Walt Jocketty has signed another former Cardinal, Ryan Ludwick to be the Reds 4th outfielder or possibly left fielder. The Reds have also added pitchers Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, and Ryan Madson this offseason and look to be the Cardinals main competition this season.
Third base was a challenging position to rank due to so many of them having down years last season. Left field isn't easy either with the Ryan Braun situation. The 2011 NL MVP apparently failed a PED test, but is appealing. There is alot of rumors about something else that caused it, but no one knows for sure yet. Plus, you never know if the Rangers plan on playing Josh Hamilton in center or left, for now it looks like center. There doesn't seem to be as many good left fielders as in years past, and there is alot of them who are past their prime in the middle of giant contracts like Alfonso Soriano, Jason Bay, and Vernon Wells.
10) Desmond Jennings, Rays
I picked him over Logan Morrison, Martin Prado, and NL Gold Glove winner Gerardo Parra. Jennings has been in the top 50 prospect list for several years. Granted, Jennings only played 63 games last year, but when he solidified the leadoff spot for the Rays after being called up in late July. He batted .259 and had a .356 on base pct. and hit 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, and stole 20 bases in only 287 plate appearances. It looks like Jennings is the replacement for Carl Crawford in Tampa Bay.
9) Carlos Lee, Astros
I didn't think I would rank an Astros player period, but left field is kind of a weak position right now. Lee isn't the player he once was, and has little range in left. But, Lee did bat .275 with a .342 OBP with 18 home runs and 94 RBIs last year. Lee is in the last season of his deal, and Astros management is looking to deal him.
8) Brett Gardner, Yankees
Gardner don't hit for much power, but he is a good fielder and baserunner. He led the AL in stolen bases with 49 and was 4th in triples last year.
7) Josh Willingham, Twins
Willingham signed a three year deal with Minnesota in the offseason after playing in Oakland last year. In 2011 he hit 29 home runs and drove in 98 runs.
6) Carlos Quentin, Padres
I'm not sure how the move from the White Sox to the Padres will affect Quentin. Petco Park is a extreme pitcher's park, and US Cellular Park was known as a hitters park. He's never been able to match his breakout year of 2008, but was good when he played last year. Last year, Quentin had 24 home runs and 31 doubles in 117 games. I would expect more doubles and less home runs for 2012.
5) Alex Gordon, Royals
Gordon has finally turned into the player the Royals thought he would, although its as a left fielder not a third baseman. Gordon was 10th in the AL in batting average(.303), 6th in doubles(45), 10th in runs scored(101), 8th in hits(185), and 8th in total bases(307). He hit 23 home runs, 87 RBIs, and stole 17 bases last year. Gordon also led major league outfielders with 20 assists last year, so don't run on him. He won his first Gold Glove as well.
4) Carl Crawford, Red Sox
I'm going to give Crawford a mulligan for 2011. His first season as a Red Sox was not a good one. He had a poor year batting only .255 with a terrible .289 on base pct. His power numbers and stolen bases were down as well. But this is the same guy who finished 7th in MVP voting in 2010 and has led the league in steals four times. Crawford is a lifetime .293 hitter and only 30 years old, so I would expect him to rebound in 2012.
3) Matt Holliday, Cardinals
Holliday missed time for appendicitis, knee problems, finger, hand injury, and had a bug fly in his ear last season. He still hit .296, slugged .525, and was 6th in the NL with a .388 OBP. He hit 22 home runs and had 75 RBIs, but was 9th in the NL with 36 doubles. Holliday played the fewest games since his rookie year in 2004 last year, and the Cardinals need a healthy productive year from him in 2012.
2) Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
Cargo had a nice follow up to his breakout 2010 season when he won the batting title, Gold Glove, and finished 3rd in MVP voting. Last season, Gonzalez batted .285, slugged .526, had a .363 OBP, hit 26 home runs, drove in 92 runs, and stole 20 bases.
1) Ryan Braun, Brewers
Reportedly, Braun failed a PED test last year in the playoffs but is appealing it. He claims it was due to a medication he was taking for a private medical issue. I'm not even going to get into that. For now, I will rank him for what he has done on the field. He won the NL MVP last year after finshing 2nd in average(.332), 5th in OBP(.397), 1st in slugging pct.(.597), 6th in HR(33), 4th in RBIs(111), 7th in stolen bases(33) 2nd in runs(109), 5th in hits(187), and 2nd in total bases(336). Braun has also hit well in the postseason and has .379 average in 15 career playoff games. We'll see how the PED situation plays out, its possible that Holliday or Cargo could overtake him as the best left fielder in the league this year.