Sunday, November 28, 2010

Players in Their Primes

Let's begin with what this is NOT.  This is not a quasi mock fantasy draft.  We're not ranking players with a view on fantasy baseball.  We are not necessarily arguing that any of these players will be better in 2011 than some older stars like Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Mark Teixeira, or Justin Morneau.  They are just a bit older than the scope of our prime seasons bullseyes.

Despite this analysis, we may pick
Pujols to win the MVP again in '11
People argue over the age of baseball players in the prime of their careers.  For a long time, it was considered ages 27-32, where one can find plenty of Hall of Fame caliber seasons throughout history.  Personally, I think the prime is much younger, more acute, to something like 24-27.

We're looking at players entering their Age 28 seasons and younger.  So, please don't write in that Carl Crawford is better than this guy, or Josh Hamilton is better than that guy.

Brandon Belt's stardom
is approaching quickly.
We're also only looking at players with Major League experience.  So, top prospects we can't wait to see like Brandon Belt and Lonnie Chisenhall will have to wait for their own Future Stars prospect post, dedicated to Dave Horn.

In this study, we only looked at hitters.  Pitching is still so unpredictable, that there are usually only about a dozen pitchers each year we can get excited about without having substantial concern for injury.

As points of reference, the oldest player in our 109-player study is Shin Soo-Choo.  The youngest is, of course, Starlin Castro.  The player with the most career plate appearances is Miguel Cabrera, with 5,089 in the regular season.  Freddie Freeman and Desmond Jennings have the fewest, with 24 plate appearances each.  From the data, we briefly present a few leaderboards:

Career OPS+
Votto is a worthy MVP
1. Joey Votto 151
2. Miguel Cabrera 145
3. Carlos Santana 144
4. Ryan Braun 140
5. Prince Fielder 139
6. Shin-Soo Choo 138
7. Joe Mauer 136
8. Hanley Ramirez 135
David Wright 135
10. Evan Longoria 134

Career wOBA
1. Joey Votto .409
Santana's got serious lumber.
4. Hanley Ramirez .393
8. Joe Mauer .382
10. B.J. Upton .380

avWAR per 600 PA
3. Joe Mauer 5.99
6. Joey Votto 4.76
7. David Wright 4.69
Bill James thinks highly
of Mike Stanton.  Perhaps
we should, as well.
8. Troy Tulowitzki 4.61
10. Jason Heyward 4.53

2011 Bill James Projected wOBA
1. Joey Votto .426
3. Joe Mauer .407
9. Mike Stanton .391

How about those small market teams.  Multiple players from the Brewers, Indians, Twins, Rays, and Marlins?  Anyone notice a lack of Yankees and Red Sox?  For all the struggles that BJ Upton has endured, he sure has a nice career wOBA.

Carlos Santana is gifted.  He exploded on the scene and could be riding the coat tails of small sample size into 2011.  He's expected to be ready for Opening Day, but it is difficult to guess how long it will take him to come back completely.

Come back in the next few days to peruse our cherry-picked, and biased, rankings (by position and overall) for offensive players, with Major League experience, no older than Choo.

As always, thoughts, suggestions, and requests are encouraged in the comment section below.  Afterall, this is all for you.

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