Cracking the MLB superstar code: These 24 players will rule baseball in 2021

When I was a kid, our elementary school used to have these book fairs, run by Scholastic book publishers. The company set up a display in the lobby outside the library, their various books for sale, and each spring I would spend a dollar or two on the latest edition of "All-Pro Baseball Stars." I guess the book fairs are still around, although the last edition of "All-Pro Baseball Stars" appears to be 1984.

It was a wonderful little paperback, 92 or 96 pages long, with two-page bios of the best players from the previous season, plus some statistics and standings and so on. Bruce Weber was the author, and he began the series in 1976. Before that, there was a similar series simply called "Baseball Stars of 1967" or whatever the year, with Ray Robinson as writer.

Thinking of those books, I got to wondering: Who are the all-pro baseball stars of 2021? Of course, that description doesn't really fit; all-pro is more of a football term (there was also an "All-Pro Football Stars" series). Maybe the idea is simply this: Who are the superstars of 2021? And how many of them are there? And as we begin the season, how many of them will get bumped off the list by the end of the season?

I like the idea of "superstar" as inexact science. You have to earn your way to the superstar description -- and one bad season shouldn't necessarily knock you off. A list of superstars is mostly about the best players in the game, but it goes beyond that, right? Winning matters, maybe popularity counts. It's not just about projecting the best players of 2021 -- which is what our MLB Rank of the top 100 players does -- but it's also not about career value. Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are not currently superstars.

I concluded -- disagree if you wish -- that there are 24 superstars in the majors in any given season, rationalizing that number this way: If we were to play the ultimate All-Star Game, we'd need 18 position players. Then we'd need three pitchers per team, six in total. That gives us 24 superstars. My list will be position agnostic, however, so if we end up with five shortstops and no catchers, that's OK.

I said inexact science, but I don't want this to be completely subjective, so I came up with a formula to rank the players: