Ranking the Top 5 Hitting Duos in Major League Baseball

Martin Telleria@martintelleriaSenior Analyst IIIJune 6, 2013

Ranking the Top 5 Hitting Duos in Major League Baseball

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    Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki had quite a night, combining to hit five home runs and drive in nine in the Colorado Rockies’ 12-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds Wednesday night.

    When healthy, those two have proven over the years to be one of the most devastating duos in baseball, a frightening gauntlet for any pitcher who must traverse the Colorado lineup.

    We know they’re good; but are they the best hitting twosome in baseball?

    Let’s take a look at the top five hitting duos in all of baseball. While past track records will be taken into account, we’ll focus on their contributions in the 2013 season to determine the best of the bunch.

    All statistics are courtesy of ESPN.com and are accurate through the start of play on Thursday, June 6

Honorable Mentions

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    The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were unfortunately eliminated from this conversation because they do not possess dynamic duos, but rather three players worthy of consideration.

    The “Killer P’s” of San Francisco—Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Hunter Pence—each boast impressive resumes, none more impressive than the next. Pence leads the lot in home runs with nine, Sandoval in RBI with 37 and Posey in batting average at .302.

    Their numbers were simply too close to trim this trio into a duo.

    The same was true of the three-man band in St. Louis. Yadier Molina, Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran each represent different, yet significant value to their team.

    Like San Francisco, each leads his team in one of those three stats, Beltran with his 13 home runs, Craig with his 41 RBI and Molina with his .348 batting average. While Beltran has clearly been the best of the bunch thus far, Craig and Molina each present credible arguments for the second banana spot. 

Just Missed the Cut: Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

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    I went back and forth between these two and the pair in the No. 5 spot. At the end of the day, it was the sheer power and fright factor that the other two possess that pushed Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz off the list.

    Beltre has been his usual, outstanding self again this season, hitting .304 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI thus far. The same can be said for Cruz, whose current line of .269, 14 home runs and 40 RBI is similar to his overall career numbers.

    If each can keep up his current pace, they might just force their way into a top-5 spot by the end of the season. For now, however, they just barely miss the cut. 

No. 5: Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays

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    In terms of sheer fright factor, this duo might be No. 1. The task of having to go through these two powerhouses is not for the faint of heart.

    The only reason they do not rank higher is that Jose Bautista has not quite held up his part of the bargain so far, his 12 home runs and 30 RBI being off the astronomical pace we have come to expect over the past few years. Still, a down year (so far) for Bautista is one that countless players would gladly trade for.

    Edwin Encarnacion, on the other hand, has been simply ripping the cover off the ball, his 17 home runs and 48 RBI putting him on pace for 47 and 132 for the season, respectively.

    Should Bautista heat up at some point— he's currently in the middle of a 3-for-30 slump—the devastation these two bats create could be unparalleled. 

No. 4: Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds

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    It’s a true testament to the pairs in front of these two that they do not rank higher on the list. Both Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips have dominated the early part of the season.

    While Votto is in the middle of a miserable slump—3-for-27 over his last seven games—he has still managed to knock 10 home runs out of the yard, drive in 28 runs and post a .323 batting average. I fear for the team he finally breaks out of his slump against.

    Phillips, meanwhile, has shown a propensity to drive in runs this year, collecting an impressive 45 RBI. He has also contributed nine home runs and a .296 batting average.

    While he has recently missed a few games due to a forearm injury, expect Phillips to pick right back up from where he left off. It is this combination of Votto and Phillips that has made the Reds perennial contenders the last few years. 

No. 3: Adam Jones and Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

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    It seems that Adam Jones has finally figured it all out, an awe-inspiring mix of power, speed and defense. He has picked up from where he left off last year, terrorizing pitchers to the tune of a .305 average, 11 home runs and 37 RBI.

    While Jones has effectively built upon his success from last year's breakout campaign, it is the explosion of Chris Davis that has everyone scratching their heads.

    Where on earth did this come from? Sure, he had a nice breakout season last year, but these numbers are just plain ridiculous: 20 home runs, 52 RBI and a .356 batting average. Those are Miguel Cabrera-like numbers.

    Can he keep this level of production up for the rest of the season? Who knows. What we do know is what he has done so far, and that, along with the efforts of Jones, earns them the No. 3 spot on this list. 

No. 2: Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies

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    The toughest call on the entire list was whether or not these two deserved the No. 1 spot. I sure wouldn’t argue if anyone were to make that case.

    Carlos Gonzalez is one of the most purely talented players in the game, reminiscent of Beltran in his prime. The numbers this season have reflected that; his 17 home runs, 42 RBI and .313 batting average are proof of his incredible abilities as a hitter.

    The scary thing is that he’s not even the best hitter on his own team. That distinction belongs to Troy Tulowitzki, the sweet-swinging, slick-fielding shortstop for the Rockies. His numbers make Gonzalez look mortal.

    A line of 15 home runs, 48 RBI and a .349 average is a fantastic full season for most shortstops. Not Tulowitzki, though. Not when he’s at his healthy best. We’ve always said that if he could only stay on the field, he would be a perennial MVP candidate.

    We were right. Tulowitzki is a hitting machine.

    Oh, and for anyone trying to make the silly inflation argument because of the ballpark at which they play? Don’t bother. They’ve done their thing both home and away this season, via David Schoenfield of ESPN.com. These two will ensure that the Rockies will be heard from late in the season. 

No. 1: Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers

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    Was there really any question as to who would ultimately end up here? As much as I wanted to put the last duo here, one person simply did not allow me to do so: Miguel Cabrera.

    Can the sabermetric crowd finally stop comparing Mike Trout to this guy? Only Cabrera could come off a season in which he won the Triple Crown and attempt to improve on it. The numbers, quite frankly, are staggering: 17 home runs, 65 RBI and a .366 batting average. Can someone please tell him that this isn’t a video game?

    His partner in crime, Prince Fielder, hasn’t been too shabby either. While a line of 12 home runs, 48 RBI and a .282 average is easy to overlook when placed next to Cabrera’s, that’s still pretty darn impressive.

    When the contributions of the two are put together, what you’re left with is the most dynamic duo in all of baseball. Pitchers beware.

    What do you think? Do you agree with these rankings? Comment if you agree or disagree below!