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Beyond the Box Score's best players for 2015: No. 4

Our writers voted on the best players for the upcoming season. Who finished fourth?

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few of weeks, we've offered introductions to our Best Players of 2015 series. We set the stage for the whole endeavor, and we then revealed the players who landed between 45th and 11th on the list. If you need a refresher on the methodology, nine of our writers ranked players based on how well they thought players would perform during the 2015 season. They ordered them from No. 1 to No. 20, and those players got point values (20 for first, 19 for second, etc) and were ranked by the sum of their points. The highest possible score is 180. We're already told you Anthony Rendon ranked 10thJose Bautista finished ninthMiguel Cabrera landed at eighth, Josh Donaldson ended up seventh, Buster Posey was sixth, and Felix Hernandez took fifth.

No. 4: Giancarlo Stanton, Right Field (Miami Marlins)

Steve Mitchell/USA Today

Somehow, Giancarlo Stanton is just 25 years old. He's been around a while, as he arrived in the big leagues early and for good in 2010. The mashing outfielder strikes out a fair amount, but the damage he does during the remainder of his plate appearances makes him a sight to behold no matter the cast of characters around him.

And that cast will be the Marlins for several more years after Stanton signed a massive contract that could keep him in Miami for 13 seasons and earn him more than $300 million. He may opt out when the time comes, but for now, he'll anchor baseball in Florida and it's not hard to see why our voters peg him as the fourth best player in the game.

Why We Love Him

Giancarlo Stanton might be a solid corner outfielder or he might not be. He might not be a standout base runner. But he's not terrible at either of those things, so we get to shove them aside and talk about the offense because the offense is extraordinary.

Stanton ran a career high 159 wRC+ in 2014 on the heels a tremendous walk rate and immense power. He hit 37 HR while calling Miami home and filled in the gaps with more than 30 doubles in just 145 games. If he hadn't missed time at the very end of the season after being hit in the face with a pitch, he might well have had a 40 HR season in an age when no one hits 40 HR.

His ability to get on base and hit for power puts his bat rare company. He's not quite on the level of Trout's entire game and he lacks Cabrera's longevity and superhuman contact ability, but there's no doubt he's one of baseball's best hitters.

The Projections

And the projections are buying what Stanton is selling. Steamer likes him for 5.5 WAR in 600 PA. ZiPS predicts 5.7 WAR in 614 PA. PECOTA sees a 5.9 WARP in 604 PA.

If he's entering his peak rather than leaving it, those projections might be conservative, too.

Where He Fits In

Our voters were stubborn and refused to agree on a lot of players, but Stanton was named on every ballot and no one had him higher than third and only one person had him lower than eighth. Stanton had 141 points, which easily cleared Felix but couldn't quite catch the man in third.

Stanton is the fourth best player in the game according to our writers, but he's actually not even among the top two outfielders! You can probably guess who the remaining three players are on the list, but the order might still be a mystery.

The Marlins are on a lot of sleeper lists heading into the season, and their amazing young outfielder is a primary driver of that excitement. Stanton is the old man of the group, at the ripe age of 25. With his power and ability to reach base, few teams can rival the offensive centerpiece the Marlins have. In order to contend for a wild card spot, he'll need some help, but our writers have no doubt that he'll do his part.


Statistics via FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus.

Neil Weinberg is the Associate Managing Editor at Beyond The Box Score, the Site Educator at FanGraphs, and writes enthusiastically at New English D.