As the year winds down to its official close next Monday, we shift from season’s greetings to best-of list countdowns. Here’s one more to add to the list of lists — my top 12 baseball players in 2012:
3. Ryan Braun – 2012 was another banner year for Braun, who topped the Senior Circuit with 108 runs, 41 long balls, 356 total bases and a .987 OPS.
5. Andrew McCutchen – Emerged as a superstar last year by challenging Posey for the batting title, setting personal bests in almost every category and leading the National League in hits, oWAR and times on base.
6. Robinson Cano – Piled up 8.2 bWAR while setting or matching career highs in runs, doubles, homers, walks, slugging, OPS, OPS+, total bases, and extra base hits. In most years, that performance would be good enough to win MVP, but not in 2012.
7. Josh Hamilton – Hammered 43 home runs, knocked in 128 runs, slugged .577 and homered once every 13.1 at-bats, placing second among American Leaguers in all four categories.
8. Adrian Beltre – Batted .321, belted 36 home runs and received another Gold Glove for his defensive prowess at the hot corner.
10. Prince Fielder –The power numbers weren’t quite what we’ve come to expect from the hefty slugger, but he still batted a robust .313/.412/.528, walked more than he struck out and played all 162 games in his Detroit debut.
11. Joey Votto – Missed a third of the season with a torn meniscus but posted monster numbers when healthy. His 94 walks led the National League, as did his eye-popping .474 OBP, and his 44 doubles ranked second to Aramis Ramirez.
12. Yadier Molina – The best defensive backstop in baseball had a case for NL MVP after batting .315, slugging 22 home runs and leading his St. Louis Cardinals to within one game of their second straight World Series. It’s close between him and Posey, really close, but I’d rather have Posey’s bat.