#30 – Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas
The Rangers second baseman is not just one of the better all around players at his position, but he’s also one of the best bargains. He’s got three years left on his original long-term contract with the Rangers, and will be paid just $23 million over the remainder of that deal. He’s been a +4 to +5 win player in each of the last two years and is well on his way to matching that total again this year, making him an All-Star being paid like an average player. That’s tremendously valuable, and he’s one of the main reasons why Texas is the team to beat in the AL West.
#29 – David Price, SP, Tampa Bay
The starter in yesterday’s All-Star Game, Price’s improvements over last year are more incremental than his ERA may lead you to believe. His walks are down slightly and his strikeout and groundball rates are up slightly, so he is pitching better, but he’s not yet an ace. He may still become one, and given his stuff, every team in baseball would gladly wait for him to develop into one of the game’s best pitchers, but he’s not there yet. He is, however, a quality starter making very little money and under team control for another five years. He doesn’t have to be an ace yet to be highly coveted.
#28 – Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cleveland
Over the last three years, Choo has posted wOBAs of .402, .389, and .382. He’s been consistently above average at every facet of the game, and yet he flies under the radar because his teammates haven’t performed up to his level. An thumb injury has derailed his 2010 season, but his long-term future is still very bright. He’d rank higher if he wasn’t headed for arbitration with Scott Boras as his agent, making a long term, team friendly deal less likely. Still, the Indians should be able to get three years of reduced rates out of a high-quality player before Boras takes him elsewhere, and every team in baseball would love to have him.
#27 – Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles
Like Price, he’s not yet what he could be, but he’s shown signs of getting there, and the leap may not be that far away. His stuff is legitimately top shelf, and as a 22-year-old lefty, few arms in the game were anywhere near where he is at this age. The command is still a bit of a concern, however, as is his ability to keep right-handers off base, but even with those issues, he’s a terrific arm. If he gets them straightened out, he’ll be among the game’s best. The Dodgers control his rights for four more years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to buy out his arbitration years before he started earning any real money.
#26 – Brian McCann, C, Atlanta
Yet another catcher with some power, McCann is probably the most polished of the young slugging backstops. He doesn’t make quite as much contact as he did a few years ago, but the walks are up and the power hasn’t gone anywhere. He is, clearly, one of the elite catchers in baseball, and at 26, he should remain a quality player through the remainder of his ridiculous contract. There are three years remaining on his deal, and he’ll earn just over $27 million during that time, less than half of what he’s actually worth. He’s the foundation of the Braves roster, and quite a piece to build around.
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