MLB Power Rankings: All 30 MLB Teams' Best Penny-for-Penny Player of 2012

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 16, 2012

MLB Power Rankings: All 30 MLB Teams' Best Penny-for-Penny Player of 2012

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    A while back, I wrote an article on each team's worst penny-for-penny player and on the strength of that piece's success here is a look at the other side of things, with each team's best penny-for-penny player.

    To determine each player's penny-for-penny worth, I took a mathematical approach that I will now attempt to explain. 

    Assuming that one Win Above Replacement (WAR) is worth $4.5 million, as established by FanGraphs last year, I multiplied each player's WAR on the year by 4.5.

    From there, I took three-quarters of the given player's 2012 salary (since we're at roughly the three-quarter point of the season) and simply plugged the numbers into the following equation.

    (Player's 2012 WAR X $4.5 Million) - (Player's 2012 Salary X .75) = Player's Net Value in $$

    Whichever player had the highest net value for each team was then considered their best penny-for-penny player.

    Here's a look at the results.

Baltimore Orioles

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    Player: CF Adam Jones

    WAR: 3.8

    Salary Thus Far: $4.613 million

    Net Value: $12.488 million

    Jones signed an extension this offseason that will keep him in Baltimore through 2018 and will earn him a maximum salary of $17 million. However, he's making just over $6 million this season and has emerged as a legitimate star and the face of an up-and-coming franchise.

Boston Red Sox

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    Player: Cody Ross

    WAR: 2.6

    Salary Thus Far: $2.25 million

    Net Value: $9.45 million

    After a subpar season last year, Ross received limited interest on the free-agent market and wound up signing a one-year, $3 million deal. He's hit with a .277 BA, 18 HR and 59 RBI to this point, and has been a pleasant surprise on a disappointing Red Sox team.

New York Yankees

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    Player: 2B Robinson Cano

    WAR: 5.4

    Salary Thus Far: $10.5 million

    Net Value: $13.8 million

    Cano is by no means cheap, as he will make $14 million this season, but he is head and shoulders above everyone else at his position, which makes him supremely valuable. A free agent after 2013, Cano is no doubt headed for a big payday, but he has proven to be worth every penny.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Player: 2B Ben Zobrist

    WAR: 3.7

    Salary Thus Far: $3.375 million

    Net Value: $13.275 million

    One of the most versatile players in all of baseball, Zobrist has recently made the move to shortstop after primarily playing second base and right field. He doesn't hit for a particularly high average, but he has great on-base skills and plus power for a middle infielder.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Player: DH Edwin Encarnacion

    WAR: 3.7

    Salary Thus Far: $2.625 million

    Net Value: $14.025 million

    It took him until his eighth big league season, but Encarnacion has finally realized his potential, leading the Blue Jays offense all season long. He earned a three-year, $27 million extension for his play this year, but he remains a steal at $3.5 million this season.

Chicago White Sox

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    Player: SP Chris Sale

    WAR: 4.0

    Salary Thus Far: $370,000

    Net Value: $17.63 million

    Sale has been phenomenal in his first season as a starter, leading a surprising White Sox team to contention. He'll be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2014, and if he can stay healthy, there is no reason to think he won't be making some serious money down the road.

Cleveland Indians

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    Player: CF Michael Brantley

    WAR: 2.5

    Salary Thus Far: $371,475

    Net Value: $10.879 million

    While Matt LaPorta was the big name in the trade that sent CC Sabathia to the Brewers, it is Brantley who has made an impact for the Indians. He is by no means a superstar, but the 25-year-old should continue to post solid numbers.

Detroit Tigers

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    Player: CF Austin Jackson

    WAR: 4.9

    Salary Thus Far: $375,000

    Net Value: $21.675 million

    Acquired in the three-team trade that sent Curtis Granderson to the Yankees, Jackson struck out a whopping 351 times over the past two seasons and posted a subpar .331 on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot. While he missed some time with injury, he has taken a huge step forward this season. With a .400 on-base percentage, he is among the best table-setters in baseball.

Kansas City Royals

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    Player: LF Alex Gordon

    WAR: 3.9

    Salary Thus Far: $4.5 million

    Net Value: $13.05 million

    A highly touted prospect after being taken second overall in the 2005 draft, Gordon struggled to establish himself over the first four seasons of his career—however, he finally broke out last year. While he has not matched that production this season, he has been solid once again this year and leads the league with 38 doubles.

Minnesota Twins

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    Player: RF Ben Revere

    WAR: 2.8

    Salary Thus Far: $369,375

    Net Value: $12.231 million

    Revere flashed his impressive speed in his first extended big league action last year, but he has taken a big step forward this season, as he's hitting .317 atop the Twins lineup and has gone 28-for-34 on stolen-base attempts. Still just 24, he will be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2014. 

Los Angeles Angels

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    Player: CF Mike Trout

    WAR: 6.9

    Salary Thus Far: $360,000

    Net Value: $30.69 million

    Trout is having a rookie season the likes of which the league has rarely if ever seen, and given his rookie salary, there is no better discount in all of baseball right now. He currently leads the AL in batting average, runs and steals, and the 21-year-old is a bona fide superstar already. 

Oakland Athletics

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    Player: RF Josh Reddick

    WAR: 4.1

    Salary Thus Far: $363,750

    Net Value: $18.086 million

    Picked up in the deal that sent closer Andrew Bailey to the Red Sox, Reddick is in his first full season in the big leagues after a solid .280 BA, 7 HR, 28 RBI line last season. Though largely unproven with just 375 big league at-bats under his belt, Reddick entered the season counted on to be a run producer in the middle of the A's lineup, and he has exceeded expectations with a .251 BA, 25 HR, 60 RBI line.

Seattle Mariners

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    Player: 3B Kyle Seager

    WAR: 2.5

    Salary Thus Far: $363,225

    Net Value: $10.887 million

    It's been a rough season for the Mariners, especially on the offensive side of things, and one of the lone bright spots has been the play of the 24-year-old Seager. With 13 home runs and 68 RBI, he leads the team in both categories, as he has 22 more RBI than second place Jesus Montero.

Texas Rangers

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    Player: SS Elvis Andrus

    WAR: 4.2

    Salary Thus Far: $1.782 million

    Net Value: $17.119 million

    Andrus has gotten better each year since coming over from the Braves in the Mark Teixeira trade and serving as the Rangers' everyday shortstop in 2009 at the age of 20. Always a slick fielder with plus speed, he has career highs in all three triple-slash categories this season at .297/.367/.395. He has grown into a terrific No. 2 hitter. 

Atlanta Braves

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    Player: RF Jason Heyward

    WAR: 4.9

    Salary Thus Far: $423,750

    Net Value: $21.626 million

    Heyward endured the dreaded sophomore slump last season when he hit just .227 as injuries limited him to just 396 at-bats. He's back this season, though, with a modest .271 BA, 19 HR, 59 RBI and 16 SB, and the 22-year-old still has as high a ceiling as any young hitter in the game. 

Miami Marlins

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    Player: RF Giancarlo Stanton

    WAR: 3.3

    Salary Thus Far: $360,000

    Net Value: $14.49 million

    It's probably not a good sign for the Marlins that their most valuable player from a financial standpoint has been limited to just 88 games this season, as it has been a disappointing season all around in Miami. That's not to take anything away from Stanton, though, as he continues to display perhaps the best pure power in all of baseball and has cut down his strikeouts and improved his batting average to a career-best .283.

New York Mets

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    Player: 3B David Wright

    WAR: 5.9

    Salary Thus Far: $11.25 million

    Net Value: $15.3 million

    Wright is making plenty of money at $15 million this season, but he has been so productive at a premium position that his value is still incredibly high even as one of the highest-paid players on the team. He's a free agent at the end of next season, so it will be interesting to see how the Mets approach things after they watched Jose Reyes walk and got nothing but a compensatory pick in return.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Player: C Carlos Ruiz

    WAR: 5.0

    Salary Thus Far: $2.775 million

    Net Value: $19.725 million

    Few catchers break out at the age of 33, but Ruiz has done just that with a fantastic line of .335 BA, 14 HR, 58 RBI, and a WAR that already ranks as his career-best. With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley missing time, Ruiz carried the Phillies offense in the first half. While the team has struggled, he has certainly done his part.

Washington Nationals

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    Player: SP Gio Gonzalez

    WAR: 4.1

    Salary Thus Far: $2.438 million

    Net Value: $16.013 million

    The Nationals gave up four top prospects to land Gonzalez from the A's this past offseason, but the fact that they managed to get him to agree to a very cost-effective five-year, $42 million extension makes it all the more worth it. He leads the NL with 15 wins and joins Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann to give the Nationals three of the best starters in baseball this season.

Chicago Cubs

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    Player: SP Jeff Samardzija

    WAR: 2.8

    Salary Thus Far: $1.98 million

    Net Value: $10.62 million

    Samardzija spent the first four years of his career being shuttled between the bullpen and the rotation, as well as between the big leagues and Triple-A Iowa. An unquestioned part of the rotation for the first time this year, he has shown ace stuff at times and is pitching his best baseball of late with a 3-3 record and 2.41 ERA over his last eight starts. He'll be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Player: 1B Joey Votto

    WAR: 4.8

    Salary Thus Far: $7.125 million

    Net Value: $14.475 million

    Votto agreed to a massive 10-year, $225 million extension this past offseason that will eventually have him earning $25 million annually. However, for the time being, he remains a terrific bargain at just $9.5 million this year. How quickly he can return from a knee injury for the stretch run will go a long way in determining the Reds' fate. 

Houston Astros

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    Player: 2B Jose Altuve

    WAR: 2.4

    Salary Thus Far: $362,250

    Net Value: $10.438 million

    After hitting .389 in the minors last season, Altuve showed enough in a late-season call-up to be pegged as the team's starting second baseman to open the year. Though he stands just 5'5", he has packed a punch offensively with a .305 BA, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 25 SB season. At just 22 years old, he appears to be a solid building block for the future in Houston.

Milwaukee Brewers

23 of 30

    Player: LF Ryan Braun

    WAR: 5.3

    Salary Thus Far: $4.5 million

    Net Value: $19.35 million

    Braun is an absolute steal at $6 million this season, and he is set to earn $30.5 million over the next three years before his salary bumps up to $19 million annually. After a controversy-filled offseason, Braun has not missed a beat at the plate this season and currently leads the NL with 29 home runs despite no longer having the protection of Prince Fielder in the lineup.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Player: CF Andrew McCutchen

    WAR: 6.0

    Salary Thus Far: $375,000

    Net Value: $26.625 million

    The Pirates inked McCutchen to a six-year, $51.5 million extension this past March, and they have looked like nothing short of geniuses for doing so. With a .358 BA, 24 HR, 72 RBI line, the 25-year-old has been arguably the most productive player in baseball this season, as he single-handedly carried the Pirates offense in the first half. 

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Player: C Yadier Molina

    WAR: 4.7

    Salary Thus Far: $5.25 million

    Net Value: $15.9 million

    Set to hit free agency at the end of the season, the Cardinals inked Molina to a five-year, $75 million extension in March, and now the most complete catcher in the game will be in St. Louis until at least 2017. Always a premier defender with a cannon arm, Molina had career highs across the board last season at .305 BA, 14 HR, 65 RBI, and he is on his way to surpassing those marks again this year at .312 BA, 16 HR, 54 RBI.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Player: SP Wade Miley

    WAR: 3.3

    Salary Thus Far: $360,750

    Net Value: $14.489 million

    Miley broke camp with the Diamondbacks as a left-handed reliever out of the 'pen, but after Josh Collmenter struggled through his first three starts, Miley was moved to the rotation and has not looked back since. Overshadowed by top prospects Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs, Miley has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the NL this season with a 12-8 record and a 3.02 ERA, and he has to be viewed as the NL Rookie of the Year front-runner.

Colorado Rockies

27 of 30

    Player: CF Dexter Fowler

    WAR: 3.4

    Salary Thus Far: $1.763 million

    Net Value: $11.737 million

    Fowler has always shown terrific speed and good on-base skills, but he has cut down on his strikeouts and improved his power this season to rank among the best outfielders in the NL. He's no doubt headed for a hefty raise in his second year of arbitration, but for now he is a tremendous value with a salary of $2.35 million this year.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Player: C A.J. Ellis

    WAR: 3.4

    Salary Thus Far: $367,500

    Net Value: $14.933 million

    The 31-year-old Ellis had seen sporadic big league action over the past four years, tallying 206 at-bats while never appearing in more than 44 games in a season. However, he was handed the starting catching job this season and far exceeded expectations, as he has been the only consistent contributor behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. His .386 on-base percentage is his most impressive stat, but he has also shown solid pop with 10 home runs.

San Diego Padres

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    Player: 3B Chase Headley

    WAR: 4.9

    Salary Thus Far: $2.606 million

    Net Value: $19.444 million

    Perhaps the most sought-after player at the trade deadline, the Padres opted to hold onto Headley, as they look to make a return to contention sooner rather than later. He has hit .272 BA, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 12 SB this season and has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, as he'll no doubt get a big boost from his current $3.475 million salary.

San Francisco Giants

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    Player: C Buster Posey

    WAR: 5.0

    Salary Thus Far: $461,250

    Net Value: $22.039 million

    It was a devastating blow when the Giants lost Posey for the season last year, but he has come back strong with a .330 BA, 19 HR, 76 RBI season. With Brian McCann showing signs of age and Joe Mauer not the player he once was, Posey can now claim the title of best offensive catcher in baseball.