Someone wise once said that there is nothing quite as bad as the memory of a great player.
We want to remember our favorite players as they were when they were great. That is sometimes hard to do when they are pushing 40. We lash out against those that would say they aren't good anymore. We fret when management talks about getting rid of them.
As we move to the end of the position portion of total player ratings (TPR), I'd like to remind you that I am putting players in the position where they finish; I have no axe grind or agenda to push. To prove this, I have had only one full-time Astro in the top fifteen at his position, and he likely won't be an Astro for much longer. The scores are what they are.
15. Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
Base Running: -13.0
Total Player Rating: 32.2
It was a down year for Ethier this past season. If the Dodgers ever get his best, along with Matt Kemp's best, they would be dangerous. But both are vastly overrated as fielders, and Ethier struggled on the base paths. Yet he can still hit better than most in the outfield.
14. Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels
Base Running: -0.7
Total Player Rating: 34.8
The future is coming in the person of Mike Trout. The Angels will fit him in somewhere, and it might be in right field. Hunter is in the last year of his contract in 2012, and he has performed ably while in an Angels uniform.
13. Josh Reddick, Boston Red Sox
Base Running: -0.6
Total Player Rating: 35.1
Call me crazy, but I wouldn't sign Carlos Beltran or Grady Sizemore if I were the Red Sox. I would go with what you have in-house and spend the money on more pitching. It was the pitching that failed them down the stretch, and Reddick is definitely good enough to hold down the fort.
12. Jeff Francouer, Kansas City Royals
Base Running: -5.2
Total Player Rating: 46.6
I'm not a big Francouer fan, but he is useful for the right price. The Royals are bringing him back for two more seasons. I probably wouldn't have done that, but it won't kill the payroll. Too much of his value is tied into batting average for my liking, but he is a plus defender, so it isn't all bad.
11. Michael Cuddyer, Free Agent
Base Running: 0.0
Total Player Rating: 48.3
The Phillies keep flirting with him, and that makes a lot of sense. He can fill holes at first base and left field for the time being. He can't play any position particularly well, but he can play a lot of them well enough to pass for short bursts.
10. Carlos Quentin, Chicago White Sox
Base Running: -4.0
Total Player Rating: 51.0
The White Sox may want to deal him, and that makes perfect sense coming from Kenny Williams. Quentin has been steady—if you ignore a sometimes low batting average. He provides consistent power and is better than you think in right field.
9. Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays
Base Running: 4.7
Total Player Rating: 59.0
Joyce was one of those understated pick-ups that has panned out for the Rays. Mitch Talbot wouldn't have a spot on this team, but Joyce is a regular. This is why Andrew Friedman is the best in the business.
8. Nick Swisher, New York Yankees
Base Running: -6.7
Total Player Rating: 70.7
The fact that some Yankees fans would suggest finding someone better than Swisher shows you how hard it is to play in that town. Are there better right fielders out there? Sure, there are seven of them. Most teams would be satisfied with a top ten right fielder.
7. Corey Hart, Milwaukee Brewers
Base Running: -2.6
Total Player Rating: 76.8
Hart was off to a slow start when Ron Roenicke made an unusual change—e moved Hart to the leadoff spot. The move seemingly gave his season a boost and brought him back to normal levels of production.
6. Carlos Beltran, Free Agent
Base Running: 1.6
Total Player Rating: 90.1
Whether it was Terry Collins or Sandy Alderson, whoever decided to flip-flop Angel Pagan and Beltran made a tragic mistake. Both turned in the worst fielding seasons of their career and the move was largely responsible for the Mets finishing last in most sabermetric fielding statistics.
5. Hunter Pence, Philadelphia Phillies
Base Running: 6.0
Total Player Rating: 94.8
Everyone that watches Pence play falls in love with him. He is one of those maximum effort guys that reminds fans of times gone by. He looks like he should be a star, but lack of plate discipline is holding him back.
4. Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals
Base Running: -0.5
Total Player Rating: 107.8
There is a compelling argument to be made that the Cardinals would be okay without Albert Pujols. Berkman is average at worst as a first baseman (meaning the fielding numbers would go to zero), and Allen Craig appears ready to be a full-time player. This doesn't even mention what else they could spend the money on. Of course, suggesting that in St. Louis would be harmful to your health.
3. Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks
Base Running: 8.7
Total Player Rating: 109.2
You never know when young players will come of age. Sometimes they come into the league dominating, and sometimes it takes them a few years. The real Justin Upton showed up this past season. Everyone knew he would come, but no one knew when. This Upton led the Dbacks to the playoffs.
2. Mike Stanton, Miami Marlins
Base Running: -8.7
Total Player Rating: 110.4
Everyone knew about the hitting. That will only get better as he moves into a more favorable park and gains more experience. The fielding is the shocker. The mark above was the highest among right fielders by a huge margin. I suppose it could be an aberration, but I say he is for real.
Base Running: 4.0
Total Player Rating: 217.8
If he doesn't win the AL MVP, then the writers will have some 'splainin' to do. He has the highest total player rating in all of baseball. Who cares if his team was fourth? In statistics, value is easily defined. He won more games for his team than any other player. Therefore, he is the most valuable.
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
Base Running: 15.7
Total Player Rating: -54.8
Ah, the memory of a once-great player. I suspect the fielding problems were a glitch that will return to normal. The hitting is there to stay, I'm afraid. The end result is a negative impact player making outrageous dollars.
Kosuke Fukodome, Free Agent
Base Running: -8.7
Total Player Rating: -4.9
Fukodome actually wouldn't be a bad signing at the right price. Most reserve outfielders are below average by definition. He can play all of the spots well, and he normally gets on base at a pretty good clip. Just don't give him stupid dollars like the Cubs did.