Sidney Brown is known as the go-to guy for hockey info on Regal Radio, but what you may not know is that he has quite the encyclopedic brain for all sports. In “Sid Ranks Em’ All” you’ll get to read his unique take on the best and worst of sports with specific lists spanning all playing fields.
With the Blackhawks in between seasons and things a little sleepy on most playing fields overall in pro sports, it’s as good a time as ever for yours truly to put out a new list emerging from the world of sports.
During my time as a writer, I haven’t touched on the world of baseball, outside of saluting one of my all-time favorites from my beloved White Sox. I believe that more can be done for baseball to reach out to a new and younger generation but in my continued role as a South Side Sox fan, I can still appreciate the game for what it is.
That doesn’t mean that MLB is just providing the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. Populating the Majors’ current rosters are enough faces to take the game to new heights and fans should take notice of these fresh faces. So, without further a due, I present my first ever Top 5 Best Players in MLB Right Now:
5) Jose Altuve (Houston Astros) — At age 26 and standing at 5 feet and 5 inches tall(the shortest active player in MLB), Altuve has been a major catalyst of the revival of the Houston Astros.
While attention has been put on shortstop Carlos Correa, Altuve has been consistent from day one since his debut in 2011. In 2011, Altuve tied Russ Johnson for the Astros record of most consecutive games with a hit to start a career and hit his first career home run as an inside the park home run. In 2014, Altuve stole two bases in a game against the Detroit Tigers becoming the first player since Ray Chapman in 1917 to steal two or more bases in four consecutive games.
In 2015, Altuve became the first Astros player since Craig Biggio to achieve the 800 career hit mark and finished the year with back to back 200 hit season while helping Houston clinch a playoff spot as the Wild Card winner for the first time since 2005. The future is bright for this rising star and he’s only going to improve year by year.
Altuve’s Career Highlights
3x All Star (2013, 2014, 2015)
Gold Glove Award (2015)
2x Silver Slugger Award (2014, 2015)
AL Batting Champion (2014)
2x AL Stolen Base Leader (2014, 2015)
4) Josh Donaldson (Toronto Blue Jays) — After being selected by the Chicago Cubs in 2007, Donaldson found his stride with the Oakland Athletics from 2010 to 2014. In 2012, Donaldson found success after being converted from catcher to third baseman batting .241 with 33 RBI while helping Oakland clinch a postseason berth.
In 2013, Donaldson hit his first career grand slam off White Sox pitcher Chris Sale and was named American League player of the month for September batting .337 with 5 home runs and 16 RBI in 25 games. Confidence continued to grow in his final season in Oakland in 2014 with his first All Star game appearance and finishing the year with a .255 average with 29 home runs and 98 RBI. After being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015, Donaldson had his best season to date winning the AL MVP award (.297 AVG, 41 HR, 123 RBI), selected to his second All Star game and helping the Blue Jays clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 1993.
Despite the loss in the American League Championship series to the eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals, Donaldson left a huge impression on many fans and experts alike. With talent surrounding him with the likes of Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki, the sky is the limit for Josh and the Blue Jays.
Donaldson’s Career Highlights
2x All Star (2014, 2015)
AL MVP (2015)
AL Hank Aaron Award (2015)
Silver Slugger Award (2015)
AL RBI Leader (2015)
AL Runs Leader (2015)
3) Anthony Rizzo (Chicago Cubs) — After spending time in both the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres organizations in the minor leagues, Rizzo was given an opportunity to show his skills when he was traded to the Cubs in 2012. After excelling in triple A Iowa, Rizzo became the first player in Cubs history to have three game winning RBIs in his first five games with the team and hit seven home runs in the month of July breaking the previous record set by Mel Hall in 1983.
Rizzo’s start continued to grow and in 2014 was selected to his first All Star game and finished the year with a .255 batting average with 29 home runs and 98 RBI thus making him one the cornerstones for the Cubs franchise. In 2015, Rizzo again was selected to his 2nd All star game and became the first player since Don Baylor to get hit by a pitch 30 times and hit 30 home runs in the same season while helping the Cubs return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Although second year star Kris Bryant receives many of the Cubs’ headlines with his hot start to his career, the reason why I have Rizzo over Bryant is because Rizzo has put up numbers with nobody surrounding him with the exception of now ex-Cub Starlin Castro (2012: 15HR, 48RBI; 2013: 23HR, 80RBI & 2014: 32HR, 78RBI). Rizzo is the table-setter and the standard-setter of the Cubs lineup and without his production the Cubs many other all-stars and all-star level talents are not as effective.
Rizzo’s Career Highlights
2x All Star (2014, 2015)
2) Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals) — At age 23, this Las Vegas native has made baseball “Fun Again” with his hustle and pure passion. Harper exploded onto the scene in 2012 by winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award (.270 AVG, 22 HR, 59 RBI) while helping the Nationals reach the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history.
Harper had a list of accomplishments during his rookie season — becoming the first teenage player to steal home plate since 1964, earned his first walk off hit against the New York Mets on June 5th, first multi home run game against the Miami Marlins on August 29th and hit his first career home run in Game 5 of the NL division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. On opening day in 2013, Harper became the youngest player (20) in MLB history to hit two home runs in his team’s first game of the year and on August 6th in hitting his 17th home run of the season surpassed Ken Griffey, Jr. for the most home runs hit by a player younger than 21 years of age.
In 2015, Harper became the youngest player since Joe Lahoud in 1969 to hit three home runs in the same game against the Miami Marlins and was award his first Player of the Month Award (May). Harper would finish his season with a batting average of .300 with 42 home runs and 99 RBI winning the NL MVP Award. Harper has continued his hot pace in 2016 by hitting his first career grand slam for his 100th career home run against the Atlanta Braves and on May 8th tied a MLB record by recording six walks in a game against the Chicago Cubs.
Harper is one of the main faces for Major League Baseball and the future for the game of baseball. Can he bring in a younger generation to appreciate America’s past time?
Harper’s Career Highlights
NL MVP (2015)
Silver Slugger Award (2015)
NL Hank Aaron Award (2015)
3x All Star (2012,2013,2015)
NL Home Run Leader (2015)
NL Rookie of the Year (2012)
Golden Spikes Award (2010)
1) Mike Trout (Los Angeles of Anaheim) — After making his debut in 2011, Trout has been making an impact on the game of baseball with his hitting, stealing bases and countless amazing catches. In his first season in 2012, Trout recorded his first four hit game on June 4th and achieved that feat again 15 days later. Trout also broke the Angels franchise and American League rookie records when he crossed home plate in 14 consecutive games on July 22 and tied Jerry Remy for the most stolen bases (26) before the All Star break.
During his rookie year, Trout made two highlight catches — on June 27th at Baltimore robbing JJ Hardy of a home and repeated the same feat on August 4th at Chicago against the White Sox taking away a round tripper from Gordon Beckham. Trout would win AL Rookie of the Year with a batting average of .326, 30 home runs and 45 stolen bases.
In 2013, Trout became the fastest player since Ted Williams and Barney McCosky to score 200 career runs. In 2014 while leading the Angels to the playoffs, Trout posted a .287 batting average with 36 home runs and 111 RBI winning the American League MVP award. In Game 3 of the American League Division series against Kansas City recorded his first career postseason hit. In 2015, Trout became the youngest player in MLB history to reach 100 career home runs and 100 career stolen bases while finishing second in the AL MVP voting.
Trout his arguably perhaps the best player of his generation and has the tools to carry a team. Will the Angels build a team around him to compete for a World Series? It would be a shame not to see a talent like Trout’s in a World Series.
Trout’s Career Highlights
4x All Star (2012-2015)
AL MVP (2014)
4x Silver Slugger (2012-2015)
AL Hank Aaron Award (2014)
AL RBI Leader (2014)
AL Rookie of the Year (2012)
AL Stole Base Leader (2012)
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