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Top 5 American League Hitters

Matthew Kizner from Beyond the Box Score posted his top five hitters in the American League today, and I've got to say that I disagree about a few of his picks. But first, this is how his picks ranked:

  1. Vladimir Guerrero
  2. Manny Ramirez
  3. Michael Young
  4. Derek Jeter
  5. Alex Rodriguez

In a roundtable I did for Beyond the Box Score a few weeks ago, I stated that there are only two hitters in the major leagues better than Manny Ramirez: St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki. And since this is American League hitters only, this is how I break down my top five:

1. Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle
Kizner gave Suzuki a "dishonorable mention" stating that "I have no respect for his drag bunt, infield single, I run fast outta the box with my irritating batflip crap." I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite on Ichiro, and believe that he is the best contact hitter in baseball, and may be one of the best contact hitters ever. So what if he uses his speed to his advantage? That's what you are supposed to do. If you are fast, you run. If you are slow, you try to run. It's baseball. You can't hate a guy just because he excels in one aspect of the game which helps him perform in another.

2. Manny Ramirez, Boston
Ramirez is, simply put, the best of both worlds. He has contact (although he hasn't shown it this season) and power (we've seen that aspect of his game already), and he can pull the ball or go the other way when need be. You can make the argument that Ramirez plays in a hitter's park (106 park factor), but in my opinion a ballpark doesn't make the hitter, the hitter makes the ballpark (wow. That was poetic. I'm not quite sure what it means, but it sounds good, doesn't it? Feel free to credit it me when you use that in your next discussion regarding major league hitters.)

3. Vladimir Guerrero, Anaheim
He's not named "Vlad the Impaler" for nothing. Guerrero hits for average and power, and I really can't find a flaw in his hitting game to be honest with you. It's a toss up between Guerrero and Ramirez for the second spot. The edge between Ramirez and Guerrero is very thin, but maybe - just maybe - its homerism.

4. Alex Rodriguez, New York
It pains me to say this, but Rodriguez is actually a very good hitter. My opinion may be a little different if he didn't have 16 home runs at this point in the season, but stats are stats and they don't lie. Rodriguez has been productive in every professional season, and his worst season ever may have been last season, and he still hit .286 and launched 36 over the fence. It hurts.

5. David Ortiz, Boston/Gary Sheffield, New York
I had to make it fair. I almost put Sheffield alone in this spot, but I can't have more Yankees than Red Sox, right? Of course. This isn't called "Over The Facade." I think it's fair adding Ortiz to this spot, though. I don't think there is a more feared power hitter in the late innings of a ballgame than Ortiz. Ortiz hits for a pretty good average and can hit 40 home runs in a season. Sheffield is pretty much in the same mold, but has been doing it for more seasons. And they both are living in a shadow: Ortiz behind Ramirez and Sheffield behind Rodriguez.