The first four months of the 2017 season are behind us, and it's time for our monthly look at the top 50 players in baseball.

When we did this coming into the season, the rankings were based upon reasonable expectations -- using things like age and recent performance history -- to make educated guesses at which players would provide the most value in 2017. Since then, though, each installment has been about performance to date. As such, the rankings you're about to see reflect nothing more than who's been the best through the first four months of the 2017 season. The preceding has been italicized for emphasis. Now we're going to bold it and italicize it -- and perhaps even brandish a larger font size -- for even more emphasis …

The rankings you're about to see reflect nothing more than who's been the best through the first four months of the 2017 season.

In coming up with these rankings, your scribe paid no heed to what may or may not be sustainable. Some of the names will be very much at home among the game's best, while others belong to players who have solidly over-performed or are just establishing themselves as premium performers. Whatever the case, we're not worried about whether the performances will stick. It's all about what's happened in 2017 thus far.

As for what matters, with position players it's a mix of batting, defense, and baserunning. On offense, we're not concerned with things like RBI. Getting on base and hitting for power matter above all, as do playing time, context of the player's home ballpark, and production relative to positional peers (e.g., the offensive bar is lower for shortstops and catchers than it is for first basemen and DHs). For pitchers -- and since this a backward-looking assessment of value provided -- run prevention and workload will be the drivers, but we'll also give some consideration to underlying fundamental indicators like strikeouts and walks. When it comes to relievers, leverage, or the relative importance of the innings a reliever works, are taken into account. (Note: It's hard for relievers to crack this list in the first place, given how much more valuable starting pitchers tend to be, thanks to their much higher innings loads.)

Again, this is all about 2017 to date, and the rankings suggest nothing about whether the player in question can maintain the current level of performance going forward. As such, the next time you see this list, it'll probably look somewhat different.

As always, reach to the author at his personal email address -- hotmail@hotmail.jpg -- with all your complaints …

Logan Morrison Tampa Bay 1B
Morrison continues to pace the Rays' power attack, as he's got a shot at getting to 40 homers. This is the breakout we've been waiting for from him.
Andrew McCutchen Pittsburgh CF
After a disappointing 2016 and a slow start to 2017, 'Cutch is looking like his old self again, particularly when it comes to getting on base and hitting for power.
Flowers is light on playing time relative to most guys on this list, but he's produced in a big way at the plate. He's also a highly skilled defender behind it (i.e., the plate).
Zack Cozart Cincinnati SS
Cozart's been limited to just 76 games played this season because of injuries, but what keeps him on here is that he's batted .317/.402/.568 while playing shortstop.
Gary Sanchez N.Y. Yankees C
The Yankee backstop is once again steady source of power. If not for the biceps strain that cost almost a full month, he'd be quite a bit higher in these rankings.
Justin Upton Detroit LF
Upton's looked good with the glove in 2017, and he's got an OPS+ in 130s with almost 50 extra-base hits.
Ervin Santana Minnesota SP
Santana has five complete games while no other pitcher has more than two this season. He also boasts an ERA of 3.28 after 22 starts.
Contreras has really been rounding into form at the plate, and behind the plate he's been an excellent catch-and-throw guy.
Gonzalez has put up tremendous offensive numbers in semi-regular duty while also seeing time at six different positions (significant time at five positions). That's highly valuable, to say the least.
What a season he's having. Despite not getting consistent playing time early in the year, the 24-year-old outfielder has an OBP of around .400 and an OPS+ of around 150.
Kyle Freeland Colorado SP
After 20 starts and one relief appearance, the Denver native is running an ERA+ of 136. He boasts a 3.21 ERA in his Coors Field starts this season.
Stanton's played in more than 100 games, and he's leading the NL in homers and slugging close to .600.
Travis Shaw Milwaukee 3B
Shaw's been a big part of Milwaukee's success this season. At present, he's on pace to rack up more than 75 extra-base hits all while pinning down third base.
James Paxton Seattle SP
A forearm strain cost Paxton almost all of May, but he's been lights-out when healthy. His 2.68 ERA leads the AL at the moment, and he's struck out 28.7 percent of opposing batters.
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Daniel Murphy Washington 2B
Murphy's not quite on the level of his 2016 campaign, when he finished second in the NL MVP balloting, but that's splitting hairs. He's again been one of the best hitters in baseball, all while manning an up-the-middle position.
Corey Kluber Cleveland SP
Kluber was laid up for a while with injury, but he's otherwise been in Cy Young form this season. Despite spending almost a month on the DL, he's third in the AL in strikeouts.
Cody Bellinger L.A. Dodgers 1B
The rookie Bellinger has been one of the richest sources of home run power in all of baseball this season. That's especially the case on a rate basis.
Blackmon's put up strong offensive numbers, even after adjusting for his home ballpark, and that's especially the case for an up-the-middle defender. He's got a shot at getting to 30 homers, 30 doubles, and 20 triples.
Jonathan Schoop Baltimore 2B
Schoop's an underrated defender at the keystone, and he's having one heck of a year at the plate. He's got at shot at getting to 30 homers and 40 doubles this season.
Anthony Rizzo Chi. Cubs 1B
Barring injury, Rizzo this season will set a career high in home runs and walks, and he remains a standout defender at first base.
Justin Smoak Toronto 1B
He's already topped 30 homers for the season, and he's got an OPS+ north of 150.
Just like last year, Betts is providing excellent value at the plate, in the field, and on the bases. Almost no other player provides such a complete package.
Mike Trout L.A. Angels CF
Undergoing thumb surgery of course took a big bite out of Trout's 2017, but he's got an OPS+ of better than 200 while manning center and once again being active on the bases. Without that injury, he'd be No. 1.
Stroman's putting together his best season yet. After 138 ⅓ innings, he's pitched to a 3.19 ERA/145 ERA+.
Salvador Perez Kansas City C
The four-time Gold Glove winner remains a durable and steady presence behind the plate. With the bat, he's putting up the best numbers of his career.
Jose Ramirez Cleveland 3B
Ramirez is a plus defender at the hot corner, and he's running an OPS+ in the 130s. He's also a useful runner on the bases.
Robbie Ray Arizona SP
Ray's sidelined after a scary incident in which he was hit in the head by a line drive. Once he returns, he'll resume work on an ERA+ of 151 across 118 ⅔ innings.
Kris Bryant Chi. Cubs 3B
Bryant's roughly in line his MVP performance of 2016, and he's still a quality defender at third. He remains one of baseball's best hitters when it comes to avoiding the double play.
Ozuna's excellent breakout season continues apace. With two months to go in the regular season, he's closing in on 50 extra-base hits.
Jason Vargas Kansas City SP
Vargas has been a real stabilizer in the KC rotation. At age 34, he's having a career year and was a deserving All-Star in Miami.
Justin Turner L.A. Dodgers 3B
Turner's missed some time due to injury this season, but he's leading the majors in OBP while bringing a plus glove to the hot corner.
Here's a seriously underrated player. Realmuto's on pace to catch more than 1,000 innings, and he's got an OPS+ of more than 125 at the plate.
Luis Severino N.Y. Yankees SP
With a sub-3.00 ERA and strong command-and-control numbers, the 23-year-old's been the Yankees' undisputed ace in 2017.
Corey Seager L.A. Dodgers SS
A starting shortstop with an OPS+ of better than 140? That'll land you near the top every time.
Gio Gonzalez Washington SP
After 142 ⅓ innings this season, Gonzalez has put up an ERA of 2.66 with just two unearned runs allowed. That's a career year and then some.
Nolan Arenado Colorado 3B
You know he's the best defensive third baseman in baseball, and he's once again putting up big numbers at the plate -- even after you correct for the Coors effect.
Zack Greinke Arizona SP
Yep, he's back in a big way. After a middling and out-of-character 2016, this season Greinke's put up an ERA+ of 165 and a K/BB ratio of 5.52 after 21 starts.
Joey Votto Cincinnati 1B
Votto remains one of the top power-and-patience threats in all of baseball. This season, he's got an outside shot at winding up with more extra-base hits than strikeouts.
Buster Posey San Francisco C
Posey's putting up the highest OBP of his career.. He also remains a strong defender behind the plate, and he's on pace to catch almost 1,000 innings.
Clayton Kershaw L.A. Dodgers SP
Kershaw's laid up with a back injury, but he's an easy choice for this list. In 141 ⅓ innings, he's pitched to a 2.04 ERA and logged 168 strikeouts against just 24 walks.
Bryce Harper Washington RF
Harper's rebounded in a big way from his disappointing-by-his-standards 2016 campaign. Right now, he leads the NL in slugging and OPS+.
The D-Backs have a strong shot at the playoffs, and that has much to do with Goldschmidt, who's having perhaps the best season of his career.
Correa's stuck on 84 games played for the time being because of that thumb injury. However, his line of .320/.400/.566 as a shortstop is more than enough to keep him high on this list.
Springer's adding significant value on the defensive side of the ball while also putting up the best numbers of his career at the plate. He's got a shot at 40 homers, and he's in the AL MVP discussion.
Anthony Rendon Washington 3B
Rendon remains an asset with the glove, and he's working on what's easily been the best offensive season of his career. He's shown plenty of pop while registering more walks than strikeouts. Right now, Rendon should be on your NL MVP watch-list.
Andrelton Simmons L.A. Angels SS
Simmons remains one of the top defenders at any position (his of course happens to be the premium position of shortstop). He's also playing every day and putting up easily the best offensive numbers of his career.
Aaron Judge N.Y. Yankees RF
Judge has struggled in the second half, but the overall body of work still keeps him among the most elite that 2017 has to offer.
Chris Sale Boston SP
Barring injury, Sale's going to cruise to 300-plus strikeouts and the AL Cy Young Award. His dominance is such that he's also squarely in the AL MVP discussion. Right now, he leads the majors in innings and strikeouts and leads the AL in ERA+ and K/BB ratio.
Max Scherzer Washington SP
The 2016 NL Cy Young winner is still one of the best pitchers on the planet. He's already gotten to 200 strikeouts, and his ERA+ is in the neighborhood of 200.
Jose Altuve Houston 2B
Houston's All-Star second baseman has been among the most productive hitters in all of baseball, and he's done while capably manning the middle infield and adding value on the bases.