A couple of weeks ago, I launched a series ranking the top pairs of hitters and pitchers in baseball. Considering that I’ve had the list done for those three weeks, you’d probably think I should’ve finished the list earlier. All I had to do was write up the top 10 pairs. And you’d be right! I should’ve. Unfortunately, I’ve been incredibly busy with school.
Without a doubt, the players that made this list are almost exclusively superstars. All but two of these players have made an All Star team, with seven of these 20 players being either MVP or Cy Young award winners. It’s no coincidence that six out of the ten teams that made the top ten made the playoffs last year and, similarly, only four playoff teams did not have a top ten pair (and only two 2014 playoff teams were not in the top 15). It’s almost as if having good players is really important to winning baseball games.
So without further ado, here are the top ten pairs in all of baseball:
10. San Francisco Giants, Madison Bumgarner/Buster Posey:
The reigning World Series champs certainly would not have this title without either of these two. Bumgarner used last October as his stage to ascend from really good pitcher to some sort of pitching god, and Posey is, well, Posey- a former MVP winner who has been consistently awesome since his first full year in the majors in 2010. Bumgarner likely isn’t quite as good as he was in the playoffs last year, but this pair has been key to the Giants run of even-year World Series Championships.
9. New York Mets, Matt Harvey/David Wright:
This was possibly the most difficult pair to rank on the entire list. If the same list had been done at the 2013 All Star break, this pair is probably number one on the list; based on 2014 production this pair ranks in the bottom five of the league. Ranking them in the top ten reflects my bullishness on Harvey and a little bit of confidence Wright rebounds. If the Mets are able to make a surprise push at the playoffs, this pair will be pivotal to their run.
8. Cleveland Indians, Corey Kluber/Michael Brantley:
The reigning AL Cy Young winner and bronze medalist in the MVP award would seem to inspire more confidence that eighth overall, but context is key for Kluber and Brantley. Before 2014, both players were solid contributors, but nowhere near their 2014 performances, so their relatively low ranking reflects their lack of complete track record. That said, if these two can encore, the Indians may be the best team in the AL.
7. Washington Nationals, Stephen Strasburg/Bryce Harper:
The most interesting part of this pair is making the choice of who to represent the Nationals. The deep is so deep in star power that there are at least three great options for starters and two offensive monsters. Though Max Scherzer and Anthony Rendon have more past performance than either of these players, I firmly believe that Harper and Strasburg are the top picks for the Nationals going forward. That I’d put a pair of Rendon and Scherzer at this same spot on the list shows how unbelievably strong the Nationals roster is.
6. Detroit Tigers, David Price/Miguel Cabrera:
With two MVPs and a Cy Young award between these two, this is the second-most decorated pair on the entire list (spoiler: the most decorated pair is entirely due to one player’s accolades). A surely healthy Miggy probably leaps up two spots on this list, but sixth overall with Cabrera’s recent injury history is quite amazing. It’s notable that while a couple years ago the depth behind the Tigers’ ace was as good as any team in the league, in 2015 Price is far-and-away the best pitcher on a newly thin staff.
5. Florida Marlins, Jose Fernandez/Giancarlo Stanton:
In an alternate reality where Fernandez doesn’t blow up his elbow this is the best pair on this list. That 20 starts of Fernandez is enough to make this a top five pairing shows how incredible both of these players are. Given how young both Stanton and Fernandez are, these two monsters could be headlining a powerful team in Miami for quite a while.
4. Chicago White Sox, Chris Sale/Jose Abreu:
Admit it, you thought I was going to make this pair number one on this list. Unfortunately for my rooting interests, I couldn’t justify putting these two above the following three pairs. That said, Sale and Abreu are absolutely incredible, a pair with a legitimate chance to sweep the AL awards come November.
3. Seattle Mariners, Felix Hernandez/Robinson Cano:
Speaking of award-sweeping potential, these two certainly have it. While Cano lost some of his trademark power by moving to a pitcher friendly park, he was still a top-5 MVP finisher last year, and shows no signs of slowing down in the second year of his massive free agent deal of December 2013. Felix is probably beyond description at this point, a 29 year old in already his tenth year of dominating the AL who seems destined for a Hall of Fame induction when he calls it a career.
2. Los Angeles Angels, Garret Richards/Mike Trout:
Garret Richards is a cool pitcher. This ranking has next to nothing to do with Garret Richards. This ranking is because Mike Trout is the best player in baseball by an absolutely massive margin.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw/Yasiel Puig:
With three Cy Youngs and an MVP from the last four years on his mantle, Clayton Kershaw is simply beyond hyperbole. He’s that good, as good as you think he is and probably better. In a league that’s being dominating by pitching, Kershaw is baseball’s ace with numbers that match up with the best pitchers of all time.
Oh, and Yasiel Puig is pretty damn fun too. The Dodgers are really, really good.