B/R MLB 500: Top 70 Corner Outfielders

Zachary D. Rymer@zachrymerMLB Lead WriterSeptember 13, 2013

B/R MLB 500: Top 70 Corner Outfielders

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    After taking care of all four infield positions, starting pitchers and catchers, the B/R MLB 500 now heads to the outfield. Up first are the guys who make their living on the corners.

    Like with first base and third base, corner outfield spots are offense-first positions. So much so, in fact, that defense in the corner outfield spots isn't that much more valuable than defense at first base, according to Tom Tango's The Book. There are some really good athletes who play on the corners, to be sure, but for every Carl Crawford there's a Michael Cuddyer or a Matt Holliday.

    So here's our scoring system: 30 points for hitting, 30 points for power, 15 points for baserunning, 15 points for defense and, as with all other players, 10 points for health. Add it up, and you get 100 points.

    As always, hitting entails more than just what happens after the ball leaves the bat. Results do count for something, but so does the process. Each player's approach will be taken into account.

    Power is less complicated, but results will be taken into account just as much as scouting reports. A player may have tremendous natural power, but his score will be lower if he has a hard time making it show up in games.

    For baserunning, it's all about whether a guy can steal bases and how well, and whether he can get around the bases better (or worse) than the average player.

    Defense is also simple. How well can a guy field his position? And since these are corner outfielders we're talking about, how well can he throw?

    For hitting, power, baserunning and defense, keep the following in mind: A score that's, say, 15 out of 30 is not a failing score. That's an "average" score. Anything better is above average. Anything below is below average.

    As for health, that's basically 10 free points unless there's a reason(s) to dock points. The scoring is subjective, but the general rule of thumb is that a player is only getting less than five points if he has a potentially career-altering injury.

    Lastly, here's a reminder that the whole idea is to round up guys we'd want on a team in 2014. That means top prospects who could potentially make an impact are in play, and they may be ranked higher than you think. And if there are any ties, the edge goes to the player we'd rather have.

    That about does it, so let's go ahead and see what's around the corner.

     

    Note: All prospect write-ups/scores were created by B/R's MLB Prospects Lead Writer, Mike Rosenbaum.

Sources

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    The statistics that informed the following analyses came from all over, so we'd certainly be remiss if we didn't dish out some shout-outs.

    Baseball-Reference.com was the go-to site for basic statistics. FanGraphs provided more complex data, most notably the data concerning plate discipline. Brooks Baseball also helped with that, and the site's tracking of spray charts for hitters is another thing that came in handy. 

    And if you're wondering where all the injury information comes from, the credit is owed to the injury databases kept by Baseball Prospectus.

70. Reed Johnson, Atlanta Braves

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    Hitting

    14/30

    Johnson has become more of a strikeout magnet as his playing time has become more inconsistent. He’s had trouble, in particular, with breaking balls in 2013. When he does make contact, there’s basically a 60 percent chance that the ball is going to be on the ground. He has a huge BABIP on ground balls that looks like a bit of small-sample-size flukiness, but it’s worth noting that he’s pretty good at aiming his grounders. That doesn’t make him a great hitter, but it saves him from a worse score here.

    Power

    10/30

    A ground-ball habit as extreme as Johnson’s should bar him from hitting for extra bases, and it does for the most part. But he can still crank the ball out to left field on occasion, and he’s always been able to make good use of the foul lines. He's not a good power hitter for a corner outfielder, but there are worse ones than him.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Johnson’s no good for stolen bases, and has really been a station-to-station guy for the better part of the last five years. It takes a hard-hit ball to get him on his horse, though he still has enough athleticism to get around the bases quicker than the average player.

    Fielding

    9/15

    Johnson earns his keep by playing all three outfield spots. He spends more time in left and right combined than he does in center, and he has the athleticism and the general know-how to play both positions well. He doesn’t have much of an arm and is out of his league when he has to play center, but the important thing here is that he's plenty capable of handling both left and right field.

    Health

    5/10

    Johnson has been on the DL seven times since 2007. His most recent trip began in late July due to Achilles tendonitis. Take that and combine it with his history of back problems, and you have a recipe for a guy who’s probably going to have a hard time staying healthy as he heads into his late 30s.

    Total

    46/100

    Frankly, you’re splitting hairs once you get into the reserve outfielder ranks. A number of other scrubs could occupy Johnson's spot in this countdown. But he's a guy who has defined the phrase “solid fourth outfielder” better than most for a couple years now.

69. Jorge Soler, Chicago Cubs

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    Hitting

    11/30

    Soler’s approach has been more polished than expected as a professional, as he demonstrated the ability to hit when behind in the count with solid pitch recognition. While his swing can be rushed and choppy at times and will need to be ironed out as he moves up the ladder, Soler is a natural hitter with plus bat speed and a knack for making hard contact. Given his projection as an above-average hitter, Soler should be good for a .270-plus batting average upon arriving in the major leagues.

    Power

    14/30

    At 6’4”, 215 pounds, Soler is a physically strong right-handed hitter with a mature frame that requires little projection. The ball absolutely jumps off Soler’s bat with his blinding bat speed and an explosive swing. Meanwhile, his extension and lift after contact generates exceptional backspin carry and suggests the potential for multiple 20-plus home runs in his prime.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Despite his muscular build, Soler is an above-average runner who moves well on both sides of the ball. Furthermore, he demonstrates good instincts on the basepaths with a noticeable feel for how and when to steal a base.

    Fielding

    8/15

    Soler has the ideal profile of a big league right fielder with average range and plus arm strength. While his routes and jumps have improved since turning pro in 2012, he stands to benefit from more experience in the minor leagues.

    Health

    9/10

    Soler appeared in only 55 games this season before suffering a season-ending injury in late June. He was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left tibia after fouling a pitch off his leg. It's not an injury that should linger, but it's serious enough to give one pause.

    Total

    50/100

    Even though Soler lacks stateside experience and suffered an unfortunate setback this season, he has the natural ability and tools to get to the major leagues in a hurry.

68. J.B. Shuck, Los Angeles Angels

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    Hitting

    18/30

    Shuck doesn’t wait around at the plate, in part because he sees plenty of fastballs and he prefers to swing at them. It’s a good thing he’s a decent fastball hitter. He also deserves credit for his ability to make contact and for the fact that he hits to his strength. He’s not a power hitter, so balls off his bat tend to be either on the ground or on a line. Since the whole field is in play when he makes contact, it’s not a fluke that he’s been able to keep his OBP above water with a good BABIP.

    Power

    8/30

    Shuck has very little power to left field and almost no home run power at all, and his tendency to hit the ball on the ground makes picking up doubles awfully tough. He’s not and likely never is going to be an above-average power hitter. Especially not for a corner outfielder.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Shuck was a solid source of stolen bases in the minors, but he hasn’t quite figured it out in the majors. He’s also run into too many outs at third base, a place where outs must not be made. On the bright side, he’s gone first to third on singles with regularity and has been a lock to score from first on doubles. His good speed hasn’t gone entirely to waste.

    Fielding

    6/15

    Shuck made what is arguably the catch of the season in early August, but don’t take that as a sign of how good his defense in left field is. It’s actually not very good, as Shuck doesn’t have instincts to go with his athleticism and he’s been frustratingly prone to mental errors.

    Health

    10/10

    We can say this much about Shuck: He’s healthy. He’s hardly even suffered a scratch in his pro career.

    Total

    50/100

    Nothing about Shuck is impressive, as his bat, glove and baserunning all barely pass for major league caliber. But in the realm of fringy reserve outfielders, he’s been better than most this season and generally looks like a guy who can stick.

67. Jose Tabata, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Hitting

    17/30

    Tabata’s plate discipline has improved from where it was in 2012, and that's helped produce a modest decrease in strikeouts. He’s a harder guy to put away now than he was a year ago, and he's further helped himself by cashing in some ground balls for line drives. He actually deserves better than the BABIP he has, as he hasn't had the same kind of luck on ground balls that he usually gets.

    Power

    10/30

    Because Tabata only hits the ball in the air about 20 percent of the time, it’s not easy for him to hit home runs. For that matter, it’s not easy for him to hit doubles with his contact habits. Or triples. He’s not without the power to hit for extra bases, but hard-hit balls that send the outfielders running are rare sights indeed. His power production this season isn't too shabby, but it's misleading.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Tabata was caught stealing 12 out of the 20 times he tried in 2012, so he can be forgiven for cutting down on his attempts this year. That doesn’t make him a bad baserunner, however. He can hold his own taking extra bases, and he’s been better at avoiding outs this year.

    Fielding

    7/15

    Tabata plays both left and right field, but his primary home is in right. He doesn’t bring much to the table out there in terms of either range or arm strength, and he just doesn’t look comfortable when he has to come in on the ball. For whatever reason, however, he’s looked more comfortable and has indeed performed better in left field. So he gets a slight pass.

    Health

    9/10

    Injuries have a way of finding Tabata. He lost 43 games to a strained quad and another 21 to a broken hand in 2011, dealt with more leg problems in 2012 and lost more than a month to the DL this season with a bad oblique. It’s a good thing he still has youth on his side, otherwise his score would be lower.

    Total

    50/100

    Tabata has tended to stand out as one of the most inconsequential players in recent memory, but his bat has had some life breathed into it this year. Because of that, he's a bit beyond the reach of total irrelevance.

66. Chris Heisey, Cincinnati Reds

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    Hitting

    8/30

    Heisey has been both extraordinarily impatient and quite willing to expand the strike zone in 2013, in part because he just can’t lay off the off-speed stuff. He’s not very good at hitting it either, with curveballs being his chief nemesis. And while he doesn’t strike out an alarming amount, he doesn’t hit enough line drives to maintain a solid BABIP. Short version: His OBP has been screwed this year through all his own faults.

    Power

    16/30

    Heisey boasts some decent power numbers, in part thanks to Great American Ballpark's hitter-friendly dimensions. My bigger gripe is that he doesn't hit the ball over the fence very often for a guy who hits over 40 percent of his batted balls in the air. To boot, his power only goes to left field. Anything in the air to center or right is likely doomed.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Heisey is an occasional base stealer who is generally good at picking his spots. But he doesn’t steal nearly enough to qualify as a base-stealing threat, and he also tends to be a station-to-station guy on the basepaths. At least he hasn’t been running into many outs over the last two seasons.

    Fielding

    10/15

    Heisey can play all three outfield positions, but he’s primarily stationed in left field. This season has seen him play some pretty good defense out there. He doesn’t cover ground with blazing speed, but he can get going pretty quick and, to borrow a football term, has improved his route running this year. His arm isn't a weapon, but his glove has been his best attribute this season. No question.

    Health

    9/10

    Heisey doesn’t have too many injuries in his history, but he had to miss about two months of action this season with a hamstring strain and recently felt some more pain in the same hamstring. Considering how difficult hamstrings can be, this amounts to a red flag.

    Total

    50/100

    Heisey’s a lousy hitter, but he has some power to offer and can play some solid D out in left field. These things will do for a spot on this countdown.

65. Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Hitting

    19/30

    For reasons that will become clearer in the health section, Cabrera never looked the same at the plate in 2013 as he did in 2012. But he wasn’t a total disaster. His plate discipline didn’t take a drastic turn for the worse, nor did his ability to make contact. And while it may seem like Cabrera was a line-drive machine in 2012, he was actually hitting more line drives this year. His BABIP regression had more to do with his getting too far under the ball too often.

    Power

    10/30

    Cabrera’s power essentially normalized after two big power years in 2011 and 2012. He hit the ball in the air often enough, but he could do little to convince it to go over the fence. The best he could do in terms of power was hit a few balls that went farther than the center fielder could run. That suggests there’s still some power there.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Cabrera stole some bases in 2011 and 2012, but not very efficiently, with 33 successful tries in 48 attempts. He didn’t bother trying this year, and he settled into a role as more of a station-to-station baserunner in Toronto’s power-heavy offense. 

    Fielding

    7/15

    Cabrera has never been a particularly good defensive outfielder. He’s not instinctive, he’s slow to react, and he doesn’t move quickly enough to cover more ground than the typical left fielder. The best thing he has going for him is his arm, and it's a live one that's perfectly suited to corner outfield duty.

    Health

    6/10

    Inflammation in Cabrera’s left knee landed him on the DL for the first time in his career toward the end of June, and more problems with his left knee eventually ended his season in August. More recently, he had a benign tumor removed from his back. According to the Associated Press, he had been dealing with pain in his back for several months, but didn't tell anyone. That amounts to a reasonable explanation for his poor season.

    Total

    50/100

    Cabrera has gone from being a guy nobody could get out to being a cheat who now barely qualifies as one of the top outfielders in the game. But if he really was indeed playing in pain for so many months, there's a limit to how much we can knock the guy. A turnaround in 2014 might be in the cards.

64. Dayan Viciedo, Chicago White Sox

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    Hitting

    12/30

    Viciedo has made an effort to see more pitches, but his plate discipline is still atrocious and he has a tendency to whiff. Especially on high fastballs. But to his credit, he’s actually been striking out less often than he did in 2012, which obviously means more balls in play. He doesn’t have the best contact habits, but at least he uses the whole field to help himself maintain a solid BABIP. He's not a good hitter, but there are worse guys than him out there.

    Power

    18/30

    The raw power is definitely there, but Viciedo doesn’t have the easiest time making it show up in games. Part of the problem is that he hits way too many ground balls, as it’s pretty hard to make those go for extra bases and even harder to make them go over the fence. The bright side, however, is that he has hit the ball in the air more often this year than he did in 2012. If he does so again in 2014, more homers could be in order.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Viciedo doesn’t have the speed to steal bases, so he can be forgiven for not bothering. And since he’s certainly a station-to-station guy, the best compliment he can be paid is that he at least does a good job of avoiding outs.

    Fielding

    4/15

    It can be hard to watch Viciedo try to play the outfield. He’s not the most instinctive outfielder, and that certainly shows up in the funky routes he can take to fly balls. He makes some nifty catches here and there, but those are easy catches made hard by his lack of defensive talent.

    Health

    10/10

    This hasn’t been the best year for Viciedo’s health, as he spent some time on the DL with an oblique strain and has more recently been dealing with a sprained left thumb. But both of these are firsts for him, and he still has youth on his side at the age of 24. So we'll let them slide.

    Total

    50/100

    Viciedo’s glove is a disaster, and his hitting really isn't much better. But there's power in his bat, and it could easily turn him into a productive player.

63. Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers

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    Hitting

    15/30

    Castellanos has enjoyed a quick ascent through the Tigers’ system based on the merits of his hit tool. He’s a natural hitter with advanced bat-to-ball skills and an inside-out swing that enables him to drive through the ball. More importantly, he’s adjusted his approach over the last year and now chases fewer breaking balls off the plate. Castellanos is still young and will inevitably go through his share of slumps, but he has the potential to be a .300-plus hitter in the major leagues.

    Power

    12/30

    Castellanos has been a consistent source of extra-base hits during his minor league career, with a line-drive-oriented swing that allows him to shoot the gaps with ease. As he continues to develop physically and learns to turn on the ball, he should grow into more over-the-fence pop. In his prime seasons, Castellanos should have the potential to hit anywhere from 15 to 25 home runs.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    While he’s merely an average-at-best runner, Castellanos has a lanky frame with long strides and moves well once he hits full stride. He’ll never steal many bases in the major leagues, but he’s athletic enough to turn his share of singles into doubles.

    Fielding

    7/15

    Drafted and developed as a third baseman until mid-2012, Castellanos moved to the outfield as a way to potentially get his bat to the major leagues ahead of schedule. While he has the arm strength for the position and made noticeable strides this season, the actions can be stiff at times, and he struggles to make consistent reads. However, as he gains more experience at the position, Castellanos’ defense should pass at least as serviceable in the major leagues.

    Health

    10/10

    Castellanos' ability to stay healthy and in the everyday lineup has, in part, enabled him to move through the Tigers’ system quickly. In each of the last three years, he’s played in at least 134 games at a full-season level.

    Total

    50/100

    Castellanos has the opportunity to get his feet wet in the major leagues in September. If all goes as hoped, he could be looking at a partial or full-time role in the Tigers outfield next season. While he’s still a bit rough around the edges, his bat is ready to be challenged at the highest level.

62. Mike Morse, Baltimore Orioles

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    Hitting

    15/30

    Morse has a big strike zone, and he tends to make it even bigger by chasing pitches. As you might expect, he’s particularly prone to chasing breaking balls and off-speed stuff down below his knees. His poor plate discipline costs him walks and leads to strikeouts, but he generally keeps his BABIP above water by favoring line drives and ground balls. Despite his poor numbers this year, that much actually hasn't changed. Morse is the victim of some brutal luck on ground balls, as his BABIP on grounders is about 100 points lower this year than it was in 2012.

    Power

    20/30

    Morse has legit light-tower power, and he was certainly showing it off earlier in the year when he was hitting the ball out of the park left and right. But his power has since leveled off to about the same height it was at in 2012, which speaks to the difficulty Morse has making his home run power show up in games. Such is life when a good chunk of your trips to the plate result in either ground balls or strikeouts.

    Baserunning

    5/15

    “Lumbering” is a good word to describe Morse on the basepaths. He doesn’t run well, and he knows it. He generally doesn’t attempt to be anything other than an extreme station-to-station baserunner.

    Fielding

    3/15

    Morse plays left and right field, but the position he’s best suited for is DH. He rarely looks comfortable in the outfield, and anything he has to run for is an adventure thanks to his poor speed and lousy judgment. He's one of the worst defense outfielders in the business.

    Health

    7/10

    If there’s one thing that’s become clear over the last two seasons, it’s that Morse is going to get hurt. He missed 50 games with a strained lat in 2012 and was on the DL for more than a month this year with a quad strain. In between, he’s dealt with an assortment of nagging injuries.

    Total

    50/100

    Morse’s hitting isn’t as hopeless as he’s made it look with his performance this year, and he certainly has the kind of power bat that’s going to keep him in the big leagues for a while longer. But he’s nothing if not inconsistent, and you don’t want him wearing a glove.

61. John Mayberry Jr., Philadelphia Phillies

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    Hitting

    12/30

    Mayberry’s not bad at working the count, but he has a tendency to whiff on breaking and off-speed stuff and is certainly much more likely to strike out than he is to walk. And while he is a solid source of line drives, he doesn’t help himself by neglecting the opposite field. It looks like he’s cut out for a life as a .290ish BABIP guy, and he needs to be better than that in order to salvage a respectable OBP.

    Power

    16/30

    Mayberry’s power is another thing that’s largely restricted to left field. It’s a good thing he plays his home games in a park that’s quite friendly to righty power hitters, and you have to tip your cap to Mayberry for the regularity with which he laces bullets down the left-field line. If he can get around on it, he’s going to hit it hard. His power is inflated by Citizens Bank Park, but it's above average either way.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Mayberry is not a great base stealer by any stretch, but he has made some strides as a baserunner this year. He’s been better at reacting to balls in play and anticipating what to do next. One area where it’s showing is the increased rate at which he’s scored from second on singles. That's something he used to have trouble with.

    Fielding

    7/15

    Mayberry can play all three outfield positions, but he’s spent the bulk of his time in the majors playing right field. He’s certainly better there than he is in center field, where his athleticism is below par. He passes for about an average defender in right, though he could definitely use a better arm.

    Health

    10/10

    There’s almost nothing on Mayberry’s injury history. The man’s in good health.

    Total

    52/100

    Mayberry’s the kind of player who’s hard to get excited about, but he has some power in his bat and a versatile glove that's useful out in right field.

60. Eric Young Jr., New York Mets

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    Hitting

    15/30

    Young has been better since joining the Mets. Most notably, he's shown off more patience and a bit better plate discipline, and that has translated into a higher walk rate. He’s also struck out less, and he’s been better overall this year about keeping the ball out of the air so he can put his speed to good use. He was below average with the Rockies, but he has settled into a niche as an average hitter more recently. That'll do for a speedy guy.

    Power

    7/30

    Power is not Young’s game, and it won’t be his game as long as he’s placing an emphasis on keeping the ball on the ground. He can occasionally give the ball a ride as a lefty hitter, however, and he can really take off when he gets the ball in the right-center gap. He can handle doubles and triples just fine.

    Baserunning

    14/15

    Young is having a career year in the stolen-base department, but his success stealing bases still has a lot more to do with his speed than his ability to read pitchers, as his efficiency is still lacking. And while he can be commended for being as aggressive as he’s been on the basepaths, he’s run into a few too many outs.

    Fielding

    8/15

    Young can play all three outfield positions, but has played almost exclusively in left field for the Mets. He definitely fares better there than he does in center and right field, but that doesn't mean he's a great defensive outfielder. As speedy as he is, he can look tentative running his routes, and that costs him some range. As a result, he's not much more than average defensively.

    Health

    9/10

    Young had to shut it down early in 2012 with an intercostal strain, but the scarier thing in his injury history is the lower leg problems he had in 2010 and 2011. He battled a stress fracture in his right tibia off and on, and that’s a red flag for a guy whose game is all about speed.

    Total

    53/100

    Young is in the majors because of his speed. It's a good thing he puts that to good use, and his bat packs just enough punch to make him a bit more than a mere pinch-running specialist.

59. Kyle Blanks, San Diego Padres

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    Hitting

    15/30

    Blanks has a huge strike zone for pitchers to exploit, and they tend to do just that. But Blanks has taken a big step forward this year at making contact with pitches inside his big zone. He still whiffs an awful lot, but not nearly as much as he used to. That’s a big part of the modest success he was able to enjoy at the plate, and the fact that he was hitting plenty of BABIP-friendly line drives and ground balls was another part. He's still going to strike out a lot, but he looks like a guy who can handle being a league-average hitter.

    Power

    18/30

    There’s no doubt that the raw power is there with Blanks, but he’s still working on making it show up in games. What’s been difficult this year is that his efforts to become more consistent at the plate have left little room for him to try to drive the ball, resulting in fewer fly balls. The trade-off has been some increased doubles power by way of an increased line-drive rate. If he can mix that with more fly balls in 2014, he'll certainly be better than an average power hitter.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Blanks isn’t fast enough to be a stolen-base threat, but he’s a capable baserunner. It’s actually surprising how often he goes first to third, and he’s tended to be good about not running into outs on the basepaths. He runs the bases pretty well for a big guy.

    Fielding

    7/15

    Blanks is not the most graceful outfielder you’re going to come across, but he reacts surprisingly well at the crack of the bat and is able to cover a fair amount of ground with long strides. He probably belongs at first base long-term, but he can cut it in the outfield if he has to stay there.

    Health

    6/10

    Health is a question mark with Blanks. He’s had both Tommy John surgery and surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder, and he found himself on the DL with Achilles tendonitis this year. There’s something about his size that says the injury bug may not be leaving him alone.

    Total

    53/100

    Blanks hasn’t put it all together yet, but he’s shown signs this season that he could do so in the near future. The trick will be for him to stay on the field.

58. Lucas Duda, New York Mets

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    Hitting

    16/30

    Duda was putting up some impressive numbers before he got hurt, and they weren’t coming by accident. He’s gotten more and more patient and has also made strides with his plate discipline. The payoff for him this year has been a huge walk rate. He needs such a thing in order to be successful as he looks to put the ball in the air, and that’s a lousy approach for BABIP.

    Power

    19/30

    Duda made sure his fly-ball habit was worth it earlier this year, as he was sending balls over the fence at his best rate yet. His home run power is mainly to right field, but he hit a couple out to left-center this year. That’s a good sign, as he obviously stands a much better chance of becoming a consistent power hitter if he can exploit more than one field.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Duda should never try to steal bases with his speed. But like all Mets players this year, he was holding his own when it came to getting around the bases. He wasn’t taking every extra base he could get his hands on, but at least he was avoiding outs better than he did in 2011 and 2012.

    Fielding

    3/15

    Duda might be the worst defensive outfielder in baseball. Or maybe there’s no “might” about it. He has no instincts, no range and no arm, and watching him try to have these things can be downright painful. He belongs at first base, but playing time there has traditionally been hard for him to come by.

    Health

    9/10

    Duda’s strong start at the plate was interrupted by an intercostal strain that put him on the DL for about six weeks, and when it was over the Mets decided to send him to the minors. He’s back now, but his health is something to keep an eye after such a lengthy absence.

    Total

    53/100

    Avert your eyes when Duda is playing the field, but his bat is not something to be underestimated in light of what he was doing earlier in 2013. He's not much for batting average, but he can get on base and he has some pop.

57. Raul Ibanez, Seattle Mariners

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    Hitting

    12/30

    Throw Ibanez a fastball up in the zone, and odds are you’ll get it by him. Swing-and-misses in general have become a problem for him, helping to feed a strikeout rate well above his career norm. However, Ibanez has been able to get by in 2013 because he’s been racking up line drives at a rate he hasn’t achieved in many years, and he hasn’t been overly reliant on his pull side when he’s done so. As such, he's not quite disastrous as a hitter.

    Power

    24/30

    Ibanez’s power seemed doomed when he agreed to trade Yankee Stadium for Safeco Field. He hit for plenty of power in pinstripes last season, but the vast majority of the damage was done with help from Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch. But it turns out that Ibanez is a freak of nature who still has more than enough power to make stadiums look small. It's a simple formula: swing hard, put ball in air. 

    Baserunning

    4/15

    Stealing bases? Ibanez is too old for that stuff. Running the bases? Ibanez is too old for that stuff, too. He’s hardly taken any extra bases, making him a true station-to-station guy. That would be fine if he didn’t run into any outs, but he has.

    Fielding

    3/15

    The Mariners have used Ibanez primarily in left field this season, and all I’m going to do to tell you about his defense is present to you the following link. That sums up how good (or not) his defense is.

    Health

    10/10

    Ibanez last went on the DL in 2009, and he hasn’t even dealt with many nagging injuries since then. For a guy his age, he’s in remarkable health.

    Total

    53/100

    It’s obviously up in the air as to whether Ibanez will even return for another season in 2014. But if he does, he’s made it pretty clear that he still has power to offer.

56. Khris Davis, Milwaukee Brewers

16 of 71

    Hitting

    15/30

    We don’t have a big sample size of plate appearances by which to judge Davis, but what he’s shown has been encouraging. He’s been more patient than fellow Brewers newcomer Scooter Gennett, and he’s also showed off better plate discipline—except for when it comes to fastballs above the zone. When it comes to contact, Davis has shown an ability to maintain a high BABIP with more grounders and liners than fly balls and an ability to use the whole field. The fixings for at least a decent hitter are there.

    Power

    17/30

    Davis has put up some huge power numbers since arriving in the big leagues, but that’s thanks to a gigantic HR/FB rate that he certainly won’t be able to sustain unless he’s been taking some tips from Chris (with a "C") Davis. He was a solid power producer in the minors, however, and what he’s shown in the majors makes it pretty clear that he could be a solid power producer in The Show as well.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Davis isn’t the kind of guy who’s going to pile up stolen bases, as he just doesn’t have the speed to do so. Additionally, his lack of speed is going to be an issue when it comes to making plays on the basepaths. The good news is that he’s shown that he can at least avoid outs better than most youngsters.

    Fielding

    5/15

    Davis’ glove wasn’t a calling card in the minors, and he’s subsequently failed to impress as a major leaguer. His lack of speed is just as much an issue in left field as it is on the basepaths, and he doesn’t help himself by reacting quickly off the bat. His arm is also nothing special, so he may be destined to a life as a below-average fielder.

    Health

    10/10

    Davis’ injury track record consisted of nothing at all up until he came down with some wrist inflammation in September. As scary as wrist injuries are, however, his isn't serious.

    Total

    54/100

    You should definitely think twice before trusting the numbers Davis has put up in his brief time in the majors this season, and exactly how he fits into Milwaukee’s plans with Ryan Braun due back next year is a question mark. But he’s made it clear that he can hit, and there should be some power in his bat even after his HR/FB rate deflates.

55. Rajai Davis, Toronto Blue Jays

17 of 71

    Hitting

    14/30

    Davis’ playing time hasn’t been consistent in 2013, but he’s still basically the same hitter he’s always been. He’s allergic to walk thanks to a preference for quick at-bats that comes complete with poor plate discipline, and he hits a few too many fly balls for a guy with his power. The only thing saving his numbers from a pit of despair is the fact that he’s been a solid source of line drives over the last two years, and those have definitely helped him get on base.

    Power

    8/30

    Power isn’t Davis’ game. He seems to still think it is after hitting eight home runs in 2012, but realistically he’s a guy with warning track power whose best hope is to hit balls in the gaps and then turn on the jets. That’s something he can definitely do, but not something he really specializes in.

    Baserunning

    15/15

    Want something Davis is really good at? Here you go. He’s been an outstanding base stealer this year, both in terms of volume and efficiency. And while he hasn’t taken that many extra bases otherwise, he hasn’t needed to with so many stolen bases to his name.

    Fielding

    7/15

    Davis isn’t the defensive stud you’d think he would be in light of his speed. That’s a symptom of him just not having great instincts in the outfield, and it shows in occasional slow first steps and routes that he seems unsure of. All the same, his speed does help erase some of the less savory aspects of his defense.

    Health

    10/10

    Davis had to spend some time on the DL with an oblique strain earlier in 2013, but the important part is that his legs are fine. Those haven’t suffered any injuries since 2011.

    Total

    54/100

    Davis’ game is based almost entirely around his speed. It’s a good thing that he has lots of that and knows how to put it to good use.

54. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles

18 of 71

    Hitting

    18/30

    This hasn’t been the best of years for Markakis’ bat, and there are tangible reasons for that. He’s not seeing as many pitches as he usually does, and his plate discipline has taken a step backward. He’s still a very hard guy to strike out, but the walks haven’t been there. And while Markakis’ BABIP should probably be higher than it is, BABIPs do indeed tend to go down when line drives are swapped out for ground balls.

    Power

    10/30

    Markakis benefited from a HR/FB spike in 2012, but things have gone back to the norm he established from 2009 to 2011. He’s putting the ball in the air less and less often, in fact, and when he does he’s more likely to send the ball out to left field than he is to his pull side. He doesn’t have enough power to do damage in that direction on a consistent basis.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Not that Markakis has ever been a speed demon, but he’s not making up for his lost power by swiping more bases. It's a good thing he still has some baserunning smarts, as Markakis is the kind of guy who can and will take advantage of opportunities to take extra bases.

    Fielding

    9/15

    The best thing Markakis has going for him in right field is his arm, which is still very much a danger to wayward baserunners. But he’s never had much range, and that’s due more to a lack of speed than it is to a general lack of outfield know-how.

    Health

    9/10

    Markakis’ health was fine up until last year. He needed hamate surgery on his right wrist in May and saw his season come to an early close by way of a broken left thumb. During camp this year, he was sidelined for a while due to a neck issue. With his 30th birthday fast approaching, Markakis is suddenly racking up injuries.

    Total

    54/100

    Markakis has a reputation as a good, solid player, but this is shaping up to be easily his worst season in the major leagues. He can play the field and run the bases well enough. But his bat...

53. Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati Reds

19 of 71

    Hitting

    17/30

    Ludwick obviously hasn’t played much in 2013, but his track record is that of a fairly typical slugger. He will go outside of the zone, and he’s prone to swinging and missing on slow stuff low and away. Yet he doesn’t strike out that much more than the average hitter, he doesn’t mind taking his walks and he’s coming off a 2012 season in which he posted a solid BABIP thanks to one of the highest line-drive rates of his career. In what little action he's seen in 2013, his line-drive rate hasn't tailed off all that much.

    Power

    22/30

    Ludwick’s power is what gets him paid. He has a swing that’s geared to put the ball in the air, and he has more than enough power inside him to get the ball over the fence on a regular basis. He has little pop to right field, however, and he certainly benefits from playing home games at Great American Ball Park. He’s undoubtedly a good power source, but he’d be less of a power source if he played his home games elsewhere.

    Baserunning

    5/15

    It’s not a good idea to go looking for stolen bases from Ludwick. He doesn’t have the speed for that. He’s also a station-to-station guy when he has to run the bases, so it doesn’t look so good that he ran into five outs on the basepaths last year. In a small sample, he's looked like his usual self on the basepaths this year.

    Fielding

    5/15

    Ludwick is one of the more lumbering outfielders out there. He doesn’t move well, and watching him go after fly balls can be like watching a guy run in slow motion. He also doesn’t have much of an arm, so it’s definitely safe to call him a below-average outfielder.

    Health

    6/10

    Ludwick managed to stay off the DL in 2012, but he’s typically good for one trip every year and he’s barely played at all in 2013 thanks to a major shoulder injury that he suffered early in the season. With his 35th birthday now in the rear-view mirror, he's probably not out of the woods with injuries.

    Total

    55/100

    Ludwick’s health has seen better days, and he's not a good place to look if you want a lesson on hitting, baserunning or defense. But he certainly has power.

52. Jonny Gomes, Boston Red Sox

20 of 71

    Hitting

    14/30

    Gomes came to Boston with a rep as a platoon player after spending a year in Oakland playing almost exclusively against lefty pitching. But the Red Sox have been throwing him out there against both lefties and righties in 2013, and he’s actually done quite well against righties. He also still has terrific plate discipline and enough patience to draw walks. His issues arise when it comes time to hit off-speed stuff, and his extreme fly-ball approach isn’t good for BABIP. So outside of walks, he doesn't have much to offer.

    Power

    18/30

    Hitting the ball in the air is obviously something Gomes does by design. His job is to hit the ball a long way, specifically in the direction of the Green Monster this year. He hasn’t had the easiest time keeping the home runs coming, in part because too many of his fly balls have been lofted harmlessly to center field. But he’s hit enough of them to pass for an above-average power hitter, and it’s worth noting that he’s been just as dangerous away from the Green Monster this season.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Gomes is not a threat to steal a base when he’s on first, but he moves pretty well for a big guy. And while it’s not quite the norm for him, he has been able to get away with being aggressive on the basepaths. He’s been able to take some extra bases while being very hard to catch.

    Fielding

    5/15

    Gomes isn’t exactly known for his glove, and rightfully so. He doesn’t move well in the outfield, and he doesn’t help himself by reacting quickly and by taking direct routes. You see him make some nifty catches on occasion, but those are largely the product of him taking, ahem, interesting routes to the ball.

    Health

    10/10

    Gomes ran into some problems with his right shoulder back in 2006, but ever since then, the injury bug has been kind enough to leave him alone.

    Total

    55/100

    Gomes offers two things: power and patience. And while that's really all he's got, that's plenty good enough in today's game.

51. Kelly Johnson, Tampa Bay Rays

21 of 71

    Hitting

    13/30

    There’s one thing that hasn’t changed with Johnson, and that’s that any pitcher with a good changeup stands a good chance of getting the better of him. And while the Rays have tightened up his plate discipline, he still strikes out more than the average hitter and his walk habit has actually taken a turn for the worse. And with his swing geared to hit fly balls, he’s not much of a BABIP merchant either. The good news: for a guy who plays primarily against right-handers, he's hit southpaws pretty well.

    Power

    18/30

    Johnson has always had quality power, and this year his emphasis has been on tapping into that power and doing little else. He’s putting the ball in the air more often than he ever has and has been rewarded with one of the better HR/FB rates of his career. He doesn’t just have power to his pull side either, as he’s knocked a few doubles and homers to left-center field.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Johnson can steal a base, but he hasn’t done so very efficiently in 2013. He’s been better at doing the little things. He hasn’t taken an extraordinary amount of extra bases, but he’s taken a few and has been very good about not running into outs.

    Fielding

    6/15

    Johnson is more of a utility player than a corner outfielder, as he’s played a little first, a little second and a little third base for the Rays in addition to left field. But left field is where he’s spent the bulk of his time in 2013, and the results have been mixed. He doesn’t have much range and has made a few too many errors for such a modest sample size, but he holds his own for the most part and has taught opponents a few lessons about testing his arm.

    Health

    10/10

    It’s been more than five years since Johnson last went on the DL, and he hasn’t even dealt with many nagging injuries since then. Some hamstring tightness here and some low back tightness there, but nothing that sends up any red flags.

    Total

    55/100

    Johnson looked like a lost cause as a full-time second baseman in Toronto last season, but leave it to the Rays to take him and make a productive player out of him again. His bat's best days have long since passed, but he still has some pop.

50. Matt Tuiasosopo, Detroit Tigers

22 of 71

    Hitting

    18/30

    Tuiasosopo has an impressive on-base percentage to his name this season, and it’s not there by accident. He’s been seeing a ton of pitches, and his plate discipline has been truly outstanding. And while it does look a little fluky that he’s picked up so many hits on ground balls, there’s more than just blind luck going on there. He’s proven that he can aim the ball when he puts it on the ground, and he has been very good at finding holes. That doesn't mean he can maintain a .350 BABIP year after year, but it is a sign that he can hold his own as a hitter.

    Power

    16/30

    Tuiasosopo isn’t as powerful as his slugging percentage would lead you to believe. He’s hardly hit the ball in the air in 2013, yet he has a huge HR/FB rate that’s been boosted by a few cheapies down the right field line. He does have some pretty good raw pop, but realistically he’s closer to an average power hitter than a great power hitter.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Tuiasosopo isn’t a burner, so it’s for the best that he doesn’t bother with stolen bases. He's typically a station-to-station guy when he has to run the bases, and that’s fine for the most part. He has run into some outs, but the bulk of them have been at the plate at the whim of the third-base coach.

    Fielding

    6/15

    A natural infielder, Tuiasosopo is still relatively new to playing the outfield, and it shows. He can be slow to react off the bat, and he just doesn’t have the legs to cover a lot of ground. His old shortstop’s arm also hasn’t been put to much use. The best compliment he can be paid is that he holds his own.

    Health

    9/10

    Tuiasosopo had to hit the DL with a rib cage strain earlier in 2013, but the bigger red flags on his injury history are the two operations he had on his right elbow in 2009 and 2010. You naturally have to worry about those issues cropping up again.

    Total

    56/100

    Tuiasosopo surely isn’t as good a hitter as his numbers say he is, but he’s definitely made improvements, and it sure looks like he’s found a niche to occupy.

49. Norichika Aoki, Milwaukee Brewers

23 of 71

    Hitting

    23/30

    Aoki is a real throwback in that he goes up to the plate just looking to make contact. It’s fortunately something that he’s among the best in the league at, and it’s certainly worth noting that he’s been the toughest guy in the league to strike out in 2013. The catch is that his BABIP can only go so high because more than 60 percent of the balls off his bat find the ground, and the only reason things aren’t worse is because of how well he can aim his grounders.

    Power

    8/30

    Aoki has a little bit of Ichiro in him. He doesn’t like to hit the ball in the air, but he can surprise you with his pop when he does. But for the most part, his extreme ground-ball tendency has made hitting for power extremely tough in 2013. Another interesting thing worth noting is that he's hardly hit any balls in the right-center gap this year. That's a good way for lefty contact hitters to get doubles, but it's apparently not Aoki's style.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Aoki tries to make up for his lack of power by stealing bases, but he’s not enjoying the same kind of success in that department that he did in 2012. He’s been picked off and caught stealing way too often. Worse, he’s been very hesitant to take the extra base. His athleticism is fine, but his instincts need sharpening.

    Fielding

    9/15

    Aoki has proven to be an above-average defender in right field, but that has more to do with his ultra-accurate arm than it does his glove. Despite his athleticism, he actually doesn’t have more range than the average right fielder.

    Health

    10/10

    Aoki came down with a bit of patellar tendinitis in August, but it’s hardly career-threatening, and it’s too soon to say whether it’s going to be a chronic problem for him.

    Total

    56/100

    Aoki is the best in the league at putting the bat on the ball. But take that ability away, and there’s not much there.

48. Andy Dirks, Detroit Tigers

24 of 71

    Hitting

    16/30

    Playing primarily against right-handed pitchers hasn’t helped Dirks’ production as much as the Tigers probably hoped it would. It doesn’t help that his approach hasn’t really gotten any better. Dirks has been neither more patient nor more disciplined in 2013, and he hasn’t had the easiest time making contact with breaking stuff. The good news is that he’s been a line-drive machine this year with an ability to hit them all over, so his hitting hasn’t been quite as mediocre as his numbers say.

    Power

    12/30

    Dirks’ HR/FB rate is right about where it was in 2012, but he hasn't been hitting as many balls in the air this season. His power production has felt the effects of that, and it doesn't help that he has very little, if any, power to left field. The power Dirks his shown this year is probably truer to the real thing.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Dirks wasn’t much of a base stealer before this season, but he’s become a sneaky-good thief and has done so efficiently. He’s been a hard man to catch in 2013. It’s just too bad he hasn’t done much of anything else on the basepaths this year, as he's taken alarmingly few extra bases.

    Fielding

    11/15

    Dirks is a solid athlete, but what makes him a quality left fielder is his absolute willingness to leave it all out on the field. He can take the long way around with his routes, but he finds ways to get there and make the play. And he does so often enough to rate as a fielder with well-above-average range.

    Health

    9/10

    Dirks hasn’t been on the DL in 2013, but he spent about two months on the DL with an Achilles problem last year and has battled pain in his right knee this year. That’s enough to make you wonder whether his body can handle his all-out style.

    Total

    56/100

    He doesn’t always make the game look pretty, but Dirks is the kind of dirt-dog-style player every team should have. He's a decent hitter who can make things happen out in the field.

47. Drew Stubbs, Cleveland Indians

25 of 71

    Hitting

    10/30

    Living with Stubbs means having to live with strikeouts, but let’s give the guy some credit. Though he’s still whiffing more often than the average hitter, he has managed to get his strikeout rate below the 30 percent mark. That’ll do for progress, and Stubbs has rescued his BABIP from its 2012 purgatory by getting back to hitting line drives. He’s still a below-average hitter, but he doesn’t look like the lost cause he was in 2012.

    Power

    12/30

    Stubbs’ power production in 2010 now looks like an obvious outlier, one that we should have seen coming given how much he benefited from hitting at Great American Ball Park that year. He does have pop to all fields, but his power is really only consistent to left field. And while he has gotten back to hitting more line drives, he doesn't hit nearly enough to pile up doubles.

    Baserunning

    13/15

    If you’re not going to hit for power, you better steal bases. That’s something Stubbs has always done well, and this year he’s making new strides in terms of efficiency. He’s been almost impossible to catch, and he’s also getting picked off less often. In addition, he’s been putting his speed to good use on balls in play.

    Fielding

    12/15

    Stubbs is a center fielder by trade, and a good one at that. But with Michael Bourn locked in as their center fielder, the Indians have been playing Stubbs primarily in right field this season. The advanced metrics are iffy on Stubbs’ defense, but his center fielder’s speed allows him to cover more ground than the average right fielder, and his arm is solid enough for the position. 

    Health

    10/10

    Stubbs went on the DL for the first time last year with an abdominal strain, but he was largely healthy before that and has been largely healthy ever since.

    Total

    57/100

    You never know what you’re going to get when Stubbs is at the plate, but his bat has been better this year, and he’s still useful on the basepaths and in the field.

46. Cody Ross, Arizona Diamondbacks

26 of 71

    Hitting

    18/30

    Ross’ playing time was more consistent in 2012 when he was with the Red Sox, so it’s not a shocker that he was less patient at the plate with Arizona this year with worse plate discipline to boot. But while this cost him some walks, he was striking out far less than he did in 2012 and was maintaining a solid BABIP thanks to an approach that favored liners and ground balls. And despite his reputation, he wasn't relying too heavily on his pull side.

    Power

    16/30

    Ross proved to be a perfect fit for the Green Monster at Fenway Park, but his power regressed mightily with Arizona in 2013. It didn’t help that he wasn’t hitting the ball in the air as often, and pitchers did a good job of keeping the ball away from him so he couldn’t pull the ball as easily. Because Ross has only marginal power to right field, there wasn’t a whole lot he could do.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Ross is neither a base stealer nor a particularly good baserunner. He was more aggressive with the Red Sox in 2012 than he usually is, but he’s generally a guy who doesn’t take many extra bases yet still manages to get thrown out several times throughout the course of the year. 

    Fielding

    12/15

    Ross is capable of playing all three outfield positions, but the Diamondbacks kept him confined to left and right field and he played very well at both positions. He’s not the best athlete, but he gets good jumps and takes direct routes. 

    Health

    5/10

    Ross has been good for one DL stint per year over the last several seasons, and his latest is for a gnarly injury. He dislocated his right hip in August running down the first-base line, and he had surgery that will sideline him until spring training. Given the severity of the injury, it may be a while before he’s right.

    Total

    57/100

    The move away from Fenway Park wasn't the best move for Ross’ power. However, please note that his relatively low standing here has much to do with his hip injury. Take that away, and he’d rightfully be much higher.

45. Chris Denorfia, San Diego Padres

27 of 71

    Hitting

    16/30

    Denorfia is seeing more pitches in 2013, and this habit has helped him slightly boost his walk rate from where it was in 2012. But this more patient approach hasn’t helped him much otherwise, as his plate discipline is still about the same—which, admittedly, is not a bad thing—and he’s still overmatched against changeups. It’s a good thing he’s able to help his BABIP by mainly keeping the ball out of the air.

    Power

    10/30

    Denorfia padded his power production with a boatload of triples in 2012, but this year he’s doing that in a more traditional fashion: a few more fly balls and a few more home runs to go with them. Those don’t come very often, however, and Denorfia only occasionally sends a ball over the center fielder’s head for a ringing double. For the most part, he’s just trying to get to first base.

    Baserunning

    9/15

    Denorfia has never been a big-time stolen-base merchant, but he’s at least been picking his spots better this year. He doesn’t have many steals, but he’s been nigh impossible to stop. He’s otherwise fine at doing the little things, at the very least managing to avoid outs.

    Fielding

    12/15

    Denorfia is more of a true fourth outfielder than a corner outfielder, but he’s spent the bulk of his major league career playing right field and that’s where his glove plays best. He doesn’t explode off contact, but he knows where he’s going once he gets moving, and he has a decent arm for the position to boot. And since he's played well in center field in addition to left field and right field in 2013, he gets some extra props.

    Health

    10/10

    The most notable thing in Denorfia’s injury history is a Tommy John operation in 2007. But he’s been on the DL only once since 2008, and that was back in 2011. He’s been largely healthy otherwise.

    Total

    57/100

    Versatile and dependable glove. Solid bat. Solid baserunning. That’s Denorfia in a nutshell.

44. Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels

28 of 71

    Hitting

    12/30

    The plate discipline problems that plagued Hamilton in 2012 have only improved to a degree. He’s still a candidate to expand the zone, and any pitcher who can get ahead and then throw Hamilton a good breaking ball is going to be able to take a leisurely stroll around the mound. Especially if said pitcher is a lefty with a good slider. Things aren’t helped by the fact that Hamilton is a fly-ball hitter. Such hitters tend to struggle with BABIP.

    Power

    22/30

    Hamilton’s humongous raw power is the stuff of legends, but its appearances in 2013 have been inconsistent, and there are good reasons for that. The simplest: moving from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington to the Big A. Aside from that, it’s remarkable how few fly balls he sends to right field. To the naked eye, that would appear to have something to do with a loss of bat speed, which makes you wonder if the real thunderous power he carved out his legend with is gone for good.

    Baserunning

    9/15

    Give Hamilton credit for this: He can still run the bases. He’s not a threat to steal, and he’s made a few too many outs at third in 2013, but he’s found himself going from second to home on doubles quite often and has generally been good about taking the extra base.

    Fielding

    7/15

    Hamilton doesn’t lack athleticism, but the transition from left and center field over to right field hasn’t gone very smoothly. He's had a tough time reading the ball off the bat, and I’ll be darned if there have been times when he hasn’t looked like he’s dogging it. He’s also made some baffling mistakes, so suffice it to say I’m being a bit generous with this score.

    Health

    7/10

    Hamilton hasn’t been on the DL since 2011, but he attracts minor aches and pains like nobody else in baseball. In 2012, he dealt with everything from lower-back tightness to a sinus problem, and in 2013 it’s been more back pain, wrist soreness and ankle pain. Counting on Hamilton to stay healthy is already a bad idea, and he’s not getting any younger.

    Total

    57/100

    This is a score hardly befitting a player with a $125 million contract, but perfectly befitting a player who can’t get it together at the plate and whose power is suddenly inconsistent.

43. David Lough, Kansas City Royals

29 of 71

    Hitting

    16/30

    Lough doesn’t have much in the way of plate discipline, especially when it comes to hard stuff up and breaking balls down below his knees. Yet he manages to make contact more than the average hitter, and he has been quite good about avoiding strikeouts. And since the majority of his batted balls are either on a line or on the ground, he’s been able to maintain a solid BABIP that has helped make up for his lack of a walk habit. He looks like he can handle being a league-average hitter.

    Power

    11/30

    Good things don’t tend to happen for Lough when he hits the ball in the air, as he really only has home run power to right field and hasn’t proven to be very capable of hitting the ball farther than the left fielder and center fielder can run. Doubles and triples power is more his thing, and he has enough of it to save his power from irrelevance.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Lough’s a pretty good athlete, but he’s better at running the bases than he is at stealing them. He’s taken his share of extra bases on batted balls and has been careful to avoid outs.

    Fielding

    13/15

    Lough spent a good chunk of his minor league career playing center field, but he fits better in left and right. He has above-average range on both sides, thanks in part to his good athleticism and also to the fact that he gets after the ball quickly. He doesn’t have a strong arm, but he’s accurate enough to make what he has count for something. Defense looks like his calling card.

    Health

    10/10

    Lough has been bothered by some nagging injuries in 2013, but nothing serious. There’s also nothing serious in his injury history, so his health is basically shipshape.

    Total

    58/100

    Maybe it’s a bit too soon to call Lough a late bloomer, but he’s given the Royals a boost with a solid bat and quality defense at two positions. He's been one of the more unsung heroes of the AL Central in 2013.

42. David Murphy, Texas Rangers

30 of 71

    Hitting

    14/30

    Having to play more regularly against left-handers in 2013 hasn’t helped Murphy’s numbers, but his approach has been different, too. He’s been in more of a hurry at the plate. And despite the fact you’d expect the opposite with more regular playing time, Murphy has had no shortage of trouble with slow stuff. As bad as it all sounds (and indeed, looks), one thing worth noting is that Murphy has had some brutal luck on ground balls. He's not as good as he showed in 2012, but he's not this bad either.

    Power

    16/30

    Murphy has been hitting the ball in the air a bit more often than he usually does, but his HR/FB rate hasn’t followed his fly-ball rate’s uphill climb. That has a lot to do with the fact that the bulk of his fly balls have been lifted to left field, which is not Murphy’s main power alley. He can punch the ball into the left-center gap, but his main power alley is right field all the way.

    Baserunning

    5/15

    Murphy hasn’t been on base often enough to pad his stats with stolen bases, so it doesn’t help that he’s had a very hard time being successful when he has taken off this year. He’s also set a new career high for outs made at third base and has generally spent the season doing more harm than good on the basepaths. In light of his sagging offensive production, it’s hard to forgive him for such treachery.

    Fielding

    13/15

    Murphy’s bat may be a disappointment this season, but he’s always been a good defensive left fielder. His abilities haven’t left him this year. He has the athleticism to cover more ground than the average left fielder, and his arm isn’t too bad for the position either. He’s one of the best defensive left fielders in the business, no question about it.

    Health

    10/10

    If there’s an injury contributing to Murphy’s struggles this season, he’s doing a good job of hiding it. His one and only DL stint came back in 2008, and he’s been fortunate to avoid nagging injuries ever since.

    Total

    58/100

    Murphy had my vote as one of the most underrated players in the league before this season, so I’ll admit that I’m disappointed by his struggles. All the same, Murphy deserves to be viewed as at least a league-average hitter with a very good glove.

41. Christian Yelich, Miami Marlins

31 of 71

    Hitting

    18/25

    Few young hitters possess as sweet of a swing as Yelich. He also demonstrates advanced pitch recognition and plate discipline that allows him to track pitches deep in the zone before firing his hands, seemingly at the last possible second, to drive the ball from line to line. The only knock on Yelich is that he struggles against same-side pitching. He became one of the more polished young hitters in the game upon his arrival in the major leagues in 2013, and he could flirt with a .300 batting average next year in his first full season in The Show.

    Power

    12/25

    Yelich’s swing may be geared toward consistent contact, but he has sneaky power—at least more than his lanky frame suggests. Because he’s such a disciplined hitter and lets the ball travel deep in the zone, Yelich's natural power is to the opposite field. At the same time, he also has the bat speed needed to handle velocity and turn on inner-half offerings. His power will develop as he matures physically, but there’s reason to believe he’ll hit upward of 30 doubles and 15 home runs next season. 

    Baserunning

    11/15

    Yelich possesses slightly above-average speed that plays up on both sides of the ball thanks to his athleticism and excellent instincts. While he’s not a burner, Yelich glides when he hits full speed, using his long legs to cover ground and take extra bases when possible. Similarly, he’s an efficient base stealer who demonstrates a feel for reading pitchers and picking spots to run. Expect him to collect roughly 20 steals over a full season.

    Fielding

    9/15

    Yelich is an excellent athlete who was developed in center field until the arrival of Jake Marisnick this season. While he lacks range commonly associated with the position, Yelich is an above-average overall defender and is capable of handling the position at the highest level. The only down tool with Yelich is his arm, which is below average and limits him to either center or left field.

    Health

    9/10

    Yelich has dealt with several unlucky and minor injuries during his ascent in the Marlins’ system, most notably right elbow soreness in 2012 and a left foot contusion earlier this year.

    Total

    59/100

    Yelich quickly emerged as a main cog in the Marlins offense following a midseason promotion directly from Double-A and, more importantly, proved that he belongs in the major leagues. While his on-base skills are valuable at the top of the lineup, Yelich’s ability to drive in runs could also make him a middle-of-the-order threat.

40. Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals

32 of 71

    Hitting

    22/25

    Widely regarded as the best pure hitter in the minor leagues, Taveras has preternatural bat-to-ball skills that allow him to barrel pitches other hitters don’t even touch. A left-handed hitter, he demonstrates an advanced feel for the strike zone and gets excellent plate coverage with his long arms. While he employs a torque-oriented swing that involves considerable effort, Taveras is short to the ball and naturally drives the ball from line to line. Though he doesn’t walk a ton, the strikeouts should always be minimal given his outstanding pitch recognition and excellent hand-eye coordination. And with a strong track record of success as a younger player at each minor league stop, Taveras has all the makings of a future batting champion.

    Power

    15/25

    While Taveras is physically strong, his in-game power is more a product of being an excellent hitter with an efficient swing. His ability to drive the ball with backspin carry to all fields should always result in a significant number of extra-base hits in a given season, as has been the case throughout his minor league career. And if he receives regular playing time with the Cardinals in 2014, expect Taveras to notch at least 15 home runs.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Poor baserunning is the only legitimate knock on Taveras’ overall game at this point. While he’s an average runner who always runs hard and utilizes his athleticism, Taveras is overaggressive on the basepaths and runs into too many outs.

    Fielding

    8/15

    Taveras is capable of playing all three outfield positions, though he has seen a majority of his time in center field while coming up with the Cardinals. He’s not a flashy defender, but he makes the plays thanks to slightly above-average range, a feel for tracking the ball and solid instincts. While his routes and reads have improved over the past year, Taveras still has plenty to learn from experience. As for his future position, well, that will depend on where the Cardinals can work his bat into the lineup.

    Health

    7/10

    Taveras was limited to only 46 games at Triple-A this season after suffering an ankle sprain in May that resulted in two separate stints on the disabled list and, sadly, season-ending surgery. Though he’s expected to be healthy for spring training, he’ll have to prove to the organization that the injury is no longer a concern.

    Total

    59/100

    Taveras is a special hitter—the kind you build an offense around. Provided that he’s healthy next season, he’s a safe bet to rake upon reaching the major leagues and could potentially run away with the National League Rookie of the Year award. The only question is when he’ll get an opportunity; once Taveras is called up, he’ll be there to stay. 

39. Nate Schierholtz, Chicago Cubs

33 of 71

    Hitting

    14/30

    Schierholtz’s job has been made easier by the fact that he’s been played almost exclusively against right-handers this season, so his score can only go so high because of that. Another reason it can only go so high is because he’s generally an aggressive hitter who doesn’t mind going outside the strike zone. Despite that, he’s not one to pile up strikeouts, and he’s always hit just enough line drives to save face with a solid BABIP.

    Power

    20/30

    Schierholtz has always had pretty good power to right field, and regular playing time against right-handers has turned out to be the key to unlocking that power. He’s been maintaining a HR/FB rate roughly double his career norm, and almost all of his homers have been to right field. However, don’t sleep on Schierholtz’s ability to punch the ball down the left field line. His power isn't entirely a one-trick pony, so to speak.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Schierholtz is a good athlete, but he’s not and has never been much of a stolen-base threat. He’s also more station-to-station on the basepaths than he is aggressive. The bright side, however, is that he’s been good at avoiding outs both in 2013 and throughout his career.

    Fielding

    9/15

    Schierholtz has the kind of arm you want your right fielder to have, and his athleticism allows him to cover more ground than your typical right fielder. The one gripe I have is that he doesn’t run the smoothest routes, and that's a habit that limits his defensive potential.

    Health

    10/10

    Schierholtz has been on the DL twice since August 2011, both times with broken bones. Those have been known to heal and stay healed, and the one thing that can be said about Schierholtz’s lack of playing time over the years is that it’s helped to keep his body fresh.

    Total

    60/100

    The jury’s still out on whether Schierholtz can be an everyday outfielder, but he’s proven himself to be a highly effective platoon player in 2013. That's what good power and a good glove can do for you.

38. Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays

34 of 71

    Hitting

    16/30

    Joyce only plays against right-handers, so he obviously has it easier than the garden-variety starting outfielder. All the same, he has that one combination that all hitters should have: good patience and even better plate discipline. While he can be made to whiff on breaking and off-speed pitches, Joyce doesn’t expand the zone often and is therefore able to get on base via the walk more often than the average hitter. He’s not and likely never will be much of a BABIP merchant with a contact approach that favors putting the ball in the air, but that approach comes in handy in other ways. Such as…

    Power

    18/30

    Joyce’s power is about as one-dimensional as it gets. He can only hit the ball with authority to right field, which is where virtually all his doubles and home runs go. It’s a good thing he hits enough of those to pass for an above-average power producer.

    Baserunning

    9/15

    Joyce isn’t the speediest runner, but pitchers do have to keep an eye on him when he’s at first base. He’s been picked off a few times this season, but he’s also swiped his share of bases and has been tough to catch when he gets away clean. He’s also done the little things well, going from first to third more than ever before and only making a handful of outs on the basepaths.

    Fielding

    7/15

    The Rays have played Joyce in both left and right field, and he’s typically been capable of playing both well enough. He has a decent arm with which he’s very accurate. And while he doesn’t have blazing speed and can occasionally be late to break, he helps make up for it by taking direct routes. He’s nothing special, but he passes for a solid outfielder.

    Health

    10/10

    Joyce had to miss about a month’s worth of action when he strained his oblique last season, but that was his first DL stint since 2010. He only deals with minor injuries for the most part, and 2013 has been a very clean year for his health.

    Total

    60/100

    He’s only a platoon outfielder, but you have to hand it to Joyce for excelling at the role he’s been given. He can hit for power and provide solid defense in both left and right field.

37. Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians

35 of 71

    Hitting

    17/30

    Brantley doesn’t like to wait around at the plate, so it’s a good thing that he has quality plate discipline and rarely swings and misses. He has the right idea in terms of contact, too, as he mainly keeps the ball out of the air and looks to use his speed. His BABIP hasn’t been quite as strong in 2013 as it was in 2012, and that’s because his fly-ball rate has seen a slight uptick. Even with that, he still passes for a decent hitter. 

    Power

    12/30

    Another reason Brantley’s uptick in fly balls can be forgiven is that it hasn’t been for naught. He has knocked a few more balls over the fence this year. He also likes to pepper the right-center gap for doubles and triples, and he also has the ability to hit the ball over the left fielder’s head. His power isn’t great for a corner outfielder, but it’s not too far below average.

    Baserunning

    11/15

    Brantley’s base stealing was a problem in 2012, as he stole 12 and got caught nine times in the process. He was also picked off three times. He’s been a lot smarter this year, avoiding pickoffs and choosing his spots better. His efficiency is much improved as a result, and he’s also taken his share of extra bases without getting caught. Baserunning has gone from being a weakness to be a legit strength of his.

    Fielding

    10/15

    Brantley is really a center fielder who has been forced over to left field thanks to the presence of Michael Bourn. While he’s not the most instinctive outfielder, his athleticism helps make up for that and his arm plays much better in left than it does in center.

    Health

    10/10

    The most notable thing in Brantley’s injury history is the hamate surgery that he had in 2011. That’s a routine procedure these days, and Brantley has stayed largely injury-free ever since.

    Total

    60/100

    Brantley hasn’t had quite the same kind of impact in 2013 that he had in 2012, but his game hasn’t tailed off completely. He’s still a quality hitter, and he’s putting his speed to good use on the basepaths and in the field.

36. Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins

36 of 71

    Hitting

    20/30

    Willingham hasn’t had much of a chance to get on track in 2013 thanks to his injury woes, but what we know about him is that he’s a very patient hitter with one of the best eyes you’re going to find. He will get into plenty of two-strike counts and will strike out more than the average hitter, but his walk rate more than softens the blow. He’s generally limited in terms of what he can do with his batting average thanks to the fact that he’s always looking to get the ball in the air, but he’s going to give you an OBP in the neighborhood of .360, and that’s plenty good enough.

    Power

    23/30

    Willingham really turned on the power in 2011 and 2012 despite the fact he was playing his home games in two parks that aren’t exactly known to be power-friendly. His power is down this year, but his injury issues have something to do with that. It’s not likely to stay down forever seeing as how he’s still hitting the ball in the air as often as he usually does. He just needs to get his legs under him again.

    Baserunning

    5/15

    Willingham has very little speed to work with, so it’s only natural that he wouldn’t bother with stolen bases. In general, he’s much more of a station-to-station guy than a lot of corner outfielders, which hurts his chances here.

    Fielding

    5/15

    Willingham is one of those guys who plays a corner outfield position basically because there’s nowhere else for him to play. He’s not a natural in the outfield when it comes to reading fly balls, and he doesn’t have the foot speed to correct bad reads. His arm is also below par.

    Health

    7/10

    Willingham missed a good chunk of the season with a left knee injury, and that’s a concern because his left leg has given him trouble before. He spent time on the DL in 2011 with a left Achilles strain, and he had to have surgery on his left knee in 2010.

    Total

    60/100

    You can be forgiven if you forgot that Willingham was even out there, but he has a good power bat and can get on base. If he could run, field or stay healthy, he’d be a star-level player.

35. Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers

37 of 71

    Hitting

    15/30

    Cruz is your garden-variety Pedro Cerrano slugger. He likes to see a fair amount of pitches when he’s at the plate, but he’s a candidate to swing over the top of breaking ball or an off-speed pitch. Strikeouts come with the territory, and they come with relatively few walks. And since his game is geared toward power, he has all-or-nothing contact habits that hold his BABIP back. When it comes to the art of hitting, Cruz is no Picasso.

    Power

    26/30

    Cruz’s shortcomings as a hitter are tolerable because of the terrible things he can do to a baseball. He has true light-tower power that goes to all fields, and it makes sure his fly-ball habit doesn’t go to waste. The only thing he’s missing is the ability to settle for line drives in the gaps for doubles. Give him one of those, and he’ll be a rare .600 slugger.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Cruz moves well enough for a big guy to be an occasional base stealer. However, he’s really a station-to-station baserunner who runs into more outs than he should. He ran into 11 outs on the basepaths in 2012, and he ran into five more this year before he got suspended.

    Fielding

    5/15

    Cruz’s defense is…well, it’s just not very good. He could certainly be worse off in the athleticism department, but his problems on defense have more to do with him being a lousy judge of fly balls. That’s especially true when he has to go back on the ball, as you may have noticed if you watched Game 6 of the 2011 World Series.

    Health

    8/10

    Cruz is the kind of guy who’s going to get hurt a fair amount. He managed to stay healthy in 2012, but before that he had been to the DL six times between 2009 and 2011 and played in no more than 128 games in any of those three seasons. And even though he’s mostly managed to avoid injuries over the last two years, he’s still had to deal with his share of minor injuries.

    Total

    60/100

    The big cloud hanging over Cruz’s head right now says “Biogenesis” on it. But below it stands a premier power hitter who will be heard from again.

34. Yoenis Cespedes, Oakland A's

38 of 71

    Hitting

    13/30

    The phrase “out of whack” works to describe what Cespedes’ approach has been like in 2013. He’s made an effort to see more pitches, but his plate discipline hasn’t gotten any better and he’s found himself hacking and missing more often, particularly at breaking balls. Cespedes’ numbers have been further harmed by his cashing in some line drives for fly balls. The good news is that these bad habits have been corrected a bit in the second half, so there's hope for Cespedes' bat heading out of 2013.

    Power

    21/30

    If you saw the Home Run Derby, you know that Cespedes’ raw power is gigantic. But he didn’t have the easiest time making it show up in games last year, and he hasn’t had it any easier this year. Though he’s been putting more balls in the air, he still has a tendency to get too far underneath. His HR/FB rate has gone down rather than up. And while his hitting has become more consistent in the second half, it's been par for the course for his power.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Cespedes has had fewer opportunities to steal bases with his on-base percentage down in 2013, but his stolen-base efficiency has also taken an unfortunate turn for the worse. What’s particularly alarming is how often he’s been picked off while trying to steal, which speaks to issues reading pitchers. He’s been better simply rounding the bases, but it’s pretty clear that he needs more than just his athleticism.

    Fielding

    12/15

    Cespedes is a disastrous defender in center field. In left field, however, he’s quite good. He’s been better reacting to the ball off the bat this year, and that new habit has helped him use his immense natural athleticism to cover ground. He also has more than enough arm strength for the position, making him one of the more useful left fielders in the business.

    Health

    8/10

    It’s already clear that staying healthy is going to be a challenge for Cespedes. He was banged up for a good portion of the 2012 season, and the pattern has repeated itself in 2013. In particular, he can’t seem to keep his hands and wrists healthy, and goodness knows he needs those to hit.

    Total

    60/100

    Cespedes is going to be an MVP-caliber player once he puts it all together, and he shows flashes here and there that he's ready to do that. It's these flashes that help him save par. But it's just...not...all...there...yet.

33. Carlos Quentin, San Diego Padres

39 of 71

    Hitting

    22/30

    Quentin was a bit more open about swinging away in 2013, and found himself swinging and missing more than he’s used to—especially on breaking balls. Naturally, his strikeout rate rose above his career norm, and his walk rate also took a hit. It’s a good thing, then, that he’s boosted his BABIP by way of a boosted line-drive rate, with the bulk of the damage being done to his pull side. Short version: dude could still hit.

    Power

    24/30

    Quentin has long been one of the most prolific fly-ball merchants in the game, and he’s spent the majority of his career sending a good chunk of those fly balls over the fence. His move to San Diego hasn’t made that easier, especially not in 2013. His power played much better on the road. Aside from that, it was a typical Quentin season: solid HR/FB rate and plenty of bullets down the line for doubles.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Quentin is built like a tank, and he moves like one. He doesn’t steal bases, and he is little more than a station-to-station baserunner when he has to run the bases. But give him credit for knowing his limits. Quentin rarely ever runs into outs anymore.

    Fielding

    5/15

    Quentin has to play somewhere. For good or ill, that somewhere is left field. He can be painful to watch at times, as he doesn’t move well and can take some pretty funky routes. There’s nothing he can do to pass for an above-average fielder, or even an average fielder.

    Health

    4/10

    “Messed up” doesn’t come close to describing Quentin’s right knee at this point. He’d already had two surgeries on it since March 2012, and his 2013 season came to an early end in August when he had to go in for a third surgery. It’s worth noting that he’s also had issues with his left knee. At this point, you have to wonder how much more his legs can take.

    Total

    61/100

    There’s nothing wrong with Quentin’s bat. It’s his baserunning, fielding and health that should worry everyone.

32. Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees

40 of 71

    Hitting

    17/30

    He’s still the same old Ichiro. He’s not waiting around long at the plate and is still being aggressive on pitches both in and out of the strike zone. One thing that’s different is that he’s not making as much contact as usual, resulting in a slightly higher strikeout rate to go with his low walk rate. It’s not all bad, though. Ichiro’s M.O. is still to hit the ball on the ground, and his low BABIP has a lot to do with the fact that he just hasn’t had his usual luck on grounders. He’s still a decent hitter.

    Power

    8/30

    Ichiro is still making good use of Yankee Stadium’s short right-field porch, just as he did upon arriving from Seattle last summer. But his doubles and triples power just isn’t there anymore, as balls in the right-center gap have been few and far between in 2013.

    Baserunning

    13/15

    Ichiro has lost a few steps with age, but he can still run better than most and he still knows how to read pitchers. While he doesn’t have a lot of stolen bases to his name this year, he’s definitely been efficient. His speed and instincts also still serve him well in running the bases on balls in play.

    Fielding

    14/15

    Ichiro’s bat isn’t what it used to be, but he can still get it done in right field. It’s yet another area where his instincts serve him well, and he still covers his share of ground. And while it may not be the weapon of mass destruction that it used to be, his arm is still something for runners to think about.

    Health

    10/10

    Ichiro has been on the DL exactly once in his career, and that was back in 2009 when he had a bleeding ulcer. Apart from that, he’s been able to keep his body in one piece.

    Total

    62/100

    Ichiro is a far, far cry from the player he used to be, but his bat isn’t dead yet and he’s still a weapon on the basepaths and in right field.

31. Daniel Nava, Boston Red Sox

41 of 71

    Hitting

    25/30

    The general pattern with switch-hitters is that they tend to be better from the right side of the plate. Nava’s the opposite. But regardless of which side of the plate he’s hitting from, he's a guy who’s going to see pitches and he has the discerning eye to maintain a good walk rate. He has been a bit more aggressive in 2013, however, with a proneness in particular to go after breaking stuff. The good news is that he’s making more contact out of the zone, and he’s become an even more reliable source of line drives than the one he already was. His strong offensive numbers are no joke.

    Power

    14/30

    Nava’s uppercut swing does result in a fair amount of fly balls, but his home run power is really nothing special. If anything, he should be an outstanding source of doubles with his line-drive habit, but his doubles power is nothing special either. He’s really only dangerous at home in Fenway Park, where he can clank balls off the Green Monster.

    Baserunning

    6/15

    Nava doesn’t have much speed to work with, so he doesn’t even bother with stolen bases. He’s also not the kind of guy who’s going to go from first to third or to take extra bases in general. He doesn’t run into many outs, but he’s essentially a station-to-station baserunner.

    Fielding

    7/15

    Nava is more comfortable in left field than he is in right field, especially when it comes to playing the Green Monster. It’s something he’s gotten to be quite good at. But even that ability doesn’t save him from being much more than an average defender, as he has neither the athleticism to stretch his boundaries nor the arm to teach baserunners a lesson about running on him.

    Health

    10/10

    Some left wrist issues landed Nava on the DL on two separate occasions and for a total of 37 games in 2012, but he’s had nothing pop up since then.

    Total

    62/100

    Nava’s best skill is getting on base, which is something he’s gotten very good at doing. But aside from that, he really doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table.

30. Alfonso Soriano, New York Yankees

42 of 71

    Hitting

    12/30

    Soriano’s approach hasn’t changed much over the years. He’s still an aggressive hitter with no reservations about expanding the strike zone. He's been doing that a lot this year, and has been missing out on the walks he racked up last year as a result. Whiffs and strikeouts come with the territory, and he's particularly vulnerable against...well, pretty much anything that slow and spinny. Also, his BABIP performance has a tendency to be inconsistent because of how many fly balls he hits. 

    Power

    24/30

    Now, power—that’s something Soriano can still manage. He still has quick wrists that he can use to flick a heavy bat at the ball, and he’s spent the better part of the last two years rescuing his HR/FB rate from oblivion. And while most of Soriano’s power is still concentrated to left field, you have to give him props for still being willing to flip the occasional ball into the right-center gap.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Soriano is trying to steal more bases in 2013, but he’s clearly lost a step, and it shows in the amount of times he’s been caught. He’s also been picked off more often this year than he has since 2008. He’s still better than a station-to-station guy when it comes to doing other things, but not by much.

    Fielding

    8/15

    It still feels weird to say it, but Soriano has gotten to be a half-decent left fielder. He’s still not one to make the highlight reel, but he’s gotten better at reading the ball off the bat and running direct routes to the ball. Combine these habits with his athleticism, and you’ve got a pretty good defensive player.

    Health

    10/10

    Soriano’s injury history is about as lengthy as the next 37-year-old’s, but he hasn’t been on the DL since 2011 and has hardly dealt with any minor injuries over the last two seasons. For a guy his age, he’s in good shape.

    Total

    62/100

    Soriano’s at-bats aren’t exactly lessons on how to hit, but he still has pop in his bat and speed in his legs that make him a quality regular.

29. Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks

43 of 71

    Hitting

    17/30

    Parra doesn’t wait around at the plate, and he makes things even more interesting by being totally willing to expand the strike zone. That’s typically not such a great recipe for success, but Parra has been whiffing less often this year—most notably on fastballs. He’s needed those extra balls in play, because his line-drive rate has taken a turn for the worse while he’s pushed his ground-ball rate close to 60 percent. It’s a good thing that he’s the rare lefty hitter who can shoot base hits in between the shortstop and third baseman.

    Power

    13/30

    All those ground balls don’t leave much space for power. To his credit, Parra does have some solid power for a guy who seems like he couldn’t care less about hitting for power, as he has legit home run pop to right field and has been known to give the ball a ride over the center fielder’s head. It’s worth noting that he’s set a career high for doubles this year. But right field is a power position, and Parra simply doesn’t have a power bat.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Parra tries to make up for his lack of power by stealing bases, but he’s been pretty bad at it over the last two seasons. It’s been a 50-50 proposition as to whether he’ll make it or not, and that translates to “not good” in the language of the base-stealing populace. It’s a good thing that he’s gotten better about running into outs when doing other things on the basepaths.

    Fielding

    15/15

    We have Parra listed as a corner outfielder because he’s played mainly in left and right throughout his career and has played primarily right field in 2013, but he’s realistically a center fielder with a center fielder’s defensive skills. His speed plays a lot better in the outfield than it does on the basepaths, and he has a very strong arm with which he’s also accurate. His bat is lacking, but his defense is absolutely terrific.

    Health

    10/10

    Parra hasn’t been on the DL yet, and he’s missed only a handful of games due to injuries in his career. Him being healthy is par for the course.

    Total

    62/100

    The scoring system we’ve come up with for corner outfielders admittedly doesn’t do Parra a whole lot of justice. His value is almost entirely in his glove, and that only earns him so much respect here. So we’ll just call it even with this sentiment: You want this guy’s glove.

28. Josh Reddick, Oakland A's

44 of 71

    Hitting

    10/30

    Reddick hit .215/.256/.391 in the second half of 2012, a notable drop-off from his eye-opening first half. Save for the power production—more on that in a moment—Reddick’s numbers look largely the same this year. He can still draw walks thanks to his patience and solid plate discipline, but he hasn’t gotten any better at hitting fastballs, and his BABIP is always going to be a struggle because of how his uppercut swing produces fly balls. It also doesn’t help that he’s not much more than a pull hitter. 

    Power

    15/30

    Reddick does have a good amount of power packed into his modest frame, but he overachieved from a power perspective in the first half of 2012. The trick is to not give him anything to pull, as his power is easily neutralized if he can be made to hit the ball to center or left. He doesn’t have much power in either direction. 

    Baserunning

    13/15

    Reddick is not an elite base-stealing threat by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s very good at picking his spots when he does want to go and is a terrific baserunner. He takes plenty of extra bases and has yet to make a single out at either second or third. This part of his game is criminally underrated.

    Fielding

    15/15

    Reddick’s Gold Glove last year was well deserved, and he hasn’t lost anything off his defense in 2013. He still covers a ton of ground for a right fielder, and opponents learned in 2012 that testing Reddick’s arm is not a good idea.

    Health

    9/10

    I’ll stand by my claim that Reddick overachieved from a power standpoint in the first half of 2012, but it should definitely be noted that he’s had a bad right wrist for a good chunk of the season. He’s been on the DL twice with it, once in May and again in late July. Because wrist injuries are scary for hitters, you have to fear the worst.

    Total

    62/100

    Reddick was quietly one of the best players in baseball when he was hitting home runs and playing an excellent right field. His bat has gone cold in 2013, but his glove is still terrific and his baserunning talent must not be overlooked.

27. Will Venable, San Diego Padres

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    Hitting

    14/30

    Venable has a cushy job as a left-handed batter who plays primarily against right-handed pitchers, but it hasn’t quite been the same old, same old for him in 2013. He’s been much more aggressive at the plate, swinging more often both in and out of the strike zone. He’s hardly walking at all, he strikes out more than the average hitter, and his BABIP hasn’t been helped by the fact that his line-drive rate is lower than it’s been over the last two years. The short version is this: meh.

    Power

    19/30

    Suddenly, Venable is a terrific home run hitter. He’s set a new career high for homers and has hit enough of them to place near the top of the ranks among right fielders. There’s a catch, however: The bulk of Venable’s home runs have come at home, and that’s thanks to the fact that he’s been able to sneak a few into the short porch down the right-field line. Realistically, he’s closer to the same kind of power hitter he’s always been: a guy who specializes in doubles and triples more so than home runs.

    Baserunning

    11/15

    Venable’s power production has decreased his need to steal bases, but it’s something that he can still do and is fairly efficient at to boot. While he’s not taking as many extra bases this year as he usually does, he’s still taking his share and has been good at avoiding outs.

    Fielding

    9/15

    Venable played primarily in center field as a minor leaguer, and he still plays there a fair amount as a major leaguer. But right field is where he’s spent the majority of his time both in 2013 and throughout his career, and it’s a position that he generally plays well. His athleticism gives him good range for the position, with the biggest catch being that he doesn’t have a right fielder’s arm.

    Health

    10/10

    Venable’s one and only major league DL stint happened in 2010. He’s dealt with some nagging injuries since then, but not so much last year or this year. He’s in good health.

    Total

    63/100

    Though Venable’s power numbers this season can’t be taken at face value, his bat is solid and he runs the bases and plays the field just fine.

26. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Hitting

    22/30

    Ethier’s plate discipline has gotten better this season, though that’s partially due to him seeing a few more pitches in the strike zone. Regardless, fewer hacks out of the zone have translated into a revival of his walk rate, and he’s striking out less often than he did in 2012 in large part because he hasn’t been as overpowered against southpaws. Things are largely the same elsewhere, as Ethier is still a solid source of line drives and a decent BABIP merchant because of that. 

    Power

    17/30

    Dodger Stadium doesn’t do Ethier any favors, but he’s not much more than an average power hitter anyway. He doesn’t have booming power, and the power he does have is focused primarily on right field. More so than hitting balls over the fence, his best skill is finding paydirt in the right-center gap.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Ethier doesn’t have great speed and has never been one to steal bases. While he does have a bit of a knack for getting tagged out at home, he’s not a careless baserunner. He plays it station to station for the most part, but he’s generally pretty good about avoiding outs.

    Fielding

    8/15

    Ethier has had to spell Matt Kemp in center field quite a bit in 2013, but he’s definitely a better fit in right field. And while he's won a Gold Glove for his work at the position in the past, realistically he’s just an OK fielder. He doesn’t have much range, and he has a below-average arm for the position. 

    Health

    10/10

    If it feels like Ethier is the one Dodger hitter who has managed to stay healthy in 2013, that’s because that’s not far from the truth. He’s played in almost every game, and he’s logged only a total of 31 days on the DL throughout his whole career.

    Total

    63/100

    It’s easy to give Ethier a hard time for being an overpaid and generally unspectacular player, but his bat is still a valuable asset.

25. Nate McLouth, Baltimore Orioles

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    Hitting

    18/30

    McLouth has gotten to be a bit more aggressive since joining the Orioles, and he’s been able to make it work quite well in 2013. It helps that he rarely expands the strike zone, and that certainly puts both his solid walk habit and his career-best contact rate in perspective. A good chunk of McLouth’s batted balls have been line drives, but there’s a good reason his BABIP is subdued despite that: He’s hit way too many fly balls for a man of his power (or lack thereof). And speaking of that…

    Power

    14/30

    McLouth once hit 26 home runs in a season. That looks like an obvious outlier now with his power production below par for a corner outfielder. To boot, his power production depends almost entirely on his pull side, as he has zero power to left field and very little power to center. It’s a good thing he can get the ball over the right-field fence, and all the darts he’s hit down the line have also been handy.

    Baserunning

    14/15

    McLouth has set a new career high for stolen bases in 2013, topping the 30-steal plateau for the first time in his career. His stolen-base habit has lessened the need for him to go from first to third, but he’s taken his share of extra bases anyway and has rarely been nabbed. But here's the catch: McLouth is not the most efficient base stealer, and his baserunning production has really tailed off in the second half.

    Fielding

    9/15

    McLouth isn’t a game-changing defender in left field, but he’s been a better left fielder than he was a center fielder. He doesn’t have the arm for the position, but his good speed gives him above-average range. You occasionally see him go back on the ball like a center fielder.

    Health

    9/10

    McLouth was an injured wreck for a while there, as he missed some time with a concussion in 2010 and lost about half his 2011 season to the DL with an oblique strain and a sports hernia. His health has behaved ever since, but there’s some lingering doubt with his 32nd birthday coming up.

    Total

    64/100

    McLouth was a power-speed threat back in 2008, but now his game is more about speed and contact. That makes him a throwback, but it certainly doesn’t make him out of place.

24. Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers

48 of 71

    Hitting

    22/30

    Crawford’s plate discipline was an utter wreck in his two years in Boston, which was maybe the primary result of his trying too hard. He’s been much better about not expanding the zone with the Dodgers, and he has also gotten much better about swinging and missing. As a result, his walk rate has had some life breathed into it and he’s putting the ball in play much more consistently. And since he’s back to being a line-drive machine, it’s all good. It’s safe to call Crawford a good hitter again.

    Power

    13/30

    Crawford’s power is one thing that hasn’t experienced a revival in Los Angeles. He can still jack the ball out of the yard to right field, but he hasn’t been sending the ball on a ride over outfielders’ heads like he was doing during his excellent 2010 season and, indeed, even in parts of his two seasons in Boston. The ability to do that is still there, but Crawford seems more worried about being a consistent hitter again.

    Baserunning

    11/15

    Crawford still runs well, but his days as an elite base stealer are over. The best thing he can do now is be a master of the stuff that doesn’t show up in the box score, and Crawford is fortunately quite capable of handling himself in that arena. He’s gone from first to third more often than he did in his two years in Boston combined, and he has had little trouble scoring from first on doubles and from second on singles.

    Fielding

    10/15

    It used to be impossible to get the ball past Crawford in left field. It’s now quite possible to do that, but he still covers more ground than your average left fielder. It’s a good thing he does, because his arm isn’t much of a weapon.

    Health

    8/10

    Crawford’s injury history has gotten to be pretty crowded. His 2012 season came to an early end thanks to Tommy John surgery, and he found himself on the DL for about a month this year thanks to a hamstring strain. That wasn’t a first, as Crawford had to hit the DL with a bad hammy in 2011, too. Having just turned 32, he probably hasn’t seen the last of those issues.

    Total

    64/100

    At his peak, Crawford was a very good hitter who could hit for power, run the bases and play an outstanding left field. He’s now a much lesser version of that player, but he obviously still passes for a worthwhile regular.

23. Ryan Raburn, Cleveland Indians

49 of 71

    Hitting

    18/30

    Think Raburn’s surprise 2013 season is a total fluke? Think again. He’s made an effort to work the count more this year, seeing more pitches per plate appearance and showing off improved plate discipline that has helped him launch his walk habit to new heights. Things only get fishy when you look at his contact habits. He’s still not a solid source of line drives, making the driving force behind his success on batted balls an unsustainable average on fly balls. He’s been better, sure, but not as good as he’s shown.

    Power

    24/30

    Raburn was inconsistent as a power hitter before because he hit a ton of fly balls and came away with relatively few homers to show for them. It’s been different this year. His fly-ball percentage is down, but his HR/FB rate is way up. He's hit with power to all fields to boot. It's all obviously too good to be true, but something has indeed clicked for Raburn in 2013.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Raburn isn’t a base stealer, but he’s by no means hopeless when he has to run the bases. He’s not one to go all out to take the extra base, but he takes his share and has been very good at avoiding outs in both 2011 and 2012. He knows his limits.

    Fielding

    8/15

    Raburn can play all over, but he finds himself in the corner outfielder ranks because he’s spent the bulk of his time in right field in 2013. He’s hardly a natural out in right field, and it shows when he has to run after particularly high fly balls. But he has just enough athleticism to cover a fair amount of ground, and his arm is halfway decent. 

    Health

    8/10

    Raburn was banged up for a good chunk of 2012, spending time on the DL with a thumb sprain and a bad quad. It was looking for a while like 2013 was going to be a better year for his health, but his wheels started to get a little wobbly toward the end of August. It’s fair to wonder how healthy he can stay over the course of a 162-game season.

    Total

    65/100

    Raburn isn’t the outstanding hitter that his numbers—racked up in part-time duty, for the record—say he is, but there’s no denying that he has made improvements as a hitter that have paid off and, in turn, put him on the map.

22. Marlon Byrd, Pittsburgh Pirates

50 of 71

    Hitting

    15/30

    Byrd is being far more aggressive this season than he was in 2012, swinging at more pitches out of the zone and swinging at more pitches in general. It gets ugly when he expands the zone, as he has a big-time swing-and-miss habit that feeds a big-time strikeout habit. But throwing him a fastball in the zone is asking for trouble. Those he can hit, and everything he hits leaves his bat in a hurry. It’s a good thing he has that BABIP, as it’s the only thing that’s standing in the way of him being a below-average hitter.

    Power

    22/30

    Part of the reason Byrd is hitting everything so hard this season is because he appears intent on trying to hit everything hard. He’s getting the ball up in the air more often than he has in a couple years, and he has been spraying extra-base hits and home runs to every part of the yard. As fluky as it feels, it’s not like he’s been piling up cheapies.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Byrd doesn’t run as well as he used to, and that’s been apparent when he’s tried to steal bases. He’s been caught more than he’s been successful. But Byrd holds his own when it comes time to run the bases. He hasn’t been taking extra bases at will, but he’s taken a few and has been good to avoid outs.

    Fielding

    10/15

    A former center fielder, Byrd certainly has the athleticism and the general know-how to handle right field. He’s been able to cover more ground than the average right fielder this year, and he’s also made good use of his arm. He qualifies as easily better than average on defense.

    Health

    10/10

    Remember when Byrd took a fastball to the face in 2011? That was actually the last time he was hurt. He may be in his mid-30s, but he’s in pretty good health.

    Total

    65/100

    Sometimes, guys who appear washed up fade into the background. And sometimes they re-invent themselves into power hitters and stick around for a while longer. Byrd belongs to the latter collection.

21. Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers

51 of 71

    Hitting

    22/30

    Hunter has re-invented himself over the last two seasons. His approach is much more aggressive, and he doesn’t always keep his swings confined to the strike zone. But while he doesn’t swing and miss any less than the average hitter, he actually doesn’t strike out a whole lot and he can put pretty much anything in play. His BABIP is way down this year—in part because his line-drive rate is down—but he’s still maintaining a respectable BABIP by way of his ability to seek out the holes in the defense. If he had a more measured approach, he'd be up there with the best in the business.

    Power

    16/30

    Hunter’s game isn’t exactly geared toward hitting for power anymore, but trading Angel Stadium of Anaheim for Comerica Park has helped his power numbers. He hasn’t rediscovered any home run power, but he’s hitting a few more fly balls in the air, and a fair portion of those have traveled far and ended up as doubles. He’s hanging on as a quality power hitter.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Hunter doesn’t steal bases anymore, so his ability to provide value on the bases is tied to his ability to do the little things. To that end, he’s been hit or miss. He has to play it safe more often now that he has Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting behind him, but he’s still managed to make as many outs on the basepaths as he did in 2012 when he was being more aggressive.

    Fielding

    10/15

    Hunter has definitely lost a step (or two, or three) in the outfield, so he naturally doesn’t have as much range as he used to. But he still has his instincts, he still doesn’t mind giving up his body to make plays, and he still has a solid arm. In short, he still has the goods to get it done.

    Health

    10/10

    Hunter has battled a sore left Achilles this season, as well as…well, that’s actually about it. He’s been able to keep the nagging injuries at bay, and he’s actually been on the DL only once since 2006. Take note: This is how you stay productive into your late 30s.

    Total

    65/100

    Hunter used to be a game-changing defensive center fielder who had both power and speed to put to use on offense. He’s not that guy anymore, but he can still hit and flash some solid leather.

20. Alex Rios, Texas Rangers

52 of 71

    Hitting

    17/30

    Rios has been a bit more patient and has tightened up his plate discipline this season, hence the reason he’s working on his best walk rate in a few years. That walk rate is still below par, however, and Rios’ patience is also translating into more strikeouts than he’s been used to over the last few years. That makes his success much more dependent on BABIP, and Rios’ BABIP is right about where it should be. It’s a solid BABIP for a solid line-drive rate and a solid ground-ball rate. His ceiling as a hitter only goes so high, but his floor is above average.

    Power

    16/30

    Rios put up some pretty big power numbers last year, and that had much to do with the HR/FB boost he got hitting at U.S. Cellular Field. Things have leveled out this year in part because Rios isn’t hitting the ball in the air as often, let alone over the fence. That’s cost him more than just home runs, as his fly-ball habit helped him pick up doubles and triples in right-center. That’s been a dead zone for Rios in 2013, rendering his power decidedly “meh.”

    Baserunning

    14/15

    One way to make up for decreased power is with increased stolen bases, and Rios has taken that notion to heart in 2013. He’s topped 30 stolen bases for the first time since 2010, and he’s done so with a solid success rate to boot. He’s been less impressive when it comes to taking extra bases and whatnot, but his stolen-base habit has lessened the need for him to do so, and it’s good enough that he’s at least made very few outs on the basepaths.

    Fielding

    9/15

    Rios might be the most boring defensive right fielder in the business, but that’s not such a bad thing. While he’s not particularly flashy, his speed serves him pretty well and his arm has always been a useful weapon. He makes the grade as a good, if not particularly great, defensive player.

    Health

    10/10

    Rios has been on the DL exactly once in his career, and that was in 2006. He hasn’t even dealt with many nagging injuries since then, so his health is in pretty good shape at this stage of his career. 

    Total

    65/100

    Rios was quietly one of the best all-around players in the game in 2012, but he’s been a “just OK” player for the better part of the last five years, and that label is what suits him best at this point. 

19. Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies

53 of 71

    Hitting

    17/30

    Brown hasn’t been more patient in 2013 than he was in any of his major league cameos between 2010 and 2012, nor has his plate discipline gotten particularly better. On the contrary, he’s actually been more aggressive. If we’re being honest, his approach really hasn’t gotten much better. But good things can happen when a hitter just feels more comfortable at the plate. In Brown’s case, being comfortable has translated to more line drives that have helped his BABIP and more fly balls that have…well, that’s the next point.

    Power

    25/30

    Brown’s power production is still largely inflated by the home run tear that he went on in June, but he’s made it pretty clear that he has goods to make it as an impact power hitter. While his home run power only applies to right field for now, he has shown that he can plug the left-center gap with line drives for easy doubles. If he starts hitting some hard-hit fly balls that way instead, watch out. 

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Brown’s baserunning has really been just OK in 2013. He’s rarely taken extra bases, so it doesn’t look so good that he’s made as many outs as he has. On the bright side, however, he’s shown that he can steal a base if you don’t keep a close eye on him. He’s not useless on the basepaths.

    Fielding

    6/15

    Whether he’s playing left field or right field, playing defense just doesn’t come naturally to Brown. His instincts are terrible, and he doesn’t have the speed or the creativity to make up for slow starts and bad reads after the ball leaves the bat. The only thing saving him from an even more dire score here is the fact that his arm is a decent weapon.

    Health

    9/10

    Brown had to spend some time on the concussion DL this season, and he has also battled a minor back issue and, more recently, some Achilles soreness that has been bothering him since late August. He's only 26, but Brown's injury track record is a little concerning.

    Total

    65/100

    This score may seem low in light of Brown’s breakout this year, but all we really know about him is that he excels at hitting for power. The jury’s still out on everything else.

18. Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals

54 of 71

    Hitting

    24/30

    This has been an interesting season for Beltran. He’s been much more aggressive than he typically is, both inside and outside the strike zone. As a result, he’s seen his walk rate take a gigantic dive. He’s making it work because he has a big BABIP that’s being fueled by the biggest line-drive rate of his career, and he’s been racking those up from both sides of the plate. There’s a limit to how much Beltran’s batting average should be trusted, but it’s clear that he still has a clue about what he's doing.

    Power

    20/30

    It feels like Beltran’s power production has fallen off in 2013. And it has...but only to a degree. He’s not hitting the ball over the fence with the same kind of efficiency that he did in 2012, but he’s helping to make up for that by hitting more fly balls, period, and his spike in line drives has helped boost his power production with a few extra doubles. All told, hitting for power is another thing Beltran can still do.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Beltran’s best base-stealing days are in the past. In fact, his base-stealing days look like they’re finished completely. He stole 13 bases in 2012 and won’t come close to that total this year. He’s also taken up a status as a much more station-to-station baserunner than he’s ever been. But that’s not a bad way of life so long as you avoid making outs, and Beltran has indeed been able to do that.

    Fielding

    7/15

    With Beltran’s baserunning skills all dried up, it’s not a surprise that his fielding skills are also all dried up. He still has his old center fielder’s instincts, but he just doesn’t move well anymore. He doesn’t have much of right field covered with his range, and in 2013 he hasn’t been making up for it by making plays with his arm. He’s now an average defensive player. At best.

    Health

    7/10

    Beltran’s injury history is a book-length subject. He’s been injured pretty much constantly throughout his career, and there probably aren’t any parts of his body that haven’t been aching at some point or another. And while he hasn’t been on the DL since 2011, he’s dealt with plenty of nagging injuries over the last couple years, some of which have cost him games. At his age, he certainly hasn’t seen the end of it. 

    Total

    65/100

    There’s not much there if you take Beltran’s bat away, but why would anyone do that? He’s getting old, but the guy can still handle the lumber.

17. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

55 of 71

    Hitting

    23/30

    Holliday hasn’t been waiting at the plate very long in 2013, but there’s a reason for that: He’s been seeing more fastballs over the last two seasons. In turn, there's a reason for that: he hasn’t been hitting them so well. It’s a good thing that Holliday still has a good eye that serves him well drawing walks, but his BABIP is suffering this year because he just hasn’t been placing his ground balls as well as he usually does. That’s a BABIP-killer for him, as he’s always hit a lot of balls on the ground for such a big guy. He obviously still passes for a quality hitter, but there's a clear downward trajectory going on.

    Power

    20/30

    Holliday saw his power decrease in 2012, and he’s experienced another decrease this year. His struggles against fastballs are a factor, and so is the fact that he’s sticking to his ground-ball habit. His brute strength is still there, but it’s becoming legitimately difficult for him to use it.

    Baserunning

    9/15

    With his power fading, give Holliday credit for stealing a few bases this year, without getting busted often to boot. His baserunning in general has been solid, as he’s been more aggressive about advancing yet has only racked up a handful of unnecessary outs. He’s been putting his athleticism to good use.

    Fielding

    5/15

    Holliday plays left field because he has to play somewhere. He’s always looked like a fish out of water in the outfield, with lousy instincts, slow reactions and questionable routes, and he doesn’t have a cannon for an arm to help him make up for his shortcomings.

    Health

    8/10

    Holliday hasn’t been on the DL since 2011, when he found himself on the shelf thanks to a strained quad. However, part of the reason he’s been so up and down over the last two seasons is because he’s found himself dealing with some sort of an injury or another on a more or less constant basis.

    Total

    65/100

    Holliday is still a hitter I’d take on my lineup any day of the week. But I’d think twice about batting him in the middle, as his bat has clearly lost something and there’s no guarantee it’s coming back.

16. Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

56 of 71

    Hitting

    15/30

    Bruce has been seeing a few more pitches in 2013, but his walk rate is down for a second straight year while his strikeout rate is quietly continuing its climb toward 30 percent. He’s become predictable, as any right-hander with a good breaking ball can get him to swing over the top of one down and in and any left-hander can do the same down and away. If you’re looking for the good news, it’s this: Bruce’s BABIP is no fluke. He's been hitting line drives like never before, and he’s been spraying them to all fields like never before. That'll do for compensation for everything else.

    Power

    25/30

    Bruce’s home run count rose every year between 2008 and 2012. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be the same story in 2013, as Bruce’s line-drive surge has come at the expense of his fly-ball rate. The good news is that his HR/FB is right where it was last year. The further good news is that he’s picked up more doubles, and those have actually helped him keep his power production in line with what’s been the norm over the last few years.

    Baserunning

    7/15

    Bruce was good for the occasional steal for a while there, but not in 2013. He’s barely bothered, and it's been 50-50 when he’s tried. But things could be worse. Bruce had a minor issue with running into outs before, and that issue has disappeared this year. He passes for a solid baserunner.

    Fielding

    9/15

    The metrics will say that Bruce is having one of his best defensive seasons in 2013, and that’s largely owed to two things: Bruce hasn’t made his usual number of boots, and he’s picked up more outfield assists than he usually does. Realistically, his arm isn’t that good, and his range in right field is closer to average than above average.

    Health

    10/10

    Bruce has been on the DL once in his career, and that was with a broken right wrist in 2009. He’s been largely injury-free ever since then.

    Total

    66/100

    One feels like Bruce is better than this score indicates. But then again, he’s the kind of guy you only notice when he’s on a power binge, and those come and go with him.

15. Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies

57 of 71

    Hitting

    27/30

    How does one go from being an unspectacular hitter to being quite the spectacular hitter? Cuddyer will tell you that improving one’s plate discipline helps, and so does going from being overmatched against hard stuff to being quite capable of hitting hard stuff. And while Cuddyer does have a ridiculously high BABIP fueled by a ridiculously high BABIP on ground balls, there’s a method to that madness. His ability to shoot the ball on the ground in any direction makes him a tough hitter to defend. His numbers may be inflated, but they’re not entirely accidental.

    Power

    20/30

    Cuddyer’s rise as a hitter has come coupled with a slight decrease in power, and there’s the obvious Coors Field caveat that has to be applied to his case. But he does have power to all fields, and he’s still hitting his share of doubles despite the fact his line-drive percentage is down. Cuddyer is less than an elite power hitter if you neutralize the Coors Field effect, but his power is certainly a few smidgens better than average.

    Baserunning

    9/15

    Cuddyer doesn’t look like a speedster, but he’s always been a sneaky threat to steal a base, and he hasn’t changed his ways in 2013. He’s also a more productive baserunner than you would think by looking at him, going from first to third with surprising regularity and taking his share of bases without making too many outs.

    Fielding

    5/15

    The position Cuddyer should be playing: designated hitter. The position he’s actually playing: right field. And it’s certainly not a pretty right field, as Cuddyer’s lack of foot speed translates to a lack of range. His solid arm is only good enough to account for so much damage. 

    Health

    7/10

    When dealing with Cuddyer, injuries come with the territory. He lost close to 60 games on the DL with an oblique strain last year, and he found himself on the DL with a neck strain earlier this year. Around these DL stints are such injuries as wrist inflammation and a rib cage strain. Given that he’s in his mid-30s, he likely isn’t done getting hurt.

    Total

    68/100

    Cuddyer doesn’t field his position very well and he's hardly a medical marvel at this point, but it’s hard to come up with additional complaints about his game. He’s not a bad baserunner, and he can definitely hit.

14. Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox

58 of 71

    Hitting

    20/30

    Victorino has been seeing more pitches this season, but his more or less permanent standing in Boston’s No. 2 hole has coincided with him brushing aside his walk habit and putting the ball in play a bit more often. It’s a good thing he’s dealing with his best line-drive percentage, which has fed into his best BABIP in years. And the whole right-handed hitting thing? How about a line-drive percentage close to 30. He should have done that sooner.

    Power

    13/30

    Victorino has rediscovered some of the home run power that he lost in 2012, especially since he started hitting right-handed on a full-time basis. However, he still doesn’t have home run power at all unless he’s aiming right down the lines, and this season hasn’t seen him revive his old habit of shooting triples into the right-center gap. Short version: He's still not a legit power hitter.

    Baserunning

    13/15

    The Flyin’ Hawaiian seems to have lost a step, but he still flies better than most. He’s been a solid source of steals for the Red Sox in 2013 and has rarely been caught when he’s decided to go. His spot in front of Boston’s big boppers has otherwise required him to play it safe in regards to taking extra bases, but he’s taken his share and hasn’t run into many outs.

    Fielding

    15/15

    The advanced metrics say that Victorino has been the best defensive right fielder in the league this year. They probably exaggerate, but he’s definitely been at home out in right field. He still has the athleticism to play center field, so it goes without saying that his range is more than good enough for right. He also has the arm for the position, making him the total package and then some as a right fielder.

    Health

    7/10

    Victorino’s health is no sure thing at this point. He’s only been on the DL once in 2013, but he’s spent a good chunk of the season battling a bad back and bad wheels. With his 33rd birthday due up this winter, he probably hasn’t seen the end of the hurt.

    Total

    68/100

    After a challenging 2012 season, Victorino's bat has been reborn in 2013. He's also still a good runner, and he has proved to be an outstanding defensive right fielder.

13. Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals

59 of 71

    Hitting

    17/30

    Gordon is seeing about as many pitches per plate appearance as he always does, but his walk rate has taken a turn for the worse in 2013. That has nothing to do with his eye getting any worse, and he’s also been seeing fewer pitches in the zone this year than he did in 2012. Point being: The decrease in walks is hard to explain. What’s not hard to explain is Gordon’s BABIP decrease. He’s working on his lowest line-drive rate in several years, and he makes it easy to defend him on the infield by wearing out the right side. He’s better than he’s shown in 2013, but there are definitely question marks.

    Power

    18/30

    Gordon was a doubles machine in 2011 and 2012, but not in 2013. That’s his decreased line-drive rate at work, as Gordon is no longer peppering the gaps with liners like he did the last two seasons. It's a good thing, therefore, that his increased fly-ball habit hasn't been for naught. He's picked up a little extra home run power, and he deserves extra props for being just as good at Kauffman Stadium as he's been on the road. That's not an easy thing to do.

    Baserunning

    10/15

    Gordon hasn’t been on base that often in 2013, so it’s not a shocker that his stolen-base production has fallen along with his power. He’s still a very strong baserunner without the steals, however, as he takes more than his share of extra bases without making more than his share of outs.

    Fielding

    14/15

    Gordon has two Gold Gloves in his possession, and those have come largely thanks to his arm more so than his range. He can cover his share of ground, but it’s through outfield assists that he accumulates much of his defensive value. It’s a good thing he comes up with quite a few of those throughout the course of a season, as his arm is both accurate and strong.

    Health

    10/10

    Gordon was a bit of an injured wreck a couple years ago, but he hasn’t been on the DL since 2010 and has hardly had any aches and pains over the last two seasons. 

    Total

    69/100

    Gordon’s hitting has been a bit suspect, but he's kept his power warm and is still a fine source of value running the bases and playing the field. One of baseball's great underrated players right here.

12. Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants

60 of 71

    Hitting

    18/30

    Pence has been more in control of himself at the plate than he was in 2012, when he was chasing every breaking ball in sight and had little hope of making contact when he expanded the zone. He’s been whiffing far less often in 2013 and has seen both his strikeout rate and BABIP improve as a result. His BABIP can only go so high with his ground ball-heavy approach, however, and his lack of a consistent walk habit means his OBP can also only go so high. 

    Power

    21/30

    Pence might be champing at the bit to get away from AT&T Park, as it’s been absolutely killing his power production this season. It certainly doesn’t help that his power is focused more up the middle of the field than it is to left or right field, though that funky swing of his does produce a surprisingly high number of liners down both lines. He’s frankly a hard guy to figure from a power standpoint, but there’s no question that he has more power than his numbers with the Giants say he does.

    Baserunning

    13/15

    Pence took a break from stealing bases in 2011 and 2012, but he is back on the habit now and is better than ever at it. He’s only been caught a couple times all season while setting a new career high for steals. Pence has also done solid work taking extra bases on balls in play without running into outs. With free agency looming, he’s picked a good time to become a weapon on the basepaths.

    Fielding

    8/15

    Pence has a tendency to make things look pretty interesting in right field, in large part because he looks like a mutant when he only so much as runs in a straight line. He also doesn’t always read the ball off the bat well and can take some funky routes as a result. But while he’s always gotten grief for his defense, Pence really isn’t much worse than your typical right fielder. And this year, Ultimate Zone Rating has actually really liked what it's seen.

    Health

    10/10

    Pence has been on the DL once in his career, and that was in 2007 when he fractured his right wrist. The most serious thing he’s dealt with since then is offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia in 2011, but virtually nothing since then.

    Total

    70/100

    Pence can be frustrating to watch at the plate, and his defense can occasionally be a comedy routine. But he’s a fairly solid all-around talent, and he can be one of the game's better all-around players when things are clicking for him. Case in point: this season.

11. Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays

61 of 71

    Hitting

    23/30

    You can already see what all the hype was about. Myers is advanced for such a young hitter, as he’s shown good patience and decent plate discipline. It also reflects well on him that he hasn’t been overwhelmed by major league breaking balls. The strikeouts are there, but Myers has also drawn a decent amount of walks and has shown off encouraging contact habits. It’s been mainly liners and grounders for him, and the whole field has been in play. He’s certainly enjoyed some good luck, but he does have the look of a hitter who’s going to make his own luck.

    Power

    20/30

    Myers’ power numbers don’t jump off the page, but there’s no doubt that the best is still to come. He has home run power to all fields, and there should be more line drives in the gaps coming from him in the future. He’s only slightly better than your average corner outfielder when it comes to power for now, but that will change.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Myers doesn’t have blinding speed, but he does have enough athleticism to steal the occasional base. It also looks good on him that he’s been hard to throw out early on in his MLB career. All he has to do now is see about limiting those pesky outs at second base…

    Fielding

    9/15

    Myers is a converted catcher who hasn’t really been given a chance to get comfortable at a specific spot in the outfield, but right field is where he’s played in the majors and where he belongs in the long run. He doesn’t have the look of a future Gold Glover, but both his athleticism and his strong arm should make him at least a slightly above-average defensive player.

    Health

    10/10

    Myers’ 2011 season was wrecked by bad health, but he’s been healthy and on a tear ever since then. For now, there’s nothing to worry about.

    Total

    70/100

    It’s only been a couple months since Myers got the call to the majors, but it’s plenty clear that he belongs. His bat is definitely major league-caliber, and we haven’t seen the best of his power, baserunning or defense. He could break out in 2014 like Manny Machado has this year.

10. Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals

62 of 71

    Hitting

    29/30

    Werth is among the league’s most patient hitters, and he’s able to make good use out of that patience via good plate discipline. He has no reservations about taking a walk. But Werth has been a bit more aggressive this year than he usually is, and he’s racked up some extra strikeouts because of that. The bright side is that he’s been a line-drive machine who has made good use of the whole field. So that BABIP of his? That’s no joke, and neither are his overall numbers. Werth started to put things together midway through 2012, and it’s safe to say now that he has things pretty well figured out.

    Power

    22/30

    Werth has seemed more interested in becoming an on-base machine than in recapturing the explosive power he had in his Phillies years, but some of that power has come back anyway. He’s not putting the ball in the air as often as he used to, but he’s working on his highest HR/FB in years and he hasn’t hit many cheapies to boot. As much as it seems like power’s not really his game anymore, it’s something he can still do.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    The days of Werth being good for 20 stolen bases per season are over, but he still has the speed to swipe the occasional base and has gotten to be very good at picking his spots. The same can be said of when he decides to go for an extra base, as he’s taken his share without making many outs in 2013.

    Fielding

    7/15

    Werth is still a pretty good athlete, but he was never the most graceful outfielder and he’s not becoming any more graceful with age. He doesn’t cover any more ground than the average right fielder, and the last couple years have seen his arm become less of a weapon. He now passes for a merely average defensive player.

    Health

    7/10

    Werth was a durable player for a while there, but in the last couple years he’s spent time on the DL with a broken arm and a hamstring strain, and he’s recently come down with an infection in his right foot. At 34 years old, he’s probably not done adding injuries to his track record.

    Total

    73/100

    A lot hasn’t gone right for the Nationals in 2013, but they’re finally getting the Werth that they paid for a few years ago. He’s come to be an extremely tough out, and his power stroke looks a lot like it used to.

9. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays

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    Hitting

    21/30

    Bautista is still a lock to see at least four pitches every time he’s at the plate, and he still has some of the best plate discipline of any hitter in the majors. Combine the two, and you have a guy who’s going to get on base via the walk a fair amount. The catch is that Bautista’s contact habits are a bit all-or-nothing, as he’s either going to send the ball soaring through the air or skidding across the ground. He’s an extremely pull-heavy hitter to boot, and that predictability only makes it easier to defend him and, in turn, harder for his BABIP to go up.

    Power

    26/30

    Bautista was the best power hitter in the majors in 2010 and 2011, but that reputation began to fade last year and has continued to fade in 2013. His swing is still geared to get the ball in the air, yet he hasn’t been getting the ball in the air as often in 2013 as he did between 2010 and 2012. He’s also not getting it to go over the fence as regularly, notably hitting quite a few balls that have died on the warning track. His power is still really good, mind you, but not as explosive as it used to be.

    Baserunning

    9/15

    Baserunning is one of the more underrated aspects of Bautista’s game. He can swipe an occasional base, and he has no reservations whatsoever about going for the extra base on balls in play. He still has a frustrating tendency to run into outs, but he takes enough extra bases to make up for it.

    Fielding

    10/15

    Bautista’s range in right field is nothing special. He reacts off the bat well enough and tends to take good routes, but he just doesn’t have the foot speed to cover a ton of ground. What he does have, however, is a cannon for an arm that he makes good use of. Running on Bautista is not advised.

    Health

    7/10

    The last two seasons have been rough on Bautista's health. He suffered a partially torn tendon sheath in 2012 that he eventually needed to have surgery on, and his dwindling power production makes one wonder if he’s fully recovered from it. Then he went and suffered a bone bruise in his left femur that got him shut down for the rest of the season. Worth mentioning: he turns 33 in October.

    Total

    73/100

    Bautista’s power may be down, but he still hits for more power than most. He’s also good at getting on base and can hold his own running the bases and playing defense as well. All told, he’s still a very well-rounded talent.

8. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

64 of 71

    Hitting

    20/30

    “Surely this isn’t sustainable.” That’s been the line on Puig’s hitting ever since he first arrived, and it’s still the right conclusion to draw. He’s too aggressive for his own good. Any pitcher who can spin him a solid breaking ball on either corner stands a chance of getting him to whiff, and his contact habits shouldn’t be supporting a BABIP as high as his. But let’s give Puig this much credit: His plate coverage is astounding, and his brute strength helps him make plenty of hard contact. He won’t be a brilliant hitter in the long run, but he should be an easily above-average hitter.

    Power

    25/30

    Puig’s power production really hasn’t been as enormous as his .500-plus slugging percentage suggests it has been, but there’s no denying that he has a ton of raw power, and he definitely deserves credit for proving that he has the goods to make it show up in games. Puig has home run power from foul pole to foul pole, and he’s going to be a legit source of doubles and triples once he establishes a more consistent line-drive approach.

    Baserunning

    5/15

    Puig is definitely fast enough to be an impact baserunner, but for now he’s a total runaway locomotive on the basepaths. He needs to pick his spots better when it comes to stolen bases, and he also needs to know when to hold up when running on balls in play. He’s taken plenty of extra bases, but he's also racked up a ton of TOOTBLANs since he came to the majors. There’s a learning curve for him to tackle.

    Fielding

    13/15

    I’ll be surprised if Puig doesn’t win a Gold Glove at some point in his career. He’s not the most instinctive outfielder, but he has the athleticism to cover a ton of ground and he certainly doesn’t mind sacrificing his body to make plays. And yes, his arm is powerful enough as is. Just wait until he learns to harness that power.

    Health

    10/10

    Unless he gets the message that he would be wise to tone things down, Puig is the kind of guy who’s going to be banged up all the time. But he’s been able to play through the various aches and pains he’s accumulated in 2013, and let’s not forget that he’s only going to be 23 years old in the winter. Puig’s body should be able to put up with some punishment for a while longer before he starts to break down.

    Total

    73/100

    Puig has obviously been a lot more dynamic in his rookie season than this score indicates, but this score also indicates another thing we know about him: He’s still raw. The 2014 season should be a good one for him, but it's unlikely it will go as swimmingly as this season has gone.

7. Starling Marte, Pittsburgh Pirates

65 of 71

    Hitting

    20/30

    Marte does his best to work the count, but his poor plate discipline makes him much more likely to strike out than to walk. It’s not any particular pitch that gives him problems out of the zone either. He swings and misses at pretty much anything. The bright side is that he doesn’t miss when he swings inside the zone, and he has very BABIP-friendly contact habits with a ground-ball rate in the neighborhood of 50 percent and a line-drive rate in the neighborhood of 20 percent. If you think he’s a good-looking young hitter now, he's going to be even better if he shows off some plate discipline in 2014.

    Power

    17/30

    Marte may have BABIP-friendly contact habits, but these contact habits aren’t very power-friendly. He doesn’t hit the ball in the air that often, and when he does, odds are it’s going to be up the middle or to the opposite field. Marte’s power in those directions is limited. However, it must be noted that his power is suppressed by PNC Park.

    Baserunning

    14/15

    Marte is a great base stealer in terms of volume, and he’s definitely the sort of player who’s going to specialize in taking loads of extra bases as long as his speed holds up. But for now, speed is really all Marte has. He’s been caught stealing too many times this season, and he’s also been picked off and nabbed trying to take extra bases too often. He’s a very good baserunner, but he needs to learn a thing or two in order to be great.

    Fielding

    15/15

    Marte doesn’t have a great arm, and he’s made a few too many errors in 2013. But these complaints are better in light of the ground Marte can cover in left field. He was a center fielder in the minors, and he’s shown off a center fielder’s range and skills in 2013. He can be late to break on the ball here and there, but he really flies once he gets going, and his speed helps him track down pretty much anything.

    Health

    8/10

    Marte’s season hit a bump in the road when he had to be placed on the DL in late August with a hand contusion. That injury isn’t a long-term concern, but Marte’s injury history is already too crowded. He’s now been on the DL twice since arriving in the big leagues last year, and he also has a not-insignificant groin strain and wrist surgery in his past.

    Total

    74/100

    Andrew McCutchen is the big star in Pittsburgh, but don’t overlook the guy who plays next to him in left field. Marte’s speed is a game-changing force on the basepaths and in the outfield, and he’s none too shabby a hitter either.

6. Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

66 of 71

    Hitting

    20/30

    Upton is a frustrating hitter to evaluate, to say the least. He’s found himself being more patient in 2013 than he was in 2011 and 2012, and good plate discipline has helped him turn this patience into what should be the highest full-season walk rate of his career. But he can’t lay off—or hit, for that matter—fastballs up above the strike zone, and making contact within the strike zone has suddenly become a major problem for him. Things are fine when he does make contact, as he’s a hitter who can maintain a high BABIP by using the whole field, but his ability to make contact became more like his brother's in 2013.

    Power

    22/30

    Upton has tons of bat speed and can certainly generate tons of power with it, but making that power show up in games has never been very easy for him. He has a tendency to get on top of the ball when his swing is even so much as a little out of rhythm, and his inconsistent line-drive rate makes doubles rarer than they should be.

    Baserunning

    12/15

    Upton is certainly capable of stealing 20 or so bases in a season, but he wasn’t very efficient in trying to do so between 2009 and 2012 with a modest 72 percent success rate. He’s scaled back his attempts this year, but he has in turn become more efficient. That’s him picking his spots better, which is worth a tip of the cap. He’s also been prolific at taking extra bases and has only been nabbed a handful of times. 

    Fielding

    10/15

    Upton has two things that should come in handy in a corner outfield spot: athleticism and a killer arm. And on occasion, these things do come in handy. But only on occasion, as Upton is not the most instinctive defensive outfielder. That’s somewhat understandable, as he’s a natural shortstop who was first converted to right field and then converted to left field upon joining the Braves. His defense is only solid, but there’s plenty of time for it to get better as he gets more comfortable.

    Health

    10/10

    Upton had a thumb injury that may or may not have cost him some power in 2012, but his health tends to be a sure thing. He has a tendency to come down with minor leg injuries, but he hasn’t been on the DL since 2009 and has only missed a handful of games due to injury over the last two seasons.

    Total

    74/100

    One can’t help but nitpick Upton’s game, as there’s certainly no escaping that he’s not the player that he should be. But without the context of his former No. 1 overall pick status, it’s much easier to see that he’s a darn good hitter who does plenty of things right.

5. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

67 of 71

    Hitting

    21/30

    Heyward works the count well, and the 2013 season has seen him get better at picking his spots when expanding the zone. He expanded the zone less often this season than he did in 2012, but he made contact with more pitches when doing so. This helped him achieve a much-needed decrease in strikeouts, and his walk habit has been stronger than it was in 2012. And while Heyward’s BABIP went down this year, it was a bit fluky. His line-drive rate went up, which usually comes paired with a high BABIP. The only reason it didn’t for Heyward is because he didn’t have much luck with ground balls. If that luck returns in 2014, his overall production will be more like it was in 2014.

    Power

    21/30

    Heyward has plenty of raw power, but he hasn’t been overly dependable in terms of making it show up in games. Especially not this year. He hit for his share of power, but he was also stricken with a curious case of warning-track power. He gave quite a few balls a ride only to see them die before going over or bouncing off the fence. It’s a good bet that he’ll have better luck next year.

    Baserunning

    10/15

    Heyward’s baserunning was a game-changing force in 2012, as he stole 21 bases and was the best in the league at taking extra bases. But in 2013, his stolen-base production dwindled down to virtually nothing while he also got less aggressive on the basepaths. And even in doing so, he still managed to make as many outs on the basepaths as he did in all of 2012. He’s undoubtedly a strong baserunner, but 2013 raised the question whether 2012 was too good to be true.

    Fielding

    15/15

    Heyward is arguably the best defensive right fielder in the league. He doesn’t look fast, but his long strides help him cover a ton of ground, and his instincts help give him an uncanny ability to be Johnny on the spot. He also has the plus arm the position requires. He’s the total package. No question about it.

    Health

    9/10

    It would be silly to hold Heyward’s broken jaw against him, as it’s not his fault that bones can be broken by wayward fastballs. But 2013 wasn't a smooth year for his health even apart from that, as he needed an appendectomy in April and was also bothered by a hamstring strain in July. 

    Total

    76/100

    Heyward wasn’t quite the player in 2013 that he was in 2012, when he was quietly putting together an MVP-level performance. But he’s also better than he showed this season, as his hitting improved, his power wasn’t as bad as it looked and his defense remained excellent. 

4. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

68 of 71

    Hitting

    25/30

    Braun’s reputation as a hitter is obviously compromised now thanks to the Biogenesis scandal, but things weren’t looking so good even before his suspension came down. He wasn’t murdering fastballs like he usually does, he was striking out more often than he had since he was a rookie, and he was putting a ton of balls on the ground. An out-of-whack Braun is still better than 95-ish percent of the hitters in baseball, mind you, but he undoubtedly raised some questions with his pre-suspension performance.

    Power

    25/30

    Braun’s power is another thing that disappeared this season. His tendency to hit the ball on the ground was definitely a factor in that, but he also found himself battling a strange case of warning-track power on balls to center field. We’re used to seeing him make the ballpark look small in any direction, but he found himself having to settle for mere doubles on hard-hit balls up the middle of the field. Just like his hitting, Braun’s power is another thing that failed to impress along its usual lines in 2013.

    Baserunning

    10/15

    Braun was a terrific base stealer in 2011 and 2012, swiping more than 30 bags each year with solid efficiency. However, his baserunning prowess all but disappeared in 2013, as he got caught more often than he was successful and found himself being more station-to-station than usual on the basepaths. He was still an above-average baserunner, but not as far above average as he was in either of the previous two seasons.

    Fielding

    9/15

    Braun is a terrific athlete, but his defense in left field has only ever been decent. He doesn’t cover much more ground than your average left fielder, in part because he can be late to react to fly balls. The one thing Braun does have is a good arm, though, and it’s a weapon he can and will put to use.

    Health

    9/10

    While Braun’s struggles (relatively speaking) in 2013 might have had something to do with the closure of Biogenesis, it’s at least as likely that they had something to do with the hand injuries he was battling before his suspension. He had a problem with his right thumb and eventually went on the DL for about a month with inflammation in his right hand. One assumes this problem will be cleared up by spring training, but it’s definitely something to be mindful of.

    Total

    78/100

    Braun was one of the best all-around players in the game in 2011 and 2012, years in which his hitting, power and baserunning scores would have all been perfect or near perfect. Things fell apart for him in 2013, but I have a hard time believing that his talent has gone away, never to return. With a fresh start in 2014, Braun should once again become a monster.

3. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

69 of 71

    Hitting

    23/30

    Give Stanton credit for the adjustments he’s been able to make this season. He’s barely seen any pitches in the strike zone, and he hasn’t forced the matter by swinging out of the zone more often. He’s actually tightened up his plate discipline, resulting in fewer strikeouts and more walks. He hasn’t been hitting as many line drives this year, but his BABIP isn’t suffering too much because everything he hits is still a rocket. He’s not contending and likely never will contend for a batting title, but Stanton has further established himself as an easily above-average hitter.

    Power

    30/30

    Stanton’s power hasn’t been on display this season as often as it was in 2012, but let’s not kid ourselves about the kind of power he’s working with. He has more raw power inside him than any other hitter in the game, and his track record confirms that he’s plenty capable of making it show up in games. If he ever finds himself in a deep lineup again, he’s going to be a candidate for a 50-home run season.

    Baserunning

    8/15

    Stanton is not and probably never will be the base-stealing type, but he holds his own when it comes to running the bases. He may not be the fastest runner, but he’s far from hopeless when it comes to taking the extra base, and he does a very good job of avoiding outs. For a slugger of his caliber, that will do.

    Fielding

    10/15

    The advanced metrics don’t like what Stanton is doing on defense this year, but that’s a switch from what they made of him from 2010 to 2012. He’s hardly the most graceful outfielder, yet he manages to cover a solid amount of ground for a guy his size and has an arm that’s plenty good enough for right field. It’s easy to see him ending up at first base in the long run, but for now he’s good where he’s at. 

    Health

    8/10

    If there’s one thing that’s become apparent in the last two years, it’s that Stanton can’t be counted on to stay healthy. His right leg in particular is a concern, as he needed surgery on his right knee last year and had to hit the DL for more than a month with a right hamstring strain this year. Given the amount of weight his legs have to support, these problems probably aren’t going away.

    Total

    79/100

    Stanton’s power is one of the most impressive tools in baseball, and it alone is enough to make him a mighty figure on the MLB landscape. But hey, he’s not too shabby at hitting, running the bases or playing defense either.

2. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

70 of 71

    Hitting

    25/30

    Harper is way more patient at the plate than any hitter his age should be, especially in light of the fact that pitchers are still reluctant to throw him fastballs. That his plate discipline is as solid as it is is therefore pretty impressive, and that helps feed a very solid walk habit. He’s not hitting as many line drives this year, so it makes sense that his BABIP would be down. All the same, he’s been better this year than he was in 2012, and there’s no question that we haven’t seen his best yet.

    Power

    27/30

    Harper has raw power to spare, but he’s still working on making it show up in games. The good news is that that project is progressing forward rather than backward, with the most encouraging development in 2013 being increased power to the opposite field. Harper still has improvements to make, but establishing legit home run power to all fields is a heck of a big step.

    Baserunning

    9/15

    Harper’s baserunning wasn’t as good as he made it look in 2012, as his aggressiveness all too often got him in trouble. He’s toned down his act in 2013, attempting fewer stolen bases and holding up more often when chances to take extra bases present themselves. But then again, it's worth bearing in mind that he hasn't had his legs under him since April. Harper has the goods to be better than he's shown.

    Fielding

    10/15

    Harper was a legit gem in center field last year, showing off surprisingly good athleticism to go along with a strong arm. He hasn’t been as impressive as a left fielder this year, but the goods are definitely there. Harper can take some adventurous routes when he has go back on the ball, but he has the athleticism to correct his mistakes, and his strong arm is perfectly suited for a corner outfield spot. 

    Health

    9/10

    It hasn’t been a pretty year for Harper’s health. He suffered a shoulder injury running into an outfield wall in April, and he hurt his left knee doing the same thing in May. More recently, he's been battling some hip pain. Those don't affect Harper's overall score too much due to his youth, as he should be able to overcome these injuries.

    Total

    80/100

    Harper’s production isn’t quite matching his potential just yet, but everything is progressing in the right direction. Already a star, it won’t be long before he’s a legit superstar. 

1. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

71 of 71

    Hitting

    27/30

    CarGo is seeing more pitches per plate appearance than ever before in 2013. But since his plate discipline still qualifies as poor, the downside of that is that Gonzalez is striking out far more often than he usually does. He’s particularly prone to fastballs up in the zone, which isn’t surprising in light of his uppercut swing. The good news is that the extra pitches are helping Gonzalez keep his walk rate about where it was in 2012, and the further good news is that good things still tend to happen when he makes contact. He’s always been a high BABIP guy, and that makes sense given his tendency to spray line drives all over the field. That much hasn’t changed in 2013.

    Power

    28/30

    For years, the knock on CarGo was that he could only hit the ball hard at Coors Field. That hasn’t been the case in 2013, as he’s found himself crushing the ball on the road as well. I took a deeper look into the changes CarGo has made, and it basically boils down to him hitting the ball in the air more often and tapping into his pull power like never before. 

    Baserunning

    14/15

    With his power up this year, you wouldn’t think that Gonzalez would still be stealing bases at his usual rate. But he is, and his efficiency has been better than ever to boot. He’s also been his usual aggressive self on the basepaths, but he has done a fantastic job of avoiding outs. Between that and his stolen-base production, CarGo’s baserunning has been quite good.

    Fielding

    13/15

    Gonzalez has two Gold Gloves on his mantelpiece, but in past seasons his defensive value had more to do with his arm than his actual range. It’s more or less the same story this year, except Gonzalez’s arm has never been more deadly and he’s actually made more rangy plays than he usually does. Point being: CarGo’s defense isn’t overrated for a change.

    Health

    8/10

    Gonzalez is one of those guys who always seems to be battling some sort of injury or another. He had some problems with his legs in 2012, and this year he’s dealt with even more minor problems with his legs and also found himself on the DL for the first time in two years with a bad finger. That cost him about a month, and it secured a third straight season of less than 140 games played.

    Total

    90/100

    Gonzalez has been even more dangerous at the plate in 2013 than he was in his batting title season in 2010, and his baserunning and defense are still valuable assets for the Rockies. He stands alone as the best corner outfielder the game has to offer these days.