By: Daniel Multz
These top 20 performances stood out amongst the rest as the best MLB had to offer in 2018.
20) Nolan Arenado – Rockies
Whether you believe in the “Coors Field Effect” or not, Arenado is the epitome of consistency.
Hit .297 with 38 homers, 110 RBI, 104 runs scored, and a .935 OPS in 156 games
19) Javier Baez – Cubs
The free-swinging infielder finally put it all together in an MVP-caliber season.
Hit .290 with 34 homers, 111 RBI, 40 doubles, 9 triples, 101 runs scored, and 21 stolen bases in 160 games
18) Trevor Story – Rockies
Story shrugged off a rough 2017 to rise up to MVP levels at shortstop for Colorado.
Hit .291 with 37 homers, 108 RBI, 27 stolen bases, 42 doubles, 7 triples, and a .914 OPS in 157 games
17) Chris Sale – Red Sox
Injuries limited his second half performance and may have pushed him out of Cy Young contention, but the numbers he racked up when healthy definitely warrant a spot on this list.
Went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA, 237 strikeouts/34 walks in 158 innings pitched, and a 0.86 WHIP in 27 starts
16) Josh Hader – Brewers
In 55 appearances, Hader had a 2.43 ERA in 81.1 innings pitched with 143 strikeouts, 36 hits allowed, a 0.81 WHIP and won NL Reliever of the Year.
15) Edwin Diaz – Mariners
In 73 appearances, he had a 1.96 ERA with 73.1 innings pitched, 124 strikeouts, 41 hits allowed, 57 saves, good for second all time, and won AL reliever of the year.
14) RP Blake Treinen – A’s
Although he didn’t win Reliever of the Year, he should have and that’s why he’s higher on this list. This season of relief was equally historic and in my opinion better than that of Diaz.
In 68 appearances, he had a 0.78 ERA with 80.1 innings pitched, 100 strikeouts, just two homers allowed, just seven earned runs allowed and 38/43 saves.
13) Teammate Tie: Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor – Indians
The middle-infield duo of Cleveland put up such similar and dominant seasons that they are inseparable.
Ramirez hit .270 with a 30/30 clip (39 homers and 34 stolen bases), 105 RBI, 106 walks, just 70 strikeouts, 38 doubles, and 110 runs scored in 157 games.
Lindor hit .277 with 38 homers, 92 RBI, 42 doubles, 25 stolen bases, 183 hits, and 129 runs scored in 158 games
12) Alex Bregman – Astros
The bright spot of Houston’s lineup all year as Correa, Altuve and Springer all battled injuries.
Hit .286 with 31 homers, 103 RBI, 51 doubles, 105 runs scored, 95 walks, just 85 strikeouts and a .926 OPS, in 157 games
11) Teammate Tie: SP Corey Kluber and SP Trevor Bauer – Indians
These two were just two of the four incredible starters the 2018 Indians had, but the veteran ace Kluber and the young hard-thrower Bauer put up the two best seasons out of the four.
Kluber went 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA in 215 innings pitched with 222 strikeouts/34 walks and a 0.99 WHIP in 33 starts.
Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA, 221 strikeouts, just 9 homers allowed and 134 hits allowed in 175.1 innings pitched in 28 games (27 starts).
10) Freddie Freeman – Braves
A veteran at only 28, Freeman led the youthful Braves offense to an NL East title while leading the league in hits and earning some very-deserved MVP hype.
Hit .309 with 23 HR, 98 RBI, 44 doubles, 191 hits, and 94 runs scored in 162 games
9) Teammate Tie: Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole – Astros
The ageless veteran Verlander and the young all-star Cole trying to return to elite form led the Astros’ pitching staff to another AL West title and a deep (albeit incomplete) playoff run.
Verlander went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA, 290 strikeouts/37 walks, 156 hits allowed in 214 innings pitched and a 0.90 WHIP in 34 starts.
Cole went 15-5 with a 2.88 ERA, 143 hits allowed, 276 strikeouts/64 walks, just 19 homers allowed in 200.1 innings pitched and a 1.03 WHIP in 33 starts.
8) Aaron Nola – Phillies
The first of three deserving NL Cy Young candidates, the 25 year-old carried the Phillies pitching staff and never had a dull moment as the rest of the team had plenty of its ups and downs.
Nola went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA, 224 strikeouts/58 walks, just 149 hits allowed and just 17 homers allowed in 212.1 innings pitched with a 0.98 WHIP in 33 starts.
7) Max Scherzer – Nationals
The second of the three NL Cy Young contenders, this man keeps rolling and keeps getting better with age. He might be 34 but these numbers are just ridiculous!
Went 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA, 300 strikeouts/51 walks, just 150 hits allowed in 220.2 innings and a. 0.911 WHIP in 33 starts
6.) Blake Snell – Rays
The cornerstone of a Rays team full of surprises, innovation and a youthful drive who also happened to put up these numbers having to face the Red Sox and Yankees multiple times!
Went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA, 221 strikeouts/64 walks, just 112 hits allowed in 180.2 IP (just 38 earned runs) and a 0.97 WHIP in 31 starts
5.) Mike Trout – Angels
He’d be much more in the MVP talks and higher on the list had he not missed 22 games. Imagine how much crazier some of these numbers could have been!
Hit .312 with 39 homers, 79 RBI, 101 runs scored, 24 stolen bases, 122 walks, a .460 on-base % and a 1.088 OPS in 140 games
4) J.D. Martinez – Red Sox
If only he played more in the field then his all-around performance might have him higher.
Hit .330 with 43 homers, 130 RBI, 37 doubles, 181 hits, 111 runs scored, a .629 slugging % and a 1.031 OPS in 150 games
3.) SP Jacob deGrom – Mets
The third and undoubtedly most deserving NL Cy Young finalist, the best pitcher in baseball this season had one of the best seasons by a starting pitcher in MLB history!
deGrom Went 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA, 269 strikeouts/46 walks, just 152 hits allowed, just 41 earned runs and just 10 homers allowed in 217 innings pitched with a 0.91 WHIP in 32 starts. Set the MLB record with 24 straight quality starts.
2.) OF Christian Yelich – Brewers
The almost NL triple crown winner and the young anchor of the dangerous Brewers lineup.
Hit .326 with 36 homers, 110 RBI, 34 doubles, 7 triples, 22 stolen bases, 187 hits, 118 runs scored, a .598 slugging % and a 1.000 OPS in 147 games
1.) OF Mookie Betts – Red Sox
Imagine if that ‘136 games’ was 150 or 155 and how much more deserving he’d be for number one. No one’s season was better suited for number one then Betts’.
Hit .346 with a 30/30 campaign (32 homers and 30 stolen bases), 80 RBI, 42 doubles, 129 runs scored, 81 walks, just 91 strikeouts and a 1.078 OPS in 136 games
Noteworthy “Just Missed” performers: SP Patrick Corbin (ARI), SP Kyle Freeland (COL) OF Juan Soto (WSH), OF Ronald Acuna Jr. (ATL), 3B Miguel Andujar (NYY), OF Lorenzo Cain (MIL), 1B Paul Goldschmidt, (ARI)