2012 Trade Value: #15-#11

#50-#46
#45-#41
#40-#36
#35-#31
#30-#26
#25-#21
#20-#16

Note: salaries are rounded estimates and include all team-controlled years. Rankings from the 2011 Trade Value series in parentheses.

15. (NR) Brett Lawrie, 3B, Toronto – Under Team Control through 2017

For all that is made about how remarkable Starlin Castro‘s Major League success is, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that Lawrie is only two months older. While he hasn’t been able to match last year’s ridiculous debut, his career line is .283/.339/.459 in what amounts to one big league season. Any 22-year-old who has a 117 wRC+ is off to a pretty good start to their career, but Lawrie’s not just a bat-only guy. Whether or not he’s actually a +15 defender as UZR has given him credit for is still to be determined, but the scouting reports on his glovework have also been fantastic, and he’s athletic enough to be a plus glove at the position. If the timing of his performances were flipped and Lawrie was currently in the midst of what he did last summer, he might be a top 10 guy. Even still, this version is an above average player at an age when most of his peers are still in the minor leagues. Add in five more years of team control, and Lawrie is still a tremendously valuable asset.

14. (19) Justin Verlander, SP, Detroit – Signed through 2014 for $50 million

Remember how we told you that Verlander couldn’t sustain last year’s .236 BABIP? Well, we were right — he’s all the way up to .242 this year. As crazy as it sounds, he’s basically having the exact same year that he did last year, and is the pitcher most people would choose if they had to win a single game. The only thing keeping him this low is his contract, which expires at the same time as Kershaw and Felix, and the last couple years of his extension aren’t particularly cheap. But, if Verlander was a free agent this winter, he’d almost certainly command the largest contract ever given to a pitcher, so in reality, 2/40 is far less than market value for Detroit’s ace. It’s essentially impossible to see them moving him in any scenario, but if they did, the bidding would be outrageous.

13. (NR) Jered Weaver, SP, Anaheim – Signed through 2016 for $77 million

Like Verlander, Weaver is also duplicating his unsustainable 2011 performance, and is actually having his best year yet in terms of run prevention relative to league average. While Weaver might not be as classicly dominant as Verlander, his track record is impossible to argue with now, and he’s under contract for an additional two seasons. Weaver took less than he could have gotten otherwise to stay in Anaheim, and and he’s gotten better since he signed his contract. His home/road splits and not-acelike peripherals might keep a few teams at bay, but four years of a premium pitcher at a below market price would still generate a lot of interest. Like Verlander, though, it’s impossible to see Weaver going anywhere.

12. (27) Buster Posey, C, San Francisco – Under Team Control through 2016

Posey has come back from his broken leg and been better than ever, and probably doesn’t get enough credit for the Giants success in recent years. He’s already at +8.5 WAR in just under 1,000 career plate appearances, so he’s contributed at a near MVP level pretty much since the day he arrived in the big leagues. He’s even added walks to round out his offensive game, and based on the factors that we can judge with some degree of certainty, he appears to be one of the game’s best defensive catchers as well. The questions about how long he’ll remain at catcher and his Super Two status mean that he might be an expensive first baseman by the time he reaches free agency, but for the next several years, he’s one of baseball’s great bargains. While the pitchers (and more recently, Melky Cabrera) have gotten most of the attention, Posey is the straw that stirs the drink in San Francisco.

11. (3) Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado – Signed through 2020 for $148 million

Another injury plagued season for Tulowitzki, who is looking more and more like a guy who just won’t be able to play 150 games in a season all that often. Durability is a skill, and with each season that goes by, it seems less likely that it’s one he possesses. But that might be the only baseball-related skill he doesn’t have, and even with the injuries, Tulowitzki is still a premium player capable of putting up hugely valuable seasons — he topped +6 WAR in each of the last two years despite just averaging 130 games per year. There’s eight guaranteed years left on his deal with a team option for a ninth season that could push the total money up over $160 million, but because he’s still just 27, the Rockies shouldn’t have too many large negative value years at the end of the deal, and he’s worth far more than the $18 million per year he’s being paid. If he could stay healthy, he’d still be in the top 10, but even with the health issues, Tulo is still a guy to build around.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

122 Responses to “2012 Trade Value: #15-#11”

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  1. Michael Scarn says:

    I’m a bit surprised at Lawrie being so high on the list. Do you really think that the Blue Jays are the ones who say no to Lawrie for King Felix? Or that the Jays turn down Lawrie for Kershaw?

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    • Ira says:

      Considering that he’s a potential Canadian superstar? Yes.

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    • Colin P says:

      Yeah, because he’s cost controlled and pitchers break way more often than position players

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      • Michael Scarn says:

        Yes but King Felix is significantly better than Lawrie.

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      • Hmm says:

        Felix has been better but he costs a lot more money, and as a health risk is more dangerous.

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      • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

        how exactly is felix a health risk?

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      • Anon21 says:

        He’s a pitcher.

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      • Michael Scarn says:

        @Sleight of Hand Pro: You can’t just blindly apply that logic to every pitcher to hitter comparison. You could, if all things were equal, then you’d rather have the hitter for inherent health reasons, or maybe even discount the pitcher to some degree for that. But the fact is that King Felix significantly better than Lawrie overall. Lawrie’s career WAR is only about a win more than Felix has in 20 games this season. And you cannot be serious if you actually think that Toronto would be the ones declining a Lawrie for Felix trade.

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      • ralph says:

        Small sample size and all, but have you looked at Felix’s splits lately? They’re concerning, at the very least, especially given the diminished fastball velocity Dave mentions in combination with the crazy anti-Coors effect Safeco is having this season in particular.

        Safeco: 29.2 K%, 4.9 BB%, and a 2.56 xFIP
        Not Safeco: 20.9 K%, 7.8 BB%, and a 3.71 xFIP

        Historically, there hasn’t been nearly has much as a gap between home and away for him (maybe none at all): For his career (including this year), he has a 3.19 home xFIP and a 3.39 away xFIP.

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      • Colin P says:

        Consider also that they are still paying Lawrie peanuts this year and next, so almost all of his value is surplus to cost, whereas Felix is getting paid pretty well.

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      • Anon21 says:

        I’m not taking a position on Lawrie vs. Felix, I’m just answering Sleight’s question. Pitchers are always a significant injury risk.

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      • Josh says:

        @Ralph

        It’s Safeco and it’s making a difference, but considering his splits last year, I’m not sure that we should assume that those are a forecast of the future just because of his fastball velo.

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      • ralph says:

        @Josh

        I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Felix’s splits straighten out the rest of the year and into next year. Heck, I might even also expect it.

        That said, we’re talking trade value amongst the best of the best, so even the smallest reason for concern can presumably affect relative value in that tier. And diminished velocity + a corresponding negative performance discontinuity seems like the kind of red flag that’s actually a little bigger than the smallest reason for concern, since it’s two (possibly linked, possibly unlinked) issues, not just one.

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    • Michael Scarn says:

      Sorry that was supposed to be directed towards Anon21

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    • Hodgie says:

      ” Lawrie’s career WAR is only about a win more than Felix has in 20 games this season.”
      So you are saying that Lawrie, the 22 year old third baseman is on pace to put up similar value in the first 162 games of his career to what Felix, one of the best pitchers in MLB, will likely produce this season (roughly 6 WAR). And the point of your argument is what exactly?

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    • Gonzalo Hiram says:

      Lik a Yankees fan I would prefer my team trading for CarGo, Kershaw, Felix, Cabrera, Bumgarner, or Price over Lawrie anytime

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    • RIP Carlos Baerga says:

      If I’m AA, he’s on the first thing smoking out of Toronto towards LA.

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  2. TKP says:

    8.5 WAR in about 1000 PAs is about MVP level?

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  3. Anon says:

    It’s essentially impossible to see them moving him in any scenario, but if they did, the bidding would be outrageous.

    This seems like a waste of words this high on a trade value list.

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    • Daniel says:

      Conserve the words! The precious Internet words!

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    • ralph says:

      I know what you mean, but in terms of World Series Championship Probability Added for 2012 (WSPCA12), Verlander might have the highest value out of any one player. Which I think is more to Dave’s point, since Detroit’s goal is to win a World Series as soon as possible.

      The Angels still have a pretty good rotation without Weaver. Tulo’s value is essentially 0 by that WSPCA12, and Stanton and Braun aren’t far off 0. Strasburg’s likely lack of starts in any postseason limit his WSCPA12 to regular season impact, which is looking fairly low at this point. Heyward hasn’t performed consistently enough to give him a tremendously high value in terms of WSCPA12. Even Harper’s performance, while highly impressive, hasn’t been otherworldly enough to pencil him in as having more impact than Verlander this year.

      That leaves us with Posey, Longoria, McCutcheon, Trout, Kemp, and Bautista as guys ranked ahead of Verlander in trade value that I think might be comparable or better than Verlander in terms of WSCPA12. However, given the outsize impact aces can have in the playoffs, I’d have to wonder which of those guys would actually increase Detroit’s chances of winning the World Series this year if they were swapped straight up for Verlander.

      I mean, it’s not like they’d turn down Trout for Verlander, but I’m not sure even Trout or McCutcheon or Kemp would make up for a Tigers playoff rotation without Verlander.

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  4. Chummy Z says:

    Lawrie here? I get it, young, cost-controlled talent is valuable. However, without a legitimate MLB track record, most of that value is in speculation. Right now, a good number of choices on this list feel like they value young and cost-controlled way more than MLB track record, and while there is a lot of value to being young and cost controlled, someone like Lawrie should not be seen as a top 15, let alone top 50.

    Listing Lawrie’s career average triple slash line is oddly misleading, as his 163 wRC+ from last year in a smaller sample size is in stark comparison to his 97 wRC+ this year, in a larger sample. Sure, combined (i.e., the 117 wRC+) they probably paint a better picture of him as a big leaguer, but we don’t know whether that will happen yet, and while power is one of the last things to stabilize, an ISO of 120 over halfway through the season is not something that screams of “#15 in trade value right now.” He has never been near a 117 wRC+ player at the MLB level, and while it is probably rational to project him as one, until that becomes more and more of a reality, ranking him this high seems foolish.

    Youth and being cost controlled is quite valuable, but so is knowing what you’re getting. Such a small and questionable MLB track record from Lawrie so far seems like it would put a bigger question mark on his position than it seems to here. Maybe in 2 years, this spot will be justified. Sure, he’ll have less team control, but he’ll also hopefully be more proven at the MLB level, which is also pretty valuable.

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    • Will says:

      MLB teams frequently speculate. It’s the reason why every trade for prospects have ever happened. No prospect has any (or much) big league track record to go on, but you still see deals like Carlos Beltran for Zack Wheeler. But Wheeler hadn’t pitched a day above A ball, and the Mets made that deal. A guy like Lawrie, now with 600+ PA under his belt, will give you a pretty good idea of what to expect.

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      • Chummy Z says:

        I’m not arguing that trading for prospects is bad, though. Is Zack Wheeler suddenly the 15th most valuable player in terms of trade value in baseball? No, and I’ll doubt that you see any more prospects on this list. The Mets had nothing to lose from the deal, and the Giants needed a bat. It worked for both sides, even if in retrospect, the Mets may be more likely to “win” the deal. 600 PA of very mixed results does not say much about Lawrie at all. Speculation is good, but there’s a fine line drawn where there’s too much value on youth and cost control and too much speculation instead of something more tangible.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Agreed. Lawrie should be on the list, but probably in the bottom half, given that his excellent offensive performance last year came in less than 200 PA.

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      • Will says:

        Even this year, he’s about a 4.5 WAR player.

        That’s pretty friggin valuable for a 22 year old with 5 more years of team control.

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      • Anon21 says:

        Yes, but a lot of that is on the strength of his defense, the precise value of which is subject to much more uncertainty than his offense.

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    • kid says:

      See what you’re saying and generally agree that there is a bit too much emphasis on “young and inexpensive” in this series. In Lawrie’s case, however, he’s incredibly young (22), and even averaging .350 wOBA for the next five years (average of ’11 and ’12), combined with above-average baserunning and great defense, that’s a hell of a player at 3B.

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      • Chummy Z says:

        I really like Lawrie, but assuming that he’ll average a .350 wOBA for the next five years is a bit of a stretch. This goes back to a shady use of averages as I touched on in my first comment. His wOBA in a larger sample size this year is .316. If the defense is legit, and he can back up the hype with a .350 wOBA or a wRC+ of 117 (and hit for some actual power), then by all means he’ll deserve a spot similar to this for the next five years. But defensive metrics are the least concrete of any (mainly addressing the WAR argument above, but also your point), and he’s not been nearly as good offensively this year in his first full season of MLB pitching. Right now, he does not deserve a spot like this.

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      • batpig says:

        that kind of parsing doesn’t make your point more effective. It’s contradictory to examine one chunk of his career for “larger sample size” and just throw out the data from last year. What happened then counts too. The LARGER sample size shows a guy who has been able to put up a wRC+ of 117 / wOBA of .346 in his first 130 games in the big leagues at age 21-22, while playing above average defense at premium position.

        you are underrating how good he has been at such a young age. He’s been an above average hitter and defender in MLB at an age when most guys are happy to be at AA.

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      • GrittleTooth says:

        Well said, batpig. Well said.

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      • Will says:

        Speaking of larger sample sizes, just look at his minor league numbers. They also suggest that he’s very very good.

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      • Chummy Z says:

        @Will, you can say that about a lot of players that also never panned out or who became merely average. Delmon Young? Look, Lawrie may well be a great player someday, but right now, there’s reason for concern, especially with the low power we’re seeing now. There’s a difference between posting good minor league numbers and good major league numbers.

        @batpig, oddly enough, parsing actually does work when the average is not accurately represented within the spread of data. In this instance, we have 40-ish games of 163wRC+ baseball and 80-ish games of 97 wRC+ baseball. The mean of 117 wRC+ is not really represented well in there, nor does that one number truly highlight how his power is at a lower level than he had anywhere in the minors. Unless Lawrie is some crazy offensive beast, that 163 wRC+ is likely an outlier, as it would be for anyone. But a 97 wRC+ is right around average, and could even be how he truly is at the MLB level. That’s a distinct possibility, whether we like it or not. And this is my pain point. Highly touted prospects have turned into merely average players before. Right, Delmon Young?

        While larger samples are meant to include outliers in both directions so that the law of averages can do what it does best, including crazy outliers this early on to deduce valuations when a true mean is nowhere in sight is foolhardy. All I’m asking for is more time at the MLB level producing at a wRC+ of 115 or so with consistently good defensive marks before casting him as the 15th best trade value in all of baseball. 2-3 years of good production could make this spot warranted. Sure, he’ll have less youth and team control left, but he’ll actually have a track record worth a damn, and that’s quite valuable as well.

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      • batpig says:

        sorry dude, those 40-ish games count. It’s amusing to watch you twist yourself into knots trying to make the counterintuitive argument that the smaller sample size (2012 only) is more meaningful than the larger sample size of his career performance.

        guess what: players do not perform at the same level all the time. They have hot streaks and slumps. Did you know that Lawrie hit .310/.371/.513 in June? That’s a 132 wRC+. Maybe THAT small sample is the most meaningful, because he was too aggressive and struggling to make adjustments the first two months of his first full season, right?

        if this was all one season, and not a split between 2011-2012, we would be looking at a guy who had a blazing hot start, slumped for two months, then had a really strong month and now is in a bit of a slump again…. and you’d end up with a perfectly reasonable .277/.329/.459 total line. The narrative wouldn’t fit your argument of course that way….

        bottom line: trying to throw out data to support your dubious conclusion makes you look pretty silly.

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      • ralph says:

        Batpig, I think what you’re missing is that Chummy Z is clearly an omniscient being who knows when an average is/is not accurately represented within a spread of data and has decided to spend some slumming it here in the FanGraphs comment section.

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      • batpig says:

        hmmm, you may be right, it’s not always obvious to us mortals when the conclusions suggested by the larger dataset should be discarded for the smaller slice of data which fits a particular narrative.

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      • Chummy Z says:

        Ok, I’ll be less verbose. Take the giant outlier with a fucking grain of salt, especially when there isn’t much else to work with.

        But ok, bring in your “if it was one season” argument. Talk about “ifs” and speculate all you want. I see a guy who had two crazy outlier months and 4 months of average. As average is more realistic, and can be taken more seriously. Sometimes looking at what comprises an average explains more than just looking at the average itself. Players don’t perform the same all the time as you said. Looking at his career weights a short performance disproportionately to make it look like he’s been consistently better than he really is. Looking at the more sustainable and realistic part of his career may not be entirely accurate, but let’s be real, his true talent is in all likelihood closer to a 97 than a 163 wRC+. Even a wRC+ of 125 supports that assertion.

        But hey, if you’re going to mention how good he was over those 2 months, why not mention his .280 ISO? Oh wait, that’s not realistic. But the current .120 should be concerning, especially if it holds up over the next few months, because that’s a below average, but realistic number.

        tl;dr, look at the realistic numbers and judge more based on those, not crazy outliers in either direction. Everyone has hot streaks and cold streaks, and those outliers are not indicative of true talent. But without a longer track record, any average is flawed. So go ahead and use your flawed averages. At least I’m trying to see through the outliers.

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  5. Anon says:

    Duplicating (aka repeating or sustaining) an “unsustainable” performance is impossible by definition. High end MLB talent isn’t necessarily held to the same assumptions that average or even above average talent is.

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    • ThePartyBird says:

      Right on. Sure is looking more and more like Verlander and Weaver are legitimately sustaining this stuff. How much longer do they have to “Matt Cain” the established stats?

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  6. rustydude says:

    13-Weaver
    14-Verlander
    16-Kershaw
    17-Felix
    20-Price

    In some ways I think this cluster makes sense. I’m a homer on Felix and feel he would net slightly more than Weaver or Verlander in a trade.

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    • TKP says:

      With his decreased velocity? Definitely not. Still an awesome pitcher obviously but that is a big issue.

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      • kid says:

        Felix’ average fastball in 2012 is 92 MPH, which is still above average. Hell, Jered Weaver’s average fastball registers at 88 MPH.

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      • ppabich says:

        That’s because Jared Weaver has the craziest release point of any starting pitcher. He doesn’t have to throw his fastball as fast as felix does due to the angle/command.

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    • Michael Scarn says:

      I was surprised to see Dave’s idea that Weaver would net the most in a trade of any pitcher in baseball…I would have thought it’d be Kershaw given his age and credentials. Obviously the debate comes down to how much teams discount Kershaw’s value due to lack of long-term team control.

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  7. Bad Bill says:

    Of Posey: “he appears to be one of the game’s best defensive catchers as well … he might be an expensive first baseman by the time he reaches free agency” — Wait a minute. Something isn’t adding up here. Has someone, perhaps, drunk the kool-aid?

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    • Drakos says:

      Just because he’s talented defensively doesn’t mean that his body will hold up at catcher.

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    • Wendy Thurm says:

      Just because he’s talented defensively at playing catcher, doesn’t mean the Giants won’t try to move him to first because they believe Hector Sanchez’s bat “must” be in the lineup. It’s insane, but it’s happening with more frequency.

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  8. Los says:

    IIRC Lawrie was a good, not great, prospect who exploded last year and kept up the production at the big league level last year. If he never had those amazing numbers and just had better numbers throughout, would he be this high or down near Moose.Now he arguably has more value to the Jays than any other franchise but that should not affect this exercise.

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    • ALEastbound says:

      He was pretty highly rated coming through the Brewers system but they didn’t have a firm position to start him at. There were also some who questioned his attitude as he is borderline cocky which some take as arrogance or unwillingness to learn, grow.

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      • Garold says:

        Exactly. If the scouts had him pegged as an above-average defensive 3B, he would have been a much higher rated prospect. NOBODY thought he would be an average defensive infielder, never mind leading the league in UZR.

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      • Los says:

        Looks like he peaked at 40 right after the trade (I know he was much higher on the midseason 2012 but my point was more about the pedigree and ordering of his awesomeness).

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    • batpig says:

      Lawrie was always a strong prospect who had the tools to be a great prospect. The rankings, prior to 2011, were mostly based on tools/projection because the performance hadn’t quite caught up yet. Him putting it together last year and rocketing to the majors at age 21 raised his stock tremendously. Had he stayed in AAA all year in 2011 he would have been ranked as a Top 10, possibly Top 5 prospect heading into 2012.

      And it’s not fair to “distribute” the numbers and examine what it would have looked like if he had just been “better throughout”. Not for a guy that young, the career arc is part of the value. He struggled as a 19-year-old, got better as a 20-year-old in AA, and then exploded as a 21-year-old in AAA and had no problem transitioning to the majors. All that stuff counts. It’s what top level prospects do that other, more pedestrian players can’t.

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  9. Eric R says:

    Using TKDC’s list as the remaining 10:

    NL 22 vs AL 28

    The following teams have none:
    Mets, Phillies, A’s, Twins, Astros, Padres

    The Giants, Rays, Rangers and Royals have 16 of the 50; 13% of the teams control 32% of the leagues most valuable assets.

    Toss in the Reds, Nationals, Angels, Tigers and Orioles and you get 30% of the teams with 62% of the top 50.

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    • Brian says:

      I don’t know that the Twins would have one if Dave went out to 100.

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    • TKDC says:

      Top trade values:

      Mets: Wright
      Phillies: Hamels
      A’s: Josh Reddick
      Twins: Who knows?
      Astros: J.D. Martinez
      Padres: Headley

      Anyone else have any thoughts?

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      • Anon21 says:

        I would think Halladay or Lee would be a bigger trade value, given how little of Hamels the Phillies have to offer.

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      • ralph says:

        For the Twins, I have to wonder how Plouffe’s trade value is developing. He could sneak into the top 100 if enough teams believe he has 30+ HR power.

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      • CLogdorp says:

        Yeah, definitely Reddick for Oakland.
        If he can keep up this production for the next 365 days he’ll be on this list next year, I imagine.

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      • Los says:

        Altuve for the Astros no?

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      • chuckb says:

        I’d say Lowrie or Jonathan Singleton for the Astros.

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      • Brian says:

        I’d think Span (locked in through 2015 at about $21M total), Willingham (in yr 1 of 3/$21M), or Miguel Sano for the Twins, depending on what you’re looking for.

        Unless money is no object, and you want a .420 OBP from the catcher position.

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    • Baltar says:

      I don’t see anything amazing about these numbers. It looks like the kind of distribution one would expect.

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  10. Jason says:

    removing Troy’s initial call up 2006 season (25 games) he’s played in only 79% of all Rockies games to date since 2007. fantastic when healthy of course.

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  11. TKDC says:

    Why Verlander ranking is wrong:

    1. How much faith can we put in any pitcher in 2015?

    2. If the Tigers came to Verlander and said, “give me a figure for a two year extension right now.” What would he say? 50 million? 55 million? Then you’d have Verlander through 2016 for 105 million compared to Weaver at 77 million. I’d rather have this.

    But the main point is Verlander is a fairly decent price for 2 1/2 years and the excess years for Weaver don’t come close to making up for the difference in value between possibly the best pitcher in baseball and a guy that might be top-10.

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    • tmorgan1970 says:

      I’m a Tigers fan. There isn’t a starter alive I’d move Verlander for. Still, this perceived difference between JV and Weaver isn’t very large.

      Numbers since 2010

      Starts,IP: Verlander (86, 616), Weaver (83, 564)
      K/9: Verlander (8.84), Weaver (8.11)
      BB/9: Verlander (2.34), Weaver (2.12)
      HR/9: Verlander (0.72), Weaver (0.81)
      BABIP: Verlander (.257), Weaver (.257)
      GB%: Verlander (40.7%), Weaver (34.8%)
      HR/FB%: Verlander (7.4%), Weaver (7.0%)

      It’s fair to say Verlander’s a bit more of a horse, although it’s only by a shade over a third of an inning a start. Weaver’s definitely more of a flyball pitcher, whereas Verlander’s more neutral, another positive (although with Weaver’s outfield, being a flyballer is a very good thing). The strikeout to walk ratios are nearly identical, Weaver gives up slightly more homers as you’d expect from the GB% difference. If these guys are special enough to consistently influence BABIP, they do it equally well.

      Verlander’s a little better, for sure, but not by much. If you do a larger search, you’ll find that Weaver isn’t “might not be top ten” by any stretch. He might not be top FIVE, perhaps, but even those supposedly above him (Verlander, Halladay, Kershaw, Hernandez) really aren’t much better at all. Add in two years of control and I think he’s justifiably ahead of them.

      I disagree with Strasburg as the #1 SP, by the way, unless we’re counting selling tickets. Too much uncertainty with his health. It’s the mid-to-late 20′s guys that have proven they can handle the workload that a GM should want — although I have to acknowledge you can’t fill your entire staff with those guys unless you’re willing to pay 80 million+ for your rotation. I guess that’s why Strasburg slots top ten, funky delivery or not.

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      • TKDC says:

        I have to admit that is a lot closer than I would have thought.

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      • kid says:

        Does it bother anybody else that Weaver bested his xFIP by 1.4 last season, and by a whopping 1.7 this season? Or have people pretty much just accepted that he’s always going to defy every metric?

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      • cs3 says:

        @kid

        the problem is that the known metrics dont apply to guys like Weaver and Cain. Something they are doing is just not accounted for in xFIP

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  12. ralph says:

    If Verlander is the choice to start Game 7 of the World Series, would a perfect Verlander clone also be the choice in the bottom of the ninth for a bases-loaded, 2-out,1-run Game 7? Or would it be someone like Kimbrel or Chapman? How much would the handedness of the batter play into that?

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    • Anon21 says:

      It’s really difficult to say how Verlander would change his approach (e.g., up his effort) if he knew he was being called on to face only 3-5 batters. I guess I’d say that since we already know how Kimbrel and Chapman handle that situation, and since each of them is as close to a sure thing as exists in baseball right now, you’d pick the closer.

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      • tmorgan1970 says:

        I can’t even imagine Verlander as a closer. His current style is to slowly dial up his fastball throughout the game. He’s typically throwing 93-94 in the first inning and 98+ in the eighth and ninth. I’m sure part of it is conserving strength, as he does average over seven innings a start, but part of it is likely comfort level and stretching himself out.

        Chapman can throw 102+, right? I’m sure Verlander could do the same as a closer. It’d be a waste of talent, but it’d be fun to watch.

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      • ralph says:

        It’d be really fascinating if Dave or someone did a survey about such a thing, because I don’t know the answer either. Though I might also lean going with whoever among Kimbrel and Chapman would provide the pitcher platoon advantage.

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      • ThePartyBird says:

        Tmorgan, Verlander has thrown 102 in the 8th inning of a start. I think he’d hit that pretty easily as a closer.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Except that Verlander is a guy who throws harder as the game goes along and his arm loosens up. Some guys can hit their max velocity right away, while other take a few innings to work up to that level.

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  13. Jon says:

    I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series. I’m going to make an unpopular call though and say that McCutchen, and not Trout, should be #1.

    Sure, his average can’t stay that high and Trout’s defense is better, but McCutchen should continue to hit with more power. Most important though, is his contract.

    I may be mistaken, but Trout’s under team control through 2017 (right?). McCutchen is signed through 2018 at such a team-friendly rate. Assuming Trout doesn’t sign a long-term deal, he could be making close to $30 Million in 2017, taking inflation into account. McCutchen tops out at $14.5 Million, AND there’s an extra year of control there.

    Sure, McCutchen’s making more now and will for the next few years, but overall we’re probably looking at Trout making something like $60-$65M before he hits free agency. McCutchen will make essentially that much but through 2018, so comparing him to Trout it’s like they have the same contract but with a free year tacked on the end for McCutchen (when theoretically he should be at his peak, too).

    That should be enough to give him the nod over Trout, no?

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    • TKDC says:

      I agree, but to play Devil’s Advocate, if Trout is making 30 million his last year of arbitration, inflation or no inflation, he’ll have played like Willie Mays the five years prior.

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      • Jon says:

        Well, I think we’re assuming the best reasonable case, and for Trout it’s that he’s a superstar, one of the top position players in the game. But a final year arbitration award is pretty close to what the player would get as a free agent on a one year deal, right? If that’s the case, I’d have to think Trout would get $25-30M, no?

        What would, say, Kemp/Votto/Pujols/Braun have gotten in 2012 on a one-year deal? Maybe $22M-$25M? Assuming a pretty conservative 3% inflation rate, then we’re at $25M-$29M for guys of this caliber in 2017.

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    • batpig says:

      “but McCutchen should continue to hit with more power”

      I would just like to point out that Trout, as of age TWENTY, has a higher career ISO (.218) in the bigs than McCutchen through age 25. This year is the first year that Cutch has topped a .200 ISO. McCutchen didn’t top 20 HR until his age 24 season — he hit 12 at age 22 and 16 at age 23. Trout is going to go 20+ at age 20 despite spending the 1st month of the season in AAA.

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      • TKDC says:

        Just throwing out Trout’s limited MLB numbers and age is simplistic. Who is more likely to regress heavily in 2013? The guy who put up a 5.7 WAR season in 2011 and has been pretty good and getting better every year in the bigs, or the guy with a ridiculous 3 months at age 20? I’d think the worry of buying high would be much more present with the rookie.

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      • Jon says:

        Sure, but I don’t think their ages are really that relevant here, unless you’re saying that Trout’s performance at age 20 is reason to believe that his power will develop significantly more over the next 5-6 years.

        I think it will develop but I think that McCutchen’s will remain better. Also we’re talking about Trout from ages 20-25 and McCutchen from 25-30 (roughly). Given all the experience that McCutchen already has, I think all things equal you prefer the guy in his late 20s.

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      • batpig says:

        “Sure, but I don’t think their ages are really that relevant here”

        of course it is! I’d like you to go look up the list of players who were able to display this kind of power production in the majors at age 20 and see what the careers look like. Trout still has years of development whereas McCutchen is squarely in the middle of his power peak — it’s *possible* that McCutchen continues to hit for more power but I’m not sure it’s all that likely.

        “Given all the experience that McCutchen already has, I think all things equal you prefer the guy in his late 20s.”

        all things aren’t equal.

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      • batpig says:

        “Just throwing out Trout’s limited MLB numbers and age is simplistic.”

        first off, I was just playing devil’s advocate to Jon’s assumption that McCutchen “should continue to hit with more power”, not make a complex and thorough argument. Pointing out that Trout’s power levels at age 20 are already at a point that McCutchen didn’t reach until age 24 is quite relevant.

        second, if you want to include minor league numbers in addition to make the case less “simplistic”, it’s only going to strengthen my argument. Trout hit for more power at every age:

        - Trout put up a .218 ISO at AA as a 19-year-old, and then finished off his age 19 season by jumping to the majors and putting up a .171 ISO in 40 games. McCutchen split age 19 between A and AA and put up a .160 ISO.

        - at age 20, Trout put up a .221 ISO at AAA, whereas McCutchen only put up a .126 ISO at AA.

        “Who is more likely to regress heavily in 2013?”

        boths of ‘em — neither guy is at a sustainable level. But while McCutchen is hitting for more power RIGHT NOW, I think it’s questionable that he will continue to do so.

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      • Jon says:

        @batpig

        “of course it is! I’d like you to go look up the list of players who were able to display this kind of power production in the majors at age 20 and see what the careers look like. ”

        I don’t doubt that – but the question here is what the power production looks like between the ages of 20 and 25, not what his career looks like. Griffey, for example, didn’t put up big time power numbers until his 5th season. But ARod did earlier, so who knows? The other thing though is that Trout is not projected to be a big-time power hitter. (Not that McCutchen is either – but I think most expect him to hit with more power than Trout.)

        Anyway, let’s just assume I was wrong and they hit with the same power from here on out. I’d still say that McCutchen is more valuable because of the contract.

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      • Erik says:

        Trout has legit power. I loved the ball he crushed to right center field 440 feet that almost one hoped out of Tiger stadium the other day. He went opposite field again tonight too. Over 160 games he’s projecting to hit around 30 homeruns now.

        Trout is a much bigger guy than McCutchen as well. No one can know what the future holds but this kid has impressed in every single way – the sole knock on him being that he might not develop power for awhile. Well it’s here now and he’s still just 20.

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    • cs3 says:

      I would completely and utterly shocked if the Angels did not lock up Trout through at least his arb years in the next 12 months, becasue as Jon pointed out, he will make a HUGE amount of money in arbitration. If he puts together 2 more seasons that are even remotely close to this year he will likely be shattering arb records

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  14. everdiso says:

    How is Lawrie only 15th?? Kid is one of the absolute best players in the game today and is under team control for many years to come. Its absurd that his value is clearly being deflated by a couple of stupid pictures taken of him multiple years ago, as his supposedly poor attitude hasn’t affected him on the field at all.

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    • Jason says:

      jeez and i thought it was a little agressive to have him inside the top 15… i’d go 16-20 range

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    • tmorgan1970 says:

      Do we have author block on Fangraphs? Everdiso and all his clones, real or not, need to be taken out back and shot.

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      • Mcneildon says:

        I’m pretty sure this will stop once everybody stops responding with serious baseball comments to any posts from everdiso, regardless of whether it’s a “real” or “fake” everdiso.

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    • everdiso says:

      Guess this is not me…troll alert. Once again I don’t get why people must recklessly tear down the goodwill built by years of productive and insightful comments, it’s very upsetting and pathetic.

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  15. CLogdorp says:

    Not gonna say it, but I will say this: it wasn’t me every time.

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  16. David says:

    So where was J.A. Happ on this list? :)

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  17. Josh says:

    The reason that Lawrie’s spot is disagreeable has less to do with Lawrie than it does the conceptual workings of the list itself. There are a bunch of conflicting elements that make it much too murky of an exercise to draw any conclusions.

    It seems to me to be silly to use any sort of advanced metrics in this particular discussion, because the Mariners/Blue Jays wouldn’t put credence into those metrics. I’d wager that GMs, more often than not, make decisions from a place of emotion (what their “gut” says based on subjective factors) rather than the more objective factors we like to play with. This is to say that I have a really hard time seeing how in the world the GMs of baseball would value Lawrie over Felix — this, with the qualification that I don’t know much about the “real” workings of a GM discussion, but… y’know. It’s Felix (Cy Young) and Lawrie.

    Put another way: if you polled the public with a Felix v. Lawrie value question, the answer would be hugely in favor of Felix. I think that GMs would use the same logic as the general public in making their decision.

    It’s possible that I’m missing the point, and it also definitely matters if we’re making this list situation or general (Lawrie may have more value to the Jays than another team because of marketability). It would be fun to have a discussion in a vacuum, removed from a player’s specific circumstances with their teams, and ask what the average MLB GM would do in a fantasy draft setting.

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    • Anon21 says:

      I think you’re doing GMs an injustice here. There are a dwindling few who pay no attention to advanced metrics, but most front offices have access to more data and better metrics than Internet sabermeticians, and give that analysis big weight in personnel decisions. Now, it would be valid to point out that maybe more accurate defensive metrics would show Lawrie’s not as good as publicly-available metrics make him out to be. But we have no way to know.

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      • Josh says:

        You’re right that we can’t know with certainty, and I don’t pretend to know with certainty. The gap is closing between saber/non-saber information in GM offices and I would assume that most of them use advanced statistics — or at least have people feeding them the conclusions of advanced statistics — before making a trade. Felix is an overwhelming presence, and Lawrie isn’t. I think it’s safe to assume that this does play a larger factor in a GM’s decision than it would in our hypothetical decision.

        But again: it’s just an assumption, and it may well be unfounded.

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    • batpig says:

      your assumptions about the decision making process of modern MLB GM’s are waaaay off base.

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      • Josh says:

        Look, I’m not making the argument that GMs are dumb because they don’t use stats like Fangraph Internet Saber Gods, or if I am, I mean to quickly back away from that argument. I’m saying that the modern GM, from all perspectives, probably utilizes factors we aren’t taking into account in this conversation in evaluating trades.

        If I’m objectively wrong here, and you have evidence that each of the 30 GMs in baseball utilize the same thought processes as the Internet in evaluating players, I’d non-sarcastically like to see that evidence. I don’t know how it works, but to assume that all GMs are employing stats in a certain way is as irrational as the inverse assumption.

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      • batpig says:

        don’t try and back down now, you explicitly said: ” I’d wager that GMs, more often than not, make decisions from a place of emotion (what their “gut” says based on subjective factors) rather than the more objective factors we like to play with…. I think that GMs would use the same logic as the general public in making their decision.”

        that is VERY different than saying: “I’m saying that the modern GM, from all perspectives, probably utilizes factors we aren’t taking into account in this conversation in evaluating trades.”

        and it’s a false choice to say that the other option is: “each of the 30 GMs in baseball utilize the same thought processes as the Internet in evaluating players.”

        modern baseball ops teams employ a great deal of data in their analysis, and it’s wise that you are quickly backing away from your initial assertion that GM’s are typically driven by emotion and gut feel when making personnel decisions. The idea that GM’s are employing modern statistical analysis is NOT at all irrational, sorry, it’s pretty much factual for most ballclubs these days.

        so now that you have backed off, WTF are you even saying? That this list is not the exact same list that you would have gotten if you had simply polled the 30 GM’s? So what?

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      • TKDC says:

        Fangraphs is loaded with the posters who are functionally equivalent to our dads and granddads yelling at the TV, claiming they could have caught that ball or scored from first on that double.

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      • Josh says:

        I’m not sure how I’m functionally equivalent to a dude yelling at a TV, and I’m also not sure why my argument strikes you as so contradictory. I believe that GMs use processes — including intangible factors — that are vastly different than what you use to evaluate players. I also believe that these factors favor Felix over Lawrie in a significant way.

        I’m not the smartest guy in the room, I don’t claim to be, and I would like to see why I’m apparently so woefully uninformed. I also don’t see what in my post was so inflammatory as to incite the kinds of responses I’m getting — I probably don’t follow this stuff as much as is necessary to contribute to this discussion, but it seems like it would be a more charitable thing to tell me what makes me an idiot rather than just calling me an idiot.

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      • batpig says:

        I thought I did. I quoted specific things you said and explained why I thought they were wrong. I (nor anyone else) called you an idiot, we merely called into question your premise that GM’s “more often than not” are making personnel decisions based on emotion/gut rather than advanced metrics. That’s simply not true anymore.

        Now that you seem to be backing off ever further from those statements and re-framing your argument into a much weaker, non-controversial form, it’s a little less abrasive.

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      • Josh says:

        Re-reading my posts, I’d say that, yeah, they weren’t very well conceived. Lotta words, but I’m mostly just thinking out loud.

        Quibbling about this isn’t a big deal, and I appreciate that you responded, but what you did is simply say that I was wrong. Credit you for saying where specifically I was wrong, but in no way did you present evidence — you just said it was simply, obviously untrue. To me it doesn’t seem so obvious that a GM wouldn’t let the presence of a Felix Hernandez impact his rational. The central point I tiptoed around is that I think that most GMs consider Felix to be way better than Lawrie and for that reason consider him more valuable. I am guessing that GMs consider Felix better for a variety of reasons, some statistically oriented and some not. I also don’t think I’m backing down from my original argument so much as I am rewording a poorly articulated post, but that’s neither here nor there. I stand by the idea that there’s a measure of subjectivity that goes into decisions like this that isn’t being acknowledged.

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      • ralph says:

        This list is to some extent objective evidence that GMs value Lawrie over Felix, since a major factor in these rankings is Dave’s conversations with team contacts.

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    • jim says:

      why do you think GMs are still in the 70s?

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  18. Mel says:

    Dave – Will we see the top ten before the weekend?

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  19. Cory says:

    Weaver being ahead of Verlaner is an absolute joke, lmao

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  20. Pig.Pen says:

    By the end of the season, you will look back and think it an oversight that Jordan Zimmermann isn’t on this list. He currently has the top ERA on the Nationals very good starting staff, is young, cost controlled and has more of a track record than Strasburg (whom I’m sure is still to come). In the second half, I believe Zimm’nn will emerge as someone who receives serious Cy Young consideration.

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  21. T says:

    For all the guys bashing Lawrie, he will be a 30/100 player within the next 5 years, all while providing some of the game’s best defence at third base. Taking this and the fact that he’s controllable for several years, he is clearly deserving of the #15 spot on this list.

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  22. McFly says:

    Verlander’s trade value is higher than Jered Weaver’s because Verlander is a well-spoken man of character instead of a problem child.

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  23. Dylan says:

    I feel like Verlander is underrated, given the gimmick being used here. I count 17 teams that could be considered playoff contenders, and 10 teams will make it. Once you get to the playoffs, the value of a SP greatly increases, I feel like Verlander becomes the best player in baseball in the playoffs. With the extra teams in playoff contention, and the extra teams in the playoffs, I think he should be higher on this list. I don’t know if he’s actually a better value than those above him, but his trade value becomes constantly higher with so many teams thinking they can make a playoff run.

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    • monkey business says:

      He isn’t paid what he is worth, but he is paid a lot more than Strasburg. You do make an interesting point tho that for the one game playoffs he becomes more valuable. Interesting…

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