The 100 Greatest Hitters in MLB Today

Doug Mead@@Sports_A_HolicCorrespondent IApril 9, 2013

The 100 Greatest Hitters in MLB Today

0 of 53

    To be considered one of the greatest hitters in MLB, players must show the ability to consistently produce in a variety of ways. While chicks may dig the long ball, getting on base on a consistent basis and helping to set up run production is equally as important as the three-run home run.

    The beauty of baseball is that each batter brings a different skill set to the plate. They work to utilize the talent in a way that works best for them. A guy like Adam Dunn excels simply with the ability to power the ball out of the park, while a guy like Jose Reyes can use great speed along with the potential to spray the baseball all over the field.

    Whatever their qualifications are, each individual star has earned their place of prominence on this list.

    Here, then, are the 100 greatest hitters in MLB today.

Criteria for Selection

1 of 53

    Every ranking of the top players in baseball is vastly different, using a complicated subset of statistics to arrive at its conclusion.

    For the purposes of this list, an aggregation of several rankings will be used.

    First, it's about hitting only. No player is on this list because of fielding prowess or baserunning ability.

    It's all about the bat.

    Here is a breakdown of the rankings used to compile our list:

    • FanGraphs Batting Value for the past three seasons (2010-2012).
    • FanGraphs Batting Value for the past two seasons (2011-2012).
    • FanGraphs Batting Value for 2012.
    • Baseball Prospectus BVORP for 2012.
    • Baseball Reference rBAT for the past three seasons (2010-2012).
    • Baseball Reference rBAT for the past two seasons (2011-2012).
    • Baseball Reference rBAT for 2012.

    FanGraphs: Batting Value is defined as "offensive runs above or below average, not position adjusted, but adjusted for the run environment of his home park."

    Baseball Prospectus: BVORP is described as the value over a replacement player for a batter.

    Baseball Reference: rBAT is the number of runs better or worse than average the player was as a hitter.

    More weight was given to just the 2012 season over two and three-year totals. Adjustments were made for injuries as well.

    Not a perfectly scientific conclusion, but the above criteria gives a solid cross-section of a hitter's performance as it relates to their overall value.

Nos. 100-96

2 of 53

    100. Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants

    Pagan climbs into the top 100 largely on the strength of last season, as he led the majors with 15 triples among his 61 extra-base hits. Pagan also posted the second-highest OPS of his career at .778.

    99. John Jaso, Oakland Athletics

    Jaso's ability to effectively crush right-handed pitching just barely lands him on this list. His .272/.368/.424/.793 slash line against right-handers for his career sits in stark contrast to his .169/.305/.305/.234 against southpaws. Jaso hit .302 with a .927 OPS against right-handers in 2012.

    98. Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Hill's terrific bounce-back season puts him on this list. Hill struggled in both 2010 and 2011 after hitting 36 home runs with 108 RBI in 2009. He hit .302 with 26 home runs, 85 RBI and a career-best .882 OPS last season. His 44 doubles were the second-most in his career.

    97. Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers

    Avila took a step backwards last year after winning the Silver Slugger Award in 2011. His disappointing offensive numbers were largely due to a spate of injuries that he suffered through in 2012, including a hamstring strain, patellar tendinitis and a concussion.

    96. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee Brewers

    Weeks too suffered a downturn last season, particularly in the first half. Lingering pain from a sprained ankle was part of the problem, but he steadfastly refused to blame the pain on his hitting woes. He rebounded to hit .261 with 13 home runs after the All-Star break.

Nos. 95-91

3 of 53

    95. Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Prado doesn't excel in any one aspect of the game—he simply performs every task well on a consistent basis. In four of the past five seasons, Prado hit above .300 and drove in a career-high 70 runners last season.

    94. Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox

    Rios shrugged off a dismal 2011 season to post stellar numbers last year, hitting .304 with a career-high 25 home runs and 91 RBI.

    93. B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves

    Upton may not hit for average, but he's put together back-to-back seasons with at least 20 home runs and 75 RBI. He's likely to thrive in Atlanta with an outstanding array of hitters surrounding him.

    92. Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox

    His forgettable 2011 season aside, Dunn does one thing very well—hit home runs. He topped the 40-home run mark last year for the sixth time in his career.

    91. Kendrys Morales, Seattle Mariners

    Morales bounced back last year from a gruesome ankle injury to hit .273 with 22 home runs and 73 RBI. He burst onto the scene in 2009 with 34 home runs and 108 RBI. He was well on his way toward matching that production in 2010 when he took an ill-advised jump onto home plate following a walk-off home run.

    Morales now appears to be fully recovered and could come close to matching those numbers once again.

Nos. 90-86

4 of 53

    90. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs

    Soriano put up his best season as a Cub last year with 32 home runs and 108 RBI. The numbers weren't particularly shabby the prior two seasons, either. But try telling that to a fanbase who expected a lot more from a man with a $100 million contract.

    89. Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

    The young backstop for the Royals can indeed hit. Perez played in only 39 games in 2011, but the .331 batting average was more than enough to convince the Royals into signing him to a five-year deal. A knee injury delayed his 2012 season, but he still hit .301 with 11 home runs and 39 RBI in 76 games.

    88. David Murphy, Texas Rangers

    Murphy may not have played full-time over the past three seasons, but he certainly produces when given the chance. He'll finally get the opportunity this season as the everyday left fielder for the Rangers.

    87. Garrett Jones, Pittsburgh Pirates

    Jones bounced back from a disappointing 2011 season to hit 27 home runs with 86 RBI for the Pirates in 2012. He'll be expected to continue that production in support of Andrew McCutchen as the Pirates do all they can to avoid their 21st consecutive losing season.

    86. Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers

    If this were 2010, Ramirez would be in the top 10 on this list. Injuries and issues in the clubhouse led to a dismal 2011 campaign and Ramirez did regroup somewhat last season with 24 home runs and 92 RBI. But the .257 average was far below his career mark, and he'll have to wait this season as well as he recovers from right thumb surgery.

Nos. 85-81

5 of 53

    85. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies

    Howard's 2011 season ended in the final at-bat of the NLDS with a torn Achilles tendon. That injury clearly was a factor in his production last year, as he just .219 with 14 home runs. However, he still produced 56 RBI in just 71 games, keeping his run production value at a high level.

    84. Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians

    Now in the American League for the first time in his career, Michael Bourn will hope to terrorize pitchers in the junior circuit with his tremendous speed. Bourn's power isn't a big threat, although he did hit a career-high nine home runs last season. But his ability to get an extra base utilizing his legs will be of great value to the Cleveland Indians at the top of their batting order.

    83. Travis Hafner, New York Yankees

    The oft-injured left-handed power hitter is now doing his thing with the New York Yankees. Hafner may have missed 57 percent of his team's games in the past three seasons, but he still produces at a high level when healthy. That's what the Yankees will be counting on for the 2013 season.

    82. Dexter Fowler, Colorado Rockies

    Fowler really came into his own last year with a .300 average, 13 home runs and 53 RBI. He's been one of the league leaders in triples for the past four seasons and has provided a nice spark at the top of the Rockies lineup.

    81. Kevin Youkilis, New York Yankees

    Injuries and advancing age may be catching up to Youkilis, but not enough quite yet to keep him out of this list. Youkilis hit 19 home runs and 60 RBI last season, but with a career-low .745 OPS.

Nos. 80-76

6 of 53

    80. Jimmy Rollins, Philadelphia Phillies

    Rollins may not be the same player that won the 2007 NL MVP Award, but he's still producing. His .743 OPS last season was his highest since 2008 and he actually led the Phillies with his 23 home runs and 68 RBI.

    79. Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals

    Desmond missed over a month last season, yet he still captured the Silver Slugger Award with a .292 average, 25 home runs and 73 RBI. He earned his first All-Star selection in the process. Desmond is without question one of the rising stars at shortstop in the majors and figures to just keep getting better at the age of 27.

    78. Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians

    After winning the Silver Slugger Award in 2011, Cabrera's production dipped a bit last year with just 16 home runs and 68 RBI. He's still one of the better-hitting shortstops in the American League with two straight All-Star selections.

    77. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

    For the past three seasons Cruz has averaged 25 home runs and 85 RBI, with his run production increasing each year. Going into his free-agent season, along with the absence of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Mike Napoli, could see that run production increase once again in 2013.

    76. Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies

    Cuddyer may have missed two months last season with an oblique injury, but the run production per at-bat was still nonetheless impressive, as it has been for much of his career.

Nos. 75-71

7 of 53

    75. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers

    With 51 extra-base hits, 81 runs scored, a .288 average and a .355 OBP, Aoki's first season in the majors could certainly be termed a success. Aoki was slotted in the eighth position in the batting order to start the season, but eventually became a successful leadoff hitter. He'll continue in that role to start the 2013 season as well.

    74. Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels

    Since taking over as the everyday shortstop in 2008, Aybar has been steady with the bat despite often times being moved throughout the batting order.

    73. Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels

    Trumbo followed up a stellar rookie season with 32 home runs and 95 RBI last season. He tailed off considerably in the second half following a scorching start, however. Trumbo can be prone to streaks, and if he can manage to harness his swing and be consistent throughout the entire season, it won't just be Hamilton, Trout and Pujols in the Angels lineup they'll be talking about.

    72. Jon Jay, St. Louis Cardinals

    Jay may not be tremendously flashy at the plate, but he's good enough to have posted a .300 average in his first three seasons. There's certainly nothing wrong with having a .373 on-base percentage at the top of the batting order, either.

    71. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees

    With numbers that have been in decline for the past five seasons, Rodriguez is no longer the feared hitter that terrorized opposing pitchers. Considering his current injury woes, he'll likely be off this list next season.

Nos. 70-66

8 of 53

    70. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles

    Slowed by injuries last season, Markakis has been a steady and consistent producer for the Orioles dating back to his rookie year. The Orioles are hoping that a healthy Markakis can continue providing that consistent performance this year as they hope for a repeat playoff performance.

    69. Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox

    Where could Ellsbury be had he remained healthy? If judged based on just his 2011 numbers alone, he'd likely be in the top 10. But his health indeed played a major role in his ranking much farther down on this list.

    68. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers

    To say that Jackson took a major step forward offensively in 2012 would be a huge understatement. Jackson shined at the top of the Tigers order last year, providing a great mix of power and the ability to find the gaps. He was one of the league leaders in triples over the last two seasons.

    67. Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

    The hit master for the Yankees continues rolling along, leading the majors with 216 hits, the second-highest number of his spectacular 18-year career.

    66. Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays

    Many may be surprised to see Joyce on this list, but he's become an important part of the Rays offense. Joyce earned an All-Star selection with his efforts in 2011 and contributed 17 home runs and 59 RBI last year despite a nagging oblique injury.

Nos. 65-61

9 of 53

    65. Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds

    Phillips just continues rolling along at a steady pace offensively for the Reds. He's hit 18 home runs in each of the past three seasons and averaged 73 RBI with 93 runs scored each year during that span as well.

    64. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves

    Freeman's hot start to the 2013 season was put on hold when he was put on the 15-day disabled list with an oblique strain. Freeman was hitting .412 with a homer and seven RBI through five games.

    Freeman followed up a runner-up finish in Rookie of the Year Award balloting in 2011 with 23 home runs and 94 RBI last season.

    63. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

    Freeman's teammate will be looking to pick up the slack while he's disabled. Heyward bounced back with 27 home runs and 82 RBI after going through the dreaded sophomore slump in 2011.

    62. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

    In his first full season at first base for the Diamondbacks, Goldschmidt was stellar. He scored 82 runs, provided 64 extra-base hits and delivered a .850 OPS. Goldschmidt's power will likely continue to develop as he navigates his way through his third season in Arizona.

    61. Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds

    Playing all over the field didn't seem to bother Frazier last year, as he was a major part of the Reds' resurgence in capturing the NL Central title for the second time in three seasons.

    Frazier has followed up by hitting .480 with three home runs and nine RBI in his first six games this year.

Nos. 60-56

10 of 53

    60. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

    With five seasons now in the books, 26-year-old Bruce has become a bona fide All-Star and one the top slugging right fielders in the National League. He produced a career-high 34 home runs and 99 RBI last season.

    59. Jose Altuve, Houston Astros

    Altuve stood out on the Astros last season, leading the team in hits, doubles, triples and runs scored. He's clearly a player that Houston can build around as it works on developing its prospects for the future.

    58. Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

    Upton's production dropped off last season with just 17 home runs and 67 RBI a year after winning a Silver Slugger Award and finishing fourth in NL MVP Award balloting. He'll have his chance to regain his stroke this season with the Atlanta Braves.

    57. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees

    Injuries kept Teixeira's numbers down in 2012 However, he's still averaged 34 home runs, 106 RBI and 93 runs scored in his four years in pinstripes.

    56. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland Athletics

    The Cuban outfielder broke out in a big way in his first full professional season, hitting .292 with 23 home runs and 82 RBI. Cespedes would have taken home the Rookie of the Year Award if it weren't for the exploits of one Mike Trout.

Nos. 55-51

11 of 53

    55. Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Montero has developed into one of the better hitting catchers in the majors. His 88 RBI last season were a career-high, as was his .391 on-base percentage.

    54. Lance Berkman, Texas Rangers

    Berkman was limited to just 32 games last season, as he endured two knee surgeries and three stints on the disabled list. But the production is still of great value despite concerns about his health and advancing age.

    53. Michael Morse, Seattle Mariners

    Morse put up terrific numbers during his three-plus years with the Washington Nationals. He's gotten off to a hot start in his new home with the Seattle Mariners as well, giving promise that his value as a hitter will remain high.

    52. Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox

    Injuries held Napoli's numbers down last year after a tremendously productive 2011 season in just 369 at-bats. Napoli's hip condition could be an issue later in his career, but for now, the Boston Red Sox will take everything they can get.

    51. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

    Pence slumped to a .219 average following his trade to the Giants last year, yet he still produced 45 RBI in just 59 games. San Francisco would gladly take that production for a 162-game season.

Nos. 50-46

12 of 53

    50. David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals

    Injuries curtailed Freese's production in both 2010 and 2011, but he showed what he can do when healthy last year. Freese's .839 OPS was a career-high and he continues to hit close to .300 each season.

    49. Pablo Sandoval, San Francisco Giants

    There's no doubt that Sandoval can hit, but his injury concerns have slowed him down over the past two seasons. Sandoval doesn't strike out much and is capable of producing .900-plus OPS seasons when fully healthy.

    48. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

    It's not even been a full season, but Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper has served notice that he's ready to climb to the top of this list.

    Harper's 22 home runs and 59 RBI weren't the only statistics of note last season.

    He placed in the top 10 in Rbat among all outfielders and the top 15 in several other categories despite missing the first month of the season. Expect Harper to continue climbing the charts in the coming years.

    47. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox

    Scrappy, passionate and fiery are all words that describe Pedroia's style of play that keeps him productive year after year. Pedroia was bothered by a nagging thumb injury last year, but still managed to hit .290 with 57 extra-base hits.

    46. Allen Craig, St. Louis Cardinals

    Craig shined last season after missing the first few weeks of the season, hitting .307 with 22 home runs and 92 RBI. The Cardinals were impressed enough to ink him to a five-year deal.

    Craig has the ability to produce a 30/100 season and repeat those numbers for several years to come.

Nos. 45-41

13 of 53

    45. Jose Reyes, Toronto Blue Jays

    Reyes put up solid numbers all-around last year after winning the NL batting title in 2011. He accumulated 60 extra-base hits with 86 runs scored for a vastly underachieving Miami Marlins team. His hot start thus far for the Blue Jays (.406 BA after eight games) is certainly encouraging.

    44. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

    Santana has already shown great value as a hitter in his first two-plus seasons. While his production tailed off slightly last year, there's no reason to think that he won't continue to provide solid value for the foreseeable future.

    43. Carlos Quentin, San Diego Padres

    Since his breakout season in 2008 with the Chicago White Sox, Quentin has yet to play a full year. The injury-prone outfielder played in only 86 games in 2012 after undergoing offseason knee surgery.

    However,  his production when in the lineup is still of high value—he would have come close to a 30 HR/90 RBI season last year. If he remains healthy, he'll be of great value to the Padres, especially with shorter fences at Petco Park.

    42. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

    Jones is the star of the Orioles offense, as evidenced by his 32-home run performance last year and his scorching start to this season (.538 BA in first six games). He has quickly evolved into one of the elite sluggers in the American League.

    41. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

    Gonzalez would likely be a lot higher on this list if his home/road splits weren't so drastic. He barely provides value beyond a replacement player away from Coors Field.

40. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals

14 of 53

    There are few players on this list who perform at a consistent level year after year. Save for an injury in 2011, Zimmerman can almost always be counted on for at least 25 home runs with at least 90-95 RBI.

    Zimmerman placed fourth among all third basemen in the past three seasons with a 57 rBAT. His wRC+ ranked fifth, as did his batting value of 56.1.

    Zimmerman signed a $100 million contract last season, and based on the overall value and comparable value of others, he didn't get a raw deal.

39. Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers

15 of 53

    It's hard to imagine that Hart could be with another team after this year, but the Brewers may not be able to afford to bring him back for next season and beyond. The free-agent first baseman will be highly sought after by many clubs, as he has the ability to add power at the top of the order.

    Hart has averaged 29 home runs and 83 RBI for the past three seasons and has slugged over .500 during that time as well.

38. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies

16 of 53

    Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz took his offense to a new level last season, setting career highs with 16 home runs and 68 RBI. His oWAR of 4.1 was also a personal best.

    Ruiz has always been held in high regard for his consistent approach at the plate. His .363 on-base percentage ranks seventh among all catchers since 2006.

    Ruiz posted a .935 OPS last season, behind only Buster Posey among all major league catchers. The Phillies will miss his bat as he sits out the first 25 games of this season for a positive test for Adderall. They'll certainly welcome his value and production upon his return.

37. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

17 of 53

    Much like fellow catcher Carlos Ruiz, Yadier Molina became a whole lot more than just a good defensive catcher last year.

    Molina posted career highs in hits (159), home runs (22), RBI (76), batting average (.315), slugging percentage (.501) and OPS (.874).

    His jump in production certainly helped to ease the pain of Albert Pujols' departure and lead to a fourth-place finish in National League MVP Award balloting.

    Molina's oWAR jumped to 5.1 from his previous high of 3.3 in 2011 as well.

36. Andre Ethier: Los Angeles Dodgers

18 of 53

    Knee issues in 2011 slowed down Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier, but he bounced back with another solid offensive effort last season.

    Ethier's .334 BABIP is the second-highest among all regular right fielders over the past three years and his batting value of 53.7 is the seventh-highest during that same span.

    Ethier's production could experience a dropoff in his 30s, but over the past three seasons his overall value puts him in good stead on this list.

35. Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians

19 of 53

    Miserable postseasons aside, Cleveland Indians first baseman/right fielder Nick Swisher has been a model of consistency offensively for several seasons.

    Swisher can always be counted on for 20-25 home runs with 85-90 RBI each year, and the Tribe will certainly look for that to continue during the life of his four-year contract.

    Swisher's overall batting value is the fourth-highest among qualified right fielders since 2010 and his 291 wRC is the second-highest, trailing only behind Jose Bautista.

34. Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees

20 of 53

    Say what you want about New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson and his high strikeout rate and low batting average—sabermetric statistics point out his overall value.

    Among qualified center fielders over the past three seasons, only Josh Hamilton, Matt Kemp and Andrew McCutchen rank higher than Granderson in batting value, OPS and wRC.

    Granderson's rBAT of 45 is also the fourth-highest in the past three seasons. Fans can curse all they want about the high amount of whiffs seen from Granderson's bat, but the value is obviously there.

33. Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers

21 of 53

    It's hard to believe that Torii Hunter is playing in his 17th season, because his numbers over the past three seasons suggest he's in his prime right now.

    Hunter hit a career-high .313 last season for the Los Angeles Angels, topping the 90-RBI mark for the third time in the past four seasons.

    Over the past three years Hunter ranks in a fifth-place tie among all right fielders with a batting value of 57. His .329 BABIP ranks fourth.

    In just about every conceivable offensive measurement, Hunter ranks within the top 6-8 among right fielders in the past three years.

    Not too shabby for a man approaching 38 years of age.

32. Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds

22 of 53

    There was a reason the Cincinnati Reds coveted outfielder Shin-Soo Choo—general manager Walt Jocketty did his homework.

    Choo ranked third in rBAT among right fielders from 2010-2012 and fifth in batting value during the same time span. His BABIP was tops among regular right fielders.

    Defense aside, Choo's offensive value was the deciding factor for the Reds in their search for a major upgrade at the top of their batting order.

31. Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays

23 of 53

    Many may have wondered why Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos opted to give Melky Cabrera a two-year, $16 million deal after he was suspended for PED use.

    The numbers give the reason why.

    Cabrera's offensive resurgence in 2011 with the Kansas City Royals and last year with the San Francisco Giants can't be simply explained away because of elevated testosterone levels.

    The only left fielders who ranked higher than Cabrera in terms of batting value and runs created are the players you'll find ahead of him on this list. Among both center fielders and left fielders, Cabrera's rBAT of 54 ranks fifth in the past two seasons.

    Of course the naysayers will never be convinced that Cabrera's numbers weren't enhanced. He'll have to work hard to prove them wrong.

30. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins

24 of 53

    The man with the richest contract in Minnesota Twins history got paid because numbers don't lie.

    Catcher Joe Mauer is making the big bucks for a very good reason—he produces better than any other catcher except for Buster Posey.

    Over the past three seasons, Mauer ranks behind only Posey in batting value and rBAT. In addition, he leads all catchers in wRC and BABIP.

    Yes, the threat of injury will always be there for Mauer. But in terms of value he's worth every penny the Twins paid for his services.

29. Adrian Gonzalez, Los Angeles Dodgers

25 of 53

    Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez may see a dropoff in home run production while playing in expansive Dodger Stadium, but that may be the only statistic that affects his overall production.

    Over the past three seasons, Gonzalez's rBAT ranks fifth among all first basemen, all of whom are ranked higher than him on this list as well.

    His BABIP is second overall and his wRC places him fifth. Gonzalez has clearly shown his offensive worth means more than just home runs.

28. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

26 of 53

    Alex Gordon made the switch from third base to left field in 2010. It may not be a coincidence that his offense started surging at around the same time.

    For the past two seasons Gordon has excelled offensively, and the numbers bear that out.

    Among all left fielders in the past two years, Gordon ranks third with a 55 rBAT. He's tops among all left fielders with a .357 BABIP and second with a 221 wRC.

    Gordon is another corner outfielder who doesn't necessarily need the long ball to add potent offensive value for his team. In a position that is dominated by power hitters, Gordon uses his ability to hit to all fields to excel.

27. Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals

27 of 53

    At one time, Carlos Beltran was one of the up-and-coming center fielders in the majors. His days with the Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros and early on with the New York Mets were indeed special.

    However, knee injuries took their toll, and Beltran's game suffered through the late 2000s. After missing over half of the games for the Mets between 2009 and 2010, Beltran returned in 2011 as a right fielder.

    Only two right fielders in baseball have been more productive than Beltran since the beginning of 2011—Jose Bautista and Giancarlo Stanton.

    Beltran ranks only behind Bautista and Stanton on rBAT, wRC+ and batting value. Beltran also heads into his age 36 season with the third-most doubles, the fifth-most home runs and is in the top five in OPS, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and walks.

    He has clearly shown his worth after finally staying healthy and playing every day.

26. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

28 of 53

    The 2012 season was easily the best offensive output ever witnessed from Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, creating quite a surge on this particular list.

    His 42 home runs and 110 RBI were career-highs, in fact more than doubling his output the previous season. His .941 OPS also represented a personal best and his .384 OBP was also tops in his career.

    This year, Encarnacion has gotten off to a slow start, hitting just .087 in his first six games. But he should benefit from the addition of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera hitting ahead of him along with a healthy Jose Bautista.

25. Chase Headley, San Diego Padres

29 of 53

    San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley will be making a late start in the 2013 season due to a fractured thumb. The Padres are certainly hoping his offense is up to speed upon his return as well.

    Headley had one of the best seasons in franchise history last year, hitting .286 with 31 home runs and a league-leading 115 RBI.

    Headley's rBAT over the past two seasons ranks him third among all third basemen. His .350 BABIP is tops at the position and his wRC is fourth. Headley has clearly arrived in the category of elite players at the hot corner.

24. Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers

30 of 53

    The Milwaukee Brewers were dealt a blow last week when they learned that third baseman would be placed on the disabled list with a left knee sprain.

    Ramirez is a big reason why the Brewers were ranked first in the National League last year in runs scored. Despite losing Prince Fielder, the Brewers were buoyed by Ramirez's efforts in his first year with the club.

    Ramirez ranks first among all third baseman over the past two seasons in rBAT. He ranks second in wRC+, second in wOBA and second in overall batting value.

    You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar to know that his bat will be missed by the Brewers.

23. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox

31 of 53

    Paul Konerko may be one of the older active full-time first basemen in the majors, but his numbers belie his age.

    Konerko ranks fourth among all first basemen in the past three years in rBAT, fourth in wRC+, and his .882 OPS ranks just a tick behind Adrian Gonzalez for fifth place.

    Age is just a number for Konerko. His production is proof positive.

22. David Wright, New York Mets

32 of 53

    The New York Mets may be struggling somewhat financially. But when they crunched the numbers for third baseman David Wright, they made an investment that was both sound and wise.

    Wright earned an eight-year, $138 million contract extension last winter. Considering the overall efforts during his career, especially in the last three years, every penny was justified.

    Wright is third among third baseman in rBAT since 2010, fifth in wRC+ and fifth in batting value. Only Mark Reynolds drew more walks, and his .845 OPS tied for third.

    Wright has indeed delivered all the right numbers for a team that has had difficulty crunching bottom-line numbers.

21. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins

33 of 53

    Over the past two seasons, Josh Willingham has largely flown under the radar in terms of recognition. He's been left off the All-Star team for the past seasons despite numbers that certainly suggest a big-time snub.

    Among left fielders in the past two seasons, only Ryan Braun and Matt Holliday have a higher rBAT than Willingham. His batting value ranks fifth and he places third in both home runs and RBI.

    Willingham is a clear sleeper on this list.

20. Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals

34 of 53

    Over the past four seasons, Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler has become a hitting machine. That term would definitely be appropriate for his last two seasons, considering that's all he's done.

    Butler now concentrates solely on hitting, and it's an art he's learning to master. Butler finally earned recognition for his hitting prowess last year with an All-Star selection and a Silver Slugger Award. He place only behind David Ortiz in every major offensive statistic in the past two seasons.

    Without the use of a glove, Butler has certainly capitalized on his extra time by honing his hitting skills.

19. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays

35 of 53

    There may be no better statistic that speaks to Tampa Bay Rays third Evan Longoria's value than this one from last season—the Rays were 41-44 with Longoria on the disabled list and 49-28 when he was active.

    Is it any wonder why the Rays extended his contract for six years and $100 million?

    Longoria's other offensive measurements are right up there at the top—second with a wRC+ of 138, third with an .872 OPS, second with an rBAT of 75. The value is right at the top.

    But no statistic is more telling to a team than what a player means to his team in terms of wins.

18. Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays

36 of 53

    Evan Longoria's teammate with the Tampa Bay Rays provides his own value as well.

    A cursory look at his peripherals might not suggest that Ben Zobrist is an integral part of the Rays offense. They may not even suggest he's among the elite.

    But digging into the sabermetric stats tells a different tale.

    Over the past three seasons, Zobrist ranks favorably among outfielders and second baseman in many major offensive categories. His wRC ranks 24th overall among all active players, his rBAT is 19th and his adjusted batting runs places him 26th overall.

    Another reason why box score statistics just don't paint the whole picture.

17. Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels

37 of 53

    If it wasn't for his streaky nature, Josh Hamilton would undoubtedly be much higher on this list.

    Hamilton's 43 home runs and 128 RBI last season could have been so much more if he hadn't taken off much of June and July. Well, he was there but the mind was somewhere else, likely on his efforts to quit smokeless tobacco.

    Despite that and nagging injuries over the past three seasons, Hamilton is still a top 20 hitter regardless. He tops all center fielders in batting value and wRC+ and he places fourth among all outfielders in adjusted batting runs.

    Hamilton's move to right field and a lineup that consists of Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo may serve to help Hamilton overall in terms of value—as long as he doesn't find something else to quit in the middle of the season.

16. David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox

38 of 53

    Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is still on the shelf, cooling his heels—literally.

    Ortiz took part in a simulated game in Fort Myers on Monday and could begin a rehab assignment on Thursday, certainly good news for the Sox.

    They could certainly put his overall offensive value to good use.

    Ortiz placed in the top 20 in batting value last year alone despite missing nearly the entire second half of the season. His placement in the top 20 in most sabermetric offensive categories over the past three years suggests not much of a downturn in overall value despite entering his age 37 season.

    If the heels can hold up, Ortiz will look to continue adding that same value for the 2013 season.

15. Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers

39 of 53

    Adrian Beltre is entering his 16th season in the majors this year, and he's never been of more value throughout his career.

    Given the fact that Miguel Cabrera has only played third base for one of the past three seasons, Beltre is at the top in a number of offensive categories.

    He's tops in adjusted batting runs, rBAT, wRC, OPS and batting value among all third basemen. Beltre is also tops in batting value as well.

    Beltre is still going strong and will be heavily counted on to continue his offensive prowess for the Texas Rangers in the absence of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young.

14. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

40 of 53

    Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki may have missed the vast portion of the 2012 season, but it doesn't take away from his overall value when he's in the lineup.

    Among all shortstops over the past three seasons, Tulowitzki leads all shortstops with a rBAT of 49. His batting value also tops all others at 53.2 and his wRC+ of 134 is also No. 1.

    There's no question that Tulowitzki still rules offensively among other shortstops. But he also holds his own among all players regardless of position.

13. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels

41 of 53

    Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols overcame the worst start of his career last season to top 30 home runs and 100 RBI for the 11th time in 12 seasons.

    However, his batting average, OBP and slugging percentage all dropped for the third straight season. While still an elite slugger, Pujols now lags behind Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto and Prince Fielder among first basemen.

    They're still numbers that 98 percent of players in baseball envy, but simply not Pujols-like.

12. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

42 of 53

    Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista was on his way to a rebound last season after a sub-par first half when his wrist wouldn't allow him to go on.

    Bautista still hit 27 home runs with 65 RBI, but the .241 average represented a 61-point drop and his slugging percentage and OPS dropped as well.

    Bautista raked during spring training and hit two home runs in his first three games this season. While he's currently hobbled by a sore right ankle, his wrist appears to be completely healthy.

    Bautista is tops by far among all right fielders over the past three seasons with a 136 rBAT. He's also on top with a 166 wRC+ and a .992 OPS.

11. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

43 of 53

    Forget about the lost 2011 season and the fractured ankle—Buster Posey is the best offensive catcher, hands down.

    Posey's rBAT of 68 is at the top of the list among catchers. His batting value of 65.7 is also No. 1 and his wRC+ of 145 tops all others as well.

    Throw in the two World Series rings in two full seasons and it's no wonder the Giants locked him up for nine years and $167 million.

10. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

44 of 53

    Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton has played just three full seasons, but he's already the second-highest ranked right fielder in baseball over the past three seasons.

    Stanton posted an rBAT of 67, good for second, a 140 wRC+ and .903 OPS, also good for second. His batting value of 70.2 is also second.

    Stanton has achieved so much already in his career, and he's still just 23 years of age.

    The next 10 years or so are going to be fun to watch.

9. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers

45 of 53

    Last year's injury issues took a bit of a bit out of Matt Kemp's overall value, but not enough to take him out of the top 10.

    Kemp's 83.3 batting value puts him third among all center fielders in the past three years. His wRC+ of 139 is second and his OPS is also No. 2.

    Kemp's rBAT of 84 is second only to Andrew McCutchen and his adjusted batting runs of 90.13 is also second.

    Kemp is off to a slow start, hitting just .100 in his first six games. It's hoped that there are no lingering issues from the offseason shoulder surgery and that Kemp can return to form quickly.

8. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

46 of 53

    If it weren't for the fact that Mike Trout has played only one season and change, he'd likely be No. 2 or 3 on this list.

    The fact that he cracked the top 10 so quickly is a feat all unto itself. Considering the numbers Trout put up last year, it's not a surprise.

    Taking into account he played in just 40 games in 2011, Trout still came in ranked No. 4 among center fielders with a 53.57 adjusted batting runs rate over the past two seasons. His rBAT was also fourth.

    With just last year factored in, Trout topped everyone with an rBAT of 54 and his wRC+ was tied at the top with Miguel Cabrera.

7. Matt Holliday: St. Louis Cardinals

47 of 53

    St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday has averaged 26 home runs and 93 RBI with an average above .300 during the past three seasons. But the sabermetric statistics clearly show the run-producing value that Holliday provides.

    Holliday ranks behind only Ryan Braun among left fielders over the past three seasons in both wRC+ and rBAT. His adusted batting runs rate of 110.98 is also second to Braun.

    Holliday's batting value of 105.8 also trails Braun. It's pretty clear while Holliday isn't posting the gaudy numbers of his earlier days with the Colorado Rockies that's he's still one of the truly elite offensive weapons in all of baseball.

6. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

48 of 53

    If Andrew McCutchen can get over the second-half fades that have plagued him in the past two seasons, he would be threatening for No. 1 on this list.

    Still, he's the top-rated center fielder in many offensive sabermetric statistics.

    McCutchen comes in at the No. 1 position in adjusted batting runs, rBAT, second in batting value and tops in wRC.

    It's that slumping second half that's been his Achilles heel.

5. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees

49 of 53

    Robinson Cano could be one of the highest paid baseball players in history sometime within the next 10 months or so. The numbers suggest he's worthy.

    Aside from his Silver Slugger awards, All-Star selections and Gold Glove awards, Cano is tops among all second baseman in just about every single sabermetric statistic that matters.

    Quite frankly, no one else is even close. Cano is No. 1 over the past three seasons in batting value, wRC+, BABIP, OPS, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage.

    If Cano makes a bid to become the next $200 million man, his new agent Jay-Z will have plenty of material to work with.

4. Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers

50 of 53

    Throughout his career, first baseman Prince Fielder has been a beast.

    He's also been a beast who produces a ton of value.

    Fielder has led the league in home runs, RBI and walks in separate years and could top the 300-home run late this season.

    He ranks third among all first basemen in the past three seasons with a 119 Rbat and third with a 137.09 adjusted batting runs rate. His wRC+ of 150 is also third and his .930 OPS also puts him in the No. 3 position.

    Considering that corner infielders take up three of the top four spaces on this list, Fielder is clearly among the kings of hitting in Major League Baseball.

3. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

51 of 53

    First basemen Joey Votto wasn't going to let a two-month stint on the disabled list last season take him out of the top three on this list.

    Votto led the majors last season with a .474 on-base percentage and topped the National League with 94 walks despite the long layoff.

    Over the past three seasons, Votto ranks second among first baseman in wRC+ and batting value. He also places in the runner-up position in rBAT and adjusted batting runs as well.

    When it comes to run production value, Votto has few peers.

2. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

52 of 53

    Ryan Braun has finished first and second in National League Most Valuable Player Award balloting in the past two seasons. While the peripheral numbers give a fair representation of his overall value, a more up-close at the sabermetric statistics really show how his value is head and shoulders above all others at his position.

    Braun easily outdistances all left fielders with an adjusted batting runs rate of 129.84. His rBAT of 129 is far ahead of Matt Holliday at 102.

    It's the same with his wRC+ of 156, his OPS of .947 and his batting value of 130.4. Braun was slowed by neck spasms for three games but was back in the lineup on Monday night. Not many teams can absorb a huge loss, but the Brewers would be devastated offensively if Braun missed any serious time.

1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

53 of 53

    It doesn't matter what position Miguel Cabrera plays, he is simply the best offensive producer in baseball.

    Aside from the Triple Crown, the MVP Award and winning the home run title, RBI and batting average title in separate seasons, Cabrera's sabermetric statistics are far and away the best in baseball over the past three seasons.

    Cabrera is tops with a 173 rBAT, a 191.88 adjusted batting runs rate, a 169.9 batting value, a 171 wRC+ and a 1.025 OPS.

    Cabrera, when looking solely at offensive value, is without question the greatest hitter in MLB today.

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.