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Hot Stove Preview: Offense

The top hitters on the Free Agent Market are outlined in this update. I touch on 25 of the best free agents, including Josh Hamilton, Adam LaRoche, and David Ortiz.

Another Hot Stove season is upon us. Big names are scattered all throughout the list, including  A.J. Pierzynski, Josh Hamilton, Kevin Youkilis, and Adam LaRoche. Below is a position by position break down of top players from the Free Agent Class of 2012-2013.

Catchers

A.J. Pierzynski (2013 age: 36)

2012 Stats: 27 HR, 77 RBI, .278 AVG, 0 SB.

Power, average, experience, defense, what's not to like about Pierzynski? He has 15 years, a World Series Championship, two All Star Games, and more than 1,600 games under his belt. He has hit .300 three times, knocked at least 16 homers three times, and has not played in less than 114 games in a season since 2000. On top of all that, he is coming off his best year of his career at 35. An interesting fact: Back in June, he was named the Most Hated Player in Baseball due to his strong personality.

Mike Napoli (2013 age: 31)

2012 Stats: 24 HR, 56 RBI, .227 AVG, 1 SB.

Just one season removed from hitting 30 home runs and batting .320, the Florida native looks to be the top catcher on the market. Texas is likely to let him go, considering that they have expressed interest in Toronto's J.P. Arencibia. Napoli can provide a huge bat from behind the plate, with 146 home runs and a career slugging percentage of .507. 

Russell Martin (2013 age: 29)

2012 Stats: 21 HR, 53 RBI, .211 AVG, 6 SB.

The Canadian backstop is an all around player. He can hit for power and average (though he struggled to hit for the latter over his New York tenure), and he can run and handle a pitching staff. If a team is looking for an all around backstop, he is the way to go.

First Basemen

Adam LaRoche (2013 age: 33)

2012 stats: 33 HR, 100 RBI, .271 AVG, 1 SB.

LaRoche declined his $10 million option to stay in D.C., so he will hit the market. One of the best hitters available, he has big time pop and can hit lefties as well as righties. He has driven in 100 runs in a season twice, and has reached the 30 home run plateau as many times. If a team is looking for a big bat that can make an immediate impact, LaRoche is their man.

Casey Kotchman (2013 age: 30)

2012 Stats: 12 HR, 55 RBI, .229 AVG, 3 SB.

The market for first baseman is shallow after LaRoche, but Kotchman could be a steal. He is one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball, and his offensive ability is a bonus. In 2011, he hit .306. A journeyman who has played for six teams in the past five years, including his hometown Rays, he may not want to keep moving, but a shallow market can provide him enough incentive to leave Cleveland.

Carlos Pena (2013 age: 35)

2012 Stats: 19 HR, 61 RBI, .197 AVG, 2 SB.

Pena has huge pop, but he has struggled to hit for average, batting over .200 just once in the past three years and not hitting over .230 since 2008. He is looking to bounce back from a rough back 2012 that was his worst year since 2006, as all of his numbers dropped. He is aging, but can still provide an offensive spark in the four or five hole in a lineup.

Second Basemen

Kelly Johnson (2013 age: 31)

2012 Stats: 16 HR, 55 RBI, .225 AVG, 14 SB.

Cano is staying in New York, so Johnson may be the top second baseman on the market. A solid blend of power and speed, he should command a two or three year deal at a relatively low price. 2010 was his best year, as he hit 26 home runs and batted .284 with 13 stolen bases for Arizona.

Jeff Keppinger (2013 age: 33)

2012 Stats: 9 HR, 40 RBI, .325 AVG, 1 SB.

Kepp is as consistent a bat as you can find, having batted at least .273 in each month of the season (except a two game October). He may not hit .325 next year, but as one of the more underrated players in the game, he can be a steal for whoever signs him.

Shortstops

Marco Scutaro (2013 age: 37)

2012 Stats: 7 HR, 74 RBI, .306 AVG, 9 SB.

A huge hot streak upon joining the Giants (.362 AVG) and postseason (.328 AVG, NLCS MVP) drastically increased Scutaro's free agent status, but with his soaring popularity in San Francisco, it is hard to imagine the Giant letting him go. He finished the season on a 20 game hitting streak, knocking his average up from .282 on September 2nd to .306 by the end of the year.  

Stephen Drew (2013 age: 30)

2012 Stats: 7 HR, 28 RBI, .223 AVG, 1 SB.

With middle infielders in thin supply, Drew's free agent status increases. Though he's had a rough couple of years, teams will hope he returns to his 2008-2010 form, where he averaged 16 home runs per year and batted .277. He is the youngest major middle infielder on the market, as he won't turn 30 until March.

Third Basemen 

Kevin Youkilis (2013 age: 34)

2012 Stats: 19 HR, 60 RBI, .235 AVG, 0 SB.

As the White Sox declined Youkilis' option, he becomes the top third baseman on the market. Though he has been inconsistent over the past few seasons, he has still put up good enough numbers to top the class. The three time All Star had his best year in 2008, when he hit 29 home runs, knocked in 115, and batted .312.  

Eric Chavez (2013 age: 34)

2012 Stats: 16 HR, 37 RBI, .281 AVG, 0 SB.

After four straight years of being ravaged by injuries, Chavez finally found some health in 2012. He had his best year since 2006, filling in well in the absence of Alex Rodriguez. Don't expect him to sign more than a one- or two-year deal, however.

Placido Polanco (2013 age: 37)

2012 Stats: 2 HR, 19 RBI, .257 AVG, 0 SB.

An injury-ravaged 2012 kept Polanco from putting up the numbers he wanted to, but he shouldn't have trouble finding a job with 1809 games and 2044 hits to his credit. Having won a Gold Glove as recently as last year, the Dominican should probably be able to start next year, no matter where he ends up.

Left Fielders

Josh Hamilton (2013 age: 32)

2012 Stats: 43 HR, 128 RBI, .285 AVG, 7 SB.

Hamilon is easily the best hitter on the market, if not the best player. The 2010 AL MVP has battled inconsistency, but 43 home runs will get you a job anywhere. The big wild card is the set of issues that accompany addiction, as he has done a good, but not great job of staying sober since his well-publisized climb out of crack/cocaine addiction. This may keep him from signing a deal longer than six years, which is a large deal in and of itself.

Ryan Ludwick (2013 age: 34-35)

2012 Stats: 26 HR, 80 RBI, .275 AVG, 0 SB.

Ludwick has had his ups and downs in the majors, but a strong 2012 puts him near the top of the strong list of outfielders this year. One of the more unnoticed players in baseball, he will fit nicely into the middle of any order.

Delmon Young (2013 age: 27)

2012 Stats: 18 HR, 74 RBI, .267 AVG, 0 SB.

Young is an all around player who can produce in the long run as he is just 27 years old. However, an April hate crime charge has diminished his popularity among many fans, but this shouldn't be an issue as he looks for a job.

Shane Victorino (2013 age: 32)

2012 Stats: 11 HR, 55 RBI, .255 AVG, 39 SB.

Victorino, contrary to Young, is one of the most popular players in baseball and will bring energy and consistent bat to the top of whatever lineup he joins. He is one player that I would like the Nationals to consider signing to help with the outfield.

Cody Ross (2013 age: 32)

2012 Stats: 22 HR, 81 RBI, .267 AVG, 2 SB.

Amidst the struggles of the Red Sox in 2012, Cody Ross quietly put up solid numbers. His best year since 2009 was characterized by a return of the power he was missing from '10-'11. With 22 home runs and 81 RBI, he could be one of the more unnoticed steals of the season.

Center Fielders

Michael Bourn (2013 age: 30)

2012 Stats: 9 HR, 57 RBI, .274 AVG, 42 SB.

The top speedster on the market with his free agent leading 42 stolen bases will fit in at the top of any lineup. He led the NL in stolen bases three straight years from 2009-2011, twice stealing 61. He has put up five straight seasons of more than 40 stolen bases, which is aided by his .339 career on-base percentage that even reached .354 in 2009.

B.J. Upton (2013 age: 28)

2012 Stats: 28 HR, 78 RBI, .246 AVG, 31 SB.

B.J. set a career high with 28 home runs, but his averaged stayed below .250 for the fourth straight season, and his issues with lack of hustle continued. However, a rare combination of power and speed (he has stolen over 30 bases every year since 2008) is hard to pass up.

Torii Hunter (2013 age: 37-38)

2012 Stats: 16 HR, 92 RBI, .313 AVG, 9 SB.

Torii will be one of the better signings that any team makes. Just three home runs shy of 300, Torii brings life and leadership to the clubhouse, and probably won't be too costly. He is one of my favorite non-Nationals. In the second half of 2012, he batted .350.  

Angel Pagan (2013 age: 31-32)

2012 Stats: 8 HR, 56 RBI, .288 AVG, 29 SB.

Pagan up a great year for San Francisco, hit a pair of home runs in the playoffs, and capped it all off with earning every person in America a free taco with his World Series stolen base. His 15 triples lead the National League, but I doubt that he is going anywhere with his popularity growing in San Francisco. Really, everyone in San Francisco has seen their popularity skyrocket, so who knows.

Right Fielders

Nick Swisher (2013 age: 32)

2012 Stats: 24 HR, 93 RBI, .272 AVG, 2 SB.

Swisher may leave New York after four years in the Bombers outfield. A solid power hitter, he actually fared better on the road in 2012, showing that playing in the homer happy Yankee Stadium didn't skew his stats.  

Ichiro Suzuki (2013 age: 39)

2012 Stats: 9 HR, 55 RBI, .283 AVG, 29 SB.

The aging superstar hit .322 after joining the Yankees, showing that there is still some life in his old bat. He won't sign too long a contract, but it will be interesting to find out where ends up. He is just 394 hits from 3000, which, barring injury, will be reached in the next three years. He is also only 48 stolen bases from 500, which is another milestone to add to his Hall of Fame career.   

Designated Hitters

David Ortiz (2013 age: 37)

2012 Stats: 23 HR, 60 RBI, .318 AVG, 0 SB.

Big Papi is a free agent again. While Red Sox fans may rip their hair out worrying about him leaving, I doubt that he's going anywhere. A Red Sox of 10 years, he has been a leader on and off the field, especially since Jason Varitek retired. He and the Boston management are currently in talks for a multi-year deal.

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Teams followed in this update: Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Colorado Rockies

If your team is not included, please leave a comment.

HR: home runs. RBI: runs batted in. AVG: batting average. SB: stolen bases. ERA: earned run average. WHIP: walks/hits per innings pitched. K's: strikeouts. WPCT: winning percentage

Zack Silverman

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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