On Friday, ESPN's Eric Karabell ranked his Top 10 players for 2012 and I question several of his choices. Here is his Top 10:
1. Albert Pujols, LAA
2. MIguel Cabrera, DET
3. Matt Kemp, LAD
4. Jose Bautista, TOR
5. Troy Tulowitzki, COL
6. Robinson Cano, NYY
7. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
8. Justin Upton, ARI
9. Evan Longoria, TB
10. Hanley Ramirez, MIA
I don't disagree with his top 6, but I do question how he ranked them. I have been pretty vocal about my thoughts on Pujols, so I won't rehash them here. If you want more of my thoughts on Pujols, read this or this. I think he is in the beginning of his decline phase of his career, so to rank him #1 is a bit too high for me. My #1 pick would be Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. Not only did he hit more HRs and drive in more runs than Pujols in 2011, he hit for a higher BA and stole 40 bases. What's not to like?
More thoughts after the jump:
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I may be in the minority here, but I think ranking Hanley Ramirez ahead of hitters like Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder and even Curtis Granderson is too high for me. HanRam is another player I have been vocal about after he had a bust of season in 2011. The main issue I have with him is the steady decline in his power numbers over the last 3 seasons.
Here is what I wrote about him in my 2011 Fantasy Bust article last September:
What concerns me about Ramirez are these disturbing trends:
2008 - 33/.239/,540
2009 - 24/.201/.543
2010 - 21/.175/.475
2011 - 10/.136/.379
Could his power return in 2012? Absolutely. But, he is coming off shoulder surgery, and will be learning a new position, so I am cautious on my expectations for 2012, and would not include him in my Top 12 for 2012. I wonder if he gives up the power to maintain the excellent batting average in 2012.
With that said, I would rank Evan Longoria and Justin Upton ahead of Jacoby Ellsbury. At the end of last season, I took an early look at my Top 12 for 2012 here, and ranked Ellsbury at #2. Since then, I have lowered my expectations for Ellsbury, and I wrote my reasons why here. I still think he can be a Top 12 hitter in 2012, but don't think he will hit anywhere near 32 home runs this season.
One can make a case that Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton should be ranked higher and I would have no problem with that. Upton will turn 25 in August, and already has a 30 HR, 20 stolen base season under his belt after triple slashing .289-.369-.529 with 31 HRs, 88 RBI, 105 runs and 21 stolen bases. I think he can approach 35 home runs and 25-30 stolen bases in 2012, so he easily could be ranked higher come draft day 2013.
I will have a separate article to discuss my updated Top 12 for 2012 later this week.