The MLB season may be young, but it’s never too early to start picking out the best MLB players in 2021 or the MLB breakout candidates. After all, it only takes a few weeks for players to start distinguishing themselves and standing out from the pack. Granted, a lot of these names are familiar, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t acknowledge how great they’ve been thus far. Let’s take a closer look at the best MLB players this season.
Through his first five starts of 2021, Jacob deGrom has been immaculate. For starters, he became the first pitcher in MLB history to record 50 strikeouts in his first four starts of a season.
Most 100.0+ mph pitches thrown as SP, 2021:
Jacob deGrom: 46
Shohei Ohtani: 9
Gerrit Cole: 3
Tyler Glasnow: 3
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) May 3, 2021
He came out of the gate on fire, allowing just two earned runs on 16 hits over his first 35 innings, giving him an ERA of 0.51. Just in case that’s not enough, as a batter, deGrom is 6 for 13 (.462) with a double and two RBIs. He’s literally doing everything for the Mets, who have done little to support him, which is why New York is 2-3 in his starts.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Mike Trout is off to another brilliant season.
Through 27 games, he’s second in the majors in batting average and leads in the majors in OPS thanks to eight home runs and eight doubles. The Angels, of course, have fallen to last in the AL West despite his efforts. But there’s been no stopping Trout this season. At age 29, he’s very much still in his prime and performing at a high level.
Pitching a no-hitter isn’t all that John Means has accomplished this season.
Through seven starts, he’s 4-0 with a 1.37 ERA, which is the third-lowest in the majors. He’s also rocking a WHIP of 0.67, which is second in the majors behind only deGrom.
— National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum ⚾ (@baseballhall) May 8, 2021
Among starting pitchers, he also has the lowest batting average against at .135. The 28-year-old had an uneven 2020 season while his father was sick with cancer and ultimately passed away. But he’s back on track in 2021 and looks like one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Not even deGrom can match what Shohei Ohtani has been able to do as both a pitcher and hitter.
To be fair, Ohtani has had some serious control issues as a pitcher. But he also has 30 strikeouts in just 18.2 innings, so he’s been effectively wild and still owns an ERA of 2.41.
Meanwhile, he’s hitting like an all-star. His 10 home runs are tied for the league lead. He also has seven doubles and two triples, giving him an OPS of .968, which would be impressive even if he couldn’t blow hitters away from the mound.
It’d be wrong not to take notice of J.D. Martinez, who leads the majors in RBIs and is tied for the lead in homers.
He’s also batting a cool .348, so he’s not just hitting for power. Perhaps more importantly, Martinez has helped turn the Red Sox around, who have a legitimate chance to go from worst to first in the AL East this year.