Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

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    Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    By Kirk Minihane/WEEI
    This idea was triggered while watching Adrian Gonzalez on Sunday night against the Cubs. Gonzalez went 4-for-4 in the game to move his average up to .342 on the season. It was after his final at-bat that I began to wonder if I was looking at the best hitter in baseball.

    Sounds hyperbolic at first, no? But then I thought about it and realized that -- on May 22, 2011 -- there was no hitter that was a no-brainer pick over Gonzalez. 

    So I decided to dig a little deeper (never forget that you are dealing with a hell of a bloodhound), putting together a list of what I thought were the 50 best hitters in the game today. That group was eventually knocked down to 10, and in true WEEI.com fashion are listed here for your enjoyment/aggravation/way to kill 15 minutes on the throne.

    To the list we go ...

    10. Ryan Braun

    As much as I like Prince Fielder, if the Brewers were indeed stuck in a Sophie's Choice spot they picked the right guy to lock up for the next decade. Quick, name me a great 280-pound hitter in his mid-30's (Cecil Fielder -- I think a pretty good test case -- was done as a true impact player by age 32). Braun, who already has three .300 seasons, three 30 HR seasons and three 100-RBI seasons in his first four years, just doesn't walk enough for me -- averages 54 a season -- to be considered a real candidate for the title of Best Hitter in Baseball.


    9. Kevin Youkilis 

    Look, he's never going to hit 40 homers, or knock in 130 runs. If you just glance at his baseball-reference page nothing jumps out and demands that you take him seriously as a truly great hitter. In his career he has led the league in exactly one category -- sacrifice flies in 2006 (11). But Youkilis is a guy who came along at the right time. Unlike, say, a Bobby Grich or Darrell Evans, Youkilis puts up his .400 OBP and and .950 OPS in a time where that means at as much to most baseball folks as .300/30/100 meant 20 years ago. He's on pace for 114 walks this season, which would be most by a Sox player since Wade Boggs in 1988 (125).


    8. Joey Votto

    Votto may never have a season that matches 2010 (.600 slugging percentage is 45 points higher than his career total), but that's OK, just like it's OK that Dustin Pedroia will never be as good as he was in 2008. Votto was still a hugely productive player before last season. Maybe he doesn't hit 37 homers again -- his previous high was 25 and he's on pace for 21 this season -- but he walks a ton (91 last year, on pace for 127 this year) and is a career .315 hitter. 


    7. Prince Fielder

    At some point, the money wasted on John Lackey and Carl Crawford (overpaid by half, let's not forget that the Sox were bidding against themselves) has to catch up, right? There will be a free agent (or trade possibility) that the Sox just won't be able to swing simply based on payroll. With Gonzalez already in the fold, I wonder if the Sox would cough up $150 million for Fielder to DH (I suspect they might), but I have to think another monster contract is probably off the table for the next couple of years. 


    6. Matt Holliday

    There was always an idea that Holliday might be a product of Coors Field -- not unfair, his career OPS was 1.051 at Colorado, .867 on the road during his career with the Rockies -- but he's been an even better hitter since joining the Cardinals (after a 93-game stop in Oakland), putting up a line of .328/.404/.553 in his 261 games (his career line with the Rockies was .319/.386/.552 in 698 games). He's off to another terrific start in 2011 -- third in slugging, third in OBP, first in batting average -- and looks like a solid bet to win his fifth Silver Slugger award (which is kind of like winning five People's Choice Awards, I guess).


    5. Josh Hamilton

    Wouldn't be surprised if he was winning his third MVP in 2016, wouldn't be surprised if he was out of baseball in 2016. 


    4. Jose Bautista

    I'm sorry, it's hard for me to look at Bautista's career numbers before and after 2010 and not come to the conclusion that something else other than adjustments in his batting stance and a new attitude might be the reason he's hitting home runs at this pace. Total baseball McCarthyism, I understand, but this is the real world. But the facts are the facts: The guy has hit 73 home runs since the beginning of the 2010 season and no one else has more than 49 (Paul Konerko).


    3. Adrian Gonzalez

    When I compared the Red Sox and Yankees position-by-position before the season started, I gave the Sox a major edge at first base and wrote the following as the reason why Gonzalez was the easy choice over Mark Teixeira:

    Gonzalez: 308 at-bats, 20 HRs, 59 RBI, .315 BA, .980 OPS

    Teixeira: 309 at-bats, 14 HRs, 44 RBI, .227 BA, .728 OPS

    Too small a sample size? How about the career road numbers?

    Gonzalez: .303 BA, .376 OBP, .568 slugging

    Teixeira: .267 BA, .363 OBP, .489 slugging

    Gonzalez has played in a hideous hitter's park during his career, stuck in the middle of a lineup filled with Tadahito Iguchi's and Jody Gerut's and Chase Headley's. In 2009 Adrian Gonzalez led the National League with 119 walks, finished fifth with 40 homers and fifth with an OPS of .958. He did all this for a Padres team that finished second-to-last in the NL in runs scored. No regular (other than Gonzalez) had a slugging percentage that even equaled the league average.

    We're not spending a lot of time talking about Gonzalez's shoulder now, but the rest seems about right. This was a guy buried in Petco Park. Now that he's out and we've seen him for a couple of months I think everything -- including a Triple Crown -- is a possibility.


    2. Miguel Cabrera

    The most similar hitter to Cabrera, ages 22-24, was Hank Aaron. From 25-26 it was Ken Griffey, Jr. Age 27, Frank Robinson. Since 2005 he has finished sixth, fourth, ninth, ninth, fifth and second in OPS (he's third in 2011) and no worse than ninth in RBI in that same span. There are some legitimate demons going on in his life, it seems, so it's hard to predict how this is going to turn out. But there is no question that we are looking at a potential 600-HR, 3,000-hit kind of player in Cabrera, who should be just entering his prime.



    1. Albert Pujols

    Slow start, but come on. This is still the standard. Fourth all-time in slugging, fifth in OPS, seventh in OPS+ (behind Ruth, Williams, Bonds, Gehrig, Hornsby and Mantle -- no other active player is in the top 40). Only Bonds and Musial have more career MVP shares. When his career is over, this will be one of the half-dozen best hitters in the history of the game, and he's just 31 years old. 

    (And I still think he ends up with the Yankees next year. Call it 10 years, $280 million.)

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from SoxSoldRed. Show SoxSoldRed's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    Why are Jed and Ells missing from this list?
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from StatsFromLouie. Show StatsFromLouie's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    Where is Matt Kemp, Bill Hall, Julio Lugo, and Coco Crisp?
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from spongeB. Show spongeB's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    what about Nava, he looked awsome this year and I expected great things from him this year...........is he on the roster or did they send him back down to the minors?
     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from fivekatz. Show fivekatz's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    what about Nava, he looked awsome this year and I expected great things from him this year...........is he on the roster or did they send him back down to the minors?
    Posted by spongeB
    He was designated for assignment. Even though he was in AAA he was on the 40 man roster and they had to make room on it for other players.

    Daniel Nava's career highlight was the first pitch he got in MLB (grand slam on national TV). He was exposed after the first 100 PAs. LH ate him up and his fielding was very much on a par with the former #24 whose name is no longer mentioned.
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from redsoxdirtdog. Show redsoxdirtdog's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    Why are Jed and Ells missing from this list?
    Posted by SoxSoldRed


    Perseverate much!!!!!!

    Dude, you need a new act!!!!

    Just admit you are so wrong about Ells. & Lowrie, especially with respect to hitting, & move on....

    Do you just like looking foolish?
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from StatsFromLouie. Show StatsFromLouie's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list? : He was designated for assignment. Even though he was in AAA he was on the 40 man roster and they had to make room on it for other players. Daniel Nava's career highlight was the first pitch he got in MLB (grand slam on national TV). He was exposed after the first 100 PAs. LH ate him up and his fielding was very much on a par with the former #24 whose name is no longer mentioned.
    Posted by fivekatz

    Yeah, Dwight Evans was overrated.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from garyhow. Show garyhow's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    R.Cano/ Carlos Gonzalez/ Evan Longoria/ Ichiro/ Joe Mauer off top of my head also should be considered.
     
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    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    Why are Jed and Ells missing from this list?
    Posted by SoxSoldRed


    SoldRed,

    Since you can't seem to help yourself, & constantly inject these two into every discussion......  Let's try a bit of logic, if you can follow.....

    You come up with a "THESIS" that these two are SUB PAR hitters before the season begins!

    Most Sox fans disagree, & contend that they are well above average hitters.....

    As the season progresses, both players prove you wrong day in & day out!

    You change the subject, & pretend that EVERYONE said that they are both GREAT hitters....  (You like setting up "straw man arguments, as they are generally the only arguments you can win in your own mind).....  Setting yourself up for a defensible argument.....

    Is either player a GREAT HITTER?  Probably not!  However both are performing WELL ABOVE YOUR PREDICTIONS!!!!!!!

    You can't stand being PROVEN WRONG!!!!!

    You keep changing the argument and the metric by which you can measure YOUR PREDICTION!!

    Your argument is specious!

    When considering YOUR ORIGINAL ARGUMENT, you are CLEARLY WRONG!!!!

    You can't handle being WRONG, so you continue to change the subject & pretend that you have always been making the argument that these two are NOT ELITE HITTERS!

    Doesn't that sound just a little pathetic??????

    You're like the little 4th grader playing "PIG" in the neighborhood.....  "You made it, but you didn't swoosh it....  I swooshed it, so you have to!"  BUT, "you didn't call swoosh!" Say the other kids.  "That's what I meant!"  You squeal.....
    AND you keep right on squealing all day long....... 
     
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    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    R.Cano/ Carlos Gonzalez/ Evan Longoria/ Ichiro/ Joe Mauer off top of my head also should be considered.
    Posted by garyhow


    Agreed, but today I wouldn't put any of them ahead of any of the guys on the list.  A couple years ago I think Mauer and Ichiro would have needed to be on the list, but not anymore for different reasons.

    Longoria could have the strongest case for being on the list right now, but who do you bump off?
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from StatsFromLouie. Show StatsFromLouie's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list? : Agreed, but today I wouldn't put any of them ahead of any of the guys on the list.  A couple years ago I think Mauer and Ichiro would have needed to be on the list, but not anymore for different reasons. Longoria could have the strongest case for being on the list right now, but who do you bump off?
    Posted by JB-3

    Bautista, Fielder, Youkilis. Bautista has been amazing, but only for a season and a quarter. Pujols is number one for what he's done this decade, not his performance this season, so I think career numbers should be looked at for everyone. Fielder hits HRs with an acceptable average, slightly better than Adam Dunn from the past decade. Not top ten to me. Youkilis is solid, but again not top ten.
     
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    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    Why are Jed and Ells missing from this list?
    Posted by SoxSoldRed


    Softlaw, Did Jed and Ells do a twosome on your wife or girlfriend? You sure do hate them like they stole something from you.
     
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    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    R.Cano/ Carlos Gonzalez/ Evan Longoria/ Ichiro/ Joe Mauer off top of my head also should be considered.
    Posted by garyhow


    Cano is kind of having a down year so far.  I guess Gonzalez isn't proven yet.  Longoria is on the outside of that list looking in IMO... Ichiro's age seems to be catching up with him a bit.  Joe Mauer is overrated and always hurt.

    On that list, I would bump Hamilton down a bit due to injury history.  You could maybe throw Teixeira on over Youkilis.  Youkilis is the better pure hitter but Teixeira as more pop and run production.

    Overall, I give that list the nod.  When you actually think about it, there are really only 15 hitters or so that you can put in an elite class right now.  With pitching up and steroids down, we are starting to see separation.
     
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    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_05_21_chnmlb_bosmlb_1&mode=wrap&c_id=mlb#continue

    Lowrie v. RHP (most pitchers are RHP) BA .242 OBP .311 SLG .330

    26 K's to 9 BB

    Lowrie is weaker v. RHP than I projected, and much worse in the field. Watch the belly flop clip and the clip where he drops an infield pop-up and then throws the ball away, for two errors on one play.
     
    Bellsbury's OBP has falled to .347, around his career average, and his BA has fallen into the .280's. He has a ways to go to catch the great 142M man, Carl Crawbust.
     
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    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    In Response to Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?:
    http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2011_05_21_chnmlb_bosmlb_1&mode=wrap&c_id=mlb#continue Lowrie v. RHP (most pitchers are RHP) BA .242 OBP .311 SLG .330 26 K's to 9 BB Lowrie is weaker v. RHP than I projected, and much worse in the field. Watch the belly flop clip and the clip where he drops an infield pop-up and then throws the ball away, for two errors on one play.   Bellsbury's OBP has falled to .347, around his career average, and his BA has fallen into the .280's. He has a ways to go to catch the great 142M man, Carl Crawbust.
    Posted by SoxSoldRed


    So what say you Softdick, shall we bring back Julio Lugo? How about Don Buddin? Not sure if he is alive but I am sure you would think he is better than Lowrie, alive or dead. Get a life.
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from southpaw777. Show southpaw777's posts

    Re: Ranking the top 10 hitters in the game today-Do you agree with this list?

    Im Ok with that list. could be a couple moves ,but its good as it is... Another useless softskull comment that has nothing to do with the thread..Boy, you really must have got the the crap knocked out of you a lot growing up..Your the toughest guy i ever met behind a keyboard..not annoying at all..just...pathetic..
     
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