Assembling the Ultimate MLB Player, Piece by Piece
Baseball has gone beyond The Six Million Dollar Man. We have several Hundred Million Dollar Men. However, let me refresh your memory on that classic TV show.
In that show from the '70s, former astronaut Steve Austin is in a crash that seriously damages his body. To correct all of the damage, he needs to have extensive surgery to fit his body with new bionic parts. These bionic parts obviously made him into a secret agent with essentially super powers.
Imagine this happened in Major League Baseball minus the horrific crash. What if we could take the best parts of different MLB players and develop the ultimate weapon?
This player could literally do everything. He should be able to hit, run, field, throw and so much more.
For our purposes, let's assume that this player is a position player rather than a pitcher.
I hope you enjoy my attempt at creating the ultimate baseball player made up of parts of several current MLB players.
All statistics are from Baseball Reference.
Swing: Joe Mauer
Sure, Joe Mauer is probably going to have to move to first base. But that isn't the point of this slide. He has the most beautiful swing in baseball.
He generates a lot of bat speed, balances his weight well, has a very fluid motion and follows through effectively. Because of this swing, he hit .365 in 2009 and won the American League MVP.
Joe Mauer is injury prone, but when he is healthy, his swing is a thing of beauty.
Hitting for Average: Albert Pujols
Albert Pujols is essentially a machine.
His career batting average is .328, which is the highest among active players. 2011 was the only season in his career that he hit under .300, and he still hit .299.
I know, that is a major letdown, and he should be ashamed (please recognize my extreme sarcasm). Seriously though, there is a reason that he received such a huge contract a few months ago.
Pujols can do a lot more than hit for average, but that is probably his best trait.
Hitting for Power: Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder is definitely a beast.
If you check out the video on the left, you have to feel sorry for that baseball. When he connects, he crushes that ball.
While he didn't lead Major League Baseball in home runs last year, he definitely has the power to hit the ball figuratively into the next area code.
I wish him all the best in Detroit, and he would create the power portion of my ultimate athlete.
Plate Discipline: Jose Bautista
I have a few reasons for wanting the plate discipline of Jose Bautista.
First of all, he is a power hitter who actually walks about as much as he strikes out. In 2011, he walked 132 times and struck out 111 times. Of course, 24 of those walks were intentional, but that still makes the ratio pretty close to equal.
The second reason I would select his plate discipline is because it has gotten better every season. As he is maturing as a hitter, it only gets better.
Jose Bautista burst onto the scene last season, but he definitely impressed me with his power and plate discipline.
Bunting: Ichiro Suzuki
I know that a hitter like the one I am describing would probably never be called upon to bunt. However, imagine the infield playing back, and he needs to get on base.
Bunting like Ichiro Suzuki could easily make that happen.
I know that the video I have given you is a little bit blurry, but check out the placement of that bunt. It would be difficult to drop a better one.
Ichiro's talent would definitely add an unexpected talent to this player's portfolio.
Raw Speed: Jose Reyes
It is too bad that Major League Baseball doesn't have something like the NFL combine.
That way, we could have a literal footrace to determine the fastest player in the game. I have a feeling that if we were able to engineer something of that sort, Jose Reyes would be near the front of the pack, if not leading the pack.
Look at how fast he is flying in this video. He can definitely turn on the jets.
He has never stolen under 30 bases in a complete season, even though his percentage hasn't been all that great.
Nevertheless, for his raw speed, Jose Reyes would contribute to this part.
Base-Stealing Ability: Jacoby Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury can definitely steal a base.
In his career, he has stolen 175 bases and has only been caught 39 times. That correlates to an 82 percent success rate. Four out of every five times, he makes it.
Those are pretty good odds.
Ellsbury is definitely intelligent on the basepaths, and I would definitely like my ideal player to be able to swipe bases like Ellsbury.
Overall Athleticism: Matt Kemp
There are very few players as well-rounded as Matt Kemp.
He can hit the ball hard, demonstrating his strength. He can steal bases, demonstrating his speed. He has a great arm from the outfield as well.
There are very few things that Kemp can't do on the diamond. He almost won the incredibly prestigious Triple Crown last season.
Given all of his talent, he may be the closest thing in Major League Baseball to my hypothetical ultimate player.
Fielding Ability: Yadier Molina
I know that we are not creating a catcher per se, but Yadier Molina is arguably the best defender in baseball at his position.
He has won the last four Gold Gloves, and he has a career .993 fielding percentage.
In terms of dWAR (Defensive Wins Above Replacement), he has the 14th highest value (8.0) among active players. This is significant because any Wins Above Replacement statistic is cumulative. Therefore, the longer you have been in major league baseball, the higher that number should be.
Other than Yadier Molina, everyone in the top 20 is at least 30 years old.
At only 28 years old, he has been doing great things behind the plate, and he seems like a great choice for this category.
Fielding Range: Troy Tulowitzki
This is kind of a hard attribute to determine because what might be very good range for a first baseman would not be acceptable for an outfielder.
However, I decided to go with Troy Tulowitzki for two reasons.
First, he has won the last two Gold Gloves at that position. While that sums up more than just his range, he must have good range to win that award.
Secondly, in four out of the past five years, Tulowitzki has led all National League shortstops in what is known on Baseball Reference as "Range Factor."
For these two reasons, I feel very confident that Troy Tulowitzki provides fabulous range to this super player.
Arm Strength: Vladimir Guerrero (In His Prime)
I know I said that I need to use current MLB players, but I never said that I needed to use them in their current form.
Look at the video on the left. Vladimir Guerrero threw the ball roughly 370 feet on the fly. That, for lack of a better word, is a cannon.
Over his career, he has 126 outfield assists. That is definitely an impressive number from an obviously impressive arm.
I know that I kind of bent my rules for the eligibility of this super player, but technically Vladimir Guerrero is still playing, so I am within the rules.
Arm Accuracy: Ivan Rodriguez
Ivan Rodriguez might be getting older and losing some of his arm strength, but he still has the great accuracy that comes from experience.
Rodriguez is defensively the best catcher of our generation and won 13 Gold Gloves. Also, over his entire career, he ranks first among active players by catching 45.7 percent of would-be base-stealers.
I had to tip my cap to Rodriguez even though he is aging. He still has a very accurate arm and would be lethal if it was combined with Vladimir Guerrero's power.
(For the record, Juan Pierre is a baserunner in that video, and he is by no means slow.)
Intangibles: Derek Jeter
When I think of all of the dimensions of leadership, confidence and simply the right mental approach to baseball, Derek Jeter is second to none.
The Captain has been the centerpiece of one of the most successful franchises of the past 15 years. He truly is a class act, and he handles himself very well in public.
Watch the interview above; he is extraordinarily composed and confident. To top off all of the physical talent I have put together for what would be an amazing player, having the mentality of Derek Jeter would turn him into a winner.
Too bad I can't say, "We have the technology..." to make this happen.