MLB Network LF/SP/2B/3B Top Ten Right Now 2017 Lists

For the past few years, Brian Kenny has hosted a show on MLB Network called Top Ten Right Now, which provides a stat-based, machine-created list by “The Shredder.”

The 1st base and SS lists are in another post.

SECOND BASE

  1. Jose Altuve
  2. Robinson Cano
  3. Daniel Murphy
  4. Dustin Pedroia
  5. Ian Kinsler
  6. Jason Kipnis
  7. D.J. LeMahieu
  8. Brian Dozier
  9. Logan Forsythe
  10. Ben Zobrist

Analysis: While the top two are undisputably the top two second baseman, Daniel Murphy had -9 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016, with Cano, Pedroia, and Kinsler having DRS’s of +11, +12 and +12 respectively. Although Murphy put up historic numbers among second basemen offensively in 2016, defense is still valuable in today’s game. Additionally, offense was not rare last season at the position, with all of the above batting at least .264/.333/.444 [AVG/OBP/SLG] and smacking 10+ HR’s and 20+ Doubles. Forsythe, now a Los Angeles Dodger, hit 20 home runs and whacked a .444 OPS in 2016, his highest marks of his career. While his AVG, OBP, doubles and RBIs went down compared to his 2015 campaign, his now apparent consistency and his ability to stay on the field make him a Top-Ten caliber player. Villar snuck into the Top-Ten combining power, speed and average in his breakout season, with 19 home runs, 62 steals and .285/.369/.457 slash line. 

MY LIST

  1. Jose Altuve
  2. Robinson Cano
  3. Ian Kinsler
  4. Dustin Pedroia
  5. Daniel Murphy
  6. D.J. LeMahieu
  7. Jason Kipnis
  8. Brian Dozier
  9. Jonathan Villar
  10. Logan Forsythe

THIRD BASE

  1. Josh Donaldson
  2. Kris Bryant
  3. Manny Machado
  4. Nolan Arenado
  5. Justin Turner
  6. Adrian Beltre
  7. Kyle Seager
  8. Jung-Ho Kang
  9. Anthony Rendon
  10. Evan Longoria

Analysis: While all of the top four players have a case for the top slot, Donaldson is the model of consistency at this position. Bryant can run, Machado played 40+ games at shortstop, and Arenado led all third basemen in DRS with 20, but none have the Donaldson’s numbers over the last four seasons, two with the A’s and two with the Jays. The “Bringer of Rain” has put up at least 24 HRs, 89 runs and 93 RBI in each of the last four seasons and batted over .280/.340/.450 during that time as well. The bottom four are nearly just as interchangeable, besides Kyle Seager being deserving of the fifth slot, with Longoria having a resurgent power season, and Kang and Rendon having injury shortened seasons and promising defensive and offensive abilities. 

MY LIST

  1. Josh Donaldson
  2. Kris Bryant
  3. Manny Machado
  4. Nolan Arenado
  5. Kyle Seager
  6. Adrian Beltre
  7. Justin Turner
  8. Jung-Ho Kang
  9. Jose Ramirez
  10. Evan Longoria

STARTING PITCHERS

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Max Scherzer
  3. Madison Bumgarner
  4. Jake Arrieta
  5. Jon Lester
  6. Corey Kluber
  7. Chris Sale
  8. Johnny Cueto
  9. Noah Syndergaard
  10. Zack Greinke

Analysis: For this list, the Shredder seemed to value past seasons, including Zack Greinke despite a rise in ERA from 1.66 to 4.37 and placing Jake Arrieta in front of Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto, who both had a better ERA and FIP as well as both having better walks-per-nine than Arrieta’s, whose was above 3.0. The American League Cy Young award recipient, Rick Porcello, who would seem like a lock for a Top Ten spot, was left off the Shredder’s list despite finishing 8th in FIP, 15th in ERA and the second best walks-per-nine rate in baseball at 1.29, one of just two qualifying pitchers (Kershaw was sub-1 but did not pitch enough innings to qualify) that had a walks-per-nine rate lower than 1.50. Cueto also seems to be too low on the list for me, as he has been able to move around and pitch wherever he goes. Additionally two Cy Young snubs also were snubbed from the Top Ten. Kyle Hendricks finished third in the National League and was the only qualifier with a sub-2.40 ERA at 2.13 and was top six in home runs-per-nine and in BABIP. 

MY LIST

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Max Scherzer
  3. Madison Bumgarner
  4. Johnny Cueto
  5. Jake Arrieta
  6. Corey Kluber
  7. Chris Sale
  8. Kyle Hendricks
  9. Rick Porcello
  10. Justin Verlander

LEFT FIELDERS

  1. Ryan Braun
  2. Yoenis Cespedes
  3. Starling Marte
  4. Khris Davis
  5. Michael Brantley
  6. Randal Grichuk
  7. Justin Upton
  8. Carlos Beltran
  9. Brett Gardner
  10. Adam Duvall

Analysis: Left fielders had the lowest WRC+ of all positions in 2016, which makes the Top-Ten at this position difficult to rank. While many believed Duvall dropped off heavily after the All-Star break, dropping from 23 home runs to 10, he did improve most of the rest of his numbers including his stolen bases and times caught stealing, walks and on-base percentage. Justin Upton did the opposite, hitting 22 homers in the 2nd half, getting on-base at a .337 clip and slugging .579. While Duvall only hit .241 on the year, if his walk rates and OBP continue to increase, he should maintain a 25 homer season with about a 500 SLG, which would have ranked him in the top 10 in both of those categories in 2016. For Grichuk, despite being sent to the minor leagues he put up an .881 OPS after that A-ball stint. He still has not completed a full MLB season however, and most likely will play more center field next season. For Michael Brantley, if he returns healthy he had double-digit steals in every season since 2010, batted .327 and hit 20 bombs in 2014 and .310 with 15 in 2015.  Khris Davis slugged .524 with 42 home runs in 2016, 3rd and 1st in those statistics respectively, despite playing half of his games at the pitcher-friendly O.Co Colliseum. Since 2013, only Mike Trout has a higher WAR than Starling Marte, who batted .311 and 47 stolen bases in 2016. Despite double-digit homers from 2013-2015, he hit only 9 in 489 AB’s last season. As far as the snubs, Ozuna, Kemp, Benintendi, Mazara and Dahl all seemed close. Ozuna slashed .266/.321/.452, Kemp was second in homers at the position with 35, and Benintendi had a .357 wOBA in 34 games.

MY LIST

  1. Ryan Braun
  2. Yoenis Cespedes
  3. Starling Marte
  4. Khris Davis
  5. Justin Upton
  6. David Dahl
  7. Andrew Benintendi
  8. Marcell Ozuna
  9. Adam Duvall
  10. Matt Kemp

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