Shohei Ohtani

MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Numbers 100-76

MLB's Top 100 players for 2020 season: Numbers 100-76

There was once a time when a list of baseball's top 100 players would've been dominated by men in their 30s or even 40s. In 2004, for instance, the NL MVP was 39-year-old Barry Bonds and the Cy Young went to 41-year-old Roger Clemens. It was the seventh respective award for each.

We now can be almost certain that neither accomplishment was achieved without help, but if any good came from that era, it's that it forced baseball to address its PED problem, which means that a top 100 list now looks very different.

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Our list will reflect that shift. What it won't include are three pitchers guaranteed not to play in 2020 because of Tommy John surgery — Noah Syndergaard of the Mets, Luis Severino of the Yankees, and of course Chris Sale of the Red Sox.

Over the next four weeks, NBC Sports Boston will unveil its top 100 players, 25 at a time, and the list is dominated by youth. Never have young players been so essential to winning, whether it's 20-year-old Juan Soto helping lead the Nationals to last fall's shocking World Series title, or 23-year-old Cody Bellinger being named NL MVP.

Click here for Part 1: Players ranked 100th to 76th on our list.

Angels' Shohei Ohtani tests famed Ted Williams red seat at Fenway in batting practice

Angels' Shohei Ohtani tests famed Ted Williams red seat at Fenway in batting practice

Since 1946, nobody has hit a ball past the lonely red seat in the right-field bleachers of Fenway Park. Or so the legend goes. 

That red seat connotes the distance of the 502-foot home run that Ted Williams hit on June 9, 1946, the longest homer in Fenway's 107-year history.

The story has been put to the test, and former Red Sox superstar David Ortiz questioned its legitimacy. One time, Globe beat reporter Pete Abraham notes, Ortiz tried to hit a ball past the red seat with a metal bat to no avail. 

On Friday night, a new chapter in the red seat's story was (almost) written. Before the Red Sox's played the Los Angeles Angels, Angeles phenom Shohei Ohtani launched a batting practice pitch deeeeeep to right field. It may have been the closest anyone's ever gotten to parking one past Seat 21 in Row 37 of Section 42 of the bleachers. (The seat's color was changed to red in 1984 to mark the distance of Williams' blast).

Check out a video of Ohtani's blast here and see Ohtani, the AL rookie of the year last season as both a right-handed pitcher and left-handed hitter, in action as the Red Sox lefty Brian Johnson faces in the Angels in the second game of their series tonight at 7:10. Tommy John surgery in the off-season has limited the 25-year-old from Japan to DH duty this season, but as his BP shot shows, it hasn't hurt his hitting (.287, 15 homers, 43 RBI in 77 games). 

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Will Red Sox bid on this year's Japanese free-agent prize?

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Will Red Sox bid on this year's Japanese free-agent prize?

After the Red Sox never got a meeting with Japanese two-way player Shohei Ohtani, who went on to have a rookie of the year season with the Angels by accomplishing things that only Babe Ruth had done in the past, their interest is likely to be lower on this year's free-agent prize from Japan, lefty Yusei Kikuchi, a pitcher only.

With a Red Sox rotation pretty well set and competing with other bidders to retain free agent Nathan Eovaldi, the Sox' priorities are likely elsewhere. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said earlier this month at the GM meetings that Boston has scouted Kikuchi, who is represented by Scott Boras.

Kikuchi, 27, went 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA for the Seibu Lions. He'll be posted to Major League Baseball teams starting Dec. 3, allowing him to start negotiating with teams for 30 days. Under the new posting system, the Lions would be compensated by the MLB team that signs Kikuchi based on the total value of his contract (20 percent for the first $25 million, 17.5 percent for the next $25M and another 15 percent if the deal exceeds $50M.

Last year, the Angels landed Ohtani for the bargain price of a $2.315-million signing bonus, plus a $20-million posting fee to the Nippon-Ham Fighters, his former Japanese team.

After he got out of high school in 2009, he met with the Red Sox and Yankees and considered bypassing the Japanese baseball draft and signing as a free agent. The Yankees are also among the MLB teams who have scouted him recently.

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