"Hot Corner" is taking on a whole new meaning in 2022 with San Diego's Manny Machado, St. Louis' Nolan Arenado and Cleveland's Jose Ramirez among the best hitters in Major League Baseball...
Nolan Arenado lines an RBI to right field, scoring Tommy Edman, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning
Nolan Arenado launches a three-run homer to left-center, his seventh of the season, giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning
With the month of May here, there's no better time to look into a fantasy baseball trade (or two!).
Welcome to the first edition of theScore's 2022 Most Valuable Player rankings, where we pick the top players from each league. Let's take a look at who's making a strong impression in the early part of the season. American League5. Wander Franco, Rays Mike Carlson / Getty Images Sport / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 21 4 14 15 .322/.341/.575 1.5 The 21-year-old wunderkind, who Rich Hill predicted would be a Hall of Famer one day, continues to amaze during his first full big-league season. There might not be a better pure contact hitter in the league, and it appears Franco is adding more power to his offensive repertoire. The sweet-hitting shortstop is also one of MLB's toughest outs, ranking 12th in the majors with a 11.0% strikeout rate.4. Anthony Rizzo, Yankees Dustin Satloff / Getty Images Sport / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 23 9 21 15 .256/.378/.634 1.0 Rizzo's swing looks to be a perfect match for the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. Seven of the 32-year-old's nine home runs have come at home. Rizzo could flirt with 40 homers for the first time in his 12-year career. Even while batting with the likes of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton in the Yankees' lineup, Rizzo is looking like one of New York's most consequential players.3. Byron Buxton, Twins Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 15 7 12 14 .281/.339/.719 1.2 It's hard to argue that there's currently a more electrifying player than Buxton. The big issue for the 28-year-old, who's eclipsed 100 games played in a season just once in his career, has been staying on the field. If the outfielder can find a way to stay healthy this year, he should put up monster numbers as part of a talented Minnesota lineup and help the Twins return to their AL Central-winning form.2. Jose Ramirez, Guardians Diamond Images / Diamond Images / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 22 7 28 13 .341/.421/.707 1.8 Fresh off signing a long-term extension, Ramirez, as per usual, finds himself among the AL's top hitters. He leads the majors in RBIs and is second in OPS. The Guardians are still a long shot to make the postseason, but if Ramirez continues to lead an underrated lineup, Cleveland could make a surprise run up the standings.1. Mike Trout, Angels Tim Heitman / Getty Images Sport / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 20 6 11 17 .324/.459/.721 1.6 After playing just 36 games in 2021, Trout has put any health concerns to bed. The three-time AL MVP is off to a torrid start, reaching base in 17 of 20 games. Although he shares a dugout with reigning MVP Shohei Ohtani, Trout has been the story for the Angels, ranking second in the American League in FanGraphs' WAR.National League 5. C.J. Cron, Rockies Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 22 8 21 13 .282/.326/.647 1.1 It appears the friendly confines of Coors Field suit the Rockies' slugging first baseman, as Cron looks well on his way to a career season. After registering a career-best 2.3 fWAR in 2021, the 32-year-old is off to a fast start in the season's first month, amassing 1.1 WAR. Cron's prodigious power could enable him to challenge for the NL home run crown in 2022.4. Jazz Chisholm Jr., Marlins Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 18 4 17 10 .306/.357/.661 1.3 Chisholm is off to a fast start, helping lead the Marlins to a winning record in the early going. The 24-year-old is still striking out at a high clip (27.1%), but his explosive power and blazing speed have let him make the most of his batted balls. If he can continue producing offensively, Miami could surprise people in the NL East standings.3. Francisco Lindor, Mets Mary DeCicco / Major League Baseball / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 24 4 14 14 .269/.355/.452 1.1 Lindor's return to form is the biggest reason to be excited about the 16-8 Mets. Following a forgettable debut season in New York where he struggled through inconsistencies and injuries, Lindor is more closely resembling the player with a career OPS above .800. The magnetic four-time All-Star is also boasting his trademark combination of power and speed in the early part of the campaign.2. Manny Machado, Padres Rob Leiter / Major League Baseball / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 23 4 16 20 .375/.440/.591 2.2 Although expectations for the Padres were somewhat tempered following last season's implosion and Fernando Tatis Jr.'s preseason injury, Machado's play has ratcheted up the excitement surrounding the Friars. He leads the majors in WAR and is second in the NL with a 1.031 OPS . The competition is as stiff as ever in the NL West, but if Machado can continue his early-season pace, the Padres should be able to stay afloat in the playoff picture until Tatis returns.1. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals Diamond Images / Diamond Images / Getty GP HR RBI R AVG/OBP/SLG WAR 21 6 18 12 .359/.432/.679 1.9 Arenado has been everything and more for the Cardinals. After a strong 2021 campaign in his first season away from Coors Field, the 31-year-old leads the NL in OPS and is second in the majors in WAR. The nine-time Gold Glove winner is also still one of the game's premier defensive players. If he can continue to produce with the bat, the sky is the limit for both Arenado and the Cardinals in 2022.Copyright © 2022 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.