First of all, let me begin by stating a fact: The Rickey Henderson blog you see below, it was written as a joke, as satire, a baseball related fable (Without the animals), etc, etc, etc. Rickey Henderson is very deserving of enshrinement, and the 28 or so people that did not vote for him, well, don’t have much credibility, whoever they may be.
Second, I am going to finally get to my second installment of the “Five best players at each position.” Something I begin, and never seem to finish. But when in doubt, when there isn’t much that interests me on the blogging front, I can turn to it and pursue my desired conclusion which is: actually finishing it one day.
Remember these rankings are based on who is the best NOW, not who will be the best in 3 years, or four years, or necessarily even 2009. They are a prime indicator of who I believe deserves to be ranked, and where, right now.
And the five best first baseman are…
- Albert Pujols: I don’t know how much I even want to get into this. Pujols is probably the best player in baseball, and clearly the best at his position. His glove work is among the best, and his bat IS the best, in the entire game that we refer to as baseball. When it is all said and done, and this is no creation of mine, Pujols will be one of the absolute greatest players to ever play the game. Eight seasons in the big leagues, no less than an OPS+ of 151, and no fewer than 143 games played in any season. And this season, 2008, Pujols opted out of surgery so that he could play, and posted his best OPS+ yet; 190.
- Mark Teixiera: Is he worth the contract? Maybe not when it is looked at in its entirety, but right now he is among the best hitters in the game. A great defensive first baseman, who is a switch hitting, middle of the order bat. And I would much rather have any of these other first baseman for the money that they are paid, but this doesn’t take that into account. Tex has posted back-to-back years of OPS+’s greater than 150.
- Miguel Cabrera: Whatever position he does end up playing, this is where he belongs (or DH). Cabrera is a truly great hitter, who adjusting to a new, more difficult league, still had success. Cabrera posted three consecutive seasons of 150 or greater, and his 130 last year was quite good also. I will cut him some slack for being in a new city, a new league.
- Adrian Gonzalez: If he played on a neutral field, the perception that we would have of him would be much greater. Last season, Gonzalez had an OPS of .788 at home, on the road it was .946. That is what Petco does to a hitter, it kills their numbers. Just to show that 2008 wasn’t an aberration, in 2007, Gonzalez posted a .760 home OPS, and .928 on the road. He is a good fielder, and still hasn’t hit the height of his career yet.
- Kevin Youkilis: Youkilis has exceeded my expectations of him. He can field two positions, one very well, the other, good enough. Youk has a keen eye: great recognition of the strike zone, and good pitch recognition as well. At first I thought that Youkilis would be a great on base guy, but somewhat limited as a hitter, but he has proven me wrong in that area too. He can hit for power, average, get on base, play defense. I guess Billy Beane had his eye on him for a reason.
Since this was probably the hardest position to rank, I would like to apologize to Justin Morneau. Morneau deserves to be in here as well, and should probably be tied with someone if nothing else. Ryan Howard was a pretty close call as well, but I think that these other six 1B are better than he is. Not that Howard isn’t good, but he can’t play defense, cannot run, and is useless against lefties, all while playing in a hitter friendly park.
And some may question my including Miguel Cabrera because he may not have the greatest work ethic, and didn’t blow anyone away last season. Cabrera is a great hitter, don’t let 2008 fool you. I have a strong feeling that he will be an MVP in many people’s eyes this season, unless the Tigers win under 75 games or something.
EDIT: I totally forgot to mention Lance Berkman in this too. I give up, for the 1st base position is too difficult to rank. I think that I would need to do more research, but even then would still be undecided as to who goes where. Except for number one of course, that is Pujols.