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 4
20. Daniel Murphy
Murphy made a lot of noise for his hitting in the 2015 postseason with the New York Mets, when he was simply crushing the baseball. In his first year with the Washington Nationals, he put up impressive numbers as well. He slashed a .347/.390/.595 line with 47 doubles and 25 home runs in 582 plate appearances. The National League MVP finalist looks to build off that in 2017.
19. Aroldis Chapman
Chapman is widely known for the blistering velocity of his pitches. He holds the record for the fastest recorded pitch in the history of Major League Baseball, at a speed of 105.1 mph. Aroldis was used frequently during the Chicago Cubs historic postseason run, something he took issue with when departing this offseason to the New York Yankees, who wanted Chapman bad enough to sign him for $86 million over the next five years.
18. Andrew Miller
Miller’s trade to the Cleveland Indians had serious implications on the approach to postseason baseball, as well as the importance of the reliever market. He was the ultimate weapon in the postseason, winning the ALCS MVP. Miller had a knack for closing out the game before it had any chance of getting good.
17. Gary Sanchez
After being promoted to the big league club in August, there was no doubt that he was the most exciting player on the Yankees. Sanchez made a large contribution to the Yankees unlikely run at a postseason chance when he hit 20 home runs with 43 RBI. His month of August was among the best in a decade; he hit .389/.458/.832 with 11 homers, nine doubles, 21 RBI, and 20 runs scored.
16. Max Scherzer
Scherzer struck out 20 batters in a game earlier this year, highlighting his NL Cy Young Award-winning season. He finished the year 20-7 with a 2.96 ERA and 228 innings pitched. He’s only the 18th pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards, and only the sixth to win it in both leagues. Scherzer certainly cemented himself as a part of baseball history with his 2016 performance.
15. Jose Fernandez
Baseball lost a very talented player with a bubbly, infectious personality when Fernandez died in a boating accident this September. The 24-year-old perhaps had one of the brightest futures of anyone in the majors, and his tragic loss was felt in every clubhouse, with some men weeping and most in utter disbelief. His home pitching record was 29-2 with a 1.49 ERA. No pitcher in baseball has ever had a better winning percentage with at least 40 starts.
14. Chris Sale
Sale has been dominant in the AL Central ever since he was called up in 2010. He finished the 2016 season at 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and 233 strikeouts. One thing that still stands out is the late-July incident in which Chris Sale, then with the Chicago White Sox, took a pair of scissors to his team’s throwback jerseys. He didn’t want to wear that jersey while he pitched, so he cut up everyone’s jerseys so he wouldn’t have to. It was such a bizarre story and led to a five-game suspension.
13. Bartolo Colon
Let’s not forget about an ageless wonder, the oldest active ball player in the majors. Perhaps one of the most entertaining moments of the season came when the 43-year-old hit the first home run of his career back in May. What’s also impressive is that he shows no signs of retirement and recently signed a one-year, $12.5 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
12. Ichiro Suzuki
No Japanese baseball player is more iconic than the speedy Ichiro. In August, he became the 30th player in Major League history to reach 3,000 hits, tying him with Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente for 29th all-time and making him just the second player to collect 3,000 hits after turning 27. Another ageless wonder, Ichiro was 42 years old this year.
11. Francisco Lindor
The 22-year-old shortstop is like a magician on the infield. Not only does he make exceptional plays defensively, but he has also become an impact hitter for Cleveland, even with his 5’11”, 190 pound frame. Lindor is a joy to watch and arguably the best shortstop in all of baseball. The sky is the limit for this young star.
If you missed previous installments, find them here: