A new name rises to top of list of game’s best third basemen

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MLB Network kicked off its annual tradition of ranking the “Top 10 Players Right Now” at each position on Jan. 9 when it rolled out its list of the game’s best starting pitchers in the first installment of 10 weeknight specials.

Using rankings based on past player performance, a number of offensive and defensive metrics, both advanced data and traditional numbers, and analysis by the MLB Network research team, “The Shredder” produced its list of the 10 best players at each position right now.

The final position ranking, for relief pitchers, will air Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

Here’s a look at the lists so far:

The top four third basemen from a season ago are once again the top four this season, albeit in a different order. Braves slugger Austin Riley moved up two spots to take over the No. 1 spot from Manny Machado, who dropped to No. 3. José Ramírez remained second on the list, while Rafael Devers once again rounded out the top four.

1. Austin Riley, ATL (Last year: 3)
2. José Ramírez, CLE (2)
3. Manny Machado, SD (1)
4. Rafael Devers, BOS (4)
5. Alex Bregman, HOU (6)
6. Gunnar Henderson, BAL (NR)
7. Nolan Arenado, STL (5)
8. Max Muncy, LAD (8)
9. Isaac Paredes, TB (NR)
10. Justin Turner, TOR (7)

Mike Trout’s reign atop the center fielder rankings has come to an end heading into 2024, with the Angels superstar dropping three spots to No. 4 following a couple of injury-hampered seasons. As for the new No. 1, Aaron Judge — who was ranked the top right fielder last season — assumes the top spot ahead of Mariners superstar Julio Rodríguez. As always, there’s no shortage of talent in center field, with Luis Robert Jr., Michael Harris II, Byron Buxton and Cedric Mullins also returning to the list for another year.

  1. Aaron Judge, NYY (Last year: No. 1 RF)
  2. Julio Rodríguez, SEA (3)
  3. Luis Robert Jr., CWS (8)
  4. Mike Trout, LAA (1)
  5. Michael Harris II, ATL (5)
  6. James Outman, LAD (NR)
  7. Byron Buxton, MIN (2)
  8. Cedric Mullins, BAL (7)
  9. TJ Friedl, CIN (NR)
  10. Brandon Marsh, PHI (NR)

Yordan Alvarez retained the top spot in left field for a second straight year, but there was plenty of movement behind him thanks to position switches and emerging stars. With Juan Soto transitioning to right field and three center fielders from a season ago — Brandon Nimmo, Bryan Reynolds and Chas McCormick — sliding over to left field, this set of rankings looks vastly different heading into 2024.

  1. Yordan Alvarez, HOU (Last year: 1)
  2. Brandon Nimmo, NYM (No. 4 CF)
  3. Nolan Jones, COL (NR)
  4. Bryan Reynolds, PIT (No. 6 CF)
  5. Chas McCormick, HOU (No. 10 CF)
  6. Randy Arozarena, TB (5)
  7. Lars Nootbaar, STL (NR)
  8. Christian Yelich, MIL (NR)
  9. Matt Wallner, MIN (NR)
  10. Kyle Schwarber, PHI (3)

Already one of the tightest battles year after year, first base became even more competitive with two-time MVP and seven-time All-Star Bryce Harper joining the mix. Harper debuts at No. 2 on the first basemen rankings after making the permanent move from right field. Freddie Freeman, meanwhile, supplanted Paul Goldschmidt atop the list.

  1. Freddie Freeman, LAD (Last year: 2)
  2. Bryce Harper, PHI (No. 3 RF)
  3. Matt Olson, ATL (6)
  4. Paul Goldschmidt, STL (1)
  5. Yandy Díaz, TB (NR)
  6. Pete Alonso, NYM (5)
  7. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., TOR (3)
  8. Brandon Belt, FA (NR)
  9. Christian Walker, AZ (NR)
  10. Triston Casas, BOS (NR)

With Mookie Betts transitioning to a new position, there’s a new superstar atop the list at second base. The NL MVP runner-up replaced Houston’s Jose Altuve in the No. 1 spot, with Altuve dropping to No. 2. Marcus Semien moved up one spot to round out the top three, while five new players moved into the top 10 this year.

  1. Mookie Betts, LAD (Last year: No. 2 RF)
  2. Jose Altuve, HOU (1)
  3. Marcus Semien, TEX (4)
  4. Luis Arraez, MIA (NR)
  5. Ketel Marte, AZ (8)
  6. Matt McLain, CIN (NR)
  7. Andrés Giménez, CLE (3)
  8. Edouard Julien, MIN (NR)
  9. Zack Gelof, OAK (NR)
  10. Nico Hoerner, CHC (NR)

No surprise here as Ronald Acuña Jr. takes over the top spot following his historic season for the Braves that resulted in a unanimous NL MVP Award. That decision was made even easier by last year’s No. 1 right fielder (Aaron Judge) moving over to center field for this year’s rankings. Speaking of position switches and Yankees outfielders, Juan Soto – the No. 2 left fielder last year – checks in as the No. 3 right fielder this year. And if that wasn’t enough to show just how stacked this position group is, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year Award winner joins in at No. 4.

  1. Ronald Acuña Jr., ATL (Last year: 5)
  2. Kyle Tucker, HOU (4)
  3. Juan Soto, NYY (No. 2 LF)
  4. Corbin Carroll, AZ (NR)
  5. Fernando Tatis Jr., SD (9)
  6. Seiya Suzuki, CHC (NR)
  7. George Springer, TOR (6)
  8. Teoscar Hernández, LAD (8)
  9. Adolis García, TEX (NR)
  10. Josh Lowe, TB (NR)

Corey Seager takes over the No. 1 spot after claiming his second World Series title — and his second World Series MVP trophy — in 2023. Last year’s top shortstop, Trea Turner, dropped to No. 5 following an up-and-down debut season in Philadelphia. Francisco Lindor jumped three spots to No. 2 and Dansby Swanson leaped into the top five, while three newcomers, including budding Royals superstar Bobby Witt Jr., joined the list

1. Corey Seager, TEX (Last year: 4)
2. Francisco Lindor, NYM (5)
3. Xander Bogaerts, SD (3)
4. Dansby Swanson, CHC (6)
5. Trea Turner, PHI (1)
6. Bo Bichette, TOR (7)
7. Carlos Correa, MIN (2)
8. Willy Adames, MIL (NR)
9. Bobby Witt Jr., KC (NR)
10. J.P. Crawford, SEA (NR)

After three straight years atop the list, Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto dropped to No. 4 heading into 2024. The new No. 1 is young Orioles star Adley Rutschman, who takes over the top spot after a breakout season that included his first All-Star selection, a Silver Slugger Award and a ninth-place finish in AL MVP Award voting. Each of last year’s top six catchers remain on the list, while four newcomers joined the club.

1. Adley Rutschman, BAL (Last year: 3)
2. Will Smith, LAD (2)
3. Sean Murphy, ATL (4)
4. J.T. Realmuto, PHI (1)
5. William Contreras, MIL (NR)
6. Willson Contreras, STL (5)
7. Alejandro Kirk, TOR (6)
8. Yainer Diaz, HOU (NR)
9. Cal Raleigh, SEA (NR)
10. Gabriel Moreno, AZ (NR)

There was plenty of turnover from a season ago, with six new pitchers joining the list – including the guy ranked No. 1. Gerrit Cole, who was No. 2 on this list entering the 2022 season before dropping out of the top 10 heading into ’23, jumped all the way to the top after taking home the AL Cy Young Award. Meanwhile, the NL Cy Young Award winner – Blake Snell – checked in at No. 5 after also missing out on this list a year ago. Zac Gallen, Spencer Strider, Logan Webb and Sonny Gray rounded out the newcomers for this season.

  1. Gerrit Cole, NYY (Last year: Not ranked)
  2. Corbin Burnes, MIL (1)
  3. Zac Gallen, AZ (NR)
  4. Justin Verlander, HOU (2)
  5. Blake Snell, FA (NR)
  6. Zack Wheeler, PHI (8)
  7. Spencer Strider, ATL (NR)
  8. Logan Webb, SF (NR)
  9. Max Fried, ATL (7)
  10. Sonny Gray, STL (NR)

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