MLB Power Rankings: Buster Posey and the 25 Best Players in the NL West
The NL West was arguably one of the best divisions last season thanks in large part to the Giants bullpen and the Padres' early success.
With young talent running deep, the NL West looks to continue its exciting play and eventually sponsor a squad in a playoff run in October.
Let's look at 25 guys that could make that a reality, or a repeat.
25. Mat Latos
It's sad that the Padres only have a player or two on this list, but that's what happens when you lose the one player who leads pretty much every team stat category.
Mat Latos had a solid year in 2010, winning 14 games and holding an ERA of under 3.00. If Latos can repeat a performance such as last year, he will definintly be on the ballot for the best 25 players in the NL West.
24. Juan Uribe
The recently acquired Dodger, Juan Uribe looks to be the villain against SF in 2011, a place he helped bring a World Series title.
Uribe will get his shots this year, and if baseball is anything like I expect this coming year, there will be a surprise story yet again in his illustrious career.
23. Clayton Kershaw
He’s an exciting pitcher for the incredibly young Dodgers and could have a brilliant year in LA—if he can get some run support.
22. Cody Ross
Cody Ross might do it again. He might be the spark plug in the NL West, and for that, he is deserving of achieving a spot in the top 25 players in the NL West.
21. Huston Street
He's probably not a pick that will win with the fans at this point, however I feel as if 2011 could be a big resurgence year for Huston Street.
Street did have 20 saves in 2010, and if he can find that power he once comannded, he will be right at the top of best closers in baseball. No telling if this will be the year, since he does have to close half his games in Colorado.
I'm guessing he becomes the solid closer he once was this coming season. We shall see.
20. Aubrey Huff
Huff is a great story in SF, and if he can continue his passionate play in 2011, Huff will be an undercover standout yet again.
19. Chris Young
Young played in 156 games last season, and his numbers were surprisingly good. Despite his batting average which hovered around .250, his power was impressive.
Chris Young finished off 2010 with 27 home runs, 28 stolen bases and 91 RBI.
With the addition of Zach Duke to the starting lineup, the D-backs are hoping that Young and Upton can anchor the outfield. With similar numbers, Chris Young could be a reason why the D-backs are decent in 2011.
18. Miguel Tejada
Can Miguel Tejada have an amazing campaign in SF in 2011? He certainly has big shoes to fill coming in after Edgar Renteria.
Tejada can hit for power, and if he gets opportunities with runners on base, his RBI numbers could skyrocket.
17. Heath Bell
Heath Bell has recorded over 40 saves in each of the past two seasons. The Padres will have to win the close games to be relevant in 2011, and Heath Bell has to be in perfect form.
16. Javier Lopez
The Giants' bullpen ace, Lopez has impressed fans across the league. He pitched in 77 games last season, holding an ERA of 2.34. Most impressively, Lopez can come in for multiple situations and be effective in sitting down the best hitters in the league.
Lopez has the skill-set to be on the NL players to watch list for 2011.
15. Pablo Sandoval
I think this will be the year of the panda. His following is huge in SF, and if he can play like he’s capable of on the hot corner, Sandoval could be the miracle man for SF in 2011.
His power is underrated, and if he can get off to a solid start, the panda might be put on base intentionally, opening the door for the remainder of the lineup.
14. James Loney
With 10 home runs and 88 RBI in 161 games last season, James Loney has proven that he is dependable.
Loney is a player that can make you think twice about pitching to the heart of the Dodgers lineup on any day of the week. Matt Kemp and James Loney rarely miss any time—in fact, they missed a combined one game in 2010.
Look for a big year out of James Loney.
13. Joe Saunders
Saunders was impressive in Anaheim, but since the trade for Dan Haren landed him in Arizona, his numbers seemed to dip. He had limited time with the D-backs in 2010, and fans hope he can regain his control and anchor the Arizona pitching staff.
12. Jonathan Sanchez
If you are wondering why the entire pitching staff for the Giants made a list like this, I refer you to last season. These guys carried the team to a title appearance and victory—no other players should deserve a title of top-25 rather than the studs on the SF staff.
Sanchez went 13-9 in 2010, and if he can repeat his performance, the Giants will be in good shape.
11. Chad Billingsley
Billingsley was the topic of some swirling trade rumors back in September but it looks as if he will be staying in his premiere role in LA.
Chad has won in double digits in each of the past four seasons, and with a K/9 ratio of 8.0 last year, Billingsley will once again bring the heat in 2011.
10. Matt Cain
Matt Cain has never seen his ERA go over 4.15 in his entire career. He at one point was called the best pitcher with the worst record in 2008, and with talent like that in an already-amazing rotation, his potential becomes that much more exciting.
9. Jonathan Broxton
Broxton had an off year in 2011, but that won't stop him from rebounding in 2011.
With the Dodgers receiving a fresh start similar to the rest of the teams in the West, Broxton has a shot at being the division's best closer if Billingsley and Kuroda can keep games close in the ninth.
8. Justin Upton
He's young, talented and has plenty of action left in the tank. He's headlined a struggling D-backs club, and with trade talks simmering down, Justin Upton looks to return to 2009 form, when he launched 26 homers and racked up 86 RBI.
Upton had a slight decline in production last season, most noticeably in batting average, where he dropped from .300 to .272.
Despite his tendency for taking some games off, his numbers have been going up as he saw action in 133 games in 2010.
In the last two years, Upton has stolen 38 bases, and if he can pull off 20 to go along with 2009-type power numbers, Upton will no doubt be a top player in the NL West.
7. Troy Tulowitzki
A lifelong member of the Rockies, Tulowitzki has knocked in over 300 runs while batting .290. He provides consistency at the SS position, and allows for batting lineup flexibility.
After signing a monster deal that has him playing through 2021, Tulowitzki finally has some security that's hard to second-guess.
Look for a big year from Troy Tulowitzki.
6. Madison Bumgarner
After a huge season last year, the fate of the rotation fell on the shoulders of Bumgarner and his brilliant form from the left side of the mound.
Bumgarner was 2-0 in the postseason last year, putting up a 2.18 ERA in three games. If he can just continue his starts like he finished against Texas, Bumgarner might be the best pitcher in SF.
5. Matt Kemp
Matt Kemp is one of the best players in baseball if he can get on a roll. The Dodgers could certainly benefit from a big year out of Kemp.
He played in all 162 games in 2011, but his batting average fell to .249. If he can improve his average above .280, Matt Kemp will be in the discussion of the best players in the National League.
4. Buster Posey
He is becoming a hot topic in the baseball world. Buster Posey, once a college closer, has the ability to call a game from behind the plate like no other.
He batted .305 in 2010, and with his talent only starting to show, Buster Posey could quickly be in the discussion of best catcher in the league.
3. Ubaldo Jimenez
Ubaldo has improved over the past three seasons. He's won over 12 games every year since 2008 and has seen his ERA dip considerably from year to year.
Jimenez pitches in a batter-friendly park, yet he puts up monster numbers. The Rockies desperately need a guy like him in the mix for Colorado to be successful.
It's very safe to say that he's the only guy on the squad that is expected to win a game when taking the mound at Coors Field.
2. Tim Lincecum
This one is a no-brainer. Lincecum started out poorly last year, but his presence alone makes him the best pitcher in the NL West.
Lincecum now has the title under his belt, and one would have to think he's in line for yet another Cy Young Award.
1. Carlos Gonzalez
Cargo finished third in NL MVP voting in 2011 and for good reason. Gonzalez hit for a .336 average and was the catalyst in a ton of runs for the Rockies.
All eyes will be on Cargo to see if he can repeat his breakout season.