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A look at the AL playoffs' top 50 players

Posted by David D'Onofrio  October 2, 2013 12:00 PM

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Collectively the Red Sox finished the regular season as the American League's best team -- but how do their players rank individually among those who'll compete for the AL pennant? Here's one take on the 50 best players in the junior circuit, and a look at some of the names that may appear prominently as the league begins its playoffs with Wednesday's wild-card game in Cleveland.

PLAYERTEAMWAR*COMMENT
1Miguel CabreraDET7.2September slump or not, you never want to face him.
2Max ScherzerDET6.7A 21-3 record only begins to tell story of his season.
3Dustin PedroiaBOS6.5Whatever it takes to win a game, he can do it.
4Josh DonaldsonOAK8.0Most underrated player in the playoffs.
5Evan LongoriaTB6.3As he goes, so will Tampa’s offense.
6Jacoby EllsburyBOS5.8Sox were 52-16 when their catalyst scored a run.
7Jason KipnisCLE5.8The AL’s best second sacker not named Cano or Pedroia.
8Anibal SanchezDET6.3The league’s ERA champ has potential to dominate.
9Ben ZobristTB5.1He does everything – and everything well.
10David OrtizBOS4.4He’s the second-best hitter in the playoffs.
11Bartolo ColonOAK5.1Defying all logic, he appears to be a legitimate ace.
12Carlos SantanaCLE4.4Only Mike Trout walked more among AL hitters.
13David PriceTB2.7Game 163 proved why he should be feared.
14Koji UeharaBOS3.6The AL’s best closer gives Boston a big edge late.
15Jon LesterBOS3.0He’s earned the opportunity to start Game 1.
16Justin VerlanderDET4.6Not the same guy, but still a big weapon for the Tigers.
17Ubaldo JimenezCLE2.7A 1.82 ERA since the break, he's been ace-like.
18Clay BuchholzBOS4.3May not be 100%, but knows how to battle.
19Wil MyersTB2.0The rookie has a bat to be reckoned with.
20Shane VictorinoBOS6.1His WAR total speaks to his excellence this season.
21Alex CobbTB4.0The Rays are confident with him pitching Wednesday.
22Justin MastersonCLE3.4Health is the question, but could be big key out of 'pen.
23Prince FielderDET1.7An average year, but still a threat every time up.
24Matt MooreTB2.6Despite command issues, still has great stuff.
25Mike NapoliBOS4.1Sox fans hope he can replicate his heroic 2011 playoff.
26Coco CrispOAK4.3One of two AL hitters with 20+ HRs and 15+ SBs (Trout).
27Doug FisterDET4.1This gives Detroit four starting pitchers in this list’s top 27.
28Austin JacksonDET3.4A terrific CFer and a decent leadoff man.
29Yunel EscobarTB3.3A good two-way player who could be even better.
30Jarrod SaltalamacchiaBOS2.9He’s established himself as a rock with the Red Sox.
31Brandon MossOAK2.2He’s a bad defender, but 30 HRs isn’t insignificant.
32Omar InfanteDET2.4Had he enough ABs, would've had AL's 4th-best average.
33Yoenis CespedesOAK1.7Still fighting injuries, he might not be full strength.
34Yan GomesCLE4.0He’s a good-hitting, surprisingly-good-fielding catcher.
35Grant BalfourTB1.9He’s 38 for 41 in save situations.
36Joaquin BenoitDET2.8Settled an uncertain bullpen by saving 24 of 26 chances.
37Jed LowrieOAK2.3Finished second in the AL with 45 doubles.
38Daniel NavaBOS2.9Ranked 8th in batting, 5th in OBP AL-wide.
39Victor MartinezDET1.2Still sees the ball and handles the bat really well.
40Nick SwisherCLE3.8Power and a flair for the dramatic are a dangerous combo.
41Michael BournCLE2.4If he’s healthy, he can make an impact with his legs.
42John LackeyBOS2.8A 4.35 ERA since the All-Star break prompts questions.
43Michael BrantleyCLE2.7Decent generally, he was tremendous in September.
44Torii HunterDET2.1Not the star of yesteryear, but still delivered .304/17/84.
45James LoneyTB2.7A consistent year finished with a .299 average.
46Sonny GrayOAK1.4Called up in August, struck out 67 over 64 innings.
47Drew SmylyDET2.6The lefty with 21 holds has been big on bridge to Benoit.
48Craig BreslowTB1.6If all is equal, he's earned the 8th inning for the Sox.
49Ryan CookOAK1.4A’s primary setup man had a 2.54 ERA and 23 holds.
50Fernando RodneyTB0.5Had 37 adventurous saves, blowing just one after Aug. 9.
*Wins above replacement (WAR) calculations according to Baseball-Reference.com.
This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Dave D'Onofrio is a sports journalist who focuses on the Red Sox and Patriots, and also writes Boston.com's "Off The Field" blog about what Boston's sportsmen do away from the More »

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