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Baseball's Most Valuable Players

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ESPN.com has an interesting two-part piece by Nate Silver, ranking the top 50 players in baseball under these circumstances:

The rosters of the 30 MLB teams, the organized minor leagues, and the professional leagues in Japan, Cuba and Korea are dissolved. All contracts are declared null and void. Everybody is a free agent. There is going to be a fantasy draft to end all fantasy drafts. And you're on the clock.

One important ground rule before we begin. Although a player's real-life contract is no longer of any consequence -- for instance, the Rockies can get out of paying Denny Neagle without having to invoke the Hooker Clause -- the current structure of Major League Baseball still applies. What that means, specifically, is that the players you draft will be under your club's control for six years of major league service time -- first under the reserve clause, then under the arbitration system. After that, they become free agents. The six years of service time don't necessarily have to be the next six years. For example, you could draft Brandon Wood, keep him in the minor leagues for two years, and then get his services for 2008-13. But it's still just six years. In other words, we're looking at the long term, but not the infinite term.

Michael Young cracks the list, at #28, while former Ranger Travis Hafner also makes the cut.

Today's piece just features #50-26, with the top 25 coming out tomorrow.