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January 12th, 2018

With Spring Training still unfortunately weeks away, the closest fans and observers can come to the action is to predict what's yet to come. Luckily, MLB's immense talent pool for 2018 provides plenty to debate in terms of who's best in the game.

MLB Network is set to debate just that in the coming week. For the eighth consecutive offseason, MLB Network will reveal its top 10 lists of active players at every spot on the diamond, including starting and relief pitchers. The series will run every Saturday night for five weeks, with two positions per night, beginning with the top 10 shortstops and third basemen this Saturday night.

The results will be based on "The Shredder" -- an algorithm based on player performance that accounts for both offense and defense that was put together by MLB Network's research department "without emotion or bias" -- with host Brian Kenny and a cast of analysts -- including Harold Reynolds, Cliff Floyd, Mike Lowell, and Mike Petriello -- providing their personal top 10 selections as well.

Before this year's lists are revealed, here's a quick look back at 10 things you should know about the seven previous installments of this annual series.

• Mariners second baseman has been a ubiquitous fixture at his position. Cano's five different seasons ranked No. 1 at second base, all consecutively from 2011-15, are the most for any player at any position. Cano played runner-up to in the past two campaigns, meaning he's been named either the best or second-best second baseman in the game in all seven seasons of this series.

(2014-17), (2013, 2015-17), (2013-14, 2016-17) and (2012-15) have all captured top honors at their position in four different seasons.

• Thirteen different players have been featured in a top 10 list in each of the first seven installments: , , , Cano, , , , , Posey, Tulowitzki, , and Joey Votto.

• Cano, Posey and Votto are the only three players in baseball ranked within the top five at their position in each of the series' first seven seasons. Kershaw, Stanton and Trout have been top-five players for the last six years.

• There have been seven players who went from not being ranked at any position before one season to topping their respective positions the next. By position, those players are:

Right field: (topped the RF list in 2014)

Center field: Trout (2013)

Left field: (2017)

Shortstop: (2016) and ('17)

Catcher: Mike Napoli (2012)

Relief pitcher: (2015)

• How reliable has "The Shredder" been in predicting the season's top players? Based on its No. 1 selections at each position, its algorithms have predicted 24 out of a possible 56 All-Star Game starters at the eight positions, excluding pitchers. That's a "success" rate of roughly 43 percent, which is fairly impressive given how unpredictable the All-Star starters can be amid mid-season injuries and wide variance in player performance from season to season, not to mention the vagaries of fan voting.

• "The Shredder" has been about as successful in picking season-end award winners as it has picking players for the Midsummer Classic. Seven of the 14 MVP winners chosen by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) since 2011 sat atop an MLB Top 10 list before the season began.

• Only two different players can claim a No. 1 ranking at two different positions since this series began. Cabrera was ranked the game's second-best first baseman behind in 2011 before he reigned as the top third baseman during his '12 and '13 American League MVP seasons. He then resumed as MLB's top first baseman, by this measure, in '14 and '15.

MLB Network designated as its top shortstop in 2011 when he was the face of the Marlins. But when Ramirez signed with the Red Sox as a free agent before the '15 campaign, "The Shredder" accompanied his position switch with a top billing in left field. Ramirez would play just one season in left before switching to first base.

• Braun and displayed their staying power by topping their positions once and then doing so again after a three-year wait. Braun was designated MLB's top left fielder from 2011-13 before he was named so again last year. McCutchen was named the game's best center fielder in 2011 and again in '15.

• Of all 10 positions ranked each season, right field has seen the most fluctuation at the top. There have been six different "winners" that have paced the right-field list in seven seasons, with Stanton being the only repeat leader in 2013 and '15. He's a great bet to top that list again following his 59-homer season, though his new teammate will present stiff competition for top honors.

• The Dodgers have seen four of their players - Matt Kemp, Kershaw, Puig and Seager-- rule a positional top-10 list at least once since 2011, the most of any club. The Cardinals, Indians and Red Sox are right behind L.A. with three different No. 1 selections, and 24 of the 30 MLB clubs have featured at least one No. 1 player.