Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Texas Rangers
news

Rangers News

Who's No. 1? Ranking the best at RP, SS

MLB.com

MLB Network's countdown of baseball's best players at each position came to a conclusion on Saturday night, with the final installment of the "Top 10 Right Now!" series featuring the game's top relief pitchers and shortstops.

The five-week program hosted by Brian Kenny used rankings based on player performance over the last two seasons, a number of offensive and defensive metrics, both advanced data and traditional numbers and analysis by the MLB Network research team.

MLB Network's countdown of baseball's best players at each position came to a conclusion on Saturday night, with the final installment of the "Top 10 Right Now!" series featuring the game's top relief pitchers and shortstops.

The five-week program hosted by Brian Kenny used rankings based on player performance over the last two seasons, a number of offensive and defensive metrics, both advanced data and traditional numbers and analysis by the MLB Network research team.

The series featured appearances from MLB Network on-air personalities and former Major Leaguers Eric Byrnes, Cliff Floyd, Mike Lowell, Dan Plesac, Harold Reynolds, Ron Darling, Jim Thome and Joe Girardi, as well as roundtable discussions with Kenny, president of SABR Vince Gennaro, the Ringer's Ben Lindbergh and MLB.com analyst Mike Petriello. Each episode also featured a fan-generated Top 10 Right Now list compiled via voting on MLB Network's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages using #Top10RightNow.

A look back: MLB Network's Top 10 at every position for 2018

Below is a breakdown of this year's rankings results:

Top 10 relief pitchers right now
Craig Kimbrel doesn't currently have a team, but that doesn't matter for the purposes of these rankings given his dominant performance over the last two years. But if Josh Hader, Edwin Diaz and Blake Treinen can replicate their 2018 performances, they will challenge for the top spot a year from now.

Video: Craig Kimbrel is the No. 1 relief pitcher right now

1. Craig Kimbrel
2. Sean Doolittle
3. Josh Hader
4. Edwin Diaz
5. Blake Treinen
6. Felipe Vazquez
7. Chad Green
8. Aroldis Chapman
9. Jose Leclerc
10. Brandon Morrow

Video: Craig Kimbrel is the No. 1 relief pitcher right now

Top 10 shortstops right now
He might miss Opening Day, but Francisco Lindor's remarkable consistency keeps him at the top of this list, with NL MVP runner-up Javier Baez closing fast.

1. Francisco Lindor
2. Javier Baez
3. Trevor Story
4. Manny Machado
5. Andrelton Simmons
6. Carlos Correa
7. Corey Seager
8. Paul DeJong
9. Jean Segura
10. Didi Gregorius

Video: Kenny and Reynolds review their lists for Top 10 SS

Top 10 first basemen right now
Paul Goldschmidt is a human metronome: Over the last four seasons he has played in at least 155 games while batting a combined .310/.410/.538 with an average of 32 homers and finishing in the top 11 in NL MVP voting each year. He'll get a chance to build on a potential Hall of Fame resume in St. Louis this year.

1. Paul Goldschmidt
2. Freddie Freeman
3. Joey Votto
4. Max Muncy
5. Anthony Rizzo
6. Matt Olson
7. Justin Smoak
8. Jesus Aguilar
9. Rhys Hoskins
10. Jose Abreu

Video: Kenny and Thome review their Top 10 1B lists

Top 10 starting pitchers right now
While Jacob deGrom had the best season of any pitcher in 2018 en route to winning the National League Cy Young Award, Max Scherzer and Chris Sale still stand out in terms of consistent dominance year after year.

1. Max Scherzer
2. Chris Sale
3. Jacob deGrom
4. Corey Kluber
5. Justin Verlander
6. Aaron Nola
7. Clayton Kershaw
8. Luis Severino
9. Carlos Carrasco
10. Blake Snell

Video: Kenny and Darling review their Top 10 SP lists

Top 10 left fielders right now
Some might argue that J.D. Martinez is more of a designated hitter, but he did play 57 games in the outfield last year, and more than half of them came in left. And over the last two years he has hit an insane .319/.391/.655, with an average of 44 homers per year.

1. J.D. Martinez
2. Giancarlo Stanton
3. Ronald Acuna Jr.
4. Tommy Pham
5. Justin Upton
6. Juan Soto
7. Marcell Ozuna
8. Michael Conforto
9. Khris Davis
10. David Peralta

Video: Kenny and Byrnes review their Top 10 left fielders

Top 10 center fielders right now
There is obviously no doubt about No. 1, but Cody Bellinger over Lorenzo Cain could spark some debate. But remember, the rankings are based on the last two seasons, and Bellinger's 2017 campaign (39 homers, .933 OPS, NL Rookie of the Year) was pretty special.

Video: Mike Trout is the No. 1 center fielder right now

1. Mike Trout
2. Cody Bellinger
3. Lorenzo Cain
4. Aaron Hicks
5. George Springer
6. Charlie Blackmon
7. A.J. Pollock
8. Starling Marte
9. Harrison Bader
10. Kevin Kiermaier

Video: Kenny and Byrnes review their Top 10 CF lists

Top 10 right fielders right now
We know what you are thinking, Aaron Judge over Mookie Betts, after the season Betts just had?

But consider this: These lists are dictated by The Shredder, MLB Network's player rating formula, which looks back at the last two seasons and weights them evenly. Over the past two years ….

Judge: .282/.409/.584, 79 homers, 15 steals, 162 wRC+
Betts: .301/.388/.541, 56 homers, 56 steals, 143 wRC+

And while Betts is a stud on defense, Judge also rates highly in the outfield, with the third-most Defensive Runs Saved among right fielders in the last two years, which allowed him to hold Betts off for the top spot.

Video: Aaron Judge is the No. 1 right fielder right now

1. Aaron Judge
2. Mookie Betts
3. Christian Yelich
4. Mitch Haniger
5. Bryce Harper
6. Brandon Nimmo
7. Yasiel Puig
8. Andrew McCutchen
9. Nicholas Castellanos
10. Stephen Piscotty

Video: Floyd, Kenny recap the Top 10 right fielders

Top 10 catchers right now
There is a strong argument that J.T. Realmuto is the best catcher in the game right now, but Buster Posey still gets the edge, buoyed by a strong 2017 campaign that is still weighted heavily. Given recent trends, there is a very good chance that this is Posey's last year at the top.

Video: Buster Posey is the No. 1 catcher right now

1. Buster Posey
2. J.T. Realmuto
3. Yasmani Grandal
4. Gary Sanchez
5. Willson Contreras
6. Yadier Molina
7. Kurt Suzuki
8. Wilson Ramos
9. Mike Zunino
10. Salvador Perez

Video: Kenny, Girardi recap Top 10 catchers right now

Top 10 second basemen right now
This position is going through a bit of a transition, with a bunch of youngsters entering the mix, though veterans such as Jose Altuve, Jed Lowrie and Robinson Cano are still holding strong.

Video: Analytics panel on Top 10 second basemen right now

1. Jose Altuve
2. Jed Lowrie
3. Whit Merrifield
4. Robinson Cano
5. Chris Taylor
6. Scooter Gennett
7. Joey Wendle
8. Gleyber Torres
9. Ben Zobrist
10. DJ LeMahieu

Video: Reynolds, Kenny reveal current top 10 second basemen

Top 10 third basemen right now
This might be the most stacked position in baseball right now, and you can argue for about six different guys at No. 1.

1. Jose Ramirez
2. Justin Turner
3. Nolan Arenado
4. Anthony Rendon
5. Alex Bregman
6. Matt Carpenter
7. Matt Chapman
8. Kris Bryant
9. Josh Donaldson
10. Eugenio Suarez

Video: Kenny and Lowell on their top 10 third baseman now

Petriello's list of third basemen is different at the top