The folks at ESPN decided to rank the top players in MLB for 2021, and the No. 1 choice shouldn’t be a surprise. Mike Trout was given the honor as the top player in the sport, a perch the Angels outfielder has sat atop for nearly a decade.
What’s funny is that 2020 could legitimately be considered a “down” year for Trout, who hit .281/.390/.603 with 17 home runs. He finished fifth in American League MVP voting, Trout’s lowest in his nine full seasons.
“If you can judge a player’s greatness by his worst seasons, with Trout,” wrote Bradford Doolittle, “you can see at a glance why he’s as much in a race with the likes of Babe Ruth and Willie Mays for historical supremacy as he is with Mookie Betts, Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. for the best-right-now throne that remains his, and his alone.”
Third baseman Anthony Rendon was the other Angels player listed in the top 25, checking in at No. 15. Only three other teams — the Dodgers (Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger), Braves (Ronald Acuña Jr., Freddie Freeman), and Mets (Jacob deGrom, Francisco Lindor) — have two players ranked in the top 15.
- The creative ways the Angels might use Shohei Ohtani as a two-way player this year are explored by Jack Harris at the Los Angeles Times.
- Justin Upton is hitting .394/.444/.848 this spring. Jeff Fletcher at the Orange County Register has more on Upton, who homered in Wednesday’s win.
- Jose Quijada said he lost 30 pounds this offseason, writes Rhett Bollinger at MLB.com.
- The catching duo of Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki have the Angels ranked 11th in positional player rankings at FanGraphs. Jose Iglesias, et al, have the Angels rated No. 12 at shortstop.
- Ronald Blum at Associated Press has details on MLB’s attempts to crack down on pitchers using foreign substances on the baseball in 2021, including gameday compliance monitors and MLB review of Statcast data to analyze spin rates of suspected violators.
- J.P. Hoornstra at the Orange County Register asks, “Is collective bargaining the secret to injury prevention?”