It's easiest to notice his rate of 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings, but he also stifled exit velocity (87th percentile) and reduced his walk rate to finish with a 148 ERA+ over 70 innings.
60. 81) Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies (2019 rank: 24)82) Blake Snell, SP, Rays (2019 rank: 26)83) Luis Severino, SP, Yankees (2019 rank: 43)84) Ramón Laureano, OF, Athletics (2019 rank: NR)85) Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies (2019 rank: 38)86) Carlos Santana, 1B, Indians (2019 rank: NR)87) Eduardo Escobar, 3B, D-backs (2019 rank: NR)88) Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins (2019 rank: NR)89) Mitch Garver, C, Twins (2019 rank: NR)90) Miguel Sanó, 3B, Twins (2019 rank: NR). 24 -- the highest ranking for any player who was not in the Top 100 last year.
Categorical … After finishing second in the American League MVP race, he's out to win the award this year. Nos. 98. Per his 39.5 rWAR, he's been more productive since 2015 than every player not named Mike Trout. He needed only 70 games to set a new career high for WAR last season. 11, while co-aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg check in at 14 and 20, respectively. Following an injury-marred campaign in 2019, he rebounded to finish with a 146 OPS+ and, for the second time in three seasons, exactly a .404 OBP. 73. They're joined, however, by a handful of newcomers, including American League Rookie of the Year Award winner Yordan Alvarez. 68. After back-to-back underappreciated performances in 2018 and 2019, he finished this season with the ninth-best ERA+ out of all pitchers who made at least nine starts. 36. He was $245 million well spent for the Angels, as he finished with more walks (38) than strikeouts (31) along with an OPS+ (151) worthy of his superstar-making 2019 campaign. 1 is … MLBN ranks Top 100 players.
It's been a while since he wasn't the de facto No. Indeed, even his injury-marred years still resulted in a .920 OPS, 54 homers and 11.4 rWAR. Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers. 21) Trevor Story, SS, Rockies (2019 rank: 30)22) Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox (2019 rank: 46)23) Javier Báez, SS, Cubs (2019 rank: 29)24) Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets (2019 rank: NR), 25) Ketel Marte, OF, D-backs (2019 rank: NR)26) Josh Donaldson, 3B, Twins (2019 rank: 61)27) J.D.
Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals. After leading the majors in ERA in 2019, he transitioned to the AL and struck out 72 batters and allowed only six barrels on his way to a 164 ERA+ over 67 innings.
Ketel Marte, 2B, Arizona Diamondbacks. 89. Over the last two seasons, however, he's found it again by way of a 3.20 ERA and a rate of 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. More of that plus an offensive rebound should be expected for 2020. At the heart of that performance is mid-90s heat and one of the game's great curveballs. After being diagnosed with leukemia in 2019, he pitched like his vintage self in finishing with a career-best 157 ERA+ and 82 strikeouts in 68 innings. It took him a while to get going, but he got hot enough to finish with a characteristically excellent 140 OPS+ before adding four more long balls to his outstanding postseason track record. It wasn't quite the .346/.438/.640 hitting line from '18, but the four-time All-Star did enough to earn his third Silver Slugger and fourth Gold Glove. 30. 11-20, as well as a pair of Braves teammates. He then became great in 2019, ultimately ending up with a 1.010 OPS, 34 home runs and characteristically solid defense. 2) Christian Yelich, OF, Brewers (2019 rank: 8)Yelich narrowly missed out on winning his second straight National League MVP Award in 2019. Assuming Cleveland doesn't trade him, he should be an MVP contender in the American League this year. Even if he did more harm than good (i.e., minus-five outs above average) defensively, any hitter who can slash .297/.400/.568 with 28 extra-base hits as a regular at Oracle Park commands respect. His ground-ball rate was not good by his standards, yet the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner turned back the clock and allowed only two home runs as he racked up a 224 ERA+ (third in MLB) over 63.1 innings. It's slightly alarming that he's set to begin 2020 on the injured list for undisclosed reasons. Since 2017, an average season for him has included a .298 average, 16 homers, 33 steals and 4.0 WAR. Fernando Tatis Jr., SS, San Diego Padres. 44 in last year's rankings. Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers. Nelson Cruz will turn 40 years old in July, but he continues to climb these rankings. But he definitely has a grasp on pitching as an art form, so don't not expect it either. He only hit five home runs in the regular season, yet he still notched a third straight season with a .300 average and an OPS+ in the mid-120s. 28. 99. Lo and behold, he became exactly that by way of a 3.28 ERA, 259 strikeouts and only 40 walks over 214.1 innings. Hitters came to know the bite of his slider all too well as he piled up 93 strikeouts with only five homers allowed in 69 innings, resulting in a 205 ERA+ and a star-making season. 90.
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