Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus and SI.com recently released his list of “Baseball’s Top 50 MVPs.”
In concept, the UFD (Ultimate Fantasy Draft) is pretty simple: If you were starting a baseball team from scratch, which players would you want to build your team around?
Three members of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays cracked the top 50 and two others were named as honorable mention.
50. BJ Upton: There are parallels between Upton and Gary Sheffield, another player who had an awesome minor league pedigree but whose defense and attitude made for a difficult adjustment to the major leagues.
42. Delmon Young: Lost in the hubbub of the bat-throwing incident is that Young’s offensive development has been a little flat over the past year and a half.
33. Scott Kazmir: He just barely edged out Victor Zambrano for this slot (poor Mets fans, even Nate Silver is piling on…hehe). Kazmir has yet to have that one season that gets everyone buzzing — he had command problems in 2005, injury problems in 2006, and is off to a little bit of a slow start in 2007.
You might be asking “Where the #%% is Carl Crawford?” Inexplicably he comes in as an honorable mention.
Carl Crawford: Crawford seems like he’s been around forever, having become a big league regular at age 20, but he’s still just 25, and may have some further room for power development. He’s also one of the more likely major leaguers to take a run at 3,000 hits, as he’s even-money to have cleared the 1,000-hit barrier by the end of this season. Plus, he’s perhaps the best baserunner in the league, and one of the few left fielders that might be worthy of Gold Glove consideration. So there’s a ton to like here, but at the end of the day a .327 career OBP from a corner outfielder is too much to overlook.
We will forgive Nate Silver because he has obviously been in Botswana for the first month and a half of the baseball season and failed to notice that Crawford, who is still two years from his prime, has a .367 OBP this season. And while we will admit that C.C. does not play a critical position in the field, it is only because there are two more natural center fielders already on the team. Crawford could easily be a center fielder and would start in center for most teams.
The other honorable mention was last season’s first round pick, Evan Longoria.
Evan Longoria: Longoria’s minor league numbers this year — five homers and a .956 OPS so far (ed. note: actually 10 HR and 1.068 OPS as of today)– are significantly better than (Brandon) Wood’s, even though he has played in a much tougher hitting environment. Longoria plays outstanding defense and might even be a candidate for a move to shortstop; think Ryan Zimmerman, Part Deux.
We have no comment on Longoria because we are still flummoxed, flabbergasted, and F#@$$ed by Crawford’s non-ranking.
Baseball’s Top 50 MVPs [SI.com]