Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.
St. Louis Cardinals fans know these players well as the heart of the order for the Redbirds, and for good reason. They've consistently produced year in and year out with offensive numbers and defensive prowess.
Baseball fans might want to start looking for Colby Rasmus in that role as well.
The young outfielder crushed his first home run of the 2010 season yesterday, and looks poised to become part of something special for St. Louis.
Not since the days of the iconic "MV3" trio that consisted of Pujols, Rolen, and Edmonds have the Cardinals possessed such lineup depth.
A year after an up-and-down campaign, Rasmus has the potential to be a fourth impact bat in the heart of the Cardinals' batting order. If he is, an already deep lineup starts to look like one of the best in the National League.
The Cardinals skipper, manager Tony La Russa, praised Rasmus for his all-around baseball talent.
"You're talking about a guy who can hit the ball for extra bases," said La Russa. "You can run with him. He's such a multidimensional guy."
Obviously, Rasmus has become more comfortable in the Redbirds' lineup. As the season gets underway, all signs point to him becoming a major factor in St. Louis' run at yet another NL Central crown.
Rasmus himself admitted to having the rookie jitters in his first season. He became much more at ease with his role within the organization this year.
"Last year, I was probably a little bit more nervous, I guess," Rasmus said after his memorable Opening Day. "This year I felt good, felt comfortable. I just carried over what I was doing in spring training into the season."
Despite exuding characteristics of a prototypical leadoff or No. 2 hitter in the lineup, his numbers suggest a role with more impact.
Rasmus smacked 29 home runs and 37 doubles as a 20-year-old in Double-A and had a career slugging percentage of .485 in the minors—despite routinely being one of the youngest players at his level.
Maybe Rasmus is more of an opportunistic hitter.
Depending on the situation, he swings for power when he feels he knows what is coming, or he could simply be swinging for contact and just doesn't realize his own strength.
Rasmus jacked five round-trippers during the spring in only 58 at-bats.
La Russa stresses that he is not allowed to always think about swinging for the fences, but Rasmus' power cannot be denied.
"That's the way he played all spring," said La Russa. "He came into camp, and he could have gone either way. He could have looked around and not seen as much competition and gotten a little careless. Instead he's just really, really trying to be as good a player as he can be. One spring and one game into the season, he's improving."
Rasmus continues to improve on his skills and strives to mold himself into a star player that pitchers need to worry about, but he is still young—as is the season. He struggled down the stretch last season.
So even as I praise Colby Rasmus for possibly starting yet another "MV3" trio with Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, there is cause for healthy skepticism. Hitting in the top of the order sits just fine for the young slugger.
Rasmus welcomes the challenge.
"Bring it on," he said. "I like hitting there."
Quotes and information attributed to MLB.com