2013’s Best Offensive Players in the American League

With the 2013 regular season approaching, it seemed fitting to rank today’s best offensive players in the American League
2013’s Best Offensive Players in the American League
Last year Miguel Cabrera became the league's first triple crown winner since 1967. (Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Ryan Nakada
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With the 2013 regular season approaching, it seemed fitting to rank today’s best offensive players in the American League.

Offense is more than just swinging the bat and hitting. Offense factors in contact, power, consistency, speed, and discipline. Offense can be reflected in many statistics, like home runs, stolen bases, and walks. These are just a few of the statistics factored into determining these rankings.

Age and the history of a player is a good reflection of where the player has been and where they are going. Some players could be in their prime, veterans could be on their last years or rookies could have caught the world by storm once and could be facing the sophomore slump and some just defy the odds. When determining these rankings, I have looked beyond measurements of defense. With that said…

Just missed the cut: Austin Jackson (Tigers), Billy Butler (Royals), Alex Gordon (Royals), Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)

10. Jose Reyes (Toronto Blue Jays) Age: 29

2012 Season:

.287/.347/.433 (Batting Average/On Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage), 86 runs scored, 11 home runs, 57 runs batted in, 40 stolen bases, 63 walks/56 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.291/.342/.440, 110 runs scored, 12 home runs, 64 runs batted in, 55 stolen bases, 53 walks/76 strikeouts

The 29-year old shortstop had signed a 6-year, $106 million contract to be a part of a big change in Miami but found his way north of the border to Toronto in a 12-player trade after the Marlins scrapped their thoughts of contention. Now on the Blue Jays, Reyes is going to benefit from a stronger lineup, including slugger Jose Bautista and outfielder Melky Cabrera batting behind him. As long as he can stay healthy, expect Reyes to cause havoc for the American League with his legs, stealing bases and scoring runs. His bat is nothing to overlook either as he won the batting title in 2011 with a .337 average.

9. Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays) Age: 27

2012 Season:

.289/.369/.527, 39 runs scored, 17 home runs, 55 runs batted in, 2 stolen bases, 33 walks/61 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.276/.361/.516, 97 runs scored, 33 home runs, 116 runs batted in, 9 stolen bases, 77 walks/137 strikeouts

Longoria’s statistics took a decline due to a hamstring injury that kept him out of the game for 13 weeks. When healthy, the 27-year old third baseman is one of the bright stars the Rays have in their future. The lineup around him has lost some of its pop with B.J. Upton in Atlanta and Carlos Pena in Houston, but Longoria has a smooth swing and has shown developing power over the years. At 27, Longoria can continue making a splash and could move up this list by season’s end.

8. Adrian Beltre (Texas Rangers) Age: 33

2012 Season:

.321/.359/.561, 95 runs scored, 36 home runs, 102 runs batted in, 1 stolen base, 36 walks/82 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.280/.331/.476, 83 runs scored, 27 home runs, 93 runs batted in, 9 stolen bases, 44 walks/100 strikeouts

Beltre has found a good home in Texas since joining them in 2011, hitting .310 with 68 home runs in two seasons. He will have to become more of the focal point of the Rangers offense now with the trade of Michael Young to Philadelphia and Josh Hamilton signing within the division, joining the Angels. His numbers may decrease but he is still one of the best third baseman in baseball.

7. Josh Hamilton (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) Age: 31

2012 Season:

.285/.354/.577, 103 runs scored, 43 home runs, 128 runs batted in, 7 stolen bases, 60 walks/162 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.304/.363/.549, 104 runs scored, 35 home runs, 122 runs batted in, 9 stolen bases, 58 walks/135 strikeouts

Josh Hamilton has a new home, but he’s still in the same neighborhood. The 2010 American League MVP has continued to be a consistent power threat despite his decreasing contact. He has a habit of swinging at just about every pitch he sees and actually has a .412 average when swinging at the first pitch, so there’s an argument that he has found a path to success. However this aggressive approach has raised his strikeout total dramatically as he went from 93 strikeouts to 162. On his new team, he‘ll likely bat in front of Albert Pujols and that should benefit him to get better pitches to hit, assuming he’ll swing at the right ones.

6. Prince Fielder (Detroit Tigers) Age: 28

2012 Season:

.313/.412/.528, 83 runs scored, 30 home runs, 108 runs batted in, 1 stolen base, 85 walks/84 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.287/.393/.538, 91 runs scored, 36 home runs, 107 runs batted in, 2 stolen bases, 91 walks/121 strikeouts

The 2011 National League MVP and 2012 American League MVP have something in common; Prince Fielder was batting behind them. The son of Cecil has been a dependable power source and intimidating on-deck presence. His violent swing that nearly knocks his large frame down has generated six consecutive seasons of at least 30 home runs. He has also been a model of health and consistency as he has played in all but one game in his last four seasons. With consistent play and mammoth power, Fielder stands a good chance at rising in the rankings.

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5. Albert Pujols (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) Age: 33

2012 Season:

.285/.343/.516, 85 runs scored, 30 home runs, 105 runs batted in, 8 stolen bases, 52 walks/76 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.325/.414/.608, 120 runs scored, 41 home runs, 125 runs batted in, 8 stolen bases, 89 walks/68 strikeouts

The career of Albert Pujols has been amazing. He is the only player in major league history to hit to a .300 average, with 30 home runs or more and 100 runs batted in or more in his first 10 seasons. Despite a slight decline in his numbers since joining the Angels in 2012 and being 33, his reputation has led us to believe that it might have been an unusual occurrence. Pujols had a slow start to the season but he solved things and will have a full season of experience in the American League. Adding a full season with Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton should help increase his numbers back to the standards that once made him the best hitter in baseball.

4. Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays) Age: 32

2012 Season:

.241/.358/.527, 64 runs scored, 27 home runs, 65 runs batted in, 5 stolen bases, 59 walks/63 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.253/.362/.486, 86 runs scored, 30 home runs, 83 runs batted in, 6 stolen bases, 85 walks/120 strikeouts

Don’t let his 2012 season fool you; Jose Bautista is an absolute slugger. His 2012 season was cut short by inflammation in his wrist that was re-aggravated to the point that he needed season-ending surgery after just 92 games. Since 2010, Bautista changed his approach to the plate and became a nearly pull-only hitter, resulting in monstrous home runs that happen frequently. In 2010 and 2011, he hit 54 and 43 home runs, respectively, leading the majors both years. It’s numbers like that, that make us believe if he is healthy, he is a force to be reckoned with.

3. Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) Age: 21

2012 Season:

.326/.399/.564, 129 runs scored, 30 home runs, 83 runs batted in, 49 stolen bases, 67 walks/139 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.306/.379/.532, 135 runs scored, 32 home runs, 90 runs batted in, 48 stolen bases, 69 walks/153 strikeouts

Speed, power, contact, and he’s just 21-years old. Mike Trout exploded on the scene and made an impact with his bat and with his speed. He unanimously won the 2012 Rookie of the Year and is expected to do big things. Hitting 30 home runs and stealing 49 bases is a tough pedestal to reach again. His ranking in this list may have been reduced simply because he has yet to set the reputation of success just yet. If he continues his success, expect him to move up. A dip in his numbers wouldn’t be terrible, more like the amazing player becoming just great.

2. Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) Age: 30

2012 Season:

.313/.379/.550, 105 runs scored, 33 home runs, 94 runs batted in, 3 stolen bases, 61 walks/96 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.308/351/.503, 96 runs scored, 24 home runs, 95 runs batted in, 4 stolen bases, 38 walks/81 strikeouts

Many say Cano has one of the sweetest swings in baseball and it’s hard to argue with that. The 2011 Home Run Derby winner has always hit around .300, puts the ball in play to all areas of the field, and has developing power that has gradually increased his home run totals and that has also benefited from the friendly short porch of Yankee Stadium. But don’t mistake this for an inability to hit away from the Bronx; he has a career .314 batting average on the road. He’s in a free agent season so it will be in his best interest to put on his best showing as he will likely become the highest paid second baseman in baseball history.

1. Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers) Age: 29

2012 Season:

.330/.393/.606, 109 runs scored, 44 home runs, 139 runs batted in, 4 stolen bases, 66 walks/98 strikeouts

162-Game Average:

.318/.395/.561, 103 runs scored, 34 home runs, 120 runs batted in, 4 stolen bases, 76 walks/119 strikeouts

The first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski, Miguel Cabrera may be the best hitter in all of baseball. With a .330 average, 44 home runs, and 139 runs batted in, Cabrera impressed and at 29-years old, he easily has room to continue to put up amazing numbers. Cabrera has consistently hit near .300 or better with 30 or more home runs in all five years with the Tigers. He has clearly identified himself as a premiere hitter. The Tigers have not changed their offense too much, so it is easy to expect that Cabrera could pull off similar numbers and continue to be a dominant force with a bat.

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Yankees fan for most of my life. Has always had a love for baseball, whether it be playing it, watching it, reading about it, or writing about it. Tweet me: @adakannayr
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