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MLBRank 100-51: Impressive young stars move up the rankings

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Olney: Ohtani has chance to be in MVP discussion (0:58)

Buster Olney says Shohei Ohtani is one of the most impactful players in the league due to his contributions on the mound and at the plate. (0:58)

Who are the best players going to be in Major League Baseball for the 2018 season? To determine this, ESPN formed a panel of MLB writers, analysts, contributors and Insiders to rank the top 100. We polled almost 40 experts who voted from a list of just under 300 players.

We're starting with Nos. 100-51, which includes 23 new players from last season's top 100. We'll reveal Nos. 50-1 on Wednesday. We've included Dan Szymborski's preseason ZiPS projected WAR for every player, starting with a young Phillies pitcher.


No. 100: Aaron Nola, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.3

Did you know?

When Nola started for the Phillies on Opening Day, he was 24 years and 298 days old. He was the youngest Phillies Opening Day starter since Dennis Bennett in 1964. He earned that with a 3.54 ERA in 2017 that by far led Phillies starters. -- ESPN Stats & Information

No. 99: Chris Taylor, CF, Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.7

Did you know?

Taylor completed his first full season with the Dodgers as far more than an injury replacement, finishing among the top three in on-base percentage (.354) and slugging percentage (.496) on a roster with no shortage of young stars. The question remains as to whether he can do it again, as his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was the highest on the team (.361). -- Riley Foreman, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 98: Ender Inciarte, CF, Atlanta Braves

2017 rank: 94

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.4

Did you know?

Inciarte can do it with the bat and the glove. From 2015 to 2017, he's one of just six players with both a .300 batting average (minimum 500 PA) and at least one Gold Glove. Last season, he became the first Brave to collect at least 200 hits in a season since Marquis Grissom in 1996 and just the fourth player to do so since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966. -- Evan Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 97: Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners

2017 rank: 60

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.4

Did you know?

Only four position players in Mariners history have a higher WAR than Seager -- Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Ichiro Suzuki and his current hitting coach, Edgar Martinez. While "Corey's Brother" may not be the flashiest name in Seattle, his preseason 4.4 ZiPS projected WAR in 2018 is a full win better than any of his teammates. -- Foreman, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 96: Kevin Kiermaier, CF, Tampa Bay Rays

2017 rank: 82

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.3

Did you know?

From 2015 to 2017, no player in the majors had more defensive runs saved than Kiermaier's 89. In that time, the second most belonged to Andrelton Simmons (75). It's the most defensive runs saved in a three-year span since Simmons had 94 from 2013 to 2015 (note -- Kiermaier injured his thumb Sunday and could miss 8-12 weeks). -- Matt Willis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 95: Jean Segura, SS, Seattle Mariners

2017 rank: 93

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.1

Did you know?

Since the start of 2016, only four players in the majors have hit over .300 and stolen more than 50 bases -- Segura, Trea Turner, Mike Trout, and José Altuve. The latter two have been named American League MVP in that span. -- Foreman, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 94: Michael Fulmer, RHP, Detroit Tigers

2017 rank: 78

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.9

Did you know?

In Fulmer's first two major league seasons (2016-17), he ranked fifth among AL pitchers with 0.81 homers per nine innings, and led the league in that category in 2017 (0.71). The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year made his first All-Star appearance in 2017. -- Sopan Shah, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 93: Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Washington Nationals

2017 rank: 32

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 0.8

Did you know?

Zimmerman is one of the most prolific players in Nationals/Expos franchise history. He has the most home runs and RBIs of any player to wear either uniform, and has the second-most career games played. And he got to those records with a resurgent 2017 that included a career-high 36 home runs and 108 RBIs, his second-most ever and most since 2006, when he finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 92: A.J. Pollock, CF, Arizona Diamondbacks

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.4

Did you know?

Despite being hampered by injuries, Pollock has shown that he can be a five-tool player when healthy. In his one complete season in 2015, Pollock hit 20 homers with 39 stolen bases, while batting .315 and winning a Gold Glove. -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 91: DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Colorado Rockies

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.1

Did you know?

LeMahieu has been a hit machine the past few seasons, collecting 551 hits from 2015 to 2017, fourth most in MLB. LeMahieu was the 2016 NL batting champ, and has hit .319 over the previous three seasons, third best in baseball. -- John McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 90: Rhys Hoskins, LF, Philadelphia Phillies

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.6

Did you know?

In his rookie season Hoskins slugged 18 homers in just 50 games. Prior to that, the most home runs by a player who played in 50 or fewer games was 14, done by Sam Horn in 1987. -- McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 89: Carlos Santana, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.3

Did you know?

Santana is one of six players to play in 150-plus games in each season since 2013 (Kyle Seager, Nick Markakis, Evan Longoria, Robinson Canó and José Altuve are the others). Since entering the league in 2010, Santana is one of three players to record five seasons with at least 85 walks and 20 home runs, along with Joey Votto (six) and José Bautista (five). -- ESPN Stats & Information

No. 88: Yasiel Puig, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.2

Did you know?

Puig quietly put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2017, setting career highs for homers (28) and stolen bases (15) while posting an .833 OPS. The underlying numbers support his improvement, too -- he set career bests with a 17.5 K percentage and 11.2 walk percentage -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 87: Wade Davis, RP, Colorado Rockies

2017 rank: 65

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 1.7

Did you know?

Few pitchers have been as effective out of the bullpen than Davis in recent years, and that's in part due to limiting the long ball. Only 0.9 percent of batters faced homered off Davis from 2014 to 2017, tied with Zach Britton for the lowest rate in the majors. -- McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 86: Yadier Molina, C, St. Louis Cardinals

2017 rank: 77

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.6

Did you know?

Molina's eight career Gold Gloves ranks third among catchers. Last year, Molina had one of his more productive seasons with the bat. His 82 RBIs were a career high, and his 18 home runs were his most since he finished fourth in the MVP race in 2012. -- Mackenzie Kraemer, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 85: Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox

2017 rank: 38

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.2

Did you know?

Few shortstops produce with the bat the way Bogaerts does. From 2015 to 2017, Bogaerts posted a 12.8 offensive WAR (oWAR). The only regular shortstop with a higher oWAR in that span was Carlos Correa. Bogaerts hit .296 with a .352 OBP in that time (note -- on the DL with an ankle injury). -- McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 84: Archie Bradley, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 1.7

Did you know?

Bradley posted a 5.18 ERA in 34 starts in the majors before shifting to the bullpen, a move that has given him new life. Bradley posted a 1.73 ERA in 73 innings out of the pen last season, fifth best among NL relievers. -- McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 83: Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers

2017 rank: 23

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.0

Did you know?

Cabrera finally showed signs of slowing down last season as he posted career lows in batting average (.249) and OPS (.728). Even if he doesn't return to his Triple Crown ways, a slight increase in those numbers would still make an effective everyday hitter. -- McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 82: Gerrit Cole, RHP, Houston Astros

2017 rank: 92

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.9

Did you know?

Cole posted a career-worst 4.26 ERA last season, but beneath the surface, his season was much closer to the first four of his career. After allowing home runs on 6.8 percent of fly balls in his first four seasons, he allowed homers on 11.8 percent of fly balls in 2017. Combining that bad luck with his second career 200-inning season, Cole managed to end up with the second-highest WAR of his career (2.8). -- Mills, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 81: David Price, LHP, Boston Red Sox

2017 rank: 61

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.4

Did you know?

Price is one of seven pitchers to record five seasons or more of at least 200 strikeouts and double-digit victories in the past 10 seasons -- others are Justin Verlander (7), Clayton Kershaw (7), Félix Hernández (6), Zack Greinke (6), Max Scherzer (6) and Chris Sale (5). -- Brendan DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 80: Cody Allen, RP, Cleveland Indians

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 1.7

Did you know?

Since becoming the Indians' primary closer in 2014, Allen has consistently performed at a high level. He and Kenley Jansen are the only pitchers to record at least 20 saves with an ERA under 3.00 in each of the previous four seasons, owning a strong 12.1 K/9 innings pitched in that span as well. -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 79: J.T. Realmuto, C, Miami Marlins

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.8

Did you know?

One of the last men standing after the Marlins' offseason rebuild, Realmuto finished fourth among catchers in WAR last season (3.6). He is second among backstops in hits during the past two seasons, and he has impressive athleticism for a catcher, stealing at least eight bases in each of the past three seasons (note -- on the DL with a back injury). -- Kraemer, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 78: Tommy Pham, CF, St. Louis Cardinals

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.3

Did you know?

Only three players hit 20 home runs, stole 20 bases and hit .300 last season: two-time MVP Mike Trout, 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve and Pham. Prior to Pham in 2017, no Cardinal had ever posted a 20-20-.300 season. -- McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 77: Miguel Sano, 3B, Minnesota Twins

2017 rank: 34

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.7

Did you know?

Sanó was an All-Star for the first time last season, becoming the youngest Twins third baseman to make the All-Star team since Rich Rollins in 1962. Sanó also had a 92.3 mph average exit velocity in 2017, the fourth highest of any player with at least 100 batted ball results. -- Harrison Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 76: Didi Gregorius, SS, New York Yankees

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.2

Did you know?

Last season, Gregorius posted career highs in home runs (25), RBIs (87), OPS (.796), and runs (73). Gregorius also came up big in October, when he became the first player in MLB history with three home runs in winner-take-all games during the same postseason. -- Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 75: Jose Quintana, LHP, Chicago Cubs

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.9

Did you know?

One of Quintana's best pitches is his two-seam fastball. Last year, opponents hit .254 in at-bats ending on the pitch, the sixth-lowest opponent batting average among pitchers with at least 200 at-bats decided by two-seamers. When you're sixth on a list led by Dallas Keuchel (.216 opp. BA), you're probably doing something right. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 74: Willson Contreras, C, Chicago Cubs

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.8

Did you know?

Contreras flashed a rare combination of plate discipline and power for a catcher last season. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, the 25-year-old would have been the only catcher in baseball to hit 20 home runs with a .350 OBP. -- Kraemer, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 73: James Paxton, LHP, Seattle Mariners

2017 rank: 70

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.9

Did you know?

Last season, Paxton posted a 2.63 ERA and held opponents to a .580 OPS after the All-Star break -- both the best marks by a southpaw with more than 50 innings pitched in that span. The "Big Maple" was especially hot in July, becoming the third lefty pitcher in the past 30 years to go 6-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA and 40 K's in a calendar month, joining Clayton Kershaw and Randy Johnson (twice). -- Foreman, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 72: Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.7

Did you know?

Last season, Beltré became the fourth player in MLB history to have at least 3,000 hits, 450 homers and 600 doubles in his career, joining Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Stan Musial and Carl Yastrzemski. Beltré's 93.5 wins above replacement are the second most among active players behind only Albert Pujols. -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 71: Marcus Stroman, RHP, Toronto Blue Jays

2017 rank: 59

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.3

Did you know?

Stroman's 63.1 percent ground ball rate was the highest among starting pitchers last season. In fact, it was the third highest by any starting pitcher in the past five seasons. He is also one of eight pitchers with at least 200 innings pitched in each of the past two seasons. -- C.J. Hangen, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 70: Lorenzo Cain, CF, Milwaukee Brewers

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.3

Did you know?

Cain had the second-best season of his career by WAR in 2017, posting 5.3 WAR (he had 7.2 in 2015). He was one of four primary-position center fielders to hit .300 or better in 2017, along with Charlie Blackmon (.331), Mike Trout (.306) and Ender Inciarte (.304). Cain hit .300. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 69: Yoenis Cespedes, LF, New York Mets

2017 rank: 55

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.4

Did you know?

From 2016 to 2017, Céspedes led the Mets in RBIs (128) and OPS (.887), despite playing in a career-low 81 games last season. In 2016, Céspedes became the first Mets player since David Wright in 2008 to win a Silver Slugger Award. Céspedes, Carlos Beltrán (2) and Darryl Strawberry (2) are the only outfielders in Mets history to win a Silver Slugger. -- Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 68: Kyle Hendricks, RHP, Chicago Cubs

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.2

Did you know?

The 2016 ERA leader got off to a slow start in 2017, posting a 4.09 ERA prior to the All-Star break. By the end of the season Hendricks was back to form though. He posted a 2.19 ERA after the break, third best in baseball. -- McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 67: Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Baltimore Orioles

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.0

Did you know?

During the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Schoop proved to be one of the top power-hitting second basemen in the majors. In that time he ranked fourth in home runs (57) and extra-base hits (131) among second basemen. -- McTigue, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 66: Salvador Perez, C, Kansas City Royals

2017 rank: 73

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.6

Did you know?

Pérez is one of two catchers all time to win at least four Gold Gloves and a World Series MVP (Johnny Bench). He has raised his home run total in each of his seven seasons, up to a career-best 27 in 2017 (note -- on the DL with a left knee injury). -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 65: Jake Arrieta, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

2017 rank: 66

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.1

Did you know?

While he's coming off a down season by his standards, Arrieta has the fifth-best WHIP among starting pitchers during the past four seasons (1.03, minimum 100 starts). He has made an All-Star appearance and won the 2015 NL Cy Young Award in that span. -- Kraemer, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 64: Eric Hosmer, 1B, San Diego Padres

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.4

Did you know?

Hosmer had a career year in 2017 by many measures, with 4.0 WAR, a .318 batting average, .882 OPS and 25 home runs -- all of which were career highs. Then, in the offseason, the Padres gave him an eight-year, $144 million deal, the most money they've ever committed to a free agent. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 63: Daniel Murphy, 2B, Washington Nationals

2017 rank: 30

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.7

Did you know?

Since signing with the Nationals prior to the 2016 season, Murphy has turned into one of the top sluggers in the game. He is one of four hitters to hit .320 or better each of the past two seasons, and his .956 OPS in that span leads all second basemen. Last year, he hit .409 with runners in scoring position, which led the majors (note -- on the DL with a right knee injury). -- Kraemer, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 62: Jon Lester, LHP, Chicago Cubs

2017 rank: 43

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.5

Did you know?

Lester is a model of durability, as he is the only pitcher to start at least 30 games in each of the past 10 seasons. Though his numbers were down last season, Lester kept his strikeout rate (23.6 percent) right near his career average, and a relatively high BABIP (.313) suggests that a return to his previous solid numbers is coming. -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 61: Andrew Benintendi, LF, Boston Red Sox

2017 rank: 72

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.8

Did you know?

Last season, Benintendi finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting to Aaron Judge. He became the third Red Sox player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in his rookie season, joining 1997 Rookie of the Year Nomar Garciaparra and Ellis Burks in 1987. -- Willis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 60: Brian Dozier, 2B, Minnesota Twins

2017 rank: 75

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.6

Did you know?

During the past five seasons, Dozier leads all primary second basemen in home runs (131), walks (292) and XBH (283). Last season, Dozier hit 34 home runs and drove in 93 runs, all from the leadoff spot. He became one of five players in MLB history with at least 30 home runs and 90 RBIs in a season from the leadoff spot. -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 59: Andrelton Simmons, SS, Los Angeles Angels

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.0

Did you know?

With 144 defensive runs saved from 2013 to 2017, Simmons has 39 more than any other player. The 39-run gap between Simmons and second-place Nolan Arenado is one fewer than the gap from Arenado to 12th on the leaderboard. The only other player since 2010 with a streak of six straight seasons with at least 15 defensive runs saved is Jason Heyward. -- ESPN Stats & Information

No. 58: Justin Upton, LF, Los Angeles Angels

2017 rank: 100

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.6

Did you know?

Only two players in the past two seasons have had a year where they had at least 35 homers, 100 runs, 100 RBIs and 40 doubles -- Upton and Nolan Arenado. Upton is also one of six players going into 2018 with a streak of five straight 25-home run seasons. -- Willis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 57: Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.8

Did you know?

Bregman struggled in his first 10 games after being called up in 2016, recording just two hits in his first 38 at-bats. But since hitting his first home run on Aug. 16, 2016, he has been one of the most potent hitters in the Astros' lineup. His 27 homers from that point until the end of 2017 are third on the team, behind George Springer and José Altuve, and Altuve is the only other Astro with 100 runs and 100 RBIs in that span. -- Mills, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 56: Byron Buxton, CF, Minnesota Twins

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.2

Did you know?

Buxton's game is his speed -- and it helps him excel both on the field and on the basepaths. He had a sprint speed of 30.1 feet per second last season, the fastest of anyone in the majors, according to Statcast. He also recorded 29 outs above average, the most of any outfielder, also according to Statcast. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 54: Aroldis Chapman, RP, New York Yankees

2017 rank: 55

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 1.8

Did you know?

From his first season in 2010 through 2017, Aroldis Chapman threw 2,687 pitches that registered at least 100 mph on the radar gun, over 2,000 more than any other pitcher in the majors. Chapman is one of five pitchers to record at least 200 saves since 2010, along with Craig Kimbrel, Fernando Rodney, Kenley Jansen and Jonathan Papelbon. -- Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 54: Carlos Martinez, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

2017 rank: 48

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.4

Did you know?

In his first three full seasons since becoming a full-time starter in 2015, Martínez has a 3.24 ERA and has made two All-Star teams thanks in part to his nasty stuff. Last season, his fastball averaged 96.0 mph, a mark only topped by Luis Severino among qualified pitchers. -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 53: Madison Bumgarner, LHP, San Francisco Giants

2017 rank: 25

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.8

Did you know?

Bumgarner has been one of the best pitchers in the National League over the past few years. His 2.91 ERA from 2013 through 2017 ranked fifth among starters with at least 500 innings pitched in the NL. And don't forget his hitting -- last Opening Day, Bumgarner became the first pitcher to hit multiple home runs on the season's first day. He has 17 homers in his career. (note -- on the DL with a left hand injury). -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 52: Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Los Angeles Angels

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.7

Did you know?

Ohtani is attempting to do things that we haven't seen in a while. Already, he has accomplished multiple feats under the umbrella of "not since Babe Ruth," including hitting three home runs in between starts on the mound, according to Elias research. He already has taken a perfect game into the seventh inning this season and hit multiple 400-foot home runs, according to Statcast. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 51: Chris Archer, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

2017 rank: 40

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.2

Did you know?

Archer is one of four pitchers with at least 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts in each of the past three seasons. The others include two multitime Cy Young Award winners (Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer) and Chris Sale, who is on a streak of five straight top-five Cy Young finishes. -- Willis, ESPN Stats & Information

Nos. 50-1 coming on Wednesday.