Who’s your team’s best player? It’s a tougher question to tackle than you might think: Bryce Harper, for example, has only been his team’s best player once in the past five years, according to Baseball Reference’s version of WAR. If it’s tough to figure out who your best player just was, imagine how hard it is to guess who it will be next year?
Today we try to take that leap: It’s our predictions on who the best player, by WAR, will be on each team in 2020. We’re gonna make it even harder on ourselves, too: Free agents count. Gerrit Cole will probably the best player on some team next year. But which one? Let’s venture into the future.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Rays -- Willy Adames, SS: He was second in 2019 … and he is just getting started.
Red Sox -- Mookie Betts, RF And our first big offseason prediction: Betts stays put.
Yankees -- Gerrit Cole, RHP: And here’s our second one. If the Yankees want him -- and they certainly need him -- they can get him.
Royals -- Jorge Soler, DH: Soler has to have just hit the quietest 48 homers in recent memory.
White Sox -- Yoán Moncada, 3B: Good thing the White Sox waited out the earlier struggles: He’s looking like a perennial All-Star now.
Angels -- Mike Trout, CF: It honestly doesn’t matter even if they sign ALL the free agents.
Astros -- Alex Bregman, 3B: He almost beat out Trout for AL MVP this year, so don’t be surprised if he actually pulls it off next year.
Athletics -- Matt Chapman, 3B: The real question: Are the A’s going to lock him up long term?
Mariners -- Evan White, 1B: His new contract means the top Mariners prospect might end up the Opening Day starter at first, and he’ll have a full season to justify the Mariners’ clear belief in him.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves -- Ronald Acuña Jr., OF: You kind of get the feeling that he’s just going to keep getting better.
Marlins -- Brian Anderson, 3B: You’ll know the Marlins are starting to take bigger steps forward when someone passes Anderson.
Phillies -- Bryce Harper, RF: Between you, us and the wall … Bryce is our dark horse MVP pick for 2020.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers -- Christian Yelich, OF: The Brewers have three more years with him at the center of their lineup, giving them an immediate advantage over every team in the NL.
Cardinals -- Jack Flaherty, RHP: If Flaherty can be the 2019 second-half pitcher all year in '20, he’ll win the Cardinals’ first Cy Young Award since Chris Carpenter in '05.
Cubs -- Kris Bryant, 3B: Bryant has been better than anyone has appreciated the last two seasons, and if he can stay healthy, he can remind everyone just how great he is.
Reds -- Joey Votto, 1B: We may regret this pick. But for all the trendiness of the Reds as a potential NL Central sleeper, their best route back to contention is Votto being Votto again.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs -- Ketel Marte, 2B/CF: If Marte is this moving forward, Arizona has an MVP candidate for the next half decade.
Giants -- Mike Yastrzemski, OF: Why not another run up the flagpole for one of the best stories in baseball in 2019? The Giants look like the rebuilding process is just beginning.
Padres -- Fernando Tatis Jr., SS: Every time we watch Tatis play, all we can think is, “Man, we wish he played on our team.”
Rockies -- Nolan Arenado, 3B: The question is: Will anyone else on the roster be close? Arenado would like to know that himself, actually.