The first three months of the 2017 season are behind us, and it’s time for our monthly look at the top 100 players in baseball.
When we did this coming into the season, the rankings were based on reasonable expectations — using things like age and recent performance history — to make educated guesses at which players would provide the most value in 2017. Since then, though, each installment has been about performance to date. As such, the rankings you’re about to see reflect nothing more than who has been the best through the first half of the 2017 season.
The preceding has been italicized for emphasis. Now we’re going to bold it and italicize it — and perhaps even brandish a larger font size — for even more emphasis:
The rankings you’re about to see reflect nothing more than who has been the best through the first half of the 2017 season.
In coming up with these rankings, your scribe paid no heed to what might or might not be sustainable. Some of the names will be very much at home among the game’s best, while others belong to players who have solidly over-performed or are just establishing themselves as premium performers. Whatever the case, we’re not worried about whether the performances will stick. It’s all about what has happened in 2017 thus far.
As for what matters, with position players it’s a mix of batting, defense and base running. On offense, we’re not concerned with things like RBI. Getting on base and hitting for power matter above all, as do playing time, context of the player’s home ballpark, and production relative to positional peers (e.g., the offensive bar is lower for shortstops and catchers than it is for first basemen and DHs).
For pitchers — and since this is a backward-looking assessment of value provided — run prevention and workload will be the drivers, but we’ll also give some consideration to underlying fundamental indicators like strikeouts and walks. When it comes to relievers, leverage, or the relative importance of the innings a reliever works, are taken into account. (Note: It’s hard for relievers to crack this list in the first place, given how much more valuable starting pitchers tend to be, thanks to their much higher innings loads.)
Again, this is all about 2017 to date, and the rankings suggest nothing about whether the player in question can maintain the current level of performance going forward. As such, the next time you see this list, it’ll probably look very different.
As always, reach out to the author at his personal email address — email@example.com — with all your complaints. He looks forward to a productive dialogue …
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