Top 100 Players Right Now: No. 1 revealed

February 24th, 2023

Opening Day is in sight, and with it, the return of a plethora of superstar players who will thrill us with prodigious home runs, overpowering pitching performances and breathtaking defensive plays throughout the MLB season.

So the question that inevitably arises at this time of year is: Who are the best of the best in baseball? MLB Network’s Top 100 Players Right Now series explored the answer and ranked the cream of the crop from No. 100 all the way down to the top player in the game today. 

Here is a recap of the names and rankings:

1) Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Angels (2022 rank: 1)

It’s hard to argue against Mike Trout, who has been considered the best player in the game for most of the past decade or so. But it’s also hard to argue with the top ranking going to a guy who, for the past two seasons, has basically been the equivalent of Freddie Freeman at the plate and Carlos Rodón on the mound. It’s no wonder Ohtani is the No. 1 player in baseball for the second consecutive year.

2) Aaron Judge, RF, Yankees (2022 rank: 11)

How do you vault up nine spots to No. 2 on the list of best players in the game in one year? One way is to set a new American League record with 62 home runs in a single season. Judge’s record-setting 2022 campaign only enhanced his already enormous value in his contract walk year and led to a nine-year, $360 million contract extension with the Bronx Bombers. What will he do for an encore?

3) Mike Trout, CF, Angels (2022 rank: 2)

That it takes a two-way superstar the likes of which we’ve never seen before, along with a slugger who set a new league record for homers in a season to keep Trout from the No. 1 spot goes to show just how incredible the Angels center fielder continues to be as he enters his 11th Major League season. Trout was, unfortunately, sidelined by injury for some time in 2022, but he still ended up hitting 40 homers with a .999 OPS and 6.3 bWAR in just 119 games.

4) Mookie Betts, RF, Dodgers (2022 rank: 6)

His initials aren’t M.L.B. for nothing. Markus Lynn Betts remains one of the elite position players in the game, one who is averaging 8.6 bWAR per 162 games over his impressive nine-year career. Last season, he led the National League with 117 runs scored, finished fifth in NL MVP Award voting and won his sixth career Gold Glove Award. All in a season’s work for Betts.

5) Manny Machado, 3B, Padres (2022 rank: 18)

After watching what Machado did down the stretch and in the postseason to help the Padres reach the NL Championship Series, it’s easy to see how he jumped 13 spots year-over-year to arrive in the top five heading into the 2023 campaign. He was already playing at a high level in mid-August, of course, but he really took it up a notch from there through the end of the season, hitting .314/.376/.588 with 13 homers over the final 49 games.

6) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Cardinals (2022 rank: 19)

Entering the 2022 campaign, Arenado was already a nine-time Gold Glove Award winner, a five-time Platinum Glove Award winner, a six-time All-Star and had finished in the top 10 in NL MVP Award voting five times. Then he went out and had the best all-around season of his career, posting career bests in OPS+ (154) and bWAR (7.9). Another superstar third baseman jumping 13 spots in the rankings.

7) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Cardinals (2022 rank: 27)

The reigning NL MVP jumps a whopping 20 spots over 2022, and why not? Goldschmidt put together a career year and finally won that elusive MVP honor after finishing as a finalist in MVP voting three times. He comes in right after his partner in crime at the corner-infield spots, Arenado, with whom he teamed to make life a nightmare for opposing batters who hit the ball on the ground against St. Louis. But that was secondary to his tremendous performance at the plate, where he led the league in slugging (.578), OPS (.982) and OPS+ (180).

8) José Ramírez, 3B, Guardians (2022 rank: 15)

From a slugging corner infielder who finally won an elusive MVP Award to one who could do so any year now. It was another typical season for Cleveland’s franchise player, who signed a seven-year, $141 million contract extension to remain with the Guardians early last year -- he posted an .869 OPS with an AL-leading 44 doubles to go along with 29 homers and 20 steals. He finished fourth in AL MVP Award voting, the fourth top-five MVP finish in his career.

9) Yordan Alvarez, LF/DH, Astros (2022 rank: 46)

Can you really have a “breakout” season when you enter the year with a career .948 OPS and 61 homers in 976 plate appearances? If it’s possible, then that’s what Alvarez did in 2022, when he posted a 1.019 OPS with 37 homers in 561 plate appearances to finish third in AL MVP Award balloting and shoot up an incredible 37 places on our list. Not yet 26 years old, and with a World Series ring from last fall, it seems Alvarez is just getting started.

10) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Dodgers (2022 rank: 9)

Freeman falling one spot over last year is more a function of other players having phenomenal seasons than any regression in his game. The slugging first baseman got off to a slow start with his new club in 2022, but when he turned things around, he never looked back. He was hitting .250 with three extra-base hits over his first eight games of the season, but from there, he slashed .329/.411/.521 with 44 doubles (he led the Majors with 47) and 21 homers. He finished in the top five in NL MVP voting for the fourth time, winning the honor in 2020.

No. 11-No. 20

Juan Soto fell eight spots from last year’s No. 4 ranking because of a subpar performance at the plate -- at least by his standards. “Subpar” for Soto was an .853 OPS with 27 homers. There’s no reason not to expect him to climb back up this list rapidly. Sandy Alcantara, meanwhile, jumps an eye-popping 71 places on the list thanks to a Cy Young Award-winning campaign in 2022. Another elite starter and Cy Young winner, though on the other end of the career spectrum, made a huge jump as well, with Justin Verlander vaulting 78 spots. And Julio Rodríguez checks in at No. 16 after his incredible AL Rookie of the Year season, in which he became the fastest player to reach 25 homers and 25 steals in his career.

11. Trea Turner, SS, Phillies (2022 rank: 13)
12. Juan Soto, RF, Padres (2022 rank: 4)
13. Sandy Alcantara, SP, Marlins (2022 rank: 84)
14. Justin Verlander, SP, Mets (2022 rank: 92)
15. Max Scherzer, SP, Mets (2022 rank: 12)
16. Julio Rodríguez, CF, Mariners (2022 rank: not ranked)
17. Bryce Harper, RF, Phillies (2022 rank: 5)
18. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays (2022 rank: 8)
19. Rafael Devers, 3B, Red Sox (2022 rank: 22)
20. Austin Riley, 3B, Braves (2022 rank: 34)

No. 21-No. 30

Some big names from this tier will have something to prove going into the 2023 season. Fernando Tatis Jr., who is down to No. 26 from No. 3 last year, will be eligible to return to action following an 80-game suspension for violation of MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment program -- will he be the same electric superstar we’ve grown accustomed to watching? Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who fell 21 spots from last year’s ranking thanks in large part to injuries, will look to stay healthy and be his dominant self on the mound for his new club, the Rangers. And superstar center fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. will also hope for good health throughout the upcoming season after posting a .764 OPS in 119 games last year.

21. Francisco Lindor, SS, Mets (2022 rank: 68)
22. Carlos Correa, SS, Twins (2022 rank: 14)
23. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros (2022 rank: 28)
24. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros (2022 rank: 29)
25. Ronald Acuña Jr., CF, Braves (2022 rank: 10)
26. Fernando Tatis Jr., RF, Padres (2022 rank: 3)
27. Corbin Burnes, SP, Brewers (2022 rank: 24)
28. Jacob deGrom, SP, Rangers (2022 rank: 7)
29. J.T. Realmuto, C, Phillies (2022 rank: 54)
30. Kyle Tucker, RF, Astros (2022 rank: 30)

No. 31-No. 40

There are a couple of notable newcomers to the list in this group -- left-hander Carlos Rodón is coming off a second straight top-six finish in Cy Young Award voting and inking a six-year, $162 million contract with the Yankees, and Dansby Swanson is fresh off a career year himself that led to a seven-year, $177 million deal with the Cubs. Meanwhile, a pair of star shortstops will look to bounce back up the list -- new Padres shortstop Xander Bogaerts fell nine spots from 2022, and the Rangers’ Corey Seager dropped 12 spots. A couple of elite starters in this tier would like to do the same thing, as the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole and the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler each saw double-digit drops.

31. Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets (2022 rank: 62)
32. Xander Bogaerts, SS, Padres (2022 rank: 23)
33. Corey Seager, SS, Rangers (2022 rank: 21)
34. Bo Bichette, SS, Blue Jays (2022 rank: 32)
35. Zack Wheeler, SP, Phillies (2022 rank: 25)
36. Max Fried, SP, Braves (2022 rank: 48)
37. Gerrit Cole, SP, Yankees (2022 rank: 16)
38. Carlos Rodón, SP, Yankees (2022 rank: not ranked)
39. Dansby Swanson, SS, Cubs (2022 rank: not ranked)
40. José Abreu, 1B, Astros (2022 rank: 45)

No. 41-No. 50

More notable names in this section who appear on the list after no ranking in 2022, including the Orioles’ rising star Adley Rutschman, who debuts at No. 41 after a runner-up finish in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Mets second baseman Jeff McNeil suddenly finds himself ranked No. 45 after leading the Majors with a .326 batting average last season. And Andrés Giménez enjoyed a breakout year for Cleveland, finishing sixth in AL MVP voting after posting an .837 OPS with 17 homers, 20 steals and his first career Gold Glove Award.

41. Adley Rutschman, C, Orioles (2022 rank: not ranked)
42. Will Smith, C, Dodgers (2022 rank: 53)
43. Matt Olson, 1B, Braves (2022 rank: 26)
44. Kyle Schwarber, LF, Phillies (2022 rank: 80)
45. Jeff McNeil, 2B, Mets (2022 rank: not ranked)
46. Marcus Semien, 2B, Rangers (2022 rank: 20)
47. Andrés Giménez, 2B, Guardians (2022 rank: not ranked)
48. Byron Buxton, CF, Twins (2022 rank: 39)
49. George Springer, CF, Blue Jays (2022 rank: 33)
50. Julio Urías, SP, Dodgers (2022 rank: 49)

No. 51-No. 60

Tons of young talent making its debut on the Top 100 list here, with NL Rookie of the Year Michael Harris II, AL Cy Young Award runner-up Dylan Cease, third-place finisher Alek Manoah and Major League saves leader Emmanuel Clase all appearing in these rankings for the first time. Mets closer Edwin Díaz is also in this tier, somehow outdoing himself from his 57-save campaign in 2018 with the Mariners by posting a 1.31 ERA in 61 appearances for New York. And don’t forget about Rays phenom Wander Franco -- he may have dropped from his ’22 ranking, but he wasn’t healthy for much of last season and if he can stay on the field consistently in ’23, he could move up this list significantly in the years to come.

51. Edwin Díaz, RP, Mets (2022 rank: not ranked)
52. Emmanuel Clase, RP, Guardians (2022 rank: not ranked)
53. Michael Harris II, CF, Braves (2022 rank: not ranked)
54. Brandon Nimmo, CF, Mets (2022 rank: not ranked)
55. Dylan Cease, SP, White Sox (2022 rank: not ranked)
56. Framber Valdez, SP, Astros (2022 rank: not ranked)
57. Alek Manoah, SP, Blue Jays (2022 rank: not ranked)
58. Wander Franco, SS, Rays (2022 rank: 40)
59. Willy Adames, SS, Brewers (2022 rank: 81)
60. Bryan Reynolds, OF, Pirates (2022 rank: 43)

No. 61-No. 70

A lot of young stars appearing in the top 100 for the first time here, with Astros postseason hero Jeremy Peña making his debut at No. 64 following a tremendous rookie campaign for Houston, Braves flame-throwing starter Spencer Strider coming off a runner-up finish in NL Rookie of the Year voting, the Guardians’ Steven Kwan proving to be a spark in Cleveland’s lineup as a rookie, left-hander Shane McClanahan enjoying a breakout performance on the mound for the Rays, Zac Gallen doing the same for the D-backs, and Nathaniel Lowe riding a huge second half to a breakout performance for the Rangers.

61. Starling Marte, RF, Mets (2022 rank: 41)
62. Randy Arozarena, LF, Rays (2022 rank: 71)
63. Luis Arraez, INF, Marlins (2022 rank: not ranked)
64. Jeremy Peña, SS, Astros (2022 rank: not ranked)
65. Spencer Strider, SP, Braves (2022 rank: not ranked)
66. Steven Kwan, LF, Guardians (2022 rank: not ranked)
67. Luis Castillo, SP, Mariners (2022 rank: not ranked)
68. Shane McClanahan, SP, Rays (2022 rank: not ranked)
69. Zac Gallen, SP, D-backs (2022 rank: not ranked)
70. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Rangers (2022 rank: not ranked)

No. 71-No. 80

Aaron Nola was a huge ingredient to the Phillies' surprising run all the way to the World Series, and he checks in at No. 79 after being unranked in 2022. Astros righty Cristian Javier did the same for the Astros, though Houston’s World Series run wasn’t as surprising. The other newcomers in this tier are new Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras, who had another All-Star campaign in his final year with the Cubs, as well as St. Louis second baseman Tommy Edman and veteran Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who continues to put up big numbers as he enters his age-33 season.

71. Cedric Mullins, CF, Orioles (2022 rank: 44)
72. Tim Anderson, SS, White Sox (2022 rank: 31)
73. Willson Contreras, C, Cardinals (2022 rank: not ranked)
74. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Yankees (2022 rank: not ranked)
75. Matt Chapman, 3B, Blue Jays (2022 rank: 83)
76. Shane Bieber, SP, Guardians (2022 rank: 37)
77. Brandon Woodruff, SP, Brewers (2022 rank: 38)
78. Tommy Edman, 2B, Cardinals (2022 rank: not ranked)
79. Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies (2022 rank: not ranked)
80. Cristian Javier, SP, Astros (2022 rank: not ranked)

Nos. 81-No. 90

Clayton Kershaw makes a significant jump over last year, up 12 spots to No. 81 after turning in a much-improved performance in 2022 -- he made the same number of starts (22) and pitched nearly the same number of innings (126 1/3 vs. 121 2/3) as in the prior season, but his 2.28 ERA was more than a full run better. Christian Walker had a breakout year both at the plate and in the field, launching 36 homers and winning his first career Gold Glove Award to break into the top 100. Alejandro Kirk had a breakout campaign of his own last year, belting 14 homers and posting a 3.9 Baseball Reference WAR to crash the list at No. 90.

81. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers (2022 rank: 93)
82. Devin Williams, RP, Brewers (2022 rank: not ranked)
83. Teoscar Hernández, OF, Mariners (2022 rank: 65)
84. Sean Murphy, C, Braves (2022 rank: not ranked)
85. Daulton Varsho, C/OF, Blue Jays (2022 rank: not ranked)
86. Luis Robert, CF, White Sox (2022 rank: 50)
87. Eloy Jiménez, LF, White Sox (2022 rank: not ranked)
88. Christian Walker, 1B, D-backs (2022 rank: not ranked)
89. Ty France, INF, Mariners (2022 rank: not ranked)
90. Alejandro Kirk, C, Blue Jays (2022 rank: not ranked)

Nos. 91-No. 100

All but one of the players in this tier of the rankings are on this list after not making the cut in 2022. Nestor Cortes was a revelation for the Yankees, posting a 2.44 ERA in 28 starts. Bobby Witt Jr. hit 20 homers and stole 30 bases to finish fourth in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Jazz Chisholm Jr. was hurt much of the season, but when he was in the lineup, he was very productive, launching 14 homers and stealing 12 bases in 60 games. Yu Darvish bounced back from a tough ’21 campaign for the Padres with a 3.10 ERA over 194 2/3 innings. His rotation mate, Joe Musgrove, wasn’t bad either, pitching to a career-best 2.93 ERA in 30 starts.

91. Nestor Cortes, SP, Yankees (2022 rank: not ranked)
92. Bobby Witt Jr., SS, Royals (2022 rank: not ranked)
93. Jazz Chisholm Jr., 2B/OF, Marlins (2022 rank: not ranked)
94. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies (2022 rank: not ranked)
95. Yu Darvish, SP, Padres (2022 rank: not ranked)
96. Joe Musgrove, SP, Padres (2022 rank: not ranked)
97. Logan Webb, SP, Giants (2022 rank: not ranked)
98. Yandy Díaz, INF, Rays (2022 rank: not ranked)
99. Adolis García, OF, Rangers (2022 rank: not ranked)
100. Giancarlo Stanton, OF/DH, Yankees (2022 rank: 61)