Jake Arrieta (9), Anthony Rizzo (27), Kris Bryant (28), Jon Lester (40), Jason Heyward (43) and Ben Zobrist (95) were included in the list of the best players in the game heading into the 2016 regular season.
A panel consisting of baseball writers, analysts and contributors ranked the top 100 players of 2016. ESPN polled 70 experts in February and March, starting with a list of more than 350 players. ESPN explained using a 0-to-10 scale, their experts evaluated the players based on how well they are projected to perform in 2016. Players expected to miss the 2016 season due to injury were not included.
Baseball Tonight’s Top 10 Players of 2016: Mike Trout (Angels), Bryce Harper (Nationals), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks), Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays), Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins), Jake Arrieta (Cubs) and Miguel Cabrera (Tigers).
According to Baseball Tonight’s polling, Anthony Rizzo was ranked as the fourth best first baseman. Ben Zobrist checked in at No. 5 on the top 10 second baseman’s list. Addison Russell was ranked eighth among the shortstops and Kris Bryant landed fourth in the ranking of the top third basemen. Kyle Schwarber ranked as the fifth best left fielder. The voting was completed before the Cubs re-signed Dexter Fowler. Jason Heyward was considered a centerfielder and checked in at No. 3 behind Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen.
On the pitching side, Jake Arrieta was ranked as the second best right handed starter behind Zack Greinke and Jon Lester landed at No. 6 on the southpaw’s list.
MLB Network had six Cubs in its top 100 that was released last month. Jake Arrieta was ninth with Anthony Rizzo (18), Kris Bryant (19), Jason Heyward (32), Ben Zobrist (45) and Kyle Schwarber (95) were included in the Network’s list of the top players in the game.
Jake Arrieta’s numbers from last season have been published countless times since October. Jake Arrieta was the best pitcher in the National League and earned the Cy Young Award. Arrieta was 22-6 in 33 starts with a 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 2.35 FIP. Arrieta allowed 52 runs, 45 earned, on 150 hits with 48 walks and 236 strikeouts in 229 innings.
Arrieta’s numbers after the break are simply ridiculous. Arrieta was 12-1 in 15 starts with a .075 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. Arrieta no-hit the Dodgers and allowed a total of 12 runs, nine earned, on 55 hits with 23 walks and 113 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings.
Jake Arrieta’s Steamer projection for the season is 15-9 in 32 starts with a 2.95 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 2.95 FIP for a 4.7 WAR.
Anthony Rizzo finished fourth in the voting for the NL MVP Award. Rizzo batted .278/.387/.512 in 160 games with 38 doubles, three triples and 31 home runs for a .899 OPS.
Steamer projects Rizzo to hit .278/.373/.517 with 32 doubles, two triples and 32 home runs for a .890 OPS and a 5.1 WAR.
Kris Bryant made the in-season adjustments and was the unanimous winner of the NL Rookie of the Year. Bryant hit .275/.369/.488 with 31 doubles, five triples and 26 home runs for a .858 OPS. Bryant worked through a dip in July and finished the year hitting .282/.361/.505 with 17 doubles, a triple and 14 home runs for a .867 OPS.
Bryant’s Steamer projection for the season is .279/.358/.503 with 28 doubles, three triples and 31 home runs for a .861 OPS and a 5.6 WAR.
Jon Lester had a very good first season with the Cubs after a rough start to the year. Lester was 11-12 in 32 starts with a 3.34 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 2.92 FIP. Lester allowed 83 runs, 76 earned, on 183 hits with 47 walks and 207 strikeouts in 205 innings.
Lester was 7-4 in 14 starts in the second half with a 3.04 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. Lester gave up 32 runs on 74 hits with 17 walks and 98 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings.
Steamer projects a better win-loss record and a better season for Lester. Steamer has Lester posting a 14-9 record in 32 starts with a 3.16 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 3.25 FIP for a 4.1 WAR.
Jason Heyward had a good year with the Cardinals in what turned out as his only season in St. Louis. Heyward batted .293/.359/.439 with 33 doubles, four triples and 13 home runs for a .797 OPS while earning the third Gold Glove of his career.
Steamer has Heyward batting .279/.357/.442 with 32 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs, .799 OPS and a 5.0 WAR.
Ben Zobrist missed time with injuries last spring and early in the season. Zobrist started the year with Oakland and ended it by celebrating a World Championship with the Royals. In 126 games, Zobrist hit .276/.359/.450 with 36 doubles, three triples and 13 home runs for a .809 OPS. After the trade that sent him to Kansas City, Zobrist batted .284/.364/.453 in 59 games with 16 doubles, a triple and seven home runs for a .816 OPS.
Steamer projects a .268/.352/.418 line for Zobrist this season with 30 doubles, two triples and 12 home runs for a .770 OPS and 2.8 WAR.