Best players at their experience level
Who are the best offensive players at this point in their career, among players who are currently active? Younger players on such a list might very well turn into the stars of tomorrow. More established players on the list are building their resume for possible admission to the Hall of Fame.
For the last two years I have presented a list of the active players who had the most career Runs Created with the same or more plate appearances. Here the list is updated for 2010 (the data comes from baseball-reference.com) with a minimum of 50 PA required:
This is a very interesting list. Most of the players near the top are often mentioned as possible future Hall of Fame candidates, and have been on the list before. Established players who were not on the list last year include Jason Bay, Prince Fielder, Kevin Youkoulis, Brad Hawpe and Dustin Pedroia. Younger players on the list include Mike Napoli, Nelson Cruz, Martin Prado, Carlos Gonzalez, Casey McGeHee, Colby Rasmus, Drew Stubbs, Jason Heyward, Buster Posey and Mike Stanton.
There are also some surprising absences from the above list, the most conspicuous being Alex Rodriguez, who is trumped by Manny Ramirez. We can make a list of the players with the second highest RC for players with the same or more PA, to see who just missed the cut. Rather than showing all the numbers, I simply give the names here (again 50 PA minimum, in order of decreasing PA): Alex Rodriguez, Jim Thome, Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero, Jason Giambi, Jim Edmonds, Lance Berkman, Jorge Posada, Chase Utley, Travis Hafner, Nick Markakis, Nick Johnson, Brian McCann, Andre Ethier, Ian Kinsler, Josh Willingham, Josh Hamilton, Shin-Soo Choo, Ben Zobrist, Matt Diaz, Geovany Soto, Pablo Sandoval, Kendry Morales, Ben Francisco, Chris Coghlan, Will Venable, Chris Davis, Mike Morse, Gaby Sanchez, Travis Buck, Ike Davis, Jed Lowrie, Nolan Reimold, Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Pedro Alvarez, Danny Valencia, David Freese, Kyle Banks, Josh Thole, Mat Gamel, Max Ramirez, Dayan Viciedo, Juan Miranda, Brent Clevlen and Wilson Ramos.
Some of the #2 players were on the top list last year, but were superceded by someone who passed them in RC but still had fewer PA: Utley (passed by Holliday), Hafner (Howard), Markakis (Youkoulis), McCann (Braun), Zobrist (Upton), Morales (McCutchen), Sandoval (Gonzalez) and Chris Davis (Inglett).
This second list is a very fine group as well, and include some potential Hall of Fame candidates – steroid issues aside — but I think most people would say that overall the players on it are a step down from the first list.
We can continue the process by finding players with the third highest RC for players with the same or more PA (this time 500 PA minimum to keep the list somewhat shorter): Scott Rolen, Magglio Ordonez, Alfonso Soriano, Troy Glaus, Pat Burrell, Mike Sweeney, David Wright, Carlos Pena, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Curtis Granderson, Dan Uggla, Ryan Zimmerman, Jack Cust, Ryan Garko, Jay Bruce, Mike Fontenot, Garrett Jones, Dexter Fowler, Brett Gardner, John Baker, Austin Jackson, Ryan Shealy and Brennan Boesch. Mauer and Zimmerman were on the top list last year, replaced by Fielder/Ramirez and Hawpe, respectively. Clearly it’s much harder to find Hall of Fame caliber players on this last list, although one or two might be considered a premier player at their position.
Sometimes a great player is overshadowed by a better contemporary, and, on the other hand, not all players on the first list are great since there is not strong competition at all PA levels. But these lists provide an interesting perspective on who the better players are by experience level, and is a different way of looking at player rankings.