A few weeks ago, while working as a coach at a kid's baseball camp, another coach asked me who I would take out of any player in the game today to build a franchise around. I sat on my bucket at lunch and thought about it. Then I realized that there were plenty of acceptable answers.
I told him I was unsure whether I would take a pitcher or position player. He asked who I would take if I had to pick a pitcher. I responded with Felix Hernandez. He told me that he would go with Tim Lincecum. Now that I've pondered this question for a few weeks, I think that I would probably have to go with a position player because they are in the line-up almost every day and are less likely to be injured.
After I gave my answer on the pitcher I would select, he asked about position players. He said that he would take Joe Mauer. I feel that Mauer would be an excellent choice. The catcher is a captain on the field and controls the game. The only thing with catchers is that they need plenty of days off to stay fresh throughout the long-haul of a season.
Later that night, I proposed the question to my brother. Without thinking, he blurted out "Albert Pujols." Now that is also a fine selection. Pujols will probably go down as one of the top five hitters of all-time when his playing days are over. I just would not want to build a franchise around a first baseman.
I would look for a few things in a player to build a team around. First, I want the player to be fairly young. I would want a solid ten to twelve years of service from this player. There are plenty of young, talented players that would fit that criteria. Some that come to thought are Evan Longoria, David Wright, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Braun, and Justin Upton.
All of those athletes are great and should be great for a long time; however, the second thing I would want is to be strong up the middle, meaning either a second baseman, shortstop, or centerfielder (I already eliminated catcher earlier). To me, second base just is not a position to build a team around.
The next thing I would look for is five-tool players. Now, there are only a few names left that qualify. Two center-fielders and two shortstops. The two in center-field left are Matt Kemp and Adam Jones. My two remaining shortstops are Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki.
I would not go with Jones because we have only seen him for a short period of time. That leaves me with Kemp, Ramirez, and Tulowitzki.
Hanley Ramirez is definitely a weaker defender than Tulo and Kemp, so I would have to eliminate him despite the presence he brings to the line-up and base-paths.
The last thing I would look for in a player to be the "face-of-the-franchise" is leadership. One of the two remaining players has displayed sensational leadership ability from the onset of his career.
That is right! My pick would have to be Troy Tulowitzki. His leadership skills have been compared to Cal Ripken Jr. and Derek Jeter. Anytime you are compared to those two guys, you are in excellent company.
Tulo would be a great player to build a team around. He is young. He is developing into a five-tool player. He has played gold glove defense ever since entering the league. If the Tulo we are seeing here in the second half is what we can get used to, then we will be getting a shortstop who could hit around .300 with upwards of 35 homers a year, all while stealing around 20 bags and picking up gold gloves.
Those are great achievements for any player, let alone a shortstop. Those are MVP numbers. Put all those numbers together along with the afore-mentioned leadership qualities, and you have a great player to build any franchise around.
The thing about selecting just one player to start a franchise around is that there is no right answer. It is purely an opinion. It depends on the individual person's thoughts or preferences as to what they would look for in a player that would be the "face-of-the-franchise." Now that you know my stance on this question, who would you pick to build a franchise around?