AL East: The best players by position

Welcome to the American League East version of our best players by position. In this series, we will take it position-by-position and determine who the best player at each position is around the diamond. For the starting pitchers, an ace will be named, followed by the rest of a 5-man rotation. Read the brief descriptions to find out who is the class of the entire division, at any position.

Comments are welcome!

Catcher: Matt Wieters – Baltimore Orioles – The youngster gets the nod here. He is an outstanding defensive catcher and has been a steady hitter through his first two seasons. He collected 11 homers and 22 doubles last year. His career batting average is just .266, but for a young catcher that’s not bad. He will improve on his offensive numbers in 2011 and continue to be a steady force behind the plate for Baltimore.

First BaseMark Teixeira – New York Yankees – He is a slow starter, but every year he ends up with 30+ home runs, 100+ RBI and a batting average in the .280 range. Teixeira has gone over 30 and 100 in each of the last 7 seasons and is a good defensive player. I’m expecting a big year out of him now that he should be acclimated to life in the Yankees spotlight.

Second BaseRobinson Cano – New York Yankees – At this time last year Dustin Pedroia would be the pick here. Cano had a career year in 2010 with 29 homers, 109 RBI and a .319 BA. He has solidified himself as the best second baseman in the AL.

ShorstopDerek Jeter – New York Yankees – He struggled a bit last year with just 10 home runs, 67 RBI, and a .270 batting average. Most teams would take that from a good defensive shortstop and be very happy with the production. Jeter is a career .314 hitter, who should still be good for about 15 homers and 70 RBI. He is still very good defensively.

Third BaseEvan Longoria – Tampa Bay Rays – He gets the nod over A-Rod and it’s not even close. Longoria is a machine, he is tremendous defensively and will be going for his third straight Gold Glove award in 2011. Through 3 seasons he is averaging 31 homers, 114 RBI and a .283 batting average. The 2008 Rookie of the Year is just now entering his prime.

Outfield:

  1. Carl Crawford – Boston Red Sox – He is coming off a spectacular 2010 season in which he won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. Crawford parlayed that into a mammoth contract with Boston and goes from the obscurity of Tampa to the big stage in Bean Town.
  2. Adam Jones– Baltimore Orioles – Jones is coming off back-to-back 19 home run seasons and has a career .274 batting average. He is outstanding defensively (2009 Gold Glove). He has only swiped 27 bases in 3 seasons with Baltimore. With his speed you would think he could get 27 per season.
  3. Jose Bautista – Toronto Blue Jays – The 30 year old journeyman had never hit more than 16 home runs in a season. He revamped his swing late in ’09 and erupted in 2010 with 54 homers and 124 RBI. It will be interesting to see what kind of numbers he puts up in 2011.

Starting Rotation:

  1. CC Sabathia – New York Yankees – CC is the ace of the AL East. He has 4 straight seasons of at least 230 innings and a WHIP no higher than 1.20. He has thrived since joining the Yankees. His two seasons in the Bronx have resulted in a combined 40-15 record with 394 strike outs.
  2. David Price – Tampa Bay Rays – He was the runner-up for the AL Cy Young in 2010 when he posted 19-6 record with 188 Ks and a 2.72 ERA. He has an elite fastball and can also effectively throw a slider, curve, and change.
  3. Jon Lester – Boston Red Sox – He has back-to-back 125 strike out seasons and has a career ERA of 3.55. Lester was 19-9 last year with a 3.25 ERA.
  4. Phil Hughes – New York Yankees – He realized his potential in 2010 when he moved back to the rotation and fanned 146 batters on his way to an 18-8 season. He has electric stuff.
  5. Ricky Romero – Toronto Blue Jays – In his second season in the big leagues, Romero notched 174 Ks on his way to a 14-9 record with a 3.73 ERA.

CloserMariano Rivera – New York Yankees – He is the best closer ever and age has yet to slow him down. The last 3 years his ERA has been 1.80 or lower. Rivera has a razor-thin career WHIP of 1.00 and has tallied at least 28 saves in 14 straight seasons.

For more in this series, see below:

American League Central

National League Central

National League East