Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Top 25 Baseball Players Under 29, Who Ya Got?

Bill James is the resident genius among baseball statisticians and sabermetricians and recently released his annual baseball yearly review book. A quick review of some of the book can be found at the Baseball Analysts. Now, I haven't read this, but I have read Bill James before. He is constantly forward thinking, intelligent, and to the point, which makes for some great baseball thinking whenever you get some time to read his books.

In this year's edition, James lists his top 25 players under the age of 29. This list is "based on proven major league talents, not prospects or young players who are not yet proven as major league players." I found this section in a post over at It is about the money, stupid, where one man shares his opinion on James' selections. However, I've got my own thoughts and questions on the list, some very similar to the thoughts from IIATMS. Here's the list, then the rambling:
  1. Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers first baseman, age 24
  2. Hanley Ramirez, Florida Marlins shortstop, age 24
  3. Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants pitcher, age 24
  4. David Wright, New York Mets third baseman, age 25
  5. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder, age 24
  6. Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox second baseman, age 24
  7. Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder, age 23
  8. Francisco Rodriguez, Los Angeles Angels pitcher, age 26
  9. Jose Reyes, New York Mets shortstop, age 25
  10. Nick Markakis, Baltimore Orioles right fielder, age 24
  11. Joakim Soria, Kansas City Royals pitcher, age 24
  12. Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals third baseman, age 23
  13. Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, age 24
  14. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies shortstop, age 23
  15. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners pitcher, age 22
  16. Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox pitcher, age 24
  17. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman, age 22
  18. John Danks, Chicago White Sox pitcher, age 23
  19. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres first baseman, age 26
  20. James Loney, Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman, age 24
  21. Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop, age 25
  22. Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves catcher, age 24
  23. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers first baseman, age 25
  24. Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians center fielder, age 25
  25. Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds first baseman, age 24

First of all, I have trouble rambling about this because Bill James compilled the list and has an infinitely wider aray of baseball knowledge than I do. Also, I should probably read the book for more in depth analysis on the list and you should too. Nonetheless, here's my take on the names, at first glance.

Prince Fielder topping the list really surprises me. There is no doubt that he is a great power hitter, but I see him as much less of a complete player than most of the guys near the top of this list. I would have seen him closer to fifth. Behind, Ramirez, Lincecum, Wright and Braun, who I think are ordered accurately.

I'm very high on Matt Kemp and think he'll be a fantastic player some day (soon), but I'm not sure if I think he tops Hamels, King Felix, Lester, Longoria, or Sizemore.

Speaking of Sizemore...#24? I understand that he didn't perform to fully to potential this year, but he is a superstar and much more established than many of the names above him, especially everyone in the 18-23 range, with the exception of possibly Adrian Gonzalez, but he isn't the complete player that Sizemore is.

Also, Longoria seems low at #17. He struggled mightily in the World Series, but showed all season why he was hyped so much as a prospect. He is a superstar in the making and deserves more credit on this list.

As for IIATMS' comment on Joakim Soria up at 11, I don't have a problem with his ranking. Yes, I am a charter member of his fan club, however his numbers don't lie. He is a fantastic closer and a top of the line pitcher. It can definitely argue that he is a little too high, however you won't be getting that argument here. Soria is the truth, and he will be displaying that for years to come.

Hamels should probably be a little higher based on the fabulous playoff run he just put together. That doesn't change the good, not great regular season that he had, however, it was a wildly impressive.

And congrats to Nick Markakis for getting some love outta Baltimore. He is a great player who doesn't get the attention he deserves while toiling away in the AL East cellar with the lowly Orioles.

If I was king of the sabermetric world and people would pay for my opinion I probably alter the list a little. But, I'm not and I won't pretend that I can statistically back these comments up. The list is out there and up for discussion. I can't be the only one left a little confused...


  1. I fully accept Soria as a bonafide major league talent, but it just struck me odd to see him THAT high.

    I'm perplexed by the omission of Cano (yeah, he had a crappy year), too.

    Fielder at #1 blows my mind. I'd sooner build around Hanley, Reyes, Sizemore, Wright, Braun, or Lincecum.

    But most of all, Sizemore (a 40/40 candidate if there ever was one, plus great defense) at #24 seems the most out of whack.

    But I don't have the book so I can only go on what I saw in these rankings....

  2. yeah, i think we're pretty much on the same page when it comes to this list. I think i may just have to splurge for this book and find out the thoughts behind it.

    i agree on Cano, he's definitely worthy of this list. One of these years when he puts it together, it's going to be scary.

    thanks for the comment though. i think you might be the first outside commentor we've ever had.

  3. cano shouldnt be on this list, he had a down year with the bat and hes horrible defensively. the yankees would trade him in a heartbeat to sign orlanda hudson if they could.

  4. idk about that. i think you're off-base on that one.

  5. idk about that. i think you're off-base on that one.


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