Before we get into the rankings, let me put in a little disclaimer. These are extremely preliminary rankings for 2012 (prior to my projections being done) and have a lot of room for movement as the offseason progresses. They are done just on the surface, so as you look at them keep that in mind (and all numbers are prior to yesterday’s game):
- Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
- Adrian Gonzalez – Boston Red Sox
- Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers
- Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds
- Prince Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers
- Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees
- Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies
- Paul Konerko – Chicago White Sox
- Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals
- Mike Morse – Washington Nationals
- Prince Fielder’s placement on these rankings should be considered significantly “in flux” based upon where he lands in the offseason. It’s just hard to argue against the numbers. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. He “faded” in the second half, hitting just 13 HR in 243 AB (he hit 22 in 320 in the first half). Of course, he went off last night, skewing these numbers. He also has a history of having big years followed by disappointing ones. Just something to think about, though he is a lock to be a Top 5 option regardless.
- Looking at Adrian Gonzalez vs. Miguel Cabrera is like splitting hairs. Gonzalez gets the slight edge, due to hitting in a better lineup, but you really cannot go wrong with either option.
- Yes, Mark Teixeira continues to produce in the power department, but what has happened to his average? Not only is he not a potential .300 hitter, but since joining the Yankees he’s not even a potential .275 hitter. This season was spoiled by a lot of poor luck (.238 BABIP), but the numbers do indicate that he’s changed his approach at the plate. Since joining the Yankees his fly ball rates have been 43.8%, 45.5% and 46.6%. Prior to that he was never above 40.9%. He’s clearly trying to hit for power, whether it is due to his home ballpark or the pressure of living up to the contract he signed. Regardless of the reason, he needs to be valued appropriately. Without the ability to hit for an impressive average, he’s going to fall outside of the Top 5 regardless of how many HR he hits.
- As a 21-year old rookie, Hosmer proved that he could hit in the Major Leagues (14.4% strikeout rate & .316 BABIP led to his .295 average). Once he learns to get the ball into the air a little bit more (he has a 50.3% groundball rate), the sky could be the limit. He’s not there yet, and he may not fully reach his potential in 2012, but there is no questioning that the talent is there.
- The final two spots on this list could go a number of ways. Outside of the two guys I placed here, Adam Lind, Freddie Freeman, Mark Trumbo and a few others could be considered. That’s not to mention players like Victor Martinez and Michael Young who offer more potential at other positions (and have therefore been left off the list for now). Let’s also not forget about potential bounce back candidates like Kendrys Morales and Adam Dunn. Once again, this is clearly the deepest position in the game.
Make sure to check out our other Preliminary 2012 Rankings: