MLBRank 50-1: Trout is clear No. 1, but who comes next?

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Olney: Trout will go down as 'one of the greatest' (1:03)

Buster Olney explains why Mike Trout's amazing start to his career puts him among the game's all-time greats. (1:03)

Who are the best players in Major League Baseball going to be for the 2018 season?

To determine this, ESPN formed a panel of MLB writers, analysts, contributors and Insiders to rank the top 100. We polled almost 40 experts, who voted from a list of just fewer than 300 players. We unveiled Nos. 100-51 on Tuesday, and now it's time for the top 50.

We've included Dan Szymborski's preseason ZiPS projected WAR for every player.


No. 50: Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 rank: 68

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.3

Did you know? Signing with the Dodgers in 2014 proved to be a savvy move for Turner, as he has accrued 18.8 of his career 19.6 WAR since then. He has slashed .303/.378/.502 with the team while improving his defense. He has averaged nearly six defensive runs saved per season with the Dodgers after posting negative DRS the few seasons prior. (Note: on the DL with a broken left wrist) -- Evan Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 49: Robbie Ray, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

2017 rank: 76

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.9

Did you know? In 2017, Ray joined Randy Johnson (five times) as the only starting pitchers in Diamondbacks history to strike out 30 percent of batters faced and have a sub-3.00 ERA in a single season (minimum 15 starts). Ray also posted the lowest contact rate among qualified pitchers last season (65.6 percent). -- C.J. Hangen, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 48: Edwin Encarnacion, DH, Cleveland Indians

2017 rank: 69

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.9

Did you know? From 2013 to 2017, no one had more RBIs in the majors than Encarnación (547). Only Nelson Cruz (193) and Chris Davis (190) hit more home runs than Encarnación (189) during that span. Encarnación is also the only player to hit at least 30 home runs in each of the previous five seasons. -- Harrison Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 47: Robinson Cano, 2B, Seattle Mariners

2017 rank: 31

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.9

Did you know? Cano is one of four active players with 500 doubles and 300 home runs, along with Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols and Adrian Beltre. Cano is also one of just three primary second basemen to tally those numbers, joining Rogers Hornsby and Jeff Kent (minimum 50 percent of games played at second). -- Riley Foreman, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 46: Trea Turner, SS, Washington Nationals

2017 rank: 37

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.4

Did you know? Turner's game is speed. He had a sprint speed of 29.3 feet per second last season, according to Statcast, which was third among infielders behind Dee Gordon and Amed Rosario. Turner had 46 stolen bases in 2017, the most by any player in Nationals/Expos history since 1993, when Marquis Grissom had 53. Coincidentally, 1993 is the year Turner was born. -- Sarah Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 45: Nelson Cruz, DH, Seattle Mariners

2017 rank: 54

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.2

Did you know? From 2014 through 2017, Cruz hit more home runs than any other player in the majors. Last year, in his age-36 season, he finished one long ball shy of recording his fourth consecutive season with 40 home runs. -- Foreman, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 44: Andrew Miller, RP, Cleveland Indians

2017 rank: 36

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.3

Did you know? Miller is the first pitcher in MLB history to have four straight seasons with at least 60 innings pitched and a WHIP under 0.90. In that span, he has averaged 14.5 strikeouts per nine innings, second best of any pitcher with at least 200 innings (Aroldis Chapman). -- Mackenzie Kraemer, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 43: Yu Darvish, RHP, Chicago Cubs

2017 rank: 39

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.9

Did you know? Darvish's 3.86 ERA in 2017 was the worst of his career, but he still managed to rack up 209 strikeouts. His 11.04 strikeouts per nine innings pitched through the 2017 season is the highest in MLB history among starting pitchers with at least 750 IP. -- Hangen, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 42: Marcell Ozuna, LF, St. Louis Cardinals

2017 rank: 56

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.7

Did you know? Ozuna posted career highs in every offensive category in 2017, including homers (37), RBIs (124), batting average (.312) and OPS (.924). He joined David Ortiz (2016) and Miguel Cabrera (2013) as the only other players in the past five years to reach those thresholds. -- Jon Kramer, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 41: Christian Yelich, LF, Milwaukee Brewers

2017 rank: 44

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.4

Did you know? With a batting average of .290 over the past four seasons (2014-17), Yelich ranks 10th among MLB outfielders in that span (minimum 2,000 PA). The Brewers outfield had a .250 batting average last season, 25th in MLB. (Note: on the DL with an oblique strain) -- Kramer, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 40: Jose Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox

2017 rank: 64

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.6

Did you know? Abreu has been reliable for 25 homers and 100 RBIs each season he has been in the majors, since he debuted on Opening Day in 2014. In fact, he has generated an extra-base hit in each of the five season openers he has played, and the Elias Sports Bureau tells us he's the only player to do that in his team's season opener in each of his first five major league seasons. The only other players with 25 HRs and 100 RBIs in each of their first four career seasons? Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 39: Carlos Carrasco, RHP, Cleveland Indians

2017 rank: 51

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.2

Did you know? Carrasco had the best season of his career in 2017. Not only did the Indians right-hander tie for the MLB lead in wins (18), but he also was one of five pitchers to have 15 wins, 200 innings pitched and a K/9 of 10.0 or better, joining Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom and Cy Young winners Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 38: Zack Greinke, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

2017 rank: 28

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.0

Did you know? In 2017, Greinke had his fifth season with 200 innings pitched, 200 strikeouts and a sub-3.50 ERA. That's tied with Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw for the third-most seasons with those stats among active pitchers. Only Felix Hernandez (6) and Justin Verlander (7) have more. -- Hangen, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 37: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Washington Nationals

2017 rank: 49

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.5

Did you know? Rendon's plate discipline is off the charts. He had a 10.3 percent miss rate in two-strike counts last season, lowest in the majors. And he was among the top offensive third basemen last season, placing in the top five among primary third basemen in strikeout rate (13.6 percent), batting average (.301) and OPS (.937). -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 36: Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees

2017 rank: 46

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.2

Did you know? Sanchez's 33 home runs in 2017 were the most by a Yankees catcher in a single season in franchise history. In 2016 and '17, Sanchez had the most home runs (53) among all big league catchers, and he leads all catchers in OPS (.923) in that span. -- Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 35: Craig Kimbrel, RP, Boston Red Sox

2017 rank: 58

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.1

Did you know? Kimbrel has struck out 42 percent of the batters he has faced in his career -- the best strikeout rate by any reliever to have faced more than 1,390 batters in a career. Kimbrel's career-worst season ERA is 3.40 ... in a season in which he had a 14.1 K/9 and racked up 31 saves in 33 chances. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 34: Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets

2017 rank: 33

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.1

Did you know? The last time Syndergaard played a full season, in 2016, his 2.60 ERA was third best in the majors among qualified starters, and his 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings ranked fourth. He threw 149 pitches of 100 mph or faster that season, 118 more than any other starting pitcher. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 33: Dallas Keuchel, LHP, Houston Astros

2017 rank: 22

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.2

Did you know? Keuchel has been one of the top fielding pitchers of his generation. In fact, in 2015, Keuchel became just the seventh pitcher in MLB history to take home the Cy Young and Gold Glove in the same season. Keuchel was the first to do so since Clayton Kershaw took home both awards in 2011. -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 32: Jacob deGrom, RHP, New York Mets

2017 rank: 41

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.9

Did you know? Last season, deGrom had a career-high 239 strikeouts, marking the second time in his career that he struck out at least 200 batters in a season. He became the fourth pitcher in Mets history to have multiple 200-strikeout seasons, joining Hall of Famer Tom Seaver (nine), David Cone (four) and Dwight Gooden (four). -- Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 31: Luis Severino, RHP, New York Yankees

2017 rank: NR

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.7

Did you know? Severino finished third in the voting for the AL Cy Young Award last season, and he was an All-Star for the first time in his career. His fastball averaged 97.5 mph in 2017, the highest velocity in the majors among pitchers with at least 15 starts. -- Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 30: Jose Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Indians

2017 rank: 83

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.7

Did you know? Ramírez had a breakout season in 2017, as his 91 extra-base hits tied Giancarlo Stanton for the most in the majors. Ramírez became just the 17th AL player to hit at least 50 doubles and 25 homers in a season and was the first since Miguel Cabrera did so in 2014. -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 29: Justin Verlander, RHP, Houston Astros

2017 rank: 71

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.7

Did you know? Verlander's postseason performance for the Astros was particularly spectacular. He allowed nine earned runs in 36⅔ innings and posted a 2.21 ERA. Opponents hit just .177 against him. Notably, the Astros went 5-1 in postseason games he started. Since 2012, Verlander has a 1.94 ERA in 14 postseason games (13 starts), with 102 strikeouts in those games. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 28: Kenley Jansen, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 rank: 45

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 2.2

Did you know? Since entering the big leagues in 2010, Jansen has six seasons with at least 25 saves. Only Craig Kimbrel (seven) has more among closers. Over the past five seasons, Jansen has recorded an MLB-best three seasons with 40 or more saves. -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 27: J.D. Martinez, DH, Boston Red Sox

2017 rank: 50

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.6

Did you know? Last season, Martinez hit 45 home runs and played in just 119 games. That's the third-fewest games played in a 40-homer season in MLB history and the fewest games played in a 45-homer season. Martinez was traded to the Diamondbacks on July 18 and made his debut with Arizona the following day. From then until the end of the season, he was arguably the best power hitter in baseball -- with better power numbers than even Giancarlo Stanton by certain measures. Martinez had the highest slugging percentage, home run percentage and OPS in that span, and he was tied for the most extra-base hits. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 26: Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays

2017 rank: 21

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.6

Did you know? Despite missing time due to injury, Donaldson was still impactful last season. The third baseman recorded his third straight season with 30 homers, tied for the third-longest streak in franchise history. In his previous three seasons in Toronto, Donaldson has been the third-best position player in the majors in wins above replacement, behind only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. -- Dowling, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 25: Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves

2017 rank: 17

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.2

Did you know? Over the past two full seasons, Freeman's .977 OPS ranks sixth in MLB, and only Joey Votto has amassed more WAR among first basemen than Freeman's 11.0. Last season, in 37 games before suffering a wrist injury, Freeman was slashing an incredible .341/.461/.748. Despite playing only 117 games, he hit 28 homers, six shy of his career high in 2016. -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 24: George Springer, CF, Houston Astros

2017 rank: 27

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.4

Did you know? Springer hit a career-high 34 home runs last season, but it was the World Series that was the real Springer show. He hit five home runs, tying the World Series record held by Reggie Jackson (1977) and Chase Utley (2009). Springer became the first player to hit a home run in four straight games within a World Series. His 29 total bases were the most in any postseason series, and his eight extra-base hits were the most in a World Series. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 23: Cody Bellinger, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 rank: 47

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.4

Did you know? Bellinger hit 39 home runs last season, the most by a rookie in National League history and third most by a rookie in any league (Aaron Judge, Mark McGwire). The Dodgers were 9-11 prior to Bellinger's debut on April 25 last season. In total, they went 52 games above .500 with him in the starting lineup and five games under .500 without him in the starting lineup. He led the 104-win Dodgers in home runs and RBIs last season, the first rookie since RBIs were officially recorded in 1920 to lead a 100-win team in both categories. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 22: Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants

2017 rank: 19

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.9

Did you know? This is Posey's 10th season in the bigs and ninth full season. Through nine seasons, he has won a Rookie of the Year award, MVP award, batting title and three World Series rings. Hall of Famer Johnny Bench had two MVP awards and a Rookie of the Year award through his first nine seasons, but he didn't win his first World Series until that ninth season (1975). -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 21: Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Chicago Cubs

2017 rank: 24

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.9

Did you know? Rizzo has been a model of consistency for the Cubs in his young career. In fact, there have been just three players in Cubs history to record five seasons with at least 20 home runs before their age-28 seasons: Rizzo (five) and Hall of Famers Ron Santo (six) and Billy Williams (five). -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 20: Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 rank: 13

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.7

Did you know? Seager followed a strong rookie campaign, which won him the 16th Rookie of the Year award in Dodgers history in 2016, with a similar level of production in 2017. He hit 22 homers with an .854 OPS and .295 batting average the season after he had 26 homers, an .877 OPS and a .308 batting average in his rookie year. He's one of four Dodgers position players with at least 4.5 wins above replacement in two of his first three career seasons. -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 19: Stephen Strasburg, RHP, Washington Nationals

2017 rank: 20

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.0

Did you know? Last season, Strasburg posted an ERA of 0.86 in the second half, the second-lowest mark after the All-Star break since its inception in 1933. Strasburg also led all qualified pitchers in HR per nine IP (0.7) and ranked first in the NL in fielding independent pitching (2.72) in 2017. -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 18: Charlie Blackmon, CF, Colorado Rockies

2017 rank: 18

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 3.8

Did you know? Last season was a breakout year for Blackmon. Not only did the outfielder win the National League batting title with a .331 average, but he also set an MLB single-season record with 103 RBIs from the leadoff spot. Blackmon's productivity carried over into the start of the 2018 season, earning him a six-year deal to stay in Colorado with player options for 2022 and 2023. -- Dowling, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 17: Mookie Betts, RF, Boston Red Sox

2017 rank: 12

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.5

Did you know? Last season, Betts had 31 defensive runs saved, the second most in the majors behind only Andrelton Simmons. Betts won his second career Gold Glove, becoming the second Red Sox right fielder to win multiple Gold Gloves (Dwight Evans). Betts also was a standout offensively in 2017, becoming the first player in franchise history with consecutive 20 homer-20 stolen base seasons. -- Dowling, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 16: Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees

2017 rank: 14

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.7

Did you know? Last season, Judge became the first Yankee to win AL Rookie of the Year since Derek Jeter in 1996, as he hit an MLB rookie-record 52 home runs. Judge also became the fifth player in MLB history to have at least 50 home runs, 120 walks and 120 runs scored in a single season, joining Babe Ruth (four times), Mickey Mantle, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. -- Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 15: Manny Machado, SS, Baltimore Orioles

2017 rank: 16

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.9

Did you know? Over the past five seasons, Machado is one of four players to record three seasons of 30 home runs and 150 games played, along with Nelson Cruz (4), Anthony Rizzo (3) and Nolan Arenado (3). -- DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 14: Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

2017 rank: 11

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.8

Did you know? Lindor hit 60 home runs in his first three seasons, the fourth most by any shortstop behind Nomar Garciaparra, Carlos Correa and Ernie Banks. Lindor finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2015 to Correa. Lindor's power took off in a big way in 2017, when he hit 33 homers after hitting a combined 27 the first two seasons of his career. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 13: Giancarlo Stanton, RF, New York Yankees

2017 rank: 26

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 6.4

Did you know? Stanton became the first player in Marlins history to win an MVP award last season after leading the majors in home runs, RBIs and slugging percentage. He had 30 home runs over a 48-game span from early July to late August. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Barry Bonds is the only other player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs in a 50-game span within one season. -- Marder, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 12: Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

2017 rank: 6

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.8

Did you know? Bryant is well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best young power hitters the Cubs have ever had. He hit 94 home runs in his first three career seasons -- 29 more than anyone else in Cubs history. His 19.7 wins above replacement in that span were also the most by any Cubs position player in his first three career seasons -- by another large margin (Charlie Hollocher had 12.5). -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 11: Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

2017 rank: 4

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.1

Did you know? Goldschmidt has a power-speed combination that can hardly be matched; he was the only player last season with at least 35 homers and 15 stolen bases (36 HR, 18 SB). Goldschmidt led all first basemen in runs (117) and RBIs (120) last season. -- Brendan DeAngelis, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 10: Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros

2017 rank: 9

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.7

Did you know? Correa won the 2015 Rookie of the Year award in the American League and hasn't slowed down. He hit 66 home runs in his first three seasons in the majors, second most by a shortstop in his first three career seasons. The only shortstop with more in his first three seasons was Nomar Garciaparra, with 69. Correa is one of seven infielders with multiple 6-WAR seasons by his age-22 season, along with Manny Machado, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Bench, Eddie Mathews, Arky Vaughan and Jimmie Foxx. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 9: Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

2017 rank: 15

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.3

Did you know? Votto has the 12th-best OBP entering 2018 (.428), and he keeps getting better in every aspect of his game. Last season, he put up a 1.032 OPS and vastly improved his defense by adding 25 defensive runs saved to his previous year's total of minus-14 and tying for the lead among all first basemen with 11. -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 8: Chris Sale, LHP, Boston Red Sox

2017 rank: 5

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 6.1

Did you know? Sale struck out an MLB-high 308 batters last season. He was the first American League pitcher with a 300-strikeout season since Pedro Martínez in 1999. Sale struck out 12.9 batters per nine innings, which was the third-best mark by any pitcher in a season, behind Martínez's 1999 season (13.2) and Randy Johnson's 2001 season (13.4). -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 7: Nolan Arenado, 3B, Colorado Rockies

2017 rank: 8

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.2

Did you know? Arenado is elite with the bat and the glove. Over the past five full seasons, Arenado is second in MLB with 106 defensive runs saved, and he's the only player to win a Gold Glove in each year. He is also tied for the NL lead in home runs and led the NL in RBIs in two of the past three seasons. -- Wildstein, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 6: Corey Kluber, RHP, Cleveland Indians

2017 rank: 29

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.5

Did you know? Last season, Kluber suffered a back injury in May and spent some time on the disabled list. After he returned in June, Kluber led the majors in wins, ERA, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio for the remainder of the season. That won Kluber his second Cy Young Award, making him the first pitcher in franchise history to win multiple Cy Youngs. -- Marisa Dowling, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 5: Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals

2017 rank: 3

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 4.9

Did you know? Harper had a resurgent 2017 after a down 2016. He won the NL MVP in 2015, with a .330 batting average, 1.109 OPS and 10.0 wins above replacement. Then 2016 was a .243 batting average, .814 OPS and just 1.5 wins above replacement. In an injury-shortened 2017, Harper hit .319 with a 1.008 OPS and 4.7 wins above replacement. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 4: Max Scherzer, RHP, Washington Nationals

2017 rank: 7

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.1

Did you know? Last season, Scherzer became the sixth pitcher in NL history to win the Cy Young award in consecutive seasons, joining Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Sandy Koufax. Opponents hit .178 against Scherzer last season, the lowest opponent batting average for an NL pitcher in the live ball era (since 1920). And don't forget: He also won the 2013 AL Cy Young Award. -- Langs, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 3: Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros

2017 rank: 10

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.7

Did you know? Altuve has 200 hits in each of his previous four seasons, the longest such streak since Ichiro had 200 hits in each of his first 10 seasons from 2001-2010. Altuve has been the AL batting champ three times during his streak (Ichiro won just two batting titles in his career). Altuve has 48 homers in his past two seasons and 36 home runs total in his first five seasons. -- Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 2: Clayton Kershaw, LHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

2017 rank: 2

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 5.8

Did you know? Kershaw has a 2.36 ERA in his career entering 2018, second lowest in the live ball era (since 1920) and trailing only Mariano Rivera (2.21) among pitchers who have thrown at least 1,000 innings. In ERA+, which adjusts for the offensive environment in which a pitcher played, along with ballpark and other factors, Kershaw is second to Rivera in MLB history (minimum 1,000 IP). -- Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information

No. 1: Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels

2017 rank: 1

ZiPS projected 2018 WAR: 7.9

Did you know? Trout has 54.2 wins above replacement in his career entering 2018. The only player to accumulate more WAR through his age-25 season was Ty Cobb (56.0). Even if Trout ends up with 0.0 WAR in 2018, he will have the fifth most by any player through his age-26 season, behind Cobb, Mickey Mantle, Rogers Hornsby and Alex Rodriguez. -- Michael Bonzagni, ESPN Stats & Information