The MLB’s farm system and lengthy draft leads to an unmatched amount of roster turnover at the major league level across all sports. That means we get introduced to numerous players at every position in a given year. Though, only a few of those can hold on to their respective position for their respective teams at an elite level over multiple seasons. It’s safe to say that the MLB landscape will look vastly different in five years because of these circumstances. So, let’s look at farm systems and active, young, big league talent to predict who will be the best player at every position in both the American League and National League five seasons from now.
Catcher: Adley Rutschman
This one was kind of a no-brainer for me. Rutschman has gotten better and better against MLB pitchers since his debut earlier this season, and his defense is elite already. I think in five years, he could easily be the best catcher in the league. Moreover, him being drafted first overall a few years ago means that Orioles believe that as well. He is a generational talent, it’ll be interesting to see how he looks in five years.
First Baseman: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
A slow start has people forgetting about Vladdy Jr., but if 17 homers and 43 RBIs with a .266 batting average is the floor for Vladdy in his age 23 season then this is also an easy decision. The man hits the ball as hard as anyone and should only be better in his age 28 season in five years. He will likely be a perennial MVP candidate as well over the next five seasons. These first two have been easy calls for me.
Second Baseman: Andres Gimenez
There was a noticeable hole in this position for talent in the near future. Much of the second base talent at the major league level and in the farm systems is in the NL, but that shouldn’t take away from Andres Giminez. He knows how to hit the ball, going for a great average as well as some newfound power in 2022. At his peak, he could be a 25 homer-25 steals player with a .300 average. I could see this for him in five seasons, and the lack of talent surrounding him in the AL could make this path easy for him unless someone comes flying under the radar and presents a challenge in the AL.
Shortstop: Wander Franco
I know the shortstop position is filled to the brim with talent in farm systems across the MLB and the major league level is already filled with talent also. Nevertheless, Wander Franco is going to own this position in five years. He has already shown he can excel at the major league level at an incredibly young age. He hits for average and power while playing solid defense and being a great player on the base paths. I am a huge Wander Franco fan, and if he stays healthy, this is easily his position to lose. And guess what? He won’t. Put the mortgage on it.
Third Baseman: Bobby Witt Jr.
I think by this time, Bobby Witt will have fully transitioned to third base, and he will be wreaking havoc. He has had plenty of highs and lows since getting called up to the majors, but he has been seeing the ball much better as of late and is already among the better third basemen in the AL as of now. In five years, he may have an MVP to his name and will be among the best in the bigs. Another player I’m a huge fan of and very firm about putting on this list. Bobby Witt can play ball.
Left Field: Julio Rodriguez
Another young star that just got called up, Rodriguez has quickly adjusted to the major league level and is now destroying baseballs. He reminds me so much of Ronald Acuña, with sensational power and speed. He already leads the league in stolen bases as a rookie, and his power has begun to transition to the majors as well, so watch out. He could be a 40 homer-40 steals guy if he reaches his peak, and I think he’ll come damn close. Five years from now, he could be the premier outfielder in the AL, and I’m a huge fan of him. This was a position I felt confident in giving to Julio Rodriguez.
Center Field: Byron Buxton
It has never been about if he could play at the major league level for Buxton, it has always been about if he could stay on the field. His injury history is lengthy, but, when he plays, there aren’t many people who can have the impact that he has. Buxton is only 28, so he should still have plenty left in the tank in five years. A true five-tool player, we’ll see if he can stay on the field long enough to show just how good he is. Lance McCullers already has high praise for Buxton, calling him the “most talented player in the league.” Imagine if he plays 162 games. Putting him over an aging Mike Trout and Luis Robert may have been the most difficult choice on this list though.
Right Field: Aaron Judge
This was a hard call on who to give the last outfield spot to. I decided on Judge, and before I get berated for doing so I will simply utter two words that have rung true in baseball for the last 30-ish years: power stays. A player being based around speed and average or covering lots of ground in the outfield is far more likely to have his skills fall off in his mid-thirties than a guy like Judge. At 6’7” and 280 pounds, Judge’s power is here to stay. His arm strength likely will too, making it possible for him to stay away from the DH role longer than most other sluggers his age. Don’t expect Judge’s production to disappear in five seasons, he is expecting a lengthy contract in the off-season for a reason, and he should still be worth that money in five seasons.
Designated Hitter: Yordan Alvarez
This was a three-man race for me. The two unlucky losers were Shohei Ohtani and Andrew Vaughn. Ohtani will still be plenty valuable and hit plenty of homers to go with his stellar pitching. Meanwhile, Vaughn will see plenty of time in the field so he may be eligible for another position as well. The simple fact of the matter is that no one hits the ball like Yordan Alvarez. You would be wise to bet for him to lead the league in home runs every year for the next ten years, and you’ll probably make some money in the process. The ball leaves his bat with some serious pop, and he will be in his prime in five years still, no one does it like Air Yordan.
Starting Pitcher: Alek Manoah
This position will be tough because we’ll see so many pitchers come and go. Like so many. There were plenty of guys I thought about putting here, but I decided on Alek Manoah. He has great stuff and has found nothing but success so far in his young career. His style of pitching supports the idea that he could have a long and successful career while being less likely to fall victim to serious arm injuries. Knock on wood of course. I see Manoah being a premier arm in five seasons.
Catcher: Tyler Stephenson
There were a couple of guys I thought about giving this too, but I chose Stephenson over guys like Will Smith and Willson Contreras. I like the mix of average, power, and defense from Stephenson, and his younger age will mean his prime will likely be right around this time. A close race, but one I ultimately gave to Stephenson. Though his future is a little foggier than the proven stars like Will Smith and Willson Contreras.
First Baseman: Pete Alonso
Pete Alonso has been an underrated star since coming into the league a couple of seasons ago. He has been consistently one of the best power hitters in the game and one of the best first basemen overall as well. The two-time home run derby winner should be the poster child of the NL’s first basemen in five years and I have full confidence putting him here.
Second Baseman: Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Jazz Chisholm is young and still learning but has the tools to be the game’s best second baseman very soon. His bat speed and power are sensational, and his speed on the base paths is top tier as well. Once he gets consistent results against lefty pitchers and better defense, he will be the league’s best. I believe that jump will come with time, and his flair and charisma already have won the hearts of many baseball fans, which helps him out even more.
Shortstop: Trea Turner
I am going to get heat for having Turner over Tatis but I firmly believe that Trea Turner is the best shortstop in the league today and young enough to still best Tatis in five years. A more consistent approach and less injury history make Turner the better bet. He consistently is among the league leaders in steals and average while playing plus defense and hitting for some surprising power atop the best lineup in baseball. I have my reasons, and I think Turner will still be king of the NL shortstops in five years.
Third Baseman: Austin Riley
Another tough call here, but Austin Riley has finally proven himself to be a consistent threat at the major league level. At just 25, he will still be crushing plenty of home runs and playing great ball in five years. Putting him over Arenado and Machado as well as some of the young rising stars at the position was difficult, but I think it was the right decision.
Left Field: Juan Soto
Juan Soto will likely be the best player in baseball at this time, and this is a title I don’t give lightly. I think there is no one that can compete with the skill that Soto has. He reminds me of a certain someone named Ted Williams, who I have been adamant about being the best hitter of all time. This is Soto’s position to lose. I don’t think I have to say much else.
Center Field: Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts may be beginning his decline in five years, but I still believe that he will have enough in the tank to be the premier player at this position in five years. His mix of speed, power, defense, and leadership is hard to match and he is surprisingly still only 29 years old. He should be able to join the two other outfield stars of the NL on this list and keep up his prime long enough.
Right Field: Ronald Acuna Jr.
This is another easy one for me, as Acuna and Soto have been neck and neck for much of their young careers and should be still peaking at this time. They easily lock up the corner outfield spots. Acuna’s mix of speed and power should both remain at this point and he will be a perennial MVP candidate at this time most likely. Another easy decision.
Designated Hitter: Bryce Harper
I think by this time we will be seeing Bryce Harper hitting out of the DH spot, and he will still be mashing baseballs. Harper hits the ball with a crazy amount of power, and only having to focus on what he does in the batter’s box should mean that his career will still be going well five years from now. Very well.
Starting Pitcher: Sandy Alcantara
I talked about why it is so hard to pick just one pitcher for this position five years from now on the AL side, and the same problem occurs here on the NL side. I picked Sandy over some other young stars in today’s game like Corbin Burnes and Walker Buehler. I love what Alcantara does, and his ability to go deep into games relying on some serious heat and great off-speed pitches should have him still among the league’s best in five years.