MLB Network's annual Top 100 players in Major League Baseball dropped last Thursday, sharing their take on the best players in the league. Following last year's disappointing campaign the number of Boston players dropped from six to four from last year. Here are all four Red Sox players to make the list, and how accurate the placements are.
Chris Sale (#62)
Sale's placement was the lowest of the four on the list, which made sense given his off-year. Sale was a top pitcher in the league last year, arguably the best in the American League. But last year he was an average pitcher at best while having the worst year in his career. His drop in production could've been due to the obvious pitching adjustments that were made by the staff, meaning that it could be fixed in this upcoming campaign by the new pitching coaches.
His #62 placement was a bit high, as it appears like a trend in this article was also taking into account recent seasons as well. But if we were just going off this year, Sale should probably be in the mid to high 80s. Not terrible by any means, but a significant drop off from his superstar form where he was ranked in the top 20.
Rafael Devers (#40)
Devers broke out in his second full season in the majors and became one of the league's brightest young stars. In addition to drastically improving his defense, going from being terrible to relatively impressive from third base, he also became one of the best hitters in the league. Rafael was fifth in the league in batting average, fourth in RBIs, and second in doubles and runs scored. He even was twelfth in MVP voting!
While the 40 spot is definitely amazing for a 23-year-old, in my opinion, he deserved to be even higher. Specifically, he should move up six spots to #34, as he is better than Kris Bryant (#34) and Eugenio Suarez (#35) when considering last year alone. He should continue this play next year, but it would be hard to improve on last year's performance.
J.D. Martinez (#27)
Martinez, like Sale, has seen a fall-off in play since the championship run. But while Sale's fall was significant, J.D. decreased only slightly. He still had an above .300 average, along with being top 10 in home runs in the AL. But there was a slight drop in production, even as the rest of the league's hitting improved.
While it is at a solid spot for Martinez, he would be more deserving of a place in the 40s. He was the second-best DH behind Nelson Cruz last year, yet Cruz was ranked in the 50s on this list. MLB Network gave Martinez the higher spot presumably due to his prolonged amount of success, but only considering this year would place Cruz ahead of Martinez.
Xander Bogaerts (#22)
After a solid 2018 performance, Bogaerts built upon his strengths, leading to the second All-Star selection of his career in 2019. He broke his prior career records in home runs, batting average, runs, hits, RBI's, doubles, walks, and more while still remaining solid defensively. The 26-year-old shortstop appears to be the best player on the team now that Mookie is gone, and should build upon last year's successes to make the Red Sox competitive again.
The list's placement was perfect for Bogaerts, as he is ahead of Baez and behind Story. The prior year he was ranked just inside the top 50, at #46, while being the fourth Boston player on the list. As, in my opinion, a top 50 position player in Red Sox history, another season similar to this one can elevate him into the top 30 by the young age of 27. He is one of the best shortstops in the game, with talent hard to miss.
Players that Should've Made It:
While the list was quite comprehensive, it left out some players who deserved a spot. Closer Brandon Workman deserved a late spot on the list, with a breakout campaign during this past season. He was honestly better than Chapman as well as Hader this past season, while also close to Yates, who had a great campaign of his own.
The only other player who deserved a spot on this list was Eduardo Rodriguez, who also had a breakout season. E-Rod was the Red Sox best starter last year, so why was he off the list completely while Sale sat at 62? Rodriguez was clearly better than many of the starters on the list, so it appears his absence is also chalked down to only being great for one season. But how can you leave a guy off who was sixth in the AL in Cy Young voting, top five in pitching WAR, and top 10 in ERA? Expect an even better year from Eduardo next year, hopefully resulting in a spot on the 2021 list.