As the 2016 calendar year comes to an end, the LWOS MC50 series captures the 50 most captivating athletes from 2016 in each sport. LWOB takes a look at the 50 MLB players who drew headlines this past year, whether it be for on-field accomplishments, off-season drama, or happenings away from the ballpark.
Most Captivating MLB Players Of 2016: Part 2
40. Jon Lester
Coming off of a good, but not great first year with the Chicago Cubs, Jon Lester had a great 2016 campaign. Recording a 2.44 ERA, which was nearly a full run beneath his 2015 ERA, he contributed greatly to the Cubs’ playoff efforts. Lester was also stellar in the postseason recording a 2.02 ERA. He was a huge part of the Cubs World Series run, as he gave them postseason experience, but also an elite arm at the top of their rotation.
39. Kenley Jansen
There are many great relievers around the league, but one who has put himself in the conversation as the league’s best is Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen. Last year, Jansen posted a 1.83 ERA and notched 47 saves; however, it was his postseason presence that made him so impactful. In October, Jansen served as the Dodgers’ closer, but also as a long reliever, and he thrived in both roles.
38. Kyle Seager
Last year, the Seattle Mariners gave the playoffs a run for their money, but ultimately came up short; however, several players blossomed for them, one being Kyle Seager. The third baseman has gradually developed into an elite infielder. He has always been a power hitter, but last year he took it to new heights. Hitting a career high .278, and a career high 30 home runs, as well as driving in a career high 99 runs, Seager hit and played at elite standards in 2016.
37. Carlos Gonzalez
The man nicknamed “Cargo”, Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, had yet another productive year in 2016. Gonzalez hit .298, which is the highest he’s hit since 2013, and drove in 100 runs, which is something he hasn’t done since 2010. He was his elite self at the plate in 2016, and his power bat still takes the baseball world by storm by the day.
36. Kyle Hendricks
Over the course of his career, Kyle Hendricks was a bit of an unknown, but after his heroic 2016 campaign, he’s known by everyone around the baseball world. Recording a 2.13 ERA, and leading the way for a stellar Cubs pitching staff, Hendricks notched the NL CY Young; he kept that level of production up in October. In his five postseason outings, Hendricks posted a stellar 1.42 ERA, and lifted the Cubs to their first World Series in over a century.
35. Zach Britton
Last year was the year of the closer. Closers around the league rose and became crucial pieces to teams’ championship runs; however, Zach Britton was exceptional for the Baltimore Orioles. He was perfect out of the pen, recording all 47 save opportunities and ended the year with a 0.54 ERA. He is now considered by some as the game’s best reliever, and some even argued that she should’ve been considered for AL CY Young.
34. Johnny Cueto
After signing a hefty deal in the off-season, San Fransisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto was spectacular in 2016. Recording 18 wins, and a 2.79 ERA, Cueto was key to the Giants success, and although they were eliminated in the first round, Cueto pitched eight terrific innings versus the Cubs.
33. Rick Porcello
After being a second tier, under the radar pitcher for a good chunk of his career, Rick Porcello came into his own in 2016. Porcello recorded a career best 3.15 ERA, led baseball in wins with 22 and had a top five WHIP. His efforts won him the AL CY Young, and also helped get the Boston Red Sox in the postseason, although they were quickly knocked off by the Cleveland Indians.
32. Justin Verlander
After being categorized as a player with nothing left to give, or a player with nothing left in the tank, Justin Verlander was exceptional in 2016. By staying entirely healthy throughout the year, Verlander was able to start in 34 games, and produce at a high level. He recorded a 3.04 ERA, which was the second lowest in the American League, and he was also able to notch the top five in two other categories. He finished second in strikeouts and WHIP throughout the entire league and was first in both categories in the American League. Verlander had a CY Young like year, as he returned to his elite self in 2016, and it’ll be interesting to see whether the Tigers ace can pitch at this elite level in the future.
31. Brian Dozier
After already being considered one of the better second basemen in all of baseball, Brian Dozier took his game to the next level last year. The Minnesota Twins second baseman hit a career high 42 home runs, as well as a career high .268 at the plate. In 2016, Dozier solidified himself as one of the game’s best power bats, and now is a hot commodity on the trade market due to his presence at the plate, as well as his lethal ability in the field.
If you missed Part 1, find it here.