2012 Trade Value: #5-#1

We close out this year’s list of the top 50 assets in the sport with a fantastic group of young players and The Contract That Keeps On Giving. You can check out 6-50 in the links below, and then scroll down to find out which of the game’s brightest young stars comes out on top.

#50-#46
#45-#41
#40-#36
#35-#31
#30-#26
#25-#21
#20-#16
#15-#11
#10-#6

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

5. (16) Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami – Under Team Control through 2016.

Stanton is a beast of a hitter, and he’s only getting better. He got to the Majors as a 20-year-old who struck out too much, but while he still swings and misses a lot, he’s got his strikeout rate down to acceptable levels, and he’s matured into the game’s best young power hitter. For comparison, Stanton has been better through age 22 than Miguel Cabrera, and on the same level as Ken Griffey Jr and Alex Rodriguez. He doesn’t offer the same kind of defensive value of those two, but young hitters don’t get much better than this. With four more years of team control, Stanton is one of the most valuable pieces in the game today, though his numbers are going to assure that he gets paid in arbitration. Given how quickly he’s become a great hitter, the Marlins may regret not locking him up sooner.

4. (1) Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay – Signed through 2016 for $38 million.

After a long stint at the top of this list, Longoria has finally been dethroned. Injuries have essentially wiped out his age 26 season, and he’s down to just four more years left on the seemingly never-ending contract the Rays signed him to as a rookie. However, this fall in the rankings is more about the three guys in front of him than about Longoria himself. Even with the durability questions, he’s still one of the game’s elite talents, and that contract is still paying him a tiny fraction of what he’s actually worth. In a normal year, Longoria would have still been in the mix for the top spot, but this isn’t a normal year. This is a year that has seen three young outfielders all perform at incredible levels, and that trio has emerged as the future of the sport. This is no knock on Longoria. He’s just been displaced by three guys who could each carry the sport on their back for the next decade.

3. (6) Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pittsburgh – Signed through 2018 for $63 million.

McCutchen entered the year as a consistently solid hitter after posting a wRC+ of 125, 125, and 129 during his first three years in the big leagues. This year, McCutchen has exploded, turning doubles into home runs and outhitting every other player in the National League. His 187 wRC+ is second in baseball, and at age 25, he’s turned into a true superstar. He probably won’t keep hitting for power at this level, but even if some of those home runs turn back into doubles, he’s still a premier all around talent. The Pirates were extremely smart to lock up McCutchen over the off-season, buying out all of his arbitration years and getting his first three years of free agency as well. He’s worth several magnitudes more than the contract is going to pay him, and he’s almost single-handedly restored Pittsburgh’s credibility as a franchise. The Pirates have a superstar who isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and that’s good for both the city and the sport as a whole.

2. (20) Bryce Harper, OF, Washington – Under Team Control through 2018

When I finished the initial version of this list a couple of weeks ago, Harper was #1. His placement at second on this list really has nothing to do with his July slump — where he’s finally looked human for the first time since arriving in the big leagues — he just got passed by an epic tornado of brilliance in Anaheim. Harper is still the premier young talent in the sport. Comparisons range from Josh Hamilton (with plate discipline) to Ken Griffey Jr, and outside of an injury or off the field issue, it’s hard to see any career trajectory for Harper that doesn’t end with him as the best player in baseball.

What he’s doing in the big leagues as a teenager is special, and I’d still take his future over any other player on the planet. But, right now, Harper is simply a good player who can be a solid piece on a winning team. By next year, he could be a superstar, but he’s not quite there yet, which is just fine, because he’s 19-years-old. His future is amazing. His present is very good. That was good enough for the top spot until last week, when the #1 spot on this list was finally just torn out of his hands through sheer force by…

1. (21) Mike Trout, OF, Anaheim Angels – Under Team Control through 2017

Since getting called up to the Majors, Trout has been the best player in baseball, and it hasn’t even been particularly close. At his current rate of performance, he’d average +10.3 WAR per 600 plate appearances. For his career, Babe Ruth averaged 10.0 WAR per 600 plate appearances. Yeah. There’s just not much left to say about what Trout is doing right now. He’s almost certainly not going to keep this up because no one can keep this up, but what we’re seeing is a 20-year-old with no real flaws in his game.

39 of his 107 hits have gone for extra bases. He’s 31 for 34 in base stealing. He’s an amazing defensive center fielder. Three times he’s tried to bunt his way on base, and three times he’s been successful. He makes contact, he hits for power, he doesn’t swing at pitches out of the zone, and he can run like the wind. The only way Trout could be better at baseball is if he was also a dynamite pitcher with a 99 mph fastball.

When I was polling baseball people for their opinions on Harper versus Trout, it came down mostly on Harper’s side. But then, over the last two weeks, I’ve had a half dozen people send me notes saying that they’ve changed their minds. What Mike Trout is doing right now is something we haven’t seen since Alex Rodriguez in 1996. 20-year-olds aren’t supposed to be the best player in baseball. Right now, Mike Trout probably is.




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


178 Responses to “2012 Trade Value: #5-#1”

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  1. Jordan says:

    Well, at least maybe the Angels fans will stop whining in comments sections now ;)

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  2. Okra says:

    Dave, really enjoyed this series … would it be possible to get a write-up on all the players who dropped out from last years top 50?

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  3. Slim Jim says:

    Stanton’s knee issues concern me. A guy that big… I worry about him staying healthy long term.

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    • Dave Cameron says:

      It’s a valid concern, and one of the reasons he rates fifth on the list.

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    • JimNYC says:

      My bigger concern with him is the strikeouts — guys with BABIP’s that high and monster power shouldn’t be hitting .280. And he’s not really drawing enough walks to make up for it. He seems like he’ll settle in to being a .360 OBP guy — which is fine, but he’s more of a complementary piece than a franchise guy. He’s young and he’s got time to turn it around, but I have concerns. If everything breaks right for him, He can be another Rocky Colavito. If not, he could easily be Pete Incaviglia.

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  4. Joe says:

    Is it the contracts that separate Tulo and Longo? Other than that they seem pretty similar: not very durable, elite players, probably even the best, at their important positions.

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  5. Rick Sutcliffe says:

    Where is Samardzija? Idiots.

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    • GrtSm says:

      Sitting pretty, with just 3 years of team control and a WAR at 1.9.

      He’s hardly an ace, and with 3 arb years coming up, he won’t be all that cheap either. I wouldn’t trade the #50 guy on this list, Elvis Andrus, for him.

      …idiots

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    • Pig.Pen says:

      Better question, “Where’s Jordan Zimmermann?” Samardzija only has three years of team control left and is yet to produce anything substantial. Zimm’nn will get Cy Young votes this year and could even win the thing if he keeps pitching this way. So far this year, he’s been as good or maybe even better than Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez and he just turned 26 and has another four years of team control. In a little over a year’s worth of starts (2011 & 2012) he’s been worth over 7 WAR. To me he’s the next Matt Cain, totally under-appreciated until he isn’t.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Zimmermann is a Super 2 who had his first year of arbitration this year, so he only has another 3 years of team control left, and assuming he performs well they won’t even come at that much of a discount. He’s also a pitcher that has already had a major injury and is seriously outpitching his peripherals right now, two more factors that work against him in this sort of thing. I can see a case for him on the back end of the list, but he’s not a major omission.

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  6. Paul says:

    No arguments here. All I can really say is, it’s a great era to be a baseball fan.

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  7. rustydude says:

    Minor quibble… I think… but isn’t an order of magnitude equal to 10x? How can Cutch be worth several magnitudes more than what his contract pays him? I can see him being worth, perhaps, 2x or 3x more than his contract, but not 20x or 30x.

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    • drewcorb says:

      I was wondering if a “magnitude” is different than an “order of magnitude”. I think it maybe just another mathematical term that gets its meaning distorted when thrown into everyday speech. It’s kind of like a player being “infinitely better” than another player. I’d prefer to hear either “significantly better” or “non-negligibly better”, but I think writers need their hyperbole so it’s not going to happen.

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    • adohaj says:

      only on this site

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    • LTG says:

      Also, orders of magnitude are 10^x. So, 10x, 100x, 1000x, etc.

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      • drewcorb says:

        good catch

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      • drewcorb says:

        But at least if he is producing 20x more value than his contract, he is still in order of magnitude territory. But I don’t know how much more we can beat this dead, irrelevant horse.

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      • Atari says:

        As far as the order of magnitude, wouldn’t it depend on the base numbers we are using in this system. We are assuming a base 10 system (10^1, 10^2) but it could be different.

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      • tmorgan1970 says:

        I’d assume you all have easy jobs or no jobs.

        (and I’m at least partially incriminating myself, eh?)

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    • cs3 says:

      are you guys f’n kidding me?

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  8. Kyle says:

    Somewhere in South Philadelphia, Ruben Amaro stares perplexedly at this list.

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  9. Sandy Kazmir says:

    Would Evan Longoria still be in 4th if he wasn’t holding out for a new contract or do you think Trout and/or Harper have done enough to pass him even if we were witnessing a normal season?

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    • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

      theyve passed him regardless of the injury. there was no way trout/harper weren’t going to be 1/2, the question was of order.

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  10. Scott says:

    Out of curiosity since i have my own opinion, what’s your take on Heyward vs Stanton? I know Stanton probably has the higher value cause of his contract lasting longer, but assuming that was equal would you still rate him higher?

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    • Oliver says:

      132 wRC+ vs 120 wRC+ in about the same number of PAs, and Stanton’s trending the right direction. Stanton is pretty easy to take over Heyward, IMHO, especially with the contract.

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      • Anon21 says:

        I don’t know that it’s quite that simple. Stanton has the better bat now and probably going forward, but Heyward is adding a lot of net value in both defense and baserunning.

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      • Scott says:

        Thing is that is fine and dandy, but question is will Stanton’s offense make up for the defensive difference and baserunning difference. I know as a Braves fan I wouldn’t trade Heyward for Stanton, but I’m biased I’ll admit that.

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    • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

      stanton, not that close in my eyes. hes better right now, and younger, and that doesnt even take the team control aspect of it into consideration.

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      • jmbarton13 says:

        You do realize that Stanton is a whopping 90 days younger than Heyward, right? There are definitely reasons one would take Stanton over Heyward, but I think it’s a little closer than some on here are making it out to be. Age just isn’t one of those reasons.

        For the duration of their time under team control, they’ll probably be worth about the same amount. Stanton will be a bit better hitter and Heyward will be a bit better defender and baserunner. Pick your poison. I don’t think you can go wrong with either.

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    • Atari says:

      Heyward and Stanton are essentially the same age, with Heyward only 3 months older. I think the reason that Stanton is hyped, or consistently ranked higher over Heyward is Stanton’s power ceiling is thought to be so much higher than Heyward’s power ceiling.

      Look at their ISOs since their debuts in 2010:

      Stanton
      2010: .248
      2011: .275
      2012: .270

      Heyward
      2010: .179
      2011: .162
      2012: .202

      Although both players have had their share of injuries at least Stanton already has a 30 HR season on his resume (34 HR in 2011). As far as their plate discipline skills, both players walk over 10% and strike out over 20%. I thought Heyward would be more of a 15% to 18% K type of guy but he has been trending in the wrong direction. I do think he will be a more elite walk guy. Overall I think if you want to get into defensive or baserunning values then Heyward picks up more value, but the reason for why Heyward gets ranked below Stanton simply comes down to how they are viewed as power hitters. Stanton’s power is just seen to be on another level than Heyward’s power is and their plate discipline numbers are pretty similar.

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  11. Dan S says:

    Great Series.

    Would Yoenis Cespedes by in the running for biggest ‘snub’?

    I know we have a small sample size, but so far he’s doing very well for Oakland and he’s only in the 1st year of a 4 year $36 million dollar deal.

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    • Ryan S says:

      Not a big A’s fan but I would have no complaints seeing him at #51. I don’t know about the “biggest” snub though as there are several players that could reasonably be at the very end of this list.

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  12. No Aroldis Chapman, huh?

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    • CabreraDeath says:

      He’s a reliever. Until he shows success as a SP, his value is not on par w/ the other guys on here.

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      • So you would trade him straight-up for Alcides Escobar or Adam Jones or Elvis Andrus?

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      • Anon21 says:

        Absolutely, unless he’s fully capable of converting to the rotation and the Reds just haven’t bothered to try. Dude pitches maybe 60-70 innings a year. He just is not as valuable as even an average regular.

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      • Really? He’s been worth 2.3 WAR in just 45 innings so far this season. Even as a reliever, that’s about on par with what the three guys I just listed are doing. That’s about twice as valuable as your average regular over a full season.

        And FWIW, the Reds have said numerous times that his future is in the rotation. He was pressed into bullpen duty this season because of the injuries to Ryan Madson, Nick Masset, and Billy Bray.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        He’s not as valuable as an average regular? Isn’t an average regular worth roughly 2 WAR over the course of an entire season? I think getting over 2 WAR in less than 50 IP is significantly more valuable than that. I honestly think the value of shutdown relievers gets underrated around here, though I agree that it’s tough to rationalize them making the top 50.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Reliever WAR should always be taken with a grain of salt compared to anyone else’s. Relievers have no place on a trade value series.

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      • zbelair says:

        I disagree that he has to show success as a SP before he can show up on this list…

        I’m pretty sure Bundy hasn’t shown success as a SP, and Profar hasn’t shown success as a SS yet, but they still make the list. Future potential is a major aspect of this list, so unless you are saying the current thought is he will not be successful as a SP and has peaked already then he should not be discredited for being a reliever.

        Even as reliever he has the 24th best WAR (2.3) of any pitcher in the majors (as of 7/23), and is the only player below 98 IP (45.2) on the top 30, not even Kimbrel. Just looking at pitchers (can’t really compare pitchers WAR to hitters as they don’t play every day) #49 Yovani Gallardo (1.6), #24 Matt Moore (1.1), #19 Madison Bumgarner (2.1), and Bundy as noted earlier all have been less valuable to their team this season.

        I am not arguing that Chapman should be on the list, I don’t know enough about him or follow the Reds, and I’m not as knowledgeable as those making this list to argue 50 vs. 51 etc. All I am saying is I don’t think the fact that Chapman is a RP, or is not offering the inferred SP values is enough to prohibit him from this list. If RP’s can’t be on the list since they aren’t as valuable as SP’s, then this logic would probably say pitchers can’t make this list at all, or at least very rarely (38 of the top 50 WAR belong to hitters, in fact all of the top 8 and 13 of top 15 are hitters)…

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      • Anon21 says:

        Charlie: Where did you get the idea that an average regular is worth 1 WAR over the course of a full season? That’s significantly below average.

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      • jpg says:

        Chapman should absolutely be on the list. Again you have to judge it on the criteria. If this were a list of, say the top 50 players in the sport or the 50 Most Valuable, then no he shouldn’t be on the list. For a trade value list like this? Absolutely. The Reds would get a massive haul for this guy. A bigger haul than at least a half dozen of the guys listed.

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  13. Zack says:

    Is David Wright not on the list?

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  14. Nick says:

    As an Angels fan, it’s great to finally see a highly touted position prospect actually live up to, and even surpass the hype. And with what Trumbo is accomplishing (although perhaps he’ll be coming back to Earth soon), it is really exciting to see.

    RIP McPherson, Kotchman, Mathis, Wood, Kendrick, etc.

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  15. TKDC says:

    I know this list is not one of who is the most valuable player, but rather an attempt to guess who would get the most in a trade, but I can’t imagine what team would rather trade for Harper than McCutchen. He is a proven player that is already developed and he is damn cheap compared to what he’s worth.

    Will Harper take the leap forward next year? Maybe, but right now we’re seeing signs that this year is at least a bit flukey. He was not as good in short stints in AA and AAA as he has been in the Majors, and using a guy like Griffey, he could be 2-3 years away from really being an elite player (which is not to take anything away from him. If he is elite next year, there is no way he doesn’t make at least $63 million through arbitration because he will easily make Super-2 status and get 4 bites.

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    • GoToWarMissAgnes says:

      I’m with you. McCutchen > Harper is fairly easy to me, especially once you consider that Boras is Harper’s agent. Harper may end up better, but he will only be a discount for a couple years. McCutchen is elite right now, and he’s cheap as dirt for a long time.

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    • zbelair says:

      I think that Harper being 6 years younger has something to do with it.

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      • TKDC says:

        because getting a guy age 19-25 is better than 25-31?

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      • Nivra says:

        That only means you get McCutcheon during his prime and Harper during his pre-prime.

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      • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

        TKDC,

        is this a serious question? of course it is.

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      • TKDC says:

        If 27/28 is considered average prime, I don’t know why you’d rather have 19-25 than 25-31. I think people are subconsciously looking at more than what you actually get with Harper. He’s a FA after his age 25 season.

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    • rogue_actuary says:

      I’ll try to keep this short for you, TKDC.

      McCutchen is a 5-6 WAR player who is benefiting greatly from some results that are unlikely to be sustained. His BB% is down, his current HR/FB % is more than double his career average, his GB% is up, and yet his BABIP is currently .417 (with a .327 career-to-date BABIP). He is a fantastic player. One of the very best in the game. But this is his age-26 season. It is highly likely that this is the best of Andrew McCutchen that we will ever see.

      Bryce Harper has inner-circle HOF talent. It is very rare for a teenager to be an average MLB hitter. Harper’s current wRC+ is 114. When McCutchen was 19, he posted a wRC+ of 100. In AA-ball.

      Harper is an elite power prospect. He is also striking out a lot less than scouts and projection systems had anticipated. He is not benefitting from smoke and mirrors (.315 BABIP, 10.4% HR/FB). These things portend very well for his future performance. Is he a guaranteed 6-win player? Not by any means. But there is also a much greater chance of Harper developing into a true-talent 7- or 8-win player. And it is also highly likely that he’ll develop into a player with a pretty high floor. The hit tool is there. The patience and the power are there. He has even played about half of his innings in CF and the defensive currently rate him as about average.

      Harper’s career trajectory is nearly unprecedented. If he ends up being a better player than Trout, it will almost certainly be because of his power. I don’t think it would surprise anyone if he hit 35 HRs as a 20-year old next year. By the time he’s 21 or 22, we could be talking about a guy hitting like 2012 Ryan Braun (with maybe less contact /more power) and playing centerfield.

      I (and probably every GM) would absolutely trade McCutchen in exchange for Harper’s potential.

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      • tmorgan1970 says:

        Yep. Great post.

        Money-wise, this is also about what you’re trading for. Yes, Harper is going to make 20+ mil a year eventually, but those aren’t the years you’re trading for. He’s cheaper than Cutch, too.

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      • TKDC says:

        Of course the best case scenario for Harper is that he is 2011 Ryan Braun by next season, but that is not who he is now. And if he does reach his potential quickly, he is definitely going to be making 20 million or thereabouts by his third or fourth trip through arbitration. He’s the exact kind of player that is rewarded in arbitration.

        The only way Harper’s salary through 2018 is less than McCutchen is if he is not nearly the player everyone seems to believe he is certain to be.

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      • kid says:

        Well said.

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      • tmorgan1970 says:

        You really think Harper’s going to make 68 million by 2018?

        If he makes that kind of money thru arb, McCutchen’s going to need to hit close to this well to be better than Harper. That argument works both ways.

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      • Ryan S says:

        I agree that Harper has more value than McCutchen due to age. However I disagree with you that McCutchen will be unable to sustain anything other than his absurdly high batting average. Watching his at bats you can also see that the stance adjustment has had a huge impact on his ability to drive the baseball. It’s a simple case of a supreme athlete making an adjustment that takes his game up a notch. When you’re as locked in at the plate as he is it doesn’t make much sense to take a base when you have the confidence and ability to change the game with a swing of the bat.
        On a seperate note, a question for Dave or any other staff member. The defensive metrics seem to really hate McCutchen’s defensive value. Short of Granderson UZR has him as the worst center fielder in baseball. The main reason for this seems to be his range value. So my question is this: Is it possible that he is under orders to not lay out for the baseball or otherwise exert himself in a manner that could cause injury in the field? I’ve watched nearly every game and to be honest, ever since the sprained wrist he’s suffered I don’t think he’s really given it a 100% in the outfield. Given his nature and energy level it just doesn’t make sense.

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  16. ebc says:

    “When I was polling baseball people for their opinions on Harper versus Trout, it came down mostly on Harper’s side. But then, over the last two weeks, I’ve had a half dozen people send me notes saying that they’ve changed their minds.”

    I’ve always been a Trout-over-Harper guy myself, but making decisions on the basis of two weeks’ worth of performance seems pretty silly. And in fact, the extra year of team control for Harper is tipping me to the other side.

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    • Nivra says:

      It’s not really 2 weeks. It’s 4 months. It’s just that the last month has turned it from oh, he’s just on a SSS hot streak, to holy shit, he may really be this good.

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        Makes you hungry for Harper’s age-20 season, eh?

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      • Jason says:

        Yeah, this year you have to put Trout first because you have to reward the performance you see over the performance that you predict in the future. If you put Harper first, you’re just being a little too clever for your own good, in my opinion, hot streak or not. Trout is just other-worldly this season.

        But it’s certainly worth acknowledging that Harper has the tools to potentially take that #1 spot as early as next season.

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  17. kid says:

    I’d like to point out that Harper’s latest “struggles” are more of a slump than anything else. He’s mostly maintained his BB% (9%-10%) and K% rate (18%-20%) from just about every minor league stop he’s had, and he’s still got a really healthy 23% LD rate (including 27% in July) which shows that he’s still hitting the ball hard. He’ll be just fine.

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  18. adohaj says:

    About McCutchen

    “He probably won’t keep hitting for power at this level”

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/bondsba01-bat.shtml#1986-1989-sum:batting_standard

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mccutan01-bat.shtml#2009-2011-sum:batting_standard

    More than just the uniforms and race look similar to me

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  19. kid says:

    Don’t see how it’s possible to be rational right now regarding Trout. Yes, the season he’s having is amazing, but what is his true talent level? Current wOBA is .446. Does anybody believe he’s as true-talent .400+ wOBA player? I don’t, especially considering that he hit just 29 HR in 351 games before this season. I’d still rather have Harper.

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    • Rays says:

      Clueless One,

      Mike Trout was a teenager fresh out of high school during 331 of those games. How many teenagers display their full power potential? That usually takes some time. He was also playing against much older and much more experienced competition. He more than held his own. He was amazing. Please forgive him for not displaying King Kong-esque power in the minor leagues as a teenager fresh out of high school.

      From his time in High-A to Double-A, your boy Harper has hit just 4 home runs in 58 games. His numbers were also nothing to write home about. But nobody is holding that against him because most people are smart enough to realize that he is, like Trout was less than a year ago, a teenager and that it may take a little time before his massive potential starts to translate in games.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Asshole one,

        Trout currently is sporting a .413 BABIP and yeah maybe his 18.3% HR/FB rate is sustainable in the long-term, but just because he was a teenager a year ago doesn’t mean his power is for real right now.

        God forbid someone doubt whether a half-season’s worth of data is enough to project Trout being a true .400+ wOBA player. Especially considering that only 10 players ended last year with an wOBA above .400 and ZiPS projects only three players to hit that for the duration of the season. But yes, 74 games is enough to say definitively that anyone questioning Trout’s place amongst these players is clueless.

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      • BB says:

        Check out the WAR leaderboard. Just about everyone is sporting an out-of-this-world BABIP, not just Trout. Votto is at .400. McCutchen is at .417. Cabrera is at .390. Wright is at .385. Austin Jackson is at .400. Ruiz is at .360. Bourn is over .370. Trout is just beating them all because of his incredible skillset.

        The Harper-ites are worse than the Trout-ites.

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      • Rays says:

        Very sensitive and touchy…

        That 442 foot opposite field home run was just one of those things, I guess. The multiple 440+ foot shots and all those no-doubters that would’ve cleared any ballpark were just doubters, perhaps. Maybe they were holograms and Trout doesn’t even exist?

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      • kid says:

        Haha love the accusation that I have some wacky pro-Harper bias after you basically just gave Mike Trout a written reach-around, complete with a little cuddling afterwards.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        @BB

        And what, exactly, is your point? That leader boards for partial seasons tend to be dominated by players with unsustainable production numbers? Maybe someone should write a post on that…

        Also, am I a Harper-ite? I care very little about Harper, personally.

        Keep grasping for straws, though, it suits you.

        @ Rays

        Well shoot, he’s hit some long homeruns (400+ feet!!!), I guess 74 games is enough to state unequivocally that Trout is one of the ten best hitters in baseball!

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      • ppabich says:

        If you don’t think that Trout has real power, then you simply haven’t watched him, and you’ve never seen him in your life. The kid is built like a tank, who looks more like Brian Urlacher than a baseball player, and has opposite field power in Angel Stadium. That takes strength. Sometimes it takes a little more than just citing minor league numbers to explain power. Stats don’t explain everything, at some point you have to watch the kid.

        Harper has strength and the type of swing to lift balls out of the park. While Trout has a short compact swing meant to hit line drives. Trout won’t hit as many has Harper in his career, but clearly he has done enough to show he has 25 HR power in the present. And depending on how his speed deteriorates, and how his body develops he could hit far more than that in a season.

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    • tmorgan1970 says:

      Yes, I do believe Mike Trout is a true talent .400 wOBA player.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DavidCEisen says:

        If you count Holliday’s .399 wOBA, there are six players with .400 wOBA or better during the stretch of 2008-now.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jim says:

        yes, we know true-talent .400 wOBA guys exist, but thanks for the confirmation anyway

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • DavidCEisen says:

        The point being, to say Trout is a true .400 wOBA means you believe he is currently one of the top 5 hitters in baseball.

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      • tmorgan1970 says:

        That is correct. He has one current “weakness”, a slightly above average strikeout rate. That’s the kind of thing that frequently (but not always) improves as a player gets big league experience. He currently has blazing speed, and while he may slow down fairly quickly, the experience factor will likely compensate. He’s smart, he works hard, he has every hitting tool, and he’s never struggled for long at any level. He’s an elite talent with elite production this year. There’s always a chance he’s not THIS good, but I think he’s at least close — .400 OBA close.

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  20. Double J says:

    Are we getting the Worst Five contracts list again? or has it been retired for the duration of Ryan Howard’s deal?

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  21. jose says:

    4. (1) Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay – Signed through 2016 for $38 million.

    For me, the Evan Longoria contract still rules. That has to be the greatest contract signed by management. Yes, I know he’s been injured and possible losing his 26 yr, but the price paid for his 8 years is simply incredible. All these guys, Harper, Trout, Stanton will make more money because of Super-2 status.

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      Longoria always makes me want to ask: what was the best contract ever signed?

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    • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

      we’re not grading the contracts, though. we’re grading trade value. half of those years are over.

      in year 2016, the contract will still have been awesome, but longo will be a free agent the next year.

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    • Lanidrac says:

      Maybe for a single contract due to him signing as a rookie, but don’t forget that if you include his pre-arbitration years, the Cardinals got 87.8 WAR from Pujols for less than $118M

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  22. Tony Reagins says:

    Where’s Vernon Wells? He was my best outfielder.

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  23. MrKnowNothing says:

    Trout is amazing. Great. Superb. And he’s on pace to have a crazy good season.

    And it would still only be what Ruth AVERAGED.

    Man, the Babe was incredible.

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    • Sleight of Hand Pro says:

      its insane. imagine if barry bonds (2001+ version) was also a top 5 pitcher in baseball. the awesomness is hard to fathom.

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    • voice of reason says:

      but remember, this is just the beginning, he is only 20!

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    • rustydude says:

      Disclaimers are always appropriate. Ruth didn’t hit against African-American nor Latino pitchers/defenses. Plus, didn’t the fielders use those tiny mitts in the early part of Ruth’s career.

      Ruth was great, but let’s not get carried away that we ignore the differences in eras.

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      • jim says:

        so you think black and latino pitchers would have knocked ruth down to.. what level, exactly? just how good do you think the negro leagues were? do you really believe that paige threw 50 different pitches from 50-110 mph?

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      • Melkman says:

        Ohhhh we are playing the “diluted talent pool” card. My question to you is, if it was so easy, why was Ruth the only one taking advantage?? You’d figure maybe 1, or 2 other players could sniff his level? Not even.

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      • Justin M. says:

        Also remember that Ruth played against less teams total, the league was smaller, so the talent pool wasn’t spread out as much. The athlete’s on average may have been worse then comparatively with training nowadays being better and a much higher population to poll from, but I do think the smaller league thing should be noted. I’m pretty sure there were eight teams in each league when Ruth played.

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      • The Real Neal says:

        You should also take into consideration that Ruth’s contemporaries, while mostly ‘white”, they were not playing baseball, basketball, soccer, or tennis professionally. Basically, if you were a really good American athlete back then, you played baseball, boxed or golfed.

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      • Erik says:

        You can see discrepancies in the talent pool by looking at outliers. It’s like noting how most of the top few hitters this year are in the NL despite the fact that the NL is not nearly as good as the AL.

        The increasing talent pool brings the elite closer to the mean. Ruth’s amazing performances are specifically because he was just that much better than everyone else at the time. The fact that others haven’t been able to maintain that level of performance in the 100 or so years that have passed is because the talent pool today makes it impossible.

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      • Lanidrac says:

        @Melkman Keep in mind that Babe Ruth basically invented the live-ball era single-handedly. Players at the time preferred to be slap hitters who just hit for average even though many of them could have hit many more home runs if they tried, just like Ichiro Suzuki.

        Ty Cobb, who was nearing the end of his career, claimed this of himself then went out and proved it by hitting multiple homers in his next game (although he was sorely mistaken about the appeal of slap hitting vs. power hitting).

        Once other players realized that Ruth’s homers led to better run production and higher fan popularity and attendance figures, they closed the gap on him, and power hitting was here to stay.

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    • Yes says:

      To be fair though, Ruth didn’t have a season with WAR/600PA over 10.0 until 1919 with the Red Sox (11.4). That was his 6th season. Trout has 10.3 WAR/600 PA in his 2nd season. Ruth only had 8 of 22 seasons over 10.0 WAR/600 PA. This could just be one of many more for Trout. It certainly isn’t impossible that he gets better. Ruth is evidence that someone can have a better season. His WAR/G and WAR/PA are still increasing all the time. I’m not saying I know that Trout is better, but it isn’t that remote of a chance that we find out later down the road that he is/was the greatest of all time.

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      • dnc says:

        Yes, it is a very remote chance.

        It’s a non zero chance, but I would place the odds of Trout ranking as the GOAT in 25 years at around 2%. It’s extremely hard to produce at this level year in year out. Hell, we can’t even agree that he’s going to be the best player in baseball next year.

        2% might be too high. It is extremely remote.

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  24. Dave says:

    By my count, Texas, San Francisco, Kansas City and Tampa Bay each have 4 players on the list, Washington, Anaheim, Detroit, Baltimore and Cincy have 3, Milwaukee, Toronto, Dodgers and Colorado have 2, Yankees, Miami, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Seattle, Cleveland, Arizona, Boston, White Sox, St. Louis and the Cubs have 1. Mets, Philadelphia, Houston, San Diego and Minnesota have none.

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  25. Dave says:

    And Oakland has none also. Sorry.

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  26. Joncarlos says:

    If you’re going to go by a couple weeks’ performance then it looks like Cespedes is a pretty big omission. 299/358/530 with a 145 WRC+ with 3.5 years of control, owed about 30mil. That’s better and cheaper than Justin Upton, who ranks #25 with the same amount of team control.

    Maybe Cespedes isn’t quite as good as he’s looked this month, but right now he looks like a miss.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Spiggy says:

      I would imagine if you’re trying to determine which player will be more valuable going forward, you’d choose the one with a longer history of success. I agree that there’s a decent chance that Cespedes continues to be really good, and if so I imagine he’s on the list next year.

      If I’m trying to determine, though, whether I’d trade for Cespedes or Upton, I’d have more confidence with Upton maintaining his success, just because he’s demonstrated it over a longer period of time.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Justin M. says:

        Well, remember that Upton in the past 3 years, (if you include this year), has one average season, one amazing season, and an average season this year. Cespedes hasn’t shown as much, but Upton has clearly shown downside at points in his career over extended periods, plus his home road splits are horrendously huge.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      Why would you just go by a couple weeks’ performance? Gee, Jason Kubel just had a three homer day. Maybe we should just use a couple days’ performance and anoint him no. one.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Billy says:

    +1

    They’re both awesome young talents. One is starting to show his potential, the other isn’t far away. Can’t we just leave it at that?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. As Fan says:

    Tommy Milone has a better ERA+ than Gio Gonzalez and he is under 6 years of team control. He is a 25 year old with a 3.34 ERA. He should have been considered for this list.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • CabreraDeath says:

      I really hope this is sarcasm.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • As Fan says:

        No sarcasm. The only guys younger than Milone who are ahead of him in ERA are Jarrod Parker and Chris Sale, He is one of the tops in ERA and IP. He is also 8th in the league in WHIP. Not many rookies are doing what he is doing

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      Speaking as a BIG Tommy Milone fan who thinks the guy’s awesome… have you seen his home/road splits this year?

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  29. Angelsjunky says:

    LOL. We’re going to be seeing Trout-vs-Harper squabbles for the next 20 years. As an Angels fan I’m glad we have Trout, but I wouldn’t be unhappy with Harper either. Both of them are unreal talents.

    Aside from being a homer, the reason that we have to rate Trout higher than Harper is that Trout has actually actualized his potential already; we just don’t know how good Harper will be, or when he’ll come close to his potential. I think he’ll be great, probably just as good as Trout and maybe better (certainly more power and a better arm), but it also might take him longer to get there. My guess is that he’s very good next year but doesn’t put it all together until 2014.

    Now the scary thing about Trout, and why I think he’s actually this good, is that he keeps getting better every month. Check out his triple-slash lines month-by-month:

    April (3 games): .091/.167/.182
    May (27 games): .324/.385/.556
    June (26 games): .372/.419/.531
    July (18 games): 426/.481/.868

    Awhile back, I think late May or early June, he had a bit of a slum and went 2-19 over four or five games, and then he adjusted. I also saw a stat in which his batting average increases each time he sees a pitcher; in other words, he takes note of the pitcher’s arsenal and makes adjustments. This kid is the frickin’ Natural – he gets baseball, has every conceivable tool (except a strong arm) and for all of these reasons and more I think he can sustain his current level, with perhaps minor ups and downs.

    We also have to remember that this isn’t a 25-year old (like McCutchen) breaking through and having an ungodly season after years of development. This is a 20-year old rookie. It is hard to imagine someone improving upon .357/.412/.603, but if anyone can it is Trout.

    My hope is that in a few years we get to see Bryce Harper hit 74 HR and Trout hit .400 in the same year. I know, it is highly unlikely, but it is possible. Why not?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • rustydude says:

      Yeah, we keep waiting for Trout to regress a little bit from his hot start but it doesn’t ever happen. Nevertheless, I’ll take the under, when betting on whether he will improve upon his July #’s in August.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • The Real Neal says:

        Haha… The guy is a freak. People also tend to forget that he came from NJ and didn’t play baseball year round like Harper was able to.

        Usually when a kid hits the majors at 19, the expectation is he is going to continue to add strength as he matures. Bryce Harper isn’t your typical 19 year old. He looks like a kid who’s always been more physically mature than kids in his age group (he has a full beard at 19, that’s not common). There’s a good chance, to my totally unprofessional eye, that he’s got a bit of Karim Garcia on him – the barrel chested 19 YO stud prospect for the Dodgers 15 years ago. His body just didn’t have a lot of room to grow, and so the “blind” age projections people wanted to apply to him, just didn’t work out very well. Harper may not get much better than he is today.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        You realize Karim Garcia only cracked the top 10 prospect list once (after his age 19 season) in his relatively long minor league career. Harper has been considered the 1A or 1B prospect in baseball since the day he was drafted. In no way are the two guys similar.

        Also, you could make a similar argument about Trout that you are trying to make about Harper. Trout is pretty much filled out at this point too and doesn’t have a whole lot of room to grow. The main point is that those projections on increased production aren’t entirely based on adding strength. Harper already has all the strength he needs to be a 50 HR hitter. He just needs to learn how to translate his ridiculous raw power to in-game power. For a guy with roughly 1000 professional PA, regardless of age, what he’s doing is incredibly impressive.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • The Real Neal says:

        But we see Trout doing it, and we’re still hoping that Harper does, that’s the difference.

        The hypothesis is that Harper has always been more physically mature than his competition, until say he hit A-Ball, where a .372 BABIP contributed to a .436 WBA. Since then he hasn’t cracked a .350 WBA or a .170 ISO, numbers Trout has sailed past while leading the league in stolen basis and Gold Glove catches.

        Trout is top-end physical talent, with top-end production. Harper is still just top-end physical talent.

        Keep in mind that Harper probably has about an 800 amateur advantage in at-bats too.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Nitram Odarp says:

        You’re comparing 20 year old Trout to 19 year old Harper. As for their minor league numbers, Trout just wasn’t pushed through the minors as aggressively as Harper was. Trout didn’t get promoted to AA until he was 19, while Harper was playing their at 18. Trout didn’t get promoted to AAA until he was 20, while Harper was there at 19. If Trout hadn’t posted much better numbers when he was playing at every level at an older age, it would be a pretty big point in Harper’s favor.

        I also love how someone pushing Mike Trout, the guy who is benefiting from an insane .413 BABIP right now, would hold Harper’s .372 BABIP in low-A against him.

        My argument here has nothing to do with Trout v. Harper. I have no problem with Trout ranking higher. My issue is your asinine argument about Harper only being good because he was always more physically mature when the exact same argument could have been used against Trout until he started hitting at the MLB level this year. For the love of God, you compared Harper to Karim Garcia. Do you know how much of a Trout homer/Harper hater that makes you look like?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • The Real Neal says:

        Nothing in your comment really applied to anything I said, other than getting the players names correct.

        Basically this is your logic. Harper was a number one overall pick, and rushed to the major leagues, therefore he is going to start hitting 40 HR’s every year from 2013 on, and he’s a superior player to a guy who would have been #1 overall had he grown up in the same neighborhood as Harper and has been the best player at every level he’s played at, including thus far, the American League, a better league than Harper plays in.

        How many full seasons of Trout having 1 to 3 more WAR than Harper will be required for him to be superior, in your mind, or will it always be meaningless because Harper is going to bust out next year?

        In June of 1974, was David Clyde the most valuable player in baseball? He was a better prospect than Harper, right, because we’re not judging them on numbers, just age and time spent in the minors.

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      • Nitram Odarp says:

        Reading comprehension isn’t your strong suit, is it? I literally just said I have no problem with Trout being ranked higher. I haven’t put enough thought into it to really know who I would take at this point.

        My issue is with your ridiculous comparison of Harper to Garcia and claims that Harper is just a more physically mature player than his competition and that’s the reason he’s been considered a top prospect.

        Nothing else you just said has anything to do with what I said. You’re clearly just a huge Trout homer who can’t even consider the possibility that Harper could develop into the better player. You’re not worth the time or the effort.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • The Real Neal says:

        You spend a lot of time putting words into my mouth. All I did was listed a player who was large, and considered very advanced for his age, to illustrate that all players do not mature at the same rate. To assume that Harper is going to follow the same career arc as Ryne Sandberg did, doesn’t take into account the fact that Harper was as physically mature as people 3 years older than him when playing JUCO ball.

        Put it this, way, if he was born in the Dominican Republic, how many people would believe he’s 19 today? Maybe he’s the next Pujols, maybe he’s the next Tony Conigliaro, the jury is still out.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • dogs says:

        I think everyone reading thought your Karim Garcia comment really was off-base, and I’m fully on the Trout 4 Prez side. FYI, Conigliaro didn’t fulfill his promise because he got clobbered in the eye with a pitch. Please research before you make misguided comparisons.

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    • Voice O'Reason says:

      There are many HOFers that peaked very young. Arod immediately comes to mind as we saw some other peaks with steriods but nothing nearly as complete of a year.

      ” I also saw a stat in which his batting average increases each time he sees a pitcher; in other words, he takes note of the pitcher’s arsenal and makes adjustments.”

      This is absolute confirmation bias.

      Mike Trout is playing amazing right now, no doubt. Lets see where he sits in September.

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  30. Robbie G. says:

    Great list, and thanks for putting this together.

    I will say that I believe that if all 30 MLB GMs were asked, “Who would you rather have, Stephen Strasburg or Evan Longoria?,” all 30 of them would answer, “Strasburg,” including Tampa Bay. I believe that, if Strasburg and Longoria were both simultaneously made available, Tampa Bay would immediately offer Longoria and then some, and the other 28 teams would make stronger offers for Strasburg than they would for Longoria. Which suggests that Strasburg should be higher on the list than Longoria.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Matt says:

    Hosmer?

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    • jrogers says:

      I was wondering about him, too. As it got to 11-15, without counting, I thought “Wow, Hosmer is top 10?”

      Do we really think if a team was making trade offers to the Royals they would prefer Lorenzo Cain or Alcides Escobar over Hosmer?

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  32. TheYellowSlant says:

    Ryan Zimmerman? Wasn’t he on this list last year?

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Hasn’t been very good as a hitter or fielder since 2010 and he’s guaranteed $122 MM through 2019 if traded.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Carl Brownson says:

    RIP Steve Jobs

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  34. Jones says:

    The fact that Fangraphs missed on Jordan Zimmermann pretty much completely invalidates this list. He has pitched like one of the top 5 pitchers in the league while being young and cheap. Isn’t that the exact definition of trade value? In fact the Nationals hung up on the Royals when they wanted a 1 on 1 Zimmermann for Greinke (best pitcher in baseball based on Fangraphs logic) swap. This is the worst list from Fangraphs since they missed on Bumgarner last year and ranked the Mariners the 6th best team in all of baseball.

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    • Nitram Odarp says:

      Jordan Zimmermann is a guy with an injury history that is seriously outpitching his peripherals right now and doesn’t have elite stuff. Oh, and did I mention he’s never thrown more than 161.1 innings in a single season? He’s also going into his second year of arbitration, so he’s not going to be cheap for very long, especially if he continues to pitch well. And seriously, since when is 26 considered especially young for a SP? He has a very good argument for one of the last couple spots on the list, but acting like his exclusion invalidates the list is just asinine.

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      • Jones says:

        I hope you aren’t as retarded as you sound. Where do you get this idea that Jordan Zimmermann doesn’t have elite stuff? That ranks up there with the worst of Fangraphs. You do realize that Zimmermann has the 4th fastest fastball velocity in the NL? Not to mention he has a solid changeup and 2 good breaking pitches. I bet you would say that Hanson, Bumgarner, and Greinke have elite stuff yet Zimmermann is significantly ahead of those guys in fastball velocity.

        His peripherals are awesome. 3.16 and 3.50 FIP is elite . He was 10th last year in FIP. The last time I checked, there was 16 teams in the league therefore at #10 JZ is comfortably a #1 pitcher based on the most important pitching stat.

        Please tell me what the most innings these guys pitched in a season? Darvish, Cueto, Sale, Bundy, and Moore. Oh yeah that’s right, it was not significantly more than 161 IP.

        Age is irrelevant. There is like no difference between 24 and 26 years old for a pitcher. As Halladay and Dickey are proving, age is not a huge issue for pitchers. There are 30+ starters every year playing well. Its not like 26 is old considering the peak years are 27-30 so JZ still has those years under team control.

        Please give me your next stupid argument.

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      • YanksFanInBeantown says:

        @Jones

        I don’t think Dickey is a particularly relevant example, he is truly one of a kind.

        And I don’t think Halladay has proved much of anything this year for that matter.

        I love Zimmermann. I think he’s a Matt Cain type pitcher who will continue to outpitch his peripherals for years and that he was definitely snubbed for this list, but specious arguments and ad hominem attacks really don’t help to prove your point.

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      • Lanidrac says:

        @Jones Please tell me you didn’t just use fastball velocity as your primary argument for having elite stuff? Velocity means almost nothing if the pitch is straight as an arrow and he can’t locate it. I’m not saying either of these is true for Zimmermann (I’ve never heard of him before), but there are a lot of things more important for a pitcher than fastball velocity, otherwise Greg Maddux would’ve had nowhere near 300 wins.

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  35. AA says:

    What is the consensus on the kind of deal Trout could get if the Angels locked him up now? He is obviously going to want more than Longoria. If they got aggressive, could it be 10/100?

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    • tmorgan1970 says:

      Trout’s agent would have to be a complete moron to negotiate that deal. He’s headed for arbitration awards that could make him half of that in the next five years, and then more then that whole contract in the next five.

      Risk/reward is one thing, but leaving potentially 60-80 million on the table to sign a ten year deal doesn’t make much sense.

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      • The Real Neal says:

        I got $132 million on 10 year deal for him, starting at $1 million next year and raising to $24 million in year 10. I would bet the Angels do try to do something sooner, rather than later, using Longoria’s deal as their “ideal”.

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  36. Joe says:

    What about a list of the 50 players with the LEAST trade value?

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  37. Barry Bonds says:

    I don’t think the Babe would hit that well today… And he would definitely get shelled if he tried to pitch in the majors today.

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  38. Lanidrac says:

    What about St. Louis’s pre-arb wonders David Freese and Allen Craig? Heck, Craig’s arbitration salaries will even be unusually low because of all the playing time he keeps losing in the Cardinals’ stacked lineups.

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  39. BigSteve says:

    I don’t see how Molina could miss this list entirely. Using Zips for the rest of the season he will have been worth about $48M over the last two seasons.Considering they only pay him 75M over the next 5 seasons and his value is most likely underrated by WAR (ie intangibles/blocking pitches etc./ working with pitchers, etc.). I was very surprised he was not on here.

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  40. pkdryan13 says:

    It’s kind of funny there weren’t any Athletics, as far as I saw, in the entire list. I would’ve thought Parker or Anderson or Reddick might’ve made it somewhere.

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