C: Joe Mauer, Twins
The Legend of Joe Mauer is well-known and unnecessary to delve into here. Besides, we don’t need a reason to have him on this list besides the swing. We love the swing.
1b: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
Forgetting for a moment our distaste for the Cardinals, it would be easier to appreciate Alber Pujols if his games didn’t come with a family-sized portion of Tony LaRussa (standard). What stands out to me when watching Miguel Cabrera hit is his tremendous balance, plate coverage, and power. I like to this he’s a combination of Tony Gwynn, Manny Ramirez, and George Porter, Jr.
2b: Robinson Cano, Yankees
There are a lot of blog favorites at the keystone position including Ian Kinsler, Chase Utley, and Rickie Weeks, as well as blast from the past: Mark Grudzielanek and new favorite: Martin Prado.
SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs
It’s nice to see a Cub on this list, but he may be here because we haven’t had too many chances to see him play, yet. What we have seen so far is killer bat speed, a slick glove, and a brilliant smile.
3b: Adrian Beltre, Red Sox
He hasn’t really been a productive hitter in a few years, but he still looks like he can hit. Film historians claim that many of Alfred Hitchcock’s classics and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws succeeded in scaring audiences by hiding the villain until necessary. Enhancing the audience’s enjoyment through additional suspense and anticipation can occur on the baseball field, as well. We may know that some players with poor OBP’s are likely to make outs, but if they’ve ever had any power, and they look like they can hit, that’s usually enough for the fans to enjoy. Even if I’m delusional and everyone knows he Beltre can't hit, we still enjoy his defense. He can play the hot corner like nobody else in a long time. His manager, Terry Francona, was on the Mike Francesa show last week and said that Beltre is “all over the field” and “making incredible plays”.*
*Why don’t more writers use Zagat-style quote writing? It's fun.
LF: Carl Crawford, Rays
Speed + athleticism + power + impending free agency + team has best record in baseball sounds like a recipe for enjoyment. So far, Crawford’s numbers have been a saucy .321/.377/.509, with 11 stolen bases and 32 runs in 42 games.
CF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
If Kemp had been a Yankee, it’d be appropriate to argue that he’s better than Bernie and perhaps just beneath DiMaggio & Mantle on the vaunted franchise’s legendary Centerfield hierarchy. Alas, Kemp is a Dodger, which has it’s own legends. My quick thoughts of who are the best centerfielders in Dodger history come out like this (1) Duke Snider, (2) Matt Kemp, (3) Willie Davis. Who else is there?
RF: Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners
As many of you know, I’m a big softy, so hearing the story about how Jason Heyword chose #22 choked me up and places him comfortably next in line, when Ichiro fades away into the sunset. For now, however, we have not moved on from Ichiro; he is an all-time favorite. His defense is world class. Ichiro walks up to the batter’s box, and the din in the stadium changes. Flash bulbs start popping, and people pay attention. His precise steps and elegant balance only prepare the audience’s palette for that breathtaking speed. Ichiro is slower than he once was, but he’s still faster than most. The Hall of Fame will be a richer place upon Ichiro’s first ballot induction because of his respect for baseball history and unparalleled on-field production.
SP: Tim Lincecum, Giants
We have two favorite pitchers now: Lincecum and King Felix. Felix, is someone that I root for like a family member. It’s like baseball provides the best reality television, and we’ve been rooting for Felix for the last 5 or 6 years, since he was a teenager. Lincecum is a little different because he went to the University of Washington, and we never saw him pitch there. Still, we’ve liked him since before him ML debut, he’s the best right now, and his delivery, velocity, movement, and strikeouts make him a true sight to see.
RP: Jose Valverde, Tigers
I wouldn’t like his antics against my team in a big situation, but he seems harmless enough. I really just like his delivery, his fat belly, and the way he throws the ball right by people. I appreciate the chances we get to see Big Valverde pitch more than anyone because of the way he pitches, but I really want to point out what Jonathan Broxton is doing this season. He has pitched 18 and 2/3 innings, given up 16 hits, 3 runs, and 2 walks with 29 strikeouts. That’s Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year Award stuff right there. The fact that he’s been unlucky with a .404 BABIP against means that the Dodgers 9th-inning leads should be safe for the time being.
Readers, who are your most appreciated players? Let us know in the comments section.