Top 10 Hitting Middle Infielders in MLB Today

Brandon Croce@@BrandonCroceAnalyst IJune 27, 2013

Top 10 Hitting Middle Infielders in MLB Today

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    In years past in the MLB, second baseman and shortstops, or middle infielders, were not expected to be great hitters. However, there has seen a shift away from this way of thinking and now a number of middle infielders are some of the top hitters in the game.

    When compiling these rankings, I looked primarily at batting average, extra base hits and home runs for this season as well as their career numbers. I also looked at RBI totals but did not put as much weight on them because the majority of middle infielders hit near the top of the lineup and run opportunities will be limited.

10. Aaron Hill

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    2013 statistics: .317 BA, 2 HR, 6 XBH, 6 RBI

    This was probably the hardest selection to make because it was a decision between Ben Zobrist, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Aaron Hill. The middle infielders for Philadelphia missed the cut because their numbers have been declining for a few years now and it looks like their best years are behind them.

    It then came down to Zobrist and Hill with Arizona's second baseman getting the nod because of the better career numbers. Hill has just come back from a broken hand so his stats this year aren't impressive but he had a great season in 2012 with a .302 batting average, 26 home runs and 85 RBI. 

9. Jean Segura

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    2013 statistics: .332 BA, 11 HR, 28 XBH 32 RBI

    It is hard to name a player a top hitter only 75 games into his first full season in the majors, but Segura's performance can't be ignored either. The Brewers' shortstop has taken the league by storm and currently has the sixth best batting average in MLB.

    It remains to be seen if he can continue this production over an extended period of time. If he continues on this pace though over a full season, he would definitely move up these rankings.

8. Brandon Phillips

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    2013 statistics: .265 BA, 11 HR, 24 XBH, 60 RBI

    Brandon Phillips has seen his numbers drop since winning the Silver Slugger award in 2011 but he is still one of the better hitting second baseman in the game today. He isn't necessarily great at one thing but good in a number of different areas.

    He has a career batting average of .272 and averaged a little over 18 home runs with 78 RBI per season. Phillips has been a nice compliment to teammates Joey Votto and Jay Bruce and is one of the reasons the Reds have seen success the past couple of seasons.

7. Ian Desmond

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    2013 statistics: .273 BA, 12 HR, 33 XBH 41 RBI

    Ian Desmond had a breakout year last season with 25 home runs and a batting average of .292 that helped propel the Nationals to the best record. He is on pace again this year to match these numbers or come very close.

    Ian Desmond has shown decent power, which is kind of rare for middle infielders. He is a big part of a nucleus of hitters for Washington with Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper. This group, along with their solid pitching, should play a major role in the team's success the next few years. 

6. Jose Reyes

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    2013 statistics: .357 BA, 1 HR, 3 XBH, 5 RBI

    Many believed that Jose Reyes was on the decline of his career but after a fairly productive year in Miami he was off to a fast start in Toronto. He has only played 11 games this season due to an ankle injury that he has recently come back from.

    Reyes has a career batting average of .292 with 465 extra base hits, 93 of which are home runs. His best season though was in 2011, which was his last as a New York Met, when he hit .337. If he is able to stay healthy this year, he could be heading towards another career year.

5. Ian Kinsler

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    2013 Statistics: .300 BA, 7 HR, 19 XBH, 28 RBI

    Ian Kinsler has been a steady player for the Rangers for over seven years and is on pace for another solid season this year. He is hitting well above his career batting average of .274 and looks to be making an effort to replace the lost production with the departure of Josh Hamilton.

    For being a three time All-Star, he doesn't have the most impressive stat line though. He is a career .274 hitter and only hit over .300 once in his career. He has hit over 30 home runs twice in his career but every other season he has hit less than 20 and has never broke the 90 RBI mark.

    The RBI total isn't a major negative considering he has been the team's leadoff hitter the past couple of seasons and opportunities for runs batted in are less frequent. His career .351 on-base percentage makes him a good hitter, not a great one, and that is why he is ranked where he is.

4. Howie Kendrick

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    2013 statistics: .317 BA, 8 HR, 24 XBH, 37 RBI

    With superstar teammates like Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamiliton, second baseman Howie Kendrick is sometimes forgotten. However, he has developed into one of the better hitting middle infielders in the game today.

    He has a career batting average of .294 by hitting over .280 every season of his seven year career except once. He has had over 30 doubles each of the past three seasons and on his way to surpassing that mark again this year with 13 to date. 

3. Dustin Pedroia

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    2013 statistics: .318 BA, 4 HR, 25 XBH, 45 RBI

    The case could be made that Dustin Pedroia has been the team's most important player in their lineup the past few seasons. He can hurt opposing teams in a number of different ways from hitting for average to even showing enough power for the long ball.

    Similar to Jose Altuve's doubters, many questioned Pedroia's ability due to his height but he has quickly put that to rest. With a career batting average of .304 and hitting over 35 doubles four out of the past five seasons, Pedroia is a top-3 middle infielder when he's at bat.

2. Troy Tulowitzki

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    2013 statistics: .347 BA, 16 HR, 32 XBH, 51 RBI

    Troy Tulowitzki had a down year last season due to injuries but has been one of the best hitters in the game over the first three months. Before the 2012 season, the Rockies' shortstop has been very consistent by hitting over .300 while averaging almost 30 home runs and 100 RBI per season.

    Some will want to diminish Tulo's abilities by saying his numbers are inflated by having half games at Coors Field. However, the stats over the past three seasons between home and away are very similar. 

    Between 2010 and 2012, he has hit 35 home runs at home with a .316 batting average compared to 30 home runs on the road with a .293 batting average. It doesn't seem to matter where he is hitting as Tulowitzki has developed into one of the best hitters in the game today.

1. Robinson Cano

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    2013 statistics: .276 batting average, 16 home runs, 31 XBH 46 RBI

    This was an easy selection as Robinson Cano is clearly the best hitting middle infielder in the game today. If he is not able to work out a new deal with his current team, he will be highly sought after on the free agency market this winter.

    Over the previous four seasons, Cano has averaged almost 29 home runs and 102 RBI a season with a .314 batting average. He has become the best player on a team with a number of aging superstars and the Yankees will most likely have to continue to rely on him heavily for the remaining part of the season.