MLB Network’s player ranking creates Dodgers controversy with Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts

Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels v Los Angeles Dodgers / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

With Opening Day just a few weeks away, sports outlets have been running through offseason retrospectives, grades, and 2024 previews like no one's business. The Dodgers have earned top marks in pretty much every possible category for their efforts this offseason, getting expected 'A' grades from The Athletic (subscription required), CBS Sports, FOX Sports, and pretty much every other site you can think of.

There have been a few wrinkles that have raised some eyebrows; MLB Network's player rankings — from their specific, position-based lists to their Top 100 Right Now — have continually incensed fans of all kinds. Mookie Betts ranked No. 1 on their top 10 second basemen list, which promptly provoked the ire of Braves and Astros fans everywhere, as Betts beat out José Altuve and Ozzie Albies didn't even get a nod.

MLB Network has continued to advocate strongly for Betts, placing him at No. 2 on their top 100, ahead of Dodgers teammates Freddie Freeman at No. 5 and, sort of shockingly, Shohei Ohtani at No. 4. Ronald Acuña Jr. led the pack, with Aaron Judge splitting Betts and Ohtani.

MLB Network ranks Mookie Betts ahead of Shohei Ohtani in Top 100 Right Now list

The fact that Ohtani won't be able to do a big chunk of what makes him such a special player — pitch — in 2024 might have hurt him on this list. He won't play the field at all this year, which also could've knocked him down a few rungs. Dodgers fans shouldn't really be upset that Ohtani came in behind Betts; after all, it's just nice that they're on the same team, and having them at the top of a lineup with Freeman will be a terrifying prospect for pitchers. Besides, everyone everywhere loves Mookie.

What is a little more confounding is that Judge managed to rank above Ohtani. Judge missed a third of last season's games and his numbers, though obviously impressive, weren't nearly as good as Ohtani's. Per FanGraphs, some of their expected numbers for 2024 do work out in Judge's favor, but not by much.

Ah, well. We have the entirety of a 162-game season ahead of us to watch Ohtani prove MLB Network wrong, and for Betts to live up to that No. 2 spot.