Ranking the top 50 MLB players for 2024: Is Shohei Ohtani still No. 1?

Over the past few weeks, I have been ranking the top 50 MLB players on “Flippin’ Bats.” And now, we are finally down to my top five.

All of these guys either won or were finalists for an MVP over the past few seasons — and deservedly so. They are the best of the best.

Without further ado, let’s get rolling!

5. Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

2023 stats: .307/.408/.579, 39 home runs, 107 RBIs, 8.3 WAR

Betts’ accolades speak for themselves. He is a two-time World Series champion, an MVP finalist in both the National and American Leagues (and AL MVP winner), a seven-time All Star and six-time Silver Slugger and Gold Glove selection. He can do it all for the Dodgers. Of course, I think Betts is going to have a big 2024, because that is what Mookie Betts does. He’s coming off a year where he hit over .300, surpassed 100 RBIs and nearly slugged 40 home runs. 

Betts will be the Dodgers’ full-time second baseman this season. You might worry about a transition to that spot from the outfield with anyone else, but Betts started in the minor leagues as a second baseman with the Red Sox back, and we saw him make Gold Glove-caliber plays there in L.A. last year. Sure, Betts is 31 years old, but he was also NL MVP runner-up in 2023. He has plenty more left in the tank and another big season on deck.

4. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

2023 stats: .267/.406/.613, 37 home runs, 75 RBI, 4.5 WAR

Judge is the heart and soul of this current Yankees team, and look no further for proof of that than last year, when New York’s entire season was derailed by Judge badly injuring his toe while running into the wall at Dodger Stadium. I hope I’m speaking it into existence when I predict a full, healthy 2024 for Judge after he missed nearly two months last season. Even so, his final numbers were still terrific, especially his rate stats. And should he play close to 162 games this year, I expect the Yankees captain’s production to closely resemble his historic MVP campaign from 2022.

Did Mookie Betts put an extra target on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ back?

Did Mookie Betts put an extra target on the Los Angeles Dodgers' back?

3. Corey Seager, Texas Rangers

2023 stats: .327/.390/.623, 33 home runs, 96 RBI, 6.9 WAR

After winning his second career World Series MVP and helping the Rangers to their first championship in franchise history, it’s easy to forget Seager missed quite a bit of last season due to injury, as well. Before October, all he did was put up video game numbers, including a 1.013 OPS and an AL-best 43 doubles despite missing 43 games.

Seager is the best shortstop in baseball and one of its best hitters. He’ll prove that again in 2024.

2. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Dodgers

2023 stats: .304/.412/.654, 44 home runs, 95 RBI, 10.0 WAR 

I know this is going to shock some people. If you know one thing about me, it’s how much I love Ohtani and how I consider him the greatest player of this era. He’s a two-time unanimous MVP for a reason.

Just last year, Ohtani was on pace to have the greatest season we have ever seen, topping, well, his other greatest season that we have ever seen in 2021. At the plate, he hit over .300 and would have finished with over 50 (if not 60) home runs and 100 RBIs had he not gone down with a torn UCL and oblique injury at the end of August. He still led MLB with a 1.066 OPS. Oh, and he went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA while striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings and posting the second-lowest batting average against (.184) in the majors.

Even though Ohtani will only be a designated hitter this year as he heals from his UCL surgery, I expect him to be the fearsome hitter we all know and love. I believe he can hit 60 home runs in his first year with the Dodgers. I believe he can easily drive in 120 runs. With Betts and Freddie Freeman hitting ahead of him, Ohtani will have a lot more RBI opportunities than he did with the Los Angeles Angels. I think he can steal 30 bases and post an OPS over 1.000 again. 

Ohtani is capable of all of that, offseason surgery and all, which is why a limited version of him is still No. 2 on my list. The only reason he is not No. 1 on my list is he won’t be pitching in 2024.

Who’s the best player in MLB right now?

Who's the best player in MLB right now?

1. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves

2023 stats: .337/.416/.596, 41 HR, 106 RBI, 8.2 WAR

There is only one man in MLB history who has hit more than 40 home runs and stolen more than 70 bases in a single season. That was Acuña last year, when he hit 41 and stole 73 en route to a unanimous NL MVP nod. Acuña’s 1.012 OPS made him one of only three players, along with Seager and Ohtani, to finish last season above 1.000, and he was also second in MLB in batting average at .337. 

I also personally love the way Acuña plays the game. As the title of my show indicates, I love guys who have fun playing the game, and Acuña has more fun than just about anyone else out there. He aggravates opposing pitchers and players in the dugout constantly. He led all of baseball in stolen bases, on-base percentage (.416), runs scored (149) and hits (217) in 2023. Winning back-to-back MVPs is hard for anyone, but I truly believe that is in Acuña’s grasp this year.

I have no earthly idea how Acuña follows up a historic 40-70 season. But I can’t wait to watch what he does, and that is why he is my No. 1 player in baseball for 2024.

Here’s my full list:

50. J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
49. Dansby Swanson, Chicago Cubs
48. Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins
47. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
46. Max Fried, Atlanta Braves
45. Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers
44. Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners
43. Cody Bellinger, free agent
42. Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
41. Pete Alonso, New York Mets
40. Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore Orioles
39. Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks
38. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
37. Xander Bogaerts, San Diego Padres
36. Blake Snell, free agent
35. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
34. José Altuve, Houston Astros
33. Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies
32. Luis Arráez, Miami Marlins
31. Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Rays
30. Luis Robert Jr., Chicago White Sox
29. Adley Rutschman, Baltimore Orioles
28. Manny Machado, San Diego Padres
27. Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals
26. Bobby Witt Jr., Kansas City Royals
25. Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves
24. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
23. Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
22. Francisco Lindor, New York Mets
21. Adolis García, Texas Rangers
20. José Ramírez, Cleveland Guardians
19. Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
18. Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves
17. Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves
16. Corbin Carroll, Arizona Diamondbacks
15. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
14. Fernando Tatís Jr., San Diego Padres
13. Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
12. Kyle Tucker, Houston Astros
11. Julio Rodríguez, Seattle Mariners
10. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
9. Yordan Álvarez, Houston Astros
8. Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers
7. Juan Soto, New York Yankees
6. Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies
5. Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
3. Corey Seager, Texas Rangers
2. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Dodgers
1. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves

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