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Midseason MLB Player Power Rankings, Position-by-Position

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2013

Midseason MLB Player Power Rankings, Position-by-Position

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    With the midway point of the MLB season here and the All-Star break right around the corner, now is a good time to look at the overall landscape of the league and how players stack up against one another at each position.

    Based solely on first-half performance, I've ranked who I feel are the 10 best players at each position. I've taken into account their all-around offensive production, to a lesser extent their defensive contributions and then what they have meant to the success of their respective teams so far this season.

    Also included in my statistics is each player's FanGraphs WAR. While WAR is a useful stat in gauging a player's value, it's not the be-all, end-all stat that some view it to be. As such, don't expect this to simply be a list of the top 10 in WAR at each position.

    With that out of the way, let's take a position-by-position look at the midseason player power rankings around the MLB.

     

    *Note: There is no slide for DH, but it bears mentioning that David Ortiz (1.003 OPS, 17 HR, 61 RBI) is the best DH in baseball by a huge margin. I'd put Billy Butler (.770 OPS, 7 HR, 48 RBI) second, but again, it's not close.

Catcher

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    Rank Name BA/OBP/SLG H HR RBI R WAR
    1 Yadier Molina (STL)  .344/.389/.487  106   6  45  37   4.0
    2 Buster Posey (SF)  .317/.393/.535   96  13  50  35   3.9
    3 Joe Mauer (MIN)  .311/.392/.464  104    8  30  49   3.4
    4 Russell Martin (PIT)  .242/.345/.403   60   8  32  31   2.9
    5 Jason Castro (HOU)  .268/.332/.475   76  12  31  38   2.2
    6 Matt Wieters (BAL)
     .231/.289/.418   68  12  44  32   1.3
    7 Carlos Santana (CLE)
     .263/.370/.450   76  11  40  39    1.3
    8 Salvador Perez (KC)  .292/.316/.406   79    4  36  24   1.5
    9 Wilin Rosario (COL)  .277/.314/.480   75  13  45  38   1.0
    10 Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)  .268/.309/.450   72  11  48  25   1.5

     

    Position Overview

    A case can be made for Buster Posey or Joe Mauer, but most would agree that Yadier Molina is the best catcher in the game today, and he has a chance to follow Posey in winning NL MVP if he keeps playing like he has.

    There's a clear gap between those three and the rest of the current crop of catchers, but youngster Salvador Perez could make the leap to that upper echelon before too long.

    In his first full season, 24-year-old Wilin Rosario may have the best raw power at the position. Meanwhile, Jason Castro, Carlos Santana and Jonathan Lucroy are all either 26 or 27 years old and just entering the prime of their careers.

    From a defensive standpoint, Russell Martin and Matt Wieters both do a fantastic job handling their respective staffs and providing solid pop at the plate. The two-year, $17 million deal the Pirates gave Martin in the offseason was questioned at the time, but it now looks like one of the best moves of the winter.

First Base

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    Rank Name BA/OBP/SLG H HR RBI R WAR
    1 Chris Davis (BAL)  .313/.390/.696  102  33  85  63    4.5
    2 Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)  .310/.388/.560  104  21  74  57   3.9
    3 Joey Votto (CIN)  .318/.429/.504  107   15  40  61   3.5
    4 Edwin Encarnacion (TOR)  .269/.361/.535   88   23  68  56   2.7
    5 Allen Craig (STL)  .329/.372/.494  108  10  71  47   1.7
    6 Freddie Freeman (ATL)  .305/.387/,461   90   9  56  48   1.5
    7 Prince Fielder (DET)  .262/.361/.453   90  15  66  45   0.7
    8 James Loney (TB)  .316/.370/.472   97   9  43  38   2.2
    9 Adrian Gonzalez (LAD)  .298/.349/.480   95  13  57  36   1.5
    10 Mike Napoli (BOS)  .256/.340/.442   80  11  58  45   1.5

     

    Position Overview

    Coming off of a 33-home run season that looked like his coming-out party last year, Chris Davis has taken his offensive game to another level this season as the most dangerous power threat in the American League in the first half.

    In the National League, Joey Votto now has some competition for the title of best first baseman, as Paul Goldschmidt has been an MVP candidate and Allen Craig continues to be an RBI machine.

    Edwin Encarnacion has proven that last year's breakout season was no fluke, while veterans Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez continue to be among the most consistent and reliable run producers in the game.

    Bargain free-agent signings Mike Napoli (one year, $5 million) and James Loney (one year, $2 million) have both been pleasant surprises, with Loney in particular far exceeding expectations and reveling in a much-needed change of scenery.

Second Base

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    Rank Name BA/OBP/SLG H HR RBI R WAR
    1 Robinson Cano (NYY)  .294/.376/.522   99  20  59  50   3.2
    2 Dustin Pedroia (BOS)  .321/.401/.445  114   6  53  55   3.7
    3 Matt Carpenter (STL)  .322/.393/.496  109   8  40  69   4.1
    4 Jason Kipnis (CLE)  .294/.377/.513   90  13  54  50   3.3
    5 Brandon Phillips (CIN)  .262/.316/.412   86  12  64  45   1.9
    6 Howie Kendrick (LAA)  .308/.350/.466  105   11  40  40   2.0
    7 Chase Utley (PHI)  .276/.339/.504   64  11  30  38   2.6
    8 Ian Kinsler (TEX)  .291/.366/.438   73    8  35  37    1.3
    9 Omar Infante (DET)  .309/.340/.447   90   6  27  38   2.4
    10 Marco Scutaro  .316/.368/.405   95   2  19  36   1.9

     

    Position Overview

    The second base position is as deep this season as it's been in years, but Yankees slugger Robinson Cano still rules the roost. He is the premier run producer at the position and is one of the few remaining stars in the Bronx.

    Dustin Pedroia remains the heart and soul of the Red Sox roster, while Howie Kendrick has bounced back nicely from a disappointing 2012 season.

    The surprise story in the American League has been the play of Jason Kipnis, who just turned in a .419/.517/.699 month of June and looks to be on the cusp of stardom. In the NL, it's Matt Carpenter, who shifted to second base full time this season and has been a fantastic catalyst atop the Cardinals lineup.

    Meanwhile, Brandon Phillips has stepped up as a run producer after being forced into the cleanup spot in the Reds lineup, and a healthy Chase Utley has proven he still has something left in the tank. In the final year of his contract, the career Phillie could be on the move at the deadline.

    Ian Kinsler has missed some time, but he remains a solid catalyst atop the Rangers lineup. Steady veterans Marco Scutaro and Omar Infante round out the list, though they could be pushed by Padres rookie Jedd Gyorko for a spot by the end of the year.

Third Base

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    Rank Name BA/OBP/SLG H HR RBI R WAR
    1 Miguel Cabrera (DET)  .363/.455/.677  126   29  92  69   5.8
    2 David Wright (NYM)  .309/.403/.520  101  13  43  49   4.7
    3 Josh Donaldson (OAK)  .316/.385/.529  104  15  58  49   4.2
    4 Manny Machado (BAL)  .315/.343/.478  123    7  44  54    4.3
    5 Adrian Beltre (TEX)  .319/.362/.551  113  20  52  53   3.3
    6 Evan Longoria (TB)  .285/.361/.515   94  17   50  53    4.2
    7 Pedro Alvarez (PIT)  .250/.312/.521   72  23  58  38   2.4
    8 Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)  .279/.358/.464   78  10  49  40   1.1
    9 Kyle Seager (SEA)  .288/.352/.476  100  13  41  49   3.5
    10 Todd Frazier (CIN)  .243/.334/.406   70  10  41  35   2.4

     

    Position Overview

    Though Chris Davis has more home runs, there is little argument that Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter on the planet at the moment. He looks to be in a good position to make a run at another Triple Crown this year.

    David Wright, Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman have all signed massive extensions since 2012, and they've shown why they are among the most important players on their respective teams with terrific starts this season.

    Adrian Beltre is a consistent veteran and was a legitimate MVP candidate last year, while guys like Kyle Seager, Todd Frazier and Josh Donaldson are just now establishing themselves in the league.

    However, the future of the position, provided he doesn't move back to shortstop, is Manny Machado. The 21-year-old may not get the hype that Mike Trout and Bryce Harper do, but he's every bit as good and he has a ridiculous 39 doubles so far this season.

Shortstop

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    Rank Name BA/OBP/SLG H HR RBI R WAR
    1 Troy Tulowitzki (COL)  .347/.413/.635   77  16  51  41   3.9
    2 Jean Segura (MIL)  .320/.356/.487  113   11  36  50   2.9
    3 Jhonny Peralta (DET)  .303/.359/.443   98   7  42  38   2.5
    4 Ian Desmond (WAS)  .278/.322/.493   93   15  49  41    3.2
    5 J.J. Hardy (BAL)  .254/.293/.431   88  15  48  34   1.6
    6 Jed Lowrie (OAK)  .303/.372/.428   99   6  36  39   1.9
    7 Everth Cabrera (SD)  .294/.372/.402   87   4  25  39   3.5
    8 Brandon Crawford (SF)  .267/.329/.382   79   5  29  35   1.6
    9 Yunel Escobar (TB)  .249/.310/.367   74   7  38  36   2.0
    10 Didi Gregorius (ARI)  .280/.348/.400   63   4  17  33   1.5

     

    Position Overview

    After playing in just 47 games last season, Troy Tulowitzki is on the shelf again this year with a broken rib. But he did enough in the 61 games he has played so far to earn the top spot at the position. 

    Not far behind is one of the biggest breakout stars of the season in 23-year-old Jean Segura, who currently leads the National League with 113 hits. Acquired from the Angels at the deadline last year in the Zack Greinke trade, he looks like a building block in the Brewers' imminent rebuild.

    Veterans J.J. Hardy and Jhonny Peralta have been the cream of the crop in the American League, as Derek Jeter and Jose Reyes have both missed substantial time.

    Jed Lowrie and Yunel Escobar have been a great pickup for the A's and Rays, respectively. Formerly one-dimensional players Everth Cabrera (speed) and Brandon Crawford (defense) have both stepped up their overall offensive games to help their clubs this season.

    The underrated star at the position is Ian Desmond, who was one of the biggest All-Star snubs and, at 27 years old, is just entering his prime. He should have no problem posting his second straight 20/20 season this year.

Outfield

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    Rank Name BA/OBP/SLG H HR RBI R WAR
    1 Carlos Gonzalez (COL)  .304/.369/.619  102  24  63  66   4.2
    2 Mike Trout (LAA)  .315/.394/.552  112  15  57  61   5.1
    3 Carlos Gomez (MIL)  .305/.346/.547   97  13  41   49   4.9
    4 Domonic Brown (PHI)  .281/.327/.554   94  23  64  49   2.0
    5 Jose Bautista (TOR)  .261/.360/.506   82  20   52  60    3.4
    6 Andrew McCutchen (PIT)  .300/.372/.464   99   9  46  53   3.9
    7 Michael Cuddyer (COL)  .336/.393/.576   91  15  52  43   1.8
    8 Carlos Beltran (STL)  .309/.347/.534   96  19  52  48   1.7
    9 Adam Jones (BAL)  .288/.310/.472  109   16  61  60    1.5
    10 Nelson Cruz (TEX)  .277/.335/.529   91  22  68  40   1.4

     

    Position Overview

    There is no runaway choice for the top spot here. At least a few guys could lay claim to it, but my choice is Carlos Gonzalez. Long viewed as a product of his environment at Coors Field, he's actually posted better numbers on the road this season on his way to one of the best all-around stat lines in baseball.

    As far as bringing all five tools to the table, Mike Trout may be in a class of his own right now, but Carlos Gomez has flashed the full toolbox as well this season. Both have stolen 20 bases on the year to go along with their plus defense and solid power numbers.

    This list is made up mostly of consistent veteran run producers like Carlos Beltran, Jose Bautista, Adam Jones, Michael Cuddyer and Nelson Cruz. However, Andrew McCutchen is an exciting young talent still on the upswing of his career, and teammate Starling Marte may soon join him on this list.

    The real surprise of the group is Domonic Brown, who is a couple years removed from top prospect status. He has been as good a post-hype producer as there's been in recent memory.

Right-Handed Starting Pitchers

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    Rank Name IP W-L ERA WHIP K WAR
    1 Adam Wainwright (STL)  140.2  12-5  2.30  0.99  126   4.7
    2 Matt Harvey (NYM)   130   7-2  2.35  0.92  147   4.3
    3 Max Scherzer (DET)  123.2  13-0  3.06  0.95  146   4.0
    4 Yu Darvish (TEX)  119.1    8-4  3.02  1.05  157    3.1
    5 Jordan Zimmermann (WAS)   126  12-3   2.57  0.95   89   2.6
    6 Felix Hernandez (SEA)  130.2   9-4  2.69  1.11  136   3.4
    7 Bartolo Colon (OAK)  120.1  12-3  2.69  1.11   66   2.5
    8 Clay Buchholz (BOS)   84.1   9-0  1.71  1.02   81   2.9
    9 Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA)  124.1   7-4  2.97  0.92  106   1.4
    10 Stephen Strasburg (WAS)  106.1   5-6  2.45  1.06  107   1.9

     

    Position Overview

    The first thing that stands out about this list is the fact that Justin Verlander is not on it, as he was the consensus pick as the top pitcher in baseball entering the season. He's been solid this year, but far from his dominant self, and these 10 guys have out-pitched him to this point.

    Instead, it has been a fully healthy Adam Wainwright and 24-year-old phenom Matt Harvey who have battled for the title of top right-handed pitcher in the game. And it's almost too close to call at this point.

    Max Scherzer has been the Tigers' best pitcher, as he's made the full transformation from wildly inconsistent No. 5 starter to second ace on the Detroit staff. Yu Darvish and Jordan Zimmermann have also risen to the ranks of bona fide ace, though Stephen Strasburg is still a force in Washington as well.

    It's been a long season in Seattle, but the one-two punch of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma has been arguably the best in baseball. Meanwhile, Hiroki Kuroda (38) and Bartolo Colon (40) have both found the fountain of youth as the aces of their staffs.

Left-Handed Starting Pitchers

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    Rank Name IP W-L ERA WHIP K WAR
    1 Clayton Kershaw (LAD)  138.1   8-5  1.89  0.90  129   3.6
    2 Cliff Lee (PHI)  131.2  10-2   2.73  0.98  119   3.5
    3 Patrick Corbin (ARI)  123.2  10-1  2.40  0.98   99   2.6
    4 Jeff Locke (PIT)   109   8-2  2.15  1.13   73   1.1
    5 Chris Sale (CWS)  113.1    5-8  2.78  0.96  123   3.4
    6 Madison Bumgarner (SF)   118   9-5  3.05  0.97  116   1.8
    7 Travis Wood (CHC)   117   6-6  2.69  0.97   85   2.1
    8 Mike Minor (ATL)   115   8-4  3.05  1.09  108   2.0
    9 Derek Holland (TEX)
     118.2    7-4  3.19  1.27  114    3.7
    10 Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD)  111.2   7-3  2.82  1.23   90   1.6

     

    Position Overview

    Though arguments can be made for others, Clayton Kershaw is now regarded by most as the best pitcher in baseball today. It's hard to believe he's still only 25 years old given how good he is and how much he's already accomplished.

    Cliff Lee has long been one of the most dominant pitchers in the game, while Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale are two of the best young pitchers in the game and their staffs' respective aces.

    The rest of this list is a made up of guys few would have considered stars entering the season.

    Patrick Corbin and Jeff Locke were not even guaranteed rotation spots going into spring training, and now they're both All-Stars. Similarly, no one was sure what to expect out of Korean import Hyun-Jin Ryu, but he has been the No. 2 pitcher the Dodgers thought they were getting with Zack Greinke.

    Travis Wood has emerged as a key piece of the puzzle in the Cubs' rebuilding efforts, while Derek Holland has bounced back from a disappointing 2012 season. And Mike Minor has built off of a terrific second half last year to finally reach the potential that made him the No. 7 overall pick back in 2009.

Non-Closer Reliever

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    Rank Name G W-L HLD ERA K/9 WAR
    1 Mark Melancon (PIT)  43  2-1   24  0.85   9.4   1.5
    2 Jesse Crain (CWS)  38  2-3   19  0.74  11.3   2.0
    3 Trevor Rosenthal (STL)  40  1-1   19  1.93  13.3   1.2
    4 Brett Cecil (TOR)  39  3-0    5  1.81  10.5   1.0
    5 Rex Brothers (COL)  40  2-0    7  0.98   9.3   0.5
    6 Joaquin Benoit (DET)  35  2-0    9  1.73  11.4   1.3
    7 Steve Delabar (TOR)  36   5-1    4  1.76  12.5    1.0
    8 David Robertson (NYY)  39  4-1   21  2.23  11.4   0.9
    9 Tanner Scheppers (TEX)  43   5-1   18  1.84   5.9   0.2
    10 Drew Smyly (DET)  33  4-0    9  2.04   9.3   1.5

     

    Position Overview

    Setup men rarely get the recognition they deserve, but two of them (Jesse Crain and Brett Cecil) did manage to make their way onto the All-Star team this year. Another will join them via the Final Vote.

    That said, the best setup man in baseball this season has come from one of the best bullpens in the game top to bottom in Pittsburgh, and it's Mark Melancon. Acquired from the Red Sox for Joel Hanrahan in the offseason, the former closer has been an absolute stud bridging the gap to Jason Grilli.

    Youngsters Trevor Rosenthal and Rex Brothers have the look of future closers, while Drew Smyly may yet wind up in the Tigers rotation but has done a great job as a swingman this season.

    David Robertson and Joaquin Benoit are as consistent as they come, while Tanner Scheppers and Steve Delabar have built off of solid campaigns last season to prove they are more than just one-year wonders in the setup role.

    *Note: I admittedly was unsure where to slot Koji Uehara and Kenley Jansen, as they have split the season between setup man and closer. They don't appear on either list, but both are deserving of a mention for their play so far this year.

Closer

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    Rank Name G W-L SV ERA K/9 WAR
    1 Jason Grilli (PIT)  41  0-1  28-of-29  2.09  14.2   1.7
    2 Craig Kimbrel (ATL)  34  2-2  24-of-27  1.62  13.2    0.9
    3 Grant Balfour (OAK)  38  0-1  24-of-24  1.72   9.1   0.3
    4 Joe Nathan (TEX)  41   1-0  30-of-31   1.36    9.5    1.5
    5 Greg Holland (KC)  36  2-1  22-of-24  1.80  15.4   1.6
    6 Mariano Rivera (NYY)  37   1-2  29-of-31  1.89   8.4   1.0
    7 Aroldis Chapman (CIN)  39  3-3  20-of-23  2.50  15.3   1.0
    8 Glen Perkins (MIN)  33  1-0  20-of-22  1.93  12.4   1.3
    9 Edward Mujica (STL)  38  1-1  24-of-25  2.39   7.9   0.3
    10 Casey Janssen (TOR)  30   2-0  17-of-18  2.57   7.7   0.8

     

    Position Overview

    Closer is arguably the most volatile position in professional sports, as you can go from hero to goat in a matter of two or three days. And that makes the consistent performances of veterans like Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan that much more impressive.

    That said, the title of top closer in the MLB right now goes to a man who's doing the job for the first time this year in 36-year-old Jason Grilli. A setup man the past two years, he took over for Joel Hanrahan and has done better than anyone could have dreamed.

    Joining Grilli as converted setup men are Greg Holland, Glen Perkins, Edward Mujica and Casey Janssen, all of whom have a year or less of closer experience under their belt, but have thrived in the role.

    Meanwhile, flamethrowers Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman look like they'll head the next wave of great closers.

    All that said, the hottest closer in baseball right now has to be Grant Balfour. He's converted 42 straight save chances dating back to last year, but he's somehow not an All-Star.

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