#Hot Corner

Snubbing Ben Zobrist

Top 100 Right Now, the MLB Network series that shines a light on the fascinating world of extreme hoarding ranks the best players in baseball, recently ended its 2013 run. I'm not sure who does the ranking, but it's said to be based on the following criteria:

• Emphasized stats from the last three seasons, weighting 2012
• Projected 2013 performance
• Defensive position
• Accolades
• Intangibles

Here's the complete list. See if you can pick out the obvious snub.

100. Ryan Howard - 1B - Phillies
99. Sergio Romo - RP - Giants
98. Yu Darvish - SP - Rangers
97. Elvis Andrus - SS - Rangers
96. Chase Utley - 2B - Phillies
95. Adrian Gonzalez - 1B - Dodgers
94. Jacoby Ellsbury - OF - Red Sox
93. Victor Martinez - C/DH - Tigers
92. Jordan Zimmermann - SP - Nationals
91. Michael Bourn - CF - Indians
90. Aroldis Chapman - P - Reds
89. Adam Wainwright - SP - Cardinals
88. Jon Lester - SP - Red Sox
87. Mike Moustakas - 3B - Royals
86. Brett Lawrie - 3B - Blue Jays
85. Michael Morse - 1B/LF - Mariners
84. Allen Craig - 1B - Cardinals
83. Torii Hunter - RF - Tigers
82. Carlos Beltran - RF - Cardinals
81. Carlos Ruiz - C - Phillies
80. Brian McCann - C - Braves
79. Miguel Montero - C - Diamondbacks
78. Curtis Granderson - CF - Yankees
77. Jim Johnson - RP - Orioles
76. Jason Motte - RP - Cardinals
75. Ian Desmond - SS - Nationals
74. Chase Headley - 3B - Padres
73. Adam LaRoche - 1B - Nationals
72. Yovani Gallardo - SP - Brewers
71. Madison Bumgarner - SP - Giants
70. Alex Gordon - LF - Royals
69. B.J. Upton - CF - Braves
68. James Shields - SP - Royals
67. David Freese - 3B - Cardinals
66. J.J. Hardy - SS - Orioles
65. Kyle Lohse - SP - (FREE AGENT)
64. Wade Miley - SP - Diamondbacks
63. Johnny Cueto - SP - Reds
62. Jonathan Papelbon - RP - Phillies
61. Mariano Rivera - RP - Yankees
60. David Ortiz - DH - Red Sox
59. Jason Heyward - RF - Braves
58. Austin Jackson - CF - Tigers
57. Zack Greinke - SP - Dodgers
56. Chris Sale - SP - White Sox
55. Billy Butler - DH - Royals
54. Bryce Harper - LF - Nationals
53. Derek Jeter - SS - Yankees
52. Starlin Castro - SS - Cubs
51. Troy Tulowitzki - SS - Rockies
50. R.A. Dickey - SP - Blue Jays
49. Gio Gonzalez - SP - Nationals
48. Matt Wieters - C - Orioles
47. A.J. Pierzynski - C- Rangers
46. Roy Halladay - SP - Phillies
45. Matt Cain - SP - Giants
44. Pablo Sandoval - 3B - Giants
43. Josh Willingham - LF - Twins
42. Yoenis Cespedes - LF - Athletics
41. Matt Holliday - LF - Cardinals
40. Ian Kinsler - 2B - Rangers
39. Edwin Encarnacion - 1B - Blue Jays
38. Joe Mauer - C - Twins
37. Jered Weaver - SP - Angels 
36. Jay Bruce - RF - Reds
35. Justin Upton - LF - Braves
34. Dustin Pedroia - 2B - Red Sox
33. Paul Konerko - 1B - White Sox
32. Aramis Ramirez - 3B - Brewers
31. Brandon Phillips - 2B - Reds
30. Carlos Gonzalez - LF - Rockies
29. Ryan Zimmerman - 3B - Nationals
28. Jose Bautista - RF - Blue Jays
27. Craig Kimbrel - RP - Braves
26. Stephen Strasburg - SP - Nationals
25. Jose Reyes - SS - Blue Jays
24. Yadier Molina - C - Cardinals
23. Adam Jones - CF - Orioles
22. David Wright - 3B - Mets
21. Buster Posey - C - Giants
20. Cole Hamels - SP - Phillies
19. Cliff Lee - SP - Phillies
18. CC Sabathia - SP - Yankees
17. Andrew McCutchen - CF - Pirates
16. Evan Longoria - 3B - Rays
15. Giancarlo Stanton - RF - Marlins
14. Albert Pujols - 1B - Angels 
13. Adrian Beltre - 3B - Rangers
12. David Price - SP - Rays
11. Prince Fielder - 1B - Tigers
10. Josh Hamilton - RF - Angels 
9. Joey Votto - 1B - Reds
8. Robinson Cano - 2B - Yankees
7. Felix Hernandez - SP - Mariners
6. Ryan Braun - LF - Brewers
5. Clayton Kershaw - SP - Dodgers
4. Matt Kemp - CF - Dodgers
3. Miguel Cabrera - 3B - Tigers
2. Justin Verlander - SP - Tiger
1. Mike Trout - LF - Angels

I used to think Ben Zobrist was so underrated that he was in danger of becoming overrated. Now I think he's so underrated he's gone past overrated and back to underrated again. There aren't thirty players on that list I'd rather have on my team than Ben Zobrist. Derek Jeter? He's a million years old and a lousy defender. Carlos Ruiz? The thirty-four-year-old catcher who has to serve a 25-game suspension to start the season? That Carlos Ruiz?! Ryan Howard?!?! There aren't enough interrobangs in the world to describe my incredulity at the notion that Ryan Howard is a better ballplayer than Ben Zobrist.

What were those criteria again?

• Emphasized stats from the last three seasons, weighting 2012

Among position players, Zobrist ranks 10th in combined WAR, 2010-2012. Tied with Albert Pujols.

• Projected 2013 performance

ZiPs and PECOTA both project Zobrist to be worth more than 4 wins over a replacement player this season, better than Josh Hamilton, Jose Reyes, and Adam Jones, to pick three people at random from the top quartile of the Top 100 Right Now list.

• Accolades

Zobrist was voted team MVP the season he played for the Wisconsin Woodchucks. Also, he leads all of MLB in Valvano Count. Don't act like you're not impressed.

• Intangibles

On the episode of Top 100 Right Now I saw, "postseason performance" was offered as an example of "intangibles." Because nobody keeps stats for World Series games, you see.

• Defensive position

Now we're getting at why the Zorilla is underrated. If Zobrist played just one position, he wouldn't be so overlooked. But as a second baseman-cum-right fielder-cum-shortstop-in-a-pinch, he's hard to pin down. Bill James said that anything that breaks up a player's career, changing teams, or positions, makes him harder to see. Zobrist, playing all over the diamond in baseball's forgotten city, is the hardest player to see.

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