Back in January, MLB Network had their countdown show for the top 100 players in the majors right now. It airs every year during a slow time, so we always post an article afterwards. This year there was no article because they didn’t have a single player from the Pittsburgh Pirates on the top 100 list. A panel of experts from ESPN disagrees with those rankings.
ESPN put together a list based on the top 100 rankings of a panel of MLB writers, analysts, contributors and Insiders. According to the article, “nearly 50” people contributed to the list. They ranked Jameson Taillon as the 66th best player, while Starling Marte ranks 100th.
Taillon ranks 19th overall among starting pitchers, while Marte is one of 18 outfielders on the list. Both players were unranked last year, but made this year’s list due to strong performances in 2018. Marte is projected for 3.4 fWAR, which is highest among all Pirates. Taillon had a 4.7 WAR last year and ZiPS projects him to post a 3.1 WAR this year, just ahead of the 3.0 they project for Chris Archer.
The Pirates haven’t done well on these ESPN lists the last two years. They came up empty in 2018 and Gerrit Cole (#92) was the only one on the 2017 list.
For those who are curious, you can see the top 1-50 here. The New York Yankees lead all of the majors with nine players in the top 100. The Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros were next with seven players on the list, while the Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers each had six players. Between them, the top seven clubs make up nearly half (47 players) of the list.
Among NL Central teams, the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs each have five players. The St Louis Cardinals have four, while the Milwaukee Brewers have three on the list.