2013 MLB Season Preview: Top 50 Players

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2013 MLB Season Preview: Top 50 Players

Top 50 Players
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is finally back this spring, so let the over analyzation and speculation begin. It always seems foolish to make bold predictions and rank players based on a season that hasn't yet begun, but unwarranted criticizing is part of being a baseball fan. In the following slide show, the top 50 players currently in Major League Baseball are presented, based on past performance and future potential in 2013. These rankings are clearly that of one man's opinion, so feel free to voice your objections in the comments below.

I always tend to get a little bit stir-crazy for baseball around February, and once spring training starts, I'm on my way to enjoy Cactus League play in Phoenix, Ariz. This season gets me even more excited than usual, though, because of the sheer amount of story lines carrying into the first week of play. Will Mike Trout repeat his unbelievalbe rookie season in 2013? Will the addition of Josh Hamilton to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lineup alleviate the pressure felt by Albert Pujols last season? Or will the Angels crumble, and the unprecedented amount of spending by both Los Angeles-based clubs reap zero success? There's no telling how many turns this season may take, but I'm sure each one is going to add to the lure of spring time baseball.

Many players are given an advantage, in this list at least, for excelling at a premium position — short stop, catcher, third base — while others are push aside for playing deeper positions.

As baseball fans, we are constantly critiquing every aspect of our favorite teams, players and coaches, to a point where discussing a team's production during spring training seems a bit foolish. Nonetheless, I have attempted to dissect Major League Baseball to find the 50 best pitchers and position players. Enjoy, voice your own opinions and remember, baseball is here! Be happy.

John Engel is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. John works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in addition to Rant Sports. Follow: @engelsportsguy.

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50. Roy Halladay

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 156.1 IP/132 SO/11 W/4.49 ERA/1.22 WHIP

From 2008-2011, no pitcher was more dominant than Philadelphia Phillies left-handed starting pitcher Roy Halladay. Last season, Halladay's numbers began to slip because of increasingly painful back problems which led to him starting only 25 games and posting his highest ERA in 12 years (4.49). Hallady is certainly on the down-swing of his career, but will still produce quality numbers in 2013. There is little chance Halladay throws over 160 innings this season.

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49. Matt Weiters

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 526 AB/23 HR/83 RBI/.249 AVG/.329 OBP/.435 SLG/.764 OPS

Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Weiters hasn't been able to play up to lofty expectations since debuting in 2009. However, Weiters is beginning to develop into the super star many expected him to be after being drafted out of Georgia Tech. Weiters set career highs in home runs (23), walks (60), total bases (229), games played (144) and plate appearances (593) in 2012.

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48. Zack Greinke

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 212.1 IP/200 SO/15 W/3.48 ERA/1.20 WHIP

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the Zack Greinke sweepstakes this off season, moving the right hander across town from the Angels, who he spent the second half of the 2012 season with. No one is completely sure whether Greinke will still healthy in 2013, but coaches tell the media that he is healthy and in great shape. The Dodgers have listed Greinke as day-to-day because of an elbow injury.

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47. Gio Gonzalez

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 199.1 IP/207 SO/21 W/2.89 ERA/1.13 WHIP

Suspicions of performance enhancing drug use have revolved around Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez after the lefty emerged as one of the National League's most dangerous starters. His dominance was much of the reason why the Nats made it to the playoffs for the first time since returning back to Washington D.C.

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46. Pablo Sandoval

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 396 AB/12 HR/63 RBI/.283 AVG/.342 OBP/.447 SLG/.789 OPS

Due to his three-homer performance in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series, many will over evaluate what San Francisco Giants third baseman bring to the team. There is no clear trend in Sandoval's statistics, and injuries make his potential ceiling difficult to predict.

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45. Yoenis Cespedes

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 487 AB/23 HR/82 RBI/.292 AVG/.356 OBP/.505 SLG/.861 OPS

Yoenis Cespedes needed only his rookie season to prove that he deserved the four-year, $36 million contract he signed with the Oakland Athletics. Cespedes maintains a high batting average, even while hitting 20 plus home runs and stealing 15 plus bases.

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44. R.A. Dickey

Blue Jays
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 233.3 IP/230 SO/20 W/2.73 ERA/1.05 WHIP

R.A. Dickey completely revitalized his career at the age of 38 with the New York Mets last season, but it's still unknown whether the knuckleballer can have a repeat performance with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013.

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43. Matt Holliday

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 559 AB/27 HR/102 RBI/.295 RBI/.379 OBP/.497 SLG/.876 OPS

After playing in at least 155 games in five of the last seven seasons, St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday as earned the respect of arguably the most durable player in baseball. In addition, Holliday has climbed back to his jaw-dropping statistics of the Colorado Rockies years, which immediately dipped after he left Denver for big money in Oakland.

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42. Jay Bruce

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 560 AB/34 HR/99 RBI/.252 AVG/.327 OBP/.514 SLG/.841 OPS

Over the past two seasons Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce has finally lived up to expectations. When Bruce debuted for the Reds 2008, hype revolving around the slugger hadn't been seen in decades. Much like Bryce Harper's beginning in the majors, Bruce was scrutinized for every little mishap in his career. Now, Bruce appears to be comfortable in his position with the Reds, and could turn into a perennial 30 home run and 100 RBI power hitter.

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41. Edwin Encarnacion

Blue Jays
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

2012 Statistics: 542 AB/42 HR/110 RBI/.280 AVG/.384 OBP/.557 SLG/.941 OPS

How a 29-year-old ,who had never hit more than 21 home runs in five season, slugged 42 beats me, but Toronto Blue Jays first baseman has become one of the most dangerous power hitters in the American League East. Encarnacion, along with teammate Jose Bautista both found devastating power during their 29-year-old campaigns, followed by injury filled seasons. Neither player has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, but with random peaks in offensive production, those questions will continue to loom over the players' careers.

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40. Joe Mauer

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 545 AB/10 HR/85 RBI/.319 AVG/.416 OBP/.446 SLG/.862 OPS

Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer's popularity, along with his power, fell off last season, making critics question his long-term value to the Twins. Mauer still hits for an exceptionally high batting average, but seasons of 20 plus home runs and 100 RBI are all but impossible for the Minneapolis native.

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39. Troy Tulowitzki

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics:

When Troy Tulowitzki deputed for the Colorado Rockies seven years ago, it looked like the short stop position finally had a leader. With Derek Jeter aging, and middle infielders becoming a premium position, Tulowitzki had the opportunity to take over his generation. However, injuries have halted Tulowitzki's growth of late, as he was only able to 47 games in 2012 after a groin injury. He is expected to be fully healthy by opening day, and will once again command the respect as one of the game's most talented short stops.

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38. Paul Konerko

White Sox
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 533 AB/26 HR/75 RBI/.298 AVG/.371 OBP/.486 SLG/.857 OPS

Father time appears to have forgotten about Chicago White Sox first baseman and designated hitter Paul Konerko. Put his age aside and Konerko is still one of the most reliable power hitters in the major leagues. How many 37 year olds do you know that can hit 25 home runs and hover around .300?

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37. Ian Kinsler

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 655 AB/19 HR/72 RBI/.256 AVG/.326 OBP/.423 SLG/.749 OPS

Even though Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler has had declining offensive number the last two seasons, he still remains as one of the most productive middle infielders in baseball. Expect a rebound season from Kinsler in 2013, as he still has the potential for multiple 30/30 seasons.

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36. Justin Upton

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 554 AB/17 HR/67 RBI/.280 AVG/.355/.430 SLG/.785 OPS

Former Arizona Diamondbacks fielder Justin Upton began the 2012 season as a favorite for the National League MVP award. Due to a thumb injury and sizable expectations by fans and Diamondbacks ownership, Upton underperformed in 2012, and was considered a disappointment. He still has 108 home runs and 80 stolen bases on his resume after six seasons. We'll see whether playing with brother B.J. Upton for the Atlanta Braves will help, or hinder, Upton's numbers in 2013.

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35. Aramis Ramirez

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 570 AB/27 HR/105 RBI/.300 AVG/.360 OBP/.540 SLG/.900 OPS

Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez quickly developed a reputation for being injury prone in his career. At 34 years old, Ramirez has played more games at the hot corner than any other player over the last two seasons. Ramirez has seen many of his offensive statistics increase since joining the Brewers even with speculation of Miller Park leading to his retirement.

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34. Matt Cain

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 219.1 IP/193 SO/16 W/2.79 ERA/1.04 WHIP

Much like Felix Hernandez, San Francisco Giants ace Matt Cain struggles pitching for a team that doesn't score many runs. Cain isn't the type of pitcher that will strike out 200 plus batters each season. Although he got close in 2012, he will force you to hit the ball to one of his teammates. Cain is the only pitcher in the major leagues that has finished in the top 10 in BPIP allowed each of the last four season, showing his conscious effort to put the ball on the ground.

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33. Brandon Phillips

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 580 AB/18 HR/77 RBI/.281 AVG/.321 OBP/.429 SLG/.750 OPS

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips has been long known as one of the most consistent position players in baseball defensively, while his offensive numbers have always fluttered around above average.

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32. Dustin Pedroia

Red Sox
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 563 AB/15 HR/65 RBI/.290 AVG/.347 OBP/.449 SLG/.796 OPS

Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has been the only consistency in New England over the last two seasons, but 2012 was one of his most challenging campaigns. An injured right hand limited his production at the beginning of last season and again in late July when he tore a ligament in his right pinkie. Pedroia is still far-and-away the second-best major league second baseman behind Robinson Cano.

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31. Jered Weaver

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 188.2 IP/142 SO/20 W/2.81 ERA/1.02 WHIP

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim ace Jered Weaver keeps getting better with age, even though his velocity and strike out ability is free falling. However, Weaver is still able to maintain a remarkably low ERA, and produces more ground balls than any other pitcher in baseball.

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30. Ryan Zimmerman

Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 578 AB/25 HR/95 RBI/.282 AVG/.346 OBP/.478 OPS

Without his history of injuries throughout his eight-year career, Ryan Zimmerman would be considered one of the best all-around third basemen in baseball. His contributions, both offensively and defensively, are a considerable reason why the Washington Nationals have had so much success of late. If his shoulder problems were alleviated this past off season, Zimmerman may finish 2013 as the second-best major league third baseman.

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29. Carlos Gonzalez

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 518 AB/22 HR/85 RBI/.303 AVG/.371 OBP/.510 SLG/.881 OPS

Colorado Rockies out fielder Carlos Gonzalez has been one of the most entertaining, and confusing players in baseball since debuting five seasons ago. Minor injuries have halted Cargo's progression of late, forcing him to miss a combined 62 games over the last two season. However, Gonzalez has only gone to the DL once in that span. If Gonzalez would have played a full 2012 campaign, he would have finished with 30 home runs and 100 RBI as a .299 hitter.

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28. Craig Kimbrel

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 160.1 IP/11 W/283 SO/89 SV/1.46 ERA/0.91 WHIP

As closers go, Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves is already one of the best. His 2012 campaign ranked among the game's best all-time closers, while passing many of them statistically. Kimbrel set single-season records for strikeout rate (50.2 percent of total batters), K's per nine innings (16.66), FIP (0.78), batting average allowed (.126) and OPS allowed (.358). He is proving to be the future of the closer position, as elder legend Mariano Rivera is close to retirement.

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27. Jose Bautista

Blue Jays
Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 332 AB/27 HR/65 RBI/.241 AVG/.358 OBP/.527 SLG/.886 OPS

After season-ending surgery ended one of baseball's most impressive streaks of power, Jose Bautista is back and healthy, or so he says. From Sept. 1, 2009 through July 16, 2012, Bautista had posted 134 home runs, 34 more home runs that anyone else in that same span. Bautista will see a spike in RBI with the additions of Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera to the Blue Jays' lineup, as well as home run totals that will substantially increase from a full season of activity.

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26. Adam Jones

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 648 AB/32 HR/82 RBI/.287 AVG/.334 OBP/.505 SLG/.839 OPS

With every passing year, Adam Jones is becoming a more well-rounded outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles. Jones has seen nearly every offensive statistic increase in a favorable manor, with the only exception being plate discipline. The Orioles had one of their best seasons in over a decade in 2012, and Jones was much of the reason for their unpredictable success. He is only entering the fringe years of his prime, and his defense ability has always been consistent. After the conclusion of this season, Jones will probably wind up in the top five of major league center fielders.

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25. Yadier Molina

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 505 AB/22 HR/76 RBI/.315 AVG/.373 OBP/.501 SLG/.874 OPS

Catcher may be one of the weakest overall positions in baseball, depth wise, but St. Louis Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina is still at the top with professional baseball's elite. Molina was once a catcher with very limited offensive ability and was only dependable defensively. In 2012, however, Molina had personal bests in home runs (22), batting average (.315) and slugging percentage (.501). At 30 years old, Molina's recent contract extension of five years and $75 million means he will most likely finish out his career as a Cardinal.

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24. Stephen Strasburg

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 159.1 IP/197 SO/15 W/3.16 ERA/1.15 WHIP

Depending on how long of a leash the Washington Nationals are giving their ace, Stephen Strasburg may wind up as one of the elite right-handed pitchers at the end of the season. It's unknown whether Nationals coaches are keeping Strasburg on an inning limit again this season like they did in 2012. This will be Strasburg's first full season following his Tommy John Surgery in 2011, which is why he fell even this far down the list.

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23. Jose Reyes

Blue Jays
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 642 AB/184 H/40 SB/.287 AVG/.347 OBP/.433 SLG/.780 OPS

If Jose Reyes can manage to avoid another hamstring injury in 2013, plan for him to return to the form he had in his early years with the New York Mets. Reyes was able to hit spring training with a considerable amount of momentum after leading the Dominican Republic national team to an undefeated World Baseball Classic championship run. Reyes is still the best short stop in the majors, but may have some endurance issues while playing on the artificial turf in Toronto every night. Toronto will have a very potent lineup offensively, barring Reyes' health down the stretch.

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22. Cole Hamels

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 215.1 IP/216 SO/17 W/3.05 ERA/1.12 WHIP

Cole Hamels has finally emerged as the ace of the Phillies rotation, passing both Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay for the top roll. Hamels is now a perennial 200 innings and 200 strikeouts type of pitcher, giving him the edge over both of his fellow left handers. Since adding the cutter to his arsenal, Hamels has produced near identical statistics over the past three season and looks to be on a consistent path to greatness.

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21. Cliff Lee

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 211.0 IP/207 SO/6 W/3.16 ERA/1.11 WHIP

With only six wins in 2012, many criticized Cliff Lee for falling off as the game's best pitcher. However, his wins total couldn't be more deceiving. Lee led the majors with 11 quality start no-decisions and 15 non-win quality starts because of the Phillies' fourth-worst 3.20 runs per nine innings average. Lee us undoubtably the most precise pitcher in the game with his command, but his velocity has dipped over the past three seasons.

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20. David Wright

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 581 AB/21 HR/93 RBI/.306 AVG/.391 OBP/.492 SLG/.883 OPS

The only player currently keeping the New York Mets' franchise afloat is David Wright, who is luckily going to be healthy come opening day. The Mets recently signed Wright to an eight-year, $138 million making him a very, very rich loser. Wins aside, Wright is still a top five third baseman in the MLB. Like many of the elite players listed in the top 20 of this list, Wright plays a premium position which intrinsically raises his value.

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19. CC Sabathia

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 200.0 IP/197 SO/15 W/3.38 ERA/1.14 WHIP

CC Sabathia has had no trouble dominating American League East opponents since joining the New York Yankees. Over the past five seasons, no one has logged more innings in both the regular season and post season combined than Sabathia making him the most durable pitcher in baseball. He has been considerably healthy throughout his career and may have a lengthy absence in his near future.

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18. Giancarlo Stanton

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 449 AB/37 HR/86 RBI

No one has shown more disappointment with his team than Giancarlo Stanton, who recently saw half of his team be traded from the Miami Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays. Stanton requested a trade but has been held on to by the struggling Marlins. He finished seven home runs of the major league lead in 2012 and will attempt to reach the 30 plus home run mark again without any lineup protection. Stanton's power is still unmatched for his age, but expect a considerable dip in his production in 2013.

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17. Adrian Beltre

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 604 AB/36 HR/102 RBI/.321 AVG/.359 OBP/.561 SLG/.921 OPS

Adrian Beltre has solidified himself as a yearly .290 average, 25-homer candidate every single season with those numbers being the absolute bottom line. Since joining the Texas Rangers, Beltre has become one of the most consistent third basemen in the league, while only Detroit's Miguel Cabrera has shown more production at the plate over the last three seasons.

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16. Evan Longoria

Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 273 AB/17 HR/55 RBI/.289 AVG/.369 OBP/.527 SLG./.896 OPS

If Evan Longoria can manage to stay healthy for longer than two weeks in a row, he may become one of the best players in professional baseball. Since debuting with the Tampa Bay Rays five seasons ago, Longoria has played in only 637 of 800 scheduled games. Longoria is still one of the most disciplined hitters in baseball and deserves to be in the discussion as one of the hot corner's best gatekeepers.

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15. Albert Pujols

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 607 AB/30 HR/105 RBI/.285 RBI/.343 OBP/.516 SLG/.959 OPS

For the first time in his 12-year hall of fame career, Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols struggled offensively in 2012. After signing an unbelievable 10-year contract with the Halos, Pujols faced unparalleled scruitiny and pressure to preform in the worlds most critical media market. Instead of leading his back to the promised land, Pujols and the Angels struggled all season long. Granted, Pujols has declining numbers over the last five years. However, his ability at the plate is still elite. Expect Pujols' averages to respond to the addition of Josh Hamilton in the lineup.

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14. Buster Posey

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 530 AB/24 HR/103 RBI/.336 RBI/.408 OBP/.549 SLG/.957 OPS

Buster Posey ranks much lower on many other rankings like this. However, due to his incredible supremacy at the catcher position, he gains considerable value. Posey bridges the gap between Mike Piazza and Yadier Molina with his ability to hit and defend his postion. The San Francisco Giants recently locked Posey up long term with a nine-year, $167 million contract. Posey is everything baseball fans expected Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Weiters to become. If Posey can remain off of the DL this season, he will solidify himself as one of the most valuable players in professional baseball.

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13. Prince Fielder

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 581 AB/30 HR/108 RBI/.313 AVG/4.12 OBP/.528 SLG/.940 OPS

Prince Fielder wasted no time returning to supremacy at the plate once he signed with the Detroit Tigers in 2012. Fielder once again looks dominant this spring, and will benefit greatly from the return of Victor Martinez to the Tigers lineup. His 258 home runs since 2006 rank third-best among active players, while his 754 RBI rank fifth over the same span. Fielder plays a position full of young talent (first base) but his ability to change games with a single swing make him worth every penny.

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12. Josh Hamilton

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 562 AB/43 HR/128 RBI/.285 AVG/.354 OBP/.577 SLG/.930 OPS

Josh Hamilton enters the 2013 season with a lot to prove. Not only did Hamilton leave the Texas Rangers after losing in the World Series in both 2010 and 2011, but he joined the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for over $150 million in what many think is the twilight of his career. Hamilton brings more power to the Angels' lineup, but is vulnerable on defense in right field.

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11. David Price

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 211.0 IP/20 W/205 SO/2.56 ERA/1.10 WHIP

Even though David Price's numbers were good enough to earn him 2012 Cy Young honors, it appeared his numbers were still on the rise into the post season. Hopefully for Price, this recent success will close the gap between Justin Verlander and himself this season. Price does everything right as a pitcher; he has the capability to strike out the top of the order in the seventh inning, or produce ground ball after ground ball for his infielders.

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10. Joey Votto

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 374 AB/14 HR/56 RBI/.337 AVG/.474 OBP/.567 SLG/1.041 OPS

Joey Votto may have struggled late last season because of two knee injuries (once in July, another in August) but the Cincinnati Reds first baseman should have no trouble rekindling his power in 2013. Being in a smaller market, Votto has the freedom to start slow and develop his momentum throughout the first month of play.

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9. Felix Hernandez

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 232.0 IP/223 SO/13 W/3.06 ERA/1.14 WHIP

King Felix assumed his rightful throne in 2012 after throwing a perfect game in front of a disgruntled SafeCo crowd. Despite pursuits by the New York Yankees and other franchises, Felix Hernandez elected to stay loyal to the Seattle Mariners organization which has had such difficulty over the last decade. If it weren't for the Mariners' inability to score runs, Hernandez would probably win at least 25 games every season.

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8. Matt Kemp

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 403 AB/23 HR/69 RBI/.303 AVG/.367 OBP/.538 SLG/.906 OPS

Matt Kemp made the top of many lists like this in 2011 and looked to be fulfilling the MVP prophecy after the first six weeks of last season. Then, with no warning at all, Kemp was hit with a hamstring injury that forced him to miss 51 of 162 games in 2012. Kemp still has the natural ability to dominate National League West opponents, and should have similar numbers to his 2011 season. He is still the most prized asset in the Dodgers organization, and ownership will do anything to make their center fielder happy.

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7. Andrew McCutchen

Derick Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 593 AB/31 HR/96 RBI/.327 AVG/.400 OBP/.553 SLG/.953 OPS

Despite being drafted by arguably the worst franchise in professional sports out of high school, Andrew McCutchen has made the Pittsburgh Pirates look talented for the first time in a very long time. McCutchen has joined an elite class of young outfielders in Major League Baseball and has changed the focus from the infield to the outfield. McCutchen is criticized for his incredibly high .375 BABIP, which is fourth highest in MLB. However, his .282 well-hit average is also fourth highest among eligible players, which is 85 points above the league average.

At 26-years-old, McCutchen has plenty of time to make it to the top of this list.
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6. Robinson Cano

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 627 AB/33 HR/94 RBI/.313 AVG/.379 OBP/.550 SLG/.929 OPS

Since Robinson Cano came into the league, it has been unknown how high the ceiling of his potential will stand. At 30 years old, Cano is just now hitting his prime, and has emerged as the best overall hitter on the New York Yankees roster. Cano touts one of the most fluid swings in all of baseball and his production at the plate is unmatched by any other professional second baseman. His defense, however, often leaves something to be desired, as the Dominican Republic native doesn't always give 100 percent when pursuing ground balls.

Whether at the plate or on defense, Cano has always had the unique ability to make the game look effortless.

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5. Clayton Kershaw

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 227.2 IP/14 W/229 SO/6.3 WAR/2.53 ERA/1.02 WHIP

Clayton Kershaw has suffered through his fair share of dismal seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but even in the team's toughest stages, Kershaw has proved to be dominant in any scenario.

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4. Justin Verlander

H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY

2012 Statistics: 238.1 IP/17 W/239 SO/7.5 WAR/2.64 ERA/1.06 WHIP

The Detroit Tigers have made it very clear they don't like sharing the MVP award. Starting pitcher Justin Verlander has more starts (168) and more pitches per start (112.6) than any other pitcher in baseball over the past five seasons, making him the definition of a workhorse. Verlander, 30, has quickly emerged as the best pitcher in baseball with a blazing fast ball and deceiving slider. Detroit recently rewarded Verlander with a eight-year, $202 million contract.

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3. Ryan Braun

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 598 AB/41 HR/112 RBI/.319 AVG/.391 SLG/.987 OPS

Due to steroid-scares, Milwaukee Brewers right fielder has fluttered in the upper echelon of the MLB elite, but does not yet deserve to be considered No. 1. It's still unknown whether Braun earned his 2011 MVP award legitimately even with the ruling of "not guilty" by the appeals board. However, Braun did prove he could produce without the lineup protection of former teammate Prince Fielder, who he batted behind 147 times the season before.

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2. Miguel Cabrera

Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 622 AB/44 HR/139 RBI/.330 AVG/.393 OBP/.606 SLG/.999 OPS

At the age of 29, Miguel Cabrera is a World Series champion, Triple Crown batter, MVP and one of the best players in Major League Baseball. It's unbelievable that Cabrera, who is entering his 10th year as a pro, has been able to revitalize his career and return as one of baseball's most elite hitters. It isn't far-fetched to say that Cabrera could have similar numbers to his record-setting display in the 2012 season. In the past three seasons, Cabrera has maintained a WAR rating of over 6.1 games and a batting average of over .328.

Despite the ruling of the baseball writers, who are rumored to still be stuck in the stone age, Cabrera shouldn't have one the MVP race so handily over Mike Trout. However, he did, and deserves the ranking as second-best overall player in MLB. I mean, who else can say they've hit the Triple Crown?

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1. Mike Trout

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

2012 Statistics: 261 AB/.326 AVG/.399 OBP/.564 SLG/.963 OPS

Mike Trout tops the list, narrowly edging out 2012 Triple Crown and MVP winner Miguel Cabrera, after one of the most miraculous rookie years in professional baseball history. As a Los Angeles native, when I see Mike Trout on the field, I see a faster Matt Kemp who hasn't gotten injured yet. Trout has been knocked by many of my fellow list-makers for having such a great season in 2012, with the belief that there is no way the 21-year-old can reach the same milestones this season. However, Trout's merits last season deserve him the benefit of the doubt. We can predict a dip in batting average, but Trout will most likely exceed 32-35 home runs and 60 stolen bases.

Rest assured, Trout will once again be leading the MVP conversation in 2013.

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