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MLB Top 10s: Step-it-up guys include Nats' Harper, Red Sox's Lester

by | Baseball Writer
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In the Eye On Baseball Top 10s, here's what we do: rank players according to criteria. Those criteria change depending upon week and whim, but the Top 10s will always be informed by some angle or another. (Note that the absence of an angle is itself an angle!)

And that brings us to this week's guiding query: Which proven performers on contending teams (or near-contending teams) badly need to step it up in the second half?

First, let's unpack some of the qualifiers you see above. As the phrase "proven performers" suggests, we're talking about guys who have previously established that they're capable of playing at a high level. However, they need to "step it up" because they haven't lately (or for the entire season) been playing up to those established expectations.

As for the "contending teams" part, I'm limiting it to teams that have, per CoolStandings.com, at present at least a 5 percent chance of making the postseason. Perhaps that strains the definition of contender just a bit, but let's keep in mind that we have more than two months of regular season left (as well as 10 playoff spots in play).

Also, I'm exempting rare cases like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. No doubt those two need to get healthy and start contributing as soon as possible if the Yankees are going to make the postseason, but they have a total of four 2013 plate appearances between them. It's hard to demand that that they get better when they've scarcely played at all.

And now let us recite baseball names for purposes of SEO and making you angry. As always, feel free to brandish your incorrect opinions and make idle threats in the comments section.

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