The Top Ten MLB Players In Five Years
By Max Toth
The future of the MLB has never been brighter. The Majors are full of young, uber talented players who have brought a new level of excitement and personality to the sport. Baseball might be entering a new golden age, but once we get there, how will these new stars compare to each other?
Here’s who I think the top 10 MLB players will be in five years.
10. Walker Buehler
There aren’t many young pitchers who have wowed as much as their position-playing counterparts (think Fernando Tatis Jr., Ronald Acuna Jr., Vladimir Guerrero Jr., etc.) so it’s hard to project who will separate from the pack in the future. I decided to go with a safe bet here and chose Walker Buehler. He’s in the midst of a career year that has made him a top contender for the NL Cy Young award. He’ll be at the tail-end of his prime in 2026, but if he stays healthy, he can easily be the MLB’s best pitcher
9. Adley Rutschman
One of the few bright spots surrounding the dreadfully bad Baltimore Orioles, Adley Rutschman is the number one prospect in all of baseball. He should make his debut at catcher next season and will make a big difference for Baltimore early on.
8. Mike Trout
Yes, Mike Trout will be 35 in 2026, but it would be wrong to count out the best player of this generation. He won’t dominate the league as he does in the present, but Trout on a bad day is still one of the MLB’s best players.
7. Wander Franco
MLB’s top prospect before Rutschman, Wander Franco was called up by the Tampa Bay Rays in June. Through his first two months as a Major Leaguer, he’s shown flashes of greatness, but has yet to put it all together. However, when he does, watch out. The Dominican shortstop should one day become the face of the pesky Rays.
6. Rafael Devers
The latest in a long line of Red Sox sluggers, Rafeal Devers became the new face of the team after the departure of Mookie Betts and it’s safe to say he’s filled the role nicely. Devers plays the game with a real fire, as evidenced by his lengthy and colorful conversations with himself at the plate. Whatever he’s saying, it’s working and has made him one of baseball's brightest young stars.
5. Shohei Ohtani
Fifth might seem a little low for the likely AL MVP, but Shohei Ohtani still has to prove that this season is his new normal and not an outlier. If he can still hit and pitch at the level he has this year, Ohtani would almost certainly be the best player in baseball by 2026. However, Ohtani also dealt with numerous injuries early on in his career which hampered his ability to play both ways. If those issues pop back up, he’d likely be forced to choose between pitching and hitting.
4. Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s long awaited breakout season has arrived and he’s quickly ascended to become one of the MLB’s best players. By 2026, he’ll be leading a contending Blue Jays team stocked with talented young players, like Bo Bichette who probably would have made this list if it was a top 15. By the way, in case you haven’t noticed, Vladdy is the fourth player from the AL East on this list. That division is going to have some very fun battles in the near future.
3. Ronald Acuna Jr.
Ronald Acuna Jr has been electric ever since he stepped on an MLB field. The true definition of a five tool player, Acuna’s sensational play and big personality will make him one of the MLB’s best players and most marketable stars.
2. Juan Soto
If he isn’t there already, by 2026 Juan Soto could easily be the best hitter in baseball. He’s mastered the art of controlling the strike zone and pairs that with an exceptional ability to hit for power and average. The only real question surrounding Soto is what his Nationals team will look like in five years, if he’s even still in Washington, after a trade deadline fire sale that jettisoned most of the few remaining members of the 2019 team that won the World Series.
1. Fernando Tatis Jr.
At just 22 years old, Fernando Tatis Jr has established himself as the face of baseball, so imagine where he’ll be when he reaches his prime at 27! He backs up the media frenzy that surrounds his every move on the field too, as his towering home runs, base swiping skills and sensational shortstop play have vaulted his San Diego Padres into contention. “El Niño” is the undisputed leader of baseball's new age.
Of course, while it is fun to speculate, it’s almost impossible to predict these kinds of things.
Who knows? Maybe in 2026, we’ll look back and wonder whatever happened to that Tatis Jr. guy.
Five years ago, he was a 17 year old minor leaguer all the way down in single A who made a pretty dreadful 30 errors in one season, but now he’s arguably the MLB’s best player.
The next generational talent could really be anyone, so the next time you stop by your local ballfield, take a look around, because the next Tatis, Vladdy or Soto could be just about anywhere.