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The most reliably excellent players, 2012

Here's our annual drill, in which we appreciate just how difficult it is to be an excellent player for an extended period. In this discussion, "Excellent" means "Among the top 30 VORP in baseball" for position players and pitchers.

Players who have reached that peak for at least the prior three seasons, 2009 through 2011, make this list. We detail who goes back even further than that.

Every 10 runs of VORP constitutes a win, so you can divide by 10 to get a sense of how many wins each player has contributed over the designated period. A "dropout" is a player who saw his streak end in 2011.

(Thanks to Baseball Prospectus for the data.)

2001-2011

Position players (1): Albert Pujols (897.2)

Pitchers (0)

2002-2011

Position players (1): Pujols (821.8)

Pitchers (0)

2003-2011

Position players (1): Pujols (760.6)

Pitchers (0)

2004-2011

Position players (1): Pujols (661.9)

Pitchers (0)

2005-2011

Position players (1): Pujols (570.6)

Pitchers (1): Roy Halladay (428.9)

2006-2011

Position players (1): Pujols (482.4). Dropouts: Matt Holliday, Hanley Ramirez

Pitchers (2): Halladay (375.7), CC Sabathia (338.2)

2007-2011

Position players (2): Pujols (395.8), Ryan Braun (280.7). Dropouts: Holliday, Ramirez

Pitchers (3): Halladay (308.1), Sabathia (290.9), Matt Cain (231.4)

2008-2011

Position players (3): Pujols (321.9), Braun (222.4), Adrian Gonzalez (206.1). Dropouts: Holliday, Joe Mauer, Ramirez.

Pitchers (4): Halladay (258.1), Cliff Lee (231.1), Sabathia (222.3), Cain (184.1). Dropouts: John Danks, Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, Tim Lincecum

2009-2011

Position players (6): Pujols (202.3), Miguel Cabrera (186.1), Evan Longoria (157.7), Braun (154.1), Gonzalez (149.4), Troy Tulowitzki (138.2)

Pitchers (9): Justin Verlander (159.95), Lee (140.6), Jered Weaver (127.2), Halladay (125.4), Sabathia (124.7), Clayton Kershaw (123.2), Yovani Gallardo (114.3), Cole Hamels (104.4), Cain (86.1)

Thoughts: Pujols just squeaked in to maintain his elite spot, as he finished 28th. Amazing that no other position player has even half of his 11-year run.

Interesting, too, that pitchers have outnumbered position players the last few years. We're talking tiny sample sizes and disparities, obviously, but it adds to the perception that we're in a pitchers' era.

Four of last year's eight pitchers from last year's list couldn't maintain this level, although dropouts Danks, Hernandez, Lester and Lincecum all pitched respectably or better. How many of this year's nine will still be here next year?

Notice there's just one Yankee on the current list, Sabathia, despite their largest payroll in the game. One team, Philadelphia, has three, its pitchers Halladay, Hamels and Lee. Three teams - Detroit (Cabrera and Verlander), Milwaukee (Braun and Gallardo) and the Angels (Pujols and Weaver) - have two each.

--Stop by later for a contest.

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