BBTN 100 launches with young stars

Who will be the best players in Major League Baseball in the 2016 season?

ESPN formed a panel of MLB writers, analysts and contributors to rank the top 100, which we'll count down from No. 100 to No. 1, revealing the top 10 on Baseball Tonight on March 24.

To compile the top 100, we polled 70 ESPN experts in February and March, starting with a list of more than 350 players. Using a 0-to-10 scale, they evaluated the players based only on how well they are projected to perform in 2016. Players expected to miss 2016 with an injury were not included.

The results will be announced on ESPN.com, Facebook (ESPN Baseball Tonight) and Twitter (@BBTN). Fans can use the hashtag #BBTN100 to join the discussion and follow along.

We're starting the top 100 off by ranking players No. 100-91, which include two of the youngest players on our list making their top 100 debuts.

100: Jonathan Lucroy

Pos.: C | Team: Milwaukee Brewers | @JLucroy20

2015 rank: 24 | 2016 fantasy rank: 84

2015 Stats -- .264 BA, .717 OPS, 7 HRs, 43 RBIs, 51 Runs

ESPN says: An early-season injury hampered Lucroy's performance and dented his franchise catcher rep badly enough to almost tumble him from the top 100, but he did post a .762 OPS after he got back in action in June. Healthy, he can make his way back up this list thanks to his rare combination of power, patience and plate coverage, plus steadiness and a decent arm behind the plate. Unfortunately, he has lost time to the DL three of the past five years. If nothing else, a strong first half will dial up expectations that he'll be available at the trade deadline. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com editor/Sweetspot blogger

By the numbers: Lucroy is regarded as the game's premier pitch-framer. Baseball Info Solutions has credited him with 89 "Strike Zone Runs Saved" over the past six seasons, easily the most of any catcher in the majors in that span (Miguel Montero ranks second with 56). Lucroy ranked among the top five catchers in total defensive runs saved in his first five seasons, before slipping to 17th in 2015. -- ESPN Stats & Information

99: Dustin Pedroia

Pos.: 2B | Team: Boston Red Sox | @15Lasershow

2015 rank: 50 | 2016 fantasy rank: 201

2015 Stats -- .291 BA, .797 OPS, 12 HRs, 42 RBIs, 46 Runs

ESPN says: Injuries have taken a toll on the 2008 American League MVP, who has six years and $84 million left on his contract with the Red Sox. Even at 32, though, he plays Gold Glove defense and knows only one speed: all-out. He was having an All-Star season until a strained hamstring last June cost him most of the next two months, proving he's still one of the game's best second basemen. But can he stay healthy? -- Scott Lauber, ESPN.com Red Sox reporter

By the numbers: Pedroia has reached the point in his career in which he can be considered an elite member of the Red Sox. He ranks ninth among position players with 45.1 wins above replacement. Among those he's ahead of are Nomar Garciaparra, Manny Ramirez, and Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk and Jimmie Foxx. -- ESPN Stats & Information

98: Ian Kinsler

Pos.: 2B | Team: Detroit Tigers

2015 rank: 79 | 2016 fantasy rank: 66

2015 Stats -- .296 BA, .770 OPS, 11 HRs, 73 RBIs, 94 Runs

ESPN says: Ever the consummate professional, the 33-year-old Kinsler was one of the major reasons you didn't hear about any fracturing in the Tigers clubhouse despite an abysmal 2015 season. The surehanded second baseman remains a key component for the club heading into the 2016 season, not only for his stellar leadership qualities but because of his production at the plate. Kinsler had a terrific second half to the season -- hitting .366 and .362 in July and August, respectively -- and is already on a tear this spring with a league-leading 10 RBI as of March 9. -- Katie Strang, ESPN.com Tigers reporter

By the numbers: Kinsler has been the top defensive second baseman in baseball the past three seasons and it's not even close. In that time, he has racked up 50 defensive runs saved. Second place: Dustin Pedroia and D.J. LeMahieu with 29. -- ESPN Stats & Information

97: Corey Seager

Pos.: SS | Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

2015 rank: NR | 2016 fantasy rank: 70

2015 Stats -- .337 BA, .986 OPS, 8 HRs, 33 RBIs, 34 Runs

ESPN says: One teammate (Adrian Gonzalez) said Seager will be a future Hall of Famer. Another teammate (Howie Kendrick) praised his well-rounded family. Enough said. -- Doug Padilla, ESPN.com Dodgers reporter

By the numbers: Seager had 12 extra-base hits in his first 20 games in the major leagues. The last Dodgers player to have that many extra-base hits that quickly was not Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp or Duke Snider, but Gibby Brack, who had 12 in his first 20 career games as a 29-year-old rookie with the 1937 Dodgers. -- ESPN Stats & Information

96: Miguel Sano

Pos.: RF | Team: Minnesota Twins | @SanoMiguel

2015 rank: NR | 2016 fantasy rank: 33

2015 Stats -- .269 BA, .916 OPS, 18 HRs, 52 RBIs, 46 Runs

ESPN says: Last year, the Twins' big masher made his long-anticipated debut at midseason and slugged 18 home runs in a half-year. What does that mean this year? A legit shot at a home run title from a guy who's still just 22 years old. Already a big man at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds, Sano has been moved off the hot corner and out to right field to stay, where you can expect him to blossom into the slugging centerpiece in a Twins lineup equipped to contend over the long haul. -- Kahrl

By the numbers: Sano's 18 home runs were the most by a Twins player in the first 80 games of his career since the franchise moved to Minnesota. Sano really began to show off his power in the final month. His first 14 home runs had an average distance of 397 feet. His last four of the season were calculated at 446, 416, 441 and 432. -- ESPN Stats & Information

95: Ben Zobrist

Pos.: 2B | Team: Chicago Cubs |

2015 rank: NR | 2016 fantasy rank: 133

2015 Stats -- .276 BA, .809 OPS, 13 HRs, 56 RBIs, 76 Runs

ESPN says: Zobrist will be in the middle of a lot of action for the Chicago Cubs, as he'll mostly play second base for Joe Maddon. Though he can switch-hit -- and thus play against all pitchers -- the Cubs are deep enough so they don't have to overuse the 34-year-old, who is coming off some knee problems. He'll be counted on to do the little things at the plate, something the Cubs struggled with last year. -- Jesse Rogers, ESPN.com Cubs reporter

By the numbers: Zobrist ranks fifth in the majors in wins above replacement over the past seven seasons (39.3). The only players with more are Robinson Cano, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre and Joey Votto. -- ESPN Stats & Information

94: Albert Pujols

Pos.: 1B | Team: Los Angeles Angels | @PujolsFive

2015 rank: 83 | 2016 fantasy rank: 78

2015 Stats -- .244 BA, .787 OPS, 40 HRs, 95 RBIs, 85 Runs

ESPN says: He once led National League position players six consecutive seasons in WAR, but now the 36-year-old has turned into a one-dimensional slugger; he hits home runs (40 in 2015) but hit just .244 with a .307 OBP. He has become a dead-pull hitter -- he pulled all but one of his home runs in 2015 -- which leaves him vulnerable to shifting, and he hit just .187 on grounders. He had offseason surgery to repair the plantar plate in his right big toe and may not be ready for Opening Day. -- David Schoenfield, Sweetspot blogger

By the numbers: Pujols currently has 99.7 wins above replacement. He can become the 21st position player to clear 100 WAR, the second active player along with Alex Rodriguez. Only one player, whose primary position was first base, has recorded at least 100 WAR -- Lou Gehrig with 112.4. -- ESPN Stats & Information

93: George Springer

Pos.: RF | Team: Houston Astros

2015 rank: NR | 2016 fantasy rank: 37

2015 Stats -- .276 BA, .826 OPS, 16 HRs, 41 RBIs, 16 SBs

ESPN says: After a slow start in April to his sophomore season, Springer had turned things around in May and June before Edinson Volquez fractured his wrist with an errant pitch in July. Springer returned to hit .304 in September, but look for more power in 2016 with a healthy wrist. Given his nine percent improvement in his strikeout rate and power/speed combo, look for him to become the majors' first 25 HR/25 SB guy since Mike Trout in 2013. Springer appears set for a big breakout season. -- Schoenfield

By the numbers: Springer's 36 home runs are the second most by an Astros player within the first two seasons of his major league career. The only Astros player with more is Hunter Pence, who hit 42: 17 as a rookie in 2007 and 25 in his second season, 2008. -- ESPN Stats & Information

92: Jeurys Familia

Pos.: RP | Team: New York Mets

2015 rank: NR | 2016 fantasy rank: 112

2015 Stats -- 76 games, 86 Ks, 1.85 ERA, 43 saves

ESPN says: Now entrenched as the Mets closer, Jeurys Familia figures to build on his 2015 success, when he recorded a 1.85 ERA and 43 saves and did not suffer a blown save in the regular season after July 30. Familia did suffer three blown saves in the World Series, but he insists the experience against the relentless Royals did not affect his confidence. -- Adam Rubin, ESPN.com Mets reporter

By the numbers: July 31, 2015, was the day the Mets got Yoenis Cespedes, but it's also one in which Jeurys Familia' season took off to a different level. From that day to the end of the regular season, he was 16-of-16 in save chances, with a 1.23 ERA. He finished with 43 saves, tying Armando Benitez's single-season club record. -- ESPN Stats & Information

91: J.D. Martinez

Pos.: RF | Team: Detroit Tigers | @JDMartinez14

2015 rank: NR | 2016 fantasy rank: 26

2015 Stats -- .282 BA, .879 OPS, 38 HRs, 102 RBIs, 93 Runs

ESPN says: Determined to prove that 2015 was no fluke, J.D. Martinez looks to build on a stunning season last year that saw him lead the Tigers with 38 home runs. Martinez trained with fellow Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera this offseason and is hoping to soak up as much as possible from the two-time AL MVP. Not to be overlooked? His defensive abilities. Martinez led the club last season with 15 outfield assists. -- Strang

By the numbers: Martinez averaged a home run every 37.5 at-bats with the Astros from 2011 to 2013, but is averaging one every 17 at-bats the past two seasons. He's one of six right-handed hitters in Tigers history to hit at least 38 home runs in a season, along with Hank Greenberg, Rocky Colavito, Cecil Fielder, Dean Palmer and Miguel Cabrera. -- ESPN Stats & Information