Quick shout-out to the guys at Beyond the Box Score. They introduced me to Justin's Stats, which are a great measure of a player's value. I refer to them all the time nowadays, and are the basis for my post here. Anyways, I got this idea after seeing Major's comment on the best players at each position, and it got me wondering, who would be on that team? I decided to group outfielders into one category and pick the best three overall, so center fielders have a decided advantage defensively. What I'm going to do is post the top 5 players for their position last year (top 15 for outfielders, the top 15 starting pitchers and the top 5 closers) and have you guys decide in the comments who would comprise the team, based on age, future performance, injury history, etc. So, here we go! I'll list the position, the player's name, his age at the approximate midpoint of the 2009 season (July 1), and his 2008 value according to Justin's stats.
Catcher- Joe Mauer (26) 60.9, Brian McCann (25) 50.4, Geovany Soto (26) 43.0, Russell Martin (26) 40.6, Kelly Shoppach (29) 33.0.
I find it very interesting that all of the top 4 catchers are basically the same age. So, I have to go with the overall best player on here. My pick: Joe Mauer.
First Base- Albert Pujols (29) 97.6, Mark Teixeira (29) 74.2, Lance Berkman (33) 73.5, Kevin Youkilis (30) 49.5, Joey Votto (25) 37.3.
Albert Pujols is AMAZING. I expect Joey Votto to be very good in the future, but Pujols is the best player in baseball. My pick: Albert Pujols.
Second Base- Chase Utley (30) 76.2, Dustin Pedroia (25) 61.0, Brian Roberts (31) 58.7, Dan Uggla (29) 45.1, Placido Polanco (33) 41.0.
A couple of thoughts here. First off, who honestly expected Placido Polanco here? I don't think he gets enough credit as a player. Also, how long can we expect Dan Uggla to produce at 2B? He had a pretty decent defensive year, and I honestly think if Uggla can play second, Murphy would be able to handle it. This also makes me desperately dream for Brian Roberts next year. It came down to Utley vs. Pedroia, however, and although Utley is currently the better player, I chose Pedroia for his youth and lack of Philadelphia stink. My pick: Dustin Pedroia.
Third Base- Chipper Jones (37) 81.2, Alex Rodriguez (33) 68.6, David Wright (26) 66.5, Adrian Beltre (30) 53.4, Evan Longoria (23) 45.5.
Lots of great players here. I hate to admit it, but Chipper Jones had a great year. He's an awesome player. However, that was something of a career year for him. I'll take my main man David Wright for his combination of youth and already established prestige. But I sincerely hope for some great Longoria vs. Wright arguments in 4 years or so. My pick: David Wright.
Shortstop- Hanley Ramirez (25) 79.3, Jose Reyes (26) 51.9, Jimmy Rollins (30) 47.9, JJ Hardy (26) 38.8, Christian Guzman (31) 35.9.
Hanley Ramirez made great steps this year, while Jose Reyes took a step backward in at least a couple of areas (defense included). The best part of this is that the NL East provides the top 3 shortstops, 4 of the top 5, and Yunel Escobar is #8 with a score of 30.4. That, my friends, is competition. My pick: Hanley Ramirez.
Outfield- Grady Sizemore (26) 75.5, Carlos Beltran (32) 65.9, Manny Ramirez (37) 56.1, Brian Giles (38) 55.6, Matt Holliday (29) 54.0, Curtis Granderson (28) 51.2, Josh Hamilton (28) 51.1, Ryan Ludwick (30) 50.8, Nick Markakis (25) 47.7, Ryan Braun (25) 45.3, Johnny Damon (35) 41.6, Jayson Werth (30) 40.9, Shane Victorino (28) 39.6, Randy Winn (35) 38.1, Ichiro (35) 37.6.
Just for reference, this is 4 LF's, 5 CF's and 6 RF's. Grady Sizemore is a shoo-in, and while Manny and Giles have been great, they're too old to be a core member of this dream team. So, I would say the best contenders for the two remaining spots are Beltran, Holliday, Granderson, Hamilton, Markakis, and Braun. By the way, anyone else surprised Brian Giles is so good? My picks: Sizemore, Beltran, Holliday
Starting pitchers- Roy Halladay (32) 74.4, Tim Lincecum (25) 70.1, Cliff Lee (30) 69.6, Dan Haren (28) 60.6, AJ Burnett (32) 57.0, Ervin Santana (26) 56.3, Brandon Webb (30) 56.0, Derek Lowe (35) 52.2, John Danks (24) 51.1, Javier Vazquez (32) 49.2, Johan Santana (30) 48.4, Ryan Dempster (32) 48.0, Cole Hamels (25) 47.6, Chad Billingsley (24) 47.6, Jon Lester (25) 46.8.
This is an intriguing list. First off, this list is missing the recently retired Mike Mussina, who would have checked in with a very impressive score of 53.0. It's nearly impossible to deny Halladay and Lincecum a spot on the rotation, but the other spots are harder to fill. My picks: Halladay, Lincecum, Lee, E. Santana, Danks, but I could be persuaded to put Haren or J. Santana in there as well in exchange for Lee or Danks.
Closers- Mariano Rivera (39) 38.7, Jonathan Papelbon (28) 37.9, Brad Lidge (32) 31.0, Kerry Wood (32) 30.1, Brian Fuentes (33) 29.2
This one wasn't hard. I just picked the best guy who also wasn't approaching retirement. My pick: Jonathan Papelbon
Here's some info on the ratings I used: http://jinaz-reds.blogspot.com/search/label/player%20value
Any thoughts, suggestions, changes? I'd like to hear people's opinions, maybe people who had a bad year that I forgot to take into account.