16 out of the last 22 MLB MVPs, NL and AL combined, have been infielders. Eight out of the top 10 AL and NL MVP vote-getters were also infielders. So it has clearly been determined that the need for a good infield is not something to be shrugged off as a nice gesture.
This slideshow is going on current rosters. Not last year's statistics, not official projections for next year, but clearly an assessment of how the teams' infields look now.
When your worst overall batter, Ian Stewart, has a 25/70 season, there is a pretty good chance that you will end up on this list. They have a perennial all-star in Troy Tulowitzki. They have old reliable in Todd Helton. Clint Barmes had a good year this year in only his second season ever playing more than 110 games.
As a self professed Marlins fan, it kills me to drop my team to number four. I lied. I based this choice off the masses of rumors saying that Dan Uggla is going to be gone soon. So I had to give the number three team the tiebreaker.
Now back to business. The Marlins possess the best shortstop in the game in Hanley Ramirez, a.k.a. El Nino. Jorge Cantu had his first 100 RBI year since his initial "emergence" year. His resurgence as a heart-of-the-lineup type of player has helped the Marlins last longer in the playoff hunt for the past two years.
If Uggla stays, then the team will get better; if not, they can bounce back. The Marlins have Gaby Sanchez, a former minor league All-Star and MVP, starting at first base. Wes Helms will be the backup. And after batting .271 last year and having a career fielding percentage of .973, I am not worried.
They have Dustin Pedroia, a former MVP. Their two catchers, Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek, combined for 37 home runs and 158 RBI. When you have a catcher who can contribute offensively, your team has an advantage that most do not. Boston has two. Kevin Youkilis is also a beast of a player, averaging 22 home runs and 115 RBI since he got the starting job. When your worst starting infielder offensively is Adrian Beltre, your know you have a chance come October.
Wow. That's all you can say. Five years ago, for a streak of three consecutive years, a different Philly won the MVP. The trio is still together. They would be number one. But their catcher drops them. Still, the trio is averaging 96 home runs a year to go along with 318 RBI in the last three years. Placido Polanco is good as the fourth best batter in one infield. (Understatement of the year.) He has not batted under .285 in over a decade. It kills me to praise a rival, but you have to cite excellence when you see it.
It's hard not to give them this honor. Four out of the top 17 results in MVP voting belonged to this team. With the only one not in the top 17 being Jorge Posada, I doubt that they should worry about their "weakest link". It's no shocker that a team with this infield won the World Series. It was inevitable.