Fresh Faces: Ranking the Best MLB Newcomers of the Trade Deadline

Zak SchmollAnalyst IAugust 7, 2012

Fresh Faces: Ranking the Best MLB Newcomers of the Trade Deadline

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    The Major League Baseball trade deadline has come and gone, and some big-name players will be wearing new uniforms for at least the rest of the season.

    However, who was the most important player traded? Who will have the biggest impact on the tight playoff races that are already developing?

    Those are both huge questions.

    While it is impossible to know the future, it is possible to look at past performance and potentially forecast how certain players will enhance their new teams. Without further ado, here are the 10 best players who were on the move at the trade deadline. By "best," I mean the player who helps fill a deficiency in his new team and makes them a better overall unit.

10. Gaby Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Gaby Sanchez is definitely not a typical first baseman, and 2012 has definitely not been his best season. He will never provide very much power, but he can drive in runs and hit for a decent average.

    Over the past two seasons, his average numbers are roughly centered around a .270 average with 19 home runs and about 80 RBI. Like I said before, this season has been a lot different. But if he is able to get on that type of pace for the next couple of months, the Pirates will benefit.

    This trade might not end up having a lot of impact if Sanchez is unable to turn this season around, but he does have the potential to be a solid contributor to the success of a very good team.

9. Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees

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    I have written many times that this trade surprised me, so I figured I would mention it one more time. Ichiro was virtually synonymous with Seattle baseball.

    However, I digress.

    This trade probably came into being after Brett Gardner went down for the year. Although Ichiro is in the twilight of his career, he does provide a similar package of speed and defensive ability.

    His offensive production has been down this season, but surely the New York Yankees are hoping that he can at least return to form for the few months that they need him to play a solid role in their playoff race.

8. Brandon League, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Even though the Los Angeles Dodgers have one of the best bullpen ERAs in the National League, adding solid arms never hurts.

    Brandon League can still fill just about every role in the major league bullpen, and his versatility will be invaluable as the Dodgers fight with the San Francisco Giants down the stretch. While he isn't necessarily a high strikeout guy, he doesn't allow runs to score, and that is truly what matters.

    This trade might not seem to have a lot of impact since the Dodgers have a pretty strong bullpen anyway, but it was still a nice move. Baseball is weird, and it never hurts to be as prepared as possible for a postseason run.

7. Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Reds

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    The Cincinnati Reds have been waiting in the wings to become the top team in the National League Central, and they have actually gotten there this season.

    Offense has always been their strong point, but their pitching staff has been holding up very well this season. On top of all the success that they are having as probably the best bullpen in baseball, adding the powerful Jonathan Broxton will only help their cause.

    They are adding to an area of strength, so the impact might not be as high as if they were filling in a definite gap, but you can never have too many strong pitchers going down the final stretch before the playoffs.

6. Shane Victorino, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Shane Victorino is in the midst of a very disappointing season. He hasn't been getting on base nearly as much as he was in the past.

    Nevertheless, Victorino is one of the best base stealers in baseball right now. While he was playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, he was only hitting .259, but he had stolen 24 bases. If he is able to get on base more and have even more opportunities to run, he should be a solid weapon once again.

    In Philadelphia, everyone kind of assumed that Victorino would be on the way out, and the Dodgers did a good job bringing a potential spark to the lineup. He can definitely play better than he has been so far.

5. Wandy Rodriguez, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    The Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of the biggest surprises of this season. The pitching staff has been particularly shocking because many of the team’s most talented arms have never tasted significant success before.

    Adding Wandy Rodriguez is a really nice complement to their staff. He has never been insanely successful, but you can count on him for steady, solid performances. He has been incredibly underappreciated throughout his career, but hopefully he will receive some recognition while playing for a strong team.

    The Pirates don't seem to be slowing down too much, and they will continue to fight for a playoff spot. Adding a solid veteran arm will definitely help their cause.

4. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Hanley Ramirez has tantalized baseball fans for years. We all know that he is talented, and we all know that he could easily be the best shortstop in baseball. However, the past few years have been less than stellar.

    All that being said, if Ramirez is able to produce like he did from 2006 to 2010, there is no doubt that the Dodgers got a steal. That version of Ramirez was always a threat to hit 25 home runs and steal at least 30 bases.

    He has the potential to make a huge impact on the Los Angeles Dodgers as they fight for a playoff spot, but because of his somewhat unpredictable output, I could not put him higher than fourth.

3. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    Zack Greinke is probably the most talented player that was traded at the deadline, but please let me try to explain why I did not rank him higher on this list.

    I said from the beginning that this list was about players making their overall team better. Greinke will definitely do that, but he is only reinforcing an area of strength. The Angels had the fifth-best pitching staff ERA in the American League anyway.

    Don't get me wrong, I think that this was an excellent move for the Angels. However, the Angels could have made a bigger impact by strengthening some of their weaker areas.

2. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

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    The San Francisco Giants have faced the same struggle for the past few years: Their pitching staff has been strong, but they have not had much offense to speak of. This year has looked better with Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera and Buster Posey, but they still have the sixth fewest runs in all of baseball.

    Hunter Pence should be able to help with that. Even though the Philadelphia Phillies have been less than impressive this season, Pence was able to combine with Carlos Ruiz to honestly generate most of their offense.

    The Giants now have a better lineup to reinforce their pitching staff. Pitching will still carry them, but this acquisition will definitely support their success.

1. Ryan Dempster, Texas Rangers

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    The Texas Rangers have one of the best offenses in baseball, but many people have been concerned about their pitching rotation. They have not necessarily been terrible, with a rotation ERA of 4.17, but when you are competing for a World Series, not terrible doesn't cut it.

    Ryan Dempster, on the other hand, has been excellent so far this season. He went 5-5 for the Chicago Cubs with a very strong 2.25 ERA. If he had put up that type of ERA for any team that could give him some run support, his record would obviously be stronger.

    As a member of the Texas Rangers, Dempster will help solidify the rotation and make a huge impact as the Rangers battle with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Oakland Athletics.

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