Yes! Here it is! Lists are something that everyone likes, and also something that everyone has the ability to do. Whether the list you make is about music, about politics, about movies, or just about, well, stuff, there is always a list for you. Sports are no exception, and in this list, the 50 best baseball players will be discussed.
Now, there are a couple of things that you need to understand. First off, these rankings will be the top 50 players right now, as in how good of a player they are this moment. Todd Helton has had an excellent career, but he is no longer a top 50 guy. Evan Longoria is on his way to a seemingly-good career, but he isn't elite, quite yet (keep reading to see). However, at the same time, right now doesn't mean just this year...because guys don't get to just carry over their one-year stats and make a career out of them. Because of this, guys who are having good years like Jair Jurrjens in Atlanta, Pablo Sandoval in San Francisco, or Aaron Hill in Toronto were all considered, and in a couple of years, they probably will be top 50 players, but they aren't quite there yet. Because nothing ever can completely be set in stone- just look at Josh Hamilton. Last year, he was on his way to multiple MVP awards; and now? He's a good player, but not so amazing.
That being said, let's get these rankings started! I know everyone will disagree with me, so please leave some feedback and leave your opinions; I will try to make a list that gets more positive feedback than this one. Anyway, thanks for reading, and let's go!
Others Considered: Erik Bedard, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Cain, Chris Carpenter, Jeff Francis, Brain Fuentes, Yovani Gallardo, Orlando Hudson, Raul Ibanez, Bobby Jenks, Adam Jones, Scott Kazmir, Matt Kemp, Carlos Lee, Cliff Lee, Derrek Lee, Jose Lopez, Yadier Molina, Hunter Pence, Placido Polanco, Mark Reynolds, Francisco Rodriguez, Brian Roberts, Freddy Sanchez, Troy Tulowitzki, Miguel Tejada, Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino, Joey Votto, Adam Wainwright, Vernon Wells.
Top 15 That Missed: Josh Beckett, Robinson Cano, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Derek Jeter, Josh Johnson, Chipper Jones, Paul Konerko, Victor Martinez, Jonathan Papelbon, Carlos Pena, C.C. Sabathia, Joakim Soria, Justin Upton, Justin Verlander.
50- Carlos Zambrano: Starting Pitcher, Chicago Cubs
And the list starts off with a bang, as Big Z makes his entrance. He's started at least 30 games every year since 2002, and has gone over 200 innings five of the last six years. Zambrano also has a career ERA of 3.47, and playing at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, he has a record of 103-65, career-wise and has lost over 10 games just twice, while going for double-digit wins six years in a row. At the plate, Big Z has the nickname for a reason, as he has a .238 batting average to go with 19 HR and 54 RBI since 2003. Overall, Zambrano is one of the best pitchers in baseball.
49- Joe Nathan: Closer, Minnesota Twins
Nathan is an excellent closer, but that's the problem: he is a closer. Guys who pitch and inning a game just aren't incredibly valuable, unless they are great at what they do, which Nathan is. Since he came to Minnesota, Nathan has 226 saves to go along with just 22 blown saves, and has had an ERA over 2.00 just once in those six years. Also in that time period (and you can thank Mr. Tim McCarver for this fun fact...actually, don't thank him, just acknowledge it), among closers, Nathan is 1st in wins, 1st in ERA and 2nd in saves to a guy who works in the Bronx. He might not be the most valuable guys in the league, but he's one of the most dominant.
48- Ryan Zimmerman: Third Baseman, Washington Nationals
This might be a surprising pick, but there are a couple of circumstances involved. First, Zimmerman might be the least-protected man in all of baseball. Throughout his career, his protection in the order has been Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson. Not bad players, but not very good, either. This year, he has Johnson and Adam Dunn, and he is on-pace for career-highs in both BA and HR; coincidence? Probably not. The next thing to consider is where he has played. R.F.K. Stadium and Nationals Park are both pitchers parks, and Zimmerman has played in those two stadiums his whole career. Zimmerman also is in the top ten in runs scored, which is impressive for a guy who hits third. He might not have awesome stats, but Zimmerman can hit, and he's finally showing it.
47- Dustin Pedroia: Second Baseman, Boston Red Sox
Ah yes, the 2B who could. If Pedroia didn't play in Boston, how different do you think his reputation would be? Anyway, Pedroia is a good hitter, as you can conclude from his MVP trophy and his .311 career BA. But you know what else? He also plays in a lineup that is absolutely stacked, and his OBP is on-pace with guys like Jason Kubel. However, there is one stat that really jumps out at me for him: doubles. Pedroia is a right-handed hitter who plays at Fenway Park. What are his 2B totals the last three years? 39, 53, 31. His HR totals in those same years? 8, 17, 5. So he isn't a power hitter and he can steal bases, so it's not like he gets them because of his speed. He hits them because he hits fly balls off the Green Monster. It's that simple, and it's a huge boost for his batting average. Pedroia might get better, but as of now, he's a top 50 guy, but not in the elite category.
46- Zack Greinke: Starting Pitcher, Kansas City Royals
Out of every player I considered, this was the hardest call for me. He's having an incredible season, led by 10 wins for Kansas City, 146 strikeouts in 141.1 innings and an insane ERA of 2.04. If he played for a team who could give him run-support, Greinke could have a shot at the Triple Crown. However, can he do it again? His numbers are very good, but not elite. His career ERA is a good 3.88, but it isn't elite like the guys who are ranked ahead of him. Greinke has put up good enough numbers the last couple of years, and he is having a year that is so good, it's impossible to ignore. But at the same time, he needs to show he can do it again before he gets into the great class.
45- Bobby Abreu: Right Fielder, Los Angeles Angels
He has stolen at least 20 bases for the last eleven years. He has at least 20 HR in eight of the last ten years, with 15 and 16 in the two years he played at Yankee Stadium. At least 100 RBI in seven of the last eight seasons (66 this year). He is career .301 hitter who can spray line drives all over the field, and is currently 10th in baseball in OBP. On defense, he is a Gold Glover who has almost three-times more assists than errors. Abreu is a guy who often gets overshadowed, and is overlooked because he isn't a flashy player, but don't let that fool you. He's one of the most complete players in all of baseball.
44- Nick Markakis: Right Fielder, Baltimore Orioles
Playing in a division with Boston, New York and Tampa Bay, which also happens to have an obscene amount of talent, Markakis tends to get very overlooked. He is a .300 hitter who's career-low BA is .291, his rookie year. Markakis is an example of another guy who's numbers don't look as bad because he hasn't had much more than Melvin Mora or Aubrey Huff protecting him in the lineup, yet he still will hit over 40 doubles a year, get around 20 HR a year, and drive in around 85 RBI (112 in 2006). Those might not seem like much, but he can make up the difference with his defense. He has a .991 fielding percentage in RF, and has 48(!!!) assists in under four years, and has had 13, 17 and 11 in the last three. The name-recognition might not be there, but the hitting and cannon in the OF definitely are.
43- Ian Kinsler: Second Baseman, Texas Rangers
He might not be the flashiest guy in the world, but Kinsler can flat-out hit. If not for an injury last year, he might have an MVP award under his belt. He hits for pretty good power coming out of the leadoff spot, and he doesn't strike out much for the power numbers that he puts up. At the same time, he has at least 20 stolen bases every year since he became a full-time starter. The big knock on him has been his defense, but that is finally improving, and he is looking at a much better year defensively, which puts him over the hump and onto the list.
42- Mark Buehrle: Starting Pitcher, Chicago White Sox
Buehrle is just one of those guys. He isn't flashy. He isn't all that high-key. And until this year, he wasn't all that memorable; but then again, a perfect game can do that for you. Buehrle isn't on this list because of a no-hitter and that game, but rather because of his consistency. He has thrown at least 200 innings every year that he has been a starting pitcher, and he has nine straight seasons of double-digit wins to go along with that. One of the best control pitchers in all of baseball, Buehrle has never walked more than 61 people in a season. A career ERA of 3.76 playing against the lineups of Detroit, Minnesota and Cleveland definitely helps his case, and although you might be surprised, Buehrle is surprisingly good.
41- Jermaine Dye: Right Fielder, Chicago White Sox
What?! Back-to-back White Sox on the list? Yes, you are reading that correctly; I'm a Twins fan and even I recognize how good Dye is. In the outfield, Dye has a cannon of an arm, and if people ran on him more, he could throw out people all day. Last year, he had only one error, and it seems that even at 35, Dye still has it. At the plate, he has hasn't had less than 26 HR since 2001 (discounting 2003, when he was hurt), and has hit .315, .292 and .285 in three of the last four years. He might not get the praise he deserves, but Dye quietly is one of the best hitters in the American League.
40- Brandon Phillips: Second Baseman, Cincinnati Reds
Phillips is a good player, but he is also more of a fantasy-type player. He puts up good numbers at the plate in multiple categories, and people fall in love with his stats and think he is much better than he actually is. He has fairly good power numbers, he drives in a good amount of runs, and he steals bases while hitting with an alright average. The problem with Phillips was strikeouts, but he doesn't strike out nearly as much anymore. After striking out 109 and 93 times in back-to-back years, he has only 39 this year; that is a phenomenal improvement. He doesn't do anything great, but he does a lot of things very well, and that gets him in the top 40.
39- Mariano Rivera: Closer, New York Yankees
Mo is one of the most dominant players in baseball, but there is one problem that forces him this low: he is a closer. As good as he is, he pitches an inning or two a night, and that simply isn't as valuable as a guy who plays everyday. But when he is on the mound, Rivera is lights-out. He gets a ton of strikeouts, and he is the rare closer who can pitch more than an inning. Being a guy who can come in and lock down a game for you because it's so rare that he blows a save is a very hard thing to find, even among closers, and that's why Rivera is so high on here.
38- Lance Berkman: First Baseman, Houston Astros
Berkman is a player who people often forget about, simply because of how consistently good he is. Since 2001, he has had under 100 RBI just twice, under 25 HR just twice, and a BA under .300 just four times...I'd say that those numbers are pretty good. Yeah, he's 33, but at the same time, he hit .312 with 29 HR, 106 RBI, and even 18 stolen bases. He'll also give you an OBP over .400, and even his fielding is improving! Injuries are a concern, but he is too good a player to not be in this list.
37- Jake Peavy: Starting Pitcher, Chicago White Sox
If not for injuries, Peavy would undoubtedly be higher. But for the last two years, he has had serious injury problems. But when he is healthy, Peavy is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. This is a guy who put had an ERA of under 3.00 four out of five years. To go along with a career ERA of 3.29, he also has a record of 92-68; impressive to say the least. Everyone knows his talent, but can he stay on the mound? That's a question that has to be there for this Cy Young winner.
36- Michael Young: Third Baseman, Texas Rangers
One of the most underrated players in the American League, all he does is hit. He has been to six All-Star games, and that goes along with a .300 or better BA in six of the last seven years. He's a decent power hitter and can drive in runs, but he also strikes out way to much to hit under 15 HR a year. At the same time, though, he won a Gold Glove last year, and while he isn't the best fielder in the world, his defense is definitely improving.
35- Brandon Webb: Starting Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
If he didn't get hurt, Webb would probably be a top 20 player. But he did, and it's not a little injury; he is more than likely out for the season after pitching just four innings, and he could be out even longer. But when he is healthy, he is dynamic on the mound. Just look at his career record of 87-62. Or his career ERA of 3.27. Or his six straight years of at least 260 strikeouts. When he pitches, he's dominant. But Webb needs to pitch in order to dominate, and that is what keeps him this high.
34- Evan Longoria: Third Baseman, Tampa Bay Rays
What, you ask? Why is Longoria not in the top ten? I'll tell you why: he isn't that good. Yes, he is a star. Yes, he probably is going to be a superstar. But right now? He isn't there yet. On defense, to put it nice, he's not good. A fielding percentage of .964 is not impressive. At the plate, hitting in the middle of a lineup that includes four other guys who went to the All-Star Game, Longoria has hit .272 and .276 while in the big leagues. Now, those aren't bad, but they certainly aren't elite, either. He has good power, but it isn't like he's a top power hitter in the league. Finally, his OBP is .360, which is good for...wait for it...64th in MLB. Longoria is a very good player, but not nearly the superstar that people make him out to be.
33- Ryan Howard: First Baseman, Philadelphia Phillies
Once again, it's a good player who is overrated because of their power numbers. Yes, Howard is an absolute monster in terms of power hitters, and he is probably in the top three of baseball. But is he really that good of a player? He has a very low OBP: just .352. His BA is incredibly low considering that he plays in one of the best hitters parks in the National League, and while his RBI numbers are good, you have to remember the guys who he has in front of him getting on base; it's not like he's playing in San Diego or Florida. And while his defense is improving, it still isn't so far above-average that it can make up for his batting average.
32- Curtis Granderson: Center Fielder, Detroit Tigers
Granderson is one of the most overlooked players in baseball. Why? I don't know, that's actually a very good question. He is one of only four players in Major League history to have a season with 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Granderson strikes out too much, and doesn't have a very high batting average, but it's much better than what he used to do. Combine what he does at the plate with his excellent defense in CF for the Tigers, and you have a very good player, which is what Granderson is, and why he is high on the list.
31- Dan Haren: Staring Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks
In the last five years, Haren has established himself as an elite pitcher in baseball. He hasn't had an ERA above 3.33 since 2006, and has 69 wins over the last six years, with just 47 losses in that same time period. But what really separates him is this season. Playing in the highest-ranked ballpark for runs (park factor), Haren has a 2.14 ERA. To put it simply; he's having one of the best seasons for a pitcher in a long time. Can he keep it up? We'll find out, but he has shown the consistency to do so.
30- Brad Hawpe: Right Fielder, Colorado Rockies
You are reading that correctly, that does in fact say Brad Hawpe. In my mind, he is the most underrated player in baseball. What has he done the last couple of years? 2006: .293 BA, 22 HR, 84 RBI. 2007: .291 BA, 29 HR, 116 RBI. 2008: .283 BA, 25 HR, 85 RBI. And finally, this year? .323 BA, 15 HR, 62 RBI. He also has an OBP of .404, which is good for 14th in all of baseball, and places him ahead of countless All-Stars. Yes, he plays in Colorado, but over the last three years, his BA on the road is .288 compared to .290 at home, and he has 37 HR on the road compared to 39 at home. He also has more doubles on the road. Are you surprised yet? Combine those numbers with his great arm in the outfield, and you have a player in the top 30.
29- Grady Sizemore: Center Fielder, Cleveland Indians
He has multiple Gold Gloves. He also has a Silver Slugger. He also has at least 20 HR, at last 75 RBI, at least 22 SB, and at least a .268 BA every year that he has started for the majority of the season. Yes, his numbers are down across the board, but there is one thing that is up, and I think that is the contributing factor: home runs. Sizemore isn't a power hitter, he's a hitter who can hit for power. Earlier in the year, he was hitting in the middle of the order, and he was struggling. Now, he's back hitting leadoff, and not surprisingly, he's starting to hit again. Sizemore is a very good player, he just needs to be in the right situation.
28- Matt Holliday: Left Fielder, St. Louis Cardinals
Much like Hawpe, his numbers were inflated due to playing in Colorado. But it's not like he was a slouch on the road, either. In the last three years, on the road, he's a near-.300 hitter who has 120 RBI and 33 HR. No, those aren't great numbers, but he more than makes up for it with his consistency. He has been a dominant hitter for years, and he still kept a high BA, even while playing in Oakland- the ultimate pitchers park. But what makes Holliday so good is his batting average, which is .317 career-wise. Not even Coors Field can affect line drives up the middle or balls hit into gaps. Holliday isn't as good of a player as his numbers say, but he is no slouch, either.
27- Jimmy Rollins: Shortstop, Philadelphia Phillies
J-Roll is a prime example of a guy who is having a terrible year, but is such a good player that his down year really shouldn't be a big issue. But he really can do it all. Rollins can hit very well, and he has a Silver Slugger to show it. He can steal bases, as he has 309 SB since 2001, but has been thrown out just 69 times. He also plays tremendous defense, and has multiple Gold Gloves that can prove it. Rollins is also a very good leader, and while that doesn't make him a better player, it definitely doesn't hurt his case.
26- Aramis Ramirez: Third Baseman, Chicago Cubs
One of the most underrated players in the National League, A-Ram is a guy who is overlooked because he has been so consistently good for so many years. People just expect it, and he really doesn't get the credit that he deserves. In fact, since 2001, he has the hit the most home runs amongst all third basemen, which includes A-Rod. Since he became a starter in 2001, he has hit 241 HR to go along with 840 RBI, which amounts to around 30 HR and 100 RBI a year. But what makes him such a good hitter, is that for all of his power, he hardly strikes out, and has struck out 100 (it was exactly 100) times just once in his career. His defense isn't great, but it isn't terrible, either, and it is improving. Combining everything, he has a case as one of the best 3B in all of baseball.
25- Jason Bay: Left Fielder, Boston Red Sox
Before he came to Boston, many people didn't know who Jason Bay was. Since that time, he has definitely made a name for himself, but it might surprise you to know that he has always been a very good hitter. Playing in Pittsburgh, with almost no protection in his lineup, how did he do? 2004: 26 HR, 82 RBI, .282 BA. 2005: 31 HR, 101 RBI, .306 BA, 21 stolen bases- which is pretty good for a middle-of-the-lineup hitter. 2006: 35 HR, 109 RBI, .286 BA. 2007: 21 HR, 84 RBI, .207 BA. 2008: 31 HR, 101 RBI, .286 BA. And so far this season, he has 20 HR, 73 RBI and 11 SB. People might think that Bay is a one-year wonder, but he has produced with the elite for the last five years.
24- Roy Oswalt: Starting Pitcher, Houston Astros
Just how good is Roy Oswalt? Playing in a division with the likes of Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Bay, Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and more, while playing in a park that heavily favors right-handed hitters, Oswalt has managed a career ERA of 3.17. With a career record of 135-68, Oswalt has shown that he is one of the most dominating pitchers in the National League. So why isn't he higher? This year and last year, Oswalt has posted the two highest ERAs of his career. Now, this doesn't mean that he is declining, but it shows that he isn't getting better, either. Yet, either way, Oswalt is a top-five SP in baseball, and one of the 25 best.
23- Miguel Cabrera: First Baseman, Detroit Tigers
Cabrera is one of the better hitters in the American League, and in the coming years, he will most likely become one of the best- if he isn't already considered one. However, as of now, he definitely has some shortcomings. First of all, he strikes out way too much. His career-low in strikeouts is 108. His OBP isn't bad, but it's not quite elite, either; it's 23rd in baseball...which is right where he is on the list. Also, and a bigger factor in his low ranking, is his defense. He couldn't play 3B, so he moved to 1B, which hasn't worked out quite too well for him. Yes, he has improved, but he still isn't over-the-top yet. Cabrera is probably a top-tier 1B in baseball, but he needs a couple more years before he moves into the top 20 or so.
22- Kevin Youkilis: First Baseman, Boston Red Sox
What separates Youk from a guy like Cabrera is his defense. He is a Gold Glover at first base who makes all of his infielders look better, but he also can move over to third base, and is above-average over there, as well. At the plate, he's a bordeline-.300 hitter who almost (and arguably should have) won the American League MVP last year. He doesn't have the most power in the world, but he is very good at driving in runs, and he can spray hits all over the field. Finally, he is one of the peskiest hitters in all of baseball, and he consistently wears pitchers down- something which is often overlooked among hitters. He might not be a very flashy guy, but Youkilis definitely gets the job done in Boston.
21- Torii Hunter: Center Fielder, Los Angeles Angels
Over the last seven seasons, Hunter has won five division titles- four with Minnesota, and one in Los Angeles. You can say that he is the product of playing on talented teams, or you could realize that he has generally hit third, fourth, fifth or a little bit of sixth on all of these teams. Coincidence? I don't think so. As a hitter, Torii hasn't had below 81 RBI or 23 HR if he wasn't injured. But what separates him from other good hitters? His defense. He has won eight Gold Gloves in a row (think about that for a minute) and has saved countless runs for his pitchers. There aren't many players who are the dual offensive-defensive player that Hunter is, and that's why he is ranked so high.
20- Carl Crawford: Left Fielder, Tampa Bay Rays
Crawford truly is one of the most complete players in all of baseball. He is a very good hitter; he's currently hitting .309 and has hit over .300 three of the past four years. He is probably the best base stealer in either league, and is currently leading both. While on the bases, he also can wreak havoc; you better believe that when Crawford is on the bases, it takes pitchers off of their game. He can score from first on a double, and although there isn't a stat for this (there isn't...is there?), he causes a lot of double plays to simply become groundouts due to his speed. Crawford is also among the league leaders in runs scored every year. On defense, he uses his speed to make plays, and has made just 20 errors in LF throughout his career, which shows just how multi-dimensional he really is.
19- Vladimir Guerrero: Right Fielder, Los Angeles Angels
Thinking about every player on the list, this is the pick that probably will draw the most scrutiny, but I will try and defend it. Do you want consistency out of your third hitter? I will show you consistency, and it's first name is Vladimir. Everyone knows how good he was when he played for the Expos, but that was a while ago, so I'll stick to his numbers with the Angels. 2004: 39 HR, 126 RBI, .327 BA. 2005: 32 HR, 108 RBI, .317 BA. 2006: 33 HR, 116 RBI, .329 BA. 2007: 27 HR, 125 HR, .324 BA. 2008: 27 HR, 91 RBI, .303 BA. He also has a OBP of .387, career-wise. Who cares if he is 34? He can still hit with the best! But what separates him is his defensive ability. Yes, he no longer has the arm that he once had, although if he did, he would be ranked higher on here. The reason he doesn't have a ton of assists is that, well, people stopped running on him. But in doing so, Guererro has saved countless extra bases, has turned countless doubles into singles, and has made countless people think twice about taking that extra base. There are very few guys who have the defensive-presence to consistently change the way runners advance on the basepaths so much that they actually change a game through both defense and offense. Vlad might not be what he once was, but he is still an elite player.
18- Jose Reyes: Shortstop, New York Mets
One of the most exciting players in baseball, Reyes is also one of the best. He has good power at the top of the lineup: 47 HR in the last three years. He drives in a good amount of runs at the top of the lineup: 206 over that same time period. He steals bases: 198 in those same three years, good for first in baseball. He also has hit a ton of doubles (103) and scored an amazing amount of runs (354). But perhaps what is most telling is his effect on the rest of the Mets. When he struggled, so did the Mets, which can be seen in the back-to-back collapses; a big contributing factor in both was Reyes not producing. Of course, the flip side is that Reyes is not yet a superstar, and while he is a top 20 player, he will need to step his game up if he wants to move into the top 10.
Manny Ramirez: Left Fielder, Los Angeles Dodgers
Manny is a great player. If he was ranked, it would probably be around here. But guess what? He also took steroids, and so he gets to be unranked. There is no denying that he is a great player, but, well, I'm sick of steroids and don't want to rank him. He's not the only one, either, so keep reading and a small pattern might develop...
17- Alfonso Soriano: Left Fielder, Chicago Cubs
Yeah, he's not having a very good season. And yeah, he's probably overrated. But no one can deny that Soriano is one of the most talented players in all of baseball. The big problems people have with him are strikeouts and a low batting average. As crazy as it might sound, his strikeouts are actually going down and he is drawing more walks now than he did earlier in his career. And while a low average isn't ideal for a leadoff hitter, Soriano isn't your prototypical leadoff hitter. He still is one of the best base stealers around, and even though his steals might be down, his success-rate is way higher; since his 40-40 year, he has stolen 45 bases and has been caught just 11 times. While his fielding is currently the worst year of his career, you have to remember that he also has a total of 45 assists the last three years; which is an incredible number. Combine his speed and arm with the power we all know that he has, and you have a very good LF.
16- Prince Fielder: First Baseman, Milwaukee Brewers
Prince is an excellent hitter. He is a likeable guy. And he is one of the best 1B in the game today. But is he a top 15 player? No, and the reason for that is his defense. Yes, it is improving, but until he shows he can consistently play first base above-average, he is going to be stuck around here. Don't believe me? His error totals the last three years: 11, 14, 17. And while his defense is much improved this year, he hasn't even played 100 games yet. He also has never had a season where he hit over .300, so again, it looks good now, but he needs to prove that the consistency is there. In a couple of years, Fielder probably will be a top ten player; but much like a lot of other guys, not just yet.
15- Mark Teixeira: First Baseman, New York Yankees
Tex is in a very interesting situation, perception-wise. Before he went to New York, he was very underrated, having played for Texas, Atlanta and Los Angeles. He had played well, but at the same time, the only legitimate major-market team he played for is on the West Coast. However, due to the magnitude of the contract that he signed combined with him becoming a Yankee, he became overrated. He is a very good player, and the difference between him and Fielder (much like Youkilis-Cabrera) is the defense. He has multiple Gold Gloves, and while they are an overrated award, he has a career fielding percentage of .996; he hasn't had one below .996 since 2005, and it currently sits at .999. I'd say those are pretty solid numbers. He is no slouch at the plate, either, and has gone for seasons of at least 30 HR, at least 100 RBI, and at least a .300 BA in four of the last five seasons. Teixeira might not be the most-liked guy around, but there is no denying how good of a baseball player he is.
14- Carlos Beltran: Center Fielder, New York Mets
When healthy, Beltran is one of the most complete players in baseball, but the question is there about his health. Although his hitting is what he's mostly known for, the reason he is such a good player is his defense. As one of the best center fielders in baseball, Beltran is currently on a streak of back-to-back-to-back Gold Gloves- with multiple Silver Sluggers coming in that time, as well. Discounting his first year in New York (the adjustment year, it happens to nearly everyone who signs with the Yankees or Mets), his lows so far have been 27 HR, 112 RBI and a .275 BA. He also can steal bases, and has gone for more than 23 each of the last two years. Before he got hurt, Beltran was looking at a potential career year as he was hitting .336- which was near the top of the National League, and 40 RBI in 62 games. Not bad, eh?
13- Brian McCann: Catcher, Atlanta Braves
If not for a certain other catcher who also happens to be playing right now, McCann would be talked about as a once-in-a-generation guy behind the plate. Yet as it is, and unfortunately for him, he's merely an afterthought in the discussion of best catchers. What does he have going for him? He hardly strikes out: never more than 74 in a season. He is a very good run producer: 344 in less than four total years. He has good power for a catcher: 81 HR in those same three years. And he's a great hitter: .298 career batting average. But what is starting to set McCann apart is his defense. He never was a great catcher until this year, but his defense is finally starting to catch up to his hitting. His CERA (catcher's ERA) is also way down, and credit is due to McCann, who does a great job with Atlanta's pitching staff. He's an elite player, and if not for that guy in Minnesota, he would be so much more respected. Oh well.
12- Ryan Braun: Left Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers
A lot of people might not like Braun this high, but he is a very good player. Where do I start? He's a career .305 hitter who can hit singles, doubles (88 in less than three years), triples (17 in less than three years) and home runs (91 in three years, career low of 34). He can drive in runs with the best of them, and it isn't like he plays in such a great lineup. The aspect of Braun's game that was holding him back was his fielding. Well, not anymore it isn't. In left field, he's found his position. How many errors do you think he had last year, in his first year there? Ten? Twelve? Try zero! Braun made a grand-total of zero errors in 149 games. In his two years in LF, he has 15 assists and just two errors. If he keeps this up, he could be a top five player in a couple years.
11- Roy Halladay: Starting Pitcher, Toronto Blue Jays
Halladay is a great pitcher. He is a fantastic pitcher. He is a phenomenal pitcher. He is a tremendous pitcher. Give him whatever praise that you want, but he still isn't getting in the top ten. Yes, I know he plays in the AL East, and all that does is give more power to him. But at the same time, a pitcher goes every five days, and a good hitter is a force every day; so in my opinion, the hitter gets the edge. Even so, Halladay is a great pitcher, and if he keeps this pace up, he could very well be a Hall of Fame contender someday. It might seem far-fetched as of now, but it remains a possibility. Halladay is sooooo close to a top ten player (he more than likely is, actually...) it's crazy, but he just doesn't dominate quite like the two pitchers ahead of him.
10- Justin Morneau: First Baseman, Minnesota Twins
Once again, your eyes are correct: Justin Morneau is a top ten player. Don't believe me? Let's look at some of his stats. People don't like his defense? Career-wise, he has a .996 fielding percentage; it currently sits at .999, and he has made just one error this year. Yeah, that's better than Pujols. People don't like his hitting? Since he became a full-time starter, he has 452 RBI in less than four full seasons. Don't think those numbers are legitimate? Since 04, he has more RBI than Pujols. In that same amount of time, Morneau also has 114 HR. He also has hit over .300 in four of the last four years; the man can flat-out hit. Finally, everyone talks about Pujols as a Triple Crown candidate, yet nobody ever mentions Morneau as a possibility...ever...at all. How are his chances looking? First in the AL in HR. First in the AL in RBI. Tenth in the AL in BA. So no, it probably won't happen, but Morneau is definitely a better player than he gets credit for.
9- Tim Lincecum: Starting Pitcher, San Francisco Giants
Say what you want about him, but you can't deny how good of a year he is having coming off of a Cy Young-winning season. His career record is 36-13; he went 7-5 as a rookie. I'll do the math for you and find the last two season's records; 18-5; 11-3. He has 598 strikeouts in 522 innings, and has walked just 189 batters; that's an incredible K/BB ratio. But what about the most important stat for a pitcher, ERA? 2.91 career ERA. 2.62 ERA last yea; 2.30 ERA this year. Among active starting pitchers, do you know where his career ERA ranks? First. Ahead of everyone else. Seriously. Who cares what division he plays in? Tim Lincecum is 25, and in just his third year in the Majors, he's absolutely dominating the National League. Roy Halladay is great, but it seems as though Lincecum has the edge right now, ever so slightly.
8- David Wright: Third Baseman, New York Mets
He has two Gold Gloves in the last two years. He has two Silver Sluggers in the last two years. Has anyone been the dual-threat that Wright has been? Yes, he isn't the greatest fielder in the world, but he makes plenty of plays. I know Gold Gloves aren't all that legitimate anymore, but can it be so easy to win them back-to-back? He is currently hitting .323, and that might be the most impressive feat in all of baseball. His protection in the lineup is Jeff Francoeur, Daniel Murphy and Luis Castillo; does anyone realize how good of a hitter Wright is to do this with the guys around him?! Yes, his power numbers are way down, but what are his career stats like? 2005: 27 HR, 102 RBI, .306 BA. 2006: 26 HR, 116 RBI, .311 BA. 2007: 30 HR, 107 RBI, .325 BA. 2008: 33 HR, 124 RBI, .302 BA. So yeah, I like to consider Wright a legitimate hitter. If his power numbers were up, he could be a top five or six player, but as it is, eighth is no small accomplishment.
7- Chase Utley: Second Baseman, Philadalphia Phillies
If not for his sub-par fielding, there is no doubt in my mind that he would be higher. Utley is a great leader. He is a very good at manufacturing runs. He is very good at driving in runs. He is very good at hitting home runs. He is very good at hitting. He is very good at knitting...just wanted to see if you were still paying attention. My point is that Utley is the kind of player that every team needs. He plays hard and he plays well. I honestly don't know of anyone who could find 10 or so guys who are better than Utley, so I'll just wrap this up now...
6- Hanley Ramirez: Shortstop, Florida Marlins
Once again, this is a case of a great hitter who would be higher on the list if only he was a more reliable fielder. Utley and Ramirez have a lot of similarities, but it ultimately came down to their positions: Utley is a great 2B, Ramirez is a great SS; so Ramirez gets the edge right now. Well, what exactly to say about Hanley Ramirez? He steals bases. He can hit with power. He can drive in runs. He is very good at getting on base. He is an awesome hitter. Basically, in conclusion, Ramirez is fast on his way to becoming a top three player in baseball. In a couple of years, don't be surprised to see him up there.
Alex Rodriguez: Third Baseman, New York Yankees
Once again, this is around where A-Rod would be if he were ranked. But I'm not gonna rank him, and I think we all know why. I've previously written about A-Rod, steroids and the effects on Major League Baseball, so you can go read that if you want. Moving on...
5- Adrian Gonzalez: First Baseman, San Diego Padres
Gonzalez is right there with Brad Hawpe for contention of the most underrated player, and I firmly believe that he is a top five player. Let me make my case before you jump all over me. On defense, he is a Gold Glover. He also is one of the best first basemen in either league, so that's one aspect of his game that is complete. His hitting numbers might not seem great, but he is a much better hitter than his numbers indicate. There are two reasons for this. The first one is where he plays; Petco Park is dead last in runs for park factor, and it's last by a lot. It's not easy to score there, and Gonzalez still puts up awesome RBI numbers. Next reason? His protection, and Gonzalez is the one guy in baseball who pitchers can literally do whatever they want to, because his lineup does next to nothing for him. Want some proof? San Diego's lineup last night was, as follows: Tony Gwynn Junior, David Eckstein, Gonzalez, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Chase Headley, Kyle Blanks, Henry Blanco, Everth Cabrera, pitcher. Eckstein is hitting .264, the rest are all under .250- except for Gwynn Jr. who is at .288, but doesn't qualify. You still think Gonzalez isn't this good? If he played in Boston, New York or Philadelphia, with those lineups, his reputation would be huge, and his numbers would be astronomical.
4- Johan Santana: Starting Pitcher, New York Mets
There you have it, the highest ranked pitcher comes in at fourth. How dominant is he? Since Santana became a starter (220 games), he hasn't had an ERA over 3.33. He had one year at 3.07, and five under 3.00. I'd say that is domination. Santana also has a career record of 120-59; that's a winning percentage of almost 70. That is domination. How crazy is it knowing that when this guy is pitching, if he gets 30 decisions, he could get you 23 wins? He has never walked more than 66 guys in a season, but is also working on a sixth consecutive year of at least 200 strikeouts. That's pretty dominant. He also is an innings-eater, and is going for a sixth consecutive season of 200 or more innings, as well. Santana has played for good teams, but at the same time, he is a big key to the success. A truly great pitcher is hard to come by, but Santana seems to be one.
3- Ichiro Suzuki: Right Fielder, Seattle Mariners
Is Ichiro the most overlooked player of this decade? It's very well possible. Where should I start with him? He is a career .333 hitter, which happens to be 28th all-time. As a 35 year old, he is hitting .366; that's crazy. How is he in the field? How about eight straight Gold Gloves! If he had played in the Major Leagues his whole career, he could have 12 or 13, which would place in the range of Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente. He hasn't played a season in the Majors and not won a Gold Glove...think about that for a bit. What else can Ichiro do? He steals bases- career low? 31. He hits for a little bit of power in the leadoff slot. He is among the league leaders in triples every year. But mostly he's just a hitting and fielding machine. Yeah, because that's such a small accomplishment. You might not like him, you might not evaluate him, and you might not realize how good he is, but Ichiro, at 35, is a top three player.
2- Joe Mauer: Catcher, Minnesota Twins
Remember that guy we were talking about with Brian McCann? Well, Mauer is that guy. Where to start with him? He has two batting titles as a catcher; he's also the only catcher in American League history with one. His career batting average is .322, his career OBP is .403. Yeah, those are correct numbers for a 26 year old catcher. He walks more than he strikes out- career walks: 329, career strikeouts: 274. The one shortcoming with his hitting was power, but he has 17 home runs this year, which is the highest of his career. So it seems safe to say that he is now can hit for power. And his defense? He's a Gold Glover who is arguably the best defensive catcher in all of baseball. He does a great job with the pitching staff, he has helped mature all of the young pithers (seriously, who else could miss the playoffs by one run with a rotation of Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins and Nick Blackburn?) and he is durable enough to play around 145 games a year. There is no denying it; Joe Mauer is an incredible player.
1- Albert Pujols: First Baseman, St. Louis Cardinals
Alright seriously, does anything need to be said?
Well, there you have it. I know you disagree with my list, so let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!