MLB Rank 2023: Ranking baseball’s top 100 players

Who would be the greatest participant of the 2023 MLB season?

Opening Day is nearly right here, which implies it is time to break down how baseball’s elite stack up to one another.

To create our annual MLB Rank checklist of the highest 100 gamers within the sport, we introduced a panel of ESPN baseball consultants with pairings upon pairings of the largest names within the sport and requested one easy query: Which participant will probably be higher in 2023?

But it surely begs the query … how do you evaluate a participant like Shohei Ohtani to Mike Trout? Or Aaron Judge? And the place do baseball’s greatest pitchers land? It appears not possible to pit these stars towards each other, however we did it — and one participant got here out on high.

Our checklist options Cy Younger Award winners, MVPs, veterans constructing Corridor of Fame résumés and younger megastars who might dominate MLB for years to come back. However who’s No. 1? And the place does one of the best participant in your staff rank?

ESPN MLB consultants Alden Gonzalez, Dave Schoenfield, Joon Lee, Jesse Rogers and Brad Doolittle broke down why every participant is ranked the place they’re and what to anticipate from them within the upcoming season.

Watch: Baseball Tonight MLB Rank particular, Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN

Extra: Snubs, surprises

It should not shock anybody that Ohtani ranks first heading into the 2023 season. He’s essentially the most uniquely gifted participant in baseball historical past and it took a historic offensive season from Aaron Judge to stop him from changing into a back-to-back MVP. Ohtani, nonetheless solely 28, is each probably the most dominant beginning pitchers and probably the most feared hitters within the sport, together with being one of many quickest runners. (And if he needed to be an outfielder, coaches imagine he might turn into a superb defender, too.)

From 2021 to 2022, Ohtani put up the next wRC+ than Jose Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Manny Machado, and a decrease xFIP than Max Scherzer, Max Fried and Sandy Alcantara. Exterior of Babe Ruth, briefly a two-way participant greater than 100 years in the past, no person has even tried each traits at this stage, not to mention excelled at it. — Gonzalez

Season prediction: Because the years go on, Ohtani appears to develop extra snug in a two-way position. His command on the mound frequently evolves, his familiarity with opposing pitchers solely grows. It has turn into clear whereas watching him carry out within the World Baseball Classic that Ohtani is one of the best baseball participant on the planet. Count on one other MVP-worthy season — with a $500-plus million contract to follow. — Gonzalez

CF | Los Angeles Angels

Maybe the one man who can problem Ohtani as the sport’s greatest participant is a wholesome Mike Trout. Well being, although, has been a difficulty of late. Trout has performed in fewer than 70% of the Angels’ video games during the last 5 years, most notably lacking the final 4 and a half months of the 2021 season with a difficult calf. When he does play, nevertheless, he resembles one of the best participant on the planet.

Final 12 months, Trout appeared in solely 119 video games however nonetheless managed 40 residence runs and a .999 OPS and gained his ninth Silver Slugger. His 81.4 FanGraphs WAR since his first full season in 2012 is laughably past anyone else’s grasp (second place is Max Scherzer, at 60.1). At 31, Trout ought to nonetheless have a couple of prime years left. He simply wants to remain off the injured checklist.

Season prediction: Trout remains to be absolutely able to standing out even among the many sport’s greatest gamers, and he ought to proceed to take action. If he stays wholesome, he may lead the majors in each main offensive class. Simply do not count on a bunch of stolen bases or acrobatic catches; Trout, rightly, has turn into aware of the significance of preserving his physique. — Gonzalez

Placing collectively a historic season goes to vault somebody proper up this checklist. Decide captivated the sports activities world by breaking Rogers Maris’ American League residence run document. Now, armed with an enormous contract, Decide enters the second part of his profession. Whereas he is among the sport’s most recognizable faces and largest stars, a World Sequence title has eluded him. And whereas Decide will at all times be remembered for his historic 2022 season, the success of the Yankees throughout this contract will finally decide his legacy.

Season prediction: Decide lives as much as his new contract by persevering with because the heartbeat of the Yankees’ lineup. The Yankees’ lineup went the place Decide went final season. Within the moments the place he struggled, so did the complete offense. When he flourished, so did the Yankees. The outfielder has put collectively two straight seasons of robust well being and New York will want him to proceed that, particularly because the rotation is plagued with accidents. — Lee

Machado turned 30 throughout the 2022 season and if that midcareer efficiency was any indication, he is properly on his method to Cooperstown. Machado is one in every of baseball’s most constant stars, not simply by way of manufacturing but additionally — and maybe extra importantly — sturdiness.

On his method to ending second in Nationwide League MVP balloting, Machado created extra runs than ever in 2022 and reached triple digits in each runs and RBIs in the identical season for the primary time. His protection is not as off-the-charts because it as soon as was, however he stays a superb defender with the arm and velocity to recommend he isn’t going to have to maneuver off the recent nook any time quickly. Additionally, Machado’s dash velocity has remained largely unchanged and, over the previous two seasons, he has stolen 21 luggage in 25 makes an attempt. Thus, the brand new guidelines might portend a profession season on the basepaths for him.

Season prediction: Given the best way the ball was flying off Machado’s bat throughout the WBC, he appears poised for one more run at his first MVP award. He has continued to evolve as a hitter, including extra launch with out changing into too pull-oriented. Machado’s RBI rely on this specific San Diego lineup could possibly be eye-popping and if he does tack on some steals, his stat line within the context of a Padres run to the NL West title will probably be an excessive amount of for NL MVP voters to disregard. — Doolittle

Freeman put collectively the most effective seasons of his profession within the first 12 months of his new contract in Los Angeles, hitting .325/./407/.511 with 21 homers and a 5.9 bWAR, the third-best mark of his 13-year profession. The Dodgers’ lineup will probably be leaning on him much more this season with the departures of Trea Turner and Justin Turner. Freeman has been among the many most sturdy gamers in baseball since he entered the league in 2010, taking part in fewer than 147 video games simply twice, in 2015 and 2017 (apart from the COVID-shortened 2020 season). Freeman’s distinctive potential to make contact will seemingly have him ageing higher than most hitters heading into their mid-30s.

Season prediction: Freddie Freeman continues being Freddie Freeman. Since 2013, he has hit beneath .300 simply thrice. The Dodgers will want him to maintain that stage of manufacturing up, because the division will get harder with the Padres’ current big-ticket additions. — Lee

RF | San Diego Padres

How are you aware you are a future Corridor of Famer? Once you put up clearly the worst season of your five-year profession and you continue to have a .401 on-base share, an OPS+ that charges you as 49% higher than a league-average hitter and also you win your third straight Silver Slugger award.

Soto’s NL-leading 135 walks had been paired with simply 96 whiffs, underscoring his standing as the sport’s most disciplined hitter. But it surely’s not simply take, take, take. When Soto will get a pitch to hit, he makes contact, normally exhausting contact. His dip in 2022 could be traced to a BABIP (.249) that was 60 factors beneath his profession mark. A part of that was as a result of he grew to become a bit of extra launch-and-pull oriented however that needn’t be a everlasting change. And even whether it is, his in-play numbers in a post-shift world could possibly be scary.

Season prediction: Soto seemed like he was in midseason kind throughout the WBC — as in the course of a profession season — and after final season’s flirtation with taking part in like a mere mortal, count on a monster marketing campaign as his future free company (or a document contract extension earlier than then) looms. What does a monster season appear to be for this man? One thing like .340, 45 homers, 150 walks, 8.0 WAR. And people estimates could possibly be modest. — Doolittle

It is exhausting to not go there. He was one of many sport’s largest stars as a rookie. He performs heart subject for the Mariners. He hits tape-measure residence runs and makes not possible catches. He has the million-dollar megawatt smile. Ken Griffey Jr. had his personal sweet bar whereas J-Rod has his personal cooking present.

At age 21, Griffey produced a 155 OPS+; Rodriguez, in his rookie season at age 21, produced a 147 OPS+. Griffey completed ninth within the MVP voting; J-Rod completed seventh. After going homerless in April and hitting only one in his first 34 video games, Rodriguez hit .297/.358/.567 the remainder of the best way with 27 residence runs in 99 video games. Now think about that over a full season. Take pleasure in, Mariners — and baseball — followers.

Season prediction: It is exhausting to foretell an MVP award in a league with Ohtani, however let’s go together with Rodriguez hitting 35-plus residence runs and ending within the high three whereas main the Mariners to — shock! — a division title. — Schoenfield

Turner is the entire bundle. His mixture of velocity and energy at shortstop is the rationale why the Phillies invested $300 million in him. At varied instances in his profession, he led the league in video games performed, plate appearances, at-bats, stolen bases, triples, batting common and complete bases.

Final 12 months may need been his greatest on the bottom paths, as he stole 27 of 30 — good for a 90% success price. He additionally hit 21 residence runs, producing one more season with an OPS over .800. He is performed it in 4 consecutive years, serving to him to his enormous new contract.

Season prediction: The brand new guidelines — beginning with the larger bases — will probably be a godsend for the speedy Turner. He’ll set a profession excessive in steals with not less than 50. — Rogers

RF | Los Angeles Dodgers

Betts, venturing into his age-30 season, is among the many few reliable five-tool gamers within the sport, regardless of being listed at 5-foot-9 and 180 kilos. He is a gifted defender with a cannon for an arm, however he is additionally one of many sport’s quickest gamers and greatest all-around hitters, bringing elite bat-to-ball abilities and, sure, energy. Betts has completed inside the high 5 in MVP voting 4 instances over the previous seven seasons, together with final 12 months, when he gained his sixth Gold Glove and his fifth Silver Slugger. He’s the one participant to build up greater than 200 residence runs and greater than 150 stolen bases from 2015 to 2022. The Dodgers will play him some at second base this 12 months — and he’ll in all probability be nice at that, too.

Season prediction: Two conventional numbers to regulate with Betts: stolen bases and RBIs. Betts hasn’t reached 20 stolen bases since swiping 30 in 2018, however the greater bases and the restricted pickoffs ought to current extra alternatives. He hasn’t pushed in 100 runs since 2017, however the Dodgers would like to put him in additional run-producing conditions this season — if they’ll discover another person to steer off. — Gonzalez

Pitchers worry Arenado as a lot as anybody within the sport: He is hit not less than 30 residence runs in seven consecutive seasons (not together with 2020). He additionally solely struck out 72 instances in 2022 whereas drawing 52 walks. On this period of baseball, that is a terrific ratio for an influence hitter.

There are some pitchers that like him: His personal. It is as a result of he is a vacuum at third base, profitable the gold glove there in yearly he is been within the league. He additionally has 5 silver slugger awards, together with final season when he completed third in MVP voting.

Arenado is arguably one of the best mixture of offense and protection in the complete sport — simply putting him within the high 20 gamers in MLB.

Season prediction: Arenado will swap with teammate Paul Goldschmidt and win the MVP in 2023. — Rogers

There was an early twentieth century pitcher often called Iron Man McGinnity. We would as properly begin calling the Marlins’ ace Iron Man Alcantara. He simply led the majors in innings pitched final season and is the one pitcher to high 200 innings every of the previous two seasons. That is enjoyable, however it’s important to dominate to rank excessive on this checklist.

In 2022, Alcantara reworked from high quality innings-eater to Cy Younger winner — and do not wager towards him repeating. All of it begins with a ravishing supply from a lean, 6-foot-5 body. If Michelangelo had been to sculpt a pitcher, Alcantara could be his mannequin. He throws 98 mph and that helps arrange probably the most devastating pitches in baseball, his unhittable, nod-your-head-and-walk-back-to-the-bench changeup. Batters went 36-for-248 towards it with 78 strikeouts and nary a house run.

Season prediction: Alcantara leads the majors as soon as once more in innings pitched, makes the All-Star Recreation and finishes within the high 5 of the Cy Younger voting, though his ERA rises half a run (thanks, shaky Marlins protection!). — Schoenfield

1B | St. Louis Cardinals

At 34, baseball’s perennial MVP bridesmaid lastly broke by means of with a season that basically was one other consultant marketing campaign for a participant who posts nothing however terrific stat strains. Now a first-time reigning MVP, Goldschmidt could have his personal powerful act to comply with after touchdown within the high three of the NL in all of the slash classes and main in slugging, OPS and OPS+ (a career-best 180). He additionally completed the season with an MVP-esque 7.8 WAR, in accordance with Baseball Reference. Whereas that 180 OPS+ is a excessive bar, do not count on a collapse: Goldschmidt has posted 140 or higher 9 of his 11 full seasons. He’ll spend the following few years burnishing what’s shaping up as a Corridor-worthy resume.

Season prediction: Goldschmidt turned 35 late final season and finally, his sport will begin to fray. There was no signal of that final season however anticipating a repeat of these numbers might be unrealistic. Count on extra of an “common” Goldschmidt season — 140-145 OPS+ — which remains to be awfully good. — Doolittle

Mr. Consistency. Ramirez is a baseball participant in the best way grizzled previous scouts may describe a participant who is not the strongest or the quickest or the largest or the flashiest. Apart from an inexplicable stoop within the first half of 2019, he has been one in every of baseball’s greatest hitters — and greatest all-around gamers — since 2017. We are able to see that respect in his leads to the MVP voting: third, third, second, sixth and fourth in 5 of the previous six seasons. Ramirez already has 2.54 MVP Award Shares in his profession — greater than Rickey Henderson, Chipper Jones or Cal Ripken Jr.

He is sturdy, he steals 20 bases yearly, he strikes out fewer than 100 instances a season, he swats doubles and residential runs and he is a stable defender. No person ever appears to name him one of many high 10 greatest gamers in baseball, however on the finish of the season, he is at all times proper there.

Season prediction: This one is simple. Ramirez hits 32 residence runs (give or take a couple of), drives in over 100 runs, leads the league in doubles for the third time and finishes within the high six in MVP voting. — Schoenfield

His chic 2019 season at 21 years previous — when he hit .280 with 41 residence runs whereas main the NL in stolen bases (37) and runs (127) and performed with the frenetic enthusiasm of a pack of Shiba Inu puppies — is now a couple of years within the rear-view mirror, however this rating exhibits we’ve not forgotten about him.

When Acuña tore his ACL on July 10, 2021, he ranked fifth within the majors in residence runs, fourth in stolen bases and fourth in OPS. When he returned final season, he wasn’t that very same participant. He had hassle elevating the ball and his energy declined. By the tip of August, he described his knee as “horrible,” however performed by means of it. He now says he is fully wholesome — the Braves even let him play within the World Baseball Basic — and we’re betting on him discovering that energy stroke once more and returning as one of many sport’s elite all-around skills.

Season prediction: I would like to be daring right here and say 40-40 — he did steal 29 bases final 12 months regardless of not being 100% — however let’s go together with a 30-30 season and his third All-Star Recreation begin (and fourth look). — Schoenfield

On the All-Star break final season, a case might have been made for Alvarez to win the AL MVP. Decide modified all of that however the truth stays, Alvarez has turn into probably the most harmful lefties within the sport. He and Decide had been the one two gamers in baseball final season with an OPS over 1.000. And now he has performed that twice in his profession — not a straightforward stat line to attain even one time.

Alvarez is not a terrific outfielder however he is improved over time. With Jose Abreu entrenched at first base — and needing some at-bats at DH — it is potential Alvarez performs extra in left subject. However he isn’t being paid for his protection. The previous rookie of the 12 months will definitely have a number of probabilities at profitable his first MVP due to his offensive prowess after ending third in 2022.

Season prediction: Alvarez will lead the league in hit by pitches and intentional walks. — Rogers

Guerrero was one of many harder gamers to evaluate: Is he absolutely the basher of 2021 when he was one of the best hitter in baseball and completed second within the MVP voting? Or the mere masher of 2022 who dropped to Twenty ninth amongst certified hitters in wRC+ (weighted runs created)? That stage of manufacturing vastly impacts his worth. A primary baseman who’s the Twenty ninth-best hitter is not one of many high 20 gamers within the sport.

Guerrero does current a excessive offensive ground, nevertheless, and few batters can match his mixture of energy (94th percentile in hard-hit price) and make contact with potential (79th percentile in strikeout price). He ended up chasing out of the zone extra typically final 12 months, resulting in extra weak contact, particularly on the bottom. He is solely 24, so our panel predicts he’ll make the mandatory changes.

Season prediction: I am going with the center floor right here between his superlative 2021 season and 2022, so that provides us 40 residence runs with a .293 common and over 100 ribbies. That ought to make him one of many high 10 hitters within the sport. — Schoenfield

After placing collectively the worst season of his profession in 2021, Lindor seemed way more like himself in 2022, slashing .270/.339/.448 with 26 homers and 16 stolen bases whereas placing collectively a robust season defensively. Since he entered the league in 2015, Lindor has been the sport’s greatest shortstop with a 42.0 fWAR, which is 8.0 WAR greater than Xander Bogaerts, the second-most productive shortstop in the identical time interval. Whereas we nonetheless have not seen the 30-homer shortstop Lindor was in Cleveland, he stays among the many most impactful gamers within the sport and somebody who will probably be crucial for New York’s success if the staff hopes to reside as much as its huge payroll.

Season prediction: Now with three seasons in New York beneath his belt and absolutely snug in that setting, Lindor places collectively his greatest season as a Met. The dynamic shortstop finds extra of an influence stroke and continues his reign of elite protection. — Lee

3B | Atlanta Braves

When Riley broke out with a .303/.367/.531 season in 2021, that glowing line was underpinned by a .368 BABIP. So what would a season appear to be if that quantity returned to earth? It will appear to be Riley’s 2022 season during which he led the NL in complete bases, made the All-Star staff and completed sixth in MVP balloting.

After two seasons of this, there isn’t any doubt that Riley has turn into one of many sport’s shining stars and is maybe even a bit of underrated from an consideration standpoint. He’s a pure basher who ranks within the high 5 percentile in Statcast metrics like exit velocity, barrel price and hard-hit share. He swings massive to generate that energy and has the strikeout and swing-and-miss charges to indicate it. These are the final dominoes to fall earlier than Riley actually makes a push for MVP and the time is true — he is simply hitting the prime of his profession.

Season prediction: Now at a lofty, established efficiency stage, count on Riley to make extra marginal features. Search for him to tack on 20-25 walks and for a couple of extra of his doubles to clear the fence, permitting him to achieve the 40-homer mark for the primary time in his profession. — Doolittle

SP | New York Yankees

The Yankees signed Cole to a nine-year, $324 million contract in December of 2019 and — within the mixture, not less than — have obtained all the things they may have hoped for in a employees ace pitching inside the nation’s largest market. Cole completed fourth, second and ninth, respectively, in AL Cy Younger Award voting from 2020 to 2022. Throughout that point, he has ranked first within the AL in wins (36) and innings (455), fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.50), fifth in WHIP (1.02) and nineteenth in ERA (3.28). He is in his early 30s now, however his fastball velocity has maintained itself within the higher 90s. He hasn’t been capable of match the eye-popping strikeout charges of his Houston days, however he has come shut.

Season prediction: Cole was helped by a stellar protection behind him and gave up extra residence runs than anyone within the AL final 12 months. At 32, he is nonetheless a reliable ace; however he could be beginning to fade within the dialog for the sport’s greatest pitcher. Others may change him in 2023. — Gonzalez

Whereas the Boston entrance workplace had felt hesitant previously to offer out long-term contracts, Devers is the homegrown star coming into 2023 with a 10-year, $313.5 million deal. The reason being easy: Boston views his bat as a generational expertise and one thing that may age properly as he enters his age-26 season within the massive leagues. Whereas Devers has proven an influence stroke on the plate early in his profession, his potential to hit the ball to all fields is what makes him one of many sport’s largest offensive threats, slashing .295/.358/.521 in 2022. Whereas his protection nonetheless ranks common amongst third basemen, he made massive strides final season by bettering his vary and consistency on throws to first base.

Season prediction: Devers will preserve chugging alongside as one of many sport’s most dynamic offensive hitters. He’ll proceed to work exhausting on bettering his protection, so one other step ahead could possibly be potential. — Lee

C | Philadelphia Phillies

The most effective catcher within the sport is not far off from being a top-20 participant however it will not be his protection he wants to enhance on to make the leap. As a lot as he gives at a weak offensive place, Realmuto will in all probability have to supply a close to .900 OPS season to leap into that high 20. His profession excessive is .840, achieved within the shortened 2020 season. Once more, a terrific quantity for a catcher however beneath the highest hitters within the sport. He completed seventh in MVP voting in 2022, a profession 12 months the place he gained the gold glove and silver slugger award. It is why he is on the verge of being the most effective 20 gamers within the sport.

Season prediction: With the brand new guidelines in play and Bryce Harper out of the lineup for a number of months, the Phillies may run extra — and that would come with Realmuto, who stole 21 final season. In 2023, he’ll turn into simply the third catcher in MLB Historical past to steal 30 bases in a single season. — Rogers

SP | New York Mets

Verlander gained a Cy Younger Award as a 39-year-old coming off Tommy John surgery. That alone must be sufficient to crack the highest 25 on this checklist. What Verlander did as a member of the Astros in 2022 ought to go down as probably the most spectacular seasons in baseball historical past. He did so whereas hanging out greater than a batter per inning, throwing his fastball within the mid-90s and accumulating 175 innings, throughout which he boasted a significant league-best 1.75 ERA. The checklist of energy pitchers who’ve excelled into their 40s is predictably quick, that includes the likes of Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens. There isn’t any purpose why Verlander cannot be part of them.

Season prediction: There wasn’t actually something from 2022 that may point out Verlander is something however a top-shelf beginning pitcher once more in 2023. However that is nonetheless his actuality: He is 40 years previous, coming off a season during which he pitched into November and amassed practically 200 innings once you rely the playoffs. Count on some regression. — Gonzalez

Because the starting of the 2020 season, solely 4 pitchers have extra bWAR than Burnes and solely Cole has struck out extra batters. Whereas Burnes wasn’t fairly as dominant final season as he was throughout his Cy Younger marketing campaign of 2021, he nonetheless managed to steer the NL with 243 strikeouts whereas topping 200 innings for the primary time. He improved his third-time-through-the-order numbers and maybe due to that, he labored deeper into video games. Burnes’ homer price greater than doubled however a few of which may have been some unwell luck together with his homers-per-flyball ratio. If that comes again in line and the workload stays as excessive, he might put up his greatest season but and push even farther up this checklist.

Season prediction: Burnes will probably be eligible free of charge company after the 2024 season. Due to that, this will probably be a key marketing campaign for his future earnings potential. He was terrific final season however his velocity was down a half-tick and he was hit exhausting extra typically. With quite a bit on line, search for Burnes to wash that up and as soon as once more determine prominently in NL Cy Younger balloting. — Doolittle

Correa’s offseason adventure makes him probably the most intriguing gamers to observe in 2023. In spite of everything, the Twins had been his default third alternative. Everybody appears pleased with the reunion, nevertheless, and the Twins find yourself getting an elite participant at a reduction — so long as the previous ankle damage that scared off the Giants and Mets does not show problematic.

It is exhausting to imagine Correa remains to be simply 28 years previous. He stays within the prime of his profession and exhibits the worth of a participant who hits — and hits for some energy, at that — and performs good protection at a premium place: He has averaged 7.2 bWAR per 162 video games in his profession. His uncooked OPS final season was solely the fifth highest of his profession, however his adjusted OPS was the second highest. He has batted 600 instances simply twice in his profession; if he can do this, he is usually a top-20 participant.

Season prediction: Correa performs 150 video games for the primary time since 2016 and units a profession excessive in residence runs — and steals his first base since 2019. — Schoenfield

RF | San Diego Padres

We’re a society that tends to maneuver on shortly, at all times so quick to focus our consideration on what’s subsequent. And which may particularly be true for one Fernando Tatis Jr. “I believe lots of people are forgetting how particular he’s,” Tatis’ teammate, Jake Cronenworth, mentioned within the days main as much as spring coaching.

It might be comprehensible given the circumstances. However earlier than missing the entire 2022 season — first with a wrist damage, then with a steroid suspension — Tatis was probably the most electrifying gamers within the sport, accumulating 81 residence runs, 52 stolen bases and 13.2 FanGraphs WAR inside his first 273 main league video games. He is solely 24 and nonetheless completely able to offering essentially the most elite mixture of energy and velocity, protection and general baseball excellence. However he is additionally coming off shoulder and wrist surgical procedures, a full 12 months off and he’ll be transitioning from shortstop to proper subject.

Season prediction: Individuals across the Padres count on an impressed, motivated, energetic Tatis in 2023, undoubtedly desperate to get again to elite manufacturing after all of the (self-imposed) negativity that surrounded him final 12 months. Contending for an MVP could be unrealistic contemplating the shoulder and wrist surgical procedures and on a regular basis off, however he’ll come shut. And at instances he’ll appear to be a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder. — Gonzalez

SP | Philadelphia Phillies

A stalwart throughout his eight-year profession, Nola has made not less than 32 begins in every of the previous 4 full seasons. He even made 12 within the shortened 2020 marketing campaign. That sturdiness alone places him amongst a few of the greatest pitchers within the sport. The 2022 common season may need been his greatest, as he led all pitchers in strikeout-to-walk ratio, whiffing 235 batters whereas strolling solely 29.

He additionally completed fourth in Cy Younger voting however did not carry out properly late within the playoffs. The primary two rounds had been nice for Nola however his NLCS and World Sequence numbers weren’t excellent — he gave up 14 runs in 13 innings. A repeat common season with a stable postseason would elevate him to a top-20 participant within the sport, however proper now, he is on the skin wanting in.

Season prediction: Austin Nola will be part of a uncommon group of hitters to homer off their brother when the Phillies and Padres face off this season. They opposed one another within the playoffs final 12 months, with the elder brother going 1-for-2 off the youthful one within the NLCS. — Rogers

SP | New York Mets

He is now 38 years previous however Mad Max is as dominant as ever, even when he has misplaced a bit of in fastball velocity relative to the remainder of the league. Certainly, his 2.29 ERA in 2022 was a profession low (though with 145⅓ innings, he didn’t qualify for the ERA title for the primary time since his rookie season) and his 169 ERA+ was the second better of his profession.

His command, deep arsenal of 5 pitches and talent to maintain batters guessing stays supreme — and it’s important to admire that he nonetheless loves to simply rear again and problem hitters at instances with the previous No. 1 down the center. His strikeout price ranked within the 89th percentile, his stroll price within the ninety fifth percentile and his whiff price within the 83rd percentile. He is not a 220-inning pitcher, but when Scherzer goes again to his normal 30 begins, do not rule out Cy Younger rivalry.

Season prediction: There’s nothing within the metrics that recommend Scherzer is slowing down. The one seasons since 2013 he hasn’t completed within the high 5 of the Cy Younger voting had been 2020 and final season (and that was solely as a result of he missed a while). It is exhausting to foretell well being, however let’s go together with 200 Ok’s, an ERA beneath 3.00 and one other top-five Cy Younger end. — Schoenfield

SS | San Diego Padres

The 30-year-old shortstop now joins a Padres staff the place he’s anticipated to be an offensive point of interest, alongside Machado, Soto and Tatis. Bogaerts solidified his place among the many sport’s greatest shortstops in a contract season, hitting .307/.377/.456 with 15 homers and a 5.7 bWAR. Since he entered the majors in 2013, he ranks second in fWAR amongst all shortstops, trailing simply Lindor and forward of Trea Turner and Correa. Bogaerts has additionally made massive strides as a defender all through the course of his profession, qualifying as a Gold Glove finalist in 2022. Given his ability set and robust skills as a hitter, count on his sport to age properly into his 30s.

Season prediction: Bogaerts’ energy numbers go down a notch within the spacious Petco Park, however he’ll keep one of many sport’s greatest contact hitters. He’ll be a constant doubles menace for the Padres whereas additionally making defensive strides. — Lee

1B | New York Mets

Alonso topped the NL with a Mets-record 131 RBIs, tying Decide for many within the majors. OK, RBIs are greater than a bit of team-dependent and in accordance with the Invoice James Handbook, Alonso led the majors with 308 RBI alternatives. Nonetheless, his 42.5% RBI price ranked within the high 10 of the majors. In different phrases, he clears the luggage. It is not exhausting to know why, since Alonso is a extremely aggressive hitter who averages 45 homers per 162 video games throughout his profession.

The draw back of that strategy is that he chases too many pitches and given the care with which pitchers work him (he led the NL in intentional walks and amongst 130 certified hitters, solely eight noticed a decrease price of pitches within the strike zone), that lack of selectivity is what stands in the best way of him rating with the sport’s elite general hitters.

Season prediction: Count on Alonso to hit round .267/.348/.518 with 40-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs, which is roughly a mean of what he did over the previous two seasons. Whereas there are some apparent areas during which Alonso might enhance, at 28 he’s what he’s. And for the Mets, that is loads good. — Doolittle

SP | Cleveland Guardians

The 2022 season introduced with it an evolution for Bieber, the AL’s Cy Younger Award winner in 2020. Bieber had seen the rate on his four-seam fastball frequently diminish, from 94 mph in 2020 to 93 mph in 2021 to 91 mph in 2022. However he has altered his pitch combine with a view to fight it, starting to make use of his slider extra typically than his curveball, and he has seen outcomes. Bieber completed the 2022 season seventh in Cy Younger voting, posting a 2.88 ERA and reaching exactly 200 innings. Alarm bells had been ringing in Cleveland when Bieber obtained shelled by the Blue Jays on Might 7, permitting seven runs with a fastball that hardly cracked 90 mph. From that time ahead, he posted the Tenth-lowest ERA within the sport.

Season prediction: You in all probability would not be shocked to be taught that Bieber’s strikeout price has dropped over time, from 41.1% in 2020 to 33.1% in 2021 to 25% in 2022. However his stroll price final season, 4.6%, was barely greater than half what it was the 12 months earlier than. Bieber is a unique pitcher, however nonetheless a really efficient one. Count on that to proceed. — Gonzalez

Few prospects over the previous decade — perhaps none since Bryce Harper — reached the majors with as a lot fanfare as Franco when the Rays known as him up in 2021 as a 20-year-old who oozed future batting champ together with his candy line-drive stroke and beautiful contact potential. No, he hasn’t hit .300 … not but anyway (he simply turned 22). After hitting .331 in his first 28 video games to begin the season in 2022, he battled some accidents that affected his manufacturing and finally landed him on the IL. He returned in September to hit .322 with extra walks than whiffs. With this rating, we’re nonetheless shopping for into that .300 potential and talent to smoke lasers all around the park whereas taking part in a stable shortstop.

Season prediction: After hitting .288 in his 2021 rookie season and .277 final season, the projection techniques see Franco within the .280 to .285 vary. I am going quite a bit greater: .322 and the AL batting title. — Schoenfield

SP | Atlanta Braves

Solely an epic season by Miami’s Alcantara stood in the best way of Fried touchdown his first NL Cy Younger Award. Nonetheless, the lefty ace retains inching his method to new heights with every passing season. He was on the mound extra in 2022, with 30 begins and a career-high 185⅓ innings whereas slicing his stroll price and permitting fewer homers.

Fried’s consistency and dominance for the yearly contending Braves has allowed him to go 52-20 since 2019, a .722 profitable share. His 32 video games over .500 throughout that span is matched solely by the Yankees’ Cole. Fried’s profession strikeout price (8.8 per 9 innings) is a contact beneath the sport’s high starters on this high-strikeout period and if something is unnecessarily holding him out of the dialog round baseball’s high pitchers, that is in all probability the rationale. It is not exhausting to argue that he ought to perhaps rank greater on this checklist.

Season prediction: In line with Statcast, Fried’s use of his changeup went from 2.2% in 2021 to 14.1% final season. Hitters hit simply .173 with a .218 slugging share towards that providing. Fried is a tough employee and intense competitor who continues to evolve his arsenal with expertise. That he retains getting higher isn’t any accident. If he is in a position to try this once more in 2023, and he completed second within the Cy Younger voting in 2022, the place would that depart him? Precisely. — Doolittle

SP | Philadelphia Phillies

Accidents have slowed Wheeler at varied instances of his profession however when he is wholesome, he is a borderline top-20 participant. The truth is, he hasn’t produced an ERA over 3.00 since 2019. Wheeler completed second in Cy Younger Award voting in 2021 and possibly would have been nearer to the award final season if not for an arm ailment that sidelined him for a number of begins in 2022. He made 26 begins general and handled some fatigue within the World Sequence. A repeat of that 2021 season, when he made 32 begins, would in all probability return Wheeler to top-20 standing. His fastball/curveball mixture is among the many greatest — and so is Wheeler.

Season prediction: Wheeler will be part of Nola as the one teammates to throw 200 innings this season. — Rogers

SP | New York Yankees

There isn’t any doubt that when Rodon is wholesome, he is the most effective within the sport. Over the previous two seasons, he has lived as much as the potential that made him a top-3 choose within the 2014 MLB draft out of NC State. With the Giants, he had 31 begins with a 2.88 ERA and 1.03 WHIP whereas hanging out 237 in 178 innings. The main query mark will probably be well being, although. A forearm pressure has already put him on the IL to begin the 2023 season. Final 12 months marked the primary time in Rodon’s profession that he made greater than 30 begins in a season. Each time he’s on the mound, he will definitely present why he earned himself a six-year, $162 million deal, however the query is what number of instances he’ll really toe the rubber.

Season prediction: When wholesome, he takes the Yankees rotation to a different stage. What’s tougher to foretell is what number of begins the lefty will really make. If the Yankees make a deep run this postseason, Rodon will play a significant position. — Lee

Baltimore wanted Rutschman to reside as much as the hype as one of many high prospects in baseball and he exceeded all expectations, displaying a robust potential to get on base whereas offering a few of the greatest protection in baseball behind the plate. In 113 video games, Rustchman hit .254/.362/.445 with 13 homers and a 5.2 bWAR, putting him second in all of baseball behind Realmuto. If the Orioles count on to take one other step ahead, they’ll want Rutschman to proceed wanting like the most effective catchers within the sport.

Season prediction: Rutschman will preserve constructing on his standing as one of many sport’s greatest defensive catchers whereas taking a step ahead offensively as he continues adjusting to massive league pitching. Any elevated manufacturing will make him among the many sport’s most respected gamers. — Lee

SP | Tampa Bay Rays

There was maybe no extra dominant pitcher in final 12 months’s first half than McClanahan. Armed with a devastating four-pitch combine, McClanahan posted a 1.71 ERA in 110⅔ innings, hanging out 147 batters whereas strolling solely 19 and beginning the All-Star Recreation. However the second half featured a non-serious shoulder damage and mediocre outcomes, together with 4 begins during which he gave up greater than three runs and did not get into the sixth inning. So McClanahan went about engaged on his physique this offseason. He stretched extra diligently and improved his food regimen, and the Rays imagine the 25-year-old right-hander could be even higher in 2023. There isn’t any purpose why his first-half success cannot lengthen for a full season. The stuff is there.

Season prediction: McClanahan will rise to a different stage in 2023 and contend for the AL Cy Younger Award, displaying a few of the greatest stuff within the sport and tapping into extra consistency all year long. — Gonzalez

SP | Seattle Mariners

Throughout Castillo’s years with the Cincinnati Reds, there have been irritating bouts of inconsistency and management lapses, although he was an All-Star in 2019 after which once more in 2022 earlier than his commerce to the Mariners. He appeared to place all the things collectively final season, going 8-6 with a 2.99 ERA and one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his profession.

It took lower than two months for the Mariners to like what they noticed and signal him to a five-year, $108 extension after which give him the ball for the franchise’s first playoff sport in 22 years. He promptly dominated the Blue Jays with 7⅓ scoreless innings. He throws 97 with a terrific changeup and wipeout slider, and with a full 12 months at T-Cellular Park — it should really feel just like the Columbia River Gorge in any case these years in Cincinnati — he is primed for his greatest season but.

Season prediction: Castillo has gained simply 16 video games the previous two seasons mixed. He will win 16 in 2023 and choose up some down-ballot Cy Younger votes for the primary time in his profession. — Schoenfield

RF | Houston Astros

Tucker is slowly advancing up the checklist of most harmful lefties within the sport, partially due to his potential to hit lefties. His profession .808 OPS towards left-handed pitching is not all that completely different from his .853 one vs. righties. After all, that was all achieved with the shift in place. With out it, Tucker’s 2023 batting common ought to go up after hitting .257 in 2022.

Tucker simply retains getting higher. He has an 11 bWAR mixed over the previous two seasons, ending twentieth in MVP voting in 2021 after which fifteenth in 2022 to go together with his first All-Star look and first Gold Glove for his outfield protection. Extra of the identical will preserve Tucker rising within the rankings. It is not not possible for him to be a top-20 participant going into 2024. He has the expertise.

Season prediction: Tucker takes one other leap, repeating as Gold Glove winner whereas hitting 35-plus residence runs with a batting common not less than 20 factors greater than his 2022 mark. — Rogers

3B | Houston Astros

Once we final ran MLB rank in 2021, Bregman was a top-15 fixture. He was sixth in 2019, twelfth in 2020 and thirteenth in 2021. However after three stable seasons that had been properly off his peak in 2018-2019, he is landed right here. It appears about proper given what his new stage of play appears to be after three years and over 1,200 plate appearances. Peak Bregman was the complete bundle — elite energy, plenty of walks, elite run run manufacturing, even some steals. The brand new model has related strike-zone mastery and exit velocities however the BABIP outcomes simply have not been the identical. Although he hits righty, the shift has been a bane for Bregman and maybe its departure will probably be a lift.

Season prediction: Whereas Bregman won’t have any extra 40-homer seasons in him, it might be stunning if there is not one other MVP-level season or two in his future. The Astros will probably be fantastic both manner: Houston has superior not less than to the ALCS in all six seasons since Bregman grew to become a daily. — Doolittle

If you need a poster boy for the way the elimination of the shift may assist some hitters, Seager is your man. In line with Baseball Data Options, Seager hit .112 on floor balls and quick line drives hit between first and second base in 2022. Because of this, Seager, who hit .297 in seven seasons with the Dodgers, noticed his common plummet to .245 in his first 12 months with the Rangers. BIS estimates Seager would have gained 29 extra hits beneath 2023 guidelines — and his common would thus climb to .293. Search for higher numbers from Seager with the brand new guidelines and maybe a fair greater rating in 2024 as he tops 30 residence runs once more and hits a lot nearer to .300.

Season prediction: Search for higher numbers from Seager with the brand new guidelines and maybe a fair greater rating in 2024 as he tops 30 residence runs once more and hits a lot nearer to .300. — Schoenfield

CF | Atlanta Braves

No younger participant had as meteoric an increase in 2022 as Harris. Whereas he was a consensus high 100 prospect coming into the season, his highest rating was ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel at No. 38 and he had performed all of 2021 in Excessive-A. It seemed like he would spend the season at Double-A Mississippi.

No person anticipated this: simply 43 video games in Double-A, a rushed promotion to the majors when the Braves wanted a middle fielder, a sudden improvement in his energy and, frankly, rising as the most effective gamers within the league over the ultimate 4 months. He completed at .297/.339/.514 with 19 residence runs, 20 stolen bases, glorious protection and a pleasant Rookie of the 12 months trophy. Some count on pitchers to determine the way to exploit his aggressive strategy, however Harris can flat hit. Think about what is going to occur if he improves his plate self-discipline.

Season prediction: If there is a Michael Harris fan membership, signal me up. The computer systems forecast regression, however I am predicting extra of the identical: Let’s go together with a 30-30 season, a visit to the All-Star Recreation and a Gold Glove. — Schoenfield

SP | Houston Astros

With three wins in three begins and simply two runs allowed over 19⅓ innings within the ALCS and World Sequence, Valdez is a giant purpose why the Astros are the reigning champions. He actually got here into his personal in 2022, main the AL in innings, whereas finishing three video games and profitable 17, all whereas placing up an ERA+ of 137. For all of that, Valdez completed fifth within the AL Cy Younger balloting and made his first All-Star staff.

Valdez did not do a lot otherwise final season by way of arsenal, he was only a higher, extra exact pitcher who attacked the underside of the strike zone, hardly ever missed in the course of the plate and routinely put away hitters together with his excellent curveball. All Valdez actually has to do to maneuver up the rankings from right here is to do it another time. This time, he’ll get an opportunity to indicate his stuff because the ace of the Astros’ rotation now that Verlander has moved on.

Season prediction: Valdez sat out the WBC reasonably than pitching for the Dominican Republic after his bounce in regular-season innings was adopted by the heavy load he carried in October. The Astros won’t overwork him early within the season, however past that, there is no such thing as a purpose to suppose that Valdez will fall off from final season’s kind. Count on extra of what we noticed in 2022. — Doolittle

Stop wants extra publicity. He practically grew to become a type of uncommon pitchers to overlook out on the All-Star staff however win the Cy Younger award in the identical season (he ended up ending second in Cy Younger voting to Verlander final 12 months). Enjoying for the underachieving White Sox did not assist issues. It is partly why he isn’t within the high 20 regardless of coming off a dominant 2022 marketing campaign.

Stop has probably the most devastating sliders within the sport, which led him to strike out an AL-best 227 batters final season. However he additionally walked essentially the most within the AL, 78, although not a lot of these runners got here again to hang-out him contemplating his 2.20 ERA for the 12 months. A discount in walks whereas holding his different numbers intact will proceed to open eyes across the league for Stop.

Season prediction: Stop’s batting common towards on balls in play has fluctuated vastly all through his profession. He is due for the next one in 2023, which might trigger his ERA to rise. He will not repeat the two.20 mark in 2022 — it’s going to be nearer to three.00 this 12 months. — Rogers

SP | Texas Rangers

No person doubts that deGrom is among the greatest pitchers of his era, however his well being stays a priority. DeGrom made 26 complete begins throughout 2021 and 2022. Whereas he nonetheless confirmed the stuff that made him probably the most feared pitchers in the complete sport, the 34-year-old righty took a step again by way of his product, posting a 3.08 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in 64 1/3 innings pitched. How deGrom ages as he heads into the again half of his 30s will play a monumental position within the success of Texas in 2023 and past.

Season prediction: When he is wholesome, deGrom stays a nightmare for hitters, however this availability stays the largest query. The righty has not thrown greater than 20 video games per season since 2019 (together with the shortened 2020 season), and he’s not getting any youthful. — Lee

You hardly ever hear on-base share quoted with regard to pitchers, however Gallen was the anti-OBP hurler in 2022. He led the NL in WHIP and hits allowed per 9 innings whereas holding opponents to a measly .252 OBP. He additionally sliced his residence run price in half and sliced greater than a stroll per 9 innings from his 2021 season.

The top consequence was a brand new pitching star rising within the desert as Gallen posted a 2.54 ERA over 185 innings and completed fifth in NL Cy Younger balloting. He principally ditched his slider final season and developed a four-pitch arsenal constructed off a wickedly efficient, high-spin four-seamer and the metrics of all of his choices had been glorious. He does this with out elite uncooked velocity, although he did add a tick of zip in 2022. At 27, he is simply getting rolling.

Season prediction: Gallen’s .237 BABIP will probably be exhausting to repeat however his profession mark (.264) is properly beneath final season’s MLB common (.293), so he has loads of room to permit for a bit of regression. Even when Gallen’s ERA and WHIP rise due to the next BABIP, do not despair, as a result of he is an entire pitcher who ought to stay one of many NL’s high hurlers. — Doolittle

SP | Los Angeles Dodgers

After years of innings restrictions and occasional bullpen assignments, the Dodgers lastly let Urias trip as a full-time, no-questions-asked beginning pitcher in 2021 and watched him immediately turn into one of many sport’s greatest. Urias led the majors with 20 wins in 2021 and led the NL with a 2.16 ERA and a 194 ERA+ in 2022. If not for the unimaginable dominance of Alcantara, he might have gained the Cy Younger. And but, Urias completed third within the voting. He’s criminally underrated, partly as a result of he performs on the West Coast and partly as a result of he does not gentle up a radar gun like a few of his friends. However few have higher command. And when he turns into a free agent subsequent offseason, few will probably be extra coveted.

Season prediction: Urias’ success as a pitcher continues to development in the precise path, and the 2023 season, his final one earlier than free company, could possibly be his largest one but. If he stays wholesome, count on him to make his first All-Star staff — yeah, that is proper, he hasn’t made one but — and vie for the Cy Younger as soon as extra.

At instances it feels as if Urias has been within the massive leagues for a very long time, however he is solely 26 and has amassed lower than 600 profession regular-season innings. There’s loads left to faucet into. — Gonzalez

C | Los Angeles Dodgers

Smith has amassed 9.7 fWAR since settling in as a daily behind the plate in 2020, a complete surpassed by solely two catchers — Realmuto and Sean Murphy. At 27 years previous, Smith has established himself as one of many sport’s greatest at his place, notably on the power of his bat. Smith has a .261/.356/.501 slash line in practically 1,500 profession main league plate appearances, much more spectacular when contemplating the bodily calls for of his place. He slugs, however he’s additionally affected person. Smith boasted the 14th-lowest chase price within the majors final 12 months at 21.2%.

Season prediction: Smith will probably be extra vital to the Dodgers’ lineup than ever, with Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger gone and Max Muncy and Chris Taylor coming off down seasons. He is at present slated to hit third, proper behind Freeman. Count on him to DH extra typically this season, given the presence of Austin Barnes and high prospect Diego Cartaya. The Dodgers want his bat within the lineup as typically as potential. And this could possibly be Smith’s greatest 12 months from a run-production standpoint. — Gonzalez

2B | Cleveland Guardians

The 24-year-old second baseman put collectively a breakout season in 2022, hitting .297/.371/.466 with a 7.2 bWAR. Gimenez’s protection catapulted him into one of many sport’s extra useful gamers, however there are some questions on whether or not the Guardians’ infielder can repeat the success given the 40-point differential in his anticipated batting common (.257) and precise common (.297). Whereas his 17 homers final season appear to be an outlier in comparison with his profession numbers, count on him to make an influence on the basepaths after stealing 20 bases in 2022.

Season prediction: Gimenez will nonetheless be an above-average hitter however count on his energy numbers to take a step again whereas his manufacturing equalizes with the anticipated sabermetric numbers given his contact price and exit velocity. — Lee

SS | Toronto Blue Jays

In totality, Bichette’s 2022 season — .290/.333/.469 slash line, 24 residence runs, 13 stolen bases and the AL lead in hits for a second straight 12 months — was a profound success. However the 25-year-old shortstop navigated his justifiable share of peaks and valleys offensively and as soon as once more struggled with errors defensively. Bichette’s 47 errors path solely Javier Baez for essentially the most amongst shortstops for the reason that begin of 2021. However that is the form of factor that tends to get cleaned up as a participant matures. So do pronounced highs and lows. Bichette confirmed down the stretch what sort of premier expertise he’s, whereas OPS’ing 1.105 after the beginning of September.

Season prediction: Bichette in all probability will not OPS above 1.000 for a full season, however he definitely has the expertise to take action. He’s a celebrity navigating a portion of his profession when gamers usually are nonetheless getting considerably higher. FanGraphs tasks a 4.4 WAR from him this season. If he is wholesome, his 2023 WAR ought to begin not less than with a 6.0. — Gonzalez

SP | Atlanta Braves

It was fairly a 12 months for Strider, who began the season within the Atlanta bullpen, soared as soon as he hit the rotation, practically gained the NL Rookie of the 12 months award and capped all of it by signing a six-year, $75 million extension. How was your 2022?

Strider emerged as one in every of baseball’s most dominant younger pitchers, flashing a fastball that averages 98 miles per hour and a strikeout price (13.8 per 9 innings) that appears like a typo. The one draw back for him was a late-season indirect damage which may have value him NL rookie honors (gained by teammate Harris) and restricted his contribution to Atlanta’s playoff effort. Strider is usually a two-pitch pitcher at this level, although he’ll sprinkle in a changeup towards lefties, so it is uncooked energy that’s at present incomes him his bread. Clearly the Braves have seen greater than sufficient to imagine he can construct off his dazzling rookie marketing campaign.

Season prediction: Strider’s stuff is so overpowering that for now, it is all he must get by means of an order a few instances. To turn into a bedrock starter who can generally work deep, he’ll want greater than two pitches. His spring work did not recommend he has that, so for now, count on extra sharp, dominant outings. — Doolittle

SP | Toronto Blue Jays

Manoah is clearly a pitcher getting higher with each season. He dropped his ERA by a run from 2021 to 2022 and elevated his innings pitched by 85. He is emerged because the Blue Jays’ ace, although his one postseason begin (final 12 months) wasn’t a very good one. Nonetheless, Manoah is more likely to be a Cy Younger candidate once more as he continues to mature. His sweeping slider is efficient towards each righties and lefties, as hitters have a tough time producing exhausting contact and slugging off of him. Gamers slugged .314 towards him in his first two seasons — and that quantity alone makes him worthy of his place within the rankings.

Season prediction: Manoah places all of it collectively in 2023 and wins his first Cy Younger award whereas surpassing 200 innings pitched for the primary time in his profession. — Rogers

SS | Houston Astros

His robust rookie season and World Sequence MVP award helped Astros followers shortly transfer previous the departure of Correa. Peña lived as much as his repute as a robust fielder, however he additionally displayed extra energy than anticipated, hitting 22 homers in 136 video games with a .253/.289/.426 batting line. There is definitely room for development with the younger shortstop, however he ranked alongside Trea Turner and Ha-Seong Kim by way of their impacts on the sphere, hovering round a 4.8-4.9 bWAR.

Season prediction: Peña takes a step ahead together with his batting common whereas sustaining his elite glove, solidifying himself as one of many sport’s most respected shortstops. — Lee

1B | Atlanta Braves

Each era wants that massive, slugging lefty first baseman who swats spectacular residence runs and swings from his heels with completely no regret. Olson wasn’t fairly nearly as good in his first season with the Braves as he was with the Oakland Athletics in 2021 — resulting from the next strikeout price that reduce into his batting common — however nonetheless belted 78 extra-base hits and drove in 103 runs. He confirmed in 2021 that he could be greater than a “Three True Outcomes” slugger, though that is what he grew to become within the second half of 2022, when his common fell to .219 and his doubles price fell manner off. We have seen him play at an All-Star, top-10 MVP stage, however there’s sufficient inconsistency right here to maintain him out of the highest 50.

Season prediction: To date, his low strikeout price in 2021 appears to be like like a profession outlier as his swing-and-miss price was a lot greater towards fastballs in 2022. I would wager on a batting common nearer to .240 once more versus the .271 mark in 2021, however on this Braves’ lineup, he is a very good wager to as soon as once more crack 100 RBIs together with his 30-homer energy. — Schoenfield

There is a purpose Swanson signed for $177 million with the Cubs throughout the offseason: He is a very good participant. There’s additionally a purpose it was manner lower than what three other star shortstops signed for. Swanson is nice, particularly on protection, however he has but to show offensive consistency. His residence run totals have elevated over time, however so have his strikeout numbers. Even he admits he wants to search out the precise steadiness between contact and energy.

The Cubs are additionally paying for management. Swanson is thought for wanting one factor out of his baseball life: to win. He did that in Atlanta, and now he’ll pave the best way for a brand new roster of Cubs looking for their manner again to the postseason.

Season prediction: There could be some early struggles as Swanson tries to reside as much as his massive contract — it occurs on a regular basis — however he ought to discover his energy stroke to left subject as soon as the summer time hits Wrigley. Thirty residence runs just isn’t out of the query — however neither is 150 strikeouts (once more). — Rogers

SP | Milwaukee Brewers

Woodruff has been one of many sport’s most constant starters during the last 4 seasons, a span during which his per-inning manufacturing has been really elite. At 6’4″ and 244 lbs., Woodruff has the look of a traditional top-of-the-rotation starter. He has the repertoire and stuff to dominate constantly and sufficient range in his choices to stay efficient deep into video games. And but Woodruff’s profession excessive in innings as he enters his age-30 season is 179 1/3. Accidents have normally diverted his run to the highest ranks of big-league starters, although arm accidents, surprisingly sufficient, have not been the difficulty. As such, it appears like his profession season remains to be in his future.

Season prediction: Like co-ace teammate Burnes, Woodruff has not been prolonged by the Brewers and has yet one more season of arbitration eligibility earlier than he hits free company. Over the second half of final season, Woodruff was nearly as good as any pitcher within the sport. If the intersection of momentum and motivation means something, the portents for 2023 are lined up in his favor. — Doolittle

CF | Baltimore Orioles

Mullins’ offensive numbers took a slight dip from 2021 to 2022, together with his OPS going from .878 to .721. He walked much less, did not slug practically as a lot and produced barely fewer line drives. However he additionally produced elite center-field protection, contributing 9 outs above common, and added 34 stolen bases. In different phrases: He hit sufficient to nonetheless be thought-about one of many sport’s greatest all-around gamers at his place. His 9.3 fWAR during the last two years ranks fifth amongst outfielders, topped solely by Decide, Soto, Betts and Alvarez. That is fairly good firm.

Season prediction: Mullins is not an elite exit-velocity man, and his numbers will typically be inclined to batted-ball luck. Is he the hitter of 2021 or 2022? One thing within the center might be a secure wager, although his 2022 drop in barrel share ought to warrant some concern. He ought to nonetheless be younger sufficient (28) to deliver all the opposite speed-related components that make him stand out. — Gonzalez

2B | New York Mets

McNeil put collectively the most effective seasons of his profession in 2022, hitting .326/.382/.454 with 9 homers, profitable the batting title and posting a career-high 5.7 bWAR. The Mets rewarded his success with a brand new four-year, $50 million contract, locking up a key member of New York’s core lineup. The second baseman is among the greatest contact hitters within the sport, hanging out simply 242 instances in 2,039 profession plate appearances, bested by simply 9 gamers with not less than 1,000 plate appearances since his debut in 2018. His versatility continues to be an asset as properly, with 100 video games at second base and 46 within the outfield in 2022.

Season prediction: McNeil’s sport figures to age properly — he turns 31 in April — given his reliance on contact over energy. Whereas it is unfair to count on him to win the batting title once more in 2023, he has only one season within the massive leagues the place he has hit beneath .300, and the Mets count on him to be a lineup catalyst for a bunch hoping to compete for the World Sequence. — Lee

RF/DH | Philadelphia Phillies

It does not take a baseball professional to know why Harper is the place he’s on the checklist, as he’ll be out greater than half the season whereas recovering from Tommy John surgical procedure. His return will definitely enhance the Phillies’ probabilities, and he’ll undoubtedly proceed as probably the most feared hitters within the sport. However for the rankings, availability is as vital as productiveness, so for now Harper is on the skin of the highest 50 — although, he simply could possibly be in a unique place going into subsequent season.

Season prediction: Harper returns with a bang in late July however struggles to search out his footing. He’ll be a .230 hitter whereas hitting 12 residence runs within the second half. — Rogers

RP | Cleveland Guardians

Within the authentic incarnation of our rankings, there have been however two relievers so dominant that they earned a spot on the checklist. Edwin Diaz then suffered that devastating knee injury in the WCS, so now Clase, who gained final 12 months’s Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the 12 months award, stands alone as baseball’s high fireman coming into the season. He is earned that standing by changing into one of many rarest of baseball phenomenons: The constant reliever.

In his case, Clase is not simply constant — he is constantly dominant. During the last two seasons, Clase has a surreal 1.33 ERA over 142 1/3 innings. In 2022, he saved 42 video games in 46 probabilities and earned wins in two of the video games during which he blew the save. He does this with a cutter-slider mixture so unhittable that to explain it as “nasty” hardly appears adequate. The cutter specifically is nearly — dare we are saying? — Rivera-esque.

Season prediction: There’s zero purpose to suppose that Clase’s sport goes to tail off any time quickly, particularly when a “unhealthy” season for him at this level could be a two-something ERA. — Doolittle

CF | Miami Marlins

He is on the duvet of “MLB The Present” online game, he was named to his first All-Star Recreation in 2022 and he popularized the ice cream-themed glove. Now, Chisholm has to remain wholesome after lacking the second half with a stress fracture in his decrease again and modify to a brand new place because the Marlins transfer him from second base to heart subject. To his credit score, it was Chisholm who went to the Marlins with the thought, so he has embraced the change with enthusiasm. There isn’t any doubting the large upside right here after he hit 14 residence runs with 45 RBIs and slugged .535 in 60 video games. These numbers over 150 video games: 35 residence runs and 112 RBIs. That seems like an All-Star heart fielder.

Season prediction: Hey, do not dismiss that 35-homer potential. He is averaged 27 per 162 video games in his quick profession, and he is simply 25 with solely 205 profession video games. Along with his instruments, there’s nonetheless an opportunity he might explode if all the things comes collectively. I will go 30 residence runs and 25 steals, and if he can reduce down on the Ok’s, he has celebrity potential. — Schoenfield

SS | Chicago White Sox

There was a time when Anderson would have ranked greater on the checklist, since he has a batting title beneath his belt. However accidents zapped a few of his potential final season and although he hit over .300 for the fourth consecutive 12 months, it got here in solely 79 video games. A wholesome, accessible Anderson could transfer him again up the rankings.

In the meantime, taking part in within the WBC this spring can solely assist elevate his sport and probably his management. In the course of the match, Trout mentioned that Anderson had one of the best reverse subject swing within the sport. That is some excessive reward. If he is on the sphere the complete season, he could win one other batting title but.

Season prediction: Anderson hits over .320 whereas he and Elvis Andrus make a surprisingly good double play mixture. Anderson may even get a while at second base, the place he shined throughout the WBC. — Rogers

In 4 months, Reynolds — one in every of few baseball gamers to publicly request a commerce — is predicted to be probably the most coveted gamers from executives seeking to solidify their groups for the stretch run. Toss apart a fan-less shortened 2020 season, and he has been about as productive as they arrive, slashing .292/.371/.496 in his three full main league seasons. The Pirates have expressed a want to maintain Reynolds long run, however there are not any indications that the 2 sides are shut on an extension. He’s coming off a sluggish — by his requirements — 2022 season, one which noticed his OPS drop by greater than 100 factors and his defensive metrics fall off much more dramatically. However a number of GMs would undoubtedly line as much as commerce for him nonetheless.

Season prediction: Reynolds’ strikeouts picked up and his walks declined in 2022, which is normally a troubling signal. He chased extra typically, notably towards fastballs. He noticed extra excessive fastballs final 12 months, and he struggled mightily towards them, slashing .074/.133/.185. Reynolds will not get again to his 2021 self till he makes that adjustment. — Gonzalez

OF | Toronto Blue Jays

Springer stays a top-of-the-lineup catalyst together with his mix of energy, velocity and persistence. Amongst 64 hitters with not less than 100 plate appearances from the lead-off spot final season, Springer ranked within the high 5 in hits, runs, homers and RBIs, whereas touchdown at 14th in OPS. He nonetheless performs the sport with panache by way of his massive swings on the plate and daring dives on the basepaths.

Nonetheless, after ending within the high 40 of the final 5 editions of those rankings, Springer fell down the pecking order principally as a result of he simply cannot keep on the sphere sufficient. He hasn’t performed in additional than 140 video games since 2018 and made it into simply 133 contests final season for Toronto. Throughout his two seasons with the Blue Jays, Springer has hit the IL with an indirect pressure, a strained quadriceps, a sprained knee and an infected elbow. This final illness resulted in surgical procedure final fall to take away bone spurs.

Season prediction: Now 33, Springer’s taking part in time needs to be fastidiously managed, particularly because it appears unlikely that the abandon with which he has at all times performed goes to vanish. The accidents will come, and relaxation will probably be wanted. That is all fantastic for the Blue Jays if Springer is true when October comes round and he will get one other shot to indicate why he is one of many nice postseason gamers of his era. — Doolittle

CF | Minnesota Twins

Everyone knows the story. Over the previous 4 seasons, Buxton has hit .258/.316/.558 whereas taking part in Willie Mays protection in heart subject. He has averaged an unimaginable 8.3 WAR per 650 plate appearances since 2019 — besides that is extra PAs than he had in 2021 and 2022 mixed. Of his 28 residence runs in 2022, 11 of them went greater than 425 toes, together with two over 450. The ability/protection combo is so spectacular that if he might play 130 video games, he’d be the most effective gamers in baseball with top-15 general potential. However he is now 29 and performed 100 video games simply as soon as in his profession. There have been gamers who had careers ruined or shortened with accidents, however Buxton’s profession is popping right into a bizarre, one-of-a-kind “what if?”

Season prediction: Yeah, proper — you might as properly ask me to make my inventory picks for the following 12 months or predict the climate for the primary sport of the World Sequence. There’s 40-homer energy right here if he stays wholesome, however I would not rely on that. — Schoenfield

2B | Texas Rangers

After a really gradual begin for his new staff in 2022, Semien introduced the lumber. All however one in every of his 26 residence runs was hit after June 1. That form of volatility could be anticipated for a participant becoming a member of a brand new group with a giant contract. Semien is not going to go up the rankings as he enters his mid-30’s, however that does not imply he has to go down both. He ought to age properly taking part in second base after giving up on shortstop in signing with Texas a 12 months in the past. His energy at that place makes him particular, although he isn’t more likely to repeat his 2021 efficiency, when he hit 45 residence runs for Toronto.

Season prediction: Semien’s energy numbers will proceed to lower taking part in in pitcher-friendly Globe Life Area. He’ll hit beneath 20 residence runs in a full season for the primary time since 2018. — Rogers

C | Atlanta Braves

As a lot as something, the Braves appear to imagine in certainty on the subject of their long-term design. Discover a younger participant you want and preserve that participant for so long as you’ll be able to in an change of safety (for the participant) and team-friendly phrases. And so Murphy turns into the most recent instance of that design after Atlanta acquired him in a sizzling range commerce and nearly instantly inked him to a six-year, $73 extension to turn into Atlanta’s backstop now and for the foreseeable future.

This rating, which is well-deserved, illustrates why the Braves have such religion in a participant who has but to play a daily season inning for them. Murphy is among the sport’s high two-way backstops who hits for energy, attracts walks, handles his place so properly that he was the AL’s Gold Glove catcher in 2021 and even has some postseason expertise. He is additionally sturdy and hits properly sufficient that he might help out ceaselessly at DH on days he is not catching.

Season prediction: The one catchers to have gained a Gold Glove in each leagues are Bob Boone and Tony Pena. Supplanting Realmuto within the NL will not be straightforward for Murphy, however he is obtained an opportunity to hitch the checklist. He frames properly and with an elite pop time, his potential to gun down would-be base thieves could possibly be accentuated beneath the brand new guidelines. — Doolittle

2B | Houston Astros

As with Harper, Altuve would have ranked quite a bit greater, however the damaged thumb he suffered within the World Baseball Basic will preserve him sidelined indefinitely and properly into the season. When Altuve scuffled by means of a tough COVID-shortened 2020 season, it appeared Father Time may need been beginning his victory lap, even when it was only a 48-game pattern. Altuve has confirmed each skeptic flawed all through his profession and did so once more. The 2022 season was one in every of his greatest, as he matched his MVP 12 months of 2017 with a 160 OPS+ and completed fifth within the AL MVP voting.

Even with out the damage, Altuve was a very good wager to regress, not less than a bit of. He turns 33 in Might, and regardless of launching 39 doubles and 28 residence runs final season, his hard-hit price was the bottom of his profession. That is trigger for concern, though he does not swing and miss a lot, and he did present sudden development in his plate self-discipline, with massive enhancements in chase price and stroll price. If that holds, he’ll proceed to age properly.

Season prediction: Altuve’s .300 batting common final 12 months was 31 factors greater than his anticipated batting common going into the season. We do not know the way the damage will finally have an effect on his energy, however his launch angle and talent to tug all the things is good for residence runs. I believe the typical takes a dip again into the .270 vary that it was in 2021. — Schoenfield

CF | New York Mets

Nimmo had one of the best season of his profession in 2022, incomes him an eight-year, $162 million contract to remain in New York. The 29-year-old outfielder put collectively a robust offensive season, hitting .274/.367/.433 with 16 homers whereas persevering with to make massive strides as a defensive participant. He represents one of many backbones of the Mets’ lineup as one in every of their most constant producers. As vital as his manufacturing is, so is his management within the clubhouse as a tone-setter — he brings vitality to Citi Area every day.

Season prediction: Nimmo will proceed to be a catalyst close to the highest of the lineup whereas offering stable outfield protection. The Mets do not want him to be something greater than what he is been all through the previous few seasons: stable and reliable. — Lee

What follows is a partial checklist of gamers who appeared in not less than 120 video games of their age-22 season or youthful and put up lower than 2.3 fWAR: Jimmy Rollins, Altuve, Arenado, Freeman, Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Bogaerts. And that is simply relationship again to 2000. So, do not ring the alarm bells on Witt simply but. Thriving within the main leagues at that age is exceedingly tough. Witt’s rookie season — 20 residence runs and 30 stolen bases, but additionally a .254/.294/.428 slash line and greater than 4 instances as many strikeouts as walks — was a disappointment when contemplating the hype that surrounded him. But it surely does not imply he will not be a star. It did not for any of these different names.

Season prediction: The Royals knew Witt would not play a lot within the WBC, however they needed him to expertise that surroundings. They thought it might velocity up his improvement and switch him into a greater participant. It’s going to work. Witt will take a giant leap in 2023 and vie for the All-Star staff. — Gonzalez

SP | Houston Astros

Javier retains inching his manner in direction of a monster season. He appeared as a starter and reliever each in final 12 months’s common season and postseason. That is how useful he was to the Astros’ run to a title. This 12 months, he could discover his method to the highest of the Astros’ rotation or not less than proper behind Valdez. His fastball has a lot life on it, he ought to blow previous 200 strikeouts in 2023. As is, he had 194 in 148 innings final season, good for an eye-popping 33.2% strikeout price. One among each three batters went down by strikeout towards Javier. He could possibly be a Cy Younger candidate if these numbers proceed over the course of 32 begins.

Season prediction: If wholesome, Javier will lead the league in Ok’s with over 250. — Rogers

He was my choose for NL Cy Younger winner in 2022, and whereas that did not occur, he proved his terrific run down the stretch in 2021 was no fluke as he went 15-9 with a 2.90 ERA and simply 11 residence runs allowed in 192⅓ innings. Webb is the antithesis of contemporary pitchers: He throws a low-spin sinking 91-mph fastball that produces grounders as a substitute of strikeouts, and he will get batters to chase his slider and changeup. We’ll see if the shift ban hurts him greater than different pitchers, however I count on his throwback fashion, pitch effectivity and command will result in one other robust season.

Season prediction: Extra of the identical. He is had two back-to-back glorious seasons, and whereas I am a bit of fearful concerning the Giants’ protection at second base with out the shift, I am searching for an ERA round 3.00 with near 200 innings as soon as once more. — Schoenfield

3B | Baltimore Orioles

How does a participant with all of 132 plate appearances and a .259 batting common find yourself in our high 100? Religion. Religion within the prospect hype and religion within the flashes of brilliance we noticed from him throughout his 2022 debut as a proof of idea. As Henderson retains rookie standing, he is nonetheless eligible within the prospect rankings and thus landed the coveted high spot on this 12 months’s version of Kylie McDaniel’s Top 100. He is obtained energy, protection, a robust arm, the velocity to steal 20 bases or extra and minor-league OBPs that recommend a complicated strategy on the plate. Together with fellow phenom Rutschman — final 12 months’s high prospect — Henderson is on the vanguard of what appears to be like like a dawning period of rivalry in Baltimore.

Season prediction: Henderson enters the season as a number one AL Rookie of the 12 months candidate. On the similar time, his minor-league line jumped from a .258 common and .826 OPS in 2021 to .297 and .946 a season in the past. Some regression would not be a shock, each due to that leap and since improvement does not normally occur in a linear trend. And but he is so good, he could be the ROY anyway. — Doolittle

OF | Arizona Diamondbacks

Carroll has performed in solely 32 main league video games and already appears to be like like probably the most thrilling gamers within the sport. He can hit for common, slug, present elite protection and run with one of the best of them — and he brings that stage of enthusiasm each time he performs. The COVID-19 pandemic worn out minor league baseball in 2020 and shoulder surgical procedure robbed him of most of 2021, however Carroll seemed like a person who hadn’t missed a beat in 2022. In what amounted to his first full season {of professional} baseball, Carroll scorched by means of Double-A and Triple-A, OPS’ing 1.036 with 24 residence runs and 31 stolen bases in solely 442 plate appearances. The D-backs had no alternative however to name him up late within the season, and Carroll amassed 1.4 fWAR in a couple of month. He’ll keep rookie eligibility for 2023 and must be a transparent favourite for ROY.

Season prediction: Carroll will win the NL Rookie of the 12 months Award and switch a number of heads in 2023, serving to the D-backs make a stunning run for a playoff spot. — Gonzalez

2B | Atlanta Braves

Final 12 months was a irritating one for Albies, as he performed simply 64 video games due to a damaged left foot and damaged proper pinky, and his offense was down when he did play. At his greatest, he generates stunning energy from his small body, hitting 30 residence runs and rating fifth within the majors in extra-base hits in 2021 (when he additionally drove in 106 runs) and tied for fifteenth in 2019. Albies has his thoughts set on a giant season … very massive: “I will take 30-30,” he advised The Athletic, referring to 30 residence runs and 30 steals (his profession excessive is 20). “However my purpose is to go 40-40.” The Braves will fortunately take 150 — as in 150 video games performed.

Season prediction: I am a bit of involved right here regardless that Albies is simply 26. He is been injured in two of the previous three seasons, and his plate self-discipline hasn’t gotten any higher, regardless of the Braves’ greatest efforts (and, the truth is, he had a career-worst chase price final season). Nonetheless, he has a knack for pounding out these extra-base hits. I will go .250 with 25 residence runs and 35 doubles — a bit of beneath what we noticed within the rabbit ball years of 2019 and 2021. — Schoenfield

SP | New York Yankees

There is a purpose why Nasty Nestor emerged as a fan favorite throughout the 2022 season. The artful lefty put collectively a breakout 2022 marketing campaign, posting a 2.44 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 28 begins en route to creating his first All-Star staff. In a 12 months the place Cole was inconsistent, Cortes proved to be one of many staff’s most dependable performers. The Yankees had been cognizant of not overusing him final season — he had by no means pitched greater than 93 innings within the massive leagues — so with a full offseason beneath his belt and a safe rotation spot, Cortes might take one other step ahead in 2023.

Season prediction: Cortes will preserve proving there is a method to succeed as a starter within the massive leagues with out top-tier velocity. He’ll want to verify his command stays on level, however the artistic mixture of pitches, arm slots and windup actions makes him a dynamic pitcher for the Yankees’ rotation. — Lee

SP | Cleveland Guardians

By attempting to perform a little much less in 2021, McKenzie completed an entire lot extra in 2022. His strikeout price dropped from 27.5% to 25.6% of opposing batters, however he greater than offset that dip by slicing his stroll price and managing his effort to work deeper into video games. He averaged 4.8 innings per begin in 2021 however that determine soared to six.3 final season as he completed with 191 1/3 innings pitched and doubled his high quality begin rely. McKenzie leaned much less ceaselessly on his fastball, regardless that he nonetheless has only a three-pitch combine. Even and not using a deep arsenal, McKenzie’s numbers stay robust at the same time as he will get into the third time by means of an opposing lineup.

Season prediction: From right here, it is a matter of fantastic tuning the command. Whereas McKenzie was significantly better at attacking the strike zone final season, he did undergo spates the place he caught the center of the plate too typically, and his homer price would spike. Given his price of enchancment up to now, the Guardians can look to additional features on this space. — Doolittle

SP | Minnesota Twins

It will likely be attention-grabbing to see how a former Marlins pitcher performs realizing he’ll have extra offense backing him. Lopez ought to get a lift from taking part in with the Twins over the offensively-challenged Marlins. He put collectively a stable season in 2022, however there’s room to develop. The largest step in his sport final season was merely making all 32 begins, cementing him as a mid-rotation man within the massive leagues. Righties hit .218 off him final season, fifth lowest within the NL. His cutter is changing into an often-used pitch and his change-up is already actually good.

Season prediction: Lopez surpasses 200 innings for the primary time in his profession whereas getting over 5 runs of help per sport. — Rogers

SP | San Diego Padres

Some gamers battle with the pressures of starring for his or her hometown staff. Musgrove has embraced it, utilizing it as motivation to raise himself to the next stage. The 30-year-old right-hander has posted a 3.06 ERA and amassed 362 1/3 innings in his first two years with the Padres, whereas serving to to entrance the rotation of a star-studded staff with grand expectations.

Slightly than enterprise into the open market this offseason, Musgrove signed a five-year, $100 million extension with two months left within the 2022 common season. He’s now one of many faces of the staff he grew up rooting for — proper up there with Machado, Tatis and Bogaerts — whereas the Padres navigate essentially the most thrilling time in franchise historical past. And he would not have it another manner.

Season prediction: The final 4 years have represented regular development for Musgrove. In 2022, he was an All-Star for the primary time. In 2023, he’ll be within the Cy Younger dialogue for the primary time — as long as he wears sneakers in the weight room. — Gonzalez

LF | Cleveland Guardians

We have been so indoctrinated by at present’s power-driven sport that generally we neglect that gamers like Kwan cannot solely nonetheless exist however excel, too. He hit .298/.373/.400 and gained a Gold Glove in left subject regardless of one of many lowest hard-hit charges within the sport. His 5.5 bWAR was one of the best by a Cleveland rookie since Kenny Lofton in 1992. He makes it work due to impeccable strike-zone judgment — he swung and missed simply 91 instances out of 1,006 swings. Solely Luis Arraez had a greater contact price.

The projection techniques forecast regression, nevertheless, his contact potential, protection, velocity and plate self-discipline give him a excessive ground of three WAR even when the typical drops 20 factors. However here is betting on .300 in 2023.

Season prediction: Hey, I simply mentioned .300! Let’s go together with .304 with 100 runs scored and one other Gold Glove. — Schoenfield

SP | San Diego Padres

The Padres, throwing cash round at a neck-breaking tempo, signed Darvish to a six-year, $108 million extension, a deal that may amazingly pay him by means of his age-41 season. “If anyone is ready to pitch a bit of bit later of their profession and get this sort of an extension, it definitely is him,” Padres supervisor Bob Melvin mentioned.

Over these final two years, Melvin has gained a deep stage of respect for the best way Darvish works and cares about his craft, a trait that might enable him to beat the problems that plague pitchers of their late 30s and early 40s. From 2017 to 2022, the 36-year-old ranks ninth within the majors in strikeouts and seventeenth in innings whereas posting a 3.66 ERA.

Season prediction: Darvish’s expansive repertoire permits him to regulate higher than anyone, and final 12 months was no completely different. He featured the bottom strikeout price of his profession, but additionally one in every of his lowest stroll charges. His cutter, fastball and slider proceed to make up the overwhelming majority of his choices, however Darvish can continually change their sequencing and introduce a number of different pitches that frequently preserve hitters trustworthy. With such a potent offense behind him, he could be an All-Star for the second time in three years in 2023. — Gonzalez

LF | Philadelphia Phillies

Schwarber went from being DFA’d after the 2020 season to hitting 46 residence runs final 12 months for Philadelphia. He is performed within the postseason for 3 completely different groups and simply accomplished his first stint on Crew USA within the WBC. That is why he is a top-100 participant. However until he reduces his strikeouts — he had precisely 200 final 12 months — and raises his profession .233 batting common, he’ll stay within the decrease half of those rankings. He has vowed to deal with the previous stat, and the elimination of the shift ought to handle the latter one. As is, Schwarber is a useful energy hitter with playoff expertise up-and-down his resume.

Season prediction: The elimination of the shift will certainly elevate his batting common — one scout mentioned as excessive as .270 — however the strikeouts and residential run totals will stay the identical. — Rogers

3B | Toronto Blue Jays

Chapman has not replicated his breakout 2018 season, however he maintained his standing as one of many sport’s greatest defensive third basemen in 2022 whereas offering energy on the plate, hitting 27 homers and slashing .229/.324/.433. He’s coming into a contract 12 months, and with the free-agent market hitting a new apex this past offseason, he could possibly be poised to obtain a significant payday if he places collectively a robust season — particularly if he improves his batting common, which has not been above .232 for the reason that 2019 season. Chapman would be the largest identify on the third base free-agent market with Machado having already signed an extension.

Season prediction: Chapman will proceed his reign as one of many sport’s premier defenders. Many across the Blue Jays imagine that 2022 represented Chapman’s ground, and that with a significant incentive to enhance on the plate this season, the third baseman might put collectively his greatest 12 months since 2018. — Lee

2B | Miami Marlins

Any Marlins fan in attendance on the WBC quarterfinal in Miami may need gotten the flawed thought when Arraez mashed a pair of homers for Venezuela towards the U.S. That is not the participant they’re going to see for essentially the most half now that he is joined the Fish. As a substitute they’re going to see a hitter with such elite bat management and make contact with potential that in his Minnesota days, one might evaluate him to Rod Carew with out being scoffed at. Arraez gained his first batting title final season, hitting .316 for the Twins within the AL. Miami, in case you are questioning, has had two batting champs: Hanley Ramirez and Dee Unusual-Gordon. Arraez will probably be a robust candidate to hitch the checklist so long as he is in Miami.

Season prediction: DJ LeMahieu is the one hitter to win a batting crown in each the AL and the NL. Arraez owns a profession common of .314, a quantity ok to win the crown within the senior circuit twice within the final 5 years. Now that he has switched leagues, LeMahieu could have firm on this very quick checklist a 12 months from now. — Doolittle

LF | Tampa Bay Rays

First it was the 2020 MLB playoffs, then the 2023 World Baseball Basic. There’s something about this man in massive moments. Arozarena will spend the remainder of his profession within the shadow of his postseason exploits of 2020 when he homered 10 instances in 18 video games, however he has settled right into a stable all-around participant who does a bit of little bit of all the things, posting seasons of 4.1 bWAR in 2021 and a pair of.9 in 2022. He had 41 doubles, 20 residence runs and 32 steals final season. Sure, that is a little bit of statistical spaghetti, however that was simply the twenty fifth time that has been performed, and the primary since Mookie Betts did it in 2018. He reduce his strikeout price 4% final season, and if he can reduce it one other 4%, he can climb a bit of greater on this checklist.

Season prediction: Arozarena is already 28, so that you would not actually count on enchancment at this level. His swing and launch angle are extra conducive to doubles than residence runs, so I will stick to 20 residence runs. It will likely be attention-grabbing to see if the Rays let him run, as he likes to be aggressive on the bases (generally TOO aggressive). Do not rule out 40 steals. — Schoenfield

SP | Toronto Blue Jays

Gausman was stable in his first season with the Blue Jays in 2022, however the numbers did not essentially pop the best way they did with the Giants within the prior season. Look nearer, although. Gausman had a 3.35 ERA that ranked twenty fifth within the majors, however a 2.38 FIP that ranked second. Opponents’ batting common on balls in play towards Gausman was .364, by far the best for any certified pitcher (second, apparently sufficient, was Gausman’s teammate, Jose Berrios). The Blue Jays basically wanted higher protection. They usually took main steps there by including Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho to their outfield.

Season prediction: Backed by a greater protection, Gausman will make one of many largest leaps within the sport, ERA-wise, and re-establish himself as a top-flight pitcher for a staff that may contend for a division title. — Gonzalez

RF | New York Mets

If Marte might put collectively an injury-free season, he could be greater on this checklist. Nagging accidents have stored him from his full potential the final couple of seasons, although he continues to supply .800-plus OPS seasons by means of them. After having offseason surgical procedure on his groin, it stays to be seen if he’ll be absolutely wholesome come Opening Day. Even this spring, he had a scare after getting hit within the helmet by a pitch. Marte nonetheless has three years remaining on his take care of the Mets, who might use a giant season out of him contemplating accidents they’ve incurred elsewhere on the roster. Marte dropped from 47 stolen bases in 2021 to 18 final season. Will that quantity enhance once more if he is wholesome for a full season?

Season prediction: Marte will steal 30 bases once more, offering not less than a 20/20 season for the Mets — if he is wholesome. — Rogers

SP | Los Angeles Dodgers

The fastball velocity erodes, the again continues to be an issue, and but Kershaw remains to be pitching at a Corridor of Fame stage. Take simply these final two years, when the proverbial thought was that he had fallen off. There have been 105 pitchers who made not less than 40 begins from 2021 to 2022. Solely 13 had a decrease ERA, solely three had a decrease WHIP and solely two had the next strikeout-to-walk ratio. When he is on the mound, few are higher than Kershaw. He is 35 now, and there isn’t any purpose why that also would not be the case. The one query is how for much longer he desires to do that.

Season prediction: Kershaw has principally settled into who he’s at this level. He’ll be inclined to residence runs and maybe spend a stint or two on the IL, however he’ll pound the strike zone, stop runs and, when he is on the market, proceed to carry out at an elite stage, even when the radar gun signifies that he should not. — Gonzalez

SP | Tampa Bay Rays

There’s an argument to be made that Glasnow’s torn UCL was the distinction between the Rays making a run to the World Sequence in 2021 versus exiting within the first spherical after a 100-win season. A wholesome Glasnow nonetheless holds that potential. The 29-year-old righty returned in 2022 after recovering from Tommy John surgical procedure and began Recreation 2 of the wild-card collection between the Rays and the Guardians, permitting two hits and no runs in 5 innings whereas hanging out 5. If Glasnow stays wholesome, he is a crucial a part of Tampa’s success, however he is began greater than 20 video games simply as soon as in his profession.

Season prediction: It is plain that Glasnow is among the greatest pitchers within the sport when he is on the mound, however how a lot he is on the mound is the precise query. He is already lacking the beginning of the 2023 season with a strained indirect, and his profession numbers recommend that making greater than 20 begins is an anomaly reasonably than a development. But when he stays wholesome, be careful for the Rays. — Lee

1B | Houston Astros

If all you knew about Abreu was that he was two years faraway from an MVP award and simply signed a three-year free agent contract, you’d suppose the champion Astros simply snagged themselves an in-his-prime celebrity. Which may not be exactly the case, however even at 36, Abreu stays a premier run producer who will seemingly slot proper into the cleanup slot in Houston.

His RBI rely dropped to 75 final season, and it wasn’t only a perform of diminished alternative, as his RBI share fell from 42% to 31%. His homers fell from 30 to fifteen and remoted energy fell from .219 to a profession low .141. Nonetheless, Abreu hit .304, and his exit velocities and barrel charges remained largely unchanged. Clearly, the Astros seen.

Season prediction: Abreu is a tough employee, remarkably constant, a number one clubhouse voice and enters the approaching season on a quest for his first World Sequence ring. You possibly can just about rely on one other 100-RBI season even when his energy does not rebound all the best way again to pre-2022 ranges. — Doolittle

SS | Milwaukee Brewers

Adames continued his ascent as one of many sport’s greatest shortstops in his first full season with the Brewers, hitting 31 homers with a .238/.298/.458 batting line in 139 video games. Adames has been particularly deadly in high-leverage conditions, hitting .306/.333/.514 in 120 plate appearances in 2022. Moreover, the shortstop has been robust with runners in scoring place with two outs, hitting .302/.429/.603 in 77 plate appearances in 2022. And that is earlier than you think about his glove. Adames has the most effective arms for a shortstop in baseball and ranks among the many greatest NL shortstops in outs above common and runs prevented.

Season prediction: The largest variable is the batting common. Count on Adames to hit for energy, but when he is additionally in a position so as to add hitting for the next common to his repertoire, he will probably be flying up these charts, particularly contemplating his defensive prowess. — Lee

SP | Seattle Mariners

After a robust rookie season during which he went 8-5 with a 3.39 ERA in 25 begins, Kirby is a well-liked breakout candidate for 2023 — particularly after posting a 3.02 ERA in a second half during which he allowed only one residence run. With glorious management (simply 22 walks), a 95-mph fastball that he can dial as much as the higher 90s and a six-pitch repertoire (he threw every not less than 8% of the time), it is simple to see why many count on a giant season.

He must get higher towards right-handers after they hit .324 towards him, and he is engaged on a brand new splitter since six pitches apparently aren’t sufficient. Bettering the slider to offer him a greater swing-and-miss pitch towards right-handed batters will probably be very important to ensure that him to make a leap.

Season prediction: If the brand new splitter and the brand new slider that he began late final season show efficient, Kirby is a good sleeper Cy Younger choose. I will not go that far but, however search for 15 wins and an ERA round 3.00. — Schoenfield

CF | Chicago White Sox

Maybe essentially the most gifted participant to be this low on the highest 100, Robert merely has but to place all of it collectively within the massive leagues. Accidents have stopped him in his tracks — he is performed the equal of 1 season during the last two. He simply hasn’t been impactful in any significant manner, however few can deny his expertise. On paper, Robert is a five-tool participant however nagging illnesses have restricted his potential to hit or run. For now, he is a top-100 expertise, however which may be all he’ll be until he can keep wholesome.

Season prediction: Robert made it by means of the WBC with out damage, in order that’s a very good signal. A 30-30 season is not out of the query if he stays on the sphere. — Rogers

OF | Toronto Blue Jays

Varsho’s days behind the plate are in all probability over. He is simply too good of an outfielder. He contributed a significant league-best 18 outs above common final 12 months for the D-backs, who dealt him to the Blue Jays as a result of they merely had too many younger, promising, left-handed-hitting outfielders. The 26-year-old additionally contributed some with the bat, including 27 residence runs and 16 stolen bases to complete with a 4.6 fWAR. The Blue Jays, although, want him principally to cowl floor of their outfield. They’re hoping the steps they took on the run-prevention aspect — including Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier, Chris Bassitt and Erik Swanson — will probably be sufficient to take the AL East.

Season prediction: Varsho will as soon as once more be principally a league-average hitter, however he’ll steal not less than 20 bases, play Gold Glove-caliber protection and be price someplace within the neighborhood of 5.0 WAR. The Blue Jays will gladly take it. — Gonzalez

C | St. Louis Cardinals

The undertaking of Contreras entering into the proverbial footwear of retired Redbirds legend Yadier Molina has many ranges. He is changing one of the best catcher in franchise historical past. He is changing a nine-time Gold Glover. He is changing one in every of St. Louis’ most beloved athletes and the chief of the clubhouse. And, in Contreras’ new partnership with Adam Wainwright, he is taking Molina’s place in baseball’s most prolific battery. On high of all that, Contreras has to reside as much as a five-year, $87.5 million contract in an intense baseball metropolis. It is quite a bit. But when any participant has the make-up to fill all of these footwear, it is the hyper-competitive Contreras. It will not take lengthy for Cardinals followers to appreciate they now have their greatest on a regular basis offensive catcher since Ted Simmons.

Season prediction: From a numbers standpoint, it’s all however sure that Contreras will probably be a large offensive improve from Molina due to his mixture of energy and persistence. However initially, the main focus will probably be on Contreras’ protection and talent to work with the St. Louis pitching employees. Do not count on him to fail. — Doolittle

3B | Pittsburgh Pirates

Hayes represents the hope that Pirates followers have for the way forward for the ballclub. The 26-year-old third baseman put collectively a robust season in 2022, posting a 4.3 bWAR whereas hitting .244/.314/.345 with seven homers and 20 stolen bases in 136 video games. He added muscle to his body this offseason in hopes of bettering his energy numbers. Whereas Hayes definitely has room for enchancment offensively, he is already among the many league’s greatest defensively on the sizzling nook, routinely making spotlight reel performs.

Season prediction: Hayes takes a giant step ahead, growing his energy stroke whereas persevering with to enhance the strides he is made as a base stealer within the main leagues. He represents a possible franchise cornerstone if he can preserve bettering within the method he has over the previous few seasons. This could possibly be the 12 months he goes from one of many sport’s most neglected gamers to a top-tier star. — Lee

2B | Arizona Diamondbacks

Yet another season like 2022 and Marte will discover himself exterior the highest 100. His OBP dipped to .321 final 12 months (his lowest since 2016), he struck out over 100 instances for the primary time in his profession and his protection declined. A hamstring damage could have contributed to his struggles, however he was scuffling earlier than he obtained harm. The Diamondbacks are relying on Marte to steer their staff to postseason rivalry, and whereas a few of his underlying numbers are worrisome, he stays a candidate for a rebound season.

Season prediction: Marte improves on a few of his offensive numbers however stays a excessive strikeout participant. He’ll whiff over 100 instances for the second consecutive season and second time in his profession. — Rogers

After getting down-ballot Cy Younger votes every season from 2019 to 2021, Giolito thought it was a good suggestion so as to add extra mass. The 6-foot-6 right-hander weighed a hulking 280 kilos in 2022, however it did not result in higher outcomes as he went 11-9 with a 4.90 ERA. He is again to his previous weight, dropping 35 kilos, however it was a decline in fastball velocity that was maybe what harm him most final 12 months. His four-seamer averaged 94.2 mph in 2019, however it has steadily dropped since then and was right down to 92.6 in 2022. In 2019, batters hit .203 and slugged .364 towards it; in 2022, they hit .283 and slugged .449. He will need to regain some fastball mojo to remain within the high 100.

Season prediction: That fastball velocity is trending within the flawed path. He wasn’t as unhealthy as that 4.90 ERA signifies, and he must be higher in 2023, however I would not put him on the high of my Cy Younger contenders. — Schoenfield

SP | Seattle Mariners

Gilbert made some encouraging strides in his second season as a significant league beginning pitcher, reducing his ERA from 4.68 to three.20 and accumulating 185 2/3 innings. However his exit knowledge — 91 mph common exit velocity, 45.6% hard-hit price — provided up some troubling indicators. Gilbert rose by means of the ranks largely off his fastball command; nevertheless, it is the event of his slider that’s going to raise him. A curveball with extra depth has been integrated to supply one other variation from the 2 pitches.

Season prediction: Count on one other step ahead for Gilbert in his age-26 season, but additionally some ups and downs. His exit knowledge has been constantly subpar the final two years, with hitters slugging each his fastball and his slider. These choices want to enhance. — Gonzalez

RF | Seattle Mariners

Calling a longtime big-league participant “toolsy” can nearly be checked out as a pejorative, however the label works for Hernandez as a result of he is paired his strengths in instruments with sufficient ability to construct up a stable monitor document of manufacturing. He ranks within the high 5 percentile in exit velocity and hard-hit share, per StatCast, and likewise ranks excessive in barrel price, dash velocity and arm power. There are holes in his sport, to make sure. He chases an excessive amount of and has a excessive swing-and-miss price. His metrics as a defender lag behind his instruments. However during the last 5 seasons, he is averaged 34 homers, 97 RBIs and 89 runs per 162 video games with a 121 OPS+. After shifting from Toronto to Seattle by way of commerce over the winter, he’ll now attempt to assist the Mariners recover from the hump of their pursuit of their first-ever AL pennant.

Season prediction: There will probably be quite a bit on Hernandez’s shoulders in 2022. Not solely will he be hitting cleanup for a brand new staff, the approaching season would be the platform marketing campaign earlier than his first foray into free company. He is already 30, which isn’t a terrific age for a first-time free agent, so he, and the Mariners, have quite a bit driving on a giant season. A forecast: He’ll get it. — Doolittle

OF/DH | Chicago White Sox

The previous high prospect got here into spring coaching on a mission, after having misplaced 25 to 30 kilos this offseason. Jimenez modified his food regimen, giving up crimson meat whereas consuming extra hen and salmon in an effort to copy the physique that helped him emerge as one of many sport’s most promising younger gamers within the minor leagues. The White Sox outfielder remains to be simply 26 years previous, though he has but to indicate the celebrity manufacturing many anticipated out of him as one of many sport’s greatest younger prospects, battling accidents in 2021 and 2022. When he was on the sphere in 2022, Jimenez seemed stable, hitting .295/.358/.500 with 16 homers in 84 video games.

Season prediction: Jimenez takes a step ahead after an offseason of exhausting work. Well being would be the largest x-factor, however his success is among the focal factors of Chicago’s progress in 2023, with a clubhouse of younger gamers struggling to satisfy their true potential. — Lee

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