April 3, 2011

Posnanski: The 32 Best Players in Baseball for 2011

Joe's "11,000-word monstrosity" will be posted to SI's website tomorrow, but he's included an early link on his blog.
I'm not considering seasons beyond. I'm not thinking about who is best to build my team around in 2014. Everything is built around 2011. ...

Now, "best year" is subjective, of course. Even non-regular readers by now know that I put almost no weight on wins or RBIs or batting average. I try my best to judge players by how much they help their teams win, and that includes offense, defense, pitching, base running, context and whatever else comes to mind.
There are four Red Sox on his list: Nos. 26, 22, 19, and 3.

About that #3 guy. Here are his stats*:
      AVG  OBP  SLG    OPS
2006 .311/.378/.527   .905  44 doubles  28 HR  108 RS   88 RBI
2007 .295/.358/.570   .928  64 doubles  40 HR  114 RS  128 RBI
2008 .308/.368/.578   .946  40 doubles  44 HR  126 RS  140 RBI
2009 .306/.402/.643  1.045  30 doubles  56 HR  118 RS  126 RBI
2010 .315/.402/.578   .980  42 doubles  40 HR   92 RS  118 RBI
* Actually, those are his stats if you doubled his road numbers for each season.

There should be no surprise about who tops the list. Pos:
Albert Pujols has a chance to be known as the greatest player in the history of baseball. ... [T]hrough age 30 he has more homers than Babe Ruth, more hits than Pete Rose, more RBIs than Hank Aaron, more runs than Rickey Henderson did at the same age. ...

Pujols' consistent brilliance is so staggering and mind-numbing ... that if you took his worst season* and multiplied it by 10, you'd have a first ballot, 90% elected, Hall of Famer.

* Would that be 2002? That year he only hit .314 with 34 homers, 127 RBIs and 118 runs scored.
Andy at the Baseball Reference Blog asks:
How often does neither starting pitcher get a decision?
This is an interesting question since far too many people -- including members of the media who should (and sometimes clearly do) know better -- look at a pitcher's won-loss record as a barometer of success. Of the 2,430 regular season games played in 2010:
Both starters get decisions      1,629      67.0%
Both starters get no-decision      570      23.5%
Only one starter gets a decision   231       9.5%
Flip Flop Fly Ball:
Be warned: you can't un-see the horror.

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