MLB: Who Is the Best Player To Build a Franchise Around?
Here's the situation: You're a general manager for a new expansion baseball team and Bud Selig has decided to give you the choice to pick any player in the league on any team with your first pick.
Sounds easy enough, right?
Then the real problem arises:
Whom do you pick?
Do you go with an elite hitter like Albert Pujols, or do you take a lights-out starter like Roy Halladay? Do you take a money closer like Mariano Rivera, or do you go with a young stud like Joe Mauer?
You would have quite a decision on your hands, a decision that any general manager would be more than happy to make.
So who would be the best pick?
The Argument For...
Albert Pujols, Age: 30
Pujols absolutely tears the cover off the ball, and is probably baseball's most complete hitter. Since he entered the league in 2001, he's been top five in MVP voting every single season but one, including his rookie season. That's just plain ridiculous.
He's a career .334 hitter, and he's hit more than a few bombs in his day as well. The only downside to building a franchise around Pujols would be that he plays a deep position and is already 30.
Roy Halladay, Age: 33
Halladay is a lights out pitcher—one of the league's best if not the best. He goes deep into just about every game, which is nearly unheard of in this era.
The guy is unbelievable, and who knows what he could do for a team in a playoff race? We'll find out this season. The only knock on Halladay is that he's been plagued with injuries throughout his career and that he's already 33.
Ryan Braun, Age: 25
Braun, much like Albert Pujols, burst onto the scene with a huge rookie season and hasn't looked back since. At age 25, Braun hasn't even reached his prime yet, but you wouldn't know it by looking at his numbers.
Plus, he had the best season of his short career last year, hitting .320 with 32 HR, 114 RBI, and 20 SB. Signs point to Braun only getting better, which, at age 25, makes him, in some people's minds, the best young player in the game.
CC Sabathia, Age: 28
This guy eats innings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight snack. How could you not want this guy on your team after the showings he's had for his teams down the stretch?
Sabathia is extremely unselfish and wants nothing more than to win. He pitched every day on three days' rest for the Brewers down the stretch in 2008.
This guy is money in a playoff race, and that's the time where elite starting pitching has really dominated. This guy is a horse and teams can ride him all the way to the playoffs.
Hanley Ramirez, Age: 25
Hanley is the definition of a five-tool player. He is almost always the fastest player on the field and usually the most powerful as well. He hit .342 last season with 27 swipes and 24 homers.
He can do it all and at age 25, who wouldn't want him? He is big time and he does it a position that isn't the deepest position out there either. It's just fun to watch him play.
Felix Hernandez, Age: 23
King Felix was unhittable last season. He's only 23. That should be enough to convince you right there.
He's coming off a season where his ERA was 2.49 at the age of 23. If this is a sign of things to come, then I'll personally take him over any pitcher in baseball.
Joe Mauer, Age: 26
Joe Mauer might be the best player in baseball. He has two gold gloves and two batting titles at the age of 26. Remember, he's a catcher!
He is also starting to develop the power that so many Twins fans had hoped for when he first came to town. He had 28 homers last season and batted .367.
He's just as good as any other hitter in the game plus he plays by far the most offensively thin position in the league, which is catcher. Did I mention he's a catcher?!
Derek Jeter, Age: 35
There will never be another Derek Jeter. Never again will anybody make a play anything like that flip play he made against Oakland. Never again will one man go diving head first into metal seats just to catch a pop up.
Never again will there be such a great leader. He's just a winner, and no matter how much you hate the Yankees, you just can't hate this guy. If he were a little bit younger, he would be anybody's pick.
Mariano Rivera, Age: 39
It's hard to pick Rivera to build your franchise around at age 39, but you cant deny how good he is even if he can only do it for another two or three years. A lot of people think the closer is an overvalued position.
However, during the playoffs there is no position more important. A closer can give you up to three lights-out innings whenever called upon in an important situation.
Rivera had had amazing success in the postseason throughout his career and could definitely be a leader in a World Series run.
Tim Lincecum, Age: 25
Lincy is a pure beast. Two Cy Youngs in three seasons doesn't sound too bad, does it? You would have to be out of your mind to not want this kid.
He could be the second coming of Randy Johnson. There really isn't anything you could possibly say bad about this kid.
Miguel Cabrera, Age: 26
Miggy has already built a great reputation at the age of 26. He is a model of consistency and a big-time run producer in any lineup. Why wouldn't you want him in the middle of your lineup?
He's never played less than 158 games in a season since he was a rookie. He has driven in at least 100 runs every year since 2004. He has also hit at least 30 homers every year since '04 with the exception of 2006 when he hit 26.
He has hit at least .320 in every season but one since '05. It doesn't get much better and more consistent then that especially for somebody who's only 26.
So as you can see there are more than a few worthy candidates for whom to build your franchise around if you were given the choice.
So how do you choose from a group of so many great players?
Well, in my mind it came down to two guys.
Joe Mauer and Hanley Ramirez.
In the end I decided that Hanley Ramirez would be the best player to build a franchise around.
The reason I decided to go with Hanram was simple; his power is up to par with the elite home run hitters, his speed is just as good as any of the league's best base-stealers, and his ability to hit for contact will win him some batting titles.
The guy is good enough to go .325, 35-35 every single season until the day he turns 35. Well there are 10 years until that day and I'll happily take that kind of production for 10 more years.
So I'm choosing Hanley Ramirez, but that shouldn't stop you from sharing your opinion through a comment. Tell me which MLB player you feel is more valuable than any other.
C'mon guys, let's get this debate going!
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