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BBTN 100: Trout is No. 1 heading into 2016

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What sticks out from the top ten of the BBTN 100? (1:58)

John Kruk and Jim Bowden offer their impressions of the top ten players in the BBTN 100, including a player who Bowden thinks deserved to be included in the group. (1:58)

Who will be the best players in Major League Baseball in the 2016 season?

ESPN formed a panel of MLB writers, analysts and contributors to rank the top 100, which we counted down from No. 100 to No. 1.

To compile the top 100, we polled 70 ESPN experts in February and March, starting with a list of more than 350 players. Using a 0-to-10 scale, our experts evaluated the players based on how well they are projected to perform in 2016. Players expected to miss 2016 because of injuries were not included.

The results were announced on ESPN.com, Facebook (ESPN Baseball Tonight) and Twitter (@BBTN). Fans could use the hashtag #BBTN100 to join the discussion and follow along.

1. Mike Trout

Pos.: CF | Team: Los Angeles Angels

2015 rank: 1 | 2016 fantasy rank: 1

2015 stats: .299 BA, .991 OPS, 41 HRs, 90 RBIs

ESPN says: Here's a scary thought for American League pitchers: What if Trout is getting better? In his first three seasons, Trout struggled against high fastballs, hitting only .146 with six home runs. Last year, he hit .209 with five home runs against such pitches. Those numbers won't blow you away, but what if the game's best player can erase the major weakness in his game? Then factor in that he cut his strikeout rate from 2014 (when he led the AL in whiffs). Trout hit 41 home runs in 2015, and that was with only one in August, when he played through a wrist injury. Don't be surprised if he hits 50 this season while still doing all the other things -- defense, walks, baserunning, durability -- that make him the No. 1 player in the BBTN100. -- David Schoenfield, ESPN.com Sweetspot blogger

By the numbers: Since Trout debuted in 2011, he leads all players with 37.9 WAR. Further, that 37.9 WAR through Trout's age-23 season are the most by a player in the modern era. -- ESPN Stats & Information

2. Bryce Harper

Pos.: RF | Team: Washington Nationals | @Bharper3407

2015 rank: 34 | 2016 fantasy rank: 4

2015 stats: .330 BA, 1.109 OPS, 42 HRs, 99 RBIs

ESPN says: As good as Harper was in 2015, when he became the youngest unanimous MVP in baseball history, there's plenty of reason to expect him to be even better this season. The obvious? He's another year older. The not so obvious? Offensively, he should have more protection than he did last season, when he produced historic numbers despite the limited presence of cleanup hitter Ryan Zimmerman, who was hampered by injuries and missed 67 games. Defensively, Harper is only going to improve in right field, where last year, in his first full season playing the position, he was already good enough to be named a Gold Glove finalist. Add it all up, and Harper could be MLB's next back-to-back MVP. -- Eddie Matz, ESPN.com Nationals/Orioles reporter

By the numbers: Harper finally displayed his prodigious tools last season, as he led the National League in runs (118) and home runs (42) while leading MLB in OBP (.460) and slugging percentage (.649). -- ESPN Stats & Information

3. Clayton Kershaw

Pos.: LHP | Team: Los Angeles Dodgers | @ClaytonKersh22

2015 rank: 2 | 2016 fantasy rank: 3

2015 stats: 33 GS, 16-7, 2.13 ERA, 301 Ks

ESPN says: His uniform top always seems askew, one jersey sleeve perpetually appears shorter than the other, and he looks to be doing yoga when pitching out of the stretch. But judging this book by its cover would be the worst mistake of your life. Everything from Kershaw's blazing fastball to his rainbow curveball comes from the same release point, which is challenging in its own right. But the lefty can take off pace from even his off-speed stuff, which means he can go through an entire inning without throwing the same pitch twice, if he so desires. Not too many pitchers seem to be a no-hitter waiting to happen every time they take the mound. This is one of those once-in-a-generation guys. How far out do they take hotel reservations in Cooperstown? Asking for Kershaw's family. -- Doug Padilla, ESPN.com Dodgers reporter

By the numbers: Kershaw has 1,746 strikeouts in 1,611 career innings pitched, which makes him one of six pitchers with 1,500 IP and more strikeouts than innings. The other five are Tim Lincecum, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax. -- ESPN Stats & Information

4. Paul Goldschmidt

Pos.: 1B | Team: Arizona Diamondbacks

2015 rank: 9 | 2016 fantasy rank: 2

2015 stats: .321 BA, 1.005 OPS, 33 HRs, 110 RBIs

ESPN says: The only thing Goldschmidt doesn't do well is self-promote. Since 2013, he has made three straight All-Star appearances, finished second in the NL MVP balloting twice and won two Gold Gloves and a pair of Silver Slugger awards. New staff ace Zack Greinke will attract the bulk of the attention in Arizona this season because of his massive contract, but if the Diamondbacks are going to live up to the hype and make the postseason, Goldschmidt could just as easily be the guy who leads the way. -- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com senior writer

By the numbers: Goldschmidt is hitting .309 with a .412 OBP and a .556 slugging percentage the past three seasons. Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera are the only other players to hit .300/.400/.550 combined in that span. -- ESPN Stats & Information

5. Andrew McCutchen

Pos.: CF | Team: Pittsburgh Pirates | @TheCUTCH22

2015 rank: 3 | 2016 fantasy rank: 7

2015 stats: .292 BA, .889 OPS, 23 HRs, 96 RBIs

ESPN says: Coming up on his age-29 season, the former 2013 National League MVP is still in the middle of his prime. He's delivered five straight seasons with 60 or more extra-base hits. It's interesting to note that, at this stage of his career, the player Cutch most closely resembles, according to Bill James' Similarity Scores, is Andre Dawson. Imagine the future Hall of Famer never losing his wheels to Montreal's tough turf and you get a hint of how special McCutchen has been and will continue to be, especially considering his durability -- he's landed on the DL just once in his career. Although he may have lost a step in center, he's a franchise player, and still Pirates property for the next two seasons -- almost certainly three once they pick up a club option for 2018. -- Christina Kahrl, ESPN.com editor/Sweetspot blogger

By the numbers: McCutchen has finished in the top five in the National League MVP voting in each of the past four years, and he won the award in 2013. His .313 batting average since 2012 puts him third in the majors, behind Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey. He has 207 multihit games the past four seasons -- 19 more than the next player (Posey). McCutchen also has 26.4 WAR in that span, which ranks second to only Mike Trout among position players. McCutchen has won four straight Silver Slugger awards and has been selected to as many consecutive All-Star teams. -- ESPN Stats & Information

6. Zack Greinke

Pos.: RHP | Team: Arizona Diamondbacks

2015 rank: 29 | 2016 fantasy rank: 62

2015 stats: 32 GS, 19-3, 1.66 ERA, 200 Ks

ESPN says: Greinke led the majors in win percentage (.865) and WHIP (0.84) while recording a 1.66 ERA, the lowest by a big league pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux notched a 1.63 in 1995. The Diamondbacks rewarded him with a $206.5 million contract, and now he'll have the honor of matching up against former Dodgers teammate Clayton Kershaw and San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner in what many expect to be a spirited three-team race in the NL West. -- Crasnick

By the numbers: Greinke led all of baseball with a 1.66 ERA last season. That mark was the second best in a single season by any Dodgers pitcher -- from a franchise that has Kershaw, Sandy Koufax, Orel Hershiser and Don Drysdale to its name. Greinke's 2.30 ERA since 2013 trails only that of former teammate Kershaw. He gave up one run or less in 21 of his starts in 2015, the most by any pitcher in a single season since Bob Gibson in 1968. The only pitchers in the past 100 seasons to record more such starts in a season are Gibson, Koufax, Dean Chance and Pete Alexander. In June and July, Greinke posted a 45 ⅔-innings scoreless streak, which the Elias Sports Bureau noted was the sixth longest in MLB history. From the beginning of Greinke's streak on June 18 through the day it ended, 479 different pitchers gave up a run. -- ESPN Stats & Information

7. Josh Donaldson

Pos.: 3B | Team: Toronto Blue Jays | @BringerOfRain20

2015 rank: 25 | 2016 fantasy rank: 5

2015 stats: .297 BA, .939 OPS, 41 HRs, 123 RBIs

ESPN says: Maybe it wasn't the Trade of the Century, but it was certainly the Trade of the Year, as Donaldson won MVP honors after blasting 41 home runs and leading the AL in runs and RBIs. He has finished fourth, eighth and first in the past three AL MVP votes, and considering Toronto's lineup returns intact, he should post monster numbers again. -- Schoenfield

By the numbers: Donaldson, who uses "Bringer of Rain" in his Twitter handle, brought on plenty of rain in 2015. His 41 home runs tied Mike Trout's total for fifth in MLB. Donaldson also led the AL with 123 RBIs and led MLB with 122 runs scored. He is also strong with the glove, which creates an extremely valuable player. He has 24.2 WAR the past three seasons, second in MLB to Trout (26.5). -- ESPN Stats & Information

8. Giancarlo Stanton

Pos.: RF | Team: Miami Marlins | @Giancarlo818

2015 rank: 4 | 2016 fantasy rank: 8

2015 stats: .265 BA, .952 OPS, 27 HRs, 67 RBIs

ESPN says: He might not be this sport's finest hitter, but Stanton is clearly this sport's finest rocket-launcher. Only six baseballs left anyone's bat traveling 118 mph or faster last year, according to Statcast, and Stanton hit five of them. Over the past five seasons, Stanton has pounded 29 home runs estimated to go 450 feet or farther. No one else has hit more than 13. Now combine that human-highlight-reel mix with a new hitting coach named Barry Bonds, and stir. Sounds combustible! -- Jayson Stark, ESPN.com senior writer

By the numbers: Stanton has hit 181 home runs since he debuted in 2010, which ranks seventh in MLB. The difference for Stanton is his 181 home runs have come in 2,567 at-bats, more than 300 fewer than anyone above him on the homers list. In his career, Stanton has hit a home run every 14.2 at-bats, which is second only to Jose Bautista in that span. -- ESPN Stats & Information

9. Jake Arrieta

Pos.: RHP | Team: Chicago Cubs | @JArrieta34

2015 rank: NR | 2016 fantasy rank: 16

2015 stats: 33 GS, 22-6, 1.77 ERA, 236 Ks

ESPN says: You won't find a more confident player in baseball than Arrieta, and his 2015 season backed him up. He overtook Zack Greinke in the final months to capture his first Cy Young award. He got stronger while others weakened. Maybe that had something to do with his infamous workout routine, which is starting to rub off on his teammates. Arrieta will need that kind of fitness in 2016, as last year's workload finally got to him in the playoffs, and his velocity dipped. But the catcher's glove is popping again this spring, and hitters in the box have been paralyzed at the sight of his devastating breaking pitches. Arieta is ready for a command performance.-- Jesse Rogers, ESPN.com Cubs reporter

By the numbers: Arrieta stepped up his game in the second half last season and posted a 0.75 ERA. Per the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the lowest second-half ERA by a qualified pitcher since the All-Star Game was founded in 1933. -- ESPN Stats & Information

10. Miguel Cabrera

Pos.: 1B | Team: Detroit Tigers | @MiguelCabrera

2015 rank: 6 | 2016 fantasy rank: 18

2015 stats: .338 BA, .974 OPS, 18 HRs, 76 RBIs

ESPN says: It's easy to run out of superlatives when trying to describe the offensive prowess of the 32-year-old slugger. Cabrera, a two-time AL MVP, remains one of the most feared (and revered) hitters in the game. He managed to snag his fourth batting title last season, even while hampered by injury. Beyond his prolific production, Cabrera's underrated defensive skills, superb baseball IQ and infectious enthusiasm for the game make him one of the most captivating players to watch. -- Katie Strang, ESPN.com Tigers reporter

By the numbers: Cabrera played 119 games last season, his fewest in a season since he was a rookie in 2003. However, Cabrera was his usual self when healthy, as his .338 batting average led MLB, and his .440 on-base percentage was tops in the American League. Cabrera has won the AL batting title in four of the past five seasons and has led the AL in on-base percentage three times in that span. -- ESPN Stats & Information