The best player in the NBA is either LeBron James or Kevin Durant, depending on who you ask. The best player in the NHL is widely regarded as Sidney Crosby, regardless of what most think about him. The best player in the NFL is up to debate, because there are so many positions and roles.
The best soccer player in the world is either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. But what about Major League Baseball? That’s much more debatable.
Some obvious names come to mind right away in Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw, among others.
Fans of Mike Trout will say that it is not even close. Fans of Miguel Cabrera will say that he almost won two triple crowns in a row. Pitching fans will say that Clayton Kershaw could be the best player at his position in baseball.
Yet, we still do not know.
The old adage is who can hit, hit for power, run, throw, and field. Those are the “five tools” that scouts salivate over. Something is missing though, as baseball has three real areas.
The best players in little league pitched then played shortstop or centerfield and hit third in the lineup. The same thing goes for high school baseball, and the same for some college programs.
MLB is a league of specialists and defined role. You don’t have those guys who pitch and play other positions everyday. Why not? Money is the most likely factor. Owners and team officials do not want to see their top hitter throw his arm out on the mound, and the same goes for pitchers who hit and run the bases.
So, it is rare to see a player who can do everything nowadays. Which brings a new argument to the table on who the best player in baseball is. It cannot be Miguel Cabrera because he cannot run, pitch and is average in the field.
Is it Mike Trout? Trout cannot pitch, and does not pitch, but he may be the closest.
The uproar is beginning, the screaming and agony can be heard already. The best player in baseball is not Mike Trout, and it is not Miguel Cabrera. So that means it is Kershaw, right? Clayton Kershaw has a career .155 hitter, so it is not the Dodgers’ southpaw.
The best player in baseball right now has to be a guy that can do everything, and everything well.
So, all things accounted for, the best baseball player is none other than Zack Greinke.
The three sides of baseball are hitting, fielding, and pitching. First, Greinke hit .328 last season, which was by far the best by a pitcher. In his career since coming over to the National League, he is hitting .233.
Here is a short clip of some big hits from Greinke.
Can he field? Zack Greinke has not committed an error since 2010. In addition, he has made some incredible plays. Here is one.
Can he pitch? Yes, Greinke won a Cy Young in 2009 and has a 2.60 ERA over the last two seasons. He also has some ridiculous stuff in his repertoire. Watch this curveball.
There’s one thing missing though, right? Can Greinke run? Here he is stealing a base.
When the best player in baseball comes to the argument table, Zack Greinke’s name never comes to mind, but maybe it should, as Greinke really can do it all.
In an article on CBS Sports by Mike Axisa, Greinke was named as the best hitting pitcher from 2011-2013. Later in that article, oWAR was discussed. For those who are not familiar with sabermetrics, oWAR stands for offensive wins above replacement. Greinke’s oWAR in 2013 was 1.7. How good is that? In comparison, also listed in the article, he had a higher oWAR than Yoenis Cespedes and Albert Pujols.
Zack Greinke is not the best hitter in baseball, he is not the best fielder in baseball, he is not the best runner in baseball. As far as being the best at his own position, Greinke is not even in the top five. But as far as a baseball player is concerned, in terms of overall talent, Zack Greinke is the best player in baseball.
Photo by Jerry Lal, USA Today Sports Images