MLB: True Elite Talent

By Howie Mansfield, BBM Staff Writer

Does Major League Baseball have true elite talent? The level of excellence that could send a player to Cooperstown and immorality? There are a few in the game right now, and these players are destined to be playing at a high level for a long time. They have Hall of Fame potential, but do they have the strength, endurance, and fortitude to make it happen?

Position Players:
1) Mike Trout - One of the most complete players in the game. Over 1,100 hits, 225 HR, and hitting over .300 lifetime. On pace for a career year in 2018. Six All-Star appearances with a seventh coming. Cooperstown is very possible for this two-time AL MVP (2014 and 2016).

Is the Mike Trout the best player in baseball? (photo credit: Corey Mansfield)
2) Mookie Betts - When Betts was on the disabled list this season, the Red Sox struggled. A complete player - speed and power. On his way to a third straight 20 HR/20 SB season. Two-time All-Star and MVP candidate.

3) Francisco Lindor - Also a two-time All-Star, Lindor continues a power surge. Thirty-three home runs in 2017 and well on the way with 23 HR so far this year.

4) Manny Machado - This shortstop could be on the move at the trade deadline. Machado has been great this year, even on a sub-par Orioles squad. He could be headed to All-Star Game #4. On pace for his first 100 RBI season and over .300 batting average - what team wouldn't want him?

5) Bryce Harper - Another perennial All-Star (six appearances), Harper could be on his way out of Washington at season's end. His numbers have dropped off since his 2015 NL MVP season (.330 BA, 42 HR, 99 RBI)
Is Bryce Harper still considered one of the best in the game? (photo credit: Corey Mansfield)
6) Carlos Correa - This 2015 AL Rookie of the Year is now a World Champion. He has proven himself on the world's biggest stage. He continue to be an important piece in the Astros puzzle. Injuries have slowed him this season, but the future is bright for Correa.

Pitchers:
1) Max Scherzer -  He leads the National League in just about every statistical category. Scherzer is one of 10 players in MLB History to win 3 Cy Young Awards or more, and has one in both league. There isn't another pitcher in the game today that can dominate as Scherzer does. Two 20-win seasons and an ERA that continues to drop.

2) Clayton Kershaw - Add Kershaw to the list of 3-time Cy Young award winners. He has been almost as good as any pitcher to start their career. If not for injury, Kershaw could have even more wins. On thing that the Dodger All-Star doesn't often do is lose. This seven-time All-Star and 2014 NL MVP is having a down start to 2018, but don't expect that to last for long.

3) Corey Kluber - The Cleveland ace has won two Cy Young Awards in his short career, including posting three 18-win seasons. Kluber is proving himself, one of the league's best, is a two-time All-Star. He's off to another tremendous star and if healthy, could be the first 20-game winner in the majors this season.

4) Justin Verlander - The long-time Detroit Tiger was traded last year to Houston and led the Astros to a World Championship. Verlander has won the Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP and is a six-time All-Star.  While his career has been up and down at times, Verlander has a shot to be in Cooperstown. Verlander has four years with more than 230 strikeouts, six years with more than 17 wins and 24 career complete games.

Who do you think is MLB's elite talent? Let's keep the conversation going.

E-mail me at howie@brokenbatmedia.com. I will have a follow-up column with your additions.

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