Best Position Players
No Surprise at All
Is anyone shocked Mike Trout has the “best position player of the decade” title already locked up? No, but it doesn’t make what he’s done any less impressive. Outside of playing for a team that’s won a playoff game, there isn’t much the 27-year-old outfielder hasn’t done in a big-league uniform.
He’s already racked up seven All-Star Game appearances, six Silver Slugger awards, a Rookie of the Year award, two American League MVPs, and seven top-five finishes. In fact, the only time he hasn’t finished in the top two of MVP voting since 2012 came in 2017. That was only because a stint on the disabled list limited him to just 114 games.
The best way to characterize how much better Trout is than anyone else is to view the fWAR deficit. Entering 2019, his fWAR is 16.9 wins greater than Joey Votto. The distance between Trout and second place is the same as it is from second place to 18th place, which is where Freddie Freeman is taking up residence (30.8 fWAR).
Trying to Recapture The Magic
If it weren’t for back-to-back disappointing years for Miguel Cabrera, he’d be a lot higher on this list. Between 2004 and 2016, one of this generation’s best right-handed hitters never posted a wRC+ below 129, produced fewer than 4.6 fWAR in a season twice, and failed to play in 150-plus games just once.
Unfortunately, he’s combined to appear in only 168 games since the start of 2017, while being worth a cumulative fWAR of 0.6. Although the results came in 157 plate appearances, it was at least encouraging to see Miggy bounce back at the plate with an .843 OPS and 128 wRC+ this past year. It is worth nothing that even though his hard-hit rate falls within career norms (46.3%), it was also accompanied by a 54.6% ground-ball rate and .352 BABIP.
The best of Cabrera’s career is all but likely in the past as he prepares for his age-36 season. However, he’s under contract with the Detroit Tigers until 2023 for at least $30 million per season. As the organization continues navigating through a rebuilding period, they’re undoubtedly hoping Miggy can recapture some of the magic in his bat.