2017 MLB Projections

-The K Zone-

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Written by Ian Joffe

 April 1st, 2017 (but it’s not an April Fools joke, trust me)

2017 Playoff Picture:

mlb playoff bracket 2017

Well, the most surprising thing here is that there are not many surprises. The Cubs and the Indians are by far the best teams in their respective, and the Cubs barely top Cleveland overall in the world series.

In the AL, the Red Sox seem to be the team to beat in the East. They bulked up on starting pitching, and still have a killer lineup. The team will be successful even if Price pitches 130 innings and with David Ortiz retired.

As noted earlier, the Indians have an incredibly deep, young, strikeout-centered rotation. Their hitting was already pretty good, and the addition of EE makes it a force to be reckoned with. Cleveland also boasts the best bullpen in baseball, highlighted by super-reliever Andrew Miller.

Houston was a difficult pick to win the West, due to the extreme lack of certainty in their rotation. But, I believe Keuchel will greatly improve on 2016, even if he does not return to Cy-Young form (which I do not expect him to), and this may be the year that Lance McCullers stays on the field and produces for a full season. They will likely either recieve great contributions from rising young starters, or trade said starters for stability, like Jose Quintana. My lack of awe for the Rangers played a part in my choosing of Houston over them, as their lineup and starting pitching both lack depth.

Texas still qualifies for a wild card spot. Despite their shortcomings, the team has many advantages, such as strong defense and a good middle-of-the-lineup and 1-2 punch starting pitching punch. Toronto, however, seeds higher than them, after succeeding in 2016 with one of the most underrated rotations. The team lost Encarnacion, but still control such power threats as Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista, who I expect to bounce back.

Starting pitching carries the Red Sox over the Rangers in the ALDS, while Texas emerges victorious in the wild card game, based on their front-of-the-rotation talent (such is the nature of the 1-game playoff). Cleveland, the best team in offense, starting pitching, and bullpen, makes quick work of the Rangers and Red Sox to advance to the World Series.

Like many others, I have predicted great success for the Nationals multiple years in a row now, but they always seem to choke when the pressure is on. Still, I predict them to secure the 2-seed in the National League, beating up on a imporved yet still weak NL East. Not only does the roster begin with two starters capable of Cy Young production, but the lineup features a myriad of MVP candidates from breakout stars Trea Turner and Daniel Murphy (both of whom I expect to have sustained success), to comeback candidate Bryce Harper.

While I respect the rosters of St. Louis and Pittsburg, there is little to no argument that they may match the Cubs. I fully expect them to win another 100 games (did somebody say 107-110???) and their outstanding pitching and hitting should lead them through the season and the playoffs.

The NL west should be an interesting battle to watch overall. I believe four of five teams (sorry San Diego) have a legitimate shot at contention. Yet, the Dodgers will rise above the field, which features the pitching-starved Rockies, injury/poor transaction-plagued Diamondbacks, and lineup-lacking Giants. The Dodgers should expect above average lineup production, and excellent starting pitching, from the obvious Clayton Kershaw, to the incredibly underrated Rich Hill, to the Japanese star Kenta Maeda, to plenty of depth and potential in Urias (expect a mid-May callup), Ryu,  Kazmir, and McCarthy.

The Giants are not flashy, with a consistently great ace and a declining catcher, but with a new closer they should be able to put together a playoff-worthy 2017. I do not expect more than 88 wins, if that, but they have something the rest of the their division lacks: starting pitching consistency and depth. Unlike the low-risk Giants, the high-ceiling Mets could go on to win 98 games and a world series, or every single starter could get Tommy John Surgery over one week, and they could win 78 games. I split the difference here, assuming that some of their incredibly talented starting rotation stays healthy, and some gets hurt. Often overlooked is the Mets SP depth, containing Statcast star Seth Lugo, breakout performer Robert Gsellman, and 20-month-absentee Zack Wheeler. Meanwhile, they should have just enough offense to support their young studs.

The worse team will once again win the Wild Card Game in the NL, when Madison Bumgarner single-highhandedly defeats the Mets. But, they will quickly fall to the the Chicago juggernaut in the NLDS. The 2016 rematch of Nationals vs. Dodgers may be the most exciting series of the NL bracket, with two incredibly evenly matched teams. However, I expect Washington to win this round, with a fully functional Bryce Harper. But, the Nationals will go the way of the Giants, and lose to the Cubs’ superior pitching and hitting, allowing the Cubs to once again advance to the World Series.

Teams that made the playoffs are the most important, but teams that barely miss can be just as fun (I can’t be the only one who takes guilty pleasure in the sad montages the day that they get eliminated). The Arizona Diamondbacks experience a Zach Greinke (and maybe even Shelby Miller) comeback, as well as a return to full health by A.J. Pollock, but the starting pitching is still not quite enough. Seattle also puts together a nice offensive year, but a starting rotation full of unfulfilled promise and a declining King Felix is not enough to reach the Promised Land. The Tigers may miss a wild card by one game. A fully healthy offense could be devastating, and Justin Verlander should have won last year’s Cy Young (and I’m more than happy to start a comment-section argument over it). But, that health has already taken a hit, as J.D. Martinez will likely miss over a month of big-league action. Propelled by healthy starting pitching and 280 K form Chris Archer, the Rays could make a late push for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, the offense is just not there. If Ray Searage continues his legacy, the Pirates may also vie for a wild card (they still won’t compete with the Cubs). The Rays can also be driven to contention through a healthy pitching staff that lives up to their potential. Unfortunately, their offense is unlikely to be strong enough.

The World Series should be exciting, as usual. The rematch aspect will add even more fun. In game one, expect the red-hot Cubs to defeat Cleveland, with Jon Lester dominating over the strong Indians lineup. Game two will also go the way of the Chicago, and will most definitely be higher scoring than the first. But, as the series moves to Progressive Field, the tables will turn, with the Indians narrowly winning Game Three, and then winning Game Four in a blowout. Game Five, a rematch of game one, will be just as close, but Chicago will once again pull away, right before the series returns to Wrigley. Facing elimination, the Indians offense figures out Arrieta in Game 6, and pulls away for a victory. A historic Game Seven will be full of Deja Vu, going into extra innings but eventually falling to the Cubs in the 11th inning, in a rare miscue by the Indians ‘pen. “Go Cubs Go” will once again ring in the ears of every MLB fan, whether that be to their greatest annoyance or greatest pleasure.

2017 Awards:

Most Valuable Player Cy Young Award Rookie of the Year Manager of the Year
National League 3B Kris Bryant (CHC) Clayton Kershaw (LAD) Tyler Glasnow (PIT) Dusty Baker (WSH)
American League CF Mike Trout (LAA) Yu Darvish (TEX) Yoan Moncada (CWS) A.J. Hinch (HOU)

 

I have found many of the awards, like the standings, to be relatively predictable. The young Kris Byrant should continue his power, and improve his batting average. Mike Trout brought speed at hitting back into his toolkit last season, and should continue to do so along with power and a great eye.

Clayton Kershaw is, if not the best player, is the best pitcher of our generation, and may end up as one of the best of all time. Barring injury or some kind of super-breakout from Noah Syndergaard, the now-veteran can expect his fourth award of the type. AL Cy Young was likely the most difficult decision. The league is full of well-qualified candidates to have excellent 3.00 ERA seasons, not many seem to have Cy-Young potential. Considering my lack of trust in Chris Sale, the two main candidates appeared to be Yu Darvish and Chris Archer. Darvish has shown me more in the past, so I’m selecting him.

Both rookie of the year races made for difficult choices as well. In both, I went against the conventional pick. Everything I have heard from scouts about Dansby Swanson tellls me “.280, 20 home runs, 15 steals, great defense.” Such as line is very productive, but does not tell me that he’s a shoe in for the award. My initial pick Alex Reyes having been stolen from me by a torn UCL, I turned to Tyler Glasnow. He, unlike Swanson, is said by scouts to have top of his class potential, and on awards, I tend to go for the potential pick. He didn’t stun is his brief debut last year, but had plenty of encouraging outings. In the AL, I went for Yoan Moncada. Everything about the consensus pick, Andrew Benintendi,  – his .243 September BA, his .412 August BABIP – screams “.230.” I think he has a fantastic future ahead of him, but I’m doubtful that this is his year. Instead, I went for Yoan Moncada. I can’t say that I’m particularly optimistic on his either, after watching him K at what seemed to be every at bat last September. But, most hitters don’t break out in their first September, and I could totally see him pulling off a Trea Turner-esque second half, especially in the steals department.

Manager of the Year was also a little tricky, especially because my bracket looks very similar to last year’s. I went with A.J. Hinch in the AL, simply because his Astros are the only new AL team that I have making the playoffs. I went for Dusty Baker in the NL because, while his team did put together a very good 2016, I though they went largely unnoticed. Rather, I think they will make a huge story in 2017 when everyone stays healthy and produces. If the Cubs don’t reach 100 wins, the Nationals have a decent shot.

Well, those are my projections for the 2017 MLB season, I hope you enjoyed them. I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments, especially if you like a breakout team to steal one of my predictable teams’ spots. Take a look at our Top 10 Series, in which we examine the top 10 players at each position for the coming season, we put a lot of work into that and produced at least what we think are some helpful lists. To see the rest of our work right when it comes out, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. And cheers to what I’m sure will be a fun and unforgettable 2017 season!

Top 10 Closers

K Zone Master Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking
 1) Kenley Jansen (LAD)  Kenley Jansen (LAD)  Kenley Jansen (LAD)  Kenley Jansen (LAD)
 2) Aroldis Chapman (NYY)  Aroldis Chapman (NYY)  Aroldis Chapman (NYY)  Zach Britton (BAL)
 3) Zach Britton (BAL)  Mark Melancon (SF)  Zach Britton (BAL)  Aroldis Chapman (NYY)
 4) Mark Melancon (SF)  Zach Britton (BAL)  Wade Davis  (CHC)  Mark Melancon (SF)
 5) Wade Davis (CHC)  Wade Davis (KC)  Seung-Hwan Oh (STL)  Wade Davis (CHC)
 6) Seung-Hwan Oh  Craig Kimbrel (BOS)  Mark Melancon (SF)  Cody Allen (CLE)
 7) Alex Colome (TB)  Seung-Hwan Oh (STL)  Alex Colome (TB)  Alex Colome (TB)
 8) Cody Allen (CLE)  Jeanmar Gomez (PHI)  Edwin Diaz (SEA)  Roberto Osuna (TOR)
 9) Roberto Osuna (TOR)  Sam Dyson (TEX)  Cody Allen (CLE)  Seung Hwan Oh (STL)
 10) Craig Kimbrel (BOS)  Roberto Osuna (TOR)  Roberto Osuna (TOR)  Edwin Diaz (SEA)

Some Brief Words of Explanation: If this offseason has proven anything, the power closer is on the rise in MLB. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon each recived mega-deals. Batting lineups used to make strong efforts to get into the bullpen. Today, hitters fear the ninth inning man far more than the starter. Kenley Jansen has risen to #1 on the list, with a sub-two ERA and even lower FIP, with 104 strikeouts. Aroldis Chapman also completed the season with over 14 K/9 and a 1.55/1.42/1.92 ERA/FIP/xFIP, and ranked second. Many though Orioles closer Zach Britton should have been considered for the AL Cy Young last year. The devastating sinkerballer finished with a 0.54 ERA, 80% groundball rate, and only a single home run allowed the whole season. Mark Melancon, the offseason’s third winner on this list, completed the season with a 5.42 K:BB and 1.64 ERA. He stands at #4. Wade Davis suffered some arm issues, but still put together 43 innings of 1.87 ERA ball, bringing his 3-year average to 1.27, placing him just behind Melancon. In most other years, Seung-Hwam Oh would earn Rookie of the Year consideration, after “The Final Boss” earned the closer role and put together almost 80 innings of 2.13 FIP ball. Another recently named closer, Alex Colome produced a season of 1.91 ERA, 4.73 K:BB, and a ranking as seventh best closer for his Rays. Cody Allen has been sneaky productive for his Indians, and goes on this list along with his two bullpen teammates on Top 10 Middle Relievers. He’s struck out 11 hitters per nine three seasons in a row, and contributes to what one can expect to be a historic bullpen. Roberto Osuna’s 5.86 K:BB brings the youngster to the #9 rank. Finally, Craig Kimbrel manages to stay on the list, just barely at 10th, thanks to Mike’s optimism. Kimbrel used to strike out 16 or 17 per nine, with a near or sub-one ERA, but he finished last year with a 3.40 ERA and over 5 BB/9, despite still striking out 38%. Breakout closer Edwin Diaz just missed the list, after achieving 15 K/9 and 5.87 K:BB in 51 innings. With another year of success, he can expect to make this list in 365 days.

Sadly, this marks ones of our final lists, but we still have starting pitcher, overall players, and season projection! Check out all our other lists! Then, follow us on Twitter and Instagram to learn when all our great, new content comes out!

Top 10 Starting Pitchers

K Zone Master Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking
1) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)  Clayton Kershaw (LAD) Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
2) Max Scherzer (WSH)  Max Scherzer (WSH)  Kyle Hendricks (CHC)
3) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)  Noah Syndergaard (NYM)  Max Scherzer (WSH)
4) Noah Syndergaard (NYM) Kyle Hendricks (CHC)  Jon Lester (CHC)
5) Jon Lester (CHC) Johnny Cueto (SF) Madison Bumgarner (SF)
6) Johnny Cueto (SF)  Jon Lester (CHC)  Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
7) Madision Bumgarner (SF)  Jake Arrieta (CHC)  Rich Hill (LAD)
8) Jake Arrieta (CHC)  Yu Darvish (TEX)  Johnny Cueto (SF)
9) Rich Hill (LAD)  Madison Bumgarner (SF)  Tanner Roark (WSH)
10) Yu Darvish (TEX) Chris Sale (BOS)  Justin Verlander (DET)

Some Brief Words of Explanation: Starting pitcher has grown greatly in upper depth in recent years. It appears that in every fantasy draft, the good starters go to autopick, for nobody wants to waste their early picks on a position they can get later. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet, and if a a lifetime 2.34 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 53 WAR (at age 29), 10.92 K/9, 1.47 BB/9 mean anything, he can look to collect his fourth Cy Young in 2017, en route to the Hall of Fame. Max Scherzer seems to be a worthy investment for the Nationals, who watched him pitch to the tune of 2.93 with 5 K/BB last season, and defend his title of second best starting pitcher in baseball. Kyle Hendricks broke out last season, with a mere 2.13 ERA, to become a serious future Cy Young contender and the #3 SP. Speaking of breakout stars, Noah Syndergaard completed his sophomore season with a 2.29 FIP, which rode on the back of his incredible 11 home runs allowed all season. He has become the fourth best starter in baseball. Jon Lester has not only added to his resume with a 2.44 ERA in 2016, but pitched more excellent postseason innings, bringing him to the fifth spot. Perhaps surprisingly, Johnny Cueto ranks as the #1 Giants pitcher, and #6 starter overall, after allowing fewer than two walks per nine for the second year in a row. He is followed by teammate Madison Bumgarner, who has always been great, but showed off his skills last year especially. Jake Arrieta came back down to Earth last year, and ranks eighth, but an unforgettable 2015 reminds us of his potential. Rich Hill has stunned since his 2015 return to MLB. Over that period, the 37-year-old owns a 2.20 ERA, although health has been a problem. Yu Darvish had completed 100 stellar innings last season after returning from TJ Surgery, and the former Cy Young candidate hopes to keep up the good work in the coming year.

This just about rounds out our Top 10 Players at Each Position series, but still expect our list of the Top 20 Players in all of Baseball. While you wait, here are all our other rankings to enjoy while you watch today’s slate of Opening Day games.

Top 10 Middle Relievers

K Zone Master Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking
 1) Andrew Miller (CLE)  Andrew Miller (CLE)  Andrew Miller (CLE)  Andrew Miller (CLE)
2) Dellin Betances (NYY)  Dellin Betances (NYY)  Dellin Betances (NYY)  Dellin Betances (NYY)
 3) Addison Reed (NYM)  Brad Brach (BAL)  Addison Reed (NYM)  Dan Otero (CLE)
 4) Brad Brach (BAL)  Nate Jones (CWS)  Brad Brach (BAL)  Addison Reed (NYM)
 5) Dan Otero (CLE)  Kyle Barraclough (MIA)  Dan Otero (CLE)  David Phelps (MIA)
 6) Nate Jones (CWS)  Addison Reed (NYM)  Will Harris (HOU)  Brad Hand (SD)
 7) Kyle Barraclough (MIA)  Joe Blanton (WSH)  Nate Jones (CWS)  Kyle Barraclough (MIA)
 8) Tyler Thornburg (BOS)  Darren O’Day (BAL) Darren O’Day (BAL)  Brad Brach (BAL)
 9) Darren O’Day (BAL)  Tyler Thornburg (BOS)  Tyler Thornburg (BOS)  Tyler Thornburg (BOS)
 10) David Phelps (MIA)  Dan Otero (CLE) Carter Capps (SD)  Joe Blanton (WSH)

 

Some Brief Words of Explanation: Middle Reliever was one of the more difficult lists to make. I found that the primary reason for this was a lack of consistent stars in the field. Other than the clear top two, the rest of the lists are comprised of one-year studs who perhaps had hints of brilliance in the past, and older players attempting to come back. All the new star power is likely new to the the extreme rise of the reliever’s importance. Andrew Miller is the clear #1. He dominated last season with a K:BB ratio of 13 and impressed most recently in an elevated postseason role. He makes a case, along with Clayton Kershaw, as one of the greatest pitchers of this generation. Dellin Betances ruined his ERA with a poor September, but remains an obvious choice as the second best reliever, after compiling 15 K/9 with a 1.75 xFIP. Next comes Mets reliever Addison Reed, who finished 2016 with a sub-two ERA and 7 K:BB. He will serve as closer for 15 games while his bullpen counterpart Jeurys Familia is serving a domestic violence suspension, leading to controversy within The K Zone about his qualifications for this list, but we decided not to count it against him. Breakout Oriole Brad Brach took the reigns former superstar setup man Darren O’Day, who experienced some regression last season (although spoiler alert, he will still make the list), and he ran with it, achieving a 2.05 ERA with 10.48 K/9. Dan Otero led non-Andrew Miller middle relievers in ERA last season, and is the second player to make the chart of the Indians super-bullpen. Nate Jones got a turn at closer last season, but will return to his setup duties in 2017. He had the opportunity deservingly so, as he checked out with double digit K/9 and 1.91 BB/9 in 2016, ranking sixth. Kyle Barraclough (that’s “bear-claw” for all of you nominating him at the auction table) managed to strikeout 14 batters per nine last season. If his walk rate goes down from 5.45 (*shudders*) he can expect to challenge A.J. Ramos for the closer role. Tyler Thornburg has had a bust winter, being traded to Boston from Milwaukee and then getting hurt and blaming John Farrell’s shoulder workout, but despite time lost he ranks eighth and appeared on every writers’ list, after finishing 2016 with 12 K/9 and a 2.15 ERA. Darren O’Day was killed by control last year, or lack thereof. The submariner hopes to return to absolute dominance in 2017. Mojo has carried a second Marlin, David Phelps, into the 10th spot, after the newly converted reliever from swing man notched 114 strike outs. Among those who just missed are Ian’s Will Harris, Mojo’s Brad Hand, and the age-defying Joe Blanton, supported by Mike and Mojo alike.

We’re almost done with our top 10 series, but the fun will continue for a few more days! See it all right here. Find out when the final few lists come out by following us on  Twitter and Instagram.

Top 10 Right Fielders

 

K Zone Master Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking
 1) Mookie Betts (BOS)  Mookie Betts (BOS)  Mookie Betts (BOS)  Mookie Betts (BOS)
 2) Nelson Cruz (SEA)  Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)  Nelson Cruz (SEA)  Bryce Harper (WSH)
 3) Bryce Harper (WSH)  Nelson Cruz (SEA)  George Springer (HOU)  J.D. Martinez (DET)
 4) Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)  Bryce Harper (WSH)  Bryce Harper (WSH)  Carlos Gonzalez (COL)
 5) J.D. Martinez (DET)  Andrew McCutchen (PIT)  Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)  Nelson Cruz (SEA)
 6) Andrew McCutchen (PIT) Mark Trumbo (BAL)  J.D. Martinez (DET)  Andrew McCutchen (PIT)
 7) Carlos Gonzalez (COL) Yasiel Puig (LAD)  Andrew McCutchen (PIT)  Mark Trumbo (BAL)
 8) George Springer (HOU)  Carlos Beltran (HOU) Carlos Gonzalez (COL)  Jose Bautista (TOR)
 9) Mark Trumbo (BAL)  J.D. Martinez (DET)  Mark Trumbo (BAL)  Yasmany Tomas (ARI)
 10) Jose Bautista (TOR)  George Springer (HOU)  Jose Bautista (TOR)  George Springer (HOU)

Some Brief Words of Explanation: Right field is one of the deepest positions in baseball, and is full of both current stars, and past stars that are still young, and attempting  comeback. MVP-runner up Mookie Betts was the unanimous choice to lead the list, after breaking out in 2016 to put up excellent 5-tool production. A move to Safeco Field a few years ago had little to no effect on Nelson Cruz, who continues to put up home run numbers near the top of the league on an annual basis, to go along with a respectable batting average. The set of potential comebacks begins at #3, with Bryce Harper, who followed up a 2015 MVP campaign with a .243 BA. Giancarlo Stanton follows him, who has shown potential to hit a historic total of home runs, but has had his career constantly battered with injury. J.D. Martinez breaks up the comeback candidates, who actually had a terrific 2016. After breaking out with power in ’15, Martinez added batting average skills, hitting .307. Andrew McCutchen follows J.D. and represents the next comeback player on the list. He hit only .256 last season, a far fly from his former .300/.400/.550 lines. He takes the sixth overall spot. Carlos Gonzalez has been considered a comeback candidate in previous years, but has come off two solid season, hitting 40 and 25 home runs while remaining healthy, and placing seventh. George Springer shows off a power/speed combo complimented by on-base skills, which earns him the #8. Mark Trumbo had some trouble getting a contract in his 2015 free agency year, but eventually agreed with the Orioles. Like how Baltimore turned Nelson Cruz into a 40+ homer hitter, they turned Trumbo into a the major league home run leader. The #9 right fielder is the recently resigned with his team. The list ends with another comeback candidate, punctuating its major theme. Albeit a little older than the other, Jose Bautista hopes to return to .400 on-base, 40 home run form after a relatively dismal 2016. Yasiel Puig, yet another player whose value is based on potential and past performance, just missed the top 10.

Top 10 Center Fielders

K Zone Master Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking
 1) Mike Trout (LAA)  Mike Trout (LAA)  Mike Trout (LAA)  Mike Trout (LAA)
 2) Charlie Blackmon (COL)  Charlie Blackmon (COL)  Charlie Blackmon (COL)  Charlie Blackmon (COL)
 3) Starling Marte (PIT)  Starling Marte (PIT)  Starling Marte (PIT)  Dexter Fowler (STL)
 4) Dexter Fowler (STL)  Odubel Herrera (PHI) Dexter Fowler (STL)  Starling Marte (PIT)
 5) Odubel Herrera (PHI)  Ender Inciarte (ATL) A.J. Pollock (ARI)  Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS)
 6) Ender Inciarte (ATL)  Adam Jones (BAL) Adam Eaton (WSH) Adam Eaton (WSH)
 7) A.J. Pollock (ARI)  A.J. Pollcok (ARI)  Odubel Herrera (PHI)  Odubel Herrera (PHI)
 8) Adam Eaton (WSH)  Joc Pederson (LAD) Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS)  Ender Inciarte (ATL)
 9) Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS)  Kevin Pillar (TOR) Ender Inciarte (ATL)  Adam Jones (BAL)
 10) Adam Jones (BAL)  Dexter Fowler (STL)  Adam Jones (BAL)  Marcell Ozuna (MIA)

 

Some Brief Words of Explanation: Center Field was a rare three-way consensus for not only the #1, but for the top two spots, and nearly for the top three. Anyone surprised that Mike Trout ranked first on every list needs to leave a comment, and there will be literary blood shed in the comment section. Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies continues his excellence and adds to a dominant 2017 Rockies lineup. Last year, he hit .324/.381/.552, with 29 home runs, and in the past he has achieved 43 stolen bases in a single season. Starling Marte is new to CF, but still ranks third after hitting .311 with nearly 50 steals, and 9 “Marte Partes” at PNC. Dexter Fowler and his .393 OBP makes him a leadoff hitter to match, and the fourth best player on our list. Odubel Herrera put together an impressive 15/25 in 2016, and the recently extended 25-year-old looks to improve on his current #5 position. Another recent extendee, defensive wiz Ender Inciarte ranks sixth, while comeback candidate A.J. Pollock is seventh. Pollock missed almost all of 2016 with an injury, but hopes to once again match the 2015 production that made him something of a fantasy value monster. Another defensive machine, recent Washington import Adam Eaton, is eight on the chart. Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 2016 was propelled by a 29-game hitting streak in the first half, but JBJ still managed to put together very respectable offensive and defensive numbers over the full season, bring him to the 9-spot. Finally, the 31-year-old Adam Jones experienced extreme regression in the past couple seasons. He has never walked, and may only be able to dig himself out of the hole present in 30+ year old hitters is by improving his batting average. Among those who barely missed are Dodger’s three outcome hitter Joc Pederson and Kevin Pillar, defender of the Toronto turf.

In case you have not seen all our other excellent top 10 rankings at every position in baseball, check the master list. We will update our Twitter and Instagram while we update the master list, so it could prove mutually beneficial if you follow us there. Thanks!

Top 10 Left Fielders

 

K Zone Master Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking
 1) Ryan Braun (MIL)  Christian Yelich (MIA)  Ryan Braun (MIL)  Ryan Braun (MIL)
 2) Christian Yelich (MIA)  Ryan Braun (MIL)  Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)  Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)
 3) Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)  Yoenis Cespedes (NYM)  Christian Yelich (MIA) Christian Yelich (MIA)
 4) Melky Cabrera (CWS)  Melky Cabrera (CWS)  Khris Davis (OAK) Melky Cabrera (CWS)
 5) Khris Davis (OAK)  Adam Duvall (CIN) Kyle Schwarber (CHC)  Khris Davis (OAK)
 6) Adam Duvall (CIN)  Angel Pagan (FA) Melky Cabrera (CWS)  Adam Duvall (CIN)
 7) Angel Pagan (FA)  Howie Kendrick (PHI)  Gregory Polanco (PIT)  Michael Saunders (PHI)
 8) Gregory Polanco (PIT)  Gregory Polanco (PIT) Adam Duvall (CIN)  Angel Pagan (FA)
 9) Kyle Schwarber (CHC)  Jayson Werth (WSH) Justin Upton (DET)  Jayson Werth (WSH)
 10) Jayson Werth (WSH)  Khris Davis (OAK)  Brett Gardner (NYY)  Justin Upton (DET)

Some Brief Words of Explanation: Left field has long been known as the powerful outfield position, and while it has received competition from right and center, left remains a power-centeric position. Since returning from a PED suspension, the former MVP has more than impressed. Last year, he hit .305 along with 30 longballs, 15 steals, and the name of #1 left fielder. Christian Yelich continues to improve a 25-year old five tool player, and ranks second. Yoenis Cespedes continues to hit for great power, and has even started to take walks last year, driving him to the third spot on the list. Doubles machine Melky Cabrera nearly hit .300 last year, and is ranked fourth. Often referred to as “Chris Davis with a K,” Khris Davis may be worthy of the title of dominant Davis at this point, after breaking out with Oakland breaking out with Oakland to hit 42 home runs. Another breakout power hitter, Adam Duvall, will enter his 2017 sophomore season with a 33-homer year under his belt. Free agent Angel Pagan is yet to find a major league club, despite the fact that the former .300 hitter put together a nice, 10/10 season in 2016 and being ranked 7th on this list. Gregory Polanco will go through a position change to LF in 2017, but is still expected to match the 20/20 numbers that earned him the eighth position. Rookie sensation Kyle Schwarber missed almost all of the 2016 season with a after an outfield collision, but put together an amazing postseason, and is expected to continue where he left off. He places ninth on the chart, carried there by Ian alone. The 37-year-old Jason Werth is far past his MVP-production days, but still crack the top 10 after hitting 21 home runs is a near fully healthy season. Among those who just missed are two potential Phillies left fielders, Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders, and comeback candidate Justin Upton, who hopes his BA and OBP can rebound and give the Tigers the production they’re paying for.

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Top 10 Catchers

K Zone Master Ranking Mike’s Ranking Ian’s Ranking Mojo’s Ranking
 1)  Buster Posey (SF)  Buster Posey (SF)  Buster Posey (SF)  Buster Posey (SF)
 2) Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)  Yasmani Grandal (LAD)  Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)  Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)
 3) Yasmani Grandal (LAD)  Jonathan Lucroy (TEX)  Gary Sanchez (NYY)  Yadier Molina (STL)
 4) Wilson Ramos (TB)  Salvador Perez (KC)  Yasmani Grandal (LAD)  Wilson Ramos (TB)
 5) Yadier Molina (STL)  Gary Sanchez (NYY)  Wilson Ramos (TB)  J.T. Realmuto (MIA)
 6) Willson Contreras (CHC)  Willson Contreras (CHC)  Yadier Molina (STL)  Willson Contreras (CHC)
 7) Gary Sanchez (NYY)  Russell Martin (TOR)  Willson Contreras (CHC)  Gary Sanchez (NYY)
 8) Russell Martin (TOR)  Wilson Ramos (TB)  J.T. Realmuto (MIA)  Francisco Cervelli (PIT)
 9) Salvador Perez (KC)  Yadier Molina (STL)  Salvador Perez (KC)  Russell Martin (TOR)
 10) J.T. Realmuto (MIA)  Brian McCann (HOU)  Francisco Cervelli (PIT)  Evan Gattis (HOU)

Some Brief Words of Explanation: Catcher was likely the most difficult position to rank, for a multitude of reasons. First is the lack of players with a significant sum of games played, and the lack of offensive depth among those players. Between injuries and split time at other positions, a mere eight players “qualify.” Out of the 43 “catchers” with 200 at bats, only 14 are above average offensive players, and only Gary Sanchez and his small sample size surpass the 30% above average mark. But, as everyone knows, there is far more to catching than offense, which makes another difficulty of finding good defensive statistics for catchers. Our ability to get past this obstacle is much in thanks to statcorner.com. But, once we got our act together, the fascinating ranking of the catchers became one of the most fun parts of this series. Former MVP Buster Posey tops the chart. Despite weaker-than-usual offensive numbers, he remains a well-above-average hitter and a defensive juggernaut. While Posey experienced offensive regression, number 2 catcher Jonathan Lucroy experienced defensive regression, although he remains very valuable on both sides of the plate. Yasmani Grandal showed off stellar defense last season and hit 27 home runs, despite barely reaching 450 at bats, placing him at #3. Wilson Ramos enjoyed a breakout 2016, hitting .307 and owning the best wRC+ among qualified catchers, but the recent Tampa Bay signee will miss much of this season’s first half with a knee injury, and is ranked fourth. Yadier Molina went through some defensive regression, but keeps a solid #5 rank due to a batting average north of .300 and is expected to bounce back, at least to some extent. Cubs prospect Wilson Contreras ranks sixth, as he impressed in a limited debut last season. Despite stellar arm ratings and a historic display of power in 2016, speculation of extreme offensive regression, backed by a less-than-terrific last month, has limited Gary Sanchez to the seventh spot on the list. Former all-star Russel Martin made the list as the seventh best catcher in baseball after hitting 20 home runs with good defense and leadership skills. Salvador Perez’s incredible arm and durability got him the #9 position. He caught a greater percentage of runners attempting a steal than any other catcher in baseball. J.T. Realmuto rounds out the list. His limited yet present speed provides an interesting contribution from his position, and unlike the horrendous defensive number that kept him at the bottom of the list, a .303 batting average can’t hurt.

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