Shohei Ohtani is headed to Major League Baseball as a new kind of two-way player. But winning baseball has always been about having players who can do more than one thing.The complete player is the ideal.I compiled a list of the players who did the best job at the plate
Shohei Ohtani is headed to Major League Baseball as a new kind of two-way player. But winning baseball has always been about having players who can do more than one thing.
The complete player is the ideal.
I compiled a list of the players who did the best job at the plate and in the field in 2017, with a minimum of 300 plate appearances and 300 defensive innings. It's National League-centric and loaded with players who are with their original organization, even though the average age is almost 28.
The message there? If you produce runs at the plate and save runs in the field, you're a player teams will build around, not shop around.
Six of these 10 players were on teams that played in the postseason -- and not surprisingly, there are Astros and Dodgers in the bunch.
Catcher: Willson Contreras, Cubs
Manager Joe Maddon played Contreras in left field 24 times as a rookie to get him into the lineup more often. Maddon stopped doing that last season, and Contreras emerged as one of the game's top catchers. The strong-armed, quick-to-throw Contreras ranked fifth among catchers with +7 Defensive Runs Saved while finishing sixth with an .855 OPS. Honorable mention to the Brewers' Manny Pina, who ranked behind only Tucker Barnhart in DRS and was 16th among 33 with a .751 OPS.
First base: Joey Votto, Reds
Votto had a great season, with it taking all 59 home runs for Giancarlo Stanton to edge him in NL MVP Award voting. Votto led Major League first basemen with a 1.032 OPS and was second with +11 DRS. Paul Goldschmidt and Anthony Rizzo each turned in a strong two-way season, but only Brandon Belt stopped Votto from leading both categories.
Second base: Jose Altuve, Astros
Altuve, the American League MVP Award winner, was great at the plate and above-average in the field, leading second basemen with a .957 OPS and ranking 14th among 39 with +3 DRS. The huge season offensively (.346, 24 home runs, 32 stolen bases) gives him an edge over the Cubs' Javier Baez, who was the most balanced performer at second base (ninth with a .796 OPS, 10th at +5 DRS).
Shortstop: Corey Seager, Dodgers
Baseball is loaded with talent at shortstop, but Seager was the best two-way contributor in his age-23 season. He ranked fourth with an .854 OPS and fifth with +10 DRS. Another age-23 player, Francisco Lindor, was fifth with an .842 OPS and ninth with +5 DRS. Carlos Correa led shortstops with a .941 OPS and was 13th at +4 DRS.
Third base: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
No surprise here. Arenado has proven to be the best third baseman in the game, and he demonstrated that in 2017 with a .959 OPS and +20 DRS. Both were the best at the position. But as we've said for years, playing in Denver always benefits your defensive metrics.
Left field: Tommy Pham, Cardinals, and Marcell Ozuna, Marlins
After starting the season at Triple-A Memphis, the late-blooming Pham emerged in a major way. He was second among left fielders with a .931 OPS and third with +10 DRS. Ozuna, part of the Majors' best outfield with Stanton and Christian Yelich, was third with a .924 OPS and second at +11 DRS. It's safe to say Ozuna found his spot. He ranked 36th among 39 center fielders in 2016, with -12 DRS.
Center field: Aaron Hicks, Yankees
A first-round pick of the Twins in 2008, Hicks is the only player on this list who has been traded. He was invaluable as a fourth outfielder for Joe Girardi last season, delivering 3.9 WAR. Hicks ranked eighth among center fielders with an .847 OPS and was fifth with +12 DRS, even though he played only 440 2/3 innings there, less than 40 percent as many as Byron Buxton, who was the DRS leader at +24. Hicks figures to be the Yankees' primary center fielder in 2018, with Jacoby Ellsbury used more often as a designated hitter.
Right field: Aaron Judge, Yankees
Judge ranked behind only J.D. Martinez in OPS and was fifth at +9 DRS. If not for him, we'd be praising Stanton, who was fourth with a 1.007 OPS and fourth with +10 DRS. Mookie Betts, who was the most complete right fielder in 2016, and Yasiel Puig weren't far behind Judge and Stanton.
Pitcher: Jhoulys Chacin, Padres
There's no one like Ohtani in the current game, but pitchers can contribute with their bats and gloves. No one did a better job of that last season than Chacin. He ranked seventh among pitchers (minimum 50 plate appearances) with a .481 OPS and third (minimum 150 innings) with +7 DRS. Chacin hit .222 last season, with no walks in his 61 trips to the plate. Mike Leake, always a contender here, was the leader with +8 DRS, but he had a down year at the plate, batting .170 with a .411 OPS.
Phil Rogers is a columnist for MLB.com.