The Single Most Important Player on Every MLB Team
Naming the best of the best
What puts a baseball player at the top of his team? Is it his average? His home runs? His RBIs? Is it automatically the player who leads their team in all these categories?
A top player doesn’t have to hit one of out the ballpark during each at bat. To me, a top player is one who goes out there every day and produces. This could be in the way of hits, stolen bases, drawing walks, and scoring runs.
Here’s where people get confused: The top player isn’t always the superstar. There are a lot of overrated (and overpaid) superstars who do not produce numbers like they were brought on to do. ::cough cough:: Alex Rodriguez ::cough cough::
A lot of players put on quite the show in 2012, and that’s why there are no clear choices for MVP in either league. There is definitely a few options in both leagues including rookie, Mike Trout, and Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera.
While baseball seems as if it is becoming more of a pitcher’s game these days, you will find no pitchers on this list. Yes, some pitchers were flat out dominant in 2012, but a top player needs to be on the field more often than one out of every five games.
So here is a list of each team’s number one top player. The player might not be the highest paid, the most experienced, or even have the highest stats. But these players get it done out there. They help their team win, and they’re exciting to watch.
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Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks
In his first full season as an Arizona Diamondback, Aaron Hill certainly made an impression. Having the highest average on the team at .302, second most home runs with 26, most triples with 6, most doubles with 44, most hits with 184, and the highest on base percentage of the team are more than enough reasons to consider Hill at the top of his team. Not to mention he hit for the cycle twice this season. I know it doesn’t mean much, but that’s still pretty awesome.
Martin Prado, Atlanta Braves
I’m not succumbing to the pressure of saying Chipper Jones. Besides, this was his last season. I’m going with Martin Prado. The only member of the Atlanta Braves to hit over .300 (.301 to be exact), leading the team in hits and doubles, and second on the team in triples shows that he is a consistent hitter rather than being a power hitter as he has only nine home runs. But here’s a nice number: 42. That’s how many stolen bases he has this season, which is most on the team by double. He is most definitely a great small ball player, which is what every team needs.
Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
The story of the Baltimore Orioles this season is just amazing, and I feel like I want to give everyone on the team this honor, but centerfielder Adam Jones sticks out just a bit higher than the rest. His .287 batting average, 82 RBIs, 32 home runs, are impressive enough, but what stands out is his 103 runs. He gets on base, steals them (with a team leading 16 steals), and crosses the plate.
No one, Boston Red Sox
I refuse to give the coveted “Random Girl From New Jersey's Top Player Award” to any of the Boston Red Sox. Their attitude was poor, the way they treated Bobby Valentine was unjust, and I’m sorry, but texting higher ups behind your managers back? Are they 12 years old? I’ll pass this team for now, and let’s just see what happens next year. Maybe an attitude adjustment will also increase productivity.
Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
I know the immediate names that come to mind are Alfonso Soriano and Geovanny Soto, but I’m picking short stop, Starlin Castro. At age 22, Castro played every day for the Chicago Cubs this season. He also hit .283, had a team leading 183 hits, 29 doubles, another team leading 12 triples, and 78 RBIs. Listen to me Cubbies fans, Castro is the future.
Alex Rios, Chicago White Sox
When It comes to everyday players Alex Rios leads the Chicago White Sox with a .304 batting average, 93 runs, 37 doubles, and 8 triples. That’s why Rios is the best player on Robin Ventura’s Sox. His 23 stolen bases are second on the team, and his .516 slugging percentage leads the way. This guy can do it all. Even on a team with A.J. Pierzynski, Paul Konerko, and Kevin Youkilis, Rios stands out.
Joey Votto, Cinncinnati Reds
Year after year, Joey Votto continues to lead the way for the Cinncinnati Reds. The Reds had a very, very evenly dispersed lineup compared to other teams, but Votto stepped it up just enough. Leading the team with a .337 average and 44 doubles, Votto is consistently clutch, which is more than you can ask of a 28-year old. He had all the potential to be the NL MVP had he not been sidelined with a knee injury this season.
Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland Indians
Shin-Soo Choo’s batting average of .283 was second on the Cleveland Indians this season, while his 88 runs, 169 hits, and 43 doubles had him at the top. The only thing to be weary of is his 150 strikeouts.
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
Carlos Gonzalez led the Colorado Rockies in just about everything: Batting average, runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, and even stolen bases. It’s easy to label him as the best on the team.
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Well, this one is obvious, the Triple Crown winner himself, Miguel Cabrera, is hands down the best player on the Detroit Tigers. Not only did he lead the team, but he led the league in batting average, home runs, and RBIs. What an amazing feat by someone who couldn’t be any more humble.
Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
The best of the worst? I have to give the award to Jose Altuve. With a batting average of .290 and 167 hits, he more than led the Houston Astros in those categories. He also scored 80 runs, and had 33 stolen bases. It just makes me wonder what he could have done on another team.
Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals
Another team where it’s just impossible to glance over the designated hitter. Billy Butler’s .313 average, 192 hits, 29 home runs, and 107 RBIs led the Kansas City Royals this year, and you just can't overlook numbers like that.
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
This is another easy one, as Mike Trout has been all the rage since the beginning of the season. The potential MVP and/or Rookie of the Year led the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with a .326 batting average, 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases, 182 hits, and 129 runs. It’s easy to see why he took the baseball world by storm. It will be fun to follow this 20-year-old in the years to come.
Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
As much as I like Matt Kemp, Andre Either was the top dog this year for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 79 runs, 158 hits, 36 doubles, and 89 RBIs led the team.
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
Thank goodness for Giancarlo Stanton so I didn’t have to say Jose Reyes. Reyes may top Stanton in a few categories, but Stanton also had nearly 200 less at bats than Reyes, yet he’s only behind by 11 runs, 54 hits, and 7 doubles. All the while Stanton led the Miami Marlins with 37 home runs and 86 RBIs. He also doesn't have the cocky attitude of a certain shortstop.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
Ryan Braun has been the leader of the Milwaukee Brewers for the last couple of years now. This year he led the brew crew in batting average, RBIs, home runs, hits, and runs. How could anyone deny that he’s their best player, and potentially the NL MVP?
Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Joe Mauer is the face of the Minnesota Twins franchise, and it’s easy to see why.He leads his team in batting average by .025, hits by 24, and is amongst the top in all other categories.He also drew 90 walks this season. Good eye, Joe, good eye.
David Wright, New York Mets
Another face of the franchise, David Wright is tops for the New York Mets. Although trailing off in the second half of the season, he still led the team in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, RBIs and stolen bases. I only wonder if Ike Davis hadn’t gone through that major slump in the beginning of the year, would I be giving the same answer?
Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
As John Sterling says, "Robbie Cano, don'tcha know?" The New York Yankees second baseman has become hotter and hotter down the stretch, and into the playoffs. Since September 1st he's hit .347, has 24 RBIs, and 6 home runs. It's easy to see Cano is stepping up and is the Yankees' future.
Josh Reddick, Oakland Athletics
Despite his slump in August, Josh Reddick has been the on-field leader for the Oakland Athletics. His 85 runs, 148 hits, 29 doubles, 32 home runs, and 85 RBIs all led the team in 2012. Though he did add to his strikeout count and lower average while going through his slump, there's no need to worry about this guy. Also, what lovely hair he has.
Carlos Ruiz, Philadelphia Phillies
Call me crazy, but I'm picking Philadelphia Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz over Jimmy Rollins. Plagued by a foot injury this season, Ruiz still played 114 games, and put up numbers that rival Rollins, as well as just as many RBIs.
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
Andrew McCutchen has been, is, and will continue to be the face of the Pittsburgh Pirates. His .400 OBP, .327 batting average, 20 stolen bases, 96 RBIs, 31 home runs, 6 triples, 29 doubles, 194 hits, and 107 runs more than lead the way for the team. It's a shame the Pirates fell short this season, I would have loved to see what he could do in the playoffs.
Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
When a team finishes ten games under .500 it's hard to beleive that there is a player who had a 30 homerun/100 RBI season, but the San Diego Padres' Chase Headley did just that. In fact, he led the National League with 115 RBIs this season. It looks like the Padres will try to sign Headley to an extension. Good move, Padres.
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Buster Posey led the San Francisco Giants in batting average, RBIs, home runs, double, and hits. It’s no wonder the phrase “MVP” is buzzing around Posey’s name.
Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners
I can’t believe I’m about to say someone with a .259 batting average is the best player on a team, but sadly that average of Kyle Seager is the second highest on the Seattle Mariners. He’s still young, so hopefully his numbers will improve with age, but he is the best the Mariners have right now.
Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
While Yadier Molina is a great catcher, and fan favorite, my bid goes to Carlos Beltran. As a Mets fan, I think I’m supposed to hate him, but I still love him, and you just can’t deny what he did for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. Not the highest batting average, but 83 runs, 147 hits, 26 doubles, 97 RBIs, and a team leading 32 home runs keep him in the top spot.
Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
Since Evan Longoria missed half the season for the Tampa Bay Rays, he is removed from the equation currently. It’s almost too close to call between Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton. I’ll give the slight edge to Zobrist only because he’s a switch hitter.
Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers
As much as we all love Josh Hamilton, and we like to watch him do well, he is not the Texas Rangers’ top performer. That role is played by Adrian Beltre. His .304 average led the team this season. He wasn't the highest in every other category, but among the top, and he had less than half the strikeouts that Hamilton had. Right behind Beltre though is 23-year-old Elvis Andrus, so watch out for him as well.
Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion certainly understands the role of designated hitter. A .280 batting average, 93 runs, 152 hits, and 42 home runs are all enough to lead the team. Not to mention his 110 RBIs, which leads second place by 55. It’s hard to give this honor to a person who doesn’t play the field, but you just can’t deny his numbers.
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
It’s so great to see the Washington Nationals in the playoffs, perhaps trumped only by Teddy’s race victory last week. There’s no question that Ryan Zimmerman is the player who led them there. The Nats’ third baseman had a .282 batting average, 93 runs, 163 hits, 36 doubles, 25 home runs, and 95 RBIs. He was nothing but solid all season long, and will continue to be in the years to come.