The 2018 season is a week underway and the effects of the new year have yet to set in. Still, all we really have to work with statistically are the 2017 season and 2018 projections. So, using that, here are our top five Major League players for the 2018 season.
Well, I have to say this is not a very controversial pick for the “best player” in the Major Leagues. Down the road, baseball historians will look back on Mike Trout as a truly generational athlete. Trout hit a .306/.442/.629 slash and 181 wRC+ (weighted runs created). Despite playing in only 114 games, Trout still managed to collect a 6.9 WAR (wins above replacement). Trout also had a higher walk percentage than strikeout percentage and hit 33 home runs. In 2018, Trout is projected to have a 7.4 WAR and 38 home runs on 167 wRC+.
Some may see this pick as unexpected and deviant, but why is that? At the root of it, much of Joey Votto’s lack of popularity is due to the fact that he is playing for an organization that have made the playoffs just three times in over twenty years. Votto slashed .320/.454/.578 last season with 36 home runs. Votto played in every single game for the Reds and ended with a 6.6 WAR. Many say that he deserved the National League MVP, and I fully agree. In 2018, Votto is projected to bat .300 with a 144 wRC+.
Giancarlo Stanton played in all but three games last season while going for a 7.1 WAR. Stanton produced 151 wRC+ with a .410 wOBA. However, Stanton did strike out about 12% more than he did walk. Stanton is projected to up his wOBA a tick to .412 while scoring 160 wRC+.
Kershaw pitched in 27 games in 2017 with an impressive 0.95 WHIP. He left 87.4% of runners on base and had a 3.07 FIP. In 2018, Kershaw is projected to have a 2.68 FIP, 0.94 WHIP, .218 opponent average and 10.70 K/9 innings.
While Harper’s future may be in question in terms of where he plays, his ability certainly is not. Ever since Harper came up to the Majors he has been lighting it up both in the field and at the plate. Harper slashed .319/.413/.595 for 156 wRC+ and a 4.9 WAR. In 2018, Harper is projected to hit .294 with a 4.7 WAR and 150 wRC+.