I couldn’t get to sleep last night and was reviewing my 50 most valuable long-term commodities list over at SI.com. This list was originally composed back in early May–how quickly things can change in baseball.
CF Justin Upton (was Honorable Mention). I don’t care that he wasn’t especially impressive in the major leagues. Age is everything, and for a 19-year-old to come this far this fast is very special.
LHP Erik Bedard (not ranked). Led baseball in strikeouts per nine innings–he now has to be considered in that 1A tier of pitchers along with guys like Jake Peavy and C.C. Sabathia.
CF Curtis Granderson (was Honorable Mention). Just barely missed the cut in May. He’s three years eighteen months older than Grady Sizemore but might be the superior player for the next 12-36 months.
RHP Joba Chamberlain (not ranked). His strikeout numbers were off the charts, or so I’ve been led to believe.
OF Jay Bruce (not ranked), 3B Evan Longoria (was Honorable Mention). Both should wind up somewhere between #15 and #25. I’m guessing that PECOTA will actually like Longoria a little bit better. He’s the superior defensive player, handled some very difficult leagues, and answered a big question by radically upping his walk rate.
SS Troy Tulowitzki (not ranked). Last year, PECOTA thought that he’d have a good debut and then flatline a bit thereafter. It will be interesting to see if it envisions the same thing now, or it has developed more confidence in him. He’s almost certainly Top 50 because of his great defense.
Others that will almost definitely earn a place in the Top 50: Russell Martin, Matt Holliday, Josh Beckett, Aramis Ramirez (who suddenly learned how to play defense)
Guy I haven’t really thought about yet, so don’t ask: Dustin Pedroia.
1B Prince Fielder (was #47), 3B Ryan Braun (not ranked). Defense is a real problem in both instances, especially for Braun. Fielder will probably end up somewhere in the mid- to late 30s. Braun’s going to be right on the cusp of the Top 50.
LF Jason Bay (was #35). His career path is starting to look like Bobby Higginson’s; this is not a good thing.
DH Travis Hafner (was #21). He should still have plenty left; I’m not too worried about this year. It’s just that the standards for a thirtysomething DH are incredibly high. Probably off the list next year.
RHP Carlos Zambrano (was #28). The trends in his peripheral statistics are pointed the wrong way. I don’t completely hate the deal he signed with the Cubs, but I don’t think he’s Top 50.
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (was #19). Only because we probably had him overrated to begin with. He’s still Top 50 material, though.
Others that will almost certainly lose their slots: Vernon Wells, Andruw Jones, Jered Weaver … some vets that will likely get cycled out because of age, like Roy Oswalt and Miguel Tejada.
Guy I haven’t really thought about yet, so don’t ask: Chris B. Young
3B Alex Gordon (was #23). He has some defensive value, and he showed some improvement in the second half. It’s way too early to give up.
A very preliminary, off-the-cuff, subject-to-change, pre-PECOTA Top 20:
This will change. Probably a lot. Keep in mind that the evaluation criteria is a six-year window, which in most cases means 2008-2013.1. Albert Pujols (1)
2. David Wright (8)
3. Hanley Ramirez (6)
4. Miguel Cabrera (4)
5. Joe Mauer (2)
6. Johan Santana (3)
7. Grady Sizemore (5)
8. Alex Rodriguez (10)
9. Justin Upton (HM)
10. Jose Reyes (7)
11. Jake Peavy (13)
12. C.C. Sabathia (17)
13. Curtis Granderson (HM)
14. Erik Bedard (–)
15. Chase Utley (22)
16. Brian McCann (9)
17. Ryan Zimmerman (11)
18. Evan Longoria (HM)
19. Joba Chamberlain (–)
20. Jay Bruce (–)