There is a significant amount of elite talent in the major leagues right now. MLB currently has a number of future Hall of Famers that are currently in their prime.
One of the best things about the players currently in MLB is that the talent is not all concentrated at the top. It is amazing that even the 100th-best player in baseball right now has a legitimate shot at putting up All-Star-caliber numbers this season.
Pinning down the top 100 players in MLB in 2012 is not an easy task. The differences between some of the spots on this list are incredibly small. For example, the 30th-best player and the 20th-ranked player could easily be guys that could change spots a few months into the year.
Make sure that is kept in mind when reading the list. The list takes into account performance from the past few seasons as well as projected future performance.
2011 Stats: 1-0, 2.89 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 15 K (9.1 innings pitched)
Believe it or not, this was actually one of the more difficult decisions to make on this list. Matt Moore has not even thrown 20 innings in the major leagues, but he has shown enough promise that he makes this list.
Moore has the makings of a future ace—and the future could be very soon. He may be the best pitcher in the Tampa Bay Rays' rotation this year.
2011 Stats: 10-10, 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 197 K (198 innings pitched)
Matt Garza may have had a .500 record in 2011, but he is a much better pitcher than that record indicates.
In his first season with the Chicago Cubs, Garza looked like a top-of-the-rotation starter and lived up to what was expected of him.
2011 Stats: .293/.373/.580, 9 HR, 25 RBI, 7 SB (171 plate appearances)
Brett Lawrie may have only 43 games in the major leagues under his belt, but he looked like a bona fide star in those appearances.
Not only did Lawrie feast on American League East pitching as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, but he also played phenomenal defense at third base. He was worth 0.9 dWAR in his limited playing time.
2011 Stats: .264/.323/.393, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 40 SB (568 plate appearances)
At one point Cameron Maybin was one of the top prospects in baseball. He was also the centerpiece of the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera from the Florida (now Miami) Marlins to the Detroit Tigers.
Maybin is now 24 years old and seems to have put things together. There are big things ahead of Maybin, and the San Diego Padres were confident enough in him to sign him to a five-year extension.
2011 Stats: .259/.344/.425, 11 HR, 44 RBI, 14 SB (454 plate appearances)
There was a time when the Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley was an elite second baseman, but he is no longer in that tier. Injuries and time have taken their toll on Utley.
That does not mean that he is no longer a top-100 player. Utley is still a very good second baseman and is one of the better players in baseball when he can stay on the field.
2011 Stats: .282/.351/.469, 18 HR, 86 RBI, 1 SB (553 plate appearances)
Miguel Montero has emerged on the scene as one of the best offensive catchers in the major leagues. He was a big part of the Arizona Diamondbacks' success last year.
Not only was Montero able to produce when he was at the plate, but he was also incredibly good behind it, as he threw out a National League-leading 40 percent of attempted baserunners.
2011 Stats: .307/.341/.432, 10 HR, 66 RBI, 22 SB (715 plate appearances)
The Chicago Cubs have found their shortstop of the future (as well as the present) in Starlin Castro.
He took huge strides forward between 2010 and 2011. Castro has some off-field issues that he will need to deal with this year, but the Cubs are hoping that they won't impact his play.
2011 Statistics: .239/.351/.457, 27 HR, 79 RBI, 5 SB (658 plate appearances)
There are not many catchers in recent memory who have had the raw power that the Cleveland Indians' Carlos Santana has. He is coming up on his prime years and should continue to get better.
Santana does a fantastic job of taking walks; he took a base-on-balls 97 times in 2011. If he can bring up his batting average in 2012, Santana will be an even better player than he has been.
2011 Stats: 13-6, 2.96 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 90 K (152 innings pitched)
There are a number of people who are not fans of Jair Jurrjens because he consistently outpitches his FIP and his xFIP.
However, Jurrjens' numbers from the past two seasons are just too hard to ignore. Other than an aberration in 2010, the Atlanta Brave has looked great on the mound the past few years.
2011 Stats: .297/.350/.441, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 1 SB (363 plate appearances)
David Freese only played 97 games during the 2011 regular season, but his performance in the the St. Louis Cardinals' 18 postseason games helped earn him a spot on this list.
Freese hit one of the biggest home runs in World Series history and showed a ton of promise in the playoffs. 2012 should be a huge breakout year for Freese, and he will justify this aggressive ranking.
2011 Stats: .262/.328/.450, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 1 SB (551 plate appearances)
The first two seasons of Matt Wieters' career showed glimpses of all of the potential that he had, but 2011 was the first time that Wieters truly shined.
Wieters put up a very solid season for the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 and was selected as an All-Star. Additionally, Wieters picked up a Gold Glove for his talents behind the dish.
2011 Stats: .268/.338/.399, 16 HR, 63 RBI, 30 SB (631 plate appearances)
Just because Jimmy Rollins is no longer an MVP-caliber player doesn't mean he isn't one of the better shortstops in baseball.
Rollins is one of the many reasons for the Philadelphia Phillies' success. He should have a few more years of high-level production left.
2011 Stats: .283/.371/.383, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 1 SB (472 plate appearances)
Carlos Ruiz's numbers certainly do not do him justice. He has been a huge part of the Philadelphia Phillies the last few seasons.
In the past two years Ruiz has received MVP votes. Ruiz is one of the better catchers in all of baseball, and he does an incredible job of handling the Phillies' pitching staff.
2011 Stats: 11-13, 2.83 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 146 K (216.1 innings pitched)
A move from the Seattle Mariners to the Detroit Tigers turned an above-average season into a fantastic one for Doug Fister.
In the appearances that Fister made with the Tigers, he posted an absurd 229 ERA+. If Fister can continue pitching at a very high level, the Tigers' rotation will have an outstanding one-two punch.
2011 Stats: .254/.345/.427, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 13 SB (447 plate appearances)
The past few seasons have been tough for the New York Mets' David Wright. He has seen his average drop from over .300 to around .250 and has seen his power come and go.
Even with all of Wright's struggles, he managed to have a 114 OPS+ last season. With the fences moving in at Citi Field, Wright should be primed for a big year.
2011 Stats: DNP (Tommy John surgery)
Placing Adam Wainwright on this list presented a bit of a quagmire. He was an elite pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals before he was injured last year, but it is not known at what level he will perform now that he has returned from Tommy John surgery.
If Wainwright is able to return to his previous level of production, then this ranking will be very wrong and he will deserve to move up a number of spots.
2011 Stats: .309/.398/.554, 29 HR, 96 RBI, 1 SB (605 plate appearances)
David Ortiz looked like he was entering a decline a few seasons ago, but it turned out to just be a bad year. Big Papi no longer has 50-home run power, but he is still a big threat at the plate.
Ortiz is going to once again be a major part of the Boston Red Sox lineup. He will be counted on as a run-producer.
2011 Stats: .243/.321/.364, 15 HR, 44 RBI, 40 SB (681 plate appearances)
There is one flaw in Drew Stubbs' game—and if he is able to correct it, then he will fly up a list like this. Stubbs has issues with strikeouts.
However, the Cincinnati Reds outfielder has shown that he can put up a 20/20 in addition to playing outstanding defense. He has been worth 4.0 dWAR during the first three years of his career.
2011 Stats: 16-12, 3.12 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 197 K (202 innings pitched)
The Washington Nationals were very impressed with Gio Gonzalez, so they traded a boatload of prospects to the Oakland Athletics to acquire him this winter.
Gonzalez will pair up with a number of good pitchers to give the Nationals a very formidable starting rotation. He should likely benefit from the move to the National League.
2011 Stats: 21-4, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 198 K (222 innings pitched)
The New York Yankees were never really able to find a spot for Ian Kennedy in their starting rotation and decided to deal him. This was the Arizona Diamondbacks' gain.
Kennedy put together an outstanding year in 2011 and led the Diamondbacks to the National League West title.
2011 Stats: .269/.350/.468, 20 HR, 49 RBI, 9 SB (515 plate appearances)
There are not that many second basemen in the major leagues that have great pop in their bats. Rickie Weeks does, and he has hit 49 home runs over the past two years for the Milwaukee Brewers.
A strong first half earned Rickie Weeks a spot on the National League All-Star team last season, and he is definitely one of the top second basemen in the NL.
2011 Stats: .236/.331/.420, 20 HR, 71 RBI, 22 SB (659 plate appearances)
Back-to-back 20/20 seasons is no small feat for a Major League Baseball player. Chris Young has been able to accomplish that over the past two seasons.
Young does get held back a bit by the fact that he does not hit for a great average, but he does have a good eye at the plate, which is why he has averaged 77 walks over the past two years. Additionally, Young has shown some great defensive abilities in the Arizona Diamondbacks outfield.
2011 Stats: .253/.346/.488, 33 HR, 116 RBI, 1 SB (644 plate appearances)
Ryan Howard was another player who was very difficult to place on the list. His Achilles tendon injury will keep him out for an unknown amount of time.
It is uncertain what impact the injury will have on Howard's ability at the plate. Howard may also be limited defensively as a result of this injury. Depending on when Howard comes back to the Philadelphia Phillies and how he performs, he could prove this ranking wrong.
2011 Stats: .285/.338/.464, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 14 SB (583 plate appearances)
Things are looking incredibly bright for the Los Angeles Angels in 2012. Howie Kendrick is expected to play a big role once again this year.
Kendrick is one of the better second basemen in the major leagues. He was selected to his first All-Star game last season for his solid performance.
2011 Stats: .269/.310/.491, 30 HR, 80 RBI (567 plate appearances)
J.J. Hardy suffered a power outage during the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He was able to turn the lights back on in 2011.
Hardy showed that he could once again hit for power and belted 30 home runs last season. There is not much to look forward to in Baltimore this year, but Hardy should provide some excitement.
2011 Stats: .306/.361/.510, 26 HR, 93 RBI, 1 SB (626 plate appearances)
Aramis Ramirez turned down his option with the Chicago Cubs in an effort to get one last big payday. He got it from the Milwaukee Brewers.
The addition of Ramirez will be a big one for the Brew Crew. His bat will help fill the void that was left by the departure of Prince Fielder.
2011 Stats: .302/.383/.543, 7 HR, 25 RBI (149 plate appearances)
Ike Davis was off to a roaring start in 2011 before his season was ended prematurely by an ankle injury. Last season it appeared as if Davis was going to break out, but his injury prevented that.
There are big expectations for Davis this year. New York Mets manager Terry Collins thinks that Davis has the potential to hit 40 home runs. Davis is one of the players who could quickly move up this list in the future if he lives up to expectations.
2011 Stats: 1-2, 44 SV, 1.91 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 60 K (61.1 innings pitched)
There is no player who has been more effective in the closer's role than Mariano Rivera. Even at age 42, the longtime New York Yankee is still the best closer in the major leagues.
This season could mark the last season in Rivera's storied career. Rivera is a dominant closer who is well on his way to Cooperstown.
2011 Stats: 13-7, 3.56 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 156 K (194.2 innings pitched)
When the St. Louis Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright for the year in 2011, they needed someone to step up. Jaime Garcia was able to do that for the Cardinals.
Garcia pitched well in his second full year in the majors; he is young and will continue to get better. The Cardinals are looking for him to continue his ascent into the upper echelon of starting pitchers.
2011 Stats: 16-12, 2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 225 K (249.1 innings pitched)
After a few rough seasons in Tampa Bay, James Shields really turned the corner in 2011. He looked like an elite pitcher.
Shields finished third in American League Cy Young voting as a result of his outstanding performance last year.
2011 Stats: .287/.360/.368, 3 HR, 30 RBI (333 plate appearances)
Since the Minnesota Twins moved to Target Field, Joe Mauer's power has declined. He dealt with injuries in 2011 that cost him half of the season.
When he is healthy, Mauer has the potential to put up MVP-caliber numbers. He may not play at that level anymore, but he can still be an All-Star catcher.
2011 Stats: 18-6, 1.44 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 276 K (232 innings pitched)
The decision to rank Yu Darvish was one that took a lot of extra consideration. He put up outstanding numbers in Japan, but it is unknown how he will do in MLB.
Darvish will be a key piece of the Texas Rangers' rotation, and there are no indications that he will end up being a bust. His performance in Japan is hard to overlook.
2011 Stats: .263/.312/.509, 29 HR, 87 RBI, 9 SB (513 plate appearances)
The Texas Rangers had a great find when they acquired Nelson Cruz from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2006.
Cruz has emerged as a top outfielder and has thrived in the Rangers lineup. Texas' back-to-back trips to the World Series were aided by Cruz's insane postseason performances. He has 14 home runs in the last two postseasons.
2011 Stats: .280/.319/.466, 25 HR, 83 RBI, 12 SB (618 plate appearances)
When the Atlanta Braves called the Baltimore Orioles about Adam Jones, they were met with staunch resistance from the Orioles. The team did not want to move Jones unless it got a huge package in return.
Baltimore had good reason for wanting to hold on to Jones. He has emerged as one of the game's premier outfielders.
2011 Stats: .301/.412/.547, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 2 SB (587 plate appearances)
When he split the 2010 season between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees, it appeared as if fans were witnessing the rapid decline of Lance Berkman.
Berkman proved that was not the case with his outstanding 2011 season with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was an MVP candidate last season. St. Louis is hoping that he can maintain that level of performance.
2011 Stats: .284/.368/.389, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 3 SB (185 plate appearances)
A gruesome leg injury cut Buster Posey's season short last year and deprived fans of seeing one of the best young players in the game.
The 2010 NL Rookie of the Year is looking to come back strong in 2012. Posey is a solid defensive catcher, but the San Francisco Giant will spend a decent amount of time at first base in an attempt to keep him healthy and fresh.
2011 Stats: .259/.344/.390, 8 HR, 36 RBI, 12 SB (358 plate appearances)
A player who can put up a 20/20 year while batting .300 is very valuable. Shin-Soo Choo has been able to do that for the Cleveland Indians for two of the past three years.
The 2011 season did not go according to plan for Choo, as he missed a lot of time due to a few injuries. He is still a top outfielder, though, and should return to his high level of production this year.
2011 Stats: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI, 6 SB (689 plate appearances)
Michael Young is one of those players who do not get all of the attention they deserve from the general public. For his career, Young is a .304 hitter.
He does nothing but produce—and Young has been selected to seven All-Star teams. The Texas Rangers realize how important of a player he is, and they are more than happy to have him.
2011 Stats: .314/.370/.502, 22 HR, 97 RBI, 8 SB (668 plate appearances)
Now that Hunter Pence is out of Houston and in the spotlight in Philadelphia with the Phillies, he should get more attention for his great production.
Pence has proven to be a fairly consistent player throughout his career and could have a career year in 2012 since he gets to play a full season in the bandbox that is Citizens Bank Park.
2011 Stats: 11-9, 3.45 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 191 K (237.1 innings pitched)
Since joining the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004, Chris Carpenter has been a leader of the team's pitching staff and has put up great numbers.
Carpenter is starting to get up there in age, but he is still one of the better pitchers in baseball for the time being. He has mastered the art of pitching and constantly leaves hitters looking confused.
2011 Stats: 17-10, 3.52 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 207 K (207.1 innings pitched)
The Milwaukee Brewers have a great one-two punch at the top of their starting rotation. One of the pitchers responsible for that is Yovani Gallardo.
Not only is Gallardo one of the premier starting pitchers in the National League Central, but he can also produce when he comes to the plate. Gallardo has five home runs over the past two seasons.
2011 Stats: .270/.351/.466, 24 HR, 71 RBI, 3 SB (527 plate appearances)
If you are looking for a power-hitting catcher in the National League, most likely you will not need to look further than Brian McCann. He has taken home the Silver Slugger award in five of the past six seasons.
McCann has been a key presence in the Atlanta Braves lineup since his first full season in the majors in 2006.
2011 Stats: 16-6, 3.83 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 201 K (171.2 innings pitched)
Zack Greinke has not been able to match the incredibly high level of success that he had during 2009 when he won the American League Cy Young, but he is still a very good pitcher.
The Milwaukee Brewers starter is only 28 years old, and his future remains very bright.
2011 Stats: .279/.347/.361, 5 HR, 60 RBI, 37 SB (665 plate appearances)
Although he has not picked one up yet, Elvis Andrus will likely win at least one Gold Glove award before the end of his career. Andrus is a very solid defensive shortstop.
The Texas Ranger is also able to show that he is not just a glove guy. He has a fairly good offensive presence and should get better as he continues to mature.
2011 Stats: .243/.331/.429, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 36 SB (640 plate appearances)
The B.J. in Upton's name stands for Bossman Junior, and Upton has been a boss on the baseball field for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has shown a lot of potential over the years.
This season should be the one that Upton finally puts everything together and lives up to his billing as a player with 30/30 potential.
2011 Stats: 16-7, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 206 K (223.1 innings pitched)
It has become very clear that the Texas Rangers made the right choice by having C.J. Wilson move from their bullpen to the starting rotation.
Over the past two years, Wilson has established himself as a front-line starter while pitching in a very hitter-friendly park. Wilson's numbers should remain strong in Los Angeles.
2011 Stats: .258/.373/.459, 17 HR, 80 RBI, 3 SB (517 plate appearances)
Kevin Youkilis had what was arguably the worst full season of his career last year for the Boston Red Sox and still managed to put up pretty decent numbers.
The Greek God of Walks is a pretty solid run-producer, and his flexibility to play at the hot corner and at first base increases his value.
2011 Stats: .269/.328/.399, 15 HR, 70 RBI, 7 SB (684 plate appearances)
The Chicago White Sox may be in for a long season this year, but Alexei Ramirez should be a bright spot for them in 2012.
Ramirez is one of the premier shortstops in baseball, and his defense has improved significantly over the past few seasons.
2011 Stats: .269/.353/.469, 20 HR, 91 RBI, 19 SB (674 plate appearances)
Ben Zobrist has played almost every single position on a baseball field during the course of his career. Even though he has all of this flexibility, he is not a utility man.
Zorilla is a legitimate starter who can make an impact offensively. The Rays standout is able to produce runs and score them at a high rate.
2011 Stats: .256/.341/.474, 32 HR, 97 RBI, 8 SB (664 plate appearances)
The 2011 season marked the first time that the Cincinnati Reds' Jay Bruce was selected to participate in the All-Star game. He earned this honor with his solid performance.
Bruce's power has continued to emerge; he broke 30 home runs for the first time in his career last year. If he can bring his average up and cut down on his strikeouts a bit, Bruce will break the top 50 next year.
2011 Stats: 13-13, 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 191 K (204.2 innings pitched)
It is entirely possible that the best pitcher in San Francisco this season is neither Tim Lincecum nor Matt Cain.
Madison Bumgarner is just 22 years old and has gotten more and more comfortable at the major league level with every start that he makes. He is already climbing into the top tier of major league starters.
2011 Stats: .276/.362/.461, 16 HR, 62 RBI, 4 SB (428 plate appearances)
Even though he is a few years removed from being one of the top five players in baseball, the Yanks' Alex Rodriguez is still one of the better players in the game.
Rodriguez had to deal with injuries in 2011 that negatively impacted his production. A healthy A-Rod should be good for 100-plus RBI and 30-plus home runs this year.
2011 Stats: .303/.376/.502, 23 HR, 87 RBI, 17 SB (690 plate appearances)
For years Alex Gordon did not live up to the expectations that were placed on him. That all changed last season.
Gordon finally had his breakout year for the Kansas City Royals, and he should no longer have to worry about being sent down to the minors like he was in 2010. He just missed having a 20/20 year, but Gordon did win a Gold Glove.
2011 Stats: .262/.356/.537, 34 HR, 87 RBI, 5 SB (601 plate appearances)
The outfielder formerly known as Mike Stanton may have decided to change the name that he will be called, but the Miami Marlins are hoping that he does not change his performance.
Giancarlo Stanton has incredible raw power and has put it on display in the past, as he has launched a couple of bombs out of different ballparks. He is going to be a force in the majors for years to come.
2011 Stats: 12-13, 3.49 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 218 K (224.1 innings pitched)
For now David Price is the best pitcher on the Tampa Bay Rays' pitching staff. That is a big accomplishment when the team has one of the best rotations in the major leagues.
Price has been an American League All-Star in two of his first three full seasons in the major leagues. There is no reason that 2012 shouldn't be another All-Star year for Price.
2011 Stats: .259/.364/.456, 23 HR, 89 RBI, 23 SB (678 plate appearances)
When the Pittsburgh Pirates surprised many people in the baseball world by being in first place in June last year, one of the players responsible for their success was Andrew McCutchen.
McCutchen is the biggest star on the Pirates and is becoming one of the biggest stars in the league. He will be a perennial 20/20 player who can play pretty good defense.
2011 Stats: 12-11, 2.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 179 K (221.2 innings pitched)
The San Francisco Giants are trying to sign Matt Cain to an extension; that move would make a lot of sense for the team considering the fact that Cain is one of the better pitchers in the majors.
Cain has grown into an elite pitcher and has received Cy Young votes in two of the past three seasons. He did not give up an earned run in the Giants' entire 2010 postseason run to their World Series title.
2011 Stats: .279/.355/.491, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 19 SB (586 plate appearances)
Shane Victorino can do a little bit of everything on a baseball field. He has good power, he can steal bases, he led the National League with 16 triples and he is an outstanding defender.
It should be no surprise that the Phillies' Victorino is one of the top 50 players in baseball considering all of the different ways that he can contribute.
2011 Stats: .305/.349/.465, 14 HR, 65 RBI, 4 SB (518 plate appearances)
It is hard to make an argument that there is currently a better catcher in baseball than Yadier Molina. That is why the St. Louis Cardinals had no problem agreeing to a five-year, $75 million extension with him.
Molina is outstanding offensively, but he has so much value when he is behind the plate. Baserunners know to be cautious when it comes to stealing bases if Molina is behind the dish. Molina also calls an outstanding game and is great with the Cardinals' pitching staff.
2011 Stats: .300/.353/.457, 18 HR, 82 RBI, 14 SB (675 plate appearances)
Brandon Phillips is one of the top second basemen in the National League. He is has been a key member of the Cincinnati Reds for a number of years.
Phillips has won a Gold Glove each of the past two years and has also been an All-Star during those seasons. Phillips picked up a Silver Slugger award last year as well.
2011 Stats: 1-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 24 K (24 innings pitched)
It is hard to believe that Stephen Strasburg has only made 17 starts in the major leagues. He has been lights-out when he has been on the mound.
Strasburg is one of baseball's budding young stars, and the Washington Nationals are looking forward to having him for a full year in 2012.
2011 Stats: 15-9, 3.47 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 182 K (191.2 innings pitched)
Since 2008 Jon Lester has not had an ERA over 3.50. He has had consistent success pitching in the difficult American League East.
Lester has been an All-Star each of the past two years and finished in fourth place in the AL Cy Young voting in 2010. He is an important piece of the Boston Red Sox rotation and is one of the better pitchers in the game.
2011 Stats: 16-10, 3.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 192 K (238.1 innings pitched)
Things went sour for Dan Haren when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, but once he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels, Haren turned things around.
He went back to being one of the best starting pitchers in the major leagues. Haren has outstanding control and gives hitters nightmares.
2011 Stats: .259/.345/.369, 7 HR, 36 RBI, 49 SB (588 plate appearances)
Brett Gardner is one of the most underrated players in baseball, which is intriguing because he plays for the New York Yankees, a team that gets a ton of media attention.
Gardner does not hit for power, but he is a speed demon. He is also an outstanding defender and had an incredible 3.2 dWAR in 2011.
2011 Stats: .248/.341/.494, 39 HR, 111 RBI, 4 SB (684 plate appearances)
The first base position is absolutely loaded with talented sluggers. Mark Teixeira is among the ranks of the best first basemen in the majors.
A big bat in the middle of the Yankees lineup, Teixeira is a consistent run-producer who has driven in more than 100 runs every year since 2004.
2011 Stats: .320/.414/.631, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 4 SB (432 plate appearances)
The power has pretty much always been there for the Rangers' Mike Napoli, but he was never one to hit for a very high average until the 2011 season.
Napoli's batting average was fueled by a career-high .344 BABIP, so his average should drop a bit this season. Even with that, Napoli will remain a very, very good player.
2011 Stats: 14-9, 2.79 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 194 K (216 innings pitched)
The Philadelphia Phillies are a team that is loaded with aces. It is hard to believe that Cole Hamels is the third-best pitcher in their starting rotation.
Hamels finished in the National League top 10 in wins, ERA and strikeouts last season. If he does not sign an extension with the Phillies, he will be one of the most sought-after players in the 2013 MLB free-agent class.
2011 Stats: .243/.333/.379, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB (385 plate appearances)
Hanley Ramirez' value takes a bit of a hit because of his move to third base for the Marlins after they acquired Jose Reyes. There are more offensive expectations for that position.
Last season was Ramirez' worst year in the major leagues. He only played 92 games, as he had to deal with back pain and a shoulder injury.
2011 Stats: .289/.355/.443, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB (440 plate appearances)
The Washington Nationals are going to be a very good team very soon, and Ryan Zimmerman will be one of the reasons for that.
Zimmerman inked a $100 million extension this winter and will be entrenched at third base for years. He was hurt for part of the 2011 season, which hurt his performance. A healthy Ryan Zimmerman is an elite player.
2011 Stats: .300/.388/.517, 31 HR, 105 RBI, 1 SB (639 plate appearances)
With all of the great first basemen in baseball, Paul Konerko often gets overlooked. This is a shame because he is an outstanding player.
Konerko has done nothing but produce during his time with the Chicago White Sox. He has certainly deserved the MVP votes that he has gotten during the past two years.
2011 Stats: .337/.384/.493, 7 HR, 44 RBI, 39 SB (586 plate appearances)
When Jose Reyes is healthy, he is an absolute terror for opposing teams. He is a pretty good defensive shortstop, but it is the way he gets around the basepaths that makes him so valuable.
The 60-plus stolen base days are likely behind Jose Reyes, but he can still steal around 40 bases while finishing near the league lead in triples. Reyes took home the NL batting title this past season and could hit over .300 again this year.
2011 Stats: .315/.357/.552, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 2 SB (466 plate appearances)
The San Francisco Giants likely would have made the playoffs in 2011 if they had Pablo Sandoval for a full season. He is a huge part of their team.
Even though Sandoval missed a significant chunk of the season, he was able to put up some outstanding numbers. Kung-Fu Panda is one of the best third basemen in the major leagues.
2011 Stats: .295/.363/.526, 26 HR, 92 RBI, 20 SB (542 plate appearances)
Carlos Gonzalez's placement on this list speaks volumes to the talent of the players ranked above him because he is an incredible player.
The young star is a leader for the Colorado Rockies and is a legitimate 20/20 threat. Gonzalez also is a solid defender who picked up a Gold Glove for his efforts in 2010.
2011 Stats: 18-8, 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 198 K (235.2 innings pitched)
Jered Weaver is the top pitcher on an incredibly talented Los Angeles Angels pitching staff. He has proven time and time again that he deserves to be mentioned with the game's best pitchers.
Last season, Weaver finished second in American League Cy Young voting after he put together a solid year.
2011 Stats: .262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 25 SB (691 plate appearances)
Curtis Granderson took advantage of the dimensions at the new Yankee Stadium in 2011 and as a result had the best season of his career.
He broke the 40-home run mark and led the American League in RBI. Granderson could put together a 30/30 year in 2012.
2011 Stats: 14-14, 3.47 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 222 K (233.2 innings pitched)
Felix Hernandez earned his crown during the 2010 season when he was awarded the American League Cy Young.
King Felix has been one of the best pitchers in baseball since he turned 21 years old. The Mariners phenom is well on his way to an outstanding career.
2011 Stats: .296/.331/.561, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 1 SB (525 plate appearances)
Adrian Beltre did absolutely nothing but impress during his first year with the Texas Rangers. He played like one of the game's top third basemen.
Beltre won both the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger last season and will look to see if he can duplicate his success this year.
2011 Stats: 13-14, 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 220 K (217 innings pitched)
Despite having the fifth-lowest ERA in the National League in 2011, Tim Lincecum ended up having a losing record because of the San Francisco Giants' offensive struggles.
Lincecum already has won two Cy Young awards and has finished in the top 10 of the voting another two times.
2011 Stats: .296/.388/.525, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 2 SB (516 plate appearances)
Without Albert Pujols in the St. Louis Cardinals' lineup in 2012, Matt Holliday is going to need to step things up.
Holliday is certainly capable of doing this, as he is one of the best outfielders in baseball today. He will get more RBI opportunities this year, and his numbers will improve as a result.
2011 Stats: 17-8, 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 238 K (232.2 innings pitched)
The second ace in the Philadelphia Phillies' trio is Cliff Lee. He finished in the top five in the National League in wins, ERA and strikeouts in 2011.
Lee had a 161 ERA+ last year while pitching in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball. He is also known for having impeccable control.
2011 Stats: .244/.355/.495, 31 HR, 99 RBI, 3 SB (574 plate appearances)
Before Miguel Cabrera moved to third base this offseason, Evan Longoria was the best third baseman in baseball.
Longoria is a player who just produces. He plays a huge role in the Tampa Bay Rays offense and does not disappoint. The Rays also have a very solid defender at the hot corner in Longoria.
2011 Stats: .298/.346/.536, 25 HR, 94 RBI, 8 SB (538 plate appearances)
2008 was the only year that Josh Hamilton has played a full season in the major leagues. He has dealt with injury issues throughout his career.
Hamilton is an incredible talent and won the American League MVP award in 2010 even though he appeared in just 133 games.
2011 Stats: .289/.369/.529, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB (674 plate appearances)
It is fun to imagine where Justin Upton will end up on this list in a few years. He is just 24 years old and has already become an elite player for the Diamondbacks.
Upton has an outstanding combination of power and speed and could potentially be a 30/30 player. He also plays fairly good defense in right field.
2011 Stats: .255/.355/.477, 32 HR, 77 RBI, 30 SB (723 plate appearances)
Separating the next three players is an incredibly difficult task, which is why they are ranked together. An argument could be made for each of these players being the best second baseman in baseball.
The Rangers' Ian Kinsler has put together 30/30 seasons two of the last three years. Coming from a second baseman, that is incredibly valuable production. Kinsler is also a solid defender.
2011 Stats: .302/.349/.533, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 8 SB (681 plate appearances)
Tremendous is the word that should be used to describe Robinson Cano's abilities at the plate. The New York Yankee is an offensive force from the second base position.
Cano is a decent defender, but he is not as good defensively as his counterparts that bookend him on this list.
2011 Stats: .307/.387/.474, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 26 SB (731 plate appearances)
The differences between Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler and Robinson Cano are infinitesimal. However, Pedroia does have two things that the other two do not.
Pedroia has won the AL Rookie of the Year award as well as an MVP award. He has been a consistent player both in the field and at the plate throughout his career.
2011 Stats: 21-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 248 K (233.1 innings pitched)
Clayton Kershaw not only won the National League pitching Triple Crown, but he also led the NL in WHIP. On top of that, Kershaw picked up a Gold Glove.
It is easy to say that the Dodgers' Kershaw was absolutely dominant last year and should be again in the coming seasons.
2011 Stats: 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 230 K (237.1 innings pitched)
CC Sabathia has had no problem handling the hitters in the American League East since he became a member of the New York Yankees.
Sabathia is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and hitters certainly do not enjoy the days when Sabathia is on the mound.
2011 Stats: 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 220 K (233.2 innings pitched)
Even though he did not take home the Cy Young award in 2011, there is no better pitcher in the National League than Roy Halladay.
He finished the 2011 season in the top three of ERA, wins and strikeouts in the National League. Halladay has not had an ERA over 3.00 since 2007.
2011 Stats: .299/.415/.566, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 1 SB (692 plate appearances)
It should come as no surprise to anyone that Prince Fielder is one of the best players in baseball.
Fielder is a big slugger and will be a huge addition to the Detroit Tigers lineup. If Fielder were better defensively, he would move higher up the list.
2011 Stats: .338/.410/.548, 27 HR, 117 RBI, 1 SB (715 plate appearances)
After the Boston Red Sox had a disappointing season in 2011, Adrian Gonzalez is going to help try to bring his team to the playoffs in 2012.
Gonzalez put together a great season last year and took home some hardware for his hard work. He won both a Silver Slugger award and a Gold Glove.
2011 Stats: .302/.372/.544, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 9 SB (606 plate appearances)
Power-hitting shortstops are a rare commodity. It is even rarer to find one that, in addition to his offensive prowess, is a great defender.
That is why the Colorado Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki is one of the top 10 players in the major leagues right now. He picked up a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award last season.
2011 Stats: .321/.376/.552, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 39 SB (732 plate appearances)
After missing almost all of the 2010 season, Jacoby Ellsbury came back in a big way in 2011. He found a power stroke during his long break.
Ellsbury put together a 30/30 season while also playing Gold Glove defense in center field for the Red Sox. He finished second in AL MVP voting last year.
2011 Stats: 24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 250 K (251 innings pitched)
It seemed as if Justin Verlander was pitching in a video game world last season—he was able to absolutely dominate hitters.
Verlander had a huge year for the Tigers, as he won the American League pitching Triple Crown, the American League Cy Young award and the American League MVP.
2011 Stats: .309/.416/.531, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 8 SB (719 plate appearances)
If the Reds want to keep Joey Votto in Cincinnati for a long time, it is going to be very expensive since he is one of the best players in baseball.
Votto won the NL MVP in 2010 and had a great encore season. He finished in sixth in the MVP voting this past year and won a Gold Glove.
2011 Stats: .332/.397/.597, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB (629 plate appearances)
After going through a tumultuous offseason, Milwaukee's Ryan Braun was able to say that his MVP award was legitimate after his failed drug test was overturned.
Braun put together a 30/30 season and was near the top of the league leaders in batting average. He has also improved his defense.
2011 Stats: .302/.447/.608, 43 HR, 103 RBI, 9 SB (655 plate appearances)
Just a few years ago it looked as if Jose Bautista would be nothing more than a bench player or a below-average starter.
Then Bautista had a huge turnaround with the Blue Jays and led the American League in home runs in 2010. He led the AL in home runs for the second straight year in 2011 and also led the league in slugging percentage and OPS.
Now Bautista looks like a perennial MVP candidate.
2011 Stats: .324/.399/.586, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB (689 plate appearances)
Matt Kemp missed out on a few things during his outstanding season in 2011. He just missed a 40/40 season, he just missed winning the NL Triple Crown and he just missed winning the NL MVP award.
Even after all of the success that he had, the Dodgers' Kemp is reaching for an even loftier goal in 2012. He thinks he can be the first player to put up a 50/50 season.
If he does this in 2012, Kemp will be baseball's best player.
2011 Stats: .344/.448/.586, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 2 SB (688 plate appearances)
The Tigers' Miguel Cabrera is inching closer and closer to being the best player in baseball. He could take over that title by the end of the year.
Cabrera is an incredible hitter, and his move to third base increases his value.
2011 Stats: .299/.366/.541, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 9 SB (651 plate appearances)
Prince Albert keeps his title as the best player in all of baseball. The fact that last season was the worst year in his career, yet he still put up an insane line, speaks a lot to his talents.
Had Pujols not gotten hurt, he would have had his 11th consecutive 100-plus RBI season and likely would have eclipsed the 40-home run mark. In addition to his offensive abilities, the new Los Angeles Angel is a great defensive first baseman.