Friday, June 03, 2011

Where do Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander really rank among baseball's elite?

The Sporting News has a list rating the Top 50 players in baseball. Two Tigers are rated relatively high on that list, Miguel Cabrera is No. 8, and Justin Verlander No.21.
The only position players ahead of Cabrera are Albert Pujols (1), Troy Tulowitzki (2), Joey Votto (4) and Evan Longoria (7). As a hitter, I wouldn't put Cabrera behind any of those players. Pujols obviously has the better body of work overall. Votto is a terrific player, but he there is still a relatively small sample size to his career. Tulowitzki is a gutty and tough player, and plays a premium position, shortstop, but isn't in the same class with Cabrera as a hitter. Lets put it this way, seems doubtful he is going to the Hall of Fame. With Cabrera, it is likely. Longoria is right about seven. But in this list, I would have Cabrera as No.2 behind Pujols among position players.
Verlander at 21 is interesting. The pitchers ahead of him are all excellent (Felix Hernandez 3, Tim Lincecum 5, Roy Halladay 6, Josh Johnson 11, CC Sabathia 15, Cliff Lee 19).
I see Verlander at the same level as all these pitchers. It's splitting hairs. The only exception is Johnson. I know his "stuff is electric," yet not to the same degree as Verlander. And he has pitched more than 200 innings in his career just once, has never won more than 15 games in a season and is not much younger than Verlander. Also, Lee's regular season record - other than the 22-3 season with Cleveland - hasn't been that good. His reputation is based much on pitching so well in the postseason, but that is a fair criteria.
For the full list,



Blogger Farris Khan said...

If only Cabrera could bunt, I would put him at #1. Not truly a baseball player without knowing how to bunt effectively.

12:17 PM 
Anonymous @bobbleheadguru said...

Cabrera would be #1 if he could just bunt. Not a complete player without knowing how to play small ball. Verlander would be a top player if he could keep his pitch count low in the 1st 4 innings.

12:19 PM 
Anonymous Michael C said...

Looks like a good list to me. The only real issue I have is Votto ahead of Cabrera. I think Cabrera's definitely outperformed him.

It's always tough to compare players at different positions. I'm not sure I'd rate Tulowitzki or Longoria ahead of Cabrera, but I can see why they did. They play at positions where elite offensive production is much more rare, and they're excellent defensively.

The only stat that really takes everything into account (batting, base running, positional value, and defense) is WAR, and Longoria has surprisingly had a higher WAR than Cabrera in each of the past two years, despite Cabrera's higher results in MVP voting. (He lead the AL last year in WAR, Cabrera was 2nd.)

And it's still too early to say for most of these guys, but I'd say all of those players are on pace for the hall of fame if they continue what they're doing for long enough. That's a big if though, especially for the younger guys.

3:44 AM 
Anonymous woody said...

they've got the gist of the top pitchers correct, though i'd reorder them...i'd put halladay at the top followed by sabathia. these guys just pitch deep nearly every start and give their team a chance to win even when they have lesser stuff. their consistency sets them apart from the field.

cabrera would be #2 on my list. so many power guys are dead pull hitters...cabrera can be late and still power the ball to the opposite field. simply amazing.

10:41 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Michael C,
Votto has had one great season, but Cabrera has done it longer. Longoria is a very good fielder at 3B as well, a difficult position to fill with a two-way player - as we know in Detroit.

10:37 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I hear you on Sabathia. For some reason, he is oddly underrated.

10:38 AM 

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