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Who Would Be the 'Captain' on Every MLB Team?

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2013

Who Would Be the 'Captain' on Every MLB Team?

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    Team captains are a league-wide part of the NFL but are far less prevalent in Major League Baseball, even compared to 20 years ago.

    Last season, just two teams had a player designated as team captain. Derek Jeter has filled the role with the Yankees since 2003, and Paul Konerko has been captain of the White Sox since 2006.

    Though captains are likely to remain few and far between in the MLB, here is who I would name as team captain for each of the 30 MLB clubs.

AL East

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    Baltimore Orioles: CF Adam Jones

    Entering his sixth season with the Orioles, and signed to a six-year, $88.5 million deal that will keep him in Baltimore through 2018, Jones is the face of the Orioles franchise.

    He emerged as a bona fide star last season with a career-high 32 home runs, finishing sixth in AL MVP voting, and he'll lead a terrific young Orioles core moving forward.

     

    Boston Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia

    A second-round pick by the Red Sox in 2004, the scrappy Pedroia has been a consistent 20/20 threat since becoming an everyday player, and he turned in another solid season in 2012.

    His all-out playing style and likable personality make him the perfect face of the Red Sox and team leader for one of the most scrutinized teams in all of baseball.

     

    New York Yankees: SS Derek Jeter

    The Yankees are one of just two teams that actually had a captain last season, and Jeter has held that role since 2003.

    With a .313/.382/.448 line and 3,304 hits over his 18-year career with the Yankees, Jeter is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a legitimate living legend.

     

    Tampa Bay Rays: 3B Evan Longoria

    Pitching has been the calling card of the Rays' recent success, but it is slugger Evan Longoria who makes the team go.

    Need proof? The Rays were 47-27 when he was in the lineup last season, but just 43-45 when he was on the shelf. His health may be the biggest X-factor for the Rays in 2013.

     

    Toronto Blue Jays: SP Mark Buehrle

    It may be his first season with the team, but the same can be said about roughly half of the Blue Jays roster this upcoming season.

    Buehrle is the sort of positive veteran influence in the clubhouse and consummate professional on the field that players can get behind, and he is everything a team looks for in a captain.

AL Central

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    Chicago White Sox: 1B Paul Konerko

    The only other team captain in baseball last season outside of Derek Jeter, there were even talks that Konerko was considered as player/manager before the team hired Robin Ventura last offseason (h/t ESPN).

    Even at 36 years old, he is still producing at a high level and if he can play for a few more seasons and pad his 422 home runs and 1,336 RBI, he could make a solid case for the Hall of Fame.

     

    Cleveland Indians: RF Nick Swisher

    Though he's a new addition, Swisher should immediately fill the role of leader both on the field and in the clubhouse this coming season.

    The team made a lot of changes in the offseason, including hiring Terry Francona as manager. The veteran leadership of Swisher should help bring the group together.

     

    Detroit Tigers: SP Justin Verlander

    Arguably the best pitcher in all of baseball, Verlander has racked up 124 wins in seven seasons atop the Tigers rotation and has emerged as one of the faces of the MLB.

    He is the definition of a workhorse, Verlander is capable of going the distance every time out and is the type of player who can lead simply by his performance on the field. 

     

    Kansas City Royals: LF Alex Gordon

    The second pick in the 2005 draft, Gordon looked like a flop after posting a .244/.328/.405 line through his first four seasons in the majors.

    However, he broke out with a big season in 2011 and has put up a total of 12.8 WAR over the past two seasons. On a young Royals team, the 29-year-old qualifies as a veteran and he's signed through 2015 with an option for 2016.

     

    Minnesota Twins: C Joe Mauer

    Despite three batting titles and an MVP award, some were quick to write Mauer off when he under performed and battled injury in 2011.

    He was back to his usual self in 2012 though, hitting .319 and leading the AL with a .416 on-base percentage. The hometown kid signed a huge eight-year deal that will keep him in Minnesota until 2018, and he's the unquestioned leader and face of the Twins.

AL West

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    Houston Astros: 2B Jose Altuve

    The Astros are short on veteran leadership that is expected to be around beyond the upcoming season, and at this point in the team's rebuilding, no one is immune from being traded (see: Lowrie, Jed).

    One player with a season under his belt who could be viewed as a building block moving forward and potential leader in the making is Altuve, though he is just 22 years old himself.

     

    Los Angeles Angels: 1B Albert Pujols

    The Angels signed Pujols to a massive 10-year, $240 million deal last offseason and after a slow start to his Angels' career, he was back to his usual self in the second half.

    There are a lot of new faces on the Angels, and there are certainly high expectations for the upcoming season, and Pujols is the type of veteran superstar who will lead the team.

     

    Oakland Athletics: CF Coco Crisp

    The A's are a young, inexperienced group of recent prospects and journeyman veterans, but they do have one established veteran in the speedy Crisp.

    He hit just .259/.325/.418 last season with 39 steals out of the lead-off spot, but he is a favorite of manager Bob Melvin and would be the most likely recipient of the honor.

     

    Seattle Mariners: SP Felix Hernandez

    Hernandez falls under the category of leader by example, as he is certainly in the conversation for best pitcher in baseball and is by far the best player on the Mariners.

    His recent seven-year extension promises to keep him in Seattle for the foreseeable future, and he'll be the veteran presence among an oncoming wave of young talent from the farm system.

     

    Texas Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre

    After a relatively disappointing tenure with the Seattle Mariners, Beltre has stepped his game up over the past three season with a .314 batting average, 32 home runs and 103 RBI.

    With Josh Hamilton and Michael Young gone, he's the unquestioned leader of the team's offense and he was a serious MVP contender last season when he finished third in voting. He's signed through 2015, with an option for 2016.

NL East

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    Atlanta Braves: SP Tim Hudson

    His third win this season will be the 200th of his 14-year big-league career, as Hudson has been as consistent as they come since breaking into the league back in 1999.

    With Chipper Jones retired, there is a clear void in the leadership department in Atlanta this coming season. The longest-tenured Braves are now Hudson and catcher Brian McCann, and I'll give Hudson the nod here.

     

    Miami Marlins: RF Giancarlo Stanton

    The Marlins are a shell of the team that opened the 2012 season, and while there are plenty of veteran pieces, none figure to be part of the long-term plans.

    If there is one reason to go see the Marlins this coming season, it'll be the slugging of Stanton. Though he's just 23, he could step into a leadership role this coming season as he'll be looked at to carry what's left of the team.

     

    New York Mets: 3B David Wright

    With an eight-year, $138 million extension, Wright will likely finish his career with the Mets. If there is any player who could join Konerko and Jeter this coming season as a legitimate team captain, it may be Wright.

    Though it may be another long season in New York this coming year, the future is bright for the Mets, and they could be contenders by 2014 with Wright leading the way.

     

    Philadelphia Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins

    It appeared for a short time last offseason that Rollins may take his services elsewhere, but he eventually signed a three-year, $33 million deal to remain in Philadelphia.

    He's no longer an MVP candidate, but he still posted a 4.9 WAR last season and with his goofy personality and 13 years with the team, he's the clear choice here.

     

    Washington Nationals: 3B Ryan Zimmerman

    After being taken with the fourth pick in the 2005 draft, Zimmerman made his debut in September of the same season. He was a staple at third base and in the middle of the Nationals lineup by the following season.

    He's battled injuries off and on the past few seasons, but he is an integral part of the team and they are substantially better with him in the lineup. Even as Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper continue towards stardom, it will be Zimmerman who leads this group.

NL Central

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    Chicago Cubs: SS Starlin Castro

    It's Alfonso Soriano who is the veteran leader of the Cubs right now, but his time in Chicago is coming to an end one way or another within the next two years.

    It's Castro who is the present and future of the Cubs, and while he is still just 22 years old, he'll be asked to assume the leadership role down the line for the rebuilding franchise.

     

    Cincinnati Reds: 1B Joey Votto

    Had it not been for second-half knee surgery, Votto may very well have won his second MVP award last season as he hit .337/.474/.567 over 374 at-bats.

    The 29-year-old is signed through 2023, so he'll likely spend his entire career with the Reds. That contract may be a rough one when he's 39, but for now he's one of the best hitters in baseball and the driving force in a terrific Reds offense.

     

    Milwaukee Brewers: LF Ryan Braun

    Braun has been among the best players in baseball since breaking into the league back in 2007, and he led the NL with 41 home runs last season and has posted back-to-back 30/30 seasons.

    With Prince Fielder gone, Braun is the face of the Brewers franchise and will be for a long time with a contract that runs through 2020. He's had his share of controversy, but there is no question he is the leader of the Brewers.

     

    Pittsburgh Pirates: CF Andrew McCutchen

    McCutchen has just four big-league seasons under his belt and is still only 26 years old, but he has already established himself as the best player and leader of the Pirates.

    The Pirates signed him to a steal of a six-year, $51.1 million extension last March and he single-handedly carried the offense in the first half of the season. The scary thing is, he still has plenty of room to improve.

     

    St. Louis Cardinals: C Yadier Molina

    Molina has long been the game's top defensive catcher and a leader on the field, but he took his offensive game to the next level last season.

    He set career highs across the board with a .315 average, 22 home runs and 76 RBI on his way to a 6.5 WAR. He's the best all-around catcher in baseball and the leader of a Cardinals team that always seems to find a way to overcome injuries and adversity.

NL West

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    Arizona Diamondbacks: C Miguel Montero

    Montero signed a five-year, $60 million extension last May, and he has quietly ranked among the most productive catchers in baseball over the past few seasons.

    Last season, he had a career-high 88 RBI and a terrific .391 on-base percentage and at 29 years old, he's in the prime of his career. The Diamondbacks have a new look in 2013, and Montero will likely be the one who leads the group.

     

    Colorado Rockies: SS Troy Tulowitzki

    He missed all but 47 games last season, but entering the year Tulowitzki topped most people's list as the top shortstop in the game.

    He's a superstar in every sense of the word when healthy, and his gritty style of play makes him a leader by example on the field. As a baseball fan, here's hoping he's back to 100 percent in 2013.

     

    Los Angeles Dodgers: CF Matt Kemp

    While I believe Clayton Kershaw is the best player on the Dodgers, it's Kemp who has the star power to fill the role of team captain.

    He's a serious 40/40 threat and five-tool talent, and the Dodgers were wise to lock him up with an eight-year, $160 million deal. He's the foundation of a now-dangerous offense, and he's a serious MVP threat moving forward.

     

    San Diego Padres: RP Huston Street

    It's a little early to anoint Chase Headley the leader of the Padres, but another season like the one he turned in last season could earn him a huge extension.

    Instead, I'll go with the veteran closer Street, who turned in a terrific first season in San Diego with 23 saves and a 1.85 ERA to earn a two-year, $14 million extension with an option for 2015.

     

    San Francisco Giants: SP Matt Cain

    Buster Posey is certainly a viable candidate here, but Cain is the type of bulldog on the mound that can inspire an entire team and give an edge.

    He stepped forward as the ace of the Giants staff last season and earned himself a five-year, $112.5 million extension in the process. There could be an NL Cy Young in his very near future.

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