2012 Top 111 Free Agents: Nos. 60-41

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Honorable mentions
Nos. 111-81
Nos. 80-61

Part three of the top 111 free agents takes up through No. 41. This portion of the rankings includes several veteran bats nearing the end and some pitchers who will need to finish strong if they hope to land multiyear deals.

(All ages as of April 1, 2012)

* denotes players with contract options

60. Omar Infante (30 – Marlins): A stunning All-Star as a utilityman for the Braves last season, Infante has flopped as a regular so far this year, hitting just .254/.295/.311 for the Marlins. He is better than this, and I think he’ll bounce back enough in the second half to get another gig as a starting second baseman next year. However, he has a long way to go if he’s going to get another multiyear deal.

59. Brad Penny (33 – Tigers): Penny gave up eight runs in his Tigers debut and had an 8.44 ERA after four starts, but he’s gone 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA in his last 11 turns. Penny has gotten more and more grounders through the years, so even though his strikeout rate has collapsed, he’s still a decent bet going forward. Of course, he’s never really put together six good months and he isn’t likely to start now. What will continue to get him paid is that he can be an above average starter for three months at a time.

58. Jeff Francoeur (27 – Royals)*: Was there really any reason to expect this year would be different? Francoeur has followed up his hot April by posting a .675 OPS in May and a .562 OPS so far in June. For the season, he’s still been a somewhat above average regular, and if he can end the year with 20 homers and 20 steals, he may well find a team willing to pay him $5 million next year. Really, though, he’s a glorified platoon player. The mutual option on his deal is worth $3 million and can be voided by either party.

57. Johnny Damon (38 – Rays): Still trucking along, Damon has hit .267/.318/.413 with eight homers in 281 at-bats for the Rays this season. Assuming that he stays healthy, he should finish the season with about 2,730 hits, putting him on pace to reach 3,000 in 2013 if he can find a team willing to keep playing him regularly.

56. Joe Nathan (37 – Twins)*: There’s still time for him to turn it around, but Nathan’s first year back from Tommy John surgery has been a big struggle, as he’s given up 15 runs — 13 earned — in 15 1/3 innings. The Twins are sure to decline his $12.5 million option for 2011 even if he does return as a quality closer in the second half, but they’ll likely have quite a bit of interest in re-signing him.

55. Magglio Ordonez (38 – Tigers): The Tigers re-signed Ordonez for $10 million after he hit .303/.378/.474 in 323 at-bats last year, but he’s fallen all of the way to .172/.232/.224 in 116 at-bats this season. Obviously, he’s going to have to prove it’s an aberration if he’s going to command even half that salary next year.

54. Aaron Harang (33 – Padres)*: Harang made the right call last winter, signing with San Diego in an attempt to resuscitate his career. He’s 7-2 with a 3.71 ERA after 13 starts. Still, one wonders if he’ll be looked at it much the same way Jon Garland was last winter, especially if his road ERA ends up close to his current 4.84 mark. He’d be best off sticking with the Padres if they want him back and are willing to pay him a competitive salary. His deal includes a $5 million mutual option.

53. Derrek Lee (36 – Orioles): The Orioles gambled $7.25 million on the idea that Lee would bounce back from a down 2010 season, but it looks like his 30-homer power is gone forever. He should improve the further removed he gets from offseason thumb surgery, and I don’t think he’s done as a league-average first baseman. Injuries do seem to be following him around, though. He missed time with a sore wrist this spring and went on the DL with an oblique strain last month.

52. Vacated: So, this was supposed to be Jason Bartlett’s spot, but I forgot that Bartlett signed a two-year deal with the Padres back in January. Therefore, the Top 111 FAs will actually turn out to be a top 110.

51. Bobby Abreu (38 – Angels)*: Abreu’s $9 million option for 2012 kicks in with just another 124 more plate appearances, so barring a catastrophic injury, he’s not going to be a free agent this winter. Given their payroll issues, the Angels would probably prefer not to have him back at that price. Still, he has been an asset this year with his current .288/.399/.377 line.

50. Vladimir Guerrero (37 – Orioles): Vlad just hasn’t been able to get it going this year, though I expect that to change once interleague play comes to an end. He should have a couple of years left as a viable designated hitter before his loss of bat speed robs him of his ability to still chase bad pitches and end up with hits. It isn’t at all likely that he’ll make $8 million again next year.

49. Jon Garland (32 – Dodgers)*: If Garland had come around five years earlier, his durability and slightly above average pitching would have gotten him a big four- or five-year deal during his first go in free agency. Unfortunately for him, teams are getting smarter and Garland has been forced to accept one-year pacts. Garland went 14-12 with a 3.47 ERA for the Padres last season, then settled for a one-year deal with an option to return to Los Angeles with the Dodgers. If he pitches 190 innings (a total he reached every year from 2002-10), he’s guaranteed $8 million next year. However, since he’s currently on the DL with shoulder inflammation, it looks like he’ll head back into free agency.

48. Ryan Ludwick (33 – Padres): Ludwick is going to have to hope teams will look past his year and a half of Petco-influenced numbers when he becomes a free agent this winter. He leads the Padres with nine homers and 45 RBI, but it comes with a modest .255/.322/.393 line in 267 at-bats. On the road, he’s doing somewhat better, having hit .279/.324/.419. A trade might put him in a friendlier environment this summer.

47. Bartolo Colon (38 – Yankees): Colon’s amazing comeback had resulted in a 3.10 ERA and a 72/18 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings before his recent hamstring injury. He wasn’t going to last 200 innings anyway, so it might be for the best that he went down with a leg problem and gave his arm a couple of weeks off. If Colon can keep it going and finish with an ERA in the 3.50 range, then he may well earn $8 million-$10 million from a contender next year. However, the odds are against this being his only DL stint of the season.

46. J.D. Drew (36 – Red Sox): Some suspect that Drew will just up and retire with his five-year, $70 million contract coming to an end. Others suspect he already has, given that he’s collected just 18 of Boston’s league-high 386 RBI this year. He’s actually remained pretty healthy the last three years, and he’s still a fine defender in right field at age 35. He would have something of offer if he wanted to continue his career.

45. Alex Gonzalez (35 – Braves): Even having lost a step, Gonzalez remains a rock-solid defender. Offensively, he’s the same player he’s always been, having hit .254/.290/.387 with seven homers so far this year. I certainly wouldn’t recommend signing him to a multiyear deal, but it’d be a surprise if he doesn’t end up with a two-year contract. The Braves will likely try to re-sign him.

44. Coco Crisp (32 – Athletics): Crisp has managed to stay in the lineup this year, but his OPS is down 100 points from last year’s .779 mark. On the plus side, he’s still a quality defensive center fielder and excellent basestealer. If he can stay off the disabled list, he might land a two-year, $10 million deal this winter.

43. Jason Marquis (33 – Nationals): After going 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA in 13 starts during a 2010 season in which he was plagued by an elbow injury, Marquis has bounced back to start this year 7-2 with a 3.86 ERA. His ERA is due to rise, but if he stays healthy, he has a chance of landing another contract similar to the two-year, $15 million deal he’s currently finishing up.

42. Cody Ross (31 – Giants): Ross is making $6.3 million this year in his final season as an arbitration-eligible player. Since missing the first three weeks of the season with a strained calf, he’s hit .264/.348/.438 in 178 at-bats. Because of his career .255/.313/.413 line against right-handers, I view him as a borderline regular. However, given his relative youth and 20-homer power, he’ll be in demand. I’d expect something like $12 million for two years.

41. Carlos Pena (33 – Cubs): Yeah, Pena is still just 33, though given his skill set, he seems unlikely to last a whole lot longer as a quality regular. It looked like he might be done six weeks ago, but he’s shaken off a horrible start — he hit .159 with one extra-base hit in April — to bat .221/.352/.432 with 13 homers though 213 at-bats. If he keeps improving, he might match the $10 million he’s making right now. The Cubs, though, should attempt to snag a bigger fish at first base.

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Reds 5, Phillies 2: Tim Adleman tapped into some kind of magic on Friday, redeeming his 6.19 ERA with eight innings of one-hit ball against the Phillies. Any hint of a no-hitter was erased in the first inning, when the right-hander served up a 1-2 base hit to Andres Blanco and plunked Aaron Altherr in the next at-bat. He undid the Phillies’ damage with an inning-ending double play and proceeded to retire the next 16 consecutive batters, finally breaking his streak on a pair of walks in the seventh and eighth.

Granted, Adleman’s breakout came against the fifth-worst offense in the National League — but a win is a win, and the Reds will take any leg up in the standings they can get.

Athletics 4, Yankees 1: After seven fierce innings of a pitcher’s duel, including Masahiro Tanaka‘s career-high 13 strikeouts and Sean Manaea‘s first seven-inning outing since 2016, the Yankees’ bullpen proved to be their undoing. Tyler Clippard advanced Adam Rosales to third base on an errant pickoff throw, then allowed a stolen base, walk, and back-to-back singles to give the A’s a two-run lead in the eighth inning. Jonathan Holder fared little better, losing a 2-0 battle with Stephen Vogt in the ninth and giving up the two-run homer that would seal the A’s 22nd win of the season.

Nationals 5, Padres 1: The Nationals still have a comfortable lead atop the NL East division, and they appear to have made a full recovery from their slump last week, going 4-1 on the road against the Braves and Mariners. There’s no bad time for a Max Scherzer shutdown performance, however, and that’s just what they got during Friday’s win. Scherzer laid out 13 strikeouts in a season-best performance, holding the Padres to three hits and extending his all-time record to 53 double-strikeout appearances.

Mets 8, Pirates 1: Jacob deGrom is finally getting his groove back. Following a seven-inning shutout against the Angels last week, the right-hander delivered 8 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Pirates, whiffing 10 of 32 batters for his fifth double-strikeout performance of the year.

Unsurprisingly, deGrom’s near-complete game was the longest outing by a Mets’ starter in 2017.

Blue Jays 7, Rangers 6: Only two weeks ago, Devon Travis had yet to crest the Mendoza line. Now, he appears to be making steady progress toward another .300 average after hitting his second career grand slam in the Blue Jay’s 7-6 win on Friday night.

The knock preceded Travis’ one-out double in the fourth inning, his 15th of the month and the most by any Blue Jays hitter in the month of May. That might not be enough to dig the Blue Jays out of last place in the AL East, but they’ve now won four consecutive games and have started to close in on the fourth-place Rays.

Royals 6, Indians 4: The Royals technically edged out the Indians on Friday, but the Indians were treated to a repeat visit from the Rally Squirrel, so who’s to say who the real winner is here?

Marlins 8, Angels 5: Giancarlo Stanton is made of the stuff superheroes dreamed of. Who else would hit a leadoff home run and manage, through no extraordinary effort, to physically damage the wall in center field?

The Angels, meanwhile, have now taken three losses in a row. Albert Pujols went 2-for-4 with a single and a double, but is still stuck at No. 597 in his quest for 600 career home runs.

Red Sox 3, Mariners 0: The Red Sox are fast closing in on first place in the AL East, and nothing is going to stand in their way now — not Dustin Pedroia‘s temporary absence, not the last-place Mariners, and certainly not a couple hours of rain. Eduardo Rodriguez dominated in his fourth start of the year, holding the Mariners at arm’s length through six scoreless innings and striking out four of 24 batters. Not a single run was scored via a hit, from Josh Rutledge‘s RBI groundout in the second inning to a run-scoring wild pitch by Yovani Gallardo and a passed ball by Mike Zunino in the sixth.

Diamondbacks 4, Brewers 2 (10 innings): There’s never a good time for a blown save, but snapping a scoreless streak of 13 1/3 innings with a blown save in the ninth inning, with two outs and a 404-foot game-tying home run by the .235-average Chris Iannetta is far from ideal.

The Brewers couldn’t get back on track after Corey Knebel‘s mistake, and lost in the 10th after Wily Peralta allowed a run on a wild pitch and Jake Lamb clobbered an RBI double to secure the win.

Astros 2, Orioles 0: Don’t worry, the Astros are still the best team in baseball. They padded an impressive nine-game lead on Friday night, taking their fourth win of the week with seven sterling innings from Joe MusgroveKen Giles‘ 14th save of the season and a modest two home runs from Jake Marisnick and Carlos Beltran.

White Sox 8, Tigers 2: It was a long and rainy night for the Tigers, who were rained out during Game 1 of a doubleheader, sat through a one-hour, 25-minute rain delay in Game 2, and still lost poorly to the White Sox. Matt Boyd continued to look shaky on the mound, delivering nine hits and three runs over 4 2/3 innings, and striking out just three of 23 batters. Alex Avila pulled the Tigers within a run of tying the game, smashing a 419-foot home run to center field in the fifth inning, but the Tigers were left clueless at the plate against the White Sox’ ever-revolving carousel of relievers.

Rays 5, Twins 2: The best part of the Rays’ win wasn’t the way they extended their win streak to three games, nor was it Logan Morrison‘s home run, Kevin Kiermaier‘s blast or Steven Souza Jr.’s eighth-inning homer. It was the reminder that sometimes, baseball is little more than pure, glorious entertainment:

Souza Jr. took to Twitter following the game to find out just how far off the mark he was:

Rockies 10, Cardinals 0: The Diamondbacks and Dodgers are going to have a difficult time catching the Rockies in the NL West if Colorado keeps turning out wins like this one. They were dominant in every aspect of Friday’s game, flummoxing the Cardinals at the plate with eight scoreless frames from Antonio Senzatela and returning in the ninth with a flawless 12-pitch inning by Jordan Lyles.

The Rockies’ offense was no less formidable at the plate, putting up an eight-spot in the eighth inning that featured, among other things, two home runs from Charlie Blackmon and Mark Reynolds and Nolan Arenado‘s 17th double of the season. Blackmon went 4-for-4 for the first time since 2016, recording an RBI triple, home run and single to come one double shy of hitting for the cycle.

Dodgers 4, Cubs 0: All the hope that Jake Arrieta gave the Cubs during his last start was erased on Friday. Instead of building on the six-inning shutout he delivered against the Brewers, Arrieta found himself mired in a nine-hit, four-run performance against the Dodgers, striking out nine of 23 batters and allowing two home runs for the fourth time this season. The Cubs’ offense couldn’t catch a break against Alex Wood, or Pedro Baez, or Chris Hatcher, failing to produce a single run and eventually taking their third shutout of the month.

Braves 2, Giants 0: It wasn’t so long ago that Matt Cain was a workhorse, consistently turning in 200+ innings and 3.0+ fWAR from season to season. While his glory days are well behind him now, Cain flashed a little of that dominance on Friday, going seven innings with two runs, a walk and three strikeouts against the Braves. Alas, it wasn’t enough to carry the Giants to a much-needed win: opposing starter Jaime Garcia‘s two-run single was all the team needed to edge out the Giants for their 21st win of the year.

Giancarlo Stanton dented the outfield wall in Marlins Park

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If we haven’t said it before, it bears repeating: When it comes to pure muscle mass and power, no major league player rivals the sheer force of Giancarlo Stanton. His record-setting 504-foot home run in 2016 has yet to be bested in the Statcast era (though it narrowly beat out Jake Arrieta‘s 503-foot blast in 2015, because baseball is weird), he broke the Dodgers’ outfield fence on an attempted catch at the wall last Sunday, and he carries 25 home runs that have each exceeded 460 feet.

It should come as little surprise, then, that when Stanton muscled his 12th home run of the season against the Angels on Friday night, it not only hit the batter’s eye, but left a visible dent in the wall:

Stanton’s mammoth shot put the Marlins on the board in the first inning, setting the stage for a four-run effort that gave the club an early lead. The home run measured a cool 462 feet, the slugger’s longest of the season. He still has a little ways to go to catch up to the 2017 season leader, Jake Lamb, whose 481-foot home run against the Rockies currently leads the pack.

The next item on Stanton’s bucket list? If we’re lucky, maybe something a little like this: