How Braves players rank (or not) among top 10 at each position

Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna (from left), second baseman Ozzie Albies and outfielder Ronald Acuna watch out for a pop fly at CoolToday Park during a spring training workout March 14 in North Port, Fla. All three are ranked among baseball's "top 10 players right now" at their positions by MLB Network. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna (from left), second baseman Ozzie Albies and outfielder Ronald Acuna watch out for a pop fly at CoolToday Park during a spring training workout March 14 in North Port, Fla. All three are ranked among baseball's "top 10 players right now" at their positions by MLB Network. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Six Braves players, including newly acquired relief pitcher Collin McHugh, are ranked by MLB Network among baseball’s “top 10 right now” at their positions.

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McHugh’s standing might be the biggest revelation to Braves fans: Signed to a two-year, $10 million contract as a free agent this month, he is baseball’s sixth-best reliever, according to the network’s annual position-by-position preseason rankings.

No other member of the Braves’ deep and talented bullpen made the top 10 in the reliever rankings, meaning MLB Network rates McHugh above teammates Kenley Jansen and Will Smith, among others. McHugh posted a 1.55 ERA in 64 innings for the Tampa Bay Rays last season.

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Other Braves players ranked in the top 10 at their positions: Ronald Acuna No. 3 among right fielders, Matt Olson No. 3 among first basemen, Ozzie Albies No. 8 among second basemen, Adam Duvall No. 10 among center fielders and Marcell Ozuna No. 10 among left fielders (although Ozuna likely will get most of his playing time at designated hitter this season).

The Braves aren’t represented in MLB Network’s top 10s at catcher, shortstop, third base and starting pitcher. The absence of Austin Riley from the list at third base may surprise many Braves fans after his stellar 2021 season.

Overall, the rankings reflect well on the National League East. The New York Mets have two of the three highest-ranked starting pitchers: No. 1 Jacob deGrom and No. 3 Max Scherzer. Both of the right fielders ranked above Acuna play within the division: No. 1 Juan Soto for the Washington Nationals and No. 2 Bryce Harper for the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies also have the top-rated catcher, J.T. Realmuto, and the sixth-rated starting pitcher, Zack Wheeler.

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In all, the Mets have eight players ranked in the top 10 at their positions, two more than the Braves, while the Phillies have five, one fewer than Atlanta.

Former Brave Freddie Freeman, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is ranked No. 1 among first basemen for the third consecutive year. The only other first baseman ranked ahead of Olson, Freeman’s replacement with the Braves, is the Toronto Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at No. 2. The Dodgers have nine players ranked in the top 10 at their positions.

MLB Network unveiled its 12th annual position-by-position “Top 10 Right Now!” series across the past two weeks. The rankings consider player performance over the past three seasons, taking into account offensive, defensive and pitching metrics, including traditional statistics and advanced data, as well as analysis by the network’s research team.