These players soared into the top 5 at their position

February 5th, 2024

The 2024 edition of MLB Network's "Top 10 Right Now" series wrapped up on Friday. You can see the full set of rankings from The Shredder here.

Every year since 2011, the show has set out to determine who are the 10 best players at each position. The seven players featured in this article grabbed a spot at their position, which shouldn't surprise any ardent baseball fan. However, would you have predicted such success for each player at this time last year?

No one in this group was mentioned on any of The Shredder's "Top 10 Right Now" lists in 2023. But some broke out in a big way last summer. Others bounced back from a pedestrian 2022 season. The result? A top-five ranking in 2024.

, Yankees (No. 1 SP)
Cole is the first starting pitcher to be ranked No. 1 after not making the list the previous year. The Yankees' ace was a "Top 10 Right Now" staple from 2020-22, ranking among the top three starters each year. He wasn't terrible in 2022 -- he led the Majors with 257 strikeouts over 200 2/3 innings -- but after serving up an AL-high 33 homers, he was left out of the top 10.

Cole responded with a season that made him the unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young Award. Cole led all starting pitchers in bWAR (a career-best 7.4) and WHIP (0.98). His 165 ERA+, 209 innings and .206 opponents' batting average each stood atop the AL leaderboards. Cole left no doubt that he deserved his first Cy Young and the No. 1 spot when he spun a two-hit shutout against the Blue Jays in his final game of the season.

, D-backs (No. 3 SP)
Gallen had a strong 2022 campaign, featuring a 2.54 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP over 184 innings, but it wasn't quite enough for him to crack The Shredder's top 10. He built upon that season in 2023 by tossing 210 innings, the most by a D-backs pitcher since Ian Kennedy in 2011. Leaning on his valuable four-seamer, Gallen pitched to a 3.47 ERA and had a 220-to-47 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He also threw six no-hit innings in Game 5 of the World Series. Gallen is the first Arizona starter to make the list since Zack Greinke in 2017.

, Rockies (No. 3 LF)
We'll get to the 2023 National League Rookie of the Year in a little bit, but Jones, who finished fourth for that award, is the highest-ranked rookie on this year's "Top 10 Right Now" lists. He had a stellar season at the plate, highlighted by 20 homers and a .931 OPS in 106 games. But it was Jones' work in the field that really opened eyes. He recorded the hardest outfield assist of the year. His 98.9 mph average velocity was the best among qualified players. His 19 outfield assists were a Rockies single-season record and the most by any player since 2012. That’s an incredible achievement considering that Jones didn’t play in Colorado’s outfield every day until mid-June.

, Rays (No. 3 RP)
Of all the great pitchers the Rays have churned out over the past 14 seasons, Fairbanks claims the highest "Top 10 Right Now" rank in franchise history. His blazing fastball and wipeout slider produced a 37% strikeout rate and fooled hitters to a .164 average with a .233 slugging percentage. His five extra-base hits allowed were the fewest by any pitcher with a minimum of 150 batters faced. And Fairbanks' numbers get even sillier when you include his work from 2022. He registered 106 K's, a .470 opponents' OPS and a 2.08 ERA across those 69 1/3 combined innings.

, D-backs (No. 4 RF)
Jones and Carroll keep a "Top 10 Right Now" tradition alive: Every year, at least one player has snuck into the top five at a position immediately following their rookie season. Carroll, the first D-backs player to capture ROY honors, made history with the first 25-homer, 50-steal season by an AL/NL rookie. His 54 steals were the second most by a D-back, and with his elite 30.1 ft/sec sprint speed, you can make the argument that he should run more in 2024. If he does, Carroll has as good a chance as anyone of breaking a 42-year-old record.

, free agent (No. 5 SP)
Snell has made two "Top 10 Right Now" appearances, and each of them came on the heels of a Cy Young season. He checked in as the No. 10 starting pitcher in '19 and got boosted to No. 5 this year after leading the big leagues with a 2.25 ERA and having the second-best whiff rate of any qualified starter (37.3%). Snell's outstanding curveball deserves much of the credit for that latter number. It baffled hitters all year long, creating 109 K's in 164 at-bats. The best pitcher remaining in the free-agent market, Snell is the seventh pitcher to win the Cy in each league and could eventually become the 12th to get the award three times.

, Brewers (No. 5 C)
Willson Contreras has been a fixture among the "Top 10 Right Now" catchers, making the list seven years in a row. But this year, he sits one spot behind his younger brother, who makes his debut on the list. William paced qualified catchers in doubles (38), extra-base hits (56), slugging percentage (.457) and hard-hit rate (48.7%) during his first year with Milwaukee. He had three of the Brewers' five hardest hits. William also overhauled his game behind the plate, transforming from a subpar defensive catcher to well above average in framing and blocking.


Not to be forgotten, here is a rundown of the players who were among The Shredder's "Top 10 Right Now" at their position between Nos. 6 and 10 after not appearing on any of last year's lists.

No. 6: Matt McLain, Reds (2B); Gunnar Henderson, Orioles (3B); James Outman, Dodgers (CF); Seiya Suzuki, Cubs (RF)

No. 7: Lars Nootbaar, Cardinals (LF); Spencer Strider, Braves (SP); Bryan Abreu, Astros (RP)

No. 8: Yanier Diaz, Astros (C); Brandon Belt, free agent (1B); Edouard Julien, Twins (2B); Christian Yelich, Brewers (LF); Logan Webb, Giants (SP); David Bednar, Pirates (RP)

No. 9: Cal Raleigh, Mariners (C); Christian Walker, D-backs (1B); Zack Gelof, A's (2B); Bobby Witt Jr., Royals (SS); Isaac Paredes, Rays (3B); Matt Wallner, Twins (LF); TJ Friedl, Reds (CF); Adolis García, Rangers (RF); Chris Martin, Red Sox (RP)

No. 10: Gabriel Moreno, D-backs (C); Triston Casas, Red Sox (1B); Nico Hoerner, Cubs (2B); J.P. Crawford, Mariners (SS); Brandon Marsh, Phillies (CF); Josh Lowe, Rays (RF); Sonny Gray, Cardinals (SP); José Alvarado, Phillies (RP)