2020 MLB Rank preview: How did we do last year, and what will this year's list look like?

Whose tee shot was better: Trout or Bellinger? (0:28)

Mike Trout and Cody Bellinger show off their strength as they smash golf balls into orbit. (0:28)

As we prepare to unveil the 2020 MLB Rank top 100 on Tuesday, we first take a look back at our 2019 rankings to see how we did, and make some predictions for what this year's list of baseball's top players will look like.

We asked ESPN national baseball writers Bradford Doolittle, Sam Miller and David Schoenfield to weigh in.

Based on his 2019 performance, who was the most underrated player in last year's MLB Rank top 100?

Doolittle: The answer to this question is almost always going to be a prospect or young veteran whom we are high enough on to put somewhere in the top 100 but who lacks the track record to slot in the upper tier of the rankings. Last year, the most stark example of that was Cody Bellinger. He debuted at No. 47 in MLB Rank in 2017, when the rankings came out in late June. After his rookie season, he jumped to No. 23 ... a star in the making, but one not quite fully formed. Then he slumped in 2018, dropping from a .933 rookie OPS to .814. And so we dropped him to No. 61 because, just maybe, there were too many holes in his swing for Bellinger to be a star. He showed us, though, with his 1.035 OPS and MVP turn last season. He's one of the top five players in baseball and that status will be firm for the foreseeable future.

Miller: We had the National League's 2019 MVP, and the majors' 2019 WAR leader, ranked 61st, behind six relief pitchers -- three of whom were very bad! -- so let's agree it's Cody Bellinger. That ranking is, in retrospect, especially confounding because his superstar performance in 2019 wasn't even a breakout, per se. This is, after all, the same Cody Bellinger who had set the NL rookie home run record just 18 months earlier, and who was featured in a piece headlined "What if Cody Bellinger is going to hit 763 home runs and we just don't know it yet?" Even before his 2019 season, a top-20 ranking might well have been justified.

Schoenfield: I vote to exclude relievers from all future rankings! I mean, they really operate on a different scale of value than position players and starting pitchers. Take Mariano Rivera, for example. He had 5.0 WAR in 1996, when he was a setup man and pitched 107 innings. His highest WAR as a closer, however, was 4.3 in 2008. That ranks tied for 66th among all players that season. And that was his best season. Anyway, hard to disagree with the Bellinger nomination, but I'll mention Josh Donaldson, who was No. 90 and had a 6.1-WAR season. At least that ranking made sense since he was coming off an injury-plagued 2018.

Setting aside injuries, what player most underperformed his 2019 MLB Rank placement?

Doolittle: There are a few candidates, but since he had just signed a big contract, I'll point the finger at Manny Machado. We had him at No. 19 and he's been in the 15-to-19 range in each of our previous four editions of MLB Rank. In actuality, he was something like the 150th-best player in baseball last year. Not a good beginning to a 10-year contract.

Miller: Matt Carpenter had the first below-average offensive season of his career, slugged just .392 in the home-runniest season ever, and after the All-Star break lost his starting job to a player few baseball writers had even heard of at the start of the season. (To be fair, that player -- Tommy Edman -- was very good, and he deserves very much to be heard of.) Carpenter lost 2½ mph of exit velocity, dropping from the 75th percentile of all hitters to the 30th percentile. We had him ranked 15th among all NL hitters, which, like a lazy Matt Carpenter fly out, was too high.

Schoenfield: Man, Joey Votto got old in a hurry. His ranking of No. 26 was predicated on a return to something closer to his 2017 numbers, when he finished second to Giancarlo Stanton in the MVP voting. Instead, not only did his power not return (15 home runs), but he hit just .261 and his OBP dropped from a league-leading .417 to .357. In two seasons his WAR fell from 7.4 to 3.5 to 1.6. Bat speed is a precious thing.

Based on 2019 performance, who was the most glaring omission from last year's top 100?

Doolittle: Clearly it was Marcus Semien, who not only didn't earn a spot in our rankings last year but in fact has never landed in our top 100. That's a multiyear oversight, though no one could really have foreseen Semien becoming an MVP candidate so swiftly. I suspect he'll debut in our rankings this time around in a coveted position.

Miller: It's Ketel Marte, who outhit Pete Alonso and Josh Bell while playing excellent defense at three up-the-middle positions. At various points over the past three years, one might well have referred to Arizona and Seattle's late-2016 swap as the Jean Segura trade, and then as the Taijuan Walker trade, and then as the Mitch Haniger trade, but it will now and forevermore be known as the Ketel Marte trade.

Schoenfield: Marcus Semien had a huge season for the A's, playing every game, scoring 123 runs, bashing 33 home runs in a tough park and finishing third in the MVP vote. His 8.1 Baseball-Reference WAR was the highest for a shortstop since Alex Rodriguez in 2003. Not only was Semien not in the top 100 after a solid 2018 (4.3 WAR), but we included A's teammates Blake Treinen (4.91 ERA) and Khris Davis (.220, 25 fewer home runs than he hit in 2018).

What player do you think is most likely to be ranked too low in the 2020 MLB Rank top 100?

Doolittle: Over the past three years, Kris Bryant has slid from No. 6 to 12 to 21 in MLB Rank. I don't know where he'll end this year, but because of injuries and so-so performance, Bryant was around the 50th-best player in baseball last year. My feeling is that he'll remind us why we once thought of him as a top-10 guy, and if we have him in the 20-to-30 range, that'll be far too low even though it's a reasonable place to slot him based on how things currently stand.

Miller: Jose Ramirez, who was 14th last year after back-to-back MVP-level seasons. He might well fall to the bottom of the list (or off it completely?) after a disastrous first half of 2019, but he's still in his mid-20s, he's not compromised by lingering injury (that we know of), and he showed all of his old superstardom after a midyear adjustment.

Schoenfield: German Marquez and/or Jon Gray. These are two very good pitchers -- but you try putting up a sub-3.50 ERA while pitching half your games in Coors Field. Marquez wasn't quite as good last year as in 2018, but he's 17th in pitcher WAR over the past two seasons. Gray had a 3.84 ERA/4.5 WAR season, and if he can get closer to 200 innings (he pitched 150 last year), he will be even more valuable. I doubt either makes the top 100 (Marquez was 81 last year after his great 2018).

What player do you think is most likely to be ranked too high in the 2020 MLB Rank top 100?

Doolittle: We had injury-riddled Josh Donaldson at No. 90 last year, then he went out and had a vintage top-20 season. And over the winter, of course, Donaldson landed a lucrative multiyear deal with the Twins. My guess is that we'll vote Donaldson into the top 20 based on the most recent developments, but I'd put him more in the 40-to-50 range, just because of his injury history and his age.

Miller: Josh Hader, or any reliever in the top 60. Last year's six highest-ranked relievers averaged a 4.26 ERA. There are very few relievers I trust to stay at a top level year after year, and even the ones I do tend to betray that trust.

Schoenfield: Jose Abreu was 89th a year ago and just had a better season, leading the American League with 123 RBIs. But, really, when you add everything up, he's an average player. He drew just 36 walks, so his on-base percentage remains mediocre (.330 in 2019, .325 in 2018). He's a below-average defender and baserunner. He led the league in double plays grounded into. He's durable and a team leader, but he's a good example of how an RBI guy can still be overrated (not that RBIs are bad!).