No, I haven’t forgotten about my top five lists. This is actually my favorite part of blogging. And I still have two positions remaining after this: RF and C. And then of course I will come up with some kind of list with the top starters, maybe even the top five relievers after that–although I may stay away from relievers because it will be so difficult to do. Other than my Kevin Youkilis tragedy, I feel that I am doing pretty well with my lIsts, and the number five spot always seems to be the most debated.
On to the list…
- Manny Ramirez: I guess until Manny proves us that he cannot play great, then we must assume that he is great. Manny was a good hitter with the Red Sox IN 2008, but was having a year in which everyone realized that this wasn’t 2004 Manny anymore. Manny posted an OPS+ of 136, which is good, but was the second worst that he posted since 1994–when he played only 91 games at age 22. Ramirez was clearly having trouble with the harder pitching in the game, and then of course the fiasco that followed…Then out of nowhere, whether it was the weaker NL pitching, or another level of being motivated, Manny absolutely killed the ball for a few months. Posted an OPS+ of 219, and it rivaled some of the greatest stretches that I have ever seen as a fan. A .396 average over those 53 games. An incredible .743 slugging percentage. An unheard of 32% of his balls in play were line drives. 32%!!! Over the past 4 seasons, plus his 100 games with the Red Sox, the closest Manny has come to that is 24%. And we are talking about one of the greatest hitters to ever step into the box. Granted, it was a fairly small sample size, as 53 games isn’t 153 games. But it is still pretty remarkable.
- Matt Holiday: It truly is difficult for me to post what I think is such a question mark this high. After all, Holliday isn’t great away from Coors, although his splits have been becoming a bit more comparable, a bit less deceiving, it seems. As far as I have heard and researched, Holliday is a better baserunner than the next guy, and a better defender, which is really what separates him. And both Holliday and the next player will be making difficult transitions to the American League this season, meaning we will really be seeing what kind of players they are.
- Jason Bay: I know Jay Bay sucked in 2007. But in both 2006 and 2008 he was a very good player, maybe not a great player, but very good. Bay has a weak arm and doesn’t exactly play defense all that well. But Bay is a great hitter and has been for a while now. Bay has posted OPS+’s of 132 or greater in 4 of his five years in which he has earned enough playing time to matter. It is funny that some seem to be down on Bay. Pecota doesn’t love him this season, but still thinks he will be a pretty good player. And after seeing what Manny did with the Dodgers, and what Manny has done over his career, Red Sox fans seem to be weary of Jason Bay. Understand that he is NOT Manny. And he will probably hit between .270-.280. But Bay will slug .500 and get on base well above the league average. He isn’t Manny, but it could be much worse, definitely.
- Ryan Braun: Braun could move up after this season, but I cannot go any higher than this yet. And the players he would be passing aren’t exactly finished playing well. Braun is a very good hitter. His 2007 season was incredible in only 113 games, and Braun wasn’t quite as good in 2008. But the guy can swing the stick, posting OPS+’s of 153 and 128 in what is a very young career. I chose him over the next few guys (that ones that could fill slot number 5) because his flaws seem to be less detrimental to a team.
- Adam Dunn: The fifth spot is up for grabs. All Dunn can do well is hit, and hit he does. Gets on base a ton, and hits for lots of power. A simple description, I know. Dunn also hits very consistently, as everyone makes us aware of. But move any of the following names into this spot and I have no problem.
The “stuff your sorry’s in a sack, Mr.” section: Carl Crawford: Hit more. Pat Burrell: You could have been fifth I guess. Carlos Quentin: Continue to play well and you will take away the fifth spot. Alfonso Soriano: Could have been fifth too, I guess.
That fifth spot is not exactly set in stone. None of them are though, I guess. So place whichever player you wish in that last spot, as long as it isn’t too ridiculous.