Although they’re not quite as important as, say, the top 100 prospect rankings, Major League player rankings are often just as fun to explore around this time of the year, aren’t they? I SAY YES THEY ARE.
To me, if nothing else, it’s a matter of pride and good opportunity for an expression of fandom – WE have 7 of the top 100 players! Etc.
And to that end, I’m happy to share not one but two new top 100 individual player power rankings for the 2018 season. The first is from MLB Network and the second is from Sports Illustrated. Obviously, we’re not going to share the full list for either – you’re just one click away, if that’s what you want – but we will take a closer look at the Cubs on the list and any other notable/broader points.
Like, for example, the fact that both lists correctly give Mike Trout top billing (anything else would’ve invalidated the entire list), with Jose Altuve as the runner up. Things change from there, but I think it’s safe to say most would agree with those two spots – at least for now.
On the Cubs-specific side, let’s look first at those MLB Network rankings:
8. Kris Bryant
23. Anthony Rizzo
58. Willson Contreras
66. Kyle Hendricks
67. Yu Darvish
95. Kyle Schwarber
Okay. I … okay. Breathe, Michael. Breathe.
I am very aware of how difficult it is to make these sort of lists. After all, there are SO MANY talented Major Leaguers and it is all subjective in the end. But, while I expected to find areas of a disagreement (like ranking Nolan Arenado over Kris Bryant) I am utterly shocked that Jose Quintana is not on this list. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s somehow just a clerical mistake.
And you know what, I’m not going to trot a bunch of numbers or stats to prove otherwise (I will link to some, though), because it doesn’t need to be proven. His absence on a list like this is either a mistake or just plain wrong.
And here’s the thing … this is clearly a list that some thought was put into, at least at some level. After all, Kyle Schwarber is right there at 95. Now, I have very high hopes (bordering on expectations) that Schwarber will be one of the top 100 players in baseball this season, but given the way 2017 went down, would anyone be surprised to see his name left off a list like this? I wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t blame the author either.
Oh well. Sorry Jose Quintana, you deserve to be there.
3. Kris Bryant
23. Anthony Rizzo
53. Yu Darvish
70. Jon Lester
72. Kyle Hendricks
80. Jose Quintana
91. Willson Contreras
While this list, I think, includes all the right players (including FOUR of the Cubs’ starters … think about how awesome that is) and shows some serious love for Kris Bryant … I still have some bones to pick.
First off, while I’m thrilled Quintana made the list – and I’m even happy with his relative position at #80 – I still can’t seem to understand how he’s undervalued compared to the rest of the Cubs’ rotation, and other starters in baseball. He’s arguably the Cubs’ best pitcher right now … either by last season’s stats and this season’s projections. He’s also younger than Lester and Darvish (was born the same year as Hendricks!), and is a lefty with huge strikeout numbers that should be here to stay … I. JUST.DONT.GET.IT.
Or maybe I do. Because I see the same under-appreciation for Quintana in the Cubs’ world, too. And you know what? It’s fine. Cubs fans have only seen a half-year of Quintana in blue (and before that, he was understandably overshadowed by Chris Sale), and maybe they just don’t know him well enough yet. But I’ll bet that we’ll all be loving on him by the end of the year.
My other bone to pick is Willson Contreras all the way down at #90 … but maybe there’s a reason for that. First of all, Buster Posey – the best catcher in baseball – doesn’t appear until #29, so that’s the relative ceiling here for Contreras anyway. Gary Sanchez (#48) is the only other catcher in the top 50 and J.T. Realmuto doesn’t show up until #95 … so in reality, I think there’s just a general undervaluing of catchers here – but at least those top four (who are in a tier of their own above all other catchers right now) all made the cut.
There’s so much more we can talk about – like Sports Illustrated spelling out their stance that Bryant is better than Arenado (and Josh Donaldson, for that matter) and Anthony Rizzo’s consistency – but we can rip into that stuff in the comments.
Go check out Sports Illustrated’s list here and MLB Network’s list right here, and then tell me what’s right, what’s wrong, what they missed, how good-looking I am, anything you want. I’m sure you’ll have a couple of issues yourself, but if you had to pick, which list would you say does it best?