Roundtable: Answering the biggest questions for Nos. 100-51

From ESPN - April 17, 2018

We are starting out 2018 MLBRank with Nos. 100-51. Which young stars will rocket up the rankings? Who deserved a spot in the top 100? We asked our experts to give their thoughts on some of the biggest questions that came out of the bottom 50.

Who are the biggest snubs?

I do not know if there are any obvious snubs, though there are probably too many relievers in general near the bottom of the top 100. I will go with one player who always seems underrated in Brett Gardner. He can beat you in a lot of ways. He might not match the 21 home runs he hit last year, and he's now 34, but he's coming off a 4.9 WAR season and has been above 3 WAR after each full season of his career. -- David Schoenfield

If I could build a team around any player outside the top 100, it'd be Oakland's Matt Chapman. He's the best defensive third baseman in the American League, has a history of big power numbers in the minors, and in the first few weeks of this year has shown big improvements in plate discipline and contact. He debuted in Oakland last June, and in his first 99 games as a big leaguer he has produced 5.0 WAR at Baseball-Reference. Only 26 big-league hitters had 5 WAR in full seasons last year. He's a star. -- Sam Miller

There are two starting pitchers who are also among the 60 top players in baseball but were omitted from this list of 100: Lance McCullers and Masahiro Tanaka. -- Bradford Doolittle

Put on your way-too-early prediction hat -- where will Shohei Ohtani be next preseason when we do these rankings again?

I will say somewhere around 25 to 30. The thing to keep in mind is to accurately assess the value he's creating away from the amazing aspect of what he's doing. His pitching value is going to be limited somewhat by pitching just once a week and DH duty means he has to hit at a high level to produce added value. Obviously, there are still unknowns: How he adjusts (especially at the plate), how he deals with the more difficult travel schedule than in Japan, staying healthy, etc. -- Schoenfield

He will be in the mid-20s by proving he's legit on both sides of the ball, but it might be hard for him to get higher. To go higher still, the interesting problem he will present is the lack of playing time in each role -- he probably ca not surpass the top starting pitchers if he ca not make 30 starts in a season. Or can he? Whenever we think we know what to expect, he keeps taking it up a notch. -- Christina Kahrl

I am going to say No. 8. The furor should subside some but we will see what he has done this first month as a kind of ceiling for his potential. He's only 23, so whatever equilibrium his numbers eventually reach will be augmented by a projection for improvement. -- Doolittle

Byron Buxton (55), Alex Bregman (56), Andrew Benintendi (60): Who is higher next year? Which one would you take if you were building a team?

Give us one guy in the 51-100 range (other than Madison Bumgarner and Shohei Ohtani) who is most likely to be in the top 20 next year.


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