The 2013 Top 100 Players In Baseball, Part 1


It’s spring training, and it’s time to break in the season with the greatest debate in any sport: Who’s the best at it? And in the case of Major League Baseball, which has the longest marathon to crowning its champ, there are a lot of players to consider.

Who’s truly trending up, holding their places and standing among the rest in the game of baseball right now? This week, I’ll be working my way from the 100th best down to who is the best of all 750 players from all 30 MLB clubs today. The challenge is justifying and explaining it all along the way. The point is to determine the best player in baseball, not who had the best season or best career currently. It’s about finding the balance between statistics, talent, performance, consistency and potential impact on the upcoming year as well. Not an easy task, but I’m going for it.

We will get to breakdowns by position, who’s taken the biggest steps forward, and backward, as well as which teams have the most representation on this countdown as the week goes on, but for now … let’s get to it: the top 100 players in baseball for 2013.


100. Allen Craig - First Base - St. Louis Cardinals: After returning from a knee injury in early May, Craig went on a tear. He hit .400 with runners in scoring position for the season and added 35 doubles while driving in 92 runs in 119 games.

99. Miguel Montero - Catcher - Arizona Diamondbacks: The D’Backs backstop is one of the more underrated catchers in the game. He set career highs in batting average (.286), RBI (88) and on-base percentage (.391, third best in the National League) last summer.

98. Chase Utley - Second Base - Philadelphia Phillies: Utley proved he may have finally shaken off knee woes that had slowed him since 2010. The five-time all-star put up nearly identical 2012 totals as he did in 2011, only in 20 fewer games.

97. Victor Martinez - Designated Hitter - Detroit Tigers: V-Mart will return from an ACL injury that sidelined him for the Tigers' entire 2012 season. A .303 career hitter who drove in 103 runs in 2011, he will join with the Cabrera-Fielder duo to form potentially the best heart of any lineup in baseball.

96. Dan Haren - Pitcher - Washington Nationals: There were few workhorses who have pulled a heavier load than him, but it caught up a year ago. The six-time winner of 14 games or more wore down in Anaheim last summer and couldn’t be himself. Now well-rested and back in the National League, he’ll be a part of the best rotation in baseball.

95. Andre Ethier - Right Field - Los Angeles Dodgers: The ever-steady right fielder was nearly headed out of town last winter, but his staying put is an underrated part of the potential ceiling for the high-rolling Dodgers. He’ll get a lot to hit in front of Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp this year.

94. Madison Bumgarner - Pitcher - San Francisco Giants: The tall lefty has had two solid seasons back-to-back to justify his 2010 World Series hype. With a deceptive change-up and command of the strike zone, he’s struck out 191 batters each of the last two years, while tallying 16 wins a year ago.

93. Josh Willingham - Left Field - Minnesota Twins: He’s quietly been one of the most consistent power threats in baseball the last seven years. The biggest value signing of last season, Willingham took his game to a new level in Minneapolis, setting career highs in seven different categories, including home runs (35) and RBI (110).

92. Brian McCann - Catcher - Atlanta Braves: Injuries really zapped a lot of his output in 2012, but a return to consistent health will take the Braves lineup from really good to up and down dangerous. Has topped 20 home runs for the last five years; no other full-time catcher has more than two consecutive years of doing so.

91. Shin-Soo Choo - Center Field - Cincinnati Reds: Walt Jocketty knew he had a problem at the top of his lineup and made a strong move to fix it. Making it around the horn isn’t an issue for Choo: He has a .381 career on-base percentage. If his shift to center field goes well, he could change the game in Cincy.

90. B.J. Upton - Center Field - Atlanta Braves: He’s the perfect fit for the Braves: He has the wheels to roam the spacious Atlanta outfield and is capable of hitting anywhere from two to six in the lineup. The strikeouts could stay high, but the payout overall will be too.

89. David Ortiz - Designated Hitter - Boston Red Sox: Papi just keeps going. He’s starting to hit the level where’s a candidate for the best DH of all-time, which will make his complicated Hall of Fame case even more interesting. Despite only playing 90 games last summer, he still topped 20 homers and hit .318.

88. Edwin Encarnacion - First Base - Toronto Blue Jays: The late-blooming pop of Encarnacion’s career the last two years has gone widely unnoticed. Not many people would guess he was second in the AL in homers last year, or that he has popped a total of 59 over the last two years.

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

87. Josh Johnson - Pitcher - Toronto Blue Jays: Over the past three seasons, his ERA has been a miniscule 2.99, and it should go much further with the run support he’ll garner with the move to Canada. He’s entering his walk year with a chance to get one of the biggest deals in baseball next winter.

86. Jim Johnson - Pitcher - Baltimore Orioles: In his first full year as a closer, Johnson made as big a difference as any team’s ninth-inning guy did. He closed out 51 games and was the door slammer for the Orioles record-setting ninth-inning (or later) efforts. He finished 94% of his save opportunities and had a ridiculously low 15 walks.

85. Kris Medlen - Pitcher - Atlanta Braves: This could scream “too soon,” but what Medlen did last year was nothing short of amazing. Finally breaking into the rotation, he only worked up a 53-inning scoreless streak, and the Braves won a record 23 consecutive starts of his. All in all, he had a 1.57 ERA and 10 wins in just over half of a season.

84. Jimmy Rollins - Shortstop - Philadelphia Phillies: You’ve got to admire what J-Roll has been able to do, fighting through injury while he keeps putting up numbers. Last year, he put up 33 doubles, 23 homers, stole 30 bases and collected a Gold Glove.

83. Mark Trumbo - Left Field - Los Angeles Angels: The Home Run Derby put on display what’s been clear to those that have been watching him for the last two years: He’s got as much pure rip in his swing as anybody. He pulled up his batting average, home runs, RBI and, most importantly, on-base percentage in year two.

82. Yu Darvish - Pitcher - Texas Rangers: The much-heralded Darvish showed the hype was reality in year one. He struck out over 10 batters per nine innings for a total of 241. Despite some control woes, he won 16 games and gives Texas a much-needed, long-term top-of-the-rotation arm.

81. Matt Wieters - Catcher - Baltimore Orioles: The former uber-prospect really came into his own last season. He solidified his role as one of the best defensive catchers in either league, taking home is second Gold Glove. He also topped 20 home runs for the second straight season.

80. C.J. Wilson - Pitcher - Los Angeles Angels: He was lights out in the first half, putting up nine wins with a 2.43 ERA to support it. But a second-half cave-in, followed by an injury-shortened year, took him out of play early. If healthy, he’ll easily re-establish himself as one of the best #2’s in baseball.

79. Tim Hudson - Pitcher - Atlanta Braves: The Braves' steady yet sure ace had another solid year in 2012, notching at least 16 wins for the third consecutive season. He has the third most wins of any active pitcher, and with his third of 2013, he’ll hit the 200 mark for his career.

78. Fernando Rodney - Pitcher - Tampa Bay Rays: Call it what it is, but he had one of the most dominant seasons any reliever ever put together last season. He posted a 0.60 ERA, surrendering nine earned runs on the year. His history indicates there is a chance of the Jose Valverde effect, but until it happens, can’t count him out.

77. Aramis Ramirez - Third Base - Milwaukee Brewers: Aramis made the transition to the post-Fielder days in Milwaukee much more bearable and insured Ryan Braun would still be pitched to. His 50 doubles led the NL last year and gave Milwaukee's woeful defense a much-needed boost on the hot corner as well.

76. Yoenis Cespedes - Outfielder - Oakland A’s: It didn’t take long to realize that the grainy footage of him destroying baseballs and bath paths not only was legit, but translated very well. The AL Rookie of the Year runner-up hit 28 homers, stole 16 bags and hit .292 on the year.

75. … See ya Tuesday.

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