Major League Baseball's 60-game regular season gets underway in less than two weeks. Here are the 20 best players entering the unprecedented 2020 season. Note: projections are courtesy 2020 Steamer from FanGraphs.
Just missed the cut: Javy Baez, J.T. Realmuto, Walker Buehler, Josh Donaldson, Aaron Judge, Bryce Harper, Josh Hader, Pete Alonso, Shohei Ohtani, J.D. Martinez, Shane Bieber
Devers mashed 10 homers in his first 58 games in 2017, becoming a teenage phenom, but he underwent a sophomore slump the following year. Now, though, the young third baseman has settled into his role in the heart of the Red Sox order, leading the AL in doubles and MLB in total bases last year.
Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young winner and has finished in the top five in voting in each of the last seven seasons. Yet he still set a career-best FIP last season at the ripe age of 34. The veteran right-hander may not be a lock to eat as many innings as before, but Scherzer feels like a constant threat to throw a no-hitter every time he takes the hill.
After Bogaerts received a six-year, $120-million extension prior to last season, the shortstop managed to set career highs in homers, RBIs, OBP, SLG, and wRC+. The only shortstops better by WAR last year were MVP finalists Alex Bregman and Marcus Semien.
Torres already has a pair of All-Star selections after only two seasons. The 23-year-old also finished with MVP votes last year after clubbing 38 homers. It's a shame that he will only face Orioles pitching in 10 contests in 2020 after he recorded a 1.512 OPS and 13 homers in 18 games versus Baltimore last season.
Freeman's wife Chelsea shared that the Braves first baseman - who recently tested positive for COVID-19 - has experienced headaches, body aches, and a high fever. If Freeman is able to play this season, his bat is worth setting your watch to, with an OPS+ north of 130 in each of the last seven seasons and at least 20 homers in seven of the last nine campaigns.
Altuve hasn't been the hit king for two seasons in a row after leading the AL for four straight campaigns, but that's largely due to injuries. The 30-year-old was one of only two second basemen last season to post a .900 OPS or better.
Chapman entered MLB known for his decent hitting abilities and elite fielding skills at the hot corner. Now, the 27-year-old has two Platinum Gloves on his mantle, but he's also cemented himself as one of the best hitting third basemen in the league, ranking third in WAR last year at the position and hitting more homers than Anthony Rendon or Devers.
Verlander is fresh off claiming an overdue second Cy Young, so what did the veteran right-hander do this offseason? He underwent a "full rebuild" of his pitching mechanics. The 37-year-old averaged the 12th-fastest fastball last year and still believes he can throw harder.
The All-Star third baseman finished third in NL MVP voting after putting together a career season in 2019. He was rewarded with a seven-year, $245-million free-agent contract from the Angels. Rendon could be even better this year offensively with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani providing protection in what should be a lethal lineup.
Arenado is reliably excellent. The 29-year-old has won the Gold Glove in every single season he's played, has appeared in at least 155 games in each of the last four campaigns, and has banked at least 37 homers and 110 RBIs every year since 2015.
Cole became baseball's richest pitcher this offseason following a campaign that saw him lead the AL in ERA and FIP, finish second in AL Cy Young voting, and strike out more hitters than any other pitcher. No one has a better K/9 over the past two seasons, and only Jacob deGrom and Scherzer have accumulated more WAR among pitchers.
Soto was an integral part of the World Series champion Nationals' lineup during his sophomore campaign last year. The 21-year-old eclipsed 100 RBIs for the first time and got on base at a .401 clip.
There was chatter in spring training that Acuna could be primed to make history with the first 50-50 season after recording 41 homers and 37 stolen bases in his age-21 campaign in 2019. He won't have a chance to do that in 60 games, but a 20-20 season would reignite the conversation heading into 2021.
DeGrom cemented himself among pitching's elite by obtaining his second consecutive NL Cy Young last season thanks to a stellar 2.43 ERA and league-leading 255 strikeouts. Over the past two campaigns, the Mets right-hander has arguably been baseball's top hurler, as evidenced by his MLB-leading WAR and FIP among starting pitchers.
Last season was a career year for Bregman, who received 13 first-place votes for AL MVP. The 26-year-old posted career highs in runs, homers, RBIs, walks, and OPS while reducing his strikeouts. He also split his season defensively between third base and shortstop, where he filled in admirably for the injured Carlos Correa.
Will baseball's best shortstop be traded amid a pandemic? The four-time All-Star can hit free agency following the 2021 campaign, and the Indians have historically been reluctant to dish out monster contracts. Regardless of Lindor's uncertain future, the 26-year-old has already accrued multiple Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers and is coming off three straight 30-plus homer campaigns.
Bellinger set career highs in every offensive category except triples last season en route to the NL MVP. The versatile 24-year-old also played above-average defense at three different positions for the Dodgers.
The 2018 AL MVP's stint in Dodger blue could be short but sweet with free agency looming. Betts, who owns a career .301/.374/.519 slash line, will see plenty of pitches to hit with Bellinger, Max Muncy, Corey Seager, and Justin Turner in the same lineup.
Yelich might've been the reigning two-time NL MVP if his season hadn't come to an end in early September due to a knee injury. He finished as the runner-up after winning his second straight batting title and belting 44 homers despite missing an entire month. It's a scary thought that the three-time Silver Slugger is just entering his prime years.
Trout is the undisputed best player in baseball. The eight-time All-Star collected a third AL MVP last season to add to what has already been a Hall of Fame-worthy career, and he's still just 28 years old. The big question heading into the 2020 campaign is if he will play, as he's already said that his pregnant wife's health is his top priority.