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The Sporting News picks the top 50 players — and does a terrible job of it

May 20, 2010, 4:45 PM EDT

This is less the Sporting News’ mistake as it is their panel of “125 experts, including 18 Hall of Famers” who pick the Top 50 current ballplayers in the game this time each year. They get number 1 OK: Pujols.  Not many would argue with that.

But how about Chase Utley at number 9 behind Ichiro and Derek Jeter of all people?  How about Jayson Werth at 49, only 16 slots behind Derrick Lee and five behind Bobby Abreu!  I love to make fun of defensive Phillies fans more than life itself, but they have my total permission to go apes— over this one.  Not that they are the only ones with beefs here.  Go down the list and you’ll find all manner or weirdness.

As Adam Morris at Lone Star Ball notes, the panel of experts includes guys like convicted multiple felon and all-around dummy Denny McClain, Peter Ueberroth, the architect of 1980s-collusion, and Darren Daulton, a fine former catcher but a man who currently believes that the universe is created and sustained by numerical synchronicities, and that all matter is charged with vibrational energy, which has escaped human perception because it is extradimensional in origin. Really.

So obviously good judgment and sober reasoning is not a qualification for the Sporting News’ expert panel.  As such, I think we should take this poll’s results about as seriously as McClain and Ueberroth take the law and Daulten takes the scientific method.

  1. Alex K - May 20, 2010 at 5:25 PM

    What did Ichiro do to jump 22 spots from last year?!?

  2. Old Gator - May 20, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Craig, I defy you to read the Zend Avesta, Genesis, the Synoptic Gospels, the RigVeda, the Analects of Confucius, John of Patmos, St. Augustine, Aquinas, Moses de Leon, Averroes, Maimonides, John of the Cross, al-Ghazali, Juliana of Norwich, Kierkegaard, Sri Ramarikrishna, George Santayana, Teilhard de Chardin, D. T. Suzuki, the Tao of Pooh, Stephen Hawking or Joss Whedon and find anything even slightly less idiotic than whatever Darren Daulton thinks. And none of those folks could block a ball in the dirt or throw a heretic out at second base.

  3. scatterbrian - May 20, 2010 at 5:27 PM

    A relief pitcher in the top 50 is arguable enough, but Rivera at 11? Helton, unranked last year, re-enters the list leapfrogging Youkilis, Panda and Pena?
    That list is pretty asinine.

  4. Andy H - May 20, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Wait, Darren Daulton is a theoretical particle physicist?
    “String theory posits that the electrons and quarks within an atom are . . . oscillating lines (“strings”) . . . String theories also require the existence of several extra, unobservable, dimensions to the universe.” (

  5. Old Gator - May 20, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    Yes, yes…but while physicists need to resort to supercomputers and wearisome differential equations, Darren was able to discern the truth by sitting in a white antique bathtub during the filming of a Cialis commercial and staring at his toes.

  6. archilochusColubris - May 20, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    It takes quite the open mind to read that link and then summarize Daulton’s beliefs in terms of generally accepted scientific theories.

  7. wickethewok - May 20, 2010 at 7:10 PM

    What is The Sporting News? A blog or something?

  8. Charles Gates - May 20, 2010 at 8:25 PM

    wearisome differential equations
    Yea, you’re telling me. That class forced me cut down on my social/nocturnal agenda in college. Was the sacrifice worth it in the end? Eh, that (good) grade I earned is about as relevant as the Sporting News to an intelligent baseball conversation.

  9. Joey B - May 20, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    There had to be alcohol involved, or else they didn’t discuss the parameters and some thought they were discussing careers v current year. ARod 3rd and Longoria 14th? I’m not sure these guys read newspapers. Pena, with his solid .185 average, in the top 50? Bay, .270 with 1 HR? Beckett is on the list, and lester is not?
    This is truly an embarrassment of epic proportions to all Americans.

  10. Lee - May 20, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    “Defensive Phillies fans”, don’t be a hater, we got room on the bandwagon for you pal, no sweat. It is the City of Brotherly Love and all.

  11. Bill - May 20, 2010 at 11:37 PM

    Denny McClain? Um, if you’re going to take shots at easy targets, be sure to get their name right. Love your work in general, but this makes you look less than good.

  12. jonny5 - May 20, 2010 at 11:43 PM

    These guys are idiots. It almost looks like they drew names from a hat. Werth should be at least 30 spots up that list. What a bunch of idiots. Maybe Amaro paid these guys off to get him lower on the list? No, he wouldn’t listen to these monkeys…. They’re just dumb. Utley is an easy 1-3 spot for anyone who knows the game. And Rivera is the best at what he does, but it’s one frigging inning!!! and no hitting!!! these guys may have been all smoking crack when this list was devised. I wonder who has a chance at a bigger contract? Werth or let’s say for ha ha’s, Manny?

  13. Soup Sandwich - May 21, 2010 at 2:43 AM

    TSN is no longer worth the paper it is printed on.

  14. Homer J. Fong - May 21, 2010 at 4:42 AM

    I remember a few years ago, when TSN cranked out a book on the “Top __ Baseball Moments of All-Time.” The exact title escapes me, but I believe it was a top 50 as well. Published right around the turn of the century.
    Reading that list, it was clear to me that baseball before 1940 simply didn’t exist.
    And that’s to say nothing of their Top 100 All-Time players which was published at the same time.
    And this list…geez!
    I had almost given up on TSN then last spring (2009) their preview magazine put the Royals (!!!) third in the AL Central. That was the last straw.

  15. YX - May 21, 2010 at 8:14 AM

    DiffEq suck… I switched major from EE to CS because I failed it… twice.

  16. Joe - May 21, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    “Beckett is on the list, and lester is not?”
    Make that, Beckett and Lackey are on the list, and Lester is not?

  17. Mike - May 21, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    Josh Johnson is only 1 spot better than Josh Beckett SMH.

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