Predicting the Best Players of the 2020s
With the 2010s coming to an end, we have had the privilege to be introduced to some decade defining players. Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander are just some of the players that defined baseball this decade. It is almost certain that a bunch of new stars will make their mark on the game of baseball in the upcoming years. Whether it be young athletes waiting to break through or elite stars who will continue their pace, these are the guys who will tear up the league during the 2020s.
The New York Yankees acquired Gleyber Torres from the Chicago Cubs in 2016 for essentially nothing. They traded away Aroldis Chapman, whom they re-signed the following offseason. At only 22 years old, Torres is already one of the best power hitting middle infielders in baseball. He currently leads all AL middle infielders with 34 home runs. He also has 79 RBIs which is good for 17th in the American League as well as 2nd among middle infielders. The only middle infielder that currently has more RBIs than Torres is Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
Torres is currently 5th among all 2nd basemen in both fWAR and wRC+ with a 3.5 and 127 respectively. Defense can be improved for Gleyber as he has a DRS of -4 and a UZR of -2.5 this season. While his defensive stats aren’t the best, they are a major improvement from his rookie season. There is no reason Gleyber can improve his defense in the foreseeable future. With the already powerful bat of Torres and the large market of New York, it would not surprise me at all to see Gleyber Torres as one of the faces of baseball.
Like Torres, Rafael Devers is also 22 years old. Before this season Devers has shown splashes of what he can do but was not very consistent. That however changed this year, as he would be an MVP candidate in a Mike Trout-less world. He has one of the most impressive slash lines in the AL with a .316/.367/.572. He also has the 8th best OPS in the American League at .939.
Devers is 4th among all 3rd basemen in WAR and ahead of names such as Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant. He is tied for 20th in wRC+ among all position players and 3rd among all 3rd basemen. Similar to Torres, Devers is not the greatest fielder as he has a DRS of -6 and a UZR of 1.8 for the year. However, he has shown improvement from 2018. He posted -13 DRS as well as a UZR of -4.5. If Devers can keep up his high level of play and improve his defense he will for sure be a star.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
Fernando Tatis Jr is someone that hasn’t played many games in the majors due to his injuries. However, when he has played he has showed he has elite potential. In just 84 games played this season, Tatis Jr. has hit 22 home runs and and 53 RBIs as a lead-off hitter. He is slashing a tremendous .317/.379/.590 this season. This is good for a .969 OPS. He is 9th in fWAR among all SS with 3.5. He would probably be in the top 3 if he did not spend time on the IL. Tatis Jr is also 9th in wRC+ among all players with at least 350 PAs. He is doing all of this while only 20 years old.
Along with this he is also a very talented fielder. His DRS is a not the best at -2 but he is able to make some tough plays. On balls with a 1-10% of being fielded he has fielded 16.7% percent of them. He also has a 53.3% fielding percentage on balls with at 40-60% which shows he can get to tough balls. Tatis Jr has the potential to be a 5 tool player which is extremely rare. Other than Mike Trout, the most recent consistent 5 tool player was Ken Griffey Jr.
Ronald Acuna Jr.
In just his second season in the MLB, Ronald Acuna Jr has already proven himself to be an elite player by putting up an MVP caliber season. While Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich are the clear frontrunners, Acuna Jr. has definitely put himself in the conversation. Acuna has already made history this season as he became the 2nd player 21 years old or younger to join the 30/30 club. What this means is he hit 30 home runs and stole 30 bases in a single season. The only other player to accomplish this while 21 or younger is Mike Trout. Acuna also has an opportunity to join the 40/40 club as he is only 3 HRs and 6 SBs shy. He would be the first person ever to accomplish this feat.
Acuna is also a solid defender as well as he has 3 DRS and a UZR of 2.2. He has a fWAR of 5.0 which is currently 4th among all NL outfielders. Acuna is 9th in wRC+ among all National League outfielders with 125. He was previously the top rated MLB prospect and is surely proving why he was. Acuna will be one of the best players in the MLB within the next few years.
Cody Bellinger is having a breakout season in 2019 and is the front runner to become the NL MVP. In 2017, he came on to the scene by breaking the NL rookie home run record with 39 HRs. This stood as the record until this year when Pete Alonso broke it who currently has 45. After a quiet 2018, Bellinger is right back on track. Bellinger is already arguably a top 10 player in the MLB and he is only 24 years old. This season, Cody Bellinger is slashing a line of .308/.411/.648 which is one of the best slash lines in the league. Bellinger has an OPS of 1.058 which is good for 3rd in the majors. Bellinger is currently 2nd in the MLB in fWAR with a 7.3 and 3rd in wRC+ with a 165.
Not only is Bellinger an elite bat but he is an elite fielder as well. He has a total of 20 DRS as an outfielder which is 2nd behind only the Padre’s Hunter Renfroe. He also leads all NL outfielders in UZR with a 10.6. Bellinger not only has an MVP case but a gold glove case as well. At only 24 if Bellinger consistently puts up these numbers he may become the next face of baseball.
These are just a few of the guys that may tear up the next 10 years. There are many other players that are deserving of a spot on the list. No matter who the top guys of the 2020s is going to be we are going to be entering a brand new and exciting era of baseball.
Author Twitter: @JackMurph27
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