reason is, despite the Coors' effect, you still have to be an amazing hitter to do what Arenado has done. Over the past 2 years Arenado has hit a total of 83 home runs, 263 RBIs, and has an average batting average of .289. His numbers the last two years have rivaled those of the best in the game, and he doesn't seem to be cooling down any time soon. The third reason is Arenado's reliability. In each of the past 2 years Arenado has played over 155 games, most of which in the National League with no designated hitter. By being a consistent in both the field and at the plate, while excelling at both, Nolan Arenado has cracked my list as the 5th best player in the MLB.
4) Kris Bryant - Chicago Cubs:
Despite only being 25 years old, when it comes to the career of Kris Bryant, there has already been a great amount of success. In 2015 Bryant took home Rookie of the Year honors, and Bryant's success only continued. After being eliminated in the 2015 NLCS by the Mets, the Cubs revamped their team for 2016 adding key pieces, like John lackey, and Ben Zobrist. 2016 was also Bryant's first full year, and unlike other players, Bryant experienced no sophomore slump. In 2016 Bryant batted .292 with 39 home runs, and 102 RBI's, taking home National League MVP honors in just his second year in the majors. Along with winning MVP Bryant was part of the legendary 2016 Cubs team, that broke the 108 year world series drought for the Cubs. Bryant has had much success with the bat, but his fielding ability is nothing to overlook as well. Despite primarily being a 3rd baseman, Bryant has had his fair share of playing time out of position, thanks to Joe Maddon's unconventional, but effective managing strategies. Bryant has played all throughout the infield, and outfield, making him one of the most versatile fielders, while also being one of, if not the best hitter in the National League.
3) Jose Altuve - Houston Astros:
Despite his short stature, Jose Altuve is no joke when it comes to talents on a baseball field. The 5' 6" second baseman for the Houston Astros has taken himself from one of the shortest people on a baseball field, to one of the best people on a baseball field. After moving to the American League in 2013, the Astros didn't have much hope, losing 111 games that year, finishing in last in the AL West. As time went on however, things got better for the 'Stros, and at the forefront of it all, was Jose Altuve. Altuve has always been a great defensive second baseman, taking home the gold glove award for AL 2nd basemen in 2015, but he really took off with his hitting talent. in 2014, despite having another forgettable season, the Astros had a breakout performer in Altuve. Altuve lead the American League in hits, with 225 (breaking the Astro's club record set by Craig Biggio), which lead to Altuve taking home the AL batting title with a .341 batting average. In the box wasn't the only place teams had to watch out for Altuve however, because in 2014 he led the AL in stolen bases with an astounding 56 swiped bags. 2015 was more to the same story for Altuve hitting wise. He again led the league in hits with 200, and although he lost the batting title to Miguel Cabrera, he defended his stolen base title with 38 swiped bags in 2015, while winning an aforementioned gold glove award. In 2015 Altuve also helped the Astros to a playoff birth for the first time since moving to the American League. So 2014 and 2015 were big years for Altuve, but 2016 was his biggest year yet. In 2016 Altuve not only continued his dominance with a bat, reclaiming his batting title with a .338 batting average, and leading the league in hits for a third year with 216, but also showed emerging signs of power, slugging a career high 24 homers. Altuve was also second in the AL with 30 stolen bases, and despite not leading his Astros to a postseason birth, he finished in the top 3 for AL MVP voting. The consistency with a bat, the ability to play his position very well, and the treat he brings on the base paths give Jose Altuve the honor of being ranked as the 3rd best player in the MLB right now.
2) Clayton Kershaw - Los Angeles Dodgers:
Was it any surprise that Kershaw was going to make this list? What can you say about the guy that hasn't already been said. He's by far the best pitcher in the game right now, and shows no signs of slowing down. He's a 3-time Cy Young award winner in the National League, and even has an MVP to go along with his other numerous awards. Despite having some injury problems the last two seasons, Kershaw still dominates the opposition ever 5th day. An injury shorted season made Kershaw ineligible for any awards in 2016, but that doesn't take away from his marvelous 12-4 record with a microscopic 1.69 ERA. Kershaw is arguably the best pitcher of this generation, and he's already done so much before his age 30 season. As stated before he's won 3 Cy Young awards, and an MVP award, he's thrown a no-hitter, has been elected to 6 all star games, and has won a pitching gold glove award. Clayton Kershaw is definitely the best pitcher in the game right now, and was only outranked on this list by one person.
Before I move on to number one I wanted to put some honorable mentions. People who just missed the list, but are still some of baseball's best (these are in no specific order).
Mookie Betts - Boston Redsox
Josh Donaldson - Toronto Blue Jays
Bryce Harper - Washington Nationals
Manny Machado - Baltimore Orioles
Miguel Cabrera - Detriot Tigers
Joey Votto - Cincinnati Reds
1) Mike Trout - Los Angeles Angels:
Again, was this any surprise? Much like Kershaw, there's not much you can say about this guy that hasn't already been said. Trout has been to 5 all star games since his debut in 2011, has won 2 American League MVP awards, a Rookie of the Year award, and so much more. Trout is the textbook example of a 5 tool player. He has some of the most range, and fielding ability of any center fielder in the game, has stolen close to 150 bases in his career, hit phenomenally for power and average throughout his entire career, and has a throwing arm that few should test. These abilities have been recognized in his 5-year streak of finishing in the top 2 for AL MVP voting. Trout is by far the best player in the game today, and he shows no signs of slowing down. These not much else you can say about Trout than he's the best right now.
So that's my take on the top 5 players in the game right now. I'd love to hear what you think, and why. Opening day is coming up very fast and like most baseball fans I cannot wait.