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The most reliably excellent players and starting pitchers, 2010 - and there's a live chat today

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols takes

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols takes batting practice during spring training at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2010) Photo Credit: MCT

Watching a little of Johan Santana's start yesterday, and following the news on Brandon Webb, I figured it was a good time to revive this entry from last year, which I put together to show how difficult it is to be one of the game's best performers year after year.

In updating the figures, using VORP, we see that lesson re-enforced. And we also see just how badly the Mets suffered last year from surprising underperformances.

Remember that VORP is essentially the runs above a replacement player that a player produces, and that 10 runs equals a win. So the amazing Albert Pujols, for instance, has averaged nearly nine wins per season over the past six years.

I've included the "dropouts" from last year's list. Those players who did not rank among the Top 30 in VORP in 2009, after doing so for at least three straight seasons prior to last year.

And given that we ended last year's list with a three-year period of 2006-08, it seemed natural to add those who excelled from 2007 through 2009:

Top 30 VORP, 2004-09

Players (2): Albert Pujols (536.7), Alex Rodriguez (402.7).

Pitchers (0). Dropouts: Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt.

Top 30 VORP, 2005-09

Players (3): Pujols (445.4), Rodriguez (340.6), Chase Utley (315.9). Dropout: David Wright.

Pitchers (1): Roy Halladay (316.1). Dropouts: Santana, Oswalt, Brandon Webb.

Top 30 VORP, 2006-09

Players (4): Pujols (357.2), Hanley Ramirez (299.9), Utley (260.9), Rodriguez (249.2). Droputs: Chipper Jones, Wright, Carlos Beltran, Grady Sizemore.

Pitchers (3): Halladay (262.9), CC Sabathia (247.7), Dan Haren (210.3). Dropouts: Santana, Webb, Oswalt.

Top 30 VORP, 2007-09

Players (5): Pujols (271.3), Ramirez (244.7), Rodriguez (208.7), Utley (195.1), Ryan Braun (172.2).

Pitchers (4): Sabathia (199.2), Halladay (195.1), Haren (169.8), Matt Cain (151.7) .

So if you count the dropouts - and let's say, you count Santana three times because he had been on the 2004-08, 2005-08 and 2006-08 lists - Santana, Wright and Beltran total six of the 13 spots.

Can Pujols and A-Rod keep up their elite performances? You'd think that Halladay is a slam dunk. But then again, you expect continual greatness from these sort of players...until they suddenly don't deliver anymore.

--Live chat today at 2:00. As Skippy said to his birth mother on this episode of "Family Ties," while bragging about his typing, "Ask me anything."

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