Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Best Players in Baseball 2008

Choosing the best players in any sport is always an iffy proposition.

And baseball is no different. The problem is that "best" is an impossible term to navigate. Is the best player the most talented athlete or the man who produces the most? And how do you measure a pitcher against a hitter when they are on opposite sides of the same coin?

So I have decided to fragment the proceedings a bit. Their are 9 fairly diverse positions in baseball that attract different kinds of athletes. The skill-set of a Shortstop differs greatly from the skill-set of a Catcher or a Left-fielder. Therefore I will be naming the top ten players at each position.

And as for that tricky word "best", you can just assume that if player A is higher than player B on the list that you would rather have Player A on your team for the immediate and near future. I know that "immediate and near future" is very vague and it is deliberately so. The time period you control each player is crucial to choosing which one you would rather have. If it were only for next year, then an older, yet talented player like Alex Rodriguez would have an unfair advantage. And if it were the rest of their career, then a younger player with more upside like Evan Longoria would have an unfair advantage.


Catcher
10. Ryan Doumit - Pittsburgh Pirates
9. Mike Napoli - Los Angeles Angels
8. A.J Pierzynski - Chicago White Sox
7. Yadier Molina - St. Louis Cardinals
6. Dioner Navarro - Tampa Bay Rays
5. Victor Martinez - Cleveland Indians
4. Russell Martin - Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Geovany Soto - Chicago Cubs
2. Brian McCann - Atlanta Braves
1. Joe Mauer- Minnesota Twins
First-Base

10. Prince Fielder - Milwaukee Brewers
9. Carlos Pena - Tampa Bay Rays
8. Adrian Gonzalez - San Diego Padres
7. Ryan Howard - Philadelphia Phillies
6. Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers
5. Kevin Youkilis - Boston Red Sox
4. Justin Morneau - Minnesota Twins
3. Lance Berkman - Houston Astros
2. Mark Teixeira - New York Yankees
1. Albert Pujols - St.Louis Cardinals

Second-Base

10. Brian Roberts - Baltimore Orioles
9. Howie Kendrick - Los Angeles Angels
8. Kelly Johnson - Atlanta Braves
7. Jose Lopez - Seattle Mariners
6. Brandon Phillips - Cincinatti Reds
5. Mark De Rosa - Chicago Cubs
4. Dan Uggla - Florida Marlins
3. Ian Kinsler - Texas Rangers
2. Dustin Pedroia - Boston Red Sox
1. Chase Utley - Philadelphia Phillies

Third-Base

10. Alex Gordon - Kansas City Royals
9. Garett Atkins - Colorado Rockies
8. Mark Reynolds - Arizona Diamondbacks
7. Adrian Beltre - Seattle Mariners
6. Ryan Zimmerman - Washington Nationals
5. Aramis Ramirez - Chicago Cubs
4. Chipper Jones - Atlanta Braves
3. Evan Longoria - Tampa Bay Rays
2. Alex Rodriguez - New York Yankees
1. David Wright - New York Mets

Shortstop

10. Alexei Ramirez - Chicago White Sox
9. Rafael Furcal - Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Stephen Drew - Arizona Diamondbacks
7. Troy Tulowitzki - Colorado Rockies
6. Michael Young - Texas Rangers
5. J.J Hardy - Milwaukee Brewers
4. Derek Jeter - New York Yankees
3. Jimmy Rollins - Philadelphia Phillies
2. Jose Reyes - New York Mets
1. Hanley Ramirez - Florida Marlins

Left-field

10. Raul Ibanez - Philadelphia Phillies
9. Carlos Lee - Houston Astros
8. Adam Dunn - Free Agent
7. Alfonso Soriano - Chicago Cubs
6. Carl Crawford - Tampa Bay Rays
5. Carlos Quentin - Chicago White Sox
4. Matt Holliday - Oakland Athletics
3. Jason Bay - Boston Red Sox
2. Manny Ramirez - Free Agent
1. Ryan Braun - Milwaukee Brewers

Center-field

10. Chris Young - Arizona Diamondbacks
9. Nate McLouth - Pittsburgh Pirates
8. Shane Victorino - Philadelphia Phillies
7. Torri Hunter - Los Angeles Angels
6. Matt Kemp - Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Vernon Wells - Toronto Blue Jays
4. Curtis Granderson - Detroit Tigers
3. Carlos Beltran - New York Mets
2. Josh Hamilton - Texas Rangers
1. Grady Sizemore - Cleveland Indians

Right-field

10. Hunter Pence - Houston Astros
9. Andre Ethier - Los Angeles Dodgers
8. J.D Drew - Boston Red Sox
7. Magglio Ordonez - Detroit Tigers
6. Alexis Rios - Toronto Blue Jays
5. Nick Markakis - Baltimore Orioles
4. Jermaine Dye - Chicago White Sox
3. Vladimir Guerro - Los Angeles Angels
2. Ichiro Suzuki - Seattle Mariners
1. Ryan Ludwick - St. Louis Cardinals

Designated Hitter

5. Jason Giambi - Free Agent
4. Jack Cust - Oakland Athletics
3. Milton Bradley - Free Agent
2. David Ortiz - Boston Red Sox
1. Aubrey Huff - Baltimore Orioles

Starting Pitcher

15. Roy Oswalt - Houston Astros
14. Ervin Santana - Los Angeles Angels
13. Jon Lester - Boston Red Sox
12. Cliff Lee - Cleveland Indians
11. Dan Haren - Arizona Diamondbacks
10. Carlos Zambrano - Chicago Cubs
9. Edinson Volquez - Cincinatti Reds
8. Scott Kazmir - Tampa Bay Rays
7. Cole Hamels - Philadelphia Phillies
6. Roy Halladay - Toronto Blue Jays
5. Tim Lincecum - San Francisco Giants
4. Jake Peavy - San Diego Padres
3. Johan Santana - New York Mets
2. Brandon Webb - Arizona Diamondbacks
1. CC Sabathia - New York Yankees

Relief Pitcher

10. Dan Wheeler - Tampa Bay Rays
9. Kerry Wood - Cleveland Indians
8. Bobby Jenks - Chicago White Sox
7. Carlos Marmol - Chicago Cubs
6. Mariano Rivera - New York Yankees
5. Jonathan Papelbon - Boston Red Sox
4. Joakim Soria - Kansas City Royals
3. Brad Lidge - Philadelphia Phillies
2. Francisco Rodriguez - New York Mets
1. Joe Nathan - Minnesota Twins

I think this list represents the best that I can do as far as comparing players to others. When it comes ranking players overall then it gets a little more murky. If I were to draw a metaphorical line in each list to represent the "elite" players from the "good" players it would look a little like this:

C goes 4 deep
1B goes 5 deep
2B goes 4 deep
3B goes 5 deep
SS goes 3 deep
LF goes 5 deep
CF goes 4 deep
RF goes 4 deep
DH goes 3 deep

Pitchers are a different breed altogether and can be illuminated further in books and books of analysis and information. That is not something I tend to get into this week. Be sure to tell me how wrong I am in my analysis and offer your own lists.

Of course I would remiss if I didn't mention one other little thing that happened this Christmas week.

New York (AL) signs 1B Mark Teixeira to 8 year, $180 million deal
What else can you say but "wow"? Wow. The Yankees have spent $430 million on 4 players this off-season (they re-signed Chien Ming Wang, remember? An underrated move if their ever was one). That is approximately $410 million more than my Cleveland Indians spent and about $350 million more than my Cleveland Indians projected payroll for 2009. There is nothing I can really say about the Yankees. They clearly operate in a different plane than any one else. So good job, New York. Mark Teixeira, The Machine will finally be joining the team for him: The New York Machine.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Happy Kwanzaa to all. I hope you all got what you wished for.

I know Yankees fans did.

3 comments:

Curiousgab said...

Thanks for naming a couple token Pirates, what a shambles this organization has become

mark cunningham said...

great blog you have going here. as much as you love CC, I have a feeling his ERA is going to skyrocket in the Bronx. expectations are for what he did in milwaukee and that is unrealistic. plus, im not sure whether the new stadium will favor hitters or pitchers?

ah, i cant wait for baseball to return!

A.G.B said...

Thank you!

Picking the number 1 starting pitcher was the hardest. In the end, I just couldn't pick against a left-handed pitcher in his prime who is coming off two Cy Young worthy seasons and can seemingly pitch an unlimited number of innings.

It may have seemed like a nostalgic and biased decision and very well could have been. But I tried to be as impartial as I possibly could be.