MLB The Show 18 tips: ranking the top five players at every position

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MLB The Show 18's release date is finally upon us – and with it ends speculation as to who Sony San Diego considers the best player in baseball. No surprise: LA Angels center-fielder Mike Trout scores that honour, with an overall rating of 93. But what of the other contenders – and pretenders – to his throne? These are the top players in this year’s game, ranked by position. 

Catcher

1. Buster Posey (Giants), 87
2. Gary Sanchez (Yankees), 84
3. Salvador Perez (Royals), 83
4. Willson Contreras (Cubs), 83
5. Yadier Molina (Cardinals), 81

As with last year, Posey leads the way behind the plate, but Sanchez and Contreras are new faces in the top five. They replace Oakland catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Tampa's Wilson Ramos, whose ratings fall to 79 and 78 respectively.

First base

1. Joey Votto (Reds), 87
2. Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks), 86
3. Anthony Rizzo (Cubs), 85
4. Freddie Freeman (Braves), 85
5. Cody Bellinger (Dodgers), 83

A new number one here, as Votto's .320 average and 36 homers in 2017 see him knock Miguel Cabrera off the top spot - and indeed deposed from the fab five. (Cabrera is now rated 6th, with an overall of 82.) Otherwise the first-base quintet has a familiar ring to it, with Dodgers prospect Bellinger the only new face. Not bad for a guy yet to turn 23.

Second base

1. Jose Altuve (Astros), 91
2. Daniel Murphy (Nationals), 83
3. Brian Dozier (Twins), 83
4. Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox), 81
5. Robinson Cano (Mariners), 81

A slight downgrade this year for Houston second baseman Altuve, from 97 to 91 – although that's consistent with stats decreases across the board. Otherwise it's again a case of the same faces in a different order, with Ian Kinsler the only top-five dropout; he's replaced by Minnesota bopper Mike Dozier. Kinsler slips to sixth with an overall rating of 80, the same as seventh-placed Jonathan Schoop of Baltimore. 

Third base

1. Nolan Arenado (Rockies), 90
2. Josh Donaldson (Blue Jays), 86
3. Kris Bryant (Cubs), 86
4. Jose Ramirez (Indians), 85
5. Adrian Beltre (Rangers), 85

A tough break for the Dodgers' Justin Turner at the hot corner – like Ramirez and Beltre he's also granted an 85 overall, but loses out to that pair on a handful of individual stats. Arenado overtakes Donaldson to claim the number one spot, with Ramirez crashing the top five at the expense of Manny Machado. Also on the cusp, alongside Turner: Anthony Rendon (Nationals, 84) and Alex Bregman (Royals, 83). 

Short stop

1. Manny Machado (Orioles), 86
2. Francisco Lindor (Indians), 85
3. Carlos Correa (Astros), 85
4. Corey Seager (Dodgers), 85
5. Trea Turner (Nationals), 82

Sony San Diego hasn't lot the plot with Machado's disappearance from the elite list of third baseman – he's just been moved to his correct position, and now tops the board. Lindor drops to second as a result, but Machado isn't the only new face here, as Carlos Correa marks the Astros' 2017 world championship win by bludgeoning his way to third. 

Outfielder

1. Mike Trout (Angels), 93
2. Bryce Harper (Nationals), 88
3. Mookie Betts (Red Sox), 87
4. Aaron Judge (Yankees), 86
5. Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees), 85

Trout monsters this category, standing eight attribute points ahead of next-best rated center-fielder Charlie Blackmon (Rockies, 85). It's such an enormous gulf that Blackmon misses out on the top five completely, with Harper, Betts and Judge all considered right-fielders, and Stanton the top-rated player at left-field. Yoenis Cespedes (Mets) and Nelson Cruz (Mariners) exit last year's top five, downgraded to 84 and 81 respectively.

Starting pitcher

1. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers), 92
2. Max Scherzer (Nationals), 90
3. Corey Kulber (Indians), 89
4. Chris Sale (Red Sox), 89
5. Stephen Strasburg (Nationals), 87

The dominant Kershaw tops the tree despite his 2017 back issues, while Washington boasts two hurlers among the big five in the shape of Scherzer and Strasburg. The New York Mets are similarly well stocked, with Noah Syndergaard (86) and Jacob DeGrom (85) occupying sixth and seventh place on the list.

Reliever/closer

1. Kenley Jansen (Dodgers), 92
2. Andrew Miller (Indians), 91
3. Craig Kimbrel (Red Sox), 87
4. Aroldis Champman (Yankees), 85
5. Roberto Osuna (Blue Jays), 84

As befits Terry Francona's managerial strategy, Miller is rated the second-best reliever in the game despite not being used to finish games for Cleveland. Otherwise closers fill out the top five, although two of Chapman's clubmates make for a lights-out New York bullpen - Dellin Betances and Chad Green both earn 82 overall ratings, meaning the Yankees have three of The Show's best ten relievers. 

MLB The Show 18 is out now on PS4. Prefer your sports sims a touch more European? Then take a closer look at the 11 best current football games that aren’t called FIFA or PES.