#10: Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia: 4.8 WAR
He’s not cheap anymore, and at 30, he’s headed towards the down side of his career, but he’s also on pace for his third consecutive 8+ win season. He is the guy who makes Philly a contender. Just a tremendous all around player that excels at every part of the game, his 2005-2009 peak is going to go down as one of the best in baseball history for a second baseman. $60 million over the next four years isn’t bargain basement money, but he’s worth twice that.
#9: Tim Lincecum, RHP, San Francisco: 5.3 WAR
501 career innings, 2.76 career FIP. He’s on his way to a second straight Cy Young award and should destroy the previous record for first year arbitration eligible pitcher salary if the Giants can’t lock him up long term this winter, even as a super-two. He’s improved his previously poor command to the point that it’s hardly an issue anymore, and his strikeout rate has actually risen from his rookie season despite a two mph drop in fastball velocity. The inherent risk with all pitchers keeps him below the eight premium bats ahead of him, but he’d command more in trade than any pitcher on earth.
#8: Ryan Braun, LF, Milwaukee: 3.0 WAR
You don’t find many 25-year-olds with 1,500 career plate appearances and a .400 career wOBA. Braun is a classic middle of the order monster at the plate with easy power to spare. He’s making strides in improving his pitch recognition and should match last year’s walk total in the next couple of weeks. After showing he didn’t belong at third base, he’s become a decent enough defender in left. Oh, and he won’t make an eight figure salary until 2014.
#7: David Wright, 3B, New York: 2.5 WAR
The simultaneous drop in power and rise in strikeout rate are a bit disconcerting, but Wright is still a guy who averaged +7.9 WAR per year the last two years at age 24 and 25 and is signed for half of his market value through 2013. Without the weird performance this year, he might have cracked the top five. While I wouldn’t get too worked about about three months of baseball, he’s going to have to start hitting like the Wright of old again sometime soon.
#6: Brian McCann, C, Atlanta: 2.4 WAR
Guys who can make contact and hit for power are usually incredible offensive machines McCann has a career .201 ISO and 13.5% K%. Plus, he’s a 25-year-old catcher. Did I mention that he’s signed through 2013 for a grand total of $32 million? Atlanta, please put some talent around on this guy so we can all watch him play in October.
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