As we prepare for the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball season, the key to success for most teams will be whether their premium players can live up to their high profile and then who will emerge as breakout players in 2015.
ESPN recently ranked their top 100 players across Major league Baseball and as always, there are some definite head-scratchers amongst their picks. They seem to have certain players that they regularly move to the top of their list while others who have registered similar statistics and are just as crucial to their teams are for some reason downgraded.
Below is a look at five players that I believe are rated too high and five others who should be ranked higher.
Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels – ESPN Rating: Number 1
Now don’t get me wrong, Mike Trout is a great player, but it makes absolutely no sense that he is ranked as the number one player in baseball by ESPN and Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles (more on him later) doesn’t crack the top 25. If Trout were truly the best player in baseball, then he would be among the best in the league when his team needed him the most. Yet, in 2014, Trout batted right at the Mendoza line (.200) with runners in scoring position and two outs. He did not have a home run and drove home 15 runs. Conversely, Jones, who is also a much better defensive player, hit .319 with 2 home runs and 22 RBI in the same situation. Others in the top 25, including Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Donaldson were also significantly better than Trout in those tough situations.
Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox – ESPN Rating: 7
Good left-handed pitchers are certainly valuable, but Chris Sale made 26 starts in 2014 and hasn’t started more than 30 games in any of his three seasons as a starter for the White Sox. He certainly deserves to be in the top 25, but is he really more important to his team than Jose Abreu (ranked 12th overall), who played in 145 games last season and hit .317 with 36 home runs and 107 RBIs? Illustrating my total disdain for how these ranking are compiled, Sale was ranked 18th a year ago after going 11-14 during the 2013 season.
Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks – ESPN Rating: 9
Okay, I really need someone to explain to me how someone like Paul Goldschmidt could go from hitting 36 home runs with 125 RBI in 2013 to 19 home runs and 69 RBI in 2014 and actually improve on the ESPN top 50 list from 16th to 9th. I know he was injured and played in only 109 games, but others on the list actually improved their numbers in 2014 without moving up significantly in the ratings. I also don’t understand why Goldschmidt is held in such high regard when he struck out 110 times in 109 games last season and in his career has struck out 438 times in 462 career games.
Carlos Gomez – Milwaukee Brewers – ESPN Rating: 27
There is no question that Gomez is a good player, but is he really better than fellow centerfielder Adam Jones (ranked 40th)? Both players are 29 years old and excellent defensive centerfielders, but offensively there is little comparison. In 2013 and 2014 Gomez had the two best seasons of his career with nearly identical numbers of .284 batting average, 23 HR in 2014 and 24 in 2013 and 73 RBI each seasons. He also struck out 146 times in 2014 and 141 in 2013. For his career, his batting average is .260 and he has an OBP of .314, Slugging Percentage of .420 and .734 OPS. Jones has hit 25 or more home runs in a season four times, including 33 in 2013 and 29 in 2014. He also has driven in at least 82 runs four times, including 108 in 2013 and 96 in 2014. In addition, Jones has hit .280 or better in each of the last five seasons and .270 or better for seven straight years and has a career batting average of .280, OBP of .320, .461 slugging percentage and .781 OPS. How ESPN can say Gomez is significantly better makes absolutely no sense. Read the rest of this entry →