So I took note of our readers’ feedback, and I decided to change my top five lists into a top seven. With that said, we’re moving along to the American League West.
7. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Not going to disappoint many with Altuve sliding this low on my list, but he just didn’t do enough on the field post sign-stealing. I was paying attention to his offensive output during the 60-game short season and was left underwhelmed. He was often fooled by breaking balls while behind in the count, when that was his strength for many seasons prior.
It would be completely unfair of me to assume he’s a great player BECAUSE of the scandal, but for him, it at least seems like a factor. Either way, Jose Altuve hit well north of .300 for the majority of the past six seasons, so he deserves some credit.
And yeah, he probably would tell us that he feels he should be a top three player in this division. If he can show that talent he had during the trash can scandal, then I’ll gladly push him further up my list.
6. Matt Olsen, Oakland Athletics
When you think of the top players in the game–you just don’t think of Matt Olsen. Part of that is Olsen posting a dismal offensive season, but he’s also playing for the Oakland Athletics.
Outside of their local market–no one cares about the Oakland A’s and their small market mentality. But the main reason Olsen finds himself at six on my list is because of that glove. According to Statcast, the Gold Glove winning first baseman led the league with 13 runs saved in 2020.
Even when that bat slumps, he finds ways to contribute. It also doesn’t hurt that he hit 14 homers last year, despite his .195 average. Expect a bounce back offensive campaign for Olsen and much of the same in the field. Total package.
Matt Olsen walk-off grand slam against the Angels. pic.twitter.com/GxRo3sJgLH— Baseball GIFs (@gifs_baseball) July 25, 2020
Lastly, Olsen was eaten alive by the defensive shift. Dead pull hitter who struggled making that adjustment during the short season. Rumors are that the shift may be limited in the near future, so that should improve him at the plate by default.
5. Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics
Again, defense. The 27-year-old third baseman has plenty of time to figure out a more consistent attack with the bat. If he can do that–he suddenly becomes the second best player in this division. Defensively, Chapman is the best player in the sport.
What’s sad is that he hasn’t gotten much credit for most of his freak defensive efforts playing for the local Oakland market. Really makes you wonder why any star would agree to stay or sign with any small market organization.
One positive here is that the Oakland Athletics became famous for shipping talent away for prospects. That means Chapman’s services will be available to one lucky major market before his one-year, $6.49 million deal expires.
Gold Glove play at 3rd base for Matt Chapman pic.twitter.com/P3vvFYAeti— Baseball Doesn’t Exist (@BblDoesntExist) March 5, 2021
4. Anthony Rendon, Los Angeles Angels
No clue why the Angels forked over $245 million for his talents when it wasn’t what they needed, but he was worth that money to somebody. Defensively, he’s just okay, while he’s as good as any infielder in the game with the bat.
Check out these numbers:
He became an All-Star for the first time in 2019 and was a catalyst to the Washington Nationals’ World Series run. He’s a proven clutch at-bat who can hit with two strikes against some of the best relievers in the game. At some point, players deserve credit for playing their best against peak competition, and that’s what I’m trying to show here.
Anthony Rendon went ALL OUT 🤭 pic.twitter.com/kDzpwNylr0— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) October 4, 2019
3. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
Cheating excluded, Bregman showed his talent off in the American League Division Series against the Oakland A’s.
You don’t hit .400 in a playoff series matched up with one of the best pitching staffs in the game and fall outside my top 7. Alex Bregman showed us what Jose Altuve failed to do, and that was that he could dominate the game without cheating.
Props to Bregman for facing the pressure fans put on him and delivering in a big way.
2. Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
By postseason’s end, Carlos Correa was one of the most feared hitters in the American League. Pile that fact on top of having a top-three glove at shortstop, and you will find yourself near the top of any list.
Your eyes do not deceive you. Correa hit .500 in TWO different playoff series this past year. That shouldn’t be possible, and I think it’s fair to say maybe three guys on this entire list are physically capable of that.
He’s also only 25 years old, and that has to factor into how well we can expect Correa to play in the coming season. We may have just seen the tip of the iceberg.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
He’s the best player in Major League Baseball, and it’s not even remotely close. All-time power with an impossibly quick ability to adjust to his own weaknesses. Pitchers routinely attacked high in or above the strike zone to put Trout away, but now? Pitchers rarely attempt pitching near the zone.
Pitches at the top of zone was a “weakness,” and now he’s seen them so much that they’re a strength. Probably answers the question of “why is Mike Trout walking so much?”
Career .304 hitter that’s only getting more comfortable since the arrival of third baseman Anthony Rendon to Anaheim. Naturally, pitchers should start to attack Trout more (as silly as that sounds), and it’ll ultimately lead to a torrid pace of long balls. He managed 17 homers in just 53 games played last season, so could you imagine when that average kicks back up into what he’s used to?
Mike Trout will likely win the American League MVP in 2021. If only Anaheim had some pitching, man.
And since Mike is so much better than anyone else and you don’t really need any video to prove it, here’s a clip of him at Top Golf instead:
It’s been a year since Mike Trout did this… pic.twitter.com/CmmvhTkKj6— Johnathan🖤 (@RoblesForMVP) March 2, 2021