The Mapes Top 20 Right Now, Part Three
We’re halfway there! It’s time to see who cracks the top 10 on my best MLB players right now list! If you’d like to go back and see who else made the list so far here’s 20-16 and 15-11! Onward to the top ten!
#10, David Price, Tampa Bay Rays (MLB Network’s #12)
No better place to start my top ten than with the defending AL Cy Young award winner. Price led the junior circuit in both wins and ERA last season while keeping the Rays in the playoff race. I personally had a different pitcher (who we’ll eventually get to on this list) as my Cy Young winner, but Price still deserves his due. Price has a great fastball and an impressive slider that keeps hitters off balance and is even more valuable as a southpaw. I can’t wait to see him improve as he enters his prime.
#9, Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners (MLB Network’s #7)
I have no qualms with the ranking that King Felix received from MLB Network, but I have him a smidgen lower because I prefer the upcoming hitters. Hernandez is the workhorse you want anchoring your pitching staff as he’s racked up 232+ innings in each of the past four seasons with great numbers. None of those seasons is more impressive than in 2010 where he led the American League in batters faced AND earned run average. The King has almost done it all, a perfect game, a Cy Young award, but we’d all love to see him take the bump in a playoff series and put himself against the best of the best.
#8, Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds (MLB Network’s #9)
Canada’s favorite baseball son has led the National League in on-base percentage each of the last three seasons. Here’s the list of players that have led their league in OBP three straight years since 1946: Ted Williams, Joe Morgan, Mike Schmidt, Wade Boggs, and Barry Bonds. That’s a pretty nice list to be on. Votto has an MVP under his belt and also is a plus defender at first base. Votto missed 51 games last season and still led the NL in walks, that’s how good of an eye he has. The Reds were smart to lock him up into the next decade.
#7, Robinson Cano, New York Yankees (MLB Network’s #8)
Cano is the best second baseman in the game today. He’s durable (hasn’t missed more than three games since 2007), consistent (25+ HR, 40+ doubles, and .300 batting average each of the past four seasons), and a great defender (Gold Gloves in two of the past three seasons). If it wasn’t for his double play cohort Derek Jeter, Cano would be the face of most popular team in the Majors. If the Yankees are smart, they’d make sure they lock Cano up to an extension sooner, rather than later.
#6, Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB Network’s #5)
This is where we’re REALLY starting to split hairs. There’s a case to be made that Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game right now. I still can’t believe that at this moment he’s still only 24 years-old and already has a Cy Young award, a Cy Young runner-up, two ERA titles, a strikeout crown, and a Gold Glove under his belt. Let’s play a ridiculous list that a current player is on! Here’s the list of pitchers who led their league in ERA and WHIP in back-to-back seasons since 1941: Pedro Martinez (2002-03), Greg Maddux (1993-95) , Sandy Koufax (1962-65), and Clayton Kershaw (2011-2012). That’s just insane. Did I mention he’s only 24?
I’m going to need time to recuperate from that Kershaw statistic and I’m already regretting not having him higher. Who could I possibly have ahead of Kershaw? Check in tomorrow to find out! Have some predictions? Let me know in the comments or tweet me using the link below with #MapesRightNow!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)