As the season begins to wane, Dr. Easy — my fantasy baseball partner-in-crime — and I decided to look back to the beginning of the 2017 season while at the same time looking ahead to next season (and boy, do we have neck ache!). We wanted to compare the Razzball Pre-Season Player Rater (PS PR) top 12 players versus the top 12 right now per the Razzball Season-to-Date Player Rater (STD PR), look at discrepancies, and learn what lessons there are to learn (if any there are) for next season: which players to reevaluate in light of what they’ve done for us this year. Who’s still riding high; who’s sunk to depths not hitherto foreseen? This is the first installment.

Here were the top 12 players according to the Pre-Season Player Rater, back in April:

And as of today, here are the top 12 players in the Season-to-Date Player Rater:

Mike Trout: It’s proof of how good a player he is that after playing only 90 games so far this season (out of 140), he’s still sitting 18th overall in the STD PR, when ranked by $. As an example, had he played all season and kept this pace, he would have led in runs: instead he’s 32nd in $R. When ranked by $/G (a fairer stat to use for players who have missed time owing to injury or other), he’s ranked 5th overall. We bet he’ll still be first overall on the Pre-Season Player Rater next year, nothing to see here, move along.

Mookie Betts: Mookie has slipped out of the top 12, all the way down to 34th on the STD PR. He has given value in RBIs (78 on the season, down from last year) and stolen bases (22 steals, on pace with last year), but his average is way down (.260 in 2017, .318 in 2016, .291 in both 2014 and 2015) and his home runs are down from last year (31 in 2016, 18 so far in 2017, also 18 in 2015). So, so far, Mookie is looking more like the player he was in 2015. The problem is, we’re in 2017, and while his 18 home runs in 2015 carried him to a 120 wRC+, with the OJ’d baseballs, he can manage only a wRC+ of 99. MOOKIE BETTS: MEDIOCRE HITTER? His average may have been marred by some BABIP luck (.265), but we’re still not sure we would draft him in the first round next year.

Clayton Kershaw: At present, Kershaw has pitched more or less the same number of games as he did in 2016, so it’s a good time to make comparisons. He’s slipped to 11th in the STD PR, sure, but that’s with missing 5 or 6 starts. His numbers are still stellar, but in FIP, his 2.84 is the highest since 2012. Again, the OJ’d baseballs may have something to do with that, but then shouldn’t he be K’ing many more hitters, too (2017 K/9 of 10.69; that needle’s barely moved from 2016’s 10.39 […though it’s hard to improve on excellence!]), in this new environment where everyone’s swinging for the fences? Even despite these mixed messages, the PS PR will probably still put him in the top 12.

Trea Turner: Turner’s injury was a huge blow to his owners, taking him out for more than 2 months. Like Kershaw, he’s currently at about the same number of games played in 2017 (74) as he played in all of 2016 (73), so it’s easy to compare his numbers for the two years. Here are the categories where he’s down, year on year: average (.279 in 2017 so far; .342 in 2016), home runs (7 in 2017; 13 in 2016); hits (88 in 2017; 105 in 2016). Here’s where he’s up: walks (22 in 2017; 14 in 2016) and steals (38 in 2017; 33 in 2016). He is still providing $/G value: 12th of all hitters and pitchers, but has slipped right down to 106th when sorted by $. Of course, he could still accelerate over the rest of the season. Even with those lower numbers, a 24-year-old shortstop who prorates to 15 home runs and 70 stolen bases over a season is a first-rounder.

Manny Machado: Machado is currently ranked 34th by $ on the STD PR — a big drop from his PS PR of 5th. While he’s providing some value in $RBI (ranked 17th), he’s pretty forgettable in most other categories. But this is a tale of two halves. Pre All-Star Break: .230/.296/.445. Post All-Star Break: .340/.378/.604. Manny Machado of 2016: .294/.343/.533. He’s on a similar pace in home runs (32 so far in 2017; 37 in 2016; 35 in 2015) and runs (75 so far in 2017; 105 in 2016; 102 in 2015). His steals are definitely up from last year—9 in 2017 after a grand total of 0 in 2016 (20 in 2015, though). His BABIP is lower in 2017 (.276 in 2017; .309 in 2016; 297 in 2015). So will the real Manny Machado please stand up? Now that he’s broken out of his first-half slump, our sense is he’s going to settle on the same numbers as 2016. I.e., second half Manny Machado is the real one, and it’s still safe to draft him high.

Jose Altuve, Max Scherzer, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado: There’s not much to say about these guys. Altuve and Scherzer and Arenado have jumped up a couple of spots; Goldschmidt’s jumped up a pretty significant 9 spots; but other than that, they’ve done everything it said on the tin. All good to go for 2018. <stamp of approval>