MLB network has been doing its top 10 right now at each position. “Right now” means right now, as in 2011. Track records no doubt come into play, but the lists are based on whom the network’s “editors” — let’s hope that doesn’t include Harold Reynolds who, though a nice guy, isn’t known for employing incisive analysis — deem to be the best players going into this season.
The Reds had five guys make the lists:
• Dusty Baker was No. 7 among managers
• Aroldis Chapman was No. 10 among relief pitchers
• Scott Rolen was No. 8 among third baseman
• Brandon Phillips was No. 5 among second basemen
• Joey Votto was No. 4 among first basemen
The biggest surprise was the inclusion of Chapman, who has thrown only 13 innings in the majors. The show’s expert panelists (former MLB reliever Dan Plesac and former MLB shortstop/manager Larry Bowa) agreed that it’s too soon to put the Reds lefty phenom on the list; though they both said he has some of the nastiest stuff of any pitcher in baseball. Plesac, an admirably exuberant dork with a high-pitched voice and a baby face, used this amusing phrase to describe Chapman’s potential: “The ceiling is the limit.”
One could argue that Votto should have been No. 3 (ahead of Adrian Gonzalez), and that Phillips should have been at least one spot higher (at least ahead of No. 4 Dan Uggla, a guy whose surname is a good descriptor of his heinous defense).
The network’s right field list was perhaps the most perplexing. Jay Bruce didn’t make the top 10 despite the fact that I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a better all-round season — the guy might be MLB's best defensive right fielder whose name isn’t Ichiro — than anyone on the list, which includes the over-hyped Jason Heyward at No. 7 and an unproven Mike Stanton at No. 8. Then there’s the inclusion of Jose Bautista, a third basemen who was listed at No. 4 among right fielders.
Reds centerfield Drew Stubbs was also snubbed in favor of a few past-their-prime veterans who might not even play the position this year, two of whom are on the same team — the Anaheim Angels Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter. Don’t be surprised if both Bruce and Stubbs end up pretty high on next year’s lists.
In other MLB list news, the network offered up its top nine teams right now, which didn’t include the Reds. Gallingly, Central Division rivals the St. Louis Cardinals were No. 7 and the Milwaukee Brewers, fresh off picking up starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum this off-season, came in at No. 9.