Time for some All-Star break fun: here are my very, very preliminary 2016 player rankings. I’ve done my best to list players where they’ll be eligible next year, and the free agents-to-be are listed without teams. Players with options for next year are still listed with their current teams if those options are likely to be exercised.
Along with the position rankings is a top 300 list for 2016. Click to see other preliminary 2016 rankings:
2016 First Baseman Rankings
|4||Jose Abreu||White Sox||2||4|
|5||Edwin Encarnacion||Blue Jays||3||3|
|11||Chris Davis||4 3B||8 3B|
|12||Carlos Santana||Indians||5 3B||9 3B|
|18||Ryan Zimmerman||Nationals||11 3B||24 3B|
|20||Pedro Alvarez||Pirates||15 3B||17 3B|
|21||Adam LaRoche||White Sox||17||17|
|22||Chris Carter||Astros||2 DH||16|
|27||Michael Morse||Marlins||47 OF||58 OF|
|30||Wilin Rosario||Rockies||15 C||14 C|
|37||Justin Smoak||Blue Jays||32||37|
|40||Kennys Vargas||Twins||3 DH||35|
|43||Josh Bell||Pirates||213 OF||NR|
o I feel pretty good about the top 10 here. There could be a lot of changes after that. Chris Davis will tumble several spots if he heads to a lesser home run park in free agency. The second halves of players like Santana, Hosmer, Teixeira and Duda will affect their rankings. One guy who could move up is Alvarez. It’s not hard to see the Pirates moving on from him this winter, and if he lands in the right situation in the right ballpark, he could still be a 35-homer guy.
o In light of Morneau’s concussion problems, the Rockies have the most difficult situation to read here. I like Paulsen over Rosario, but I have Rosario higher since there’s the chance he could head elsewhere and regain his catcher eligibility. Paulsen is more likely to stick around as a fallback for Morneau, if Morneau is able to play. There’s also Kyle Parker lurking as a possibility, but I don’t think very much of his bat. If Morneau were forced to retire because of the concussions, then Paulsen might be a top-20 first baseman next year.
o Only at the bottom of the rankings do the prospects start to emerge. I’m just not convinced that any of them will go into the year as starters. Walker in Baltimore might have the best shot, since Davis seems likely to depart. He’s probably not going to be a star, but he could hit 20 homers right away. Singleton seems to have mastered Triple-A this year, and he has the big power upside. Still, I’m not sure it will ever make sense for the Astros to play him and Carter together. Bell is hitting .312/.380/.431 in Double-A. I doubt he gets a job on Opening Day even if Alvarez is sent packing, but he should be ready at some point in 2016.
2016 Designated Hitter Rankings
|1||Victor Martinez||Tigers||10 1B||13 1B|
|2||Alex Rodriguez||Yankees||22 3B||11 3B|
|3||David Ortiz||Red Sox||1||1|
|4||Evan Gattis||Astros||3 C||5 C|
|5||Kendrys Morales||Royals||24 1B||18 1B|
|6||Billy Butler||Athletics||21 1B||29 1B|
|7||Nick Swisher||Indians||33 1B||26 1B|
|8||John Jaso||20 C||28 C|
|9||Jimmy Paredes||Orioles||43 3B||28 2B|
o This looks like it’ll be the deepest DH class in a few years. There’s a chance Gattis or Jaso could get 20-game outfield eligibility, but I’m leaning no. Gattis has played just five games in the outfield. Jaso, who just came off the DL, has taken the field only once, though he’s likely to see occasional starts in left during the second half.
o The top three guys here are all pretty closely bunched in the top 300. Obviously, Rodriguez has been the class of the list to date, but at 40 years old, he could still fall of a cliff with hardly a moment’s notice. The same goes for Ortiz. He’s hitting the ball harder than his numbers suggest, but it’ll still be a third straight year with a substantial decline in OPS.