The Bleacher Report took on the harrowing task of determining the top 50 MLB players heading into regular season, which begins in four days. This was not an easy task given the fact there are 750 active players spread across the league on any given day.
The criteria used to compile the list included both 2013 performance and overall track record, which meant both young players on the rise and veterans who experienced a shaky 2013 season could feature.
Here are the top five MLB players right now according to Bleacher Report:
5. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds: Since landing a spot on the Reds’ lineup in 2007, Votto has been one of the best all-around hitters in the major leagues. Votto has posted a .314/.419/.541 slash line in his seven-year career. Aside from an injury-plagued 2012, he has never hit fewer than 24 home runs in a season. He has a discerning eye at the plate, as well as an ability to hit for both power and average.
4. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pittsburgh Pirates: In 2013, Andrew McCutchen managed to win the NL MVP award, hitting .317/.404/.508 with 21 home runs, 38 doubles and 27 steals. As impressive as that sounds, his 2012 season was even better. That year, the Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder hit .327/.400/.553 with 31 home runs, 29 doubles and 20 stolen bases.
3. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers: In his last three seasons, Kershaw has posted the lowest ERA in the league, and in two of those he racked up the most strikeouts in the NL. Kershaw isn’t just the best pitcher in the NL; he’s the best pitcher in all of baseball.
2. Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels: Trout’s major league career may have been brief, but he’s posted some astonishing numbers in that time. His first full season was in 2012, where the outfielder hit .326/.399/.564 with 30 home runs, 27 doubles and 49 stolen bases. His 2013 season was just as impressive. In both of the past two years, Trout finished as the runner-up in AL MVP voting to the player who claims the top spot on this list.
1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers: Last year, Cabrera led all of baseball in batting average (.348), OBP (.442), slugging percentage (.636), OPS (1.078) and OPS+ (187). He also clubbed the second-most home runs (44) and drove in the second-most runs (136). What’s more, he did all of that despite literally limping through the final months of the season due to injury issues that plagued his back and hip flexor/abdomen. The eight-time All-Star has now posted an OPS north of 1.000 in three of the past four seasons. The only time he didn’t was 2012 when he finished with a .999 OPS.
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