With spring training in full gear, baseball has started to grab headlines of late. It’s to continue the annual rankings of what players are the best in their leagues. Today we rank the National League’s best offensive players.
For offensive players, attributes like speed on the basepaths, discipline at the plate, as well as ability to hit count in the rankings.
Age also matters as this is a projection for the 2012 season. Also consistency matters in projecting future seasons—for the most part. Obviously not all players are All-Stars in their rookie seasons but were minor-league All-Stars before that time or had some kind of indicator of greatness.
10. Hunter Pence, 28 years old, Philadelphia Phillies; 2011 Offensive stats: .314/.370/.502 (batting average/on-base/slugging), 22 home runs, 97 RBIs, 84 runs scored, 56/124 walks/strikeouts, 8/10 steals/attempts. Career 162-game average: .292/.343/.485, 25 home
runs, 91 RBIs, 86 runs scored, 49/123 walks/strikeouts, 14/22 steals/attempts—Pence had become a good player on a bad team in Houston, but really flourished in his 54 games with Philly last year (.324 average, 11 home runs, 35 RBIs). His inclusion here was a close call over a number of competitors for a variety of reasons. Players such as Ryan Howard (Achilles injury), Lance Berkman (just turned 36), Starlin Castro (needs another year to develop), and Ryan Zimmerman (injuries) just missed the cut.
9. David Wright, 29 years old, New York Mets; 2011 Offensive stats: .254/.345/.427, 14 home runs, 61 RBIs, 60 runs scored, 52/97 walks/strikeouts, 13/15 steals/attempts. Career 162-game average: .300/.380/.508, 27 home runs, 106 RBIs, 102 runs scored, 78/131 walks/strikeouts, 22/28 steals/attempts—Wright definitely had a tough season last year, missing 60 games due to injury, but he’s still young, and with the Mets moving in the fences next season he could be back to competing for MVPs. Wright and Pence have put up similar numbers over the course of their careers though Wright, when healthy, has shown a higher ceiling.
8. Pablo Sandoval, 25 years old, San Francisco Giants; 2011 Offensive stats: .315/.357/.552, 23 home runs, 70 RBIs, 55 runs scored, 32/63 walks/strikeouts, 2/6 steals/attempts. Career 162-game average: .307/.356/.501, 22 home runs, 86 RBIs, 55 runs scored, 47/84 walks/strikeouts, 3/7 steals/attempts—Sandoval’s 2011 numbers were in just 117 games last year and would have projected to 32 home runs and 97 RBIs over a 162-game stretch. Sandoval narrowly gets the edge over Wright due to his age and the projection that once he gets a little protection in the Giants run-starved lineup, he’ll be even better.
7. Matt Holliday, 32 years old, St. Louis Cardinals; 2011 Offensive stats: .296/.388/.541, 22 home runs, 75 RBIs, 83 runs scored, 60/93 walks/strikeouts, 2/3 steals/attempts. Career 162-game average: .315/.388/.541, 29 home runs, 110 RBIs, 107 runs scored, 64/113 walks/strikeouts, 13/17 steals/attempts—Another player who had an abbreviated 2011 season (missed 38 games) the former Rockie has put up good numbers with the Cardinals in his two and a half seasons there with a .314/.394/.543 clip. Though he’s older than Sandoval he has Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran to protect him in the lineup.
6. Jose Reyes, 28 years old, Miami Marlins; 2011 Offensive stats: .337/.384/.493, 7 home runs, 44 RBIs, 101 runs scored, 43/41 walks/strikeouts, 39/46 steals/attempts. Career 162-game average: .292/.341/.441, 12 home runs, 65 RBIs, 113 runs scored, 51/79 walks/strikeouts, 57/71 steals/attempts—Reyes is probably the biggest question mark on this list. At his best, he’s the unquestioned top leadoff hitter in the game and makes the top three of this list, despite having the least power of anyone here. Questions regarding how many more injuries (especially his hamstring) he can take before he loses his greatest weapon—his speed—keep him from going any higher.
5. Carlos Gonzalez..