observing the talent in MLB today, there is a wide array of future HOF inductee’s and a cast of rising stars. Every year different players step up to the plate and perform, and others may not. A solid season from a future hall of fame player will not get your name of the list, these are simply the best of 2008 taking several factors into consideration. The list does not take into consideration past years or future projections, only results and factors outside of their control such as a lack of run support for a pitcher. Here are the best players of 2008 and the reasons why I chose them.
#5. Ryan Howard- 1B Philadelphia Phillies
Howard led the entire MLB with 48 Home Runs and 146 RBI. Not even mentioning that the Phillies won the World Series, Howards numbers should have got him the MVP nod over Albert Pujols despite his .251 batting average. It seemed as though Howard either hit it far or didn’t hit it, but he did put up 105 runs and hit .320 when runners were in scoring position. Howard hit the ball when it counted most and deserves the to be considered one of the top five players of 2008.
#4. Tim Lincecum- SP San Francisco Giants
Notable Statistics: 18 Wins, 2.62 ERA, 265 K’s, 84 Walks
Often a star is hidden and unrecognized when a part of a terrible team, but for Lincecum this is not the case. Lincecum’s brilliance was shown through the San Francisco Giants 72-90 record. Although he stands at only 5’11 Lincecum easily makes up for his lack of height in heart and determination. Lincecum was able to capture the CY Young award despite his teams poor season. With better run support Lincecum could have been at the top of this list.
#3. C.C. Sabathia-SP Cleveland Indians/Milwaukee Brewers
After the first starts of the year there is no way anyone would believe that Sabathia would have even a decent season in 2008. Sabathia just needed a few terrible starts to warm up. Although Sabathia finished with a 17-10 record, he managed to come out of the season with a 2.70 ERA and 251 strikeouts to only 59 walks. After his first 7 starts of the season Sabathia found himself 1-5 with a 7.51 ERA. Only a magician of a baseball player could pull out a performance like the one Sabathia managed. At one point with the Brewers, Sabathia pulled off 12 wins without one loss. Most players who change teams due to a trade do not receive attention when it comes time for the Cy Young and MVP awards to be given out, but Sabathia did receive some votes and he deserved every one of them. The Brewers were not able to make a World Series appearance but did pull out a run to make the playoffs thanks to Sabathia.
#2. Manny Ramirez- OF Boston Red Sox/Los Angeles Dodgers
Manny Ramirez is one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. In 2008 he showed his value to a teams lineup. Manny Ramirez makes the #2 spot not just with his overall numbers, but the impact he had on the Los Angeles Dodgers. After his last game with the Boston Red Sox in 2008 Manny had a .299 batting average. Ramirez got hot and couldn’t be stopped as he would finish the season with a .332BA, 37 HR, and 121 RBI. Ramirez led the Dodgers to an impressive sweep over the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs. Ramirez may have been a cancer to the Red Sox, but his presence was a huge lift to the Los Angeles Dodgers. There is no question that Ramirez was one of the best players of 2008.
#1. Cliff Lee- SP Cleveland Indians
Cliff Lee is not a superstar baseball player. Cliff Lee is not even considered an above average player. Is Cliff Lee really as good as his 2008 season? Only time will tell but what a season for Lee. In the AL Lee finished 1st in ERA, 1st in Wins, and was tied for first in complete game shutouts. Lee is not considered a strikeout pitcher but had 170K’s to only 34 walks. The Indians finished the year at .500 but Lee managed to compile a 22-3 record. Congratulations to Cliff Lee, the best player of the 2008 MLB season.
Honerable Mention: Albert Pujols, Carlos Zombrano, Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Webb, Johan Santana