The 100 Best Players in Baseball Today (Part 5: No. 20-1)

John ChurchCorrespondent INovember 11, 2010

The 100 Best Players in Baseball Today (Part 5: No. 20-1)

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    Numbers 40-21

    40. Kevin Youkilis

    39. Chris Carpenter

    38. Ichiro Suzuki

    37. Jayson Werth

    36. Jon Lester

    35. Justin Morneau

    34. David Price

    33. Dustin Pedroia

    32. Adrian Gonzalez

    31. Ubaldo Jimenez

    30. Ryan Howard

    29. David Wright

    28. Mariano Rivera

    27. Prince Fielder

    26. Josh Johnson

    25. Carlos Gonzalez

    24. Matt Holliday

    23. Justin Verlander

    22. Ryan Zimmerman

    21. Ian Kinsler

    Thank you all for reading. Without further ado, here's the final part of the series. Enjoy.

No. 20. Mark Teixeira

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    Teixeira's impressive career batting line of .286/.377/.536 might look even better if the season started in May or he was at least brainwashed to believe the season started then. A .195 hitter in the month of April since the start of the 2007 season, it clearly takes time for him to heat up. When the rust wears off though, watch out.

    When all is said and done, Tex ends seemingly every season with All-Star caliber stats. A fearsome bat, he also is among the best defensive first baseman in the league (a three-time Gold Glove winner).

    His best season to date probably remains his 2005 season with Texas (43 HR, 144 RBI, a league-leading 370 total bases), but his first campaign in pinstripes wasn't too shabby either. In 2009, Teixeira led the American League in HR (39), RBI (122) and total bases (370), good for a second-place finish in the MVP race.

    A strong first showing in the Bronx led some (including yours truly) to believe he would win the award in 2010. Instead, in addition to another slow start, he struggled quite a bit all year and ended up posting career-low .256 average and his worst SLG (.481) since his rookie season.

    In a loaded lineup, playing in a hitter friendly park, I find it hard to believe he can't rebound next season. A major part of the Yankees' championship run in 2009, Tex likely will be around for more memorable moments in Yankees history.

No. 19. Adam Wainwright

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    After playing second fiddle to Chris Carpenter for years, Adam Wainwright has supplanted him as the ace of the Cardinals. Once known best as the Cardinals' closer when they won the 2006 World Series, Wainwright has made a name for himself as a starter with a string of fantastic seasons.

    The Georgia native finished third in a close-knit 2009 NL Cy Young race, and is at least in that conversation again this year.

    His 2010 campaign (20 wins, 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 213 SO, all career highs) continued a recent trend that has seen the 29 year old get better and better every year.

    He's always had exceptional command, but that often resulted in many hits surrendered as well. He was harder to hit in 2010 than ever before though, as his H/9 drop from 8.3 to 7.3, all while he maintained very healthy SO/9 and SO/BB ratios.

    Aside from a finger injury that caused him to miss a large portion of the 2008 season, he's been very durable in his career, finishing in the top six in MLB in innings each of the past two seasons.

    The Red Birds may be best known for their All-Star first baseman (with good reason), but one of the game's best one-two punches in Wainwright and Carpenter no doubt has been a major reason for their success in recent years as well.

No. 18. Joey Votto

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    When he was placed on the DL in June 2009 with depression and anxiety issues, it appeared Joey Votto had hit a road block on his way to super stardom. Fortunately, he bounced back and had a very strong second half, hitting .300/ .399/ .547 with 14 home runs and 42 RBI.

    Playing in the same division as Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the limelight eluded Votto his first few years in the league.

    He made sure that didn't continue in 2010. The 27 year old is poised to win his first MVP award thanks to a monster season in which he finished in the top four in the NL in BA (.324), HR (37), RBI (113), BB (91), OBP (.424) and SLG (.600). His Reds were able to overtake Pujols' Cardinals to make the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

    Votto is a master at getting on base; he led the majors in OBP this past season and finished fifth in 2009 (his career mark is .401). Though he's a power hitter with a walk rate that's been on the upswing each of the past three years, he does not strike out a ridiculous amount.

    That he wasn't picked by Charlie Manuel to make the NL All-Star Game roster is a travesty; fortunately, baseball fans got it right and voted Votto to his first appearance in the Mid-Summer classic.

    The Canadian first baseman is still right in the prime of his career and as such, the Reds figure to be a threat to the Cardinals for years to come.

No. 17. Ryan Braun

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    Ryan Braun's breakout 2007 season in which he terrorized National League pitching en route to the NL Rookie of the year award feels like quite a while ago.

    He's been a force in the National League for so long, it's hard to believe he's still just 26 years old with plenty of big years left in him.

    Braun hit 34 home runs in just 113 games during that 2007 campaign, and followed that up with 37 and 32 home run seasons. That total dropped to 25 in 2010, but he still managed 45 doubles. He has finished in the top 10 in the NL in extra-base hits each of the past three years.

    A dangerous hitter, Braun is a quality base stealer as well, particularly for a slugger of his caliber. He stole 20 bases in 2009, and has stolen at least 14 every other year in the majors.

    He spent his first season as a third baseman, and (to put it kindly) it didn't work out. The Brewers moved him to left field, where he has developed into a exceptional fielder, leading all NL left fielders in putouts, fielding percentage, and range factor in 2009.

    Though it appears Prince Fielder's time in Milwaukee could be drawing to a close, it looks as though Braun is with the Brewers for the long haul, with a contract that runs through 2015. Even with Fielder gone, the Brewers could do far worse than an offense built around this young star.

No. 16. CC Sabathia

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    After leading the Brewers to the playoffs in 2008 with a historically dominant three months (11-2, 1.65 ERA in 130.2 IP), free agent CC Sabathia was in line for a handsome payday. The Yankees were willing to meet his demands, signing him to the most lucrative contract for a pitcher in MLB history.

    Thus far, the return on the investment has been phenomenal. Since putting on the pinstripes two years ago, Sabathia has gone 40-15 with a 3.27 ERA in 467.2 innings (finishing in the top 10 in MLB both years in IP).

    Most importantly, Sabathia was lights-out in the 2009 postseason, going 3-1 and posting a 1.98 ERA in 36.1 innings to help lead the Yankees to their 27th World Series title.

    His 40-15 record with the Bombers is certainly due in part to the team's potent lineup, but that also is a product of Sabathia averaging about seven innings a start in that time frame.

    With two 230 inning seasons in New York under his belt, Sabathia has now topped that mark every year dating back to 2007 (including a 253 inning season in 08). Few pitchers in the game today exemplify durability like this big, tall left-hander.

    As the Texas Rangers proved this past ALCS, the Yankees have some pitching issues that need resolving. With a proven ace like Sabathia in the fold for years to come, they already have the makings of a strong rotation.

No. 15. Alex Rodriguez

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    A-Rod has come quite a ways since spring 2009. It was then he was under fire over his admitted steroid use and the Yankees' failures to turn lofty payrolls into championships. Less than two years later, the off-the-field issues have become virtually nonexistent, and A-Rod is finally free to just play baseball.

    It appeared for years his legacy with the Yankees would be his failure to produce in the postseason, until 2009. That postseason, he hit six HR (three of which were game-tying) with 18 RBI and a 1.038 OPS as the Yankees won their first World Series in nine years.

    While no one can be faulted for questioning their validity, his career numbers are staggering (43 HR, 129 RBI, .387 OBP, .571 SLG per 162 games played).

    The 13-time All-Star added to his impressive resume in 2010, hitting his 600th home run on August 4 (at 35 years old, he became the youngest player to join that exclusive club).

    The milestone aside, his 2010 stats were down almost across the board from his career averages, and he has reached the age where you have to start worrying about his durability. That said, A-Rod still finished second in MLB in RBI this past season.

    He'll never make the Hall of Fame so long as the voter's attitude towards known PED users doesn't change. No matter what, A-Rod is one of the most memorable players of the last 20 years, whose feats and accomplishments will not be forgotten by those who saw him play.

No. 14. Troy Tulowitzki

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    With a wrist injury that caused him to miss 34 games during the Summer and his teammate Carlos Gonzalez blossoming into a star, Troy Tulowitzki was forgotten to a degree for much of 2010. Then the calendar flipped to September, and he promptly reminded the baseball world how special a player he is.

    Over a 15-game span between September 3-18, Tulowitzki hit 14 HR with 31 RBI, setting a franchise record for home runs in a single month and becoming only the second player since 1900 to hit 14 or more home runs in 15 games.

    It's appropriate that Tulo grew up idolizing Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter, because he certainly evokes memories of those two in their prime (though Tulo may have more power than either of them ever had).

    In addition to being a shortstop who regularly hits cleanup, Tulowitzki is an absolute joy to watch in the field, known for a cannon arm, great range and a propensity for highlight reel plays.

    He even has a 20 steal season (2009) under his belt. You have to look pretty hard to find something this guy can't do on a baseball field.

    The similarities to Jeter extend beyond the field as well. At the age of 26, Tulowitzki is already renowned for his presence in the clubhouse and has become one of the Rockies' leaders. He is the most dynamic player on a Rockies team not short on promising young talent.

No. 13. Carl Crawford

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    Carl Crawford couldn't have picked a better time to have arguably the best season of his career. In his walk year, he set career highs in R (110), HR (19) and OPS (.851), and continued to be a terror on the base paths (47 SB, 82 percent success rate).

    Crawford is one of the most feared base stealers in the game today, having stolen at least 40 every full season in the majors except 2008. He led the majors in stolen bases in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007.

    That speed translates into prowess in the outfield as well; he's a left fielder with the range of a center fielder. He has led all major league left fielders in range factor each of the past two seasons.

    He doesn't have typical corner outfield power, but he certainly can be counted on for somewhere between 15-20 homers a year. Obviously, he'll hit more than his fair share of doubles and triples.

    Though a prototypical top of the order hitter, Crawford is not that shabby a run producer. He actually did better in 2010 hitting third (.323/ .364/ .526) than second (.299/ .353/ .480). That was a noticeably smaller sample size though, and I still believe he's at his best as a table setter.

    The franchise's all time leader in numerous offensive categories (AB, H, 2B, 3B, and SB among them), I think his loss this Winter will be devastating for the Rays. It may take quite a bit to sign him, but whoever does will be getting a player worth the price of admission when he's going well.

No. 12. Chase Utley

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    The Phillies' equivalent of Derek Jeter in many ways, Chase Utley is a potent mix of superstar ability and the scrappiness of a role player. Few second basemen in the game today have better all-around games. He is second only to Jeff Kent as the best player at that position in the past decade.

    The five-time All Star was a pivotal part of the Phillies' 2008 World Series win, and made a case for 2009 World Series MVP in a losing effort, hitting five home runs in the Fall Classic (tying the record held by Reggie Jackson).

    From 2005 to 2009, he hit at least 28 HR and drove in at least 100 runs four times. Until his injury-riddled 2010 campaign, he'd finished with a 900+ OPS every full season in the majors.

    He has no issue getting on base, with a career OBP of .380. He has some base stealing ability, having stolen at least 13 bases each season since 2005.

    He is hardly a natural at second base and may never win a Gold Glove there. What he lacks in physical ability though, he makes up for in awareness and instincts (which he put on display in this memorable play). Through hard work, he's turned himself into a serviceable second baseman.

    With Jimmy Rollins aging and Jayson Werth likely on his way out of town, Chase Utley remains the Phillies' best all-around player. He's very much a throwback to decades past; a hard-nosed player of few words who allows his play to do the talking.

No. 11. Cliff Lee

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    It's been said over and over again, but it bears repeating; as recently as 2007, Cliff Lee was left off a postseason roster. Three years later, some are calling him the greatest postseason pitcher of his generation and he is the most sought-after free agent of the 2010 offseason.

    The lefty's rise to stardom is one of the most unexpected, out-of-the-blue reversals of fortune in MLB history.

    After winning the Cy Young award in Cleveland in 2008, Lee became MLB's designated gun-for-hire, getting traded to three different teams and helping the Phillies and Rangers both reach the World Series.

    He has the best command of any starter since Greg Maddux. His BB/9 the last three seasons (1.4 in '08, 1.7 in '09, 0.8 in '10) are just stupefying. His 1.00 WHIP lead MLB this past season. Lee gets it done not with typical overpowering ace stuff, but with pinpoint control.

    It's been in the postseason that Lee really has made a name for himself, going 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in 80 innings between 2009 and 2010.

    That Lee is 32 with quite a bit of mileage on his arm, and yet some team is going to give him at least a six year, $120M this winter without thinking twice tells you everything you need to know about how he is regarded in baseball circles. Whoever signs him can rest assured that when the lights shine brightest, Lee will be at his best.

No. 10. Evan Longoria

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    There are players who take a while to get acclimated to the majors. Then there are players like Evan Longoria, who come to the show and look like they belong from the onset. Since being called up by the Rays in April of 2008, Longoria has done nothing but impress and arguably has become the face of the franchise.

    He took home AL Rookie of the year honors in '08, hitting .272 with 27 HR, 85 RBI and a .874 OPS, helping lead the Rays to the World Series. As expected, a full season worth of ABs in 2009 resulted in MVP caliber stats (33 HR, 113 RBI, .889 OPS).

    With a solid 2010 season, in which he established a new career high in BA (.294) and finished in the top 10 in the AL in RBI (104) and OPS (.879), Longoria was able to make his third straight All-Star game.

    He is hardly a one dimensional player though, as he is among the best defensive third baseman in the game. He took home his first Gold Glove award in 2009, with a solid shot at a second one in 2010. When all is said and done, that likely won't be the last one he wins.

    A consummate middle of the order hitter and a difference maker on defense, Longoria essentially is everything you could ask a third baseman to be.

    While the future of recent franchise mainstays like Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and James Shields is in doubt, Longoria is signed to a contract that could keep him with the Rays through 2016. There are few more appealing players in baseball to build around than this 25 year old who plays like a 10-year veteran.

No. 9. Robinson Cano

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    The Yankees' best player is not the face of their franchise (Derek Jeter), or their $275M man (Alex Rodriguez), or their future Hall of Fame closer (Mariano Rivera). Its sweet-swinging Robinson Cano, who in 2009 got sick of hearing people talk about his potential, and started to show the baseball world what he can do.

    After a disastrous 2008 season in which some questioned his attitude and whether he'd ever live up to his promise, Cano bounced back big time in 2009, hitting .320 and setting new career highs in HR (25) and RBI (85). That was merely a preview of what was to come in 2010.

    Cano became the Yankees' primary No. 5 hitter and proved more than up to the challenge, asserting himself as a legitimate MVP candidate. He finished in the top 10 in the AL in BA (.319), HR (29), RBI (109), R (103), OBP (.381) and SLG (.534).

    After years of taking heat for his defense, Cano won his first Gold Glove award in 2010 after he committed just three errors while leading all AL 2B in FPCT (.996). His range isn't exceptional, but he compensates for it with a strong throwing arm.

    He's proven to be incredibly durable, playing in at least 159 games each of the past four seasons.

    Short of running, there really isn't anything Cano doesn't do well. That he has established himself as the new Yankee superstar and the game's best second baseman and yet we haven't seen the best of him says a lot about the kind of player he is.

No. 8. Tim Lincecum

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    A short right-hander with mechanics that earned him the nickname "The Freak," Tim Lincecum sure doesn't look the part of an ace; needless to say, looks can be deceiving. The two-time Cy Young award winner is the backbone of the best pitching staff in baseball. With a pair of 260 K seasons to his credit, his career SO/9 stands at a gaudy 10.1.

    His 907 Ks are the most ever by a pitcher in his first four seasons. He has led the NL in that stat every year since 2008.

    While his mechanics have worried some, you need look no further than his career .224 BAA to know they're working. So far, he's had no problems staying healthy either, topping 200 innings each of the past three seasons.

    He made things look so easy his first two years in the league, it was shocking to see him struggle the way he did in August 2010 (0-5, 7.82 ERA). After losing every start that month though, the Freak promptly regained his form in September (5-1, 1.94 ERA in 41.2 IP).

    Lincecum carried that momentum into October. He started (9 IP, 14 K, 2 H vs. Atlanta) and ended (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER vs. Texas) the postseason in dominant fashion, helping the Giants win their first World Series since moving to San Francisco.

    Lincecum has done a lot in this game already, and he's still in the midst of his prime. As such, the Giants aren't going away any time soon.

No. 7. Joe Mauer

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    For whatever reason, Joe Mauer flew under the radar in 2010. Is the baseball world just growing so accustomed to the overall excellence of the 2009 AL MVP that it simply bears no repeating? Personally, I don't think you can rave enough about a catcher with three batting titles under his belt at the age of 27.

    Mauer has a sweet, fluid stroke that produces lasers to every field. He is a master of getting on-base, finishing with an OBP north of .400 four of the past five seasons. In his career, Mauer has drawn 433 walks compared to just 349 strikeouts.

    The question with Mauer is exactly how much power he can be counted on for. It looked as though he had come into his own as a legitimate power threat in 2009, hitting a career high 28 home runs. That total dropped to nine in 2010, though he did hit a career-high 43 doubles. With a career .888 OPS, Mauer is productive whether he's hitting the long ball or not.

    That Mauer offers this kind of production whilst playing one of the most demanding, important positions on the field makes him one of baseball's ost valuable players. Though he has the frame of a corner infielder, he's a more than competent catcher, recently winning his third Gold Glove award.

    Whether he is eventually forced to move from behind the plate or not, he's the kind of player that normally ages well and should remain productive in the latter stages of his career.

    A St. Paul native who has become the face of the Twins, Mauer's story is worthy of Hollywood. Prior to the 2010 season, he signed a contract that will keep him in Minnesota through 2018. Mauer is in Minnesota for the long haul, and baseball is better for it.

No. 6. Felix Hernandez

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    After a brilliant 2009 campaign in which he finished second in the AL Cy Young race, Felix Hernandez was largely considered the prohibitive favorite to win the award in 2010. In light of a career year in which he finished near the top in the AL in most major pitching categories (except the one that voters traditionally care about most; wins), King Felix is about to put some age-old baseball conventions to the test.

    Though he finished a mere 13-12 due to Seattle's preposterously bad offense, the 24-year-old Venezuelan led the AL in ERA (2.27) and innings (249.2) and finished second in K (232) and WHIP (1.06). Anyone who saw him pitch this year knows he was the best pitcher in the American League.

    With a fastball that can hit triple digits with a plus change-up and curveball to boot, King Felix just might have the best pure stuff in the game today.

    He impressed from the time he made his debut in 2005 at the age of 19. He made men 10 to 15 years older than him look like boys. In 84.1 innings that season, he posted a 2.67 ERA with 77 K and a mere 61 hits surrendered.

    He's kept building on that early promise ever since. His ERA, H/9, SO/9 and BB/9 have improved each of the last three seasons as his innings have increased. There's no reason to believe he can't keep getting better.

    Whether he wins the Cy Young this year or not, if he can stay healthy, you have to believe he'll take home a couple before he calls it a career. For now, it's far too soon to even start thinking about the end of this 24 year old's career. Another decade or so of dominance is not out of the question for this Hall of Fame talent.

No. 5. Hanley Ramirez

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    Last season was not Hanley Ramirez's best, on the field or in the clubhouse. Benched for a game in May after Fredi Gonzalez perceived a lack of hustle on his part, Ramirez called out his skipper and likely played a role in his dismissal.

    The incident temporarily tainted his reputation, but Ramirez was quick to remind the baseball world of just how talented he is, making his third straight All-Star game and finishing second to David Ortiz in the Home Run Derby. He already has one 30-30 season (2008) under his belt, and has the ability to do that every season.

    Ramirez began his career a prototypical lead-off man, putting together back-to-back 51 SB seasons in 2006 and 2007. Recognizing his potential as a run producer, the Marlins moved him to the third spot in the lineup starting in 2009.

    The transition proved to be seamless, as Ramirez had a career season. He won the NL batting title with a .342 AVG, and posted career highs in RBI (106) and OPS (.954), whilst still stealing 27 bases. He finished second in the NL MVP vote.

    He made strides as a shortstop in 2009, but took a step back this past season. As the May 17 incident showed, he at times appears apathetic in the field. Certainly he is capable of better.

    In what had to be considered a down year given the standards he set his first four years in the league, Ramirez still hit .300/ .378/ .475 with 21 HR and 32 SB. When his mind is right and he's going right, there are few more dynamic players in MLB.

No. 4. Roy Halladay

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    Pitching for a legitimate contender for the first time in his career, Roy Halladay was faced with great expectations virtually all of 2010. He spent his first season with the Phillies not merely meeting those expectations, but surpassing them.

    Considered the heavy favorite to win the NL Cy Young, Halladay validated that early sentiment with arguably the best season of his career. He led the NL in W (21), IP (250.2) and CG (9), finished second in SO (219), WHIP (1.04), and W% (.677), and third in ERA (2.44).

    The highlight of Halladay's regular season was obviously the masterpiece he turned in on May 29 in south Florida, as he retired all 27 Marlins he faced en route to the 20th perfect game in MLB history.

    The calendar flipped to October and the baseball world was eager to see what the doctor would do given the opportunity to pitch in the postseason for the first time. Needless to say, he did not disappoint. In a performance for the ages, Halladay no-hit the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the 2010 NLDS. Though it was only the second no-hitter in postseason history, coming from Halladay, it was hardly surprising.

    As he ages, pitching in the National League should be conducive to his continued success. Though 33 years old, and not yet showing signs of slowing down, he is nearing milestones (200 wins, 2,000 K) that some pitchers do not reach until the tail-end of their careers.

    A master of his craft, a fierce competitor and a total class act, Halladay is a pure joy to watch and a more than welcome throwback to the great pitchers of old. He is the best pitcher in the game today, and has solidified his status as the greatest pitcher of his generation.

No. 3. Miguel Cabrera

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    His life in order and his commitment to baseball reaffirmed, Miguel Cabrera inspired talk of a Triple Crown winner with a career year in 2010. Arguably baseball's most underappreciated superstar of the past few years, Cabrera is a career .313 hitter and on pace to hit his 300th home run before turning 30 years old.

    Cabrera was turning heads from the time he came to the majors, hitting a walk-off home run his first game in the majors. In the 2003 postseason, he hit four home runs (including a memorable blast off Roger Clemens in the World Series) with 12 RBI to help the Marlins stun the Yankees and win the 2003 Fall Classic.

    While his first two seasons in Detroit were very good, it was not until 2010 that Cabrera realized his full potential. In an MVP-caliber campaign, he led the AL in RBI (126) and OBP (.420), finished second in BA (.328) and SLG (.622), and third in HR (38). Last season marked the seventh straight in which Cabrera has hit at least 26 home runs with at least 100 RBI.

    He is an elite pure hitter in the mold of Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez in his prime. While he may never win a Gold Glove, he has turned himself into a decent first baseman.

    Cabrera has the kind of career numbers you'd expect from a consummate middle of the order hitter. You don't realize how special a player he is until you're reminded he's merely 27 years old, just entering his prime. A string of seasons like his 2010 seems not only possible but likely.

    He hasn't always gotten the recognition he has deserved, but Cabrera is the kind of talent that only comes along a few times in a generation. The sky is truly the limit for this young Venezuelan who, at the pace he's going at right now, will end up with a plaque in Cooperstown some day.

No. 2. Josh Hamilton

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    Much like Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton has overcome personal issues to emerge as one of the best players in baseball. A batting champion with plus power and a Gold Glove caliber outfielder to boot, no player in baseball today epitomizes "five-tool player" like Hamilton.

    The first overall pick of the 1999 Draft made it back to the majors with Cincinnati in 2007, who then traded him to Texas. He made an instant impact, leading the AL in RBI and total bases in 2008. The highlight of that season was the inspiring display he put on in the 2008 Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium.

    After a rough 2009 in which he struggled to stay healthy and posted a .741 OPS in 89 games, some so-called "experts" actually wondered if his 2008 season had been a fluke.With 2010 in the books, those people have to be feeling pretty stupid.

    Though he dealt with some injuries again, Hamilton had his best season to date in 2010, winning the AL batting title. He also finished in the top five in the AL in HR (32), OBP (.411) and SLG (.633). As his career year was a major reason for Texas winning the AL West (and later making it all the way to the World Series), many consider Hamilton the favorite to win his first MVP award this fall.

    Hamilton is best known for what he does with the bat, but he is excellent on the other side of the ball as well. He has the range to play anywhere in the outfield, and has a great arm as well.

    He's come a long way the past few seasons, and you can't help but be touched by his story. The nickname "The Natural" has a tendency to be thrown around, but Hamilton is truly worthy of the designation. Simply put, there isn't anything he can't do on a baseball field.

No. 1. Albert Pujols

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    As I put together this list, tinkering and fine-tuning it, I think every player on the list changed rankings at least once; save for one. That player of course is Albert Pujols, who in light of yet another brilliant season in 2010, remains the undisputed best player in baseball today.

    He may not take home MVP honors this fall as his Cardinals came up short to Joey Votto's Reds, but it was still a great year for the nine-time All-Star. Along with Votto and Carlos Gonzalez, Pujols made a run at a Triple Crown in 2010, finishing first in the NL in HR (42) and RBI (118). He finished second in OBP (.414) and BB (103), third in SLG (.596) and sixth in BA (.312).

    I've said it before and I'll say it again; he has the most appropriate nickname in baseball. Simply put, he's a machine; you can bet your life on him hitting 30 home runs and driving in 100 when all is said and done. After all, that's all he's done every season starting with his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2001.

    The three-time MVP has finished a season with a sub 1.000 OPS just twice in 10 seasons. Such remarkable production is largely the product of his durability, as he has never played fewer than 143 games in a season.

    Without a doubt, he earns his paycheck at the plate. That said, he is a two-time Gold Glove winner and one of the best first baseman in the game.

    He turned 30 this year and he already has 1,900 hits and 408 home runs under his belt. You see him play, and you know you're watching history unfold. Without question the best player of the 21st century thus far, you can't help but wonder if Pujols will go down in history as the greatest baseball player of all time.


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