Can Tiger’s Inevitable Decline be Good for Golf?

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By James Neary

This past weekend at the Open Championship, we were able to see Tiger sniff a major victory for the first time since the same tournament in 2013. It seems the entire spectrum of golf fandom clung to our TVs and Twitter feeds to ceremoniously welcome the king back to his rightful place as ruler. But as Tiger made his turn onto the back 9 Sunday in Carnoustie, the inevitable reality of his decline took hold in our minds again. A full-on Tiger comeback would in no doubt be spectacular for Golf in the short, and probably even long term, but in this article I explore the opposite vantage point. Assuming Tiger has begun his descent, rather than continued his ascent, into the history books, I elaborate on the opportunities this case study offers the golf industry.

What the golf world has undergone throughout Tiger’s woes can very easily be likened to an economic recession. Sports Media Watch has a useful table detailing final round viewing tallies from all 4 major tournaments over the past 30 years, found here. As you can see, the numbers coming this year from Tiger’s cumbersome resurgence do show a pretty solid uptick from recent years, but they barely reach over 50% of what they were during his peak. His first major win, the 1997 Masters blowout, marked the beginning of a massive bull run for the golf industry. Every. single. one. of the high-end view counts, in every major, came between that tournament and the 2009 PGA Championship, just a few months before Tiger’s infamous Thanksgiving Day, affair-revealing, career-spiraling crash. Tiger’s dominance in that time period pushed the industry into a new era. After such a sudden downfall of such a massive star, it’s easy to understand why the industry has struggled to recover in the following years. Since 2009, golf’s path has been one of desperate contention. Multiple young and rising stars have attempted to take the torch from Tiger, yet the entire industry seems to be pining for a comeback of unimaginable proportions. I would argue this contention is understandable and predictable, and while golf transitions into the post-Tiger era, there arrive abundant opportunities for expansion and development never before seen in the game.

Economies, industries, businesses, financial entities of all types undergo periods of fluctuating growth and shrinkage. While the pull-back golf has seen during the past 10 years may seem drastic and even dangerous, the viewing numbers at their lowest point are right on par with what they were prior to Tiger’s dominance. Obviously, TV viewership isn’t a pure indication of popularity or economic health in the sports entertainment industry, but it’s a pretty standard candle. I do argue, however, that TV viewership does hold more weight in golf, due to the nature of the season and championships. Having practically every player be present on the course during the TV broadcast, yet having talent disproportionately skewed towards one player, sets the industry up for disaster once said player succumbs to injury or scandal. Tiger’s decline puts the world of golf in a position to welcome a greater abundance and distribution of superstar caliber players. Having the industry’s premium talent distributed more evenly amongst the top players will provide much needed stability in the long run. In this scenario, if number 1 doesn’t show up to a tournament because of a bum knee or exposed mistress, you can be damn sure numbers 2 and 3 will be there to put take advantage. With Tiger dominating the 2000’s like he was, there was nobody there to support the industry as a whole upon his collapse. Now, as his decline from the upper echelon continues, golf is able to more effectively distribute its talent and ratings power throughout the top of the rankings to provide insurance for another Tiger-like catastrophe.

In addition to the new support system golf can establish upon Tiger’s decline, there lies another opportunity golf has sorely missed out on thus far: expansion and diversification. We’ve seen the NBA do it in China and Europe, soccer do it in America, the NHL in the southwest, alongside countless others. Entertainment industries without an eclectic and diverse audience continually fall behind. We’re seeing this playout in real time as post-steroid era Major League Baseball struggles to keep up with the rapidly growing popularity of lacrosse among youths in America and Canada. MLB’s fan base and youth programs were disproportionately concentrated in a single demographic, and suffered as another sport ate up some of its market cap. Although Tiger was the first non-white player to ever win the Masters, having all that talent, power, and potential locked up in one individual obviously dampens diversification. There’s no doubt that Tiger’s rise had an immensely positive impact on the relationship between minorities and golf, but you cannot deny that the concentration of power in him proved incredibly difficult for golf to grapple with upon his descent. His decline will allow more golfers from different backgrounds and cultures to compete for the number 1 spot in golf, and that could do wonders for the industry in the long term.

Overall, Tiger’s reign at the top of golf has been unprecedented, and is likely never to be forgotten. For more than 10 years, nobody came close to this guy. Then, practically overnight, he entered a downward spiral which, until recently, seemed impossible to pull out of. We all hope Tiger will bless us with a thunderous Sunday at some point in the near future. But if that never comes, there remains a silver lining for the golf industry. Being able to more evenly disperse the premium talent among the top players on the tour will provide greater security for both the players and the future in the long term. The decline of Tiger, and superstars in general, positions his industry to make unique and exciting revitalization efforts to restore the tour to its former glory.

 

2018 MLB Season Preview

Thank you all once again for sticking with me and reading my 30 Clubs in 30 Days series. Now is the part it’s all been leading up to: the 2018 MLB Season Preview. In this preview I’m going to use what I wrote in my 30 Clubs in 30 Days series to paint a picture of how this season is going to go. This will range from player rankings to World Series predictions and everything in between. So without further ado, let’s get to it.

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Season Predictions:

Here’s the compilation of the regular season standings from the projected records I did for each team. An asterisk (*) represents the teams that I predict will win the Wild Card spots.

AL East

1. New York Yankees: 98-64

2. Boston Red Sox*: 95-67

3. Baltimore Orioles: 81-81

4. Toronto Blue Jays: 78-84

5. Tampa Bay Rays: 68-94

AL Central

1. Cleveland Indians: 99-63

2. Minnesota Twins: 84-78

3. Kansas City Royals: 74-88

4. Chicago White Sox: 70-92

5. Detroit Tigers: 64-98

AL West

1. Houston Astros: 101-61

2. Anaheim Angels*: 86-76

3. Seattle Mariners: 85-77

4. Texas Rangers: 82-80

5. Oakland Athletics: 77-85

NL East

1. Washington Nationals: 95-67

2. New York Mets: 84-78

3. Philadelphia Phillies: 75-87

4. Atlanta Braves: 71-91

5. Miami Marlins: 62-100

NL Central

1. Chicago Cubs: 94-68

2. Milwaukee Brewers*: 88-74

3. St. Louis Cardinals: 85-77

4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 76-86

5. Cincinnati Reds: 69-93

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 100-62

2. Arizona Diamondbacks*: 91-71

3. San Francisco Giants: 85-77

4. Colorado Rockies: 81-81

5. San Diego Padres: 70-92

So based on this information, we can see which teams are ready for success in 2018. Now let’s take a look at my postseason predictions even though game 1 out of 162 hasn’t been played yet.

Wild Card Games:

Boston Red Sox defeat Anaheim Angels

Arizona Diamondbacks defeat Milwaukee Brewers

LDS:

Houston Astros defeat Boston Red Sox

Cleveland Indians defeat New York Yankees

Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Arizona Diamondbacks

Washington Nationals defeat Chicago Cubs

LCS:

Cleveland Indians defeat Houston Astros

Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Washington Nationals

World Series:

Cleveland Indians defeat Los Angeles Dodgers

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Congratulations to the Cleveland Indians on your 2018 World Series victory. In my predictions, the Tribe exorcise their postseason demons from the last couple seasons and win their first World Series since 1948 and third overall. For the Dodgers, their first title since 1988 continues to elude them as they fall in the World Series for the second year in a row. It is also worth mentioning that this matchup is between the two previous World Series losers, as the Indians lost to the Cubs in 2016 and the Dodgers lost to the Astros in 2017.

Power Rankings:

1. Houston Astros

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

3. Cleveland Indians

4. New York Yankees

5. Boston Red Sox

6. Washington Nationals

7. Chicago Cubs

8. Arizona Diamondbacks

9. Milwaukee Brewers

10. Anaheim Angels

11. St. Louis Cardinals

12. Seattle Mariners

13. San Francisco Giants

14. New York Mets

15. Minnesota Twins

16. Texas Rangers

17. Colorado Rockies

18. Baltimore Orioles

19. Toronto Blue Jays

20. Philadelphia Phillies

21. Oakland Athletics

22. Pittsburgh Pirates

23. Kansas City Royals

24. Atlanta Braves

25. Chicago White Sox

26. San Diego Padres

27. Cincinnati Reds

28. Tampa Bay Rays

29. Detroit Tigers

30. Miami Marlins

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Gotta put the reigning champs atop the initial Power Rankings. Plus, they lost virtually nothing in the offseason while getting even stronger with the addition of Gerrit Cole to a pitching rotation that already features two former Cy Young Award winners in Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel. I also have to put the Marlins as the worst team in baseball simply for how much they gave up in the offseason. I also don’t think they will be any good for at least another 3 or 4 years, maybe even 5 because of the generally weak prospect pool they received for their troubles. I still can’t believe Giancarlo Stanton didn’t warrant a return of everything the Yankees had in their farm system. The guy hit 59 home runs and was NL MVP last season. Now let’s get into the positional rankings for this season.

Positional Rankings:

Catcher

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1. Buster Posey-San Francisco Giants

2. Gary Sanchez-New York Yankees

3. Salvador Perez-Kansas City Royals

4. Willson Contreras-Chicago Cubs

5. Yadier Molina-St. Louis Cardinals

6. Tucker Barnhart-Cincinnati Reds

7. Mike Zunino-Seattle Mariners

8. Yasmani Grandal-Los Angeles Dodgers

9. Martin Maldonado-Anaheim Angels

10. Brian McCann-Houston Astros

1st Base

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1. Joey Votto-Cincinnati Reds

2. Paul Goldschmidt-Arizona Diamondbacks

3. Freddie Freeman-Atlanta Braves

4. Anthony Rizzo-Chicago Cubs

5. Cody Bellinger-Los Angeles Dodgers

6. Eric Hosmer-San Diego Padres

7. Jose Abreu-Chicago White Sox

8. Ryan Zimmerman-Washington Nationals

9. Greg Bird-New York Yankees

10. Matt Carpenter-St. Louis Cardinals

2nd Base

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1. Jose Altuve-Houston Astros

2. Robinson Cano-Seattle Mariners

3. Daniel Murphy-Washington Nationals

4. Jonathan Schoop-Baltimore Orioles

5. Dustin Pedroia-Boston Red Sox

6. DJ LeMahieu-Colorado Rockies

7. Javy Baez-Chicago Cubs

8. Brian Dozier-Minnesota Twins

9. Jason Kipnis-Cleveland Indians

10. Starlin Castro-Miami Marlins

3rd Base

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1. Kris Bryant-Chicago Cubs

2. Josh Donaldson-Toronto Blue Jays

3. Nolan Arenado-Colorado Rockies

4. Jose Ramirez-Cleveland Indians

5. Anthony Rendon-Washington Nationals

6. Justin Turner-Los Angeles Dodgers

7. Mike Moustakas-Kansas City Royals

8. Alex Bregman-Houston Astros

9. Evan Longoria-San Francisco Giants

10. Adrian Beltre-Texas Rangers

Shortstop

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1. Francisco Lindor-Cleveland Indians

2. Carlos Correa-Houston Astros

3. Corey Seager-Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Manny Machado-Baltimore Orioles

5. Andrelton Simmons-Anaheim Angels

6. Xander Bogaerts-Boston Red Sox

7. Didi Gregorius-New York Yankees

8. Elvis Andrus-Texas Rangers

9. Trea Turner-Washington Nationals

10. Jean Segura-Seattle Mariners

Left Field

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1. Marcell Ozuna-St. Louis Cardinals

2. Christian Yelich-Milwaukee Brewers

3. Yoenis Cespedes-New York Mets

4. Andrew Benintendi-Boston Red Sox

5. Justin Upton-Anaheim Angels

6. Tommy Pham-St. Louis Cardinals

7. Brett Gardner-New York Yankees

8. Corey Dickerson-Pittsburgh Pirates

9. Trey Mancini-Baltimore Orioles

10. Marwin Gonzalez-Houston Astros

Center Field

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1. Mike Trout-Anaheim Angels

2. Charlie Blackmon-Colorado Rockies

3. George Springer-Houston Astros

4. Lorenzo Cain-Milwaukee Brewers

5. Jackie Bradley Jr-Boston Red Sox

6. Byron Buxton-Minnesota Twins

7. Chris Taylor-Los Angeles Dodgers

8. Odubel Herrera-Philadelphia Phillies

9. Ender Inciarte-Atlanta Braves

10. Michael Conforto-New York Mets

Right Field

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1. Bryce Harper-Washington Nationals

2. Aaron Judge-New York Yankees

3. Mookie Betts-Boston Red Sox

4. Andrew McCutchen-San Francisco Giants

5. Yasiel Puig-Los Angeles Dodgers

6. Steven Souza Jr-Arizona Diamondbacks

7. Josh Reddick-Houston Astros

8. Jay Bruce-New York Mets

9. Avisail Garcia-Chicago White Sox

10. Domingo Santana-Milwaukee Brewers

Designated Hitter

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1. Giancarlo Stanton-New York Yankees

2. JD Martinez-Boston Red Sox

3. Edwin Encarnacion-Cleveland Indians

4. Nelson Cruz-Seattle Mariners

5. Khris Davis-Oakland Athletics

Starting Pitcher

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1. Clayton Kershaw-Los Angeles Dodgers

2. Max Scherzer-Washington Nationals

3. Corey Kluber-Cleveland Indians

4. Chris Sale-Boston Red Sox

5. Stephen Strasburg-Washington Nationals

6. Noah Syndergaard-New York Mets

7. Madison Bumgarner-San Francisco Giants

8. Luis Severino-New York Yankees

9. Zack Greinke-Arizona Diamondbacks

10. Robbie Ray-Arizona Diamondbacks

Relief Pitcher

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1. Kenley Jansen-Los Angeles Dodgers

2. Craig Kimbrel-Boston Red Sox

3. Corey Knebel-Milwaukee Brewers

4. Roberto Osuna-Toronto Blue Jays

5. Aroldis Chapman-New York Yankees

6. Andrew Miller-Cleveland Indians

7. Archie Bradley-Arizona Diamondbacks

8. Zach Britton-Baltimore Orioles

9. Wade Davis-Colorado Rockies

10. Pat Neshek-Philadelphia Phillies

And now onto the preseason awards where I award people for things they haven’t done yet and may not even do at all.

American League MVP: Aaron Judge-RF-New York Yankees

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National League MVP: Bryce Harper-RF-Washington Nationals

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American League Cy Young: Chris Sale-Boston Red Sox

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National League Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard-New York Mets

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American League Rookie of the Year: Willy Adames-SS-Tampa Bay Rays

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National League Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuna-OF-Atlanta Braves

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American League Manager of the Year: Mike Scioscia-Anaheim Angels

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National League Manager of the Year: Craig Counsell-Milwaukee Brewers

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And finally, on to my bold predictions for the 2018 MLB season. Some will be as harmless as saying “I don’t think the Yankees are going to hit as many home runs as everybody says they will,” and others could get me fired if I had a real job. So let’s get to some predictions.

Prediction: Clayton Kershaw will show slight signs of slowing down now that he’s 30 years old, will post an ERA over 2.50, something he hasn’t done since 2012. People will freak out and panic accordingly.

Prediction: The Yankees’ season will be filled with peaks and valleys en route to 98 wins. Considering Judge and Stanton strike out as often as anyone in baseball, this could lead to some rough slumps at times for the two and their team as a result. However, when they’re on, nobody will be able to beat the Yankees.

Prediction: The Baltimore Orioles will trade Manny Machado to a contender at the trade deadline. The Orioles won’t be super competitive in 2018 and Machado’s contract is up at the end of the year. The smart thing to do would be to trade him to a contender and load up on top prospects. Predicted landing spot? Uhhhh…how about the Brewers? I would say the Yankees but the Orioles’ brass has made it clear they’d prefer not to trade Machado within the division.

Prediction: The Yankees will not break the team home run record. This is mainly because I think teams are going to try and pitch the Yankees a little more carefully this season. Knowing the type of power this team possesses, I doubt they’re going to get great pitches to hit. This may lead to higher walk rates for the team, though.

Prediction: The Marlins won’t be nearly as bad as people think. But let’s be honest, the opinions of the Marlins’ talent can’t be much lower at the moment. However every season there’s a team that everyone thinks is going to be the worst and yet somehow they find ways to be just bad, not historically bad.

Prediction: The American League’s home run king will be an Oakland Athletics player. I can envision this happening, considering the power Khris Davis and Matt Olson showed last season. Matt Chapman could also be a sneaky home run threat as well.

Prediction: Mike Trout will finish outside the top 2 in AL MVP voting for the second consecutive season. This isn’t to say that I think Trout will struggle this season. Far from it. Last season was the first time in Trout’s Major League career (since 2012) that he didn’t finish in the top 2 in AL MVP voting and I think it’s going to happen again. As you saw in my awards predictions, I have Aaron Judge taking home top honors and Trout will have to compete with the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts, Josh Donaldson, Giancarlo Stanton, and many, many more.

Prediction: Don Mattingly will be out as Marlins manager before June. This won’t be Mattingly’s fault, nobody can succeed with this roster. However new ownership has pretty much let go of everyone else and Mattingly just logically seems to be the next domino to fall, especially when the Marlins inevitably struggle.

Prediction: Pace of Play will continue to be a topic of discussion and the new mound visit rule will be hated by catchers even though we could probably count the number of issues this rule causes on one hand. The new mound visit rule limits non-pitching-change mound visits to 6 per 9 inning games. There have already been players such as Willson Contreras who are outspoken against this, however if you think about it, catchers don’t really visit the mound all that much, especially if their guy is pitching really well. I don’t think this will cause nearly as many problems as some guys think it might.

Prediction: The newly-signed pitchers (Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta) will struggle. Darvish has had injury problems throughout his Major League career and Arrieta has been trending downward since winning the 2015 NL Cy Young Award. Im predicting both guys finish with ERA’s in the low-4’s.

So that’s going to do it for my MLB 2018 season preview. Words can’t express how excited I am for Thursday’s Opening Day to roll around, when all 30 teams will be opening on the same day for the first time in over 50 years. Let me know how you think this season’s going to go in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

MLB Top 100 Players

This is the finale of my MLB Postseason series. I did say that i would do a post where I attempt to measure luck, but I think that would go better as its own standalone post. The rules for this list are simple: be good at baseball. Like with my top 10 lists, players who missed a large portion of the season due to injury were not considered. So guys like Noah Syndergaard, Michael Brantley, and Yoenis Cespedes will not appear on this list despite the fact that they would rank very highly when healthy. I will only be providing explanations for the top 20, as doing it for all 100 players would just be insanity. So without further ado, here are my top 100 players.

100. Justin Smoak-1B-Toronto Blue Jays

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photo credit: Sporting News

99. Drew Pomeranz-SP-Boston Red Sox

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photo credit: MassLive.com

98. Tommy Kahnle-RP-New York Yankees

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photo credit: Times Union

97. Jean Segura-SS-Seattle Mariners

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photo credit: ESPN

96. Jason Kipnis-2B-Cleveland Indians

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photo credit: Cleveland.com

95. Alex Colome-CP-Tampa Bay Rays

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photo credit: Gammons Daily

94. Trea Turner-SS-Washington Nationals

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photo credit: MLB.com

93. Michael Fulmer-SP-Detroit Tigers

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

92. Kyle Seager-3B-Seattle Mariners

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photo credit: Seattle Times

91. Edwin Encarnacion-1B/DH-Cleveland Indians

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photo credit: Cleveland.com

90. DJ LeMahieu-2B-Colorado Rockies

San Diego Padres v Colorado Rockies

photo credit: Denver Post

89. Eddie Rosario-LF-Minnesota Twins

Eddie Rosario

photo credit: Pioneer Press

88. Carlos Martinez-SP-St. Louis Cardinals

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photo credit: Sporting News

87. Yasmani Grandal-C-Los Angeles Dodgers

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

86. Yadier Molina-C-St. Louis Cardinals

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs

photo credit: CBS Sports

85. Gio Gonzalez-SP-Washington Nationals

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photo credit: A DC Sports Podcast

84. Raisel Iglesias-CP-Cincinnati Reds

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photo credit: Da Cubs Project

83. Brett Gardner-LF-New York Yankees

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photo credit: Sporting News

82. Ender Inciarte-CF-Atlanta Braves

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photo credit: Tomahawk Take

81. Aaron Nola-SP-Philadelphia Phillies

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photo credit: MLB.com

80. Andrew McCutchen-CF-Pittsburgh Pirates

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photo credit: Sporting News

79. Ryan Zimmerman-1B-Washington Nationals

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photo credit: Washington Post

78. Justin Verlander-SP-Houston Astros

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photo credit: USA Today

77. Chad Green-RP-New York Yankees

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photo credit: MLB.com

76. Jacob deGrom-SP-New York Mets

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photo credit: New York Post

75. Ken Giles-CP-Houston Astros

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photo credit: ESPN

74. Zack Cozart-SS-Cincinnati Reds

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photo credit: ESPN

73. Avisail Garcia-RF-Chicago White Sox

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photo credit: Roto Professor

72. Pat Neshek-RP-Colorado Rockies

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photo credit: Zimbio.com

71. Elvis Andrus-SS-Texas Rangers

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photo credit: ESPN

70. Eric Hosmer-1B-Kansas City Royals

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photo credit: The Big Lead

69. Travis Shaw-3B-Milwaukee Brewers

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

68. Brian Dozier-2B-Minnesota Twins

MLB: AUG 25 Tigers at Twins

photo credit: Fan Rag Sports

67. Chris Archer-SP-Tampa Bay Rays

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photo credit: Stack.com

66. Josh Reddick-RF-Houston Astros

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photo credit: NBC Sports

65. JT Realmuto-C-Miami Marlins

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photo credit: NewsOK

64. Carlos Carrasco-SP-Cleveland Indians

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photo credit: MLB.com

63. Corey Knebel-CP-Milwaukee Brewers

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photo credit: MLB.com

62. Byron Buxton-CF-Minnesota Twins

Byron Buxton

photo credit: Pioneer Press

61. Chris Taylor-LF-Los Angeles Dodgers

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photo credit: Fan Rag Sports

60. Jimmy Nelson-SP-Milwaukee Brewers

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photo credit: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

59. Andrew Benintendi-LF-Boston Red Sox

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photo credit: Boston Globe

58. Wade Davis-CP-Chicago Cubs

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photo credit: Chicago Tribune

57. Javy Baez-2B-Chicago Cubs

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photo credit: CSN Chicago

56. Willson Contreras-C-Chicago Cubs

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photo credit: CSN Chicago

55. Jonathan Schoop-2B-Baltimore Orioles

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photo credit: Baltimore Sun

54. Lorenzo Cain-CF-Kansas City Royals

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photo credit: Kansas City Star

 

53. Archie Bradley-RP-Arizona Diamondbacks

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photo credit: Arizona Sports

52. Marcus Stroman-SP-Toronto Blue Jays

AL Wild Card Game: Baltimore Orioles v. Toronto Blue Jays

photo credit: MLB.com

51. Dustin Pedroia-2B-Boston Red Sox

St. Louis Cardinals vs Boston Red Sox, 2013 World Series

photo credit: WSBM

50. Jose Abreu-1B-Chicago White Sox

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photo credit: MLB.com

49. Robinson Cano-2B-Seattle Mariners

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photo credit: Gammons Daily

 

48.Xander Bogaerts-SS-Boston Red Sox

Xander Bogaerts

photo credit: Boston Herald

47. Roberto Osuna-CP-Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays open a three game series against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 5-3 win

photo credit: Toronto Star

46. Tommy Pham-LF-St. Louis Cardinals

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photo credit: USA Today

45. Michael Conforto-LF-New York Mets

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photo credit: NJ.com

44. Manny Machado-3B-Baltimore Orioles

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles

photo credit: The Baltimore Wire

43. Didi Gregorius-SS-New York Yankees

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees

photo credit: Sports on Earth

42. Salvador Perez-C-Kansas City Royals

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

41. Cody Bellinger-1B-Los Angeles Dodgers

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photo credit: NY Daily News

40. Daniel Murphy-2B-Washington Nationals

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photo credit: Federal Baseball

39. Christian Yelich-CF-Miami Marlins

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Miami Marlins

photo credit: MLB Trade Rumors

38. Robbie Ray-SP-Arizona Diamondbacks

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photo credit: Sporting News

37. Justin Turner-3B-Los Angeles Dodgers

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photo credit: LA Times

36. Justin Upton-LF-Anaheim Angels

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Texas Rangers

photo credit: Upstate Sports Zone

35. Andrew Miller-RP-Cleveland Indians

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Indians

photo credit: CBS Sports

34. JD Martinez-RF-Arizona Diamondbacks

Atlanta Braves v Arizona Diamondbacks

photo credit: WXYZ.com

33. Gary Sanchez-C-New York Yankees

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photo credit: NY Daily News

32. Luis Severino-SP-New York Yankees

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photo credit: New York Post

31. Andrelton Simmons-SS-Anaheim Angels

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photo credit: MLB.com

30. Marcell Ozuna-LF-Miami Marlins

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photo credit: Yahoo Sports

29. Anthony Rizzo-1B-Chicago Cubs

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

28. Buster Posey-C-San Francisco Giants

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

27. Zack Greinke-SP-Arizona Diamondbacks

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

26. Craig Kimbrel-CP-Boston Red Sox

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photo credit: Over the Monster

25. Anthony Rendon-3B-Washington Nationals

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photo credit: Roto Professor

24. Mookie Betts-RF-Boston Red Sox

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photo credit: isportsweb

23. Kenley Jansen-CP-Los Angeles Dodgers

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photo credit: USA Today

22. Stephen Strasburg-SP-Washington Nationals

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photo credit: SportsGlory

21. Jose Ramirez-3B-Cleveland Indians

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photo credit: ESPN

20. Corey Seager-SS-Los Angeles Dodgers

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photo credit: Youtube

Corey Seager, last year’s NL Rookie of the Year, is only 23 years old yet is widely considered to be the best position player on the winningest team in the majors. He had a slashline of .295/.375/.479 with 22 home runs and 77 RBI and was worth 5.7 WAR on the year. While those numbers are down from his monster 2016 season, they are still stats most players would consider to be a career year.

19. Carlos Correa-SS-Houston Astros

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photo credit: Sporting News

The closest comparison to Carlos Correa is a young Alex Rodriguez. Both broke in as very young, larger than average shortstops with prolific five-tool skillsets. Correa carried a slashline of .315/.391/.550 this year with 24 home runs and 84 RBI, being worth 5.2 WAR. Amazingly enough, Correa isn’t even the highest rated player on his own team, nor even the second.

18. Freddie Freeman-1B-Atlanta Braves

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photo credit: Tomahawk Take

I noted in yesterday’s Top 10’s blog that Freddie Freeman didn’t hit a single infield fly/popup on the season. Consdering he played in 117 games, that makes the feat all the more absurd. Freeman battled injuries throughout the year but that didn’t stop him from slashing .307/.403/.586 with 28 home runs, 71 RBI, and a 4.5 WAR. He was also doing all of this while learning how to play third base for a little while.

17. Josh Donaldson-3B-Toronto Blue Jays

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photo credit: Baseball Essential

The 2015 AL MVP’s stats have been on the decline over the past couple of years, but they are still fearsome nonetheless. Donaldson hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and 78 RBI with a 5.0 WAR all while dealing with injuries.

16. George Springer-CF-Houston Astros

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

George Springer pretty much did it all for the Astros as he hit .283/.367/.522 with 34 home runs and 85 RBI with a 4.5 WAR and playing some exciting defense in the outfield. And the scary thing to think about is that Springer still has yet to unleash his full potential.

15. Francisco Lindor-SS-Cleveland Indians

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Francisco Lindor had 27 career home runs entering the 2017 season. By the end of the year, he had 60 career bombs. Lindor’s 33 homers led all shortstops this season and he kept up his usual impressive rate stats as well, slashing at .273/.349/.478 and being worth 5.9 WAR.

14. Nolan Arenado-3B-Colorado Rockies

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photo credit: Denver Post

Arenado is a prime MVP candidate this year, slashing .309/.373/.586 with 37 home runs and 130 RBI while playing stellar defense at the hot corner. Arenado was worth 5.6 WAR and is a big reason the Rockies are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

13. Charlie Blackmon-CF-Colorado Rockies

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

I wrote in my Awards blog that I think Charlie Blackmon should be the MVP of the NL and his numbers really back it up. He slashed .331/.399/.601 and hit 37 home runs and 104 RBI while scoring 137 runs, all out of the leadoff spot. His 6.5 WAR was a huge increase over his previous career high of 4.1 in 2016.

12. Kris Bryant-3B-Chicago Cubs

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Bryant didn’t have the dominant year he had in 2016 where he won NL MVP but he still put up MVP-caliber numbers. He slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 home runs and 73 RBI while being worth 6.7 WAR. Bryant’s heroics have the Cubs in the postseason for the third straight year.

11. Paul Goldschmidt-1B-Arizona Diamondbacks

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photo credit: CBS Sports

Goldy slashed .297/.404/.563 and is once again in the thick of the NL MVP race. He hit 36 home runs, knocked in 120 RBI, and stole 18 bases, a high total for a first baseman, though low by his standards. Goldschmidt has been a key cog in the Diamondbacks’ big turnaround season.

10. Chris Sale-SP-Boston Red Sox

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photo credit: NESN

Chris Sale was one of the biggest offseason acquisitions in franchise history for the Red Sox and he really delivered. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and struck out 308 batters, second most in franchise history next to Pedro Martinez’s 313 in 1999. And Sale was scratched from his start on the regular season’s final day to keep him rested for the ALDS, otherwise he most certainly would have gotten the franchise mark. He finished with a WAR of 7.7, tops among all pitchers.

9. Corey Kluber-SP-Cleveland Indians

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photo credit: Let’s Go Tribe

After struggling to start the first month of the season, Corey Kluber hit the DL. When he came back, he ran roughshod over the Major Leagues, finishing the year with an 18-4 record with a 2.25 ERA and 265 strikeouts with a WAR of 7.3. He looks primed to lead the Indians to their first championship since 1948.

8. Aaron Judge-RF-New York Yankees

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photo credit: Sport News Magazine

The rookie sensation was unstoppable for most of the season. However a bad July-August has him dropping down this list a little bit, yet he’s still in the top 10, which goes to show just how good a year he had. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs and slashed .284/.422/.627 with 114 RBI and led the majors with a WAR of 8.2. This guy still has a lot of work to do to realize his full potential. That’s a scary thought.

7. Giancarlo Stanton-RF-Miami Marlins

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photo credit: FanRag Sports

After a miserable 2016, Stanton exploded in 2017 with 59 home runs, the most since Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001. Stanton was more than just a home run guy. He slashed .281/.376/.631 and drove in a league-high 132 RBI and had a WAR of 6.9 (nice). Stanton was arguably the most exciting player in the majors this season and it will be interesting to see what kinds of postseason awards he garners.

6. Max Scherzer-SP-Washington Nationals

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photo credit: The Big Lead

Scherzer was up to his usual tricks this season, going 16-6 with a 2.51 ERA with 268 strikeouts and a 6.0 WAR. He is, however, currently dealing with an injury that should have Nats fans concerned about his effectiveness in the postseason. Lucky for Washington, they are loaded at starting pitching this year but will need their ace if they hope to take home the franchise’s first World Series title.

5. Joey Votto-1B-Cincinnati Reds

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photo credit: Cincinnati Enquirer

Joey Votto is insanely good but because he plays for the lowly Reds, he doesn’t get the credit he deserves. This year, he slashed .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and a 6.6 WAR all while playing in all 162 games for a team that never had a chance at sniffing the postseason. And of those 162 games he played in, there were only 12 in which he did not reach base. Somehow, in his 10th year, he continues to get better and better.

4. Jose Altuve-2B-Houston Astros

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photo creidt: ESPN

 

Altuve seems to get better every season. This year, he slashed .346/.410/.547, all career highs, with 24 home runs, 81 RBI, and 32 stolen bases, adding up to a 7.5 WAR. Not bad for a guy that’s shorter than my mom.

3. Clayton Kershaw-SP-Los Angeles Dodgers

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photo credit: Chicago Tribune

If you say there’s a pitcher in baseball better than Clayton Kershaw, you have no business talking baseball. He somehow manages to lower his already minuscule ERA every single year. This year, though he was battling injuries, he went 18-4 with a 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts, all while missing over a month. This hurt his overall WAR at 4.6 but that still rates as ninth best in the majors.

2. Bryce Harper-RF-Washington Nationals

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photo credit: USA Today

Bryce Harper is probably the most talented ballplayer I have ever seen. He does literally everything well and he showed that with a line of .319/.413/.595 with 29 home runs and 87 RBI with a WAR of 4.8. If not for stepping on a wet bag the wrong way and missing the last month of the season, he’d likely be running away with the NL MVP, which would be his second before his 25th birthday.

1.Mike Trout-CF-Anaheim Angels

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photo credit: MLB.com

All hail Trout. The guy that consistently tops the best player in the game rankings, he has gotten compared to guys like Mickey Mantle, who in my opinion would have been the greatest player of all time had he not had two of the worst knees ever given to a human being. Mike Trout also battled injuries this season but that didn’t stop him from hitting .306/.442/.629 with 33 home runs, 72 RBI, 22 stolen bases, and a 6.9 WAR (nice). Trout likely will fall out of the top-2 in AL MVP voting for the first time in his career (yes, you read that right) due to the prolonged injury in the middle of the season and the rise of Altuve and Judge, but he is still in my mind the greatest player in the game today and it’s going to take a LOT to unseat the 26 year-old.

Those are my rankings. Did I miss anyone? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or on Twitter @jimwyman10.