If you could choose one baseball player to build a franchise around, who would it be?
This is the question that I posed to 27 other Bleacher Report Featured Columnists, and one that we will attempt to answer.
The 28 of us conducted a mock draft of sorts, each selecting a player who we would choose to build our team around. The choices came from far and wide—a 19-year-old who has yet to play in the majors, a 34-year-old seasoned veteran, an embattled superstar.
Yet, each choice was made with a reason, and the columnist who chose that player also will provide an explanation for the choice. You may agree with all of these choices, or you may agree with none of them. Either way, we'd love to hear your feedback.
Enjoy the Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Mock Draft.
The participants selected a wide range of players, so here are some interesting tidbits about who we selected.
Fourteen players were from either the NL West (eight) or AL East (six).
Seventeen players were either outfielders (nine) or starting pitchers (eight).
The average age of players selected was 25.79 years old, ranging from 19 to 34.
Five players have played less than one full season in the majors.
There are seven MVP awards, seven Cy Young awards and six Rookies of the Year.
The most popular teams to pick from were the Giants and Red Sox, with three selections each. Six teams had two selections.
By: Jared Feldman
Given the contract Albert Pujols received from the Angels, it's difficult to fathom any better player than Pujols to be a "franchise player."
Though he will be getting up in age by the end of his contract, he's still in his prime. 2011 was Pujols' worst season, and yet, he still managed to be a Top-20 offensive player in the league.
He is the cornerstone of any franchise that will be able to attract both fans and potential free agents. He's arguably the most respected player in baseball, and he has never legitimately been considered a steroid user to boot.
His off-field contributions can be equally as valuable as those on the field. He's going to be the face of whatever franchise he's associated with until further notice. And with $240 million contract, that's not going to be for a while.
In a fantasy world where everyone is up for grabs, Pujols is the only clear choice to begin a franchise.
By: Avi Wolfman-Arent
Why Troy Tulowitzki?
Allow me to answer my own smarmy, rhetorical question with a set of smarmy, rhetorical follow-ups.
How often is the hands-down top offensive and defensive performer at a given position the same player? How often is that player just 27 years old? How often does that player play the most important and difficult-to-develop position in the game?
Two words: not often
Over the past three years, Troy Tulowitzki has been the best shortstop in baseball by an obscene margin. His 18.0 WAR is 6.4 wins better than the next best SS (Yunel Escobar).
His OPS is 71 points higher than Hanley Ramirez, the next closest competitor over that same period of time. He joins Brett Gardner and Mark Buehrle as the only players to win both the 2010 and 2011 Fielding Bible awards at their respective positions—an indicator of his defensive superiority as measured by the best in the business.
But the most important thing to note in this sea of impressive data is the simple fact that Troy Tulowitzki plays shortstop.
I could have selected an ace pitcher, but I can't remember a time where it's been easier to develop/trade for/sign an elite pitcher. There are 10 great ones already, and the list is growing. Same goes for slugging first basemen or corner outfielders.
Great shortstops, however, are the unicorns of the baseball world. They're near impossible to develop and even harder to acquire on the open market. It's rare that a franchise finds an athlete who can both hit well and handle the defensive rigors of the shortstop position, much less one who can do both at an elite level.
To put it another way, there are other first basemen with similar production to Pujols and other pitchers with similar production to Clayton Kershaw. There are no other shortstops like Troy Tulowitzki.
Take a look at every meaningful metric available for MLB shortstops over the last three years, and you'll see that spelled out in stunning clarity.
Troy Tulowitzki, a superior player at a position that rarely produces them and the ideal cornerstone for my World-Series-winning franchise of the future.
By: Robert Knapel
If a team was looking to build a franchise around one player, they should start with an ace.
Clayton Kershaw is not the best pitcher in the MLB, although he's in the top, but he is the youngest star.
At just 23 years old, Kershaw will continue to get better and better.
His arm is much less taxed than some older pitchers, and he has not yet reached his prime.
The combination of youth and elite pitching ability is why I selected to build around Kershaw.
By: Jonathan Irwin
Dustin Pedroia isn’t ever going to hit 50 home runs or steal 40 bases. He doesn’t
excel at one thing but does just enough of everything.
Hard to argue with his .305/.373/.463 career line. Last year was his best season,
hitting 21 bombs and swiping 26 bases (can't complain about a consistent 20-30
From 2007-2011, Pedroia is second in WAR amongst second baseman at 26.7. He
ranks seventh amongst all major league players in that span.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better AL second baseman. Pedroia’s won two gold
gloves and might’ve won three if his 2010 season wasn’t shortened by injury. No
matter where the ball is, he goes all out.
His career 44.5 UZR ranks fifth amongst current second baseman.
Dustin Pedroia has the attitude you want in a franchise player. He knows how to
have fun, he’s good with fans/media, but he’s well disciplined. A lifetime of being
told, “you can’t,” has turned Pedroia into one of the hardest working players in
That, “leave nothing on the field,” attitude is what you want in a team leader.
The Rat won the 2007 Rookie of the Year and the 2008 MVP award. Only two other
players have won those awards in back-to-back years: Ryan Howard and Cal Ripken
Jr. (not too shabby of company).
He also has three seasons of playoff experience and is only 27 years old. Besides
taking a ball off his foot in 2010, Pedroia lacks any major injury history.
I was a bit of a Red Sox homer taking Pedroia with the fourth pick, but I love
everything about his game. He’s a hard-nosed player with a gold glove and is a
weapon on offense.
By: Chris Schad
The reason I chose Justin Verlander is because the current era of baseball is controlled by the pitcher. In a different era, it may be wise to go with a slugger who can hit 30-40 bombs and drive in 100 runs at constant rate.
However, baseball has just had two consecutive "Years of the Pitcher." That's why I'm choosing Verlander at this point rather than any available hitter.
There's the argument that I would want a younger pitcher such as Clayton Kershaw or Ian Kennedy, but Verlander is only 28 years old. He has plenty of miles left on his arm. Plus, he has a track record where Kershaw and Kennedy do not (yet).
The current landscape dictates that you need to have an ace pitcher, that's why I chose Justin Verlander.
By: Doug Mead
In 2011, Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury became the catalyst for a potent offense that led the American League in runs, hits, doubles, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and slugging percentage.
Ellsbury's 32 HR, 105 RBI, .321 batting average and 39 stolen bases at the top of of the order led to an All-Star selection, Silver Slugger award, Gold Glove award and second-place finish in the American League MVP Award balloting.
It was clear that Ellsbury took his conditioning much more seriously after missing all but 18 games in the 2010 season due to multiple rib fractures. Dogged by comments from his own teammates about his durability, Ellsbury silenced all critics, not only bouncing back for an incredible season, but adding power to his already impressive resume as well.
For any team to be successful, the need to have a leadoff hitter who can provide the type of production and leadership that Ellsbury can supply is critical for that team's offense.
Ellsbury has certainly proven that he's the man who can provide that type of leadership.
By: Dan Tylicki
To start building up a team, the first thing you need is an ace. You can have as good a lineup as you want, but the ace makes the team run. That's precisely what King Felix is.
He can throw a myriad of pitches, has great heat on his fastball and can go for many innings at a time.
Most importantly, however, he has been consistently great at the major league level. With 85 wins at the age of 25, he knows how to make things happen, and he seems to be getting even better.
He could easily go another 10 years at a top level, and with his pitching style, one doesn't have to worry much about durability issues.
By: Matt Powers
When thinking about my imaginary club, I thought about what my team needed to be built around.
I could have had an ace like Roy Halladay or a youngster with elite upside such as a Stephen Strasburg or Matt Moore.
I could have gone with a top shortstop and leadoff hitter like Jose Reyes, a middle of the order batter capable of a batting title or a home run crown like Miguel Cabrera, a strong No. 3 hitter like Robinson Cano or even the most-hyped prospect ever in Bryce Harper.
What I went for was the guy that gave me the most of those things, in Dodgers' center fielder Matt Kemp. Kemp plays Gold Glove defense at a premium, up the middle position. He's got 40-homer power and has shown he can swipe 40 bases in a year. He's a young middle-of-the-order presence perfect for building a team around and making the face of your franchise.
I narrowly passed up Stephen Strasburg with this spot, but his limited experience made it easier to bank on Kemp. It's tough to find an ace but even more rare to find a potential Triple Crown winner with 40-steal ability and Gold Glove defense.
By: Matthew Dicker
Building a franchise around a pitcher, especially a young pitcher, is a risky proposition. Aside from the ever-present risk of injury, great pitchers have an average shelf life far shorter than great batters.
Yet, Tim Lincecum is the type of once-in-a-generation pitcher worth the risk. In five seasons, Lincecum has struck out 1,127 batters—leading the league three times—with an ERA of 2.98 and a .627 winning percentage. He has never faced a significant injury and has showed no signs of wear, despite topping 200 innings pitched in each of the past four seasons.
He has been just as dominant in the postseason, earning a 4-1 record with a 2.43 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 37 innings. Lincecum already has two Cy Young Awards, winning his second at a younger age than Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, Randy Johnson and several other of those who have won more than one award.
There's always the possibility that Lincecum's arm will give out, and though injuries are a threat to every player, they're especially pernicious for hurlers who have heavy workloads thrust upon them at a young age.
Yet, because of his perfect health and unrivaled talent at such a young age, there's no pitcher in the game more worthy of building a franchise around than the Freak—Tim Lincecum.
By: Ben Shapiro
When the question of "who would you pick to build a franchise around" is brought up, many different thoughts immediately run through your head. Initially, my first inclination was to lay down some guidelines.
1. Age (not too young): The player should have some legitimate major league experience. There are some very highly regarded players who have either seen very limited major league time or none at all. These are guys like Mike Trout, Eric Hosmer, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Matt Moore and Desmond Jennings.
These guys are all probably going to be very good to possibly great major leagues, and some might have made a list of top 30 picks, but there are other players in baseball with more big-league experience who are preferable.
Then there are the guys who are too old. Yes, their numbers right now may in fact make them very attractive, but if one assigned the task of "building" a franchise, then you'd have to at the very least allow for three years at a minimum to develop that franchise.
So with that in mind, these players wouldn't be ideal: Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Hamilton, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, C.C. Sabathia.
2. Scarcity: Certain positions are just a tougher find at peak performance. Starting pitchers are at the top of the list, but shortstops and outfielders who are both great on offense and defense are tough to find as well.
I don't place a premium on closers because they're easily replaceable in most cases, and I don't like catchers because they're injured with regularity.
Top Starting Pitchers
There are really three top starters— Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw. There are other great starters out there, but none have the combination of youth, experience and actual realized potential as opposed to playing the waiting game on that potential .
Production and Potential
If you're "building" the team around this guy then having to wait too long for consistent performance could be a problem. You'd ideally want someone who's great and will continue to be for quite some time. In addition you'd want five-tool type of players if you could find them.
This includes Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Evan Longoria, Mike Stanton, Joe Mauer, Matt Kemp, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Joey Votto, Jason Heyward, Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey, and Andrew McCutcheon.
So with that in mind I had Justin Upton ranked pretty high. After all, he's young ( 24 on Opening Day 2012). He's got five-tool skills with proven ability to hit 30-plus home runs, steal 20-plus bases and hit over .300 along with above-average fielding skills.
He wasn't my top choice; I loved Kershaw, Felix and Verlander. I also loved Ellsbury, Kemp and Tulowitzki. Those guys were gone already when it came time for me to select.
It just seemed that Upton's skill set COMBINED with both his age and experience made him as easy ninth pick.
By: Greg Pinto
Picking outside of the top five, I assumed that there was no chance I was getting the player listed first on my “draft board,” Washington Nationals' ace Stephen Strasburg.
He'll definitely be gone within the top five, right?
As it turns out, Lady Luck was on my side on draft day, and with my pick, I selected Strasburg. With the steroid era well in the past, it's no secret that today's game is built around elite pitching, and after covering the Philadelphia Phillies of 2011, I've seen first hand what elite pitching can do for a ball club.
That made Strasburg first on my list for a couple of reasons, the first being his age.
Though just 23, but with 17 MLB starts under his belt, the Nats' ace is a polished college pitcher out of San Diego State University. Even after undergoing Tommy John surgery, there are plenty of miles left on that right arm—an arm that I'm building my franchise around.
If you truly need a reason as to why I chose Strasburg, just take a thorough look at the numbers. In 92 MLB innings, he has displayed four above-average, big-league pitches. He'll set the table with a pair of fastballs.
The first is an explosive four-seam fastball that sits consistently in the mid 90s, and he'll pair that with a two-seam fastball of the same speed but with devastating movement.
To change speeds, Strasburg will mix in two off-speed pitches.
The first is a sharp curveball, and the second, the fastball's best friend: a straight change-up thrown out of the same arm slot but about 10 mph slower.
In 17 starts, he has used that repertoire to deliver 6.11 strikeouts per walk, post a WHIP of 0.98 and hold the opposition to a batting average of .207. So at the end of the day, yes, the injury history is a bit concerning, but the numbers speak for themselves.
If you're looking for an impact player to build a franchise around, why not go for the man with historic potential?
By: Rick Weiner
After missing out on my pitching targets—Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Stephen Strasburg, I decided to go with a player who I could put in the middle of my lineup for the next decade.
Bryce Harper is the total package with a left-handed swing—one that generates power to all fields. His speed allows him to cover a lot of ground in the outfield, where he has played all three positions well—and his throwing arm is both strong and accurate.
Sure, he hasn't taken the field for a major league game yet, and while there are no guarantees in projecting how a prospect will fare in the big show, Harper is as close to a sure thing as the game has seen in quite some time.
By: Josh Benjamin
In today's baseball world, scouts go on and on about the value of a five-tool player.
This type of player has the following qualities: hits well for average, hits well for power, has great speed, a strong throwing arm and can play great defense in the field.
That being said, if I were to build an MLB franchise around one player, it would be outfielder Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies.
Over the past two seasons, Gonzalez has hit .317 with 60 home runs and 209 RBI to go with 46 steals and an incredible 20 outfield assists, not to mention the 2010 NL batting title and a Gold Glove.
Adding to his value is the fact that he can play all three outfield positions and bats left handed. He's still young at 26 years old, and his skills are undeniable, so he's easily the perfect player around whom to build a team.
By: Eli Marger
Between 2008 and 2011, there has only been one first baseman in baseball better than Joey Votto.
That's right—aside from Albert Pujols, I'd take Votto over Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira and any other elite first baseman you could name.
The 28-year-old Canadian slugger is an outstanding hitter and a top-notch defender, as evidenced by his 2011 Gold Glove. If you're looking for a young, complete, middle-of-the-order presence, Joey Votto is your guy.
Wrap your head around this—between '08 and '11, Votto had a 23.8 percent line drive rate. That means that one out of every four balls he hits is a line drive. For those wondering, that's the third-best rate in the majors during that time.
It's no wonder, then, that Votto's average is a career .313. To me, a franchise player is one who consistently provides production at an elite level. Knowing that, Joey Votto was an easy choice to be the cornerstone of my team.
By: Benajmin Klein
Since being called up in 2008 by the Tampa Bay Rays, Evan Longoria has been nothing short of special. He’s the centerpiece of the Rays’ organization, earning MVP votes in each of his four seasons as a major league third baseman.
After winning the AL Rookie of the Year in ’08, Longoria has only gotten better on the field, with the exception of some struggles during this past season. Despite a .244 batting average, Longoria still managed to push out 31 home runs and drive in just under 100 RBI.
At just 26 years of age, Longoria is becoming not only just one of the most-feared hitters in all of baseball, but also one of the best defensive players. He’s already won two Gold Gloves in his short career and is sure to add to that total by the time he’s finished.
Playing in a very competitive AL East, Longoria has hit a modest .273 with 51 home runs and 187 RBI in his career while leading the Rays to three postseason appearances—the first three in franchise history.
Even though, I am a FC for the Red Sox and was crushed when they were eliminated from playoff contention, I will admit that it was pretty awesome when Longoria hit the walk-off home run against the Yankees to clinch the last playoff spot.
That being said, how could you go wrong with picking Evan Longoria to start a franchise?
By: Josh Toyofuku
Not many players hold the potential that center fielder Mike Trout does.
The Angels' top prospect is only 20 years old and is a five-tool player. He can hit for power or contact, whichever you need. He can also go and steal 30 bases for you because he has elite speed. Trout has the arm and the glove to be a Gold Glove winner in center field.
He also played in the majors at the age of 19. It didn't go so well. He batted 220 to go with five home runs and 16 RBI, but he had never played above Double-A. Bottom line, the kid is going to be one of the best players of our generation.
By: Mark Miller
The success of the Detroit Tigers in recent seasons has been thanks in no small part to slugger Miguel Cabrera.
During his nine-year career, he has only once come up short of 100 RBI—his rookie season in which he played in only half of the Florida Marlins games.
Cabrera is always a threat stepping up to the plate, evidenced in part by his seven 30-plus home run seasons and increasing walk totals.
While we see many power hitters falling into the three-outcome mold (home run, walk, strikeout), that definitely isn't the case with Cabrera. With a career .317 batting average and .395 on-base percentage, he's always making an impact on the game.
Add to that the fact that he's played a number of games at four different positions (1B - 596, 3B - 387 , LF - 248, RF - 100), and the still young Cabrera becomes an even more versatile option for any team.
By: Alex Ott
This was a tough choice for me. Having a later selection in the draft, I saw guys I loved like Kemp, Ellsbury and Verlander all disappear off the board before I could snatch them up.
However, as a college pitcher, I’ve grown to recognize the importance of a catcher. Buster Posey provides both offense (18 HRs, .305 batting average in 2010) and defense (fourth in errors and caught stealing percentage among NL catchers), while still at the young age of 24.
This pick did come with some concerns though. Posey only appeared in 41 games last season before a gruesome collision at home plate ended his season. But it’s hard to overlook his intangibles.
He was the difference in the Giants’ 2010 World Series run, providing timely hitting and showing unmatched discipline and intelligence working with a stellar pitching staff. With a near identical roster in 2011 with the exception of a missing Posey, the Giants fell short of the playoffs which further proved his worth.
If he can come back healthy this season, Posey could very well be the sleeper pick of this draft. He’s young, talented with his bat and glove and shows no fear even when working with the best pitchers in the game.
He’s a Rookie of the Year, World Series champion and leader.
By: Zak Schmoll
Catcher is one of the most important positions on the diamond, so I decided that I would select Jesus Montero as the cornerstone of my franchise.
The main reason I made this pick is obviously because of his best offensive potential. All throughout the minor leagues, he has shown that he can hit for both average and power. For example, during his time last season in Triple-A, he hit .289 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI. Keep in mind, he's only 22 years old right now.
For comparison's sake, as a 21-year-old (which Montero was for the entire 2011 season), Mike Piazza, arguably the best offensive catcher in recent memory, was still in High-A ball. That season, he hit .250 with six home runs and 40 RBI. As a 22-year-old, Piazza power exploded, and he never looked back.
Also like Piazza, Montero's defense and speed are somewhat suspect (although his arm is probably better).
If Montero lives up to this comparison with Piazza, I would be happy to have him as the center of my franchise.
By: Zachary Ball
In 2011, Gonzalez enjoyed arguably the finest season of his career, setting personal bests in runs, hits and batting average.
He finished seventh in the A.L. MVP voting, was named an All-Star, awarded a Silver Slugger and earned his third career Gold Glove award.
This past season marked his eighth in the majors, and just to further validate him as my selection, let's see how his stats measure up against the first eight seasons of some of baseball's great first baseman of all time.
Adrian Gonzalez: 3,797 at-bats, 1,113 hits, 231 doubles, 195 homers, 642 RBI, .293 average, four ASG, three GG
Lou Gehrig: 3,327 at-bats, 1,139 hits, 248 doubles, 187 homers, 811 RBI, .342 average, zero ASG, zero GG
Jimmie Foxx: 2,750 at-bats, 923 hits, 159 doubles, 174 homers, 667 RBI, .336 average, zero ASG, zero GG
Albert Pujols: 4,578 at-bats, 1,531 hits, 342 doubles, 319 homers, 977 RBI, .335 average, seven ASG, one GG
Gonzalez isn't necessarily a homer-happy hitter, although he has more long-balls that Gehrig through eight seasons. I'll take that from a player who's still just 29 years old and who likely has another decade's worth of playing time in him.
By: Corey Hanley
There are very few hitters who are good enough to affect how an opposing pitcher throws to an entire lineup, and Jose Bautista is one of them.
After breaking out in 2010 with 54 home runs, Bautista proved he was not a one-year wonder by improving in 2011.
While Bautista wasn't able to reach the 50 home run plateau again in 2011, he still managed to lead the majors with 43 home runs, 132 walks and a 1.056 OPS.
a monster start to the season, teams stopped pitching to Bautista, allowing Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia and Edwin Encarnacion to see a lot more fat pitches.
Bautista on his own is an MVP-caliber player, with all of the right numbers to experience success. His added value comes in his ability to put enough pressure on opposing pitchers to lift the players around him, making Jose Bautista the perfect player to start a team with.
By: Ash Marshall
Julio Teheran is so far ahead of the curve right now, it's ridiculous to imagine how good he will be two, five or even 10 years down the line.
What the Atlanta Braves have here is a 19-year-old prodigy with plus stuff and pinpoint command. His fastball-changeup combination will be the best one-two punch in the majors by 2014, and his curve will help him win multiple Cy Young awards over the next decade.
Whenever I watch Teheran blow hitters away, I'm forced to remind myself of something that the Braves Triple-A pitching coach Marty Reed told me last year. "He would be a junior in college right now. It's incredible," he said. That's all you need to know. He has superstar written all over him and he will dominate for years to come.
Forget about all of the comparisons with Pedro Martinez. This young native of Colombia will make a name for himself on his own merits.
By: Seth Johansson
The world's best vegetarian hitter is, remarkably, still available to the highest bidder on the free-agent market.
The team who signs him will receive an offensive force that can instantly lift a lineup from good to great. Only 27, Prince Fielder is still young, still improving and still many years away from any sort of potential decline.
He's hit 30 or more home runs for five straight years, driving in over 100 runs in each of those years except for 2010.
He's one of the league's best fastball hitters but has also been an excellent breaking ball hitter his entire career. Given his all-around excellent ability at the plate, it would not be surprising to see him end up as one of the all-time great power hitters.
He could easily average 30 home runs per year for the next 10 years, which would give him 530 home runs by age 37.
He's not the five-tool player who many have chosen ahead of me, but for the impact he will have on my lineup and the hitters around him, I want to start my franchise around Prince Fielder.
By: Joel Reuter
A big leaguer by the age of 19, Madison Bumgarner has done nothing but dominate since being taken 10th overall in the 2007 MLB draft.
In his first pro season, he went 15-3, 1.46 ERA, 164 Ks in 24 starts at Single-A, pitching the entire season as an 18-year-old. He followed that up with an equally dominant 2009 when he went 12-2, 1.85 ERA, 92 Ks and earned a four-game cup-of-coffee with the big-league club.
After 14 solid starts at Triple-A to open the 2010 season, he was called up for good and was a solid 7-6, 3.00 ERA, 86 Ks in 18 regular-season starts before announcing himself to the baseball world with a 2-0, 2.18 ERA, 18 Ks performance over four postseason appearances (three starts) in helping the Giants to a World Series title.
He finished 11th in NL Cy Young voting in his first season as a full-time member of the rotation last year, going 13-13, 3.21 ERA, 191 Ks and pitching 204.2 innings.
He will continue to be slotted in the third spot in the Giants rotation, but it might not be long before he's considered the superior pitcher to teammates Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Under team control until 2017, Bumgarner is the perfect starting pitcher to build a rotation and a franchise around.
By: Timothy Howell
The Texas Rangers’ Ian Kinsler might be Major League Baseball’s most underrated
superstar. With an amazing combination of plus speed and plus power, I’m amazed
that no one else picked him up before I had my chance, with the 25th pick.
I’m sure it has something to do with Kinsler’s injury-prone past.
Much like fellow teammates Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler has
succumbed to the injury bug with regularity.
In his six seasons in the major leagues, Kinsler has averaged just under 129 games played per year (128.8)—with his fewest (103) in 2010 and his most (155) occurring in 2011.
For Kinsler, the No. 144 is a key. In his first 30/30 season in 2009, Kinsler
managed to play in 144 games, and in ’11, he started 155 games, with the same
For 2012, expectations will be high for Kinsler, as he posted a WAR of 7.7 in 2011.
However, if Kinsler can just stay healthy once again, there's no doubt that he can
keep his WAR among the league leaders and possibly even improve on 2011’s slash
line of .255/.355/.477.
By: Joe Iannello
Roy Halladay is quite simply the best pitcher in baseball.
"Doc" is a guy who will continue to be a dominant pitcher realistically into his early 40s if he so desires. He doesn't depend on a blazing fastball to get hitters out. He's a surgeon on the mound, and his cutter has become one of the best in baseball.
The perennial Cy Young candidate has been worth every penny and is the type of blue-collar type player that Philadelphia loves and respects.
Halladay has only been here for two seasons, and he already has established himself as one of the greatest pitchers ever in team history. Halladay is the consummate teammate and professional, and it's a privilege to watch him take the mound every fifth day.
The Phillies will continue to be the odds on favorite to win the World Series with Halladay at the top of their rotation. His numbers speak for themselves, and they will one day be his entrance into the Hall of Fame.
Easy choice here.
By: Chuck Platt
Ryan Braun will formally appeal his failed PED test at an arbitration hearing later this month.
Call me naïve, call me a fool, but I believe that Braun’s innocence.
Clearly, I’m not in the majority with this sentiment—how else can you explain Braun falling all of the way to 27th in this mock draft?
At 28, Braun is classic franchise cornerstone. He has the third-best slugging percentage among active players. Five years in, Braun’s rocking a stellar career line of .312/.371/.563/.933 and a career 21.8 WAR.
What’s more, Braun’s been solid in October, hitting .379 with 12 RBI over 15 career postseason games. Did I mention he plays a mean left field?
Innocent until proven guilty, my friends.
By: Matt Trueblood
One of the most dangerous logical fallacies to which baseball fans and analysts are terribly vulnerable is the notion that that which happened last is likely to happen next.
Call it recency bias if you must, but it's usually simple myopia. Even professionals sometime decide to trust certain data more than other data, when in reality, it should all bear equal weight in evaluating the subject.
When the subject is Jason Heyward, that newest data may be even less valuable than the older stuff. He's young, he had one of the best rookie seasons in three decades in 2010 and he just might be the most underrated commodity in MLB right now.
All because injuries and adjustments sent him into a sophomore slump that scared risk-averse baseball folks off his scent.
Count me among those whose faith will not be shaken.