Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 20, 2006
BASEBALL: The 50 Best

Nate Silver of the Baseball Prospectus writes an article at that I'd been meaning to do myself: a list of who the most valuable players in baseball would be if you could disregard their existing contracts and pick whoever you wanted going forward (though Silver includes the proviso that he's valuing guys with less than six years' service time more highly given that they could be had for less money under the current rules). You can read Silver's list, which is a great argument-starter, here and here. Unsurprisingly, given that this is the Baseball Prospectus, the list is liberally salted with guys who have yet to post a successful full season in the major leagues.

I'm in total agreement, of course, with Silver's #1 guy: Albert Pujols, who is just such a scary hitter that all other considerations fall by the wayside. But I'd offer up a few quibbles of my own with Silver's list:

*I'd rank Miguel Cabrera #2 or #3 - Cabrera's such a prodigious power hitter at such a young age that I'd take him over A-Rod and David Wright.

*I'd take Mark Teixera over Joe Mauer - Tex has no health issues, whereas Mauer's knees make him very much a question mark to remain a catcher long-term. Mauer's a great young player, but some caution is recommended.

*I'd still rather have Roy Oswalt than Felix Hernandez; Felix is a tremendous talent, but until he has proven that he can throw 200 innings in a major league season at least once without breaking down, he's just another pitching prospect. Hey, Mark Prior was this impressive once too.

*I'd take Vladimir Guerrero over Jason Bay. Vlad is a freak of nature, and his bad back appears to be behind him.

*I'm as big a fan as anyone of caution in dealing with aging players, but Manny not even in the top 50? Really? Contract aside, would you trade Manny straight-up for Howie Kendrick? Brian McCann? Ryan Howard? I wouldn't.

*I know last season was rough and he's hurting again right now, but I'd still take Carlos Beltran over Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez, Roy Halladay or Rich Harden. I'd also rather have Derek Jeter than Jones and rather have Adam Dunn, with his awesome power and just hitting his prime, than Chavez. Harden seems overrated here, given his injury history.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:54 AM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (24) | TrackBack (0)

Beltran over A. Jones? Ok, I know you are a Mets fan but come on! I guess A. Jones has inflicted some pain to the Mets faithful over the years but you still have got to take him over

Posted by: Atom at April 20, 2006 9:31 AM

I have to wonder about the opinions of anyone who writes "I look at Joe Mauer and think of Rickey Henderson".

Posted by: Jerry at April 20, 2006 9:46 AM


I agree with you completely in regard to Cabrera. Even before yesterday's disaster, I felt that Wright was starting to get a little too much credit for his brief career. I'm a huge David Wright fan (as are all Met fans, I'd guess), but there's just no basis for ranking him over Big Mig. They're the same age, and to this point Cabrera has compiled the more impressive MLB resume. And the 7 years he has on A-Rod has to make him more valuable going forward.

Also glad to see someone make the point about Manny. As I scrolled through the list yesterday, I kept wondering where that kooky hitting savant was. After I got to 12 or 15 I realized the author'd left him out. I muttered, went back to scrolling, and tried to predict who'd finish just under Phat Albert.

Posted by: Mike at April 20, 2006 10:15 AM

Yeah, I agree with Atom above. I'd be hard pressed to take Beltran over Jones at this point.

In fairness though I really want to see if Beltran posts some better numbers this year. He is a fantastic talent or sure looked that way to me while he was with the Astros and it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see his numbers look a lot better this year.

Posted by: Dwilkers at April 20, 2006 10:20 AM

The Beltran discussion never fails to amuse me. He is an above average player with flashes of greatness. Yes I'd move him in a heartbeat for Andrew Jones. If for no other reason than he appears to be mentally weak, or unable to handle a big city sports scene.

Posted by: abe at April 20, 2006 11:38 AM

Prior to last season, I think a large majority of people around baseball would have taken Beltran over Jones. Jones had an excellent season, while Beltran had a poor and injury plagued one (although a look at Hardball Times shows that they credit them both with 23 win shares). I'm not sure that is sufficient to reverse the ranking. If I see Beltran producing below expectations after another 50 games of this season, then it probably would be.

Posted by: Jerry at April 20, 2006 12:47 PM

...his bad back appears to be behind him.

More good news - his head is above his shoulders, and his feet are down below his knees.

Oh, we knew what you meant...

Posted by: Tom Maguire at April 20, 2006 1:01 PM

Do you think the writer is from Cleveland as nearly every starter on the team is listed? I thought he did a poor job balancing established versus potential and put stuff in that was purely sensationalistic (the Japanese pitcher at #50 for instance-would you rather have him or Josh Beckett who is not listed at all?). Robinson Cano, a .297, 14 HR, 62 RBI, 22 year-old 2B for the Yankees not on the list? Coco Crisp (guess he should not have left Cleveland)? These don't appear to be the 50 most valuable or potentially valuable guys and his criteria seems to waffle back and forth.

Posted by: jim at April 20, 2006 1:03 PM

If Andruw Jones had played his entire career w/ the Mets instead of the Braves, he would be the Mets' all-time leader in:

Home Runs
Total Bases
(and, OK, strikeouts)

Posted by: Brian at April 20, 2006 1:07 PM

Give me Howard for Manny? Throw in an arm, deal.

Posted by: seamus at April 20, 2006 1:43 PM

I wonder if the Crank plans to write about the series just concluded at Shea Stadium yesterday. After the "BASEBALL: Killing the King" item on April 17, I thought for sure there would be some discussion today about the King's exagerated demise.

Posted by: Gratitude at April 20, 2006 4:18 PM

Hear, hear...are reports of His Highness' demise premature?

Posted by: seamus at April 20, 2006 4:44 PM

Come on Crank, can we get a comment please?

Posted by: Atom at April 20, 2006 4:47 PM

The short answer is, they rather proved the point - you shoot at the king, you gotta kill him. There's six more games with Atlanta between now and May 7, at which point of of the two teams is going to be in the driver's seat.

The injuries to Chipper and Renteria created an opportunity for the Mets to play with an imbalance - the injuries to Beltran and Floyd gave that advantage right back.

Posted by: The Crank at April 20, 2006 4:52 PM

Damn Braves.

Posted by: Mike at April 20, 2006 4:55 PM

Brian - I don't contest that Andruw has bigger totals than Beltran, but I do think Beltran has been better some seasons and will be better in his 30s. BTW, if Beltran had been with the Mets his whole career he'd be the team's all-time leader in Runs, 2d in RBI and Steals, and 3d in HR.

Posted by: The Crank at April 20, 2006 4:57 PM

I would think Renteria being out would be an advantage for the Braves.

Posted by: jim at April 20, 2006 6:17 PM

As the resident Braves fan, I'd say that I'd give it a toss-up between Beltran & Jones. The free-agent Beltran (what a coincidence, these guys are great in the last season of their contract) he looked like a perrennial candidate for 40-40 while Jones looked more like Tom Brunansky at the plate and Willie Mays in CF.

Then, Andrew bought his own batting cage at the end of '04 and for the first time worked on his hitting in the off season and ordered tapes of great hitters so he could study their approach. If you'll look closely, his stance now looks a lot like the person whom he studied the most: Albert Pujols. That could explain why he's continuing last season's torrid pace - the fellow finally learned how to hit.

I guess it depends on what you're looking for: Beltran will have a bit higher average, Andrew will hit more homers. Beltran will steal many more bases, Andrew will be the dominant outfielder.

Posted by: RW at April 20, 2006 9:20 PM

Sorry, thats "Andruw". I have family members that spell it the other way & it's still a habit (I sometimes mess it up while doing the stats for my league).

Posted by: RW at April 20, 2006 9:22 PM

As a Met fan I've been disappointed with Beltran. If figured him as a .275, 23hr hitter at Big Shea, and as a downgrade from Cameron defensively. I loved the fact that he played thru pain after the Cameron collision, and a genuinely like the guy. Hate the fact that fans have Kaz'd him. That said I thought his reaction to the boys has been very small town. He should not have taken the bow, and should have kept his mouth shut. Fans are often wrong, but bitching at the people who pay your bills is poor form.

Posted by: abe at April 20, 2006 9:40 PM

Sorry, "As a Met fan I've been disappointed with Beltran," should read "I have NOT been."

Posted by: abe at April 20, 2006 9:43 PM

Additionally "a" should be an "I" and "boys" should be "boos." Abe overstayed his welcome at happy hour. Apologies for the sloppiness.

Posted by: abe at April 20, 2006 9:47 PM

How much of his salary did Julio Franco earn last night? I mean seriously.

Posted by: jim at April 21, 2006 11:42 AM

I think Mark Buerhle has to be on that list somewhere. He's still young and been of the top pitchers in baseball for five years. If Brandon Webb makes the cut how do you leave Buerhle off?

Posted by: cml at April 21, 2006 4:16 PM
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