Before Jesus Montero was traded to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda, there was a fair amount of hype connected with the New York Yankees' top prospect. Scouts around the league marveled at the skills he had with the bat and the possibilities of what he could do in Yankee Stadium were endless.
But all that excitement has been replaced by the excitement of a young pitcher instead.
It leaves Yankee fans wondering what could have been if Montero was still in pinstripes. Here's what could have been if Montero remained a Yankee and all expectations of him had panned out.
Montero will be at the top of everyone's watch list in MLB as far as rookies are concerned in 2012 regardless of the uniform he's wearing. It's a safe bet to put your money on him for the AL Rookie of the Year award.
It will be slightly more difficult for Montero, a DH only, to win it out over a position player but his offensive numbers can make voters of the award forget about that fact.
With the protection in the lineup and the advantage of a hitter's park in 81 games or more this season, Montero would have had a better showing offensively en route to being MLB's best rookie hitter.
Rookie of the Year Stats: 23 HR, 81 RBI, .292 AVG
Winning the AL Rookie of the Year award would have been the first step in the right direction toward being considered one of the best in the game and eventually, an MVP.
Building off a solid first season, Montero would no doubt improve his ability to handle the bat and would easily improve his batting average and power numbers. Not to mention, with all the hitters around him on the Yanks, Montero would have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs year in and year out.
By his fourth or fifth year, Montero will become an annual candidate for MVP and would have followed in the footsteps of many Yankees before him.
MVP Stats: 39 HR, 117 RBI, .328 AVG
One of the most impressive things about Montero's short stint with the Bombers was his .328 average. It showed that Montero can hit for average and isn't just a slugger. Granted, it's only 18 games but I'm trying to make lemonade here.
After more years in the league, Montero would gain more respect from opposing pitchers and wouldn't be getting as many strikes to hit as before. That's when developing patience at the plate becomes important and separates power-hitting, strikeout kings from batting champions.
After developing a more selective nature at the plate, Montero would work into better hitting counts and have more chances to make solid contact on good pitches. And, as I've tirelessly mentioned, it doesn't hurt to have some of the best hitters in the game protecting you.
Combined with working more walks with this conservative approach, Montero's average would rise from all these factors and it would have been a matter of time before he was a batting champion.
Batting Title Average: .341
If you play a career with the Yankees, you are bound to get at least one crack at the World Series.
With the type of skills that Montero has the potential to possess, he's the type of player that could single-handedly take over a playoff series with his bat.
After some struggles as a younger player in big spots, Montero could have gained the confidence he needed to become a solid clutch hitter. Barraging the opposing team with countless home runs and RBI, Montero could have put the Yankees on his back offensively to carry them to a World Series victory.
World Series MVP Stats: 5 HR, 11 RBI, .315 AVG (seven-game series)
If Montero stayed on track with his inability to play a position consistently, he could have been a career DH for the Bombers. That would have eliminated playing the field and it would have no doubt been easier to keep him healthy.
That being said, Montero would be in the lineup and/or the field every day because it isn't exactly taxing to sit on the bench during innings you're not at bat.
What seems like an unapproachable record would have been very easy for Montero to reach and after 17 to 18 straight, injury-free seasons, Montero could have broken the 2,632 consecutive games record held by Cal Ripken Jr.
All he'd have to do is make it to the plate on a daily basis and the record would be Montero's.
Playing 162 games per Season for 17 Seasons: 2,754 consecutive games
Babe Ruth's 659 home runs in pinstripes might look unbeatable, but with Montero's skills handling the bat, it isn't as unbeatable as you'd think.
Montero has shown he has power to the opposite field which would give him the ability to abuse the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium much like left-handed hitters do on a regular basis.
As a full-time DH, Montero would see more games and better physical health in the later stages of his career, giving him the longevity necessary to break Ruth's home run record.
At the very least, Montero could achieve 500 home runs in pinstripes.
Playing 20 Seasons in MLB, 33 Home Runs per Season: 660 home runs
In the 18 games he played during his rookie season, Montero had 20 hits in total. If he were to play an entire season, he would've been on pace to have 180 hits during the season. No doubt those types of numbers would improve throughout his career.
Let's say he averaged 180 hits per year; it would take him about 17 seasons to break the 3,000-hit threshold. It could be shorter if he surpassed that total a handful of times during his career.
At the pace he's already set for himself, Montero has a chance to reach one of the most sought-after milestones in MLB history.
Pace of 180 Hits per Season for 17 Seasons: 3,060 hits
With his all-around abilities at the plate, Montero could be a prototypical Triple Crown candidate every season of his career.
In order to achieve such an honor, hitters have to be incredibly patient at the plate while hitting for not only average, but power as well. If they can do those two things, no doubt the RBI will come.
Montero could've been the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski.
Triple Crown Stats: 45 HR, 121 RBI, .331 AVG
A career like the one Montero could have had as a Yankee would certainly put him amongst some of the Bombers greats in the team's history, and we all know where Yankee legends go.
Montero would've surely had his number retired and a monument built for him in Monument Park. Yankee fans several generations into the future would always know Montero's name and all the contributions he would have made in pinstripes.
Any time you can find yourself with the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, you must've had a great career and earned the honor.
And that's just what Montero could have done.
Batting titles, regular-season and World Series MVPs as well as the consecutive games streak would put Montero in Cooperstown on the first try.
Montero would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, adding to the slew of Yankees currently enshrined in the most prestigious building Major League Baseball has ever known. It would be a fitting ending to a great Yankee career.
As Yankee fans, let's just hope he doesn't do all of this as a Seattle Mariner, leaving us with a bad taste in our mouths for a generation to come. I do wish him well—just not at the Yankees' expense.
Career Stats: 660 HR, 1,950 RBI, .325 AVG