With the regular season now wrapped up it’s the time of year to assess current market values for players heading into the offseason. But first we’ll take a quick look back and make note of those players at each position who clearly outperformed their compensation during the 2016 regular season.
Our valuation rankings are creating mathematically, combining a player’s average salary from the current contract with his “production” points on a daily basis. Production points vary based on the position, and are derived from standard statistics.
Related: View the Complete MLB Best-Value Rankings
Best Value Players
To qualify players must have been active for at least 75% of their team’s games.
This year’s All Best Value Team contains plenty of youth, plenty of power, and plenty of multi-tool players, led by Mookie Betts (OF, BOS), and Kris Bryant (3B, CHC). The average salary above is $2M, while the 10 players combine for just $22M in total salary. We’ll detail each player below, adding on runner-ups in each positional category.
The Mets started 2016 with arguably the best young rotation in the game. One by one those arms were lost to injury, but Noah Syndergaard ($535,375) pitched through his “bone spur” and remained consistently strong throughout the season. He finished up with a 14-9 record, 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts, and will pitch the NL Wild Card this week.
Kyle Hendricks ($541,000) is the likely Cy Young winner this year, surpassing teammates Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta as the Cubs most reliable starter in 2016. He posted a 16-8 record with a 2.08 ERA and 170 Ks in 190 innings and is under team control next season.
Jose Fernandez ($2.8M) was arguably the best young pitcher in all of baseball when his life was tragically taken away from us last month. He still posted a 16-8 record with a 2.86 ERA and a whopping 253 strikeouts in 182 innings for the Marlins, and appeared to have fully come back from his injury-riddled 2014/15 seasons. Rest in Peace #16.
The Rays did little to contend this season (unlike the rest of the A.L. East), but they found a gem in a closer in Alex Colome ($521,700). The 27-year old struck out 71 batters in 56 innings, accounting for 37 saves and an ERA of just 1.91. He remains under team control in 2017.
Roberto Osuna ($516,100) didn’t close out the year the way he and the Blue Jays would have preferred, but for the balance of 2016 he was excellent, posting 82 strikeouts in 74 innings with a 2.68 ERA and 36 saves in Toronto. He remains under team control for 2017.
The Rangers made a lot of moves to bolster their bullpen last offseason, many of which busted out early on. But Sam Dyson ($525,270) took command of the closer role and hasn’t looked back, posting a 2.43 ERA and 38 saves. He remains under team control for 2017.
Jonathan Lucroy ($2.2M) was one of the more coveted players come the trade deadline, and he brought along power with him to an already stacked Rangers lineup. In total, Lucroy finished 2016 with 24 doubles, 24 homers, 81 RBIs, and a .292 average. His $5.25M club option for 2017 is still great value for Texas, but it’s possible a new long-term deal is put in place this offseason.
Wilson Ramos ($5.35M) was setting himself perfectly for free agency, posting career numbers across the board. Unfortunately a torn ACL last month brought his postseason plans to a screeching halt, and will brand him with a red flag heading into the winter months.
The Dodgers appeared to know what they had in Yasmani Grandal ($2.8M) last year in a limited role, and were rewarded by giving him the keys to the catcher role in 2016. He posted 14 doubles, 27 homers, and 72 RBIs while starting 108 games and will enter his 2nd year of arbitration this winter.
After stints in Kansas City and Tampa Bay, Wil Myers ($523,900) appears to have found a home in San Diego. The 25-year-old had a breakout season, collecting 29 doubles, 28 home runs, 94 RBIs and an .800 OPS over 153 games with the Padres. He’ll garner a nice pay raise in his first arbitration-eligible year in 2017.
One of the more quiet and somewhat underrated superstars in baseball continues to be Diamondbacks 1B Paul Goldschmidt ($6.4M). While he took a bit of a step back from his 2015 numbers, Goldschmidt still finished with 34 doubles, 24 home runs, 95 RBIs, and a .297 batting average, while starting a whopping 158 games in Arizona. He’s signed through 2019 on an incredibly team-friendly $6.4M per year contract.
Anthony Rizzo ($5.8M) might just be the National League MVP when it’s all said and done, combining with Kris Bryant as a terrifying middle of the order duo for the Cubs. He nearly duplicated his power numbers from 2015, posting 32 HR, 109 RBIs, and 43 doubles while raising his batting average up to .290 this season. He’s signed through 2021 with salaries that average $10.8M per year. It’s already a steal.
Jose Altuve ($3.125M) locks up his second consecutive best-value award at 2B, and he did so with power in 2016. Altuve’s numbers across the board are outstanding, finishing up at 215 hits, 42 doubles, 24 home runs, 96 RBIs, 31 bags swiped ,a .336 batting average and a whopping .924 OPS. He’s one of the most dynamic players in all of baseball and is set to make an average of $5.6M per year through 2019. He’ll likely be back on this list in 2017.
The DBacks made a big move to acquire Jean Segura ($2.6M) from the Brewers last winter, and he rewarded them with 5-tool superstar numbers this season. Seguara finished 2016 with 204 hits, 41 doubles, 20 home runs, 64 RBIs, 33 stolen bases, and a .320 average. He’ll find a nice pay bump with his 2nd year of arbitration in 2017.
The Twins and their fans had very little to cheer for in 2016, but Brian Dozier ($5M) was simply fantastic. The 29 year old posted career numbers in every major statistical category, finishing with 35 doubles, 42 home runs, 99 RBIs, and a .268 average. He’ll make an average of $7.5M per year through 2018.
Kris Bryant ($652,000) isn’t having any issues living up to his hype – nor does he believe in sophomore slumps. Bryant followed up a fabulous rookie season in 2015 with an even better one this year. The 24-year old posted 35 doubles, 39 home runs, 102 RBIs, a .292 average and a .942 OPS and remains under team control in 2017. He’s an absolute steal for the Cubs.
The Rockies had a rocky season to say the least, but appear to be building a nice young core on the left side of their infield with Trevor Story at SS and of course Nolan Arenado ($5M) at the hot corner. Arenado posted his usual 35 doubles, 41 HRs, 133 RBIs and .293 batting average in 2016 and is without a doubt one of the best players in all of baseball. He’ll enter year #2 of arbitration in 2017, but is a strong long-term extension candidate this winter.
It’s hard to imagine anyone saw Jake Lamb ($520,300) coming on this much prior to 2016, but including Segura and Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks have one of the best young infields in the game right now. Lamb finished 2016 with 31 doubles, 29 HRs, and 91 RBIs, and is under team control for the 2017 season.
The Brewers knew what they were doing when they acquired Jonathan Villar ($512,900) from the Astros this past March. He became an instant producer at the top of their lineup, finishing 2016 with 38 doubles, 19 HRs, and a whopping 62 stolen bases. He’s under team control in 2017 before becoming arbitration-eligible.
Xander Bogaerts ($650,500) was just one of many Red Sox to break out this season, and he did so with huge improvements in the power department. Bogaerts accounted for 34 doubles, 21 homers, 89 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases with posted an average hovering .300 all year. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time next year and should see a nice pay raise because of it.
The Dodgers brought up Corey Seager ($510,000) for their September run in 2015, and he hasn’t looked back since. His first full year in the majors led to 40 doubles, 26 home runs, 72 RBIs, and a .308 average. He’s under team control for two more seasons before becoming arbitration-eligible. We’ll see him back on this list next year.
The Red Sox outfield went from “unknown” to superstar in about a month this year, most notable because of right fielder Mookie Betts ($566,000). Betts posted solid numbers in 2015, but broke out across the board this season, finishing with 42 doubles, 31 homers, 113 RBIs, 26 stolen bases, and a .318 average. He’s under team control in 2017 and will remain an incredible value because of it.
Charlie Blackmon ($3.5M) proved his 2014 and 2015 seasons weren’t flukes, raising his numbers up to 35 doubles, 29 homers, 82 RBIs, and a .324 average in 2016 – all career highs. His .933 OPS has him in the mix for a nice contract – though he still has two years of arbitration eligibility on his plate.
The Athletics fell off quickly this season, but they hit a home run by acquiring LF Khris Davis ($524,500) this past offseason. Davis brought good numbers with him from Milwaukee, but broke out in 2016 as the featured power bat in the lineup. He finished up with 25 doubles, 42 home runs, and 102 RBIs and is headed toward his first year of arbitration this offseason.
The knock on George Springer ($522,400) last season was plate control and health. He appears to be headed in the right direction in both accounts, finishing 2016 with 29 doubles, 29 homers, 82 RBIs, and 88 walks in 161 games started. He’s a power bat in the leadoff spot for the Astros, and is primed for even bigger things in 2017, his first arbitration-eligible year.
Not to be outdone by his fellow outfield-mate, Jackie Bradley ($546,500) had quite the year himself for the Red Sox. After limping into MLB across his first three seasons, Bradley found his own in 2016, finishing with 30 doubles, 26 HRa, 87 RBIs, and an .834 OPS. The 26-year-old will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.
The Blue Jays snuck into the postseason in large part because of the consistently productive Edwin Encarnacion ($9.6M). The 33-year-old finished 2016 with his usual 34 doubles, 42 homers, 127 RBIs, and nearly .900 OPS. Barring an extension, he and fellow Blue Jay slugger Jose Bautista are set to hit the free agent market this winter.
No team took bigger strides in 2016 than the Cleveland Indians who captured the A.L. Central title because of production & flexibility of their entire roster. This was no more evident than from Carlos Santana ($4.2M) who played a little bit of 1B, led off for parts of the year, batting cleanup for parts of the year, and continued to produce regardless. He finished up 2016 with 31 doubles, 34 homers, 99 RBIs, and an .865 OPS – all career highs. The 30-year old carries a $12M club option for 2017.
No 40-year old has ever had a season close to the one David Ortiz ($16M) put together in 2016. Big Papi’s swan song finished up at 48 doubles, 38 home runs, 127 RBIs, a .315 batting average, and a silly 1.021 OPS. Only a World Series win can outdo his current performance this year.