Making a list that ranks the Top 50 of anything can be an inexact science, and in this case, with Major League Baseball, we’re lumping together position players and pitchers, just for the sake of argument. So we weighed not only talent and statistics, but resume and star potential as well. Also, how a player may have excelled in his particular role, compared to similar positions.
50. Giancarlo Stanton, 27, Miami Marlins, OF
Health is the thing that keeps holding back Stanton, whose prodigious power is too often defused by injuries. After hitting 37 homers in 2014, he's averaged 27 home runs and 96 games the last two seasons. A great rate, but tantalizingly short.
49. Jose Bautista, 36, Toronto Blue Jays, OF
Bautista didn't time his free agency all that great, playing only 116 games with an .817 OPS -- his lowest since another injury-wracked season in 2009. But he's averaged 36 homers and a .929 OPS from that point.
48. Masahiro Tanaka, 28, New York Yankees, RHP
Tanaka was overlooked in the Yankees' tumultuous season, but he was quietly impressive at 14-4 with a 3.07 ERA that earned him a seventh-place finish in the Cy vote.
47. Andrew Miller, 31, Cleveland Indians, LHP
Tough finding a spot for a relief pitcher on this list, but if anyone should be there, it's Miller, who redefined how one could be used during his amazing October (30 Ks, 3 BB in 19 1/3 IP).
46. Jonathan Lucroy, 30, Texas Rangers, C/1B
Probably regrets blowing up his trade to the Indians, but he'll continue to be a big help in Texas after hitting a career-high 24 homers with an .855 OPS in 142 games split with the Brewers last season.
45. Albert Pujols, 37, Los Angeles Angels, 1B/DH
Pujols is padding his Hall of Fame resume at this point, as well as cashing huge checks in Anaheim, but he's still capable of doing damage as his 31 homers and 119 RBIs last season can attest to.
44. Ryan Braun, 33, Milwaukee Brewers, OF
Braun's power numbers have dipped considerably since his PED suspension, but he's still a solid middle-of-the-lineup bat, hitting .305 with 30 home runs and a .903 OPS last season.
43. Matt Carpenter, 31, St. Louis Cardinals, 3B, 1B, 2B
A manager's dream, Carpenter's defensive flexibility makes his bat that much more valuable, and he hit 21 homers with a career-best .885 OPS last season.
42. Addison Russell, 23, Chicago Cubs, SS
Hard to top a nine-RBI performance in the Cubs' first World Series title in 108 years, but Russell is still a youngster on the rise after a 21-homer, 95-RBI season that helped him crack the top 20 in MVP voting.
41. Charlie Blackmon, 30, Colorado Rockies, CF
Blackmon hopped over teammate Carlos Gonzalez to get on this list with a superb '16 that included a slash line of .324/.381/.552 with 29 home runs. Also a speed threat, but slipped from 43 stolen bases in 2015 to 17 last season.
40. Carlos Santana, 30, Cleveland Indians, C/1B
No wonder that a breakout season for Santana turned into an epic playoff run for the Indians as he ripped a career-high 34 home runs with an .865 OPS, also a best for him.
39. Edwin Encarnacion, 34, Cleveland Indians, 1B
Matched a career high with 42 home runs last season and led the AL with 127 RBIs -- timed perfectly with his free agency, which he parlayed into a three-year, $60-million deal with the defending AL champs.
38. Yoenis Cespedes, 31, New York Mets, OF
Upped his game when he became the engine of the Mets' playoff push in 2015, then returned to hit 31 homers -- second only to the 35 combined the previous year split between Flushing and the Tigers. Thunderbolt arm in the outfield, too.
37. Nelson Cruz, 36, Seattle Mariners, DH/OF
Cruz is a bargain (four years, $57 million) with the type of run production he consistently gives the Mariners. Coming off three consecutive 40-plus homer seasons and has a .925 OPS in his first two years in Seattle.
36. David Price, 31, Boston Red Sox, LHP
Signing a $217-million contract certainly raises the pressure, as does pitching for the Red Sox, and Price's 3.99 ERA in his Boston debut was his worst since 2009. Still led majors with 35 starts and 230 innings.
35. Daniel Murphy, 31, Washington Nationals, 2B
Never appreciated by the Mets, Murphy turned into their worst nightmare, finishing runner-up for the MVP with career bests in doubles (47), home runs (25), RBIs (104), batting average (.347) and OPS (.985). But can Murphy keep doing it?
34. Evan Longoria, 31, Tampa Bay Rays, 3B
Toiling in the empty Trop, Longoria can be easy to overlook, but he slugged a career-high 36 home runs last season and his 98 RBIs were the most since 2011. He's also played no fewer than 160 games the past four years.
33. Corey Kluber, 30, Cleveland Indians, RHP
The "Klubot" returned to his machine-like efficiency last season at 18-9 with a 3.14 ERA and an AL-best two shutouts for a third-place Cy finish. Also propelled the Indians in October, going 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts.
32. Buster Posey, 29, San Francisco Giants, C
Posey's offensive production (.288/.362/.434) was slightly down last season, but he remains one of the core reasons the Giants are a perennial contender, because of his reliable bat and handling of the pitching staff. Won his first Gold Glove.
31. Jon Lester, 33, Chicago Cubs, LHP
In his 11th season, Lester was never better than during the Cubs' legendary season, with his most wins (19) since 2010 and career bests in ERA (2.44) and WHIP (1.016) to finish second in the Cy voting.
30. Felix Hernandez, 30, Seattle Mariners, RHP
A freakish calf injury, suffered celebrating a teammate's home run, reduced King Felix to a more princely 11-8, 3.82 ERA mark in only 25 starts -- the first time he's been below 30 since 2005. Still pitching royalty though.
29. Freddie Freeman, 27, Atlanta Braves, 1B
After a sluggish first two months, Freeman crushed it in the second half last season, with a slash line of .323/.433/.634 and 18 homers in the final 70 games. The career best in home runs (34) and OPS (.968) got him a sixth-place MVP finish.
28. Justin Verlander, 33, Detroit Tigers, RHP
After a prolonged glimpse of mortality, Verlander rebounded in style last season, leading the AL with 254 strikeouts and a 1.001 WHIP in finishing second for the Cy Young. Also had a 3.04 ERA, his lowest in four years.
27. Jackie Bradley Jr., 26, Boston Red Sox, CF
Like his young Sox counterparts, Bradley keeps getting better, and he took another step last season with career highs in batting average (.267), OPS (.835) and homers (26). Superb glove, too.
26. Chris Sale, 27, Boston Red Sox, LHP
The former South Side strikeout machine (10.1 K/9) was traded to the Red Sox this winter, so that raises the pressure for Sale, who has finished fifth or better in the Cy vote since 2013. Led majors with six complete games in '16.
25. Noah Syndergaard, 24, New York Mets, RHP
The Met nicknamed "Thor" has a 100-mph fastball for a hammer and a 90-plus mph slider that is nearly unhittable. No wonder he has a 10.4 K/9 ratio in his first two seasons and a career 2.89 ERA.
24. Xander Bogaerts, 24, Boston Red Sox, SS
Bogaerts earned his second straight Silver Slugger with a career-best 21 homers and an .802 OPS last season. Has played no fewer than 144 games the past three years.
23. Justin Turner, 32, Los Angeles Dodgers, 3B
Dispatched by the Mets in 2013, Turner returned home to L.A. and made himself a Hollywood star, hitting .296 with an .856 OPS in three seasons with the Dodgers. Smacking 27 homers last year helped get him a $64-million deal this winter.
22. Carlos Correa, 22, Houston Astros, SS
At 6-4, Correa is a throwback to the bigger, slugging shortstops but regressed some in the power department after his Rookie of the Year season in 2015. Still has an .829 OPS in his first two seasons, and at 22, still learning.
21. Madison Bumgarner, 27, San Francisco Giants, LHP
An October force (8-3, 2.11 ERA) Bumgarner finished fourth in the Cy for the second time in two seasons with a 2.74 ERA and career-best 10.0 K/9 ratio last year.
20. Francisco Lindor, 23, Cleveland Indians, SS
Lindor certainly raised his national profile with a brilliant October (.310/.355/.466) during the Indians' push to Game 7 of the World Series. The total package with speed, defense and some pop at short -- .810 OPS in two seasons.
19. Ian Kinsler, 34, Detroit Tigers, 2B
Kinsler had his best year since arriving in Detroit with 28 homers and an .831 OPS last season while winning the first Gold Glove of his career.
18. Brian Dozier, 29, Minnesota Twins, 2B
Dozier's power took a considerable jump as he soared from 28 homers in 2015 to 42 last season with an OPS that leapt from .751 to .886 to get him to 13th in the MVP voting.
17. Miguel Cabrera, 33, Detroit Tigers, 1B
Tough to live up to a $240-million contract, and Cabrera has understandably slowed some since his back-to-back MVPs in 2012-13. Batting .316 last season was a down year for him, but his 38 homers were the most since hitting 44 in 2013.
16. Joey Votto, 33, Cincinnati Reds, 1B
Votto is an on-base machine, with a career .425 percentage, who has averaged 22 homers over 10 seasons while toiling for a mostly uncompetitive Reds team. Been chasing his MVP year since winning the trophy in 2010.
15. Anthony Rizzo, 27, Chicago Cubs, 1B
In a stacked Cubs lineup, Rizzo is a pillar, twice finishing fourth in MVP and now has three straight 30-plus homer seasons. Had career bests in batting average (.292) and OPS (.928) last season.
14. Jose Altuve, 26, Houston Astros, 2B
Altuve has climbed the MVP ranks the past three seasons and topped out at No. 3 this year with a slash line of .338/.396/.531 to go with a career-high 24 homers and 30 stolen bases.
13. Nolan Arenado, 25, Colorado Rockies, 3B
Thin air or not, Arenado has put up video-game numbers the past two seasons, averaging 41 homers and 131 RBIs. Posted career bests in batting average (.294) and OPS (.932) last year.
12. Paul Goldschmidt, 29, Arizona Diamondbacks, 1B
Was not his Superman self last season with 24 homers and .899 OPS, numbers that were a slight dip from the type of production that has made him MVP runner-up twice.
11. Max Scherzer, 32, Washington Nationals, RHP
Scherzer earned his second Cy Young Award as he led the majors in strikeouts (284), innings 228 1/3 and starts (34) to go with a 2.96 ERA and his second 20-win season (20-7).
10. Clayton Kershaw, 28, Los Angeles Dodgers, LHP
The only thing that kept Kershaw from a seventh straight 200-K season was a back injury that also limited him to 149 innings. But he still had a 1.69 ERA in 21 starts to finish fifth in Cy voting.
9. Robinson Cano, 34, Seattle Mariners, 2B
Cano continues to make the Yankees look bad and especially last year when he slugged a career-best 39 home runs with 103 RBIs, the most since signing with the Mariners in 2014.
8. Adrian Beltre, 37, Texas Rangers, 3B
Now the elder statesman of the sport's elite, the Gold Glove Beltre hasn't slowed down with 32 homers and 104 RBIs last season. On pace to eclipse the 3,000-hit plateau (2,942) this year and is climbing toward 500 homers (445).
7. Manny Machado, 24, Baltimore Orioles, 3B
Already heading into his sixth year, Machado is coming off back-to-back 30-plus homer seasons and batted a career-high .294 in 2016. Has twice finished top five in the MVP with a pair of Gold Gloves.
6. Josh Donaldson, 31, Toronto Blue Jays, 3B
Three top-five MVP finishes, including winning the award in 2015, to go with a pair of silver sluggers since joining the Jays. Donaldson's .953 OPS last season was a career-best.
5. Corey Seager, 22, Los Angeles Dodgers, SS
Not only lived up to expectations but cruised to Rookie of Year honors with 26 home runs and .877 OPS while excelling at a premium defensive spot for the NL West champs.
4. Mookie Betts, 24, Boston Red Sox, RF
Betts is the gem of Boston's super-talented youth brigade and finished MVP runner-up to Trout with 31 homers, 26 stolen bases and a slash line of .318/.363/.534.
3. Bryce Harper, 24, Washington Nationals, OF
Harper set the bar incredibly high with his '15 MVP season and couldn't quite keep up that pace, slipping to 24 homers and an .814 OPS. Expect a correction in 2017.
2. Kris Bryant, 25, Chicago Cubs, 3B
The precocious Bryant was the driving force behind the Cubs' historic World Series title with 39 home runs and a .939 OPS. Grabbed the NL MVP in the process, too.
1. Mike Trout, 25, Los Angeles Angels, OF
Not much debate here. Trout earned his second MVP in three years and has never finished lower than second since his first full season in 2012, when he was Rookie of the Year.