Monday, March 2, 2009

Top ten baseball players in Chicago

A few weeks ago the Sun-Times Chris DeLuca named Alexei Ramirez the city's best player. While I was not doubting DeLuca, it got us to thinking who we felt the best player was. And determining a list like this is never easy, and while there are 15 potential preseason all-stars combined on the Sox and Cubs, none of them stuck out as a unanimous pick for #1. But we thought we should have a go at it. So below are TTCS' top Chicago baseball players.

10. Bobby Jenks
After back-to-back 40-save seasons in 2006 and 2007, Bobby took a small step backwards in '08 with only 30 saves. He claims he took something off on his fastball so he could save his arm a little more and throw his splitter with more of a purpose. It is tough to say as to whether or not that idea will eventually pay off, but one thing is for sure; he gets the job done. He only blew four saves last year and only one of them was after June 4th. He just finds ways to close out games.

9. Mark Buehrle
Buehrle is the rock not only of the rotation, but probably the entire clubhouse. While his numbers have curtailed since his extraordinary 2005, a 3.79 ERA is still very good in the steroid era of baseball. Not to mention that there isn't a better big-game pitcher in the city than Mark.

8. Ryan Dempster
While even another good year for Dempster will probably not equate to last season's totals, it is hard to not put a 17-game winner with a sub-3 ERA off this list. For Cubs fan's sake (and Eli) I hope he doesn't re-gain his "Dumpster" tag after signing that monster contract.

7. Geovany Soto
All the field-players on this list can hit. But Geo is one of the best defensive catchers in the game. He committed only five errors in 136 games. Not to mention he hit 23 homers drove in 86 in his rookie campaign, good enough for NL Rookie of the year. And Geo is only going to get better.

6. John Danks
There hasn't been this much promise from a young Sox pitcher in maybe a decade, but 2009 could be the year Danks makes himself a household name. His 12-9 record last season is very deceiving when looking at his 3.32 ERA and 1.226 WHIP (not much run support on days Danks took the bump). He also struck out a solid 159 batters last season.

5. Alfonso Soriano
Injuries and a slow start plagued the Fonz's 2008 season. But for weeks at a time he can single-handedly lead an offense (See May 12-17: 6 games, 15 hits, 7 home runs, 13 RBI, 10 runs). While it is impossible to keep that pace the entire year, if he can gain some sort of consistency Lou will have no choice but bump him lower in the order... and make us put him higher on this list.

4. Alexei Ramirez
DeLuca's pick for the Chicago's best baseball player, and it is hard to question that. He is the most well-rounded of anybody on the list, especially when we put speed and glove work into the equation. There is really not much of a reason he is not #1 other than the fact that he is playing a new position this season, and while he played short in Cuba and I hope the transition is smooth, him being unproven at the ML level gives pessimistic Sox fans (myself) reasonable doubt.

3. Aramis Ramirez
A-Ram deserves a spot on this list solely because of his performance in the three-game series at Wrigley against the Sox (4 home runs, 8 RBI) last year. But his 27 homers last year to go along with 111 RBI and 97 runs are nothing to scoff at either. With an exception of a sub-par July, his numbers were pretty consistent throughout the year.

2. Carlos Zambrano
While his numbers were down last season, and while there are a lot of good starters in the city, I think he would be the ace of an All-Chicago team. He pitched a no-hitter last season that put his dominance on display. Not only that but the intimidation and intensity he brings cannot be matched by many in baseball, much less Chicago.

1. Carlos Quentin
Q is sick. Plain and simple. Nobody carried their respective team for as long as Quentin carried the Sox last April and May. In his first season with an everyday starting position, Carlos hit 36 homers and 100 RBI while hitting .288 with a .394 on-base percentage. And to think, Ozzie didn't initially have him in his opening day plans. If not for breaking his hand the Sox would have had their first MVP since Frank Thomas earned the honor in 1994. According to reports it doesn't sound like Quentin has lost any of his pop either since Spring Training opened two weeks ago.


Ricky O'Donnell said...

Jermaine Dye demands a recount.

Anonymous said...

Lilly over Danks. I'm not sure if you are doing this on history or just last season, either.

Zach Martin said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!! This is ridiculous... For the same reason you put Dempster so far down the list is the same reason your #1 should be at minimum in the latter five... PS Dempster out pitched every single pitcher on the Sox and WAY out pitched Z. Year two will determine a lot for about half the sox staff and starting lineup... it should be a success if they win 80+ games. Sad sad sad.

Matthew Olsen said...

I wonder what life must look like wearing Cubs colored glasses at all times.

Everything must look a shade.....loser-ish-ly depressing?

But if you're honestly telling me that you think Ryan Dempster is a better pitcher than Zambrano I worry for the overall state of your mental health.

Ricky O'Donnell said...

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but the way I determined my ballot was like this: if all these dudes were in a pool and you were choosing a team just for the 09 season, who would go first. Dumpster was great last year, but he didn't even make my top ten (which you can see on TUP!). It's also a little different when a guy breaks out at 25 who was once considered a top 20 prospect, compared to a guy who comes out of nowhere at age 31. If Dumpster has an ERA under 4.00 this year, I'll be shocked.

GP said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. My only change would be Buehrle ahead of Dempster

Phil Barnes said...

Zach Martin, creator of everybody. I've got more comments on this hit alone than Martin does on his lucrative mecca of sports hilarity.
For pretty much what Ricky just said, I did the list based on guys I would want if I was picking a team.
To be honest I think I was being kind to Dempster, I should have put Buerhle in front of him at the very least. They have been in the league almost the same amount of time and MB is a more consistent pitcher. And don't bring the whole "closer" aspect in either, you know the numbers aren't there for Dempster.
We have more reason to believe that young guys with minimal experience (Q, Alexei, Danks) have a better chance of becoming stud players than a guy who has been in the bigs for 12 years and had his first notable season since 2001.
What does it feel like to have the two most overpriced free agents in baseball? Dempster won't win 12 games and return to 02-08 form and Bradley will probably throw bats into your season ticket- behind-the-dugout seats the first time Cubs fans bring out the boo-birds, which will probably happen in mid-April.

Anonymous said...

I think you are right on target with your picks. There is no one else that could be named

Ricky O'Donnell said...

Testy today, huh men? Come on, we're all friends here. Though I do want do see what Zach's ballot would have looked like if you get some free time today bud.

Eli said...

I think the list is right on, though I'd guess by the end of the year, Marmol will replace Jenks on the list. His numbers may not indicate it the last few years because he wasn't the close, but he's the best reliever in the city. Also, an argument could be made for Ted Lilly, but considering Lou didn't feel he was good enough to start a playoff game, it's tough to say he's a top-10 player.

Phil Barnes said...

Eli, I entirely agree that 2009 might be the passing of the torch for the top closer in the city. Jenks has had a great three seasons, significantly more than the Sox could ask for when they signed him. And it is not that I don't think Jenks is going to tail off, I just think Marmol is going to be that good. At times he is just lights-out.

Zach Martin said...

That was a bit harsh there Barnes... i will put a real list on TUP