MLB Power Rankings: Albert Pujols and the Most Entrenched Star on Each Team
Most teams have that one special player who stands out. Fans recognize them, and teammates count on them to come through in tough situations.
Some players become popular just because they have been around a long time. Others are appreciated for their great play and many accolades. And others encompass the total package with great offense, defense and a good public image.
Albert Pujols is a great example of a franchise player. After 10 years in St. Louis, multiple honors and awards and his overall performance, Pujols represents Cardinals baseball.
The following is a list of each team's most entrenched star player.
Brian Roberts, Baltimore Orioles, AL East
Entering his 11th season as an Oriole, second baseman Brian Roberts must be one of the most loyal players in baseball. In the spring of 2009, Roberts signed a four-year, $40 million extension to stay with the only MLB team he has ever known.
Roberts signed that contract despite the total failure of the Orioles to be a competitive team for nearly a decade in a very difficult AL East division.
Originally from North Carolina, Roberts stated at the time he signed the contract, "The city of Baltimore has really become my second home."
Robert's leadership and steady performance have made him the face of this franchise. He began his career in Baltimore, and more than likely, Roberts will end it there as well.
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, AL East
With 15 years in the big leagues, David Ortiz has spent the last eight of those with the Boston Red Sox. Ortiz is well known for his enormous grin and light hearted manner, both of which have made him a fan favorite in Boston.
As a Red Sox, Ortiz has collected numerous awards for his performance as well. He has four Silver Sluggers, the Hank Aaron award and has been selected to the All-Star game five times.
In 2009, fans were shocked to hear that Big Papi had tested positive for steroids in 2003. While Ortiz denied using steroids, he did admit to being "careless" and taking a number of supplements and vitamins that may have contributed to his positive test.
But while most fans were understandably disappointed, Ortiz was able to weather the storm. His popularity and reputation as a nice guy saw him through. Most have forgiven and forgotten.
Ortiz is in the final year of his contract with the Red Sox. He has expressed a desire to stay in Boston beyond 2011. If he has a productive year in his DH role, odds are good that he will get his wish.
Derek Jeter, New York Yankees, AL East
Possibly the most popular player in all of baseball is the Yankees shortstop, Derek Jeter. With tons of product endorsements plus guest appearances in movies and television shows, Jeter may be the most recognizable sports figure on the planet.
Even more impressive than his 16 years with the Yankees is his ability to avoid personal scandals despite the constant media frenzy around him. Entering his 17th season, Jeter still maintains a squeaky clean public image.
Image aside, Jeter is the face of the Yankees for many reasons. The list of professional accolades include 11 All-Star selections, five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, five World Series rings, two Hank Aaron awards and the 2000 World Series MVP award.
And while Jeter's skills have begun to decline with age, he was still able to procure a new three-year deal this offseason worth $51 million. Taking him through the 2013 season with an option for 2014, the new contract ensures that Jeter will be a Yankee for his entire career.
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays, AL East
Up until this year, the most well-known Rays player probably would have been Carl Crawford. But since Crawford has left for the Red Sox, it appears the title has been handed over to third baseman Evan Longoria.
While Longoria is only entering his fourth year in the majors and with the Rays, he has quickly won over fans with his performance on the field.
In his short career so far, Longoria has already collected two Gold Gloves, one Silver Slugger, Rookie of the Year 2008 and three All-Star selections
The Rays were so impressed with the rookie in 2008 that they immediately signed Longoria to a franchise record nine-year deal. Including options, the contract could keep Longoria with the Rays through the 2016 season.
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays, AL East
While the Blue Jays do not really have any big superstars, they came close last year with an amazing performance from Jose Bautista. In just his third year with the club, Bautista made a name for himself by smashing a MLB leading 54 home runs in 2010.
Roy Halladay was the face of the Blue Jays until he left for the Phillies before the 2010 season. Now, with his new found power, it is Bautista’s turn.
After his career year in 2010, Bautista collected a Silver Slugger award, the Hank Aaron award and an All-Star selection. All these honors were firsts for this seven-year MLB veteran.
Now the question is, can Bautista repeat his 2010 performance? The Blue Jays are certainly hoping he can.
Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox, AL Central
Paul Konerko has been a steady force in the White Sox line-up for 12 years now. The aging first baseman hit for an average of .312 with 39 homers and 111 RBI last season.
Despite being 35 years old, Konerko shows little signs of slowing down.
This offseason, the White Sox rewarded Konerko for his efforts with a three-year, $37.5 million contract. This will keep the four-time All-Star first baseman with the Sox through the 2013 season.
Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland Indians, AL Central
The Cleveland Indians have not had any real superstars since the days of Omar Vizquel, Jim Thome and Roberto Alomar. However, right fielder Shin-Soo Choo has been a solid presence in the line-up for most of his five years in Cleveland.
In 2010, Choo led the team in most batting categories, including average (.300), RBI’s (90) and on-base percentage (.401).
Choo has also overcome his share of adversity. In 2007, he went through Tommy John surgery and made a full recovery in time to play in 94 games in 2008.
Choo also had to deal with a mandatory military service requirement of the Korean government. But since Choo played for the South Korean team in the Asian Games and won in 2010, he was awarded an exemption from serving.
Having battled elbow soreness early in spring training this year, Choo is healthy now and preparing for the 2011 season.
Magglio Ordonez, Detroit Tigers, AL Central
After six seasons with the Detroit Tigers, right fielder Magglio Ordonez signed a one-year deal in December to stay a little longer.
Ordonez has three Silver Slugger awards and three All-Star selections to his credit in a 14-year baseball career. In 11 of those years, Ordonez batted for an average of at least .300. He is a lifetime .312 hitter.
In 2010, Ordonez saw his season get cut short due to a broken right ankle in July. He lost money for the 2011 season as a result because the injury triggered a clause in his contract, eliminating a $15 million automatic renewal.
But Ordonez appeared unfazed by the new $10 million, one-year contract. Rumor has it that he even turned down two-year offers from other teams in order to stay in Detroit.
The Tigers are lucky to have Ordonez, who will probably finish his career in Detroit.
Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals, AL Central
As a team, the Royals have suffered many, many disappointing seasons. But one bright light in that darkness has been the play of first baseman Billy Butler.
Entering his fifth season with the Royals, Butler hit .318 with 15 homers and 78 RBI last season. His RBI’s, batting average and .388 on-base percentage led the team.
Butler will turn just 25 years old this season. His youth and playing abilities foretell a very bright future for Butler. The Rangers are hoping they can build a foundation for the future with him.
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins, AL Central
2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer is to the Twins what Tom Hanks is to Hollywood. He is a huge star and everybody loves him.
This talented catcher has earned so many awards in just seven years of baseball, he may have to build an extra room in his house to keep them all. Those awards include four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves, four All-Star selections and of course, the 2009 MVP award.
Fans are so enamored with Mauer that he has his own fan club. And his lustrous locks have even earned him a Head & Shoulders endorsement deal.
Currently, Mauer is dealing with a knee issue in spring training. However, he expects to be ready for Opening Day.
Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, AL West
In his 14-year career, Torii Hunter has been known best for scaling outfield walls and robbing hitters of home runs. His dominance in the field is so evident that Hunter received nine consecutive Gold Glove awards between 2001 and 2009.
Hunter has also been selected to the All-Star team four times. Two of those were with the Angels, where he also earned a Silver Slugger in 2009.
Entering his fourth season with the Angels, Hunter is certainly on the tail end of his career at 35 years of age. His current contract takes him through the 2012 season.
Hunter has gotten into some trouble in the past with racially-tinged remarks, which were probably mostly misunderstood. In general, he is known as a kind, light-hearted person who gives back to the community with his extensive charitable endeavors.
Although, there are probably a lot of home run hitters out there that hope Hunter retires soon.
Mark Ellis, Oakland Athletics, AL West
The modern-day Oakland A’s are known as the revolving door of major league baseball. Their player retention rate may be compared to that of teenage workers in the fast food industry.
For a player to hang in there with the A’s for eight seasons without being traded is impressive. Second baseman Mark Ellis has done just that.
In fact, once Ellis hits 1000 games played for Oakland this year, he will be only the 13th player in franchise history to do so.
One of those 13, Eric Chavez, departed this offseason after 13 seasons. Chavez is now with the Yankees.
What this means for Ellis is that A’s fans may actually know his name. His .291 batting average last year, despite an early season hamstring injury, does not hurt either.
But with the injuries and his advancing age, how long Ellis will remain is yet to be determined.
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners, AL West
Entering his 11th season with the Mariners, Ichiro Suzuki remains the face of the franchise. As the consistent front runner in batting average, hits and on-base percentage, Suzuki is the indisputable leader of this team.
A native of Japan, Suzuki became the first MLB player to be inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame. Suzuki is so popular in his home country, it is said that you need only put his name on anything mail to him from the US and it will be delivered, even with no address.
Japanese tourism to Seattle to see Suzuki play has given a huge financial boost to the Mariners over the years.
In 10 years with the Mariners, Suzuki has earned a Gold Glove and an All-Star selection in each of those 10 years. He also has three Silver Sluggers to his credit.
The Mariners would love to have Suzuki finish his career in Seattle. However, if Suzuki wants to win a World Series, he may be better off going elsewhere. Then again, he seems very comfortable in Seattle.
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, AL West
This past week, reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton agreed to a two-year, $24 million contract with the Rangers, keeping him in Texas through the 2012 season.
Entering his fourth season with the team, Hamilton is an interesting success story. Hamilton's major league career should have started in 2001, but a car accident followed by a steep dive into drug and alcohol abuse derailed his career before it began.
After a long, painful recovery, Hamilton finally emerged in 2007, making his major league debut with the Reds. He was traded to the Rangers that following offseason.
The fact that Hamilton made his way back to baseball is an achievement all to itself. But to then excel at it the way he has is beyond impressive.
Hamilton has made the All-Star team each year he has been with the Rangers and also has two Silver Sluggers, an ALCS MVP award and of course, the 2010 AL MVP award.
Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves, NL East
In an age where few players spend their entire careers with just one team, Chipper Jones is about to do just that. Entering his 17th full season with the Braves, Jones is indisputably the face of this team.
A six-time All-Star with two Silver Slugger awards, Jones refuses to let the torn ACL in his left knee end his career, although it did end his 2010 season early.
Jones, a switch-hitter, is currently in camp with the Braves and working on his left-handed swing while still dealing with a little soreness in the knee. Yet all reports seem to indicate that the almost 39-year old Jones will be ready to go for Opening Day.
Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins, NL East
When Dan Uggla signed with the Braves this offseason, Hanley Ramirez was effectively promoted to Marlins team leader. However, handling this unofficial title will be more difficult than it seems.
A lifetime .313 hitter with an on-base percentage of .385, Ramirez is a natural talent. But what he exudes at the plate, he lacks in the clubhouse.
After multiple verbal disagreements with his manager, getting benched and then having to issue a team-wide apology, Ramirez has sometimes been a distraction.
But with Uggla gone, Ramirez will need to step up and foster a more mature and professional approach to the game. After a slightly down season in 2010, this is Ramirez's chance to show what he can do.
David Wright, New York Mets, NL East
David Wright is the face of the Mets. He even has a life-sized wax figure of himself in New York's Madame Tussauds wax museum.
In five out of seven seasons with the Mets, Wright has batted for an average of at least .300 and over 100 RBI's. He is a five-time All-Star and also has two Gold Gloves at third base and two Silver Sluggers.
The Mets have been struggling since their epic collapse in 2007, when they lost a seven game lead in the division with only 17 games to go. They lost 12 of those 17 games and lost the division to the Phillies.
In the years that followed, the Mets have had a number of disappointments, but Wright has not been one of those. Mets fans hope that Wright will continue to hang in there until the Mets can put together a winner again.
Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies, NL East
For years, Chase Utley has been the Derek Jeter of the National League. His immense popularity through eight season with the Phillies has earned MLB millions in jersey and merchandise sales and also seen Utley voted into five consecutive All-Star games.
Utley is known as a serious, competitive player who leaves it all out on the field. That style of play earned him a seven-year, $85 million contract in 2007, keeping him with the Phillies through the 2013 season.
And while other players have more tenure with the club, like Jimmy Rollins, no other position player has been so embraced by an entire community.
However, after a number of injuries, Utley's number have begun to decline. Currently, he is at a total stand-still with knee issues in spring training, and no one is sure when Utley will be able to play.
Both the Phillies and their fans hope that Utley will soon return to form.
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals, NL East
Since their move to D.C. in 2004, there have not been many players willing to go to the Nationals. The eternal basement dwellers of the NL East have had little to celebrate over the years.
But third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has found a home in D.C. Before the 2009 season, Zimmerman signed a five-year, $45 million contract despite the team struggles.
In his six years with the Nats, Zimmerman has received one All-Star selection, two Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove. He has also received undying devotion from a fan base that is thrilled to have such a dedicated and talented player.
The future for Zimmerman is unknown, but the odds are good that he will be with the Nationals for a long time.
Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs, NL Central
In seven years with the Cubs, veteran pitcher Ryan Dempster has become a fan favorite. His easy-going attitude and positive, upbeat demeanor have also made him a favorite in the Cubs clubhouse.
Other players have been around longer, like fellow pitcher Carlos Zambrano. But Dempster and Zambrano are light years apart in terms of personality.
In addition, Dempster has been a solid starting pitcher for the club. He had 15 wins last season and posted a 3.85 ERA in 34 starts.
At 33-years of age, Dempster has a contract option that could keep him with the Cubs through the 2012 season. He will be the Opening Day starter this year on April 1, supplanting Zambrano, who has started the clubs last six openers.
Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds, NL Central
Entering his fifth season with the Reds, Joey Votto will begin the year as the reigning NL MVP award winner. In 150 games last year, Votto batted .324 with 37 homers and 113 RBI. He led Reds players in all major statistical categories.
Votto's rise to fame in Cincinnati is even more impressive when you consider what he went through to get there. After his father passed away in 2008, Votto began suffering from depression and anxiety issues. He was so distraught that he had to be placed on the DL in late May of 2009.
Despite the personal struggles only a year before, Votto went on to win the NL MVP and was also selected to the All-Star game in 2010.
This offseason, Votto was awarded with a three-year, $38 million contract, keeping him with the Reds through the 2013 season.
Hunter Pence, Houston Astros, NL Central
In only four years with the Astros, Hunter Pence has become a leader on a very young ball club. With consistent production and a solid work ethic, Pence is not only the current face of the club, he is also the future.
As the 2010 team MVP, Pence led the Astros with 25 home runs, 173 hits and 91 RBI. In 2009, he received his first career All-Star selection.
Originally a shortstop, Pence made the transition to outfield in college which suits his six-foot, four-inch frame. He is also a speedy base runner, which adds to his value.
This past offseason, Pence won his arbitration case against the Astros and was awarded a $6.9 million, one-year deal. With two years left of arbitration eligibility, it is possible the Astros may try to sign him to a long-term deal in the near future.
Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers, NL Central
Over the past six years, Prince Fielder has been the first name to come to mind when mentioning the Brewers. The stout first baseman has certainly earned his reputation as a slugger.
Although his power numbers were down a bit last year, the Brewers expect him to return to form as 2011 is a contract year. In five full seasons, Fielder has average 38 home runs per year.
This kind of power has earned Fielder a number of accolades, including two All-Star selections, a Silver Slugger award and he was also named the 2009 team MVP.
With serious dollars on the line, expect Fielder to have a big year in 2011.
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates, NL Central
On a team that really has no stars, the lone standout might be centerfielder Andrew McCutchen. With only two years in the majors, McCutchen has show maturity and talent beyond his years.
The model of consistency, McCutchen batted exactly .286 in both years with the Pirates. He hit 56 RBI in 2010 after hitting 54 in 2009. His on-base percentage was exactly .365 each year as well.
Still, McCutchen has also shown he can improve in certain areas. After drawing 54 walks in 2009, he bumped that up to 70 in 2010, showing more patience at the plate. McCutchen also used his speed to steal 33 bases.
This spring, McCutchen injured his wrist, but X-rays were negative. It appears to be just a minor irritation. That is very good news for Pirates fans, who have little else to look forward to in 2011.
Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals , NL Central
Albert Pujols is the model of a franchise player. He says all the right things and does all the right things.
In ten years with the Cardinals, Pujols has racked up 408 home runs, 1,230 RBI and 1,900 hits. The most praised player in recent years, Pujols has earned nine All-Star nods, six Silver Sluggers, two Gold Gloves and three National League MVP honors.
All this, and the man is only 31 years old.
Pujols is in the final year of his contract with the Cards, as they could not come to an agreement before the start of spring training. In order to avoid distractions, Pujols has said he will not negotiate further until the season is over.
When the time comes, you can be sure there will be 29 other teams dreaming that they could afford to sign Pujols. But the Cardinals have team loyalty on their side. Pujols has been very loyal to them and to the fans. But who will win the Pujols lottery in the end may not be so cut and dried.
Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks, NL West
In five years with the Diamondbacks, Stephen Drew has been one of the more consistent players on the team. A lifetime .272 hitter, Drew will turn 28 years old this month.
The D-Backs have seen a lot of players come and go over the years while Drew has stayed. As one of the more tenured players on the team, Drew has become known as a well-rounded player who can be counted on.
In the last three years, Drew has finished in the top three for on-base plus slugging percentage two times among short stops.
Still a young player, more will be expected of Drew this coming season.
Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies, NL West
Much like Chipper Jones of the Braves, Todd Helton has led a long and very successful career with only one team. In 14 years with the Rockies, Helton has been the face of the franchise.
Garnering more awards than most players in a 14-year career, Helton has received such honors as four Silver Sluggers, three Gold Gloves and five All-Star nods.
Helton also holds the Rockies career records for games played, at-bats, runs, hits, home runs, RBI's, walks and about ten or eleven others, not including single season records. He holds seven of those as well.
Helton is signed through the 2013 season, so he will undoubtedly play his entire career with the Rockies. And although his age is beginning to show, it is hard to imagine a Rockies team without Helton.
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers , NL West
Entering his sixth year with the Dodgers, big things are expected from right fielder Andre Ethier. This promising career should be ready to blossom into something special.
A lifetime .291 hitter, Ethier has become a fan and team favorite. He was on his way to a monster season in 2010 when a broken finger slowed him down. Still, Ethier finished the year with solid numbers, including 23 homers.
Ethier received his first career All-Star selection in 2010, and he also received a Silver Slugger in 2009. Ethier turns 29 in April. He should be about ready to peak.
The Dodgers have had some disappointing seasons lately. A break-out year from Ethier could help bust them out of the slump.
Heath Bell, San Diego Padres, NL West
An imposing presence on the mound, Heath Bell signifies what Padres baseball is about. Bell is the closer on staff that focuses on dominant pitching.
In 2010, Bell came in second place in the National League with 47 saves and was in first place in 2009 with 42. Both years, he earned a trip to the All-Star game.
Bell's stingy 1.93 ERA last season was second only to Brian Wilson of the Giants among closers.
In 2011, Bell will be expected to continue his reign among the top closers in the game.
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants, NL West
At just 26 years of age, Tim Lincecum has already won two Cy Young awards and a plethora of nicknames. He has been called, "The Freak", "Tiny Tim", "Seabiscuit", and "The Franchise".
As the face of the Giants, perhaps "The Franchise" is most fitting.
MLB has "Tiny Tim" listed at 165 pounds. One can only assume they dipped him in a pool before weighing him. But his tiny size and monster arm are part of what sets him apart from other pitchers.
The other part of the equation is his unique ability to totally dominate hitters with an odd delivery that no one has ever seen before. Over the past three seasons, Lincecum has lead the National League in strikeouts and strikeouts per nine innings.
As a result, Lincecum has won a World Series, received three All-Star nods and, of course, two Cy Young awards. With his youth still intact, the sky is the limit for this flamethrower.