With Opening Day right around the corner, we can all celebrate the fact that baseball is back in our lives. The winter is over, and now we can watch our favorite teams and players get back to work.
While we all have a favorite player we think is the best, there can only be one, just like The Highlander...
Here is a list of the baseball's top 25 position players:
He’s old, but he’s vintage. Chipper Jones still rakes, and is clutch. It’s just the matter of his health that will determine whether or not he deserves to be on this list. Still, Chipper should have one last run at glory in him.
Sizemore’s been injury-plagued the last few years, but he is still an elite ballplayer when healthy. If he can stay healthy, he should command a lot on the trade market at the deadline, or at least make his way back to the All Star game in July.
Did Adrian Beltre have a one-hit-wonder walk-year or is he the real deal? 2011 will determine the answer, but for now, We all need to accept Beltre as a four-tool stud, who does everything exceptionally well but run.
I don’t expect the average to be there like last year, but I do expect the rest of the numbers to be there.
Ichiro may be a little long in the tooth, but he can still hit and play a great right field. His arm is still the stuff of legend, and he still managed to hit .315 last year.
He’s slowing down, but even at a slow rate, he remains one of the best overall players in the game.
Holliday is an outstanding hitter who proved since his trade to St. Louis that he is no product of Coors Field. Holliday is an offensive force, and is one of the few players that can provide adequate protection in the lineup for Albert Pujols.
He is an average defender, but his offense more than makes up for his defensive deficiencies.
Just a year ago, Chase Utley would have cracked the top five without breaking a sweat. One injury plagued year later, and he’s borderline top 20.
Utley is still a great player, but his age and injury proneness make him a liability to the Phillies.
If Utley can stay healthy and produce like previous seasons, then there is no reason he can’t get back to the top five.
They don’t call him Prince for nothing. Fielder hits bombs, and is already a superior player to his father. Fielder is even deceptively quick for a man of his stature. He may not be a great defender, but he’s ok, and that’s enough to anchor one of the best infields in baseball.
Somehow, Upton was the talk of some trade speculation over the winter. Hard to believe it because the kid is a stud. Upton has Griffey-like talent, but he needs to stay healthy in order to produce.
He worked on strengthening his core over the offseason, and that should help him take the next step.
As a Yankee fan, I don’t like Youk, but I respect the heck out of the guy. He constantly changes his position to help the team, and plays Gold Glove-caliber defense wherever he ends up.
Youk is also a fine hitter, and is essentially the poor man’s Miguel Cabrera offensively.
Shin-Soo Choo is a jack-of-all-trades. He does everything well, but not one thing great. However, if you combine all his skills, it adds up to one incredible ballplayer.
Choowie has no weakness in his game, and is one of the few Indians worth getting excited about in 2011.
CitiField probably put a major dent in Wright’s overall numbers, especially in the power department. However, Wright is still one of the game’s best players, and the leader of a Mets team looking to rebound.
Wright can be a force at the plate and in the field when he is right. However, he is prone to slumping for weeks of a season.
Miguel Cabrera may have some off the field problems, but on the field, he can hit.
The only pure hitter better than Miggy is Albert Pujols. Cabrera brings it with a consistently high batting average with consistently high power numbers.
He may not be the best defensive first baseman, but his bat makes up for his defensive deficiencies. Still, Cabrera needs to get his life turned around if he wants to become an all-time great.
In years past, A-Rod would be much higher on this list, but two down seasons and a hip injury move him out of the top ten for the first time in a decade.
However, Rodriguez is still a great player, and probably has one more great year left in him before his decline officially begins.
He’ll probably contend for the MVP while playing Gold Glove caliber defense as he has one more run at greatness.
CarGo had his coming out party in 2010, and was an offensive force. He plays good defense, and was another triple crown candidate for most of the season last year.
Gonzalez is an elite talent who has yet to hit his prime, meaning his numbers will only improve despite the humidor.
Next to Albert Pujols, no player in baseball is more consistent than Mark Teixeira. He routinely hits 30 home runs and drives in 100 runs every year.
He is also the finest defensive first baseman of the last 20 years.
While he may be a perennial slow starter, his numbers are always there by the end of the season, and his glove always makes up for his early season woes.
Everyone’s favorite comeback story, Josh Hamilton powered his Rangers to the Word Series and himself to the AL MVP in 2010.
Hamilton is an elite talent and offensive force, who should transition well to left field over the long-term.
Votto emerged as an MVP candidate last year, and was even in the running for the Triple Crown for part of the season. Votto hits for average and power, and can field his position.
Votto is undoubtedly the best young first baseman in the game.
Ryan Braun may not have been a total success at third base, but in left field, he is a true five-tool player. He is one of the best overall outfielders in baseball, and a future MVP.
Braun is just entering his prime, and should be poised to dominate for years if the Brewers can retain Prince Fielder .
Robbie Cano really came into his own last year, and arguably deserved to win the AL MVP over Josh Hamilton. Still, Cano is entering his prime, and eliminated most of the mental errors that sapped his potential.
Cano is a four-tool player who can hit, field, throw and hit for power. He may not steal many bases, but he has one of the best swings in baseball and will probably win the MVP in 2011.
When Joe Mauer is in a slump, he only hits about .320, that’s how good Joe Mauer is. He is the most respected catcher in the game, and indisputably the best offensive catcher since Mike Piazza.
Mauer is one of the few durable premier offensive catchers who can also field his position and handle a pitching staff. His catching days may be numbered, but until his knees goes, he’s going to be known as the best catcher in the game.
While H-Ram is probably higher on most people’s list of top players, his defense and attitude keeps him from the top of this list.
While Ramirez is probably the most talented player in the game, he needs to grow up and focus on his defense in order to take that next step to legendary status.
Tulo is one of the true few five-tool players in the game. Combine his talent with the position scarcity of shortstop, and he is arguably the game’s most valuable players.
Tulo got a huge extension during the offseason, and all that keeps him from taking the top spot is his durability.
Killer Carl Crawford is built for primetime. With Tampa, he slaughtered both the Red Sox and Yankees whenever they had the misfortune to face him. Boston wised up this offseason and signed him to a boatload of money.
Crawford is the best all-around outfielder in the game. He is a five-tool player, and is smack in the middle of his prime. His defensive talents are wasted in Fenway. They should move him to right field to take advantage of his rocket arm and outstanding range.
By far the best third baseman in baseball, Evan Longoria does everything well. He hits for average, hits for power, runs, throws and fields his position better than almost everyone else.
Longoria is young, and has yet to hit his prime. He also has the added bonus of carrying the Rays franchise into the future, which he could do if they don’t cheap out on him.
Most importantly, you should never take his cap...
What more is there to say? Albert the Great is great. He is one of the best hitters of all time, and plays superb defense.
Pujols is in his walk year, and will look to add to his value with another monster season. Pujols excels at everything, and does nothing poorly.