Every year, about this time, MLB Network publishes their list of the Top 10 players at each position right now. Those last two words should matter, but as you will see, they don’t.

And yes, I’m levying a criticism of their rankings in the opening paragraph.

I want to look at this solely through the lens of the Phillies, and then break down why I’m being critical of the crack team over at the sport’s own network, who butchered these lists.

You might think it’s weird to criticize when you say there are 10 categories – one for each position on the field and then a starting pitcher category and a relief pitcher category – and on those lists, seven Phillies made an appearance. But, oh, I can find a way.

Let’s start with their description of the process:

“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.”

OK, so, let’s start off with the fact that they tell us they are using some sort of statistical measurement, but don’t explain what it is, insist both offense and defense come into play (you’ll see that it doesn’t shortly), and they carefully construct the sentence to say both advanced data and traditional numbers are used – so as to not piss off either the analytics nerds nor the old head “eye test” contingent of their fan base (way to Switzerland the hell out of that one). Then finally there is “analysis” (ooooohhh) by their research team to populate these lists.


My first complaint is that it’s 2024. How come there’s not a list for the top 10 designated hitters in baseball? It’s universal in the sport now, right? Every team uses the DH, why not separate those guys out instead of trying to pigeonhole them into a position where they don’t belong, or simply not include them at all?

The reason I want to focus on this is because, well:

Come again?

So, tell me you used defensive metrics in determining these lists and then Kyle Schwarber makes it? Oh, and is Schwarber a left fielder right now? Are we not paying attention to our own sport? By including Schwarber as a left fielder, you’ve already made the list fugazi.

Does Schwarber belong on a Top 10 list for his offensive output? Sure. But he’s a DH now, and frankly always has been, but was just forced to play some outfield because of injuries and the like. And right now, he won’t be playing much left field at all. Instead, the guy who will be is on another list.

More on that in a minute, but before we leave left field, which is where “The Shredder” analysts are seemingly residing, living their best lives, Take a look at that list again. How many guys on that list would you rather have than Schwarber on your team right now? I’ll give you Yordan Alvarez. Dude doesn’t get enough credit for how good he is. I can squint and see arguments for one or two others, but I couldn’t agree with them. So, Schwarber behind all of them? Come on.

Now, let’s move to center field:

I’ll give “The Shredder” credit for at least acknowledging that Marsh improved his game offensively enough to deserve some recognition. But again, right now he’s not the Phillies centerfielder. Oh, he’ll play some there, but he was already supplanted and moved to the corner with the arrival of Johan Rojas after the All-Star break last season. If you are going to include Marsh on a list, and deservedly so, it should be over in left field – and he’s probably slightly higher on that list than No. 10.

Here’s another inconsistency from these lists – Minnesota’s Byron Buxton is on this list. I have no qualms with that – except for the fact that he hasn’t played there since 2022. He was a DH only last year. Now, it’s reported that he’s going back to center this year, and that’s fine, but you can’t use the position he’s going to play this year for him, and not use it for Schwarber and Marsh. It’s a lack of consistency to simply push your narrative.

Moving on…

Wait… so does this mean we can’t use the BCIB acronym for Realmuto any longer? (Best Catcher in Baseball, for those who weren’t privy). To be fair, he’s not. He wasn’t last year, when he was ranked No. 1 on this list, but I guess it took “The Shredder” an extra year to calibrate the massive amount of data that determines these lists.

That said, they probably got this one right. I think Gabe Moreno is a little low. We saw in the playoffs how good he can be, but aside from that, this is probably right. I’m not sure, even if Realmuto has a bounce back season where, you know, he actually hits in his home ballpark too (.198/.257/.320; .576 OPS at CBP vs. .306/.364/.587; .951 OPS on the road), he moves back ahead of the three guys above him, but he certainly can have the same season as 2023 and stay put in the fourth spot, and having the 4BCIB isn’t such a bad thing.

Now, to shortstop…

Trea was No. 1 on this list last season. We all know about his season. Brutal – until the standing ovations made him remember how to play baseball again, and he was one of the best players in the sport for the next six weeks. We got to see the real Trea Turner, albeit later than we expected. But was that, and suspect defense at the most important defensive position, enough to drop him four spots? I’m good with Corey Seager at No. 1. Guy was an MVP-caliber player last season and led his team to their first World Championship. But after that, it’s like they just made a list of guys, pulled up their baseball-reference pages, and stacked their counting stats against each other and called it a day. Dansby Swanson is better defensively, but I’ll still take Turner over him. Turner is a better all-around player than Xander Bogaerts, too. As for Francisco Lindor, I’m OK with making an argument for him, but I also think there’s an element to Lindor always seeming to be a good player on a team that can’t or doesn’t live up to the expectation. There’s something intangible there. And that should matter.

Now to one that will really make you mad:

That’s it. Shut it down. Like, are you doing this just to troll Philadelphia fans?

I’m not saying Bryson Stott should be at or near the top of this list. Mookie Betts is one of the game’s best players, even if he plays three positions, but, O.K., he’s going to play a lot of second base, so fine. Jose Altuve is incredible, and Marcus Semien had a great season in Texas. Luis Arraez is a poor man’s Tony Gwynn at the plate and Ketel Marte has had a few good seasons in a row now, so fine – you want them to be Top 5, you get no beef with me.

But from there is where things start to go bad, and fast. Matt McLain had a great rookie season, and I think he and Stott are on a similar level. McLain may be a more consistent hitter right now, Stott is clearly the better defensive second baseman. But they are both adept enough at the other that, to me, they are equals. So, if one is No. 6 the other should be No. 7, right?

I guess they put Andres Gimenez there because, well, he had a great offensive season in 2022, and although he crashed back to earth in 2023, he won the Gold Glove for second basemen in the A.L., so that combination elevates him, right? Except Stott was better offensively in 2023 and improved his game on both sides from his rookie season. While Stott didn’t win the Gold Glove in the N.L., he was a finalist. He had a better all-around season and showed improvement in all facets while Gimenez regressed offensively.

Edouard Julien, who – fun fact – was originally drafted by the Phillies, but didn’t sign and re-entered the draft to be chosen by Minnesota, had a fine rookie season, showing a really good plate discipline for a young player. But, there’s got to be a bigger sample size before you elevate him ahead of a guy, who you know, has already shown the growth from one season to the next.

Zack Gelof? I mean, great relatively local story (He’s from Lewes, Delaware). He had a nice rookie campaign for Oakland. But he’s had 270 MLB plate appearances. That’s it. And we’re crowning him as one of the best players at his position already? It’d be one thing if he was crushing it as a rookie, but he hit .267 with a .337 OPS. Solid numbers, sure, but among the best in the game, when we all know the second season is most critical in evaluation? Let’s pump the breaks.

And Nico Hoerner deserves to be on this list, maybe even a spot or two higher, And he probably beat Stott on because he won the Gold Glove and Stott didn’t. But Stott is a more impactful player. Their numbers were nearly identical offensively (Stott has more power), but Hoerner has also been around longer. Stott still has even more room to grow.

Anyway, I wasted a lot of words on this story, but this one just bothers me that Stott was so easily dismissed by people who supposedly know the sport.

There were a few other Phillies who made lists, and the MLB Network people likely got these right:

It’s weird to say Harper is the second-best first baseman in the sport right now having played all of 36 games there in his life, but as uber-talented a player as he is, you give him the benefit of the doubt that he will stick there and be really good at the position. It’s probably a toss-up between he and Olson for No. 2 behind Freeman, and those arguing for Olson have a good argument, but you can’t compare stats when Harper missed the first month of the season and didn’t really have his power until the second half of last season coming off of Tommy John surgery.

As for the bullpens:

They never put the tweet out with the full Top 10 because they were announcing it when the trade that sent Corbin Burnes from Milwaukee to Baltimore went down, but the actual 10 were:

  1. Devin Williams MIL
  2. Ryann Helsley STL
  3. Pete Fairbanks TB
  4. Evan Phillips LAD
  5. Jhoan Duran MIN
  6. Edwin Diaz NYM
  7. Bryan Abreu HOU
  8. David Bednar PIT
  9. Chris Martin BOS
  10. Jose Alvarado PHI

I give them credit for not focusing solely on closers, and I think there’s a few names that you can argue that can be on this list – namely Brusdar Graterol of the Dodgers or Emmanuel Clase of the Guardians – but it’s a pretty strong list, and relief pitchers are often statistically volatile from season to season, so it’s harder to really narrow this group down.


Zac Gallen the third best pitcher in baseball? Come on. That’s ridiculous. I know Blake Snell just won his second Cy Young and that has to count for something, but he’s too high, too. Notice no team wants to pay him $200 million, I wonder why? Wheeler is better than both guys. I think Logan Webb is underrated at No. 8 as well.

I know people would ask if I think Aaron Nola belongs on this list, and while I can make compelling comparisons for him head-to-head against some of these pitchers, I do believe it took him too long last season to figure out the new landscape of pitching in baseball with the pitch clock, so he’s outside the Top 10 for now. But he’s definitely in the next 10 and if he shows that what we saw down the stretch and in the playoffs can be his norm again going forward, he could crack this list for sure.

Oh, and one last thing… I didn’t include their third base or right field lists because I agree that neither Alec Bohm nor Nick Castellanos are deserving to be on there at this time.