Top 10 active RBI leaders

You want a telling statistic in baseball? How about the good ol’ run batted in (RBI)? This is a stat usually dominated by home run hitters, but it’s also a good indicator of productivity at the plate. The guys on this list have been doing it over time, as well, whether they have been chemically enhanced or not, and to qualify, they must be currently on a major league roster:

1. Ken Griffey, Seattle Mariners (1774)—I can’t think of a classier player in the last 20 years. And how about these numbers….from 1996 to 1999, the last four years of Griffey’s first tenure with Seattle, he had 567 RBI. That’s an AVERAGE of 142 per season. Just sick.

2. Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers (1738)—For all the fun we poke at Man Ram for being a goofy, lazy, eccentric superstar, we always temper our joking with “but the guy sure can rake.” You want sick numbers? From 1995 when Manny began playing regularly (okay, it was technically 1994 but that season was cut way short) through 2008, he has averaged 111 RBI per season. Think about that.

3. Gary Sheffield, New York Mets (1634)—It’s hard to believe this guy has been in the big leagues longer than Griffey. And unlike some of the other guys on this list, Sheffield’s 1634 RBI is more about longevity, as his career high is only 132.

4. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees (1606)—A-Rod is almost a lock to pass 2000 RBI, and when you hear the other three names that have done that, it will blow your mind….Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Cap Anson.

5. Carlos Delgado, New York Mets (1504)—Another guy with a nice, long career, and he’s topped 100 RBI nine times….so far.

6. Jim Thome, Chicago White Sox (1498)—38 years old and he’s still mashing. I know I’ve written this before, but it’s hard to believe the Indians had Thome and Man Ram in the lineup as well as Albert Belle and Eddie Murray, and didn’t win like five titles.

7. Chipper Jones, Atlanta Braves (1378)—Come to think of it, it’s hard to believe the Braves didn’t win more than one World Series after winning fourteen straight division crowns. But don’t blame Chipper.

8. Garret Anderson, Atlanta Braves (1292)—He’s lost some pop the last few seasons, but still a solid, productive player.

9. Jason Giambi, Oakland Athletics (1285)—He juiced, he admitted it, and everyone still loves this guy. Maybe that’s because he didn’t lie about it. And Giambi’s 32 homers and 96 RBI last year at the age of 37 proves he didn’t need the juice to begin with.

10. Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels (1271)—Another freak of nature type hitter who has averaged 117 RBI per season over the course of his career. And Vlad is still only 34.

P.S. Did anyone else notice there are no Red Sox players on this list?

Source: Baseball Reference

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Mikey’s Crystal Ball: preseason MLB award predictions

It’s hard to believe the start of baseball season is next week. It seems like a very short time ago when the Phillies and Rays were playing a Game 5 of the World Series in frigid Philly, having to suspend it and pick up the next night. It seemed like nothing was going to stop that Phillies team, much to the dismay of this Mets’ fan. Anyway, it’s a fresh start and a clean slate and a whole lot of possibilities. Here are a few of those as I see them…

NL MVP: David Wright, New York Mets—Am I playing homer? Yes. But this kid works really hard every off-season and consistently puts up big numbers, and he hasn’t even come close to showing his potential. This year Wright is going to show the world why the Mets have built their franchise around him, and he’s going to (finally) lead them to a World Series.

AL MVP: Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians—Last year, Sizemore had a full season low batting average of .268 but racked up career highs in home runs (33), RBI (90) and stolen bases (38). Last season Sizemore finished 10th in the AL MVP voting but like Wright, he is on the verge of something huge, and he’s going to lead the Indians to the playoffs.

NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants—I love a good short-guy-kicks-ass story, the kind where most scouts write someone off because of their size (5’10, 160 pounds), and then they go and prove everyone wrong except the team who drafted them. That’s Tim Lincecum, who won the NL Cy Young last season for the Giants, winning 18 of his team’s 72 wins, or ONE QUARTER of them. His stuff is absolutely sick, and at times just unhittable and he will coast to his second straight Cy Young.

AL Cy Young: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox—Last season, Dice-K went 18-3 but was largely overshadowed by Cliff Lee’s 22-3 masterpiece as well as by K-Rod’s record-breaking 62 saves. But this guy has taken over as the dominating shutdown starter in Boston after Josh Beckett battled inconsistency last year, and this year he’s going to roll to the Cy Young.

NL Rookie of the Year: Micah Hoffpauir, Chicago Cubs—Last season, during the second straight historic collapse by the Mets, Hoffpauir was Babe Ruth for one game, going 5 for 5 with two home runs and five RBI. That was his only multi-hit game, but you don’t just have a showing like that by accident.

AL Rookie of the Year: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays—Sure, the Rays optioned their young phenom to the minors recently, but don’t let that fool you. Once Price logs a few innings, he’ll be back in Tampa blowing hitters away the way he did in the ALCS against Boston last season. And he’ll find himself as the #2 or #3 starter before long.

NL Manager of the Year: Jerry Manuel, New York Mets—When Willie Randolph was let go in New York last season, the Mets were 34-35. After Manuel replaced him, the Mets went 55-38 the rest of the way. Okay, they choked again down the stretch, but this year it’s Jerry’s team from the start, and he’s going to show everyone that his no-nonsense and player-friendly approach can win lots of games, as well as championships. It doesn’t hurt that he has two lights-out closers (K-Rod, JJ Putz) anchoring his bullpen now.

AL Manager of the Year: Eric Wedge, Cleveland Indians—The Indians missed the playoffs last season after taking the eventual champion Red Sox to 7 games the year before. The Tribe plays well in odd numbered years as of late—going 93-69 in 2005 and 96-66 in 2007. This season, with the additions of Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa and Carl Pavano, Cleveland is going to surprise a lot of folks.

NL Comeback Player of the Year: Eric Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks—Byrnes was way off his career averages in 2008, hitting a paltry .209 with 6 homers and 23 RBI. He has nowhere to go but up, and this season I have a feeling Byrnes’ numbers are going to match his intensity on the field.

AL Comeback Player of the Year: John Smoltz, Boston Red Sox—After season-ending shoulder surgery in June of 2008, the Braves finally let one of the cornerstones of their franchise go, as the free agent pitcher signed with the Sox. He won’t see the mound until June, but Smoltz threw in the bullpen this week and showed no signs of pain. He’s going to make the Braves sorry—really sorry.

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