Who Should You Choose to Start a MLB Franchise?

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IIFebruary 5, 2012

Who Should You Choose to Start a MLB Franchise?

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    We have all thought about it. If you could pick one player to start a franchise, who would it be?

    Everybody has their method. Some people want youth to be the foundation of their team for years to come, others want a veteran with experience to start their team.

    There is also a debate over pitcher or position player. Which one is really more important to a team? An ace, like Justin Verlander, or a position player, like Miguel Cabrera?

    I am going to explain my criteria and eliminate players as we go along. At the end there will be a group of finalists remaining that fit all the criteria and I will pick that one player I would start a MLB franchise with.

No Character or Off the Field Issues

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    I do not want Tony Plush on my team.

    Look at the most successful team in major league history: the New York Yankees. Who on their team has the biggest character issues? Maybe A.J. Burnett or Alex Rodriguez. Neither of them have off the field issues and their character issues are offset by the leaders of the team, namely Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

    Despite their issues, neither Burnett nor Rodriguez are as bad as players like Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley, Delmon Young or A.J. Pierzynski.

    Players who get arrested, have a me-first attitude or are bad clubhouse guys have no place being my franchise player.

    Notable Players Eliminated:

    Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton and Alex Rodriguez

No Relief Pitchers

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    I do not think I will be getting any arguments here. A young Mariano Rivera is the only reliever you could even make an argument for, but now that he is 42 years old you cannot build a franchise around him.

    No other reliever has stepped up to be as dominant for a long time period as Rivera, so I am not going to consider any relievers.

    Notable Players Eliminated:

    Andrew Bailey, Brandon League, Joakim Soria, Brian Wilson, Francisco Rodriguez, David Robertson, Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Valverde, Ryan Madson and Mariano Rivera

Under 30 Years Old

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    I need a player to start my team that is at, or has not reached, his peak. There are some very good players over 30 years old but you do not want them to start a team.

    Albert Pujols is the best player in the majors right now but he is declining.

    You want your franchise player to be getting better, not worse, as the years go along. With age comes a loss of power, speed, defense and an increase in injuries.

    Notable Players Eliminated:

    Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, Adrian Beltre, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Ryan Howard, Mike Napoli, David Ortiz and Paul Konerko

No Injury History

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    This has to be the worst sight a fan can see. One of their team's best players on the ground in serious pain. That signals that they will likely be gone for quite some time and that is not a good thing.

    A franchise player can only be useful if he is on the field.

    Every player goes on the DL at some point, so I will only be looking at major injuries that cost players big chunks of the season or recurring injuries that frequently hamper a player.

    Notable Players Eliminated:

    Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Troy Tulowitzki, Yadier Molina, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Joe Mauer, Adam Wainwright, Stephen Strasburg and Buster Posey

Position Scarcity

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    There are a few positions that have so much depth you can find a good player there very easily.

    The first position that comes to mind is first base. Think about it, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko and Ryan Howard are all elite first basemen.

    Then there are the rising stars, such as Michael Morse, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Eric Hosmer and Mark Trumbo.

    You can find a good first baseman almost anywhere.

    Notable Players Eliminated:

    Prince Fielder, Joey Votto, Michael Morse, Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Eric Hosmer and Mark Trumbo

Proven Consistent Track Record

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    Having a breakout year is good, two is even better but when I pick one player to be the cornerstone of my franchise I want a sure thing. I want a player that I can count on to be an elite player for years to come. There is no room for error.

    I also like to know what I am getting. Players who have one season of great power but a poor batting average and then they flip and do the exact opposite the next season scare me a little.

    What exactly are you getting?

    I like to know that before I select my franchise player.

    Notable Players Eliminated:

    Jay Bruce, Mike Stanton, Pablo Sandoval, Ian Kinsler, Craig Kimbrel, Justin Verlander, Madison Bumgarner, Jeremy Hellickson, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Romero, David Price, Gio Gonzalez, Justin Masterson, Yu Darvish and all prospects such as Bryce Harper, Jesus Montero, Matt Moore and Julio Teheran

World Series Experience

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    I want a leader, a player that has been there and done that.

    When starting a team you want a player that has been to a World Series. A ring is a big bonus, but a player who has been to a World Series will not crumble under the pressure of a big game when it matters most because they have done it before.

    The foundation of a franchise cannot crack under pressure, if they do the whole franchise will collapse.

    Notable Players Eliminated:

    Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Starlin Castro, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Gonzalez, Justin Upton, Brian McCann, David Wright, Clayton Kershaw, Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez


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    I have narrowed it down to five finalists and here they are:

    1. Tim Lincecum
    2. Matt Cain
    3. Cole Hamels
    4. Robinson Cano
    5. Evan Longoria

    They are all very worthy and are all superstars.

    Before you go to the next slide pick one of these five that you would start your team with.

Final Choice: Robinson Cano

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    I started out by removing Matt Cain from the list. Do not get me wrong, he is a great pitcher, but he is the second best pitcher on his own team. Tim Lincecum is the better option of the two, he is younger and already has two Cy Young Awards.

    Narrowing it down to one from Tim Lincecum, Cole Hamels, Evan Longoria and Robinson Cano was tough. Lincecum and Hamels are both bona fide aces while Cano is a perennial MVP candidate and Longoria is a rising star.

    In the end I narrowed it down to Evan Longoria and Robinson Cano because he plays everyday. I know that when pitchers are on the mound they are the most important player on the field but they only play once every five games.

    Robinson Cano is only 29 years old and is basically a lock for a batting average around .320, about 30 home runs, over 100 RBI.

    How can you argue with that? Second basemen like that do not grow on trees.

    Evan Longoria on the other hand is the best third baseman in the majors. He hits for power and up until this season he hit for a good batting average.

    Cano is the better offensive player. He hit for a much better average, has similar power and drives in more runs.

    Longoria is younger and plays better defense than Cano.

    This was a tough call because they are both great players. No team in the majors would turn them down because they are the best at their respective positions.

    Personally, I would pick Robinson Cano because he has been more impressive in the postseason. In three of the last four postseasons Cano has been in he has posted an OPS over 1.000, while Longoria has never even posted an OPS above .786 in his three postseasons.