Top 100 MLB players: Mike Trout ahead of the pack; Aaron Judge, Jacob deGrom crack top 10 heading into 2019 season

The 2019 regular season is nearly upon us, and it's time for us -- on pain of termination -- to rank the top 100 players in baseball.

For this first installment of the season, the rankings are based upon reasonable expectations, using things like age and recent performance history to arrive at those expectations. In essence, we're making educated guesses at which players would provide the most value in 2019. While a player's performance in 2018 is very relevant to these rankings, it's not the sole consideration. Again, these are in essence predictions of which players will be the very best in the season to come.

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, run prevention and workload will be the drivers, but we'll also give some consideration to underlying fundamental indicators like strikeouts and walks. Also, we're ranking players based on actual baseball considerations as opposed to anything having anything to do with fantasy (although there's obviously some overlap).

Above all, remember that this is Internet Street, and only righteous grievances live here … 

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1
Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels CF
He's already in Hall of Fame territory based on overall career value, he's coming off one of his best seasons, and he's still just 27 years of age. Yes, Mike Trout still lords over all he surveys.
2
Mookie Betts Boston Red Sox CF
The reigning AL MVP will once again make a huge difference with his bat, his glove, and his speed on the bases.
3
Alex Bregman Houston Astros 3B
Bregman, going into his age-25 season, has gotten better every year. Last season he finished fifth in AL MVP balloting, and it says here that he'll climb even higher in 2019.
4
Francisco Lindor Cleveland Indians SS
Lindor is a slick-fielding shortstop who's tallied 71 homers and 86 doubles over the last two seasons. Oh, and he's still just 25 years of age.
5
Jose Ramirez Cleveland Indians 3B
Ramirez has a plus glove at the corner, he runs the bases exceptionally well, and at the plate he's a rich source of power and patience.
6
Max Scherzer Washington Nationals SP
Scherzer is going into his age-34 campaign, but the elite pitching skills are very much intact. Last season he led the majors in innings and strikeouts and the NL in K/BB ratio.
7
Aaron Judge New York Yankees RF
Judge will once again give the Yankees plenty of home runs and walks, and he's also an underrated defender.
8
Jacob deGrom New York Mets SP
A 1.70 ERA/217 ERA+ in 217 innings with a 5.85 K/BB ratio and a WAR of 9.6 -- deGrom last year authored one the great pitching seasons of the modern era. He's bound to come down from those lofty heights in 2019, but we now know what he's capable of.
9
Ronald Acuna Atlanta Braves CF
An aggressive ranking for a 21-year-old coming off his rookie season? Maybe, but Acuna has the tools and performance track record to justify it. Expect him to emerge as the NL's top player in 2019.
10
Chris Sale Boston Red Sox SP
Over the last seven seasons, Sale has finished no lower than sixth in the AL Cy Young balloting. Expect more of the same in 2019.
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11
Corey Kluber Cleveland Indians SP
Here's how Kluber has finished in the AL Cy Young balloting over the last half-decade: first, ninth, third, first, third. Last season was another vintage Kluber offering, and there's no reason to think 2019 will be any different.
12
Jose Altuve Houston Astros 2B
Altuve is still on the right side of age 30, and he's won five straight Silver Sluggers at second base.
13
Aaron Nola Philadelphia Phillies SP
The 25-year-old right-hander definitely leveled up in 2018. He worked 212 ⅓ innings, and over that span he registered an ERA+ of 175 with 224 strikeouts.
14
Nolan Arenado Colorado Rockies 3B
Fresh off a massive contract extension with the Rockies, Arenado will soldier on as one of the best defenders at any position and a front-line power threat.
15
Justin Verlander Houston Astros SP
Age 36? Shouldn't be a problem for the future Hall of Famer. In 214 innings last season, he struck out 290 batters with an ERA of 2.52. He also led the majors with a K/BB ratio of 7.84.
16
Javier Baez Chicago Cubs 2B
The 26-year-old Baez is a defensive asset at second and a capable fielder at short who has big-time power (83 extra-base hits last season) and speed on the bases.
17
Blake Snell Tampa Bay Rays SP
With good cause, Snell won the AL Cy Young last year. No, he's not likely to put up a sub-2.00 ERA again in 2019, but the underlying fundamentals plus his being just 26 bode quite well for the future.
18
Manny Machado San Diego Padres 3B
The freshly-minted Padre will get back to third base, where he's an elite fielder. He's also coming off the best offensive season of his career.
19
Kris Bryant Chicago Cubs 3B
Bryant should be free of the shoulder troubles that sapped his production last season, and that means a likely return to MVP-caliber outputs.
20
Xander Bogaerts Boston Red Sox SS
Bogaerts in his breakout season put up an OPS+ of 134 with 23 homers and 45 doubles in 136 games while pinning down shortstop for the best team in baseball. Not so long ago, Bogaerts was one of the top prospects in all of baseball, so it's not surprising that he'd eventually find such a level.
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21
Matt Chapman Oakland Athletics 3B
Chapman has already established himself as one of the top defensive third basemen in all of baseball, and last season he showed he's now among the best hitters at his position.
22
Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves 1B
Freeman for the last six years or so has been one of the NL's best left-handed hitters, and there's no reason to think that's going to change anytime soon.
23
J.D. Martinez Boston Red Sox RF
In 2019, Martinez figures to remain one of the best pure hitters in the game today. The SportsLine Projection Model tabs him for 41 home runs this season.
24
Paul Goldschmidt St. Louis Cardinals 1B
Goldy got off to a slow start in 2018, but by the end he was back up to his customary level of production. Now in St. Louis, he'll resume being among the best all-around first basemen in baseball.
25
Eugenio Suarez Cincinnati Reds 3B
Is Suarez the most underrated player in baseball? That's a subjective matter, of course, but the plus-fielding third baseman who cranked 34 home runs in 143 games last season feels like he's a bit overlooked.
26
Christian Yelich Milwaukee Brewers LF
The reigning NL MVP is probably going to regress in terms of home run outputs, but his broad base of skills means he's still got a high spot on this list.
27
J.T. Realmuto Philadelphia Phillies C
If Realmuto repeats his breakout season with the bat, then he'll be a top-15 player. If he regresses to being "merely" a darn good hitter by catcher standards, then he'll still have a place high on this list. Consider this is a conservative ranking for the time being.
28
Trevor Story Colorado Rockies SS
The Coors Effect is duly noted, but Story is a hard-hitting shortstop by any standard. He's also a plus with the glove.
29
Lorenzo Cain Milwaukee Brewers RF
Cain's combination of standout defense in center and elite on-base skills at the plate is still very much intact.
30
Anthony Rizzo Chicago Cubs 1B
A terrible April dragged down Rizzo's overall numbers last season, but for most of the year he was usually self with the bat and, of course, with the glove. Expect another high-level campaign in 2019.
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31
Juan Soto Washington Nationals RF
As a rookie in 2018, "Childish Bambino" cracked 48 extra-base hits and drew 69 unintentional walks in 494 plate appearances. Expect the 20-year-old to be an elite hitter for a long, long time.
32
Andrelton Simmons Los Angeles Angels SS
Simmons remains the best defensive shortstop in baseball, and he's evolved into a useful hitter at the plate.
33
Andrew Benintendi Boston Red Sox CF
With the onrush of young outfielders across the game, Benintendi gets forgotten a bit. Not so long ago, though, he was perhaps the top position prospect in baseball, and he showed good skills growth in his second season. Don't be surprised if he takes yet another step in 2019.
34
Carlos Correa Houston Astros SS
Correa is coming off a disappointing 2018, at least by his standards, but the 24-year-old remains squarely in the discussion for best shortstop in baseball. With improved health and a rebound to pre-2018 levels of production, he could be just that.
35
Yasmani Grandal Milwaukee Brewers C
Yes, Grandal had an ugly postseason, but don't let that detract from his established excellence. He's a skilled pitch-framer behind the plate who boasts a career OPS+ of 115 at the dish.
36
Anthony Rendon Washington Nationals 3B
Rendon is going into his age-29 campaign, and he's coming off two straight seasons in which he's performed at an MVP-ish clip.
37
Giancarlo Stanton New York Yankees RF
Stanton wasn't at his best in his first season as a Yankee, but he remains one of the leading home run threats in the game today.
38
Corey Seager Los Angeles Dodgers SS
Seager missed almost all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He'll soon turn 25, and he's ready to get back to being one of the best all-around shortstops in MLB.
39
Gerrit Cole Houston Astros SP
Cole has always had top-tier stuff, and after getting "coached up" in Houston last year he's emerged as one the best bat-missers in the game today.
40
Gleyber Torres New York Yankees SS
Torres entered the 2018 season as one of the top prospects in baseball, and he lived up to the advance billing. He should be a leading power threat among middle infielders for years to come.
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41
Bryce Harper Philadelphia Phillies RF
The newest Phillie even in down years is a strong combination of power and OBP. In up years, he's an MVP threat. His disappointing-by-his-standards work in 2018 hurts his ranking going into the season, but Harper has the potential to wind up much higher on this list the next time we check in.
42
Carlos Carrasco Cleveland Indians SP
Over the last four seasons, Carrasco has ranged from very good to excellent while mostly staying healthy. The bet here is that he keeps it going in 2019.
43
Patrick Corbin Washington Nationals SP
Corbin hit 200 innings on the nose last season, and he pitched to a 137 ERA+ with a 5.13 K/BB ratio. He also allowed zero unearned runs on the season. In related matters, the Nationals deemed him worthy of a $140 million investment.
44
Gary Sanchez New York Yankees C
Sanchez has elite power among catchers, and in other phases of his offensive game he's a strong rebound candidate in 2019.
45
Trevor Bauer Cleveland Indians SP
If not for a stress fracture in his leg, Bauer might have been the AL Cy Young winner for 2018. Even so, he enjoyed a breakout campaign and raised expectations moving forward.
46
Walker Buehler Los Angeles Dodgers SP
Is Buehler already the Dodgers' top starting pitcher? That question can be plausibly asked of the 24-year-old right-hander.
47
Mitch Haniger Seattle Mariners CF
Haniger has produced at a high level over the last two years, and in 2018 he proved capable of doing so across a full season and while seeing duty at all three outfield positions.
48
Justin Turner Los Angeles Dodgers 2B
Turner is 34, but he proved last season that he's still capable of producing at a high level. In addition to being a plus defender at third, he's put up an OPS+ of 141 since joining the Dodgers.
49
Kyle Freeland Colorado Rockies SP
The Denver native has thrived in his first two big-league seasons despite the run-inflating tendencies of Coors Field. Freeland's stuff and underlying indicators suggest more success is to come.
50
Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers SP
Kershaw has proved capable of coping with velocity loss, and he's still elite when it comes to run prevention. Health and durability going forward, however, remain concerns, which explains his lower-than-customary ranking.
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51
Matt Carpenter St. Louis Cardinals 3B
Carpenter is coming off a career year at the plate -- 36 home runs and a 143 OPS+. The move back to third base will challenge him, and some offensive decline is likely now that he's 33. That said, Carp still comfortably profiles as a top-100 performer.
52
Kyle Hendricks Chicago Cubs SP
Hendricks is one of the most underrated starting pitchers in the game today. He's worked at least 180 innings in three of the last four seasons, and he boasts a career ERA+ of 134.
53
Zack Greinke Arizona Diamondbacks SP
Now 35, Greinke looked like a pitcher in his deep decline phase coming out of the 2016 season. Over the last two years, however, he's shown he's still capable of twirling at an All-Star level.
54
Whit Merrifield Kansas City Royals 2B
The Royals' defensively flexible second baseman has developed into a productive hitter who's also one of the best base-stealers in baseball.
55
Trea Turner Washington Nationals SS
Turner is a plus defensive shortstop who's also one of the best base-runners around. Turner's also established himself as an above-average hitter by positional standards.
56
Miles Mikolas St. Louis Cardinals RP
The right-hander was one of the finds of the offseason last year, and his plus velocity and deep repertoire augur well for the near- to mid-term.
57
Stephen Strasburg Washington Nationals SP
The 2018 season wasn't quite up to Strasburg's usual standards in terms of run prevention, but the strikeouts and dominance at the command-and-control level are still intact. That means more going forward.
58
George Springer Houston Astros RF
The Houston fly-catcher, now 29, is coming off a strong season by the standards of up-the-middle defenders.
59
Mike Clevinger Cleveland Indians SP
Now 28, Clevinger last season put up an ERA+ of 146 and 207 strikeouts in 200 innings and showed skills growth in terms of his underlying indicators.
60
Starling Marte Pittsburgh Pirates CF
Now 30, Marte remains a five-tool performer. He had a rough 2017 on multiple levels, but last season Marte performed in line with career norms. We'll say he's got more in the tank.
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61
Khris Davis Oakland Athletics LF
Despite playing his home games in a park that's squarely hostile to his efforts, Davis led the majors in home runs last season, and he's racked up three straight seasons of at least 40 homers. We'll say he pushes that streak to four.
62
Josh Donaldson Atlanta Braves 3B
Donaldson is hoping to put together his first full season since 2016. He's reportedly healthy, and during his brief Cleveland stint last year he showed flashes of his former self at the plate. The guess here is that Donaldson in his age-33 season makes good on his one-year, $23 million pact with the Braves.
63
German Marquez Colorado Rockies SP
Marquez, 24, boasts a career 3.70 K/BB ratio at Coors Field, and he's fresh off a 2018 season in which he put up a 124 ERA+ in 196 innings.
64
Brandon Nimmo New York Mets CF
Nimmo is a former consensus top-100 prospect who put up big numbers last season when finally given consistent playing time.
65
Tommy Pham Tampa Bay Rays CF
The relentlessly driven Pham has put together an excellent two-season run at the plate, and he also adds value in the field and on the bases.
66
Cody Bellinger Los Angeles Dodgers 1B
Bellinger last season took a step down from the heights of his rookie campaign, but he remains a strong source of left-handed power who also takes his share of walks. Bellinger's also still just 23.
67
Noah Syndergaard New York Mets SP
You know about the elite velocity and devastating slider, and on a rate basis Thor has mostly pitched like an ace. The issue, of course, has been health. Coming off the second-most innings he's worked in a season, though, we'll bet on a mostly healthy 2019 for Syndergaard.
68
Jameson Taillon Pittsburgh Pirates SP
Last year in his age-26 campaign, Taillon put it all together: 191 innings, 3.20 ERA with only one unearned run allowed, and a 3.89 K/BB ratio. The scouting pedigree has always been there, and Taillon appears to have finally gotten to his level.
69
Aaron Hicks New York Yankees CF
Hicks has a playable glove in center, and his offense has been on another level across two seasons with the Yankees. Last season, Hicks hit into only one double play.
70
Vladimir Guerrero Toronto Blue Jays LF
Yes, it's a bold ranking for a player who's yet to make his major-league debut and won't crack the Opening Day roster because of an oblique injury (even if healthy, he likely wouldn't have made it to start the season so that the Jays could manipulate his service time.) The 20-year-old Guerrero, though, has dominated every level and is the consensus top prospect in all of baseball. Expect him to produce immediately upon arriving in the bigs, which should happen at some point after mid-April.
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71
Ozzie Albies Atlanta Braves 2B
In his rookie campaign, Albies tallied 24 homers and 40 doubles, showed speed on the bases, and played a plus second base. He's just 22 years of age.
72
Jesus Aguilar Milwaukee Brewers 1B
In his age-28 season, Aguilar reached new levels in terms of power -- 35 home runs in 149 games. That raises his profile for the near-term.
73
David Price Boston Red Sox SP
He wasn't quite peak David Price last season, but he arguably put together his strongest campaign since 2015 and followed it up with a quality postseason. Price is still very good going into his age-33 season.
74
Max Muncy Los Angeles Dodgers 1B
Muncy this season saw time at four different positions while batting .263/.391/.582 with 35 home runs in 137 games. It was a stunning breakout, to be sure, but Muncy indeed looks like the real thing, at least for the time being.
75
Paul DeJong St. Louis Cardinals 3B
DeJong has plus power, and last season he made big strides defensively. The 25-year-old is one of the more underrated dual-threat shortstops in baseball.
76
Jed Lowrie New York Mets 3B
The veteran Lowrie will soon turn 35, but he's been a consistent and durable producer over the last pair of seasons. He's coming off career highs in home runs (23) and unintentional walks (77).
77
Jack Flaherty St. Louis Cardinals RP
Flaherty flashed elite stuff in his rookie season, and he had the results to match. As always you never want to assume health with a young pitcher, but he's looking like an ace in the making.
78
Joey Votto Cincinnati Reds 1B
The power took a dive last season, but Votto remains an elite on-base threat. For now, we'll defer to his track record as a top producer.
79
Jose Berrios Minnesota Twins RP
Berrios made gains in the K/BB department and also proved he's capable of a frontline workload last season. He's looking like the Twins' ace for years to come.
80
Robinson Cano New York Mets 2B
He's 36 years old, sure, but Cano still pins down second base, and he still produces at a high level with the bat. He'll notch career hit No. 2,500 fairly early in the 2019 season.
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81
Charlie Morton Tampa Bay Rays SP
Improved velocity and a tuned-up curveball have helped Morton get better at an age that typically means getting worse. Health will always be an issue for him, but he's still capable of strong results when on the mound.
82
Rafael Devers Boston Red Sox 3B
Devers didn't take the anticipated step forward last year, but he's still just 22 years of age. He's also got elite hitting tools, and he's poised for more regular playing time in 2019.
83
Yadier Molina St. Louis Cardinals C
Molina is 36 and has caught more than 15,000 innings in his career. Even so, he remains an above-average hitter, especially by positional standards, and a valuable defender behind the plate.
84
Yusei Kikuchi Seattle Mariners SP
The 27-year-old lefty is coming off a strong eight-season run in Japan, and he projects right away as the Mariners' ace. Also consider him to be a Rookie of the Year candidate in the AL.
85
Victor Robles Washington Nationals CF
Robles is a strong preseason candidate for NL Rookie of the Year honors. The expectation is that he'll flash on-base skills, pop to the gaps, speed on the bases, and excellent defense in center in his first full big-league season.
86
Mike Foltynewicz Atlanta Braves SP
As a 26-year-old last season, Folty pitched a qualifying number of innings for the first time and set career bests in ERA, strikeouts, FIP, and ERA+. While he figures to come back to earth a bit in 2019, he's still going to be a very useful starting pitcher.
87
Buster Posey San Francisco Giants C
Posey's decline has likely set in, but he still managed to log more than 750 defensive innings at catcher last season. He also produced at a strong level relative to catching peers. For now, he's got a spot.
88
Luis Severino New York Yankees SP
He's topped 190 innings in each of the last seasons while putting up an ERA+ of 140 and a K/BB ratio of 4.64 over that span. If not for the shoulder problems that may cost him the first month of the season, Severino would be much higher on this list.
89
Yasiel Puig Cincinnati Reds RF
Now in Cincy, Puig will play every day, and his right-handed power should be a nifty fit for Great American Ball Park.
90
Stephen Piscotty Oakland Athletics RF
Back home in the Bay Area, Piscotty enjoyed the best full season of his young career. Now 28, he'll be central to Oakland's efforts to get back to the postseason.
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91
Eloy Jimenez Chicago White Sox RF
The best power prospect in baseball inked an early extension with the White Sox, which ensures he'll be on the Opening Day roster. Expect Jimenez to put up big power numbers from the start.
92
Masahiro Tanaka New York Yankees SP
After de-emphasizing the hard stuff midway through the 2018 season, Tanaka got back to getting vintage results. Expect him to turn in another fine campaign in 2019, assuming he's mostly healthy.
93
Cole Hamels Chicago Cubs SP
Hamels enjoyed a nice renaissance after the trade to the Cubs. Not long before the trade, Hamels tweaked his mechanics and shifted toward more four-seamer usage. Those tweaks mean his better results may be sustainable for the short-term.
94
Michael Conforto New York Mets LF
Conforto has produced at a high level over the last two seasons, and in 2018 he paired productivity with durability. At age 26, he's primed to keep it going.
95
Adalberto Mondesi Kansas City Royals 2B
The 22-year-old Mondesi is a shortstop who's also an intriguing combination of speed and power.
96
Wilson Ramos New York Mets C
Over the last seasons, Ramos at the plate has ranged from good to excellent by positional standards. In 2018, he proved he's still capable of carrying a primary workload behind the plate.
97
Yan Gomes Washington Nationals C
Gomes is among the best defensive catchers around, and on balance he's been a quality hitter over the course of his career, as catchers go.
98
Justin Upton Los Angeles Angels RF
Upton, 31, is coming off a 30 home run/122 OPS+ season for the Angels. We're probably seeing signs of early decline phase for Upton, but he should remain a very useful contributor in 2019.
99
Jon Lester Chicago Cubs SP
Lester's underlying indicators took a hit last season, but he kept runs off the board at an impressive rate. He's 35, but for now we'll defer to his track record.
100
Michael Brantley Houston Astros LF
After missing big chunks of the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Brantley last year proved he's still capable of staying mostly healthy while producing at a worthy level.


Outraged by that upon which you have just lain jaundiced eyes? As always, reach to the author at his personal email address -- hotmail@hotmail.jpg -- with all your complaints.

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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