The 100 Best Players In Baseball Today (Part 1 of 5)
I recently read lists ranking the best players in the game today by the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.
I had some major problems with both lists, so I decided to take on the challenge of making a list myself.
This list is assuming all players are healthy. This is why you'll still see Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb on here.
I considered both what the players are doing this season, as well as their stats from seasons past, with a slight favoring to what is happening this year. This is why Zach Greinke is only a little higher ranked than CC Sabathia.
If there is someone not on the list you feel I've forgotten, please say so but do keep in mind how many good players there are in the game today. I ask all criticism be constructive.
Before I get to the list itself, 20 who just missed the cut...
Mike Napoli, James Loney, Orlando Hudson, Dan Uggla, Alexei Ramirez, Brandon Inge, Scott Rolen, Ian Stewart, Johnny Damon, Michael Bourn, Jermaine Dye, Ben Zobrist, Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Zambrano, Wandy Rodriguez, Jair Jurrjens, Matt Garza, Jarrod Washburn, Joakim Soria, Andrew Bailey
Without further ado, the 100 Best Players In Baseball Today...
100. Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers RP
Was so lights out taking over as closer when Takashi Saito got injured, Saito was nontendered after the season. In his first full year as Dodgers closer, Broxton has excelled, saving 25 games, striking out 76 in 51 innings as opposed to 28 hits, with a 2.96 ERA.
99. Yadier Molina, Cardinals C
Has achieved folk hero status in St. Louis less than three full seasons into his career thanks to his heroics in the 2006 NLCS. An elite defender with a cannon for a right arm, Molina also hits for contact exceptionally well for a catcher and like his older brother Bengie, is a very clutch hitter.
98. Placido Polanco, Tigers 2B
Arguably the most underrated player in the game today. Polanco isn't a flashy player; simply incredibly sound in every aspect of the game. There isn't a situation you could put this guy in on a baseball field, and he wouldn't know exactly what to do. A winning baseball player.
97. Jim Thome, Dodgers 1B
18 years later, few strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers the way the lone DH on this list does. Still productive at 38, Thome continues to add to add to his Hall of Fame resume every day.
96. Jered Weaver, Angels SP
Jeff's younger brother is better than he ever was. The fiery young Angels ace has quietly had a breakout year this season, and has started to do better at not letting his emotions defeat him. His emergence as a frontline starter should give the Angels a quality rotation in the future even if John Lackey leaves as a free agent this winter.
95. Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners CF
Since coming to the Mariners in the three-way JJ Putz trade, Franklin Gutierrez has started to show the baseball world what he can do. He can handle the bat no doubt, but his defensive prowess is the most amazing part of his game. He can run like a gazelle, and has a cannon for a throwing arm. As he'll only keep improving, the Mariners have a stable in centerfield for years to come.
94. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers SP
Devastating breaking pitches, complimented by an explosive fastball. The stuff is there, the durability has not been in his brief career. But Gallardo is young and is only going to get better. Teammate Jason Kendall already sees Cy Young awards in his future.
93. Nelson Cruz, Rangers RF
A classic case of the light just clicking, late bloomer Cruz made sure the baseball world learned his name All-Star weekend, admirably dueling Prince Fielder in the Home Run Derby despite coming up short. He has all the tools, it's amazing it took him this long to break out.
92. AJ Burnett, Yankees SP
Might have the best stuff in the game, but staying healthy has always been a problem. Prone to wildness as well but make no mistake, Burnett is no fun to face when he's on top of his game. Has joined forces with CC Sabathia to give the Yankees the best one-two punch they've had in a very long time.
91. John Lackey, Angels SP
A fierce competitor who comes right after his opposition. That approach will burn you from time to time. But you can't deny that Lackey, thanks to two plus pitches in his fastball and curveball, has had his fair share of success in the majors (98-68, 3.82 lifetime ERA).
Starting with his masterpiece in game 7 of the unforgettable 2002 World Series (as a rookie), he has been a part of some of the greatest moments in Angels history.
90. Marco Scutaro, Blue Jays SS
The one time super utility guy name has become a dynamic leadoff man and an all-star caliber middle infielder just in time to collect a handsome new contract this offseason.
89. Bobby Abreu, Angels RF
Though he normally flies under the radar compared to other big run producers, Abreu has been incredibly consistent throughout his career, driving in at least 100 ever year since 2003 and is well on his way to doing it again this year with the Angels. How he could only net a one year contract last year, even with the economy in the shape it is, is beyond me.
88. Derek Lowe, Braves SP
The anti-AJ Burnett; Lowe has been about as durable and dependable a starter as anyone since starting his career. Lowe has won at least 12 games and pitched at least 182 2/3 innings every year since 2002, and has never gone on the disabled list. He's a postseason performer as well, posting a 3.33 ERA in 83.2 innings of postseason play.
87. Adam Jones, Orioles CF
I know, Seattle fans; you still want Bill Bavasi's blood. The centerpiece of one of the most lopsided deals in recent memory, Jones has broken out big time in 2009, hitting for power, decent contact, scoring runs, and playing gold glove center field. Flanked to his left and right by Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis, Jones is part of an exciting young O's outfield for years to come.
86. Mark DeRosa, Cardinals IF/OF
I can't figure this out so maybe one of you can enlighten me; how does a guy this valuable keep bouncing from team to team? If I were a GM, I'd never let him go. There's nothing flashy about DeRosa, but there's many things on a baseball field he does well. Can play pretty much any position on the field.
85. Joey Votto, Reds 1B
The young Cincy slugger has rebounded nicely and still might surpass his 2008 numbers despite missing thirty games so far due to anxiety. It's really encouraging he seems to have gotten over that, 'cause it would've been a shame for someone so young and talented to be sidetracked like that.
84. Mark Buehrle, White Sox SP
Buehrle doesn't have lights out stuff like your prototypical ace; this hasn't stopped him from hurling two no-hitters, one of them a perfect game. A classic crafty lefty, he gets by on fierce competitive drive and tremendous pitchability. At age 30, Buehrle already has 133 wins and a 3.80 lifetime ERA.
83. Pablo Sandoval, Giants 3B
In his first full year in the majors, the Kung Fu Panda has become the crown jewel in an otherwise shaky Giants offense, and a fan favorite in city by the Bay. For such a big guy, he isn't shabby at all over on the hot corner, and not only can play first but can actually catch a little too.
82. Jason Bartlett, Rays SS
Jason Bartlett is a winner and a consummate team player; whether with his bat, glove, or wheels, he can help a team win so many different ways. After being named the Rays team MVP last year, Bartlett has busted out at age 29, contending for the AL batting title and hitting as many home runs in 2009 as the first five years of his career combined.
81. Adam Lind, Blue Jays DH
Despite a turbulent year north of the border, the Blue Jays have seen several of their offensive players break out this season, Lind being one of them. He can rake, possessing a pretty and powerful swing. At 26, it would be nice if he played in the field as opposed to DHing, but he does enough with the bat to knock defense completely out of the question.