Top 100 Right Now (#70-61)

Continuing our countdown of the top 100 players in the majors, we hit numbers 70 through 61 today.  You can find the explanation and origin of our list here.  As a quick refresher, here are 100-71:

T100 - Jordan Zimmermann - SP -WAS
T100 - Michael Bourn - CF – ATL
T98 - Gio Gonzalez - SP – WAS
T98 - Nick Swisher - RF – NYY
97 - Nelson Cruz - RF – TEX
96 - B.J. Upton - CF – TBR
95 - Jayson Werth - OF – WAS
94 - Miguel Montero - C – ARI
93 - Lance Berkman - 1B/RF – STL
92 - Ubaldo Jimenez - SP – CLE
91 - Yunel Escobar - SS – TOR
90 - Corey Hart - RF – MIL
89 - Josh Beckett - SP – BOS
88 - Carlos Beltran - RF – STL
T86 - John Danks - SP – CHW
T86 - David Wright - 3B – NYM
85 - Gavin Floyd - SP – CHW
84 - Alexei Ramirez - SS – CHW
83 - Buster Posey - C – SFG
82 - Matt Garza - SP – CHC
81 - Anibal Sanchez - SP – MIA
80 – Joel Hanrahan – RP – PIT
79 – Jay Bruce – RF – CIN
78 – Howie Kendrick – 2B – LAA
77 – Mat Latos – SP – CIN
76 – Yadier Molina – C – STL
75 – Alex Gordon – LF – KCR
74 – Chris Carpenter – SP – STL
73 – Chase Utley – 2B – PHI
72 – Doug Fister – SP – DET
71 – Desmond Jennings – OF – TBR

70 – John Axford – RP – MIL – MLB (77)
Lee (74) – Coming out of nowhere to take over the closer’s role in 2010, Axford has struck out nearly 30% of hitters while keeping his walks manageable.  With a plus-plus fastball and a good slider and curve, he should maintain success for a long time.

Alex (61) – Axford is off another good start, his 4.70 ERA is high, but he has a 1.93 FIP and 2.83 xFIP.  His problem this year is that he’s walking over 15% of batters he faces, much worse than previous years.

69 – Jonathan Papelbon – RP – BOS – MLB (61)
Lee (63) – After a couple down years, Papelbon posted an ERA near 3.00 but a FIP half that last season.  The move to the NL should help him as he enters his 30s, though he would help the aging process if he didn’t take 30+ seconds between pitches…

Alex (71) - Papelbon is regarded as one of the game’s best closers. In his first year in Philadelphia he’s off to another strong start, getting a lot of strikeouts, while keeping walks to a minimum.

68 – Brett Gardner – OF – NYY – MLB (NR)
Lee (59) – Gardner uses an offensive approach of not swinging much and he uses his speed on defense and the bases to put up great numbers for a corner outfielder, despite having very little power and not hitting for a high average.

Alex (74) - Gardner is one of the best outfielders in baseball, particularly on the defensive side.  The past two seasons he’s had a UZR of 25, but he got hurt early on in the season and hasn’t played since.  When he comes back he should continue to be a stud defensively.

67 – Daniel Hudson – SP – ARI – MLB (NR)
Lee (60) – Hudson has posted good K/BB rates the past two seasons while keeping the ball in the park, despite his above-average flyball rates and tough home ballpark.

Alex (73) – Hudson had a breakout year last season, and looked to continue that this year. After three starts he got placed on the disabled list, but he did have his struggles, a decreasing K rate and increasing walks.

66 – Justin Masterson – SP – CLE – MLB (NR)
Lee (66) – Consistently posting 55%+ GB rates, Masterson started to throw enough strikes to be a great pitcher, even in the AL.  Hitters are starting to not swing against him, causing a big jump in walks this year.

Alex (62) – After last season Masterson looked as if he was ready to take the next step towards becoming an elite pitcher.  This year though he’s had trouble with his command, and with home runs.

65 – Sean Marshall – RP – CIN – MLB (NR)
Lee (68) – After struggling as a starter, Marshall was fully committed to the bullpen in 2010 and flourished.  Able to get both sides out with his assortment of off-speed pitches, Marshall now gets a chance to close in Cincinnati.

Alex (59) - When Ryan Madson went down with an injury, Marshall was named the closer.  While his ERA is high, his 1.50 xFIP suggests there’s improvement on the horizon.

64 – Matt Moore – SP – TBR – MLB (NR)
Lee (76) – With plus-plus stuff and playoff success already under his belt, Moore is projected as a future perennial Cy Young candidate, but he has struggled in all areas so far this year, posting a FIP and xFIP around 5.00.

Alex (50) - Moore has struggled so far, but playing in the toughest division in baseball doesn’t help.  He’s had command problems early on, but he’s still young and has an extremely high ceiling.

63 – Mark Teixeira – 1B – NYY – MLB (55)
Lee (69) – Great defense and good power and plate discipline have kept Teixeira near the top of the first base lists, despite his shrinking BABIP.  He has commonly struggled early in seasons, but the lack of walks are concerning.

Alex (56) – Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter, and this year is no exception.  Eventually he’ll turn it around and finish with around 3-4 WAR.

62 – Rickie Weeks – 2B – MIL – MLB (83)
Lee (55) – Only playing 130 games once in his career, Weeks has been injury-prone but productive while healthy.  He’s put up a 125 wRC+ the past three years with average defense.

Alex (65) - Weeks is having trouble getting it going this year, but he is still showing signs of power.  Right now his ISO is .161, compared to a career .179 ISO.  He also has a .217 BABIP, so he’s due for some good luck.

61 – Craig Kimbrel – RP – ATL – MLB (93)
Lee (65) – Surprisingly keeping his walk rate near 10% last year, Kimbrel dominated to the tune of a 1.52 FIP.  Even if he stays at his current 15% rate, his 96 MPH fastball and 85 MPH curve are two of the most unhittable pitches in the game.

Alex (54) - Kimbrel is one of the better closers in baseball.  He’s always been a high strikeout guy, and this year is no different.  So far he’s struck out over 40% of the batters that he’s faced.  He should continue to be highly successful as the season progresses.

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