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#pounditSunday, June 23, 2024

Each MLB team’s best player in 2018 so far

Justin Verlander

Houston Astros — Justin Verlander, P

When he’s not being a bit overaggressive on Twitter toward drug policy violators, Verlander is dominating. What’s more, he’s dominating at a level that we haven’t seen much of, even from him. Through 10 starts, his ERA is a microscopic 1.05, with 84 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. His 4.5 hits per nine illustrates just how ridiculous he’s been, and it’s not as if he walks people either.

Kansas City Royals — Jorge Soler, OF

The one bright spot in what has thus far been an awful Royals season has been Soler, who may finally be living up to the hype he received as a prospect with the Chicago Cubs. He’s hitting .314, drawing walks, and hitting for extra-base power, with 13 doubles and five home runs. Just as everyone was starting to doubt whether he would ever live up to expectations, he’s starting to, and that’s reason to smile even if the Royals struggle.

Los Angeles Angels — Shohei Ohtani, P/DH

It’s hard to put into words what Ohtani is doing. He’s been dominant as a pitcher, with nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s been a huge threat as a hitter, with a .325 average and five home runs in only 82 plate appearances. He has excellent speed, though it’s rare that he gets to turn it use given the need to protect him from injury risk as much as possible. One of his rivals is correct: he’s almost certainly the best all-around player in the world.

Los Angeles Dodgers — Yasmani Grandal, C

It’s tough to find a Dodgers player who has both performed and stayed healthy. The likes of Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu have been good, but are hurt; guys like Cody Bellinger are healthy, but not hitting the standards they did a year ago. The combination that fulfills both best is Grandal, who has been so valuable to the struggling Dodgers. He’s hit .278 with seven home runs and has been one of the few stable presences in the lineup this season.

Miami Marlins — J.T. Realmuto, C

Though the subject of numerous trade rumors, Realmuto has put it behind him to set the pace for his struggling team. He handles the pitching staff, has improved as a defender, and still has the bat as a calling card. Realmuto is hitting .313 with six home runs. He’ll almost certainly be traded at some point, and he’ll be a valuable addition for whichever contender pulls the trigger.

Milwaukee Brewers — Lorenzo Cain, OF

Cain appears reinvigorated after leaving Kansas City as a free agent. He’s been a big part of why the Brewers are contending for first place in the NL Central, bringing his brand of do-everything baseball to Milwaukee. He’s his usual solid self defensively, has stolen ten bases, and is hitting .277 with five home runs to round it off. Perhaps he’ll have a similar impact in turning around the Brewers as he did with the Royals. He is so far.

Minnesota Twins — Eddie Rosario, OF

With Miguel Sano hurt, the Twins needed someone to step up and pace the offense. Rosario has really done it. He leads the Twins with a .296 average and nine home runs, and he’s been in the middle of much of their scoring, driving in 27 runs to also lead the offense. He can even steal a base — he’s picked up four of them on the season thus far.

New York Mets — Jacob deGrom, P

deGrom’s decision to cut off his trademark locks hasn’t had any negative impact on his pitching. In fact, the Mets ace — and that is what he is now — is looking better than ever, posting a 1.83 ERA through eight starts with 56 strikeouts in 44.1 innings. There have been bumps in the road and injury concerns, but he’s pitching at a very, very high level.

New York Yankees — Aaron Judge, OF

This was a tough choice between Judge and Luis Severino, who has been outstanding so far and looks like an ace for years to come. It’s Judge, though, just because he’s so awesome to watch and is very strongly proving that his 2017 season was no fluke. A .307 average, .441 OBP, and 11 home runs will easily make you forgive the strikeouts. Even after the Giancarlo Stanton acquisition, Judge remains the star attraction.

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