The 2019 MLB season so close now. Spring Training has begun. Players are taking the field. So it's time to rank the best of the best.
MLB Network recently concluded its annual countdown of the Top 100 players in MLB. How is the list compiled? MLB Network's research team, in conjunction with the show's producers, use statistical analysis to rank the Top 100 players in MLB for the 2019 season. (It's different from the Shredder, which is used to determine the network's annual ranking lists for the Top 10 players at each position.)
Here's the full list -- MLB Network's Top 100 players in MLB for the 2019 season. And it starts with ...
1. Mike Trout, OF, Angels (2018 rank: 1)
Trout's marching along the path to Cooperstown ... and, somehow, he looks like he might be getting better. He's now either been the American League Most Valuable Player or runner-up in six of his seven full seasons -- winning the award twice and finishing second four times.
2. Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox (2018 rank: 19)
The reigning AL MVP and MLB batting champion -- who outdid even Trout with a superhuman 2018 season -- vaults up to the No. 2 spot. In his four full seasons, Betts is a three-time All-Star, three-time AL Gold Glove Award winner, two-time Silver Slugger Award winner and now a World Series champion.
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B, Rockies (2018 rank: 7)
Arenado is a superstar offensively and defensively at third base. He's become a perennial National League MVP candidate with three straight top-five finishes, and he's also on a run of four straight All-Star nods, four straight Silver Sluggers and six straight NL Gold Gloves.
4. Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians (2018 rank: 17)
One of the game's brightest young stars, Lindor has finished in the top 10 of AL MVP voting in all three of his full seasons. He's made three straight All-Star teams, won back-to-back Silver Sluggers and is an AL Gold Glove-caliber shortstop, too. And the fun he has playing the game is contagious.
5. Max Scherzer, SP, Nationals (2018 rank: 11)
Mad Max is in the NL Cy Young Award conversation every year -- and he's one of just 10 pitchers in Major League history to win the award three times. Scherzer's runner-up finish in the NL in 2018 extended his run of top-five finishes to six straight seasons, and he's also been an All-Star all six of those years, plus a top-10 NL MVP finisher in the last three.
6. José Altuve, 2B, Astros (2018 rank: 2)
The 2017 AL MVP (and World Series champion) has won three batting titles, and he's led the league in hits four times and stolen bases twice. Altuve's also a six-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger and an AL Gold Glove Award winner. His four straight 200-hit seasons from 2014-17 made him the first player since Ichiro to accomplish that feat.
7. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros (2018 rank: 57)
Bregman, Altuve's teammate in Houston, made the leap to AL MVP Award candidate himself in 2018. His breakout year -- 31 homers, 103 RBIs, 105 runs scored and a Major League-leading 51 doubles -- earned him a fifth-place AL MVP Award finish and his first career All-Star nod.
8. Christian Yelich, OF, Brewers (2018 rank: 46)
Yelich put it all together in a sensational first year in Milwaukee, winning the NL MVP Award and batting title, leading the Brewers to the NL Championship Series and nearly winning a Triple Crown. Yelich was a first-time All-Star and second-time Silver Slugger, and he's won an NL Gold Glove Award once before.
9. Jose Ramirez, 3B, Indians (2018 rank: 22)
J-Ram forms a dynamic duo with Lindor in the Cleveland infield. Ramirez was an AL MVP Award finalist for a second straight year in 2018 after crushing a career-high 39 homers, and he's a back-to-back All-Star and Silver Slugger, too.
10. Jacob deGrom, SP, Mets (2018 rank: 52)
deGrom had an all-time-great pitching season in 2018 -- an MLB-best 1.70 ERA, plus 269 strikeouts -- rivaling Dwight Gooden's iconic 1985 season for the best in Mets history. The New York ace added an NL Cy Young Award to the NL Rookie of the Year Award already in his trophy case, and he finished in the top five of NL MVP voting and earned his second All-Star nod.
In the next tier of players come the megastars who signed record-setting free-agent contracts during Spring Training: Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. There's also Betts' partner in crime in the Red Sox's lineup, J.D. Martinez, and the biggest bats from the rival Bronx Bombers, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. A pair of dominant AL aces in Chris Sale and Justin Verlander, and a deep crop of NL first basemen in Goldschmidt, Freeman and Votto round out the MLB Network Top 20. This group includes four former MVP Award winners: Stanton (2017 NL), Harper (2015 NL), Votto (2010 NL) and Verlander (2011 AL).
11) J.D. Martinez, DH/OF, Red Sox (2018 rank: 25)
12) Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (2018 rank: 15)
13) Chris Sale, SP, Red Sox (2018 rank: 21)
14) Manny Machado, SS/3B, Padres (2018 rank: 20)
15) Bryce Harper, OF, Phillies (2018 rank: 3)
16) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals (2018 rank: 13)
17) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Braves (2018 rank: 14)
18) Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (2018 rank: 4)
19) Giancarlo Stanton, OF/DH, Yankees (2018 rank: 5)
20) Justin Verlander, SP, Astros (2018 rank: 29)
Just outside the Top 20 is the underappreciated Anthony Rendon, who's become one of the more valuable players in baseball for the Nationals but doesn't yet have the accolades to show for it. Joining him in the 20-30 range are the next group of aces -- including reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, two-time winner Corey Kluber and three-time NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. There's also a trio of rising star infielders -- A's all-world third baseman Matt Chapman, Cubs electric second baseman Javier Báez and Rockies slugging shortstop Trevor Story. Many of the players in this group are newcomers to the Top 100 for 2019.
21) Anthony Rendon, 3B, Nationals (2018 rank: 35)
22) Justin Turner, 3B, Dodgers (2018 rank: 31)
23) Corey Kluber, SP, Indians (2018 rank: 12)
24) Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies (2018 rank: Not ranked)
25) Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers (2018 rank: 6)
26) Blake Snell, SP, Rays (2018 rank: NR)
27) Matt Chapman, 3B, A's (2018 rank: NR)
28) Lorenzo Cain, OF, Brewers (2018 rank: 61)
29) Javier Baez, 2B/SS, Cubs (2018 rank: NR)
30) Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (2018 rank: NR)
Here come the rookie stars. NL Rookie of the Year Award winner Ronald Acuña Jr. and runner-up Juan Soto -- who became sensations in 2018 at age 20 and 19, respectively -- have already broken into the top half of the Top 100 entering their sophomore seasons. Among others, they're joined in this tier by 2016 NL MVP Award winner Kris Bryant, 2017 World Series MVP Award winner George Springer and the Phillies' prized new catcher J.T. Realmuto, the top-rated player at his position.
31) Carlos Correa, SS, Astros (2018 rank: 10)
32) Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs (2018 rank: 8)
33) Matt Carpenter, 3B, Cardinals (2018 rank: 62)
34) Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs (2018 rank: 23)
35) Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Braves (2018 rank: NR)
36) Juan Soto, OF, Nationals (2018 rank: NR)
37) George Springer, OF, Astros (2018 rank: 24)
38) Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies (2018 rank: 16)
39) Mitch Haniger, OF, Mariners (2018 rank: NR)
40) J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies (2018 rank: 82)
The top of the next group brings a pair of old college teammates and rivals in Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole, who rose into the upper echelon of AL pitchers with stellar 2018 seasons. Another electric arm comes right after them: flamethrowing Yankee Luis Severino, who is set to start Opening Day. Also helping to round out the Top 50: the 2018 MLB hits and stolen-base leader Whit Merrifield, 2017 NL Rookie of the Year Award winner Cody Bellinger and another pair of star shortstops in Xander Bogaerts and Andrelton Simmons.
41) Trevor Bauer, SP, Indians (2018 rank: NR)
42) Gerrit Cole, SP, Astros (2018 rank: NR)
43) Luis Severino, SP, Yankees (2018 rank: 43)
44) Cody Bellinger, OF/1B, Dodgers (2018 rank: 30)
45) Tommy Pham, OF, Rays (2018 rank: 59)
46) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (2018 rank: NR)
47) Andrelton Simmons, SS, Angels (2018 rank: 56)
48) Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (2018 rank: 18)
49) Whit Merrifield, 2B, Royals (2018 rank: NR)
50) Eugenio Suárez, 3B, Reds (2018 rank: NR)
The second half of the Top 100 kicks off with a trio of elite relievers: Brewers breakout relief ace Josh Hader, Mets marquee trade acquisition Edwin Díaz and one of the last big-name unsigned free agents, Craig Kimbrel. There's also a lot of blue, orange, green and yellow in this group -- the Mets have four players (Diaz and his fellow trade addition Robinson Canó, plus up-and-coming outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto), and the A's have a pair of sluggers in reigning MLB home run king Khris Davis and first baseman Matt Olson.
51) Josh Hader, RP, Brewers (2018 rank: NR)
52) Edwin Diaz, RP, Mets (2018 rank: NR)
53) Craig Kimbrel, RP, free agent (2018 rank: 44)
54) Robinson Cano, 2B, Mets (2018 rank: 37)
55) Brandon Nimmo, OF, Mets (2018 rank: NR)
56) Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox (2018 rank: 78)
57) Khris Davis, DH, A's (2018 rank: 69)
58) Matt Olson, 1B, A's (2018 rank: NR)
59) Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies (2018 rank: NR)
60) Michael Conforto, OF, Mets (2018 rank: 79)
Nos. 60-70 start off with a former AL MVP Award winner in Josh Donaldson, who won the award in 2015 with the Blue Jays. The Braves are counting on him to help them defend their NL East title in his first season in Atlanta. He's followed by a pair of out-of-nowhere sluggers in Jesús Aguilar and Max Muncy, who crushed 35 homers apiece in '18. Two more hotshot rookies enter the Top 100 in this group, Dodgers fireballer Walker Buehler and Baby Bomber Gleyber Torres.
61) Josh Donaldson, 3B, Braves (2018 rank: 9)
62) Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Brewers (2018 rank: NR)
63) Max Muncy, 1B, Dodgers (2018 rank: NR)
64) Kyle Freeland, SP, Rockies (2018 rank: NR)
65) Walker Buehler, SP, Dodgers (2018 rank: NR)
66) Carlos Carrasco, SP, Indians (2018 rank: 50)
67) Justin Upton, OF, Angels (2018 rank: 33)
68) Aaron Hicks, OF, Yankees (2018 rank: NR)
69) Gleyber Torres, 2B/SS, Yankees (2018 rank: NR)
70) Scooter Gennett, 2B, Reds (2018 rank: NR)
The next group starts with veteran D-backs ace Zack Greinke, a four-time All-Star and two-time top-five NL Cy Young Award finisher in the last five seasons. Then come another pair of lights-out closers in Blake Treinen, whose 0.78 ERA was the best among relievers in 2018, and triple-digit heat-throwing Aroldis Chapman. Several more of the NL East's dominant starting pitchers appear here -- the Nationals' big-ticket free-agent signing Patrick Corbin and three-time All-Star Stephen Strasburg, and Thor himself, the Mets' overpowering Noah Syndergaard.
71) Zack Greinke, SP, D-backs (2018 rank: 51)
72) Blake Treinen, RP, A's (2018 rank: NR)
73) Aroldis Chapman, RP, Yankees (2018 rank: 65)
74) Nelson Cruz, DH, Twins (2018 rank: 48)
75) Michael Brantley, OF, Astros (2018 rank: NR)
76) Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals (2018 rank: 32)
77) José Abreu, 1B, White Sox (2018 rank: 38)
78) Patrick Corbin, SP, Nationals (2018 rank: NR)
79) Noah Syndergaard, SP, Mets (2018 rank: 49)
80) Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals (2018 rank: 28)
Shohei Ohtani lived up to all the hype as a two-way star in his MLB debut season. Even though Tommy John surgery forced him off the mound until 2020, his slugging for the Halos keeps the reigning AL Rookie of the Year Award winner firmly in the Top 100 at the top of this next group. Bookending the tier is the mercurial, exciting Yasiel Puig, who brings his talents to Cincinnati this season.
81) Shohei Ohtani, DH/SP, Angels (2018 rank: 100)
82) Mike Clevinger, SP, Indians (2018 rank: NR)
83) Jean Segura, SS, Phillies (2018 rank: 88)
84) Trea Turner, SS, Nationals (2018 rank: 47)
85) Ozzie Albies, 2B, Braves (2018 rank: NR)
86) David Peralta, OF, D-backs (2018 rank: NR)
87) Nicholas Castellanos, OF, Tigers (2018 rank: NR)
88) Kenley Jansen, RP, Dodgers (2018 rank: 39)
89) Sean Doolittle, RP, Nationals (2018 rank: NR)
90) Yasiel Puig, OF, Reds (2018 rank: 94)
Time to finish up the Top 100. It's a catcher-heavy final group, with six-time All-Star and 2012 NL MVP Award winner Buster Posey, Baby Bomber Gary Sánchez and new Brewers backstop Yasmani Grandal all making the list. Rounding out the rankings are a trio of veteran World Series champion southpaws: Jon Lester at No. 98, Madison Bumgarner at No. 99 and finally, at No. 100, Price, who exorcised his longtime postseason demons with the Red Sox last October.
91) Miguel Andújar, 3B, Yankees (2018 rank: NR)
92) Buster Posey, C, Giants (2018 rank: 27)
93) Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees (2018 rank: 26)
94) Travis Shaw, 3B, Brewers (2018 rank: NR)
95) Andrew McCutchen, OF, Phillies (2018 rank: 63)
96) Yasmani Grandal, C, Brewers (2018 rank: NR)
97) Stephen Piscotty, OF, A's (2018 rank: NR)
98) Jon Lester, SP, Cubs (2018 rank: NR)
99) Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants (2018 rank: 40)
100) David Price, SP, Red Sox (2018 rank: NR)
David Adler is a reporter and researcher for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.