As we continue through our series we move onto a stronger position on the diamond. Miguel Cabrera was obviously the class of the position, but many of you would be surprised to see how close the race ended up being for him. This is why the focus on all three facets of the game: fielding, hitting, and base running, are so very important. It’s the main reason why the MVP race should have turned our differently.
1) Miguel Cabrera– Detroit Tigers
Miguel Cabrera was considered the most valuable player in the American League by the BBWAA, but the BBWAA focused merely on his hitting. Once he left the batter’s box his value was virtually gone. In terms of the personality and leadership, Cabrera showed a lot by moving to third base. He didn’t have to do it and he certainly hurt his own value by doing it. So, in that sense a vote for MVP made some sense, but if value is a mathematical question then there can be no question that Cabrera was not the most valuable player.
2) David Wright– New York Mets
A run and a half is hardly anything in the grand scheme of things. Wright didn’t get a lot of consideration for the NL MVP because a large part of his value came from his glove. Wright hasn’t traditionally been a good fielder, so his reputation proceeded him. It’s just funny how some people are seen as immortal while others as merely good when the difference between the two is negligible.
3) Chase Headley– San Diego Padres
If baseball were like the stock market, Josh Byrnes would be trying to dump Headley right now. He had a career year offensively and even won the Gold Glove despite his below average finish with the glove. The odds are not in favor of him doing this again. Of course, he should still be very good and with that he brings the Padres their best chance of being competitive. Still, he could bring back three or four prospects in return at this point.
4) Adrian Beltre– Texas Rangers
With the Hall of Fame vote in the rear view mirror, one wonders what will happen when Adrian Beltre finally rides off into the sunset. He started at 19 and has been putting up solid numbers ever since. He had a couple of huge campaigns, but otherwise has been largely seen as a disappointment. That’s because he didn’t put up huge numbers consistently. When he retires, it will become a question of whether he will be judged on the numbers he had or the numbers people thought he should have had.
5) Aramis Ramirez– Milwaukee Brewers
Ramirez’s fielding numbers are proof that players can have career fielding seasons as well. Usually, Ramirez is a butcher, but somehow everything came together. The hitting has always been there and likely will be there for the life of his contract with the Brewers. They wanted a replacement for Prince Fielder. That will never happen, but he could be enough to complement Corey Hart and Ryan Braun.
6) Ryan Zimmerman– Washington Nationals
The Nationals made Zimmerman their future when they dedicated more than 100 million to him this past offseason. Zimmerman has never had an issue with quality, but he has always had problems remaining healthy. If he can give the Nationals 600 plate appearances a season he will consistently finish among the top five at the position. He is one of two third basemen in the top ten (Brett Lawrie is the other) to have positive scores in all three categories. It may not count for much, but it does make him a solid all-around player.
7) Brett Lawrie– Toronto Blue Jays
Lawrie ran neck and neck with Mike Moustakas for the title as top defensive third baseman. Interestingly enough, his scores were almost reversed as a rookie. He might make a comeback offensively and if he does he will vault himself into the top three at the position. With a healthy Jose Bautista and the incoming Jose Reyes, there will be more opportunities for him to produce runs.
8) David Freese– St. Louis Cardinals
Last season was David Freese’s first healthy season. As it turns out, he isn’t the stud that we thought he was after the 2011 World Series, but he is a borderline all-star performer. With Albert Pujols in Disneyland, the Cards needed some others to step up. Freese stepped up and produced good offensive numbers last season.
9) Evan Longoria– Tampa Bay Rays
These were Longoria’s numbers even after missing about half of the season. You can see why the Rays made him their franchise player. Now, they have added Wil Myers to the fold. If he turns out to be the player people think he will be then the Rays will have quite a one-two punch. He was my darkhorse pick for MVP last year and he might have been without the injury. He can still sneak up and claim the award this year.
10) Pablo Sandoval– San Francisco Giants
Much like Longoria, Sandoval came into the season with a lot of promise and all in all he lived up to it. He produced again offensively and defensively and exploded in the playoffs when it mattered most. Like Longoria, he lost some considerable time to injury and could have finished among the top five guys had he been healthy the whole season. The question with Sandoval is whether injuries occur naturally or because of a lack of conditioning. He seems to be fighting his weight on a regular basis.
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