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Matt Olson, Mark Canha ranked Top 10 at their positions by MLB Network

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They join Ramon Laureano (CF) and Sean Murphy (C) as standouts at their positions

Division Series - Oakland Athletics v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

MLB Network continued its annual “Top 10 Players Right Now” series last week, releasing rankings for two more positions. Both lists included an Oakland A’s star.

Among left fielders, Mark Canha ranks third.

  1. Christian Yelich, MIL
  2. Michael Brantley, HOU
  3. Mark Canha, OAK
  4. Marcell Ozuna, free agent
  5. Jesse Winker, CIN
  6. Dominic Smith, NYM
  7. Eloy Jiménez, CHW
  8. Alex Dickerson, SFG
  9. Clint Frazier, NYY
  10. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., TOR

Without any context, third place might seem like a bold statement for Canha, even with the bias of an A’s fan. But looking at the list, I have no arguments.

Yelich is at the top by a mile, and Brantley makes sense in the second spot. Nobody else has a reasonable argument to be above Canha right now, though there are some young up-and-comers who could pass him someday — maybe even this year. Ozuna is currently the closest competitor, thanks mostly to a small-sample breakout in 2020, but Canha has been the more valuable player over the last three years and a far more consistent producer.

Meanwhile, the first base list features Matt Olson in the eighth spot, which seems low.

  1. Freddie Freeman, ATL
  2. Paul Goldschmidt, STL
  3. Luke Voit, NYY
  4. José Abreu, CWS
  5. Max Muncy, LAD
  6. Anthony Rizzo, CHC
  7. Pete Alonso, NYM
  8. Matt Olson, OAK
  9. Rhys Hoskins, PHI
  10. Carlos Santana, KC

Of course, Olson’s case is dragged down by batting .195 in the small-sample season, and also by the fact that many pundits won’t take his game-changing defense as seriously as it deserves. He didn’t even win the Gold Glove this year, since it was irresponsibly based entirely on tiny-sample advanced metrics. Without all of that, he’d be a lock for one of the top four spots on this list.

But given that 2020 does count at least a little, there’s no argument against Freeman leading the pack, especially since he’s a reigning MVP. I’ll also grant Goldschmidt, who has a long track record and was still excellent last year. Abreu won the other MVP and has been good for a while.

On the other hand, there’s no good rationale for Alonso being so high. His rookie dinger breakout was nice, but last year he sophomore slumped down to barely above replacement-level. He should be below Olson until further notice.

Beyond that, it gets subjective. I can see arguments for Voit, Muncy, and Rizzo, though I’d take Olson for various reasons. For example, Voit had a monster power campaign in 2020, but according to bWAR, Olson’s 2019 season (despite missing a month to injury) was worth more than Voit’s entire career — and Olson is three years younger. Muncy and Rizzo were even worse than Olson in 2020, and I’d bet on his future upside over theirs.

Personally, I’d put Olson fourth right now. If he’d had time to get his batting average back up last summer, he could have been second or third. MLB’s Mike Petriello agrees that Olson should be higher, and put him third on his own list (still behind Voit, curiously).

Both Canha and Olson also made their respective lists last winter, with Canha at fifth in LF, and Olson at sixth for 1B (he was also sixth the winter before that).

There are still a few more positions to go for 2021, but here are the A’s rankings so far:

  • C: Sean Murphy (5th)
  • 1B: Matt Olson (8th)
  • 2B: not yet announced
  • SS: not yet announced
  • 3B: not yet announced
  • LF: Mark Canha (3rd)
  • CF: Ramon Laureano (7th)
  • RF: not yet announced
  • SP: not yet announced
  • RP: no current A’s, but love for Liam Hendriks (1st)

Up next week are third base and starting pitching. We should expect to see Matt Chapman get a nod somewhere at the hot corner (he was fourth last winter), but nobody in Oakland’s rotation has reached this level yet.