Ranking Top 5 MLB Players at Each Position Heading into 2013 Season
After an exciting 2012 Major League Baseball season, the rankings at each position have changed.
Before the 2012 season, I wrote an article ranking the top five players at each position. However, as time goes on and seasons pass, new stars rise to the top.
There are some players that remained where they were, some that dropped off the rankings and some that moved up.
Here is a look at an updated top five MLB players at each position as the 2013 season gets underway.
1. Buster Posey (Previous Rank: 4)
Buster Posey burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2010 and won the Rookie of the Year award. In his sophomore season, he broke his leg in a collision at home plate. This left many to question how he would respond the following year.
Posey responded by winning the NL MVP and leading his Giants to their second World Series championship in three years. He hit .336 with 24 HR and 103 RBI.
Still just 25, Posey has climbed to the top of the MLB catchers rankings and looks to have another big season.
2. Yadier Molina (Previous Rank: N/A)
I'll admit it, I was not a believer in Yadier Molina after his 2011 campaign in which he hit .305, with 14 HR and 65 RBI. Before last season, he averaged seven HR and 49 RBI a year.
In 2012, Molina hit .315, with 22 HR and 76 RBI. He is probably the best defensive catcher in baseball. Combine that with his offensive numbers over the last two seasons, and he has pushed himself up the rankings.
3. Joe Mauer (Previous Rank: 3)
The 2009 AL MVP has had a problem staying healthy and returning to his MVP form. After hitting 28 homers in 2009, Mauer has only hit a combined 22 HRs since then.
Mauer's health concerns have caused his starts at the catching position to drop significantly. However, one thing that can't be ignored is the consistency of his hitting. He is a career .323 hitter and batted .319 last year.
4. Miguel Montero (Previous Rank: N/A)
Miguel Montero is quietly moving up the rankings of MLB catchers. He has put together two consecutive seasons in which he hit over .280 and had over 80 RBI.
At 28 years old, Montero is in his prime and could be significant in getting the Diamondbacks back in the playoffs next year.
5. A.J Pierzynski (Previous Rank: N/A)
A.J Pierzynski, similar to Derek Jeter, proved even at his age, that he is still one of the best offensive catchers in baseball. Pierzynski has hit under .270 only twice in his career and his veteran leadership is something very valuable to any team.
Pierzynski had a power surge last season and hit .277, with 27 HR and 77 RBI.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Ruiz, Matt Wieters
1. Joey Votto (Previous Rank: 3)
First base is one of the deepest positions in the MLB. It is an offensive power position, but the top first baseman are also Gold Glove-caliber players. Joey Votto fits in that category.
Votto's year was limited because of injury, but he still managed to put up solid numbers. In 111 games, Votto hit .337 with 14 homers and 56 RBI. He is a career .316 hitter and is my prediction for the NL MVP.
2. Albert Pujols (Previous Rank: 1)
Albert Pujols is coming off the worst offensive season in his career, a season where he batted .285 with 30 homers and 105 RBI. That just proves how impressive Pujols' career has been.
I expect his second season with the Angels to be a bounce-back year and for his numbers to be back to what we have grown accustomed to seeing.
3. Prince Fielder (Previous Rank: 5)
Fielder is an offensive stud.
He hits for a good average, hits for power and drives in runs. Fielder will enter his second season with the Detroit Tigers, and the addition of Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez should give him even more protection in the lineup.
4. Adrian Gonzalez (Previous Rank: 2)
Adrian Gonzalez has been given a fresh start after being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox last season.
After hitting over 30 home runs in four straight seasons, Gonzalez' power numbers have started to drop slightly. I expect a resurgence in the home run department to go along with a high batting average, a ton of RBI and a Gold Glove.
5. Edwin Encarnacion (Previous Rank: N/A)
After the season Edwin Encarnacion had last year, it is impossible to leave him off this list. He hit .280, with 42 homers and 110 RBI.
It is going to be interesting to see if he can have a similar season this year, especially with a better supporting cast around him.
1. Robinson Cano (Previous Rank: 1)
Another year, same person on top of the second base power rankings.
Cano is hands down the best second baseman in baseball, and one of the sport's most all-around players. He's currently in his prime and finally reached the 30-home run mark (33) last season.
Cano is my pick for the 2013 AL MVP, as I expect him to hit over .300 with 35-plus home runs and more than 110 RBI.
2. Dustin Pedroia (Previous Rank: 2)
Nothing has changed with this ranking either. Pedroia is the leader of the Boston Red Sox and has been the most consistent player on the team for a few years now.
Pedroia is one of the toughest and grittiest players in the game today. Expect his numbers to be consistent with his careers stats, if he and the rest of the Red Sox can stay healthy.
3. Brandon Phillips (Previous Rank: 4)
Phillips is a very balanced MLB player. He deserved to win the Gold Glove last season and his offensive numbers were consistent to the rest of his career.
Don't expect much to change with Phillips this year, as his Cincinnati Reds are in good shape to make a deep run.
4. Ian Kinsler (Previous Rank: 3)
The problem I have with Kinsler is his low batting average. After hitting above .280 in three of his first five seasons, Kinsler has had back to back seasons with a batting average in the .250's.
While he does have a nice combination of power and speed, he needs to improve his consistency if he wants to jump up to the levels of Cano or even Pedroia.
5. Aaron Hill (Previous Rank: N/A)
Hill has had a rollercoaster career so far. After a bunch of up and down seasons in Toronto, he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks where's he experienced a bit of a career resurgence.
Last season, Hill hit .302 with 26 homers and 85 RBI. It is going to be a mystery whether he can continue this recent success, but last year's season earned him a spot in the top five.
1. Miguel Cabrera (Previous Rank: 1)
Coming off of his unbelievable Triple Crown season, Cabrera still ranks as the top third baseman in baseball. He is such a gifted offensive player that he might just go out and get another Triple Crown.
After leading the league with a .344 average in 2011, he hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBI last season.
2. Adrian Beltre (Previous Rank: 2)
Beltre is one of the most underrated players in baseball. He won his fourth Gold Glove in 2012 and hit .321, with 36 homers and 102 RBI.
If not for Cabrera being such an offensive stud, Beltre would be atop this list.
3. David Wright (Previous Rank: 5)
After a lot of concern whether he would stay with the Mets or jump ship, Wright signed an eight-year, $138 million contract to stay in New York.
In 2012, Wright hit .306, with 21 homers and 93 RBI. He looks great so far in the World Baseball Classic and should continue his production his season.
4. Chase Headley (Previous Rank: N/A)
Headley burst onto the scene in 2012, winning the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards. He hit .286, with 31 homers and 115 RBI.
I expect Headley to have an even better season than last year and potentially benefit from a trade out of Petco Park.
5. Aramis Ramirez (Previous Rank: N/A)
Similar to Beltre, Ramirez is one of the most underrated players in baseball. Last year, he hit .300, with 27 homers, 105 RBI and 50 doubles. He had similar numbers In 2011.
Ramirez is entering the back end of his career, but I think he has a couple of strong seasons left in him.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Zimmerman, Evan Longoria
The reason Evan Longoria is not on this list is because, like last year, I am not sold on him. He is supposed to be a superstar, but has yet to have a season that would prove that.
1. Troy Tulowitzki (Previous Rank: 1)
Tulowitzki's 2012 season was limited because of injury. He is one of the best players in baseball and should have a great comeback season in 2013.
Tulowitzki has two Gold Gloves and a ton of power, which is rare from the shortstop position. Expect a year similar to the one he had in 2011, when he hit .302 with 30 homers and 105 RBI.
2. Derek Jeter (Previous Rank: 5)
Jeter is coming off of surgery to repair a broken ankle, but if he has proven anything throughout his career, it is never to doubt him.
In 2012, Jeter hit .316, with 216 hits, 15 homers and 58 RBI. It would be very impressive if he can bounce back and have a similar season this year.
3. Jose Reyes (Previous Rank: 2)
Reyes spent one season with the Miami Marlins and it was nothing more than a disappointment. He started off the year slow but ended with a flourish, hitting .287 with 11 homers and 57 RBI.
There are high expectations for Reyes and the Blue Jays this season, and he could have one of the best years of his career.
4. Starlin Castro (Previous Rank: 3)
Castro will be 23 when the 2013 season starts and he is starting to come into his own.
Last season, Castro hit .283 with 14 homers and 78 RBI. His power numbers are increasing and should continue into 2013.
5. Hanley Ramirez (Previous Rank: N/A)
I might be a little high on Ramirez, but I think the full season with the Dodgers and move back to shortstop will cause him to get back to form.
Ramirez is a career .298 hitter and has the power to hit around 30 homers and drive in 100 runs.
Honorable Mention: Asdrubal Cabrera
1. Ryan Braun (Previous Rank: 4)
PED's aside, Braun is a perennial MVP candidate. He followed up his 2011 MVP season by hitting .319 with 41 homers and 112 RBI.
Braun is a five-tool player and probably the top outfielder in baseball.
2. Mike Trout (Previous Rank: N/A)
Trout had one of the greatest seasons by a rookie in the history of baseball. In 2012, he hit .326, with 30 homers, 83 RBI and 49 stolen bases.
Similar to Braun, Trout is also a five-tool player. It will be interesting to see whether he picks up where he left off or has a sophomore slump.
3. Carlos Gonzalez (Previous Rank: 2)
It's probably because he plays for the Colorado Rockies, but Gonzalez is very underrated.
He hit .303, with 22 homers and 85 RBI in 2012. With Troy Tulowitzki healthy, the pair could make the Rockies a dark horse in the National League.
4. Matt Holliday (Previous Rank: 4)
Holliday has been one of the most consistent players in baseball over the last nine seasons. He helped the Cardinals forget about Albert Pujols in the middle of their lineup last year, batting .295, with 27 homers and 102 RBI. Don't be surprised if he puts up identical numbers in 2013.
5. Justin Upton (Previous Rank: N/A)
Upton is a player with a ton of potential, but had yet to break out and have a huge season. He was traded this offseason to the Atlanta Braves.
The trade might be exactly what Upton needed to spark a huge year. Look for him to hit close to .300, with around 30 homers and 95 RBI.
Honorable Mention: Melky Cabrera
1. Andrew McCutchen (Previous Rank: 5)
McCutchen proved last season that he is one of the best players in baseball and the sky is the limit for him. He is a five-tool player who batted .327 with 31 homers and 96 RBI.
I expect those numbers to increase and McCutchen to end the season hitting .330 with 35 homers and 110 RBI. I also think McCutchen will lead the Pirates close to the playoffs..
2. Matt Kemp (Previous Rank: 1)
If Kemp can stay healthy for the 2013 season, he could put up some unbelievable numbers. He hit 12 homers in April last season.
Expect Kemp to be right in the thick of the National League MVP race and for the Dodgers to make some serious noise this year. I think .305 with 42 homers and 120 RBI is somewhere Kemp could be in 2013.
3. Adam Jones (Previous Rank: 4)
Jones and the Baltimore Orioles had a big year in 2012. The O's made the playoffs for the first time in over a decade.
Jones has been very consistent over the past four seasons, but has yet to truly establish himself as elite. It will be interesting to see whether he can finally break out and hit .300 with 35 homers and 100 RBI, or if he has already reached his ceiling.
4. Jacoby Ellsbury (Previous Rank: 3)
Ellsbury has only played in 250 out of the Red Sox's 486 games over the last three seasons. In 2011, he showed some unexpected power and hit 32 homers with 105 RBI.
I expect Ellsbury's days in Boston are limited and it will be interesting to see whether that is a good or bad thing for him going forward.
5. Curtis Granderson (Previous Rank: 2)
The New York Yankees have had a tough offseason dealing with some tough injuries. One of those injuries was to Granderson.
Granderson broke his forearm in his first spring training plate appearance and will miss the first month of the season. Tag that onto his disappointing 2012 season and Granderson drops from No. 2 to No. 5 in these rankings.
He needs to get his average up if he wants to stay in the Bronx and remain in these rankings.
1. Josh Hamilton (Previous Rank: N/A)
Hamilton decided to take his talents to Los Angeles and play with the Angels. Having him in the same lineup as Albert Pujols, Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout is going to be a nightmare for opposing pitchers.
Somewhere around .285, with 40 homers and 120 RBI is what you can expect from Hamilton in 2013.
2. Giancarlo Stanton (Previous Rank: 3)
Stanton feels like the lone survivor in the Marlins' roster overhaul this offseason. He is one of the best offensive players in the game right now and I expect him to have his best season yet.
Look for him to hit .295, with 43 homers and 97 RBI.
3. Jose Bautista (Previous Rank: 1)
Bautista is finally going to get some serious support in the Blue Jays' lineup as he has become one of MLB's top power hitters.
If healthy, you know the home runs are going to be there. The one issue with Bautista is his batting average. He has only hit over .260 once in the last six seasons.
4. Carlos Beltran (Previous Rank: N/A)
It feels like Beltran has been around forever, but he proved last season he can still produce in a big way, hitting .269 with 32 homers and 97 RBI.
The biggest concern for Beltran is health. If he can stay healthy, I expect him to hit around .275 with 25 homers and 88 RBI.
5. Torii Hunter (Previous Rank: N/A)
Another player that feels like he's been around forever is Hunter.
He's put together a nice career and had one of his best seasons in 2012, hitting .313 with 16 homers and 92 RBI. It is going to be interesting to see if his move to the Tigers helps or hurts him.
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