With last week’s re-ranking of the American League’s best offensive players completed, this week we go to the National League. Below are the best 10 offensive threats in the senior circuit and right below each player is who we projected at that spot before the season began. Statistics are through Sunday’s games.
10. Jason Kubel, Arizona Diamondbacks; 2012 Offensive stats: .300/.372/.585 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging,) 21 home runs, 71 RBIs, 50 runs scored, 37/90 walks/strikeouts, 1/2 steals/attempts—Kubel has always had some power but is on pace to easily outdistance his previous best of 28 home runs in 2009. He’s especially been on fire of late with 17 home runs and 47 RBIs since June 5.
We had: Hunter Pence who is not too far off from this list, hitting at slightly above average .271 but with 17 home runs and 57 RBIs.
9. Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals; 2012 Offensive stats: .292/.371/.529, 21 home runs, 69 RBIs, 54 runs scored, 42/65 walks/strikeouts, 9/13 steals/attempts—Five-tool star Carlos Beltran, who signed with St. Louis after three-time MVP Albert Pujols bolted for Los Angeles, has been able to be a viable replacement, ranking third in home runs and second in RBIs. Beltran and Kubel have similar stats though Carlos gets the nod with his speed and prowess on the base paths, even at age 35.
We had: David Wright. See below at No. 2.
8. Melky Cabrera, San Francisco Giants; 2012 Offensive stats: .356/.400/.534, 10 home runs, 49 RBIs, 64 runs scored, 29/50 walks/strikeouts, 10/15 steals/attempts—Cabrera’s output this year proves last season in Kansas City (.305, 18 home runs, 87 RBIs) was no fluke. Though he has less power than Beltran his superior average as well as the fact that he hits in a pitcher’s park gives him the slight edge here.
We had: Pablo Sandoval who has missed 35 games this season, though has hit a respectable .296 with 8 home runs and 32 RBIs when he’s been in the lineup.
7. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals; 2012 Offensive stats: .321/.402/.533, 16 home runs, 63 RBIs, 61 runs scored, 46/73 walks/strikeouts, 4/6 steals/attempts—Holliday was off this list entirely after hitting just .215 in April but has been on fire ever since with a .359 average since the beginning of May. The 32-year-old gets the slight edge over Cabrera here with only his recent hot streak projecting him to move up the list.
We had: Matt Holliday.
6. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies; 2012 Offensive stats: .330/.392/.580, 19 home runs, 66 RBIs, 65 runs scored, 36/80 walks/strikeouts, 14/15 steals/attempts—Gonzalez has quietly put up another big season with the Rockies. Though his hitting numbers are very close to that of ex-Rockie Holliday, especially when you factor in park conditions, Gonzalez has been much more of a threat on the bases.
We had: Jose Reyes, who despite being an even bigger threat on the bases, is hitting just .268. This after leading the league last season with a .337 batting average and 16 triples.
5. Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies; 2012 Offensive stats: .346/.409/.578, 14 home runs, 51 RBIs, 45 runs scored, 19/40 walks/strikeouts, 3/3 steals/attempts—The surprising Ruiz has hit at least .300 in every month this season and done his damage in the Philadelphia lineup despite little help around him. He gets the slight nod over Gonzalez with the better average in a much tougher environment.
We had: Carlos Gonzalez.
4. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers; 2012 Offensive stats: .309/.391/.596, 26 home runs, 65 RBIs, 61 runs scored, 38/75 walks/strikeouts, 16/21 steals/attempts—The reigning MVP Braun has picked up right where he left off last season as he leads the league in home runs while ranking third in slugging percentage. He is a tough call in fourth place here as the four top hitters have separated themselves from the rest of the group.
We had: Troy Tulowitzki, who is hitting .287 in 47 games this season and hasn’t played since May 30 with a groin injury.
3. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds; 2012 Offensive stats: .342/.465/.604, 14 home runs, 49 RBIs, 52 runs scored, 66/65 walks/strikeouts, 5/8 steals/attempts—Votto, now on the disabled list with a torn meniscus, has been quite an anchor in the Reds lineup. The 28-year-old, who led the league in walks last year with 110, is tops again this year in free passes. Though his home run total is significantly less than Braun’s he leads the league in doubles (36) as well as on-base percentage.
We had: Joey Votto.
2. David Wright, New York Mets; 2012 Offensive stats: .349.440/.574, 14 home runs, 66 RBIs, 61 runs scored, 56/58 walks/strikeouts, 10/18 steals/attempts—Wright has had quite a bounce-back season after he appeared in just 102 games last season and hit a career worst .254. This season he ranks second in on-base percentage, third in batting average, and seventh in slugging percentage in a lineup that offers much less protection than Votto has in Cincinnati, thus giving him the very slight edge over the Reds slugger.
We had: Matt Kemp, who would have been tops on this list in the middle of May. Kemp played just two games over a two-month span from mid-May to mid-July because of injuries, but he still nearly cracked the list with his .361/.437/.696 line with 14 home runs, 34 RBIs, and 36 runs scored in just 44 games.
1. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates; 2012 Offensive stats: .372/.427/.642, 22 home runs, 66 RBIs, 65 runs scored, 34/72 walks/strikeouts, 14/20 steals/attempts—McCutchen has been scorching the ball this season and is currently the front-runner for the MVP. The league leader in average, slugging, and total bases had given signs in the past of his hitting ability (23 home runs last year as a 24-year-old) but nothing like this. His bat and speed, on a once downtrodden franchise that’s suddenly in playoff contention this year, gives him the top spot at this point, hands down.
We had: Ryan Braun.
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