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Jacob deGrom heads list of New York's top baseball stars

David Lennon ranks Big Apple's top ballplayers

Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, shown here

Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, shown here in Atlanta on June 13, 2018, will be paid $17 million for 2019, and can become a free agent after the 2020 season.   Photo Credit: AP/Curtis Compton

It’s an inexact science, to be sure. But ranking the elite of the two baseball boroughs is a fun exercise anyway, and we’ve reshuffled the deck again based on a few injuries, last year’s performance and one major new addition to the New York scene.

1. JACOB deGROM, Mets, RHP

The Cy Young trophy was only part of the story for deGrom last year, as no one was more dominant, or flat-out electric to watch, as the Mets ace was in 2018. Matching the historic season is virtually impossible, but it’s enough to get him top billing for this list.

2. AARON JUDGE, Yankees, OF

Judge missed seven weeks with a chip fracture in his wrist, and needed some time to get back up to speed, so it’s easy to forget that he had 26 homers, and was hitting .285 with a .947 OPS in 99 games before the July 26 injury. Still the Yankees’ best overall player.

3. GIANCARLO STANTON, Yankees, OF

Stanton required a bit of a Bronx adjustment coming off his ’17 MVP in South Beach, and he’ll need to get better in October. But he managed to swat 38 homers with 100 RBIs, and remains one of the most intimidating bats in the sport. 

4. ROBINSON CANO, Mets, 2B

If not for last year’s PED suspension, Cano could be a spot or two higher on this list, because the eight-time All-Star has put up Cooperstown-caliber numbers at his position for 14 seasons now. And at age 36, he shouldn’t be done just yet.  

5. LUIS SEVERINO, Yankees, RHP

Whether it was tipping pitches, or partly due to exhaustion, Severino couldn’t hold on to his 14-2 pace (2.31 ERA) from the first half and slumped to a 5.57 ERA over his final 12 starts last season. When he’s right, however, Severino is unstoppable.

6. NOAH SYNDERGAARD, Mets, RHP

Around this time, every year, Syndergaard seems like a natural Cy Young pick. Triple-digit fastball, hellacious slider. But he’s been chasing 2016 for a while now, and will an older, wiser, now-bearded Thor be ready for the breakthrough?  

7. DIDI GREGORIUS, Yankees, SS

Didi drops a smidge lower because of injury, but the Yankees are going to miss Gregorius, who has developed into a lethal bat at a premium defensive position, as well as becoming one of the team's MVPs. But since he’s coming off Tommy John surgery that won’t have him back until midseason or beyond, his impact for ’19 is hard to predict at the moment.

8. MIGUEL ANDUJAR, Yankees, 3B

If not for Shohei Ohtani being a modern-day Babe Ruth, Andujar is your Rookie of the Year, by virtue of his 27 homers, .297 batting average and .855 OPS, making him as valuable as nearly any hitter on the Yankees last season. Now he’s got to do it again, as well as tighten up defensively.

9. GLEYBER TORRES, Yankees, 2B

Torres finished right behind Andjuar in the Rookie of the Year voting, so it’s natural to slot him underneath again, after hitting 24 homers with an .820 OPS over 123 games. If not for a strained hip that cost him three weeks, he might have eclipsed Andujar last season.

10. MICHAEL CONFORTO, Mets, OF

Conforto passes Yoenis Cespedes, who can’t stay on the field and has played a total of 119 games the last two seasons. In retrospect, it’s pretty clear that Conforto returned too early from shoulder surgery last year, and he wasn’t truly himself until the second half, when he batted .273 with 17 homers and an .895 OPS over his final 68 games. If Conforto can lock in from the start this season, he has MVP potential.

FLASHBACK: THE 2018 LIST

1. Giancarlo Stanton

2. Aaron Judge

3. Noah Syndergaard

4. Jacob deGrom

5. Luis Severino

6. Didi Gregorius

7. Aaron Sanchez

8. Yoenis Cespedes

9. Mashahiro Tanaka

10. CC Sabathia

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