Baseball’s Best Teammate Duo

If you could pick two current teammates, one batter and one pitcher, to start a MLB franchise, who would it be?

 

The rules are that the players must be current teammates (no September call-ups since this was finished on the last day of August) and you can select players that are on the MLB DL. In this scenario, contracts DO NOT MATTER. We’re picking strictly based on talent, current and projected, as well as age.

To try and quantify these factors, I came up with a quick rating system that delivers an overall score for each duo. Since talent trumps age, more points are available in that area.

Talent factor Top 10 MLB = 10 Franchise player  = 9 All-star = 8 Team star = 7 Above Average = 6 Average = 5 Below average = 4 Fringe = 3 Bench = 2 Career minor leaguer = 1

 

Age factor
<21 = 5
22-25 = 4
26-29 = 3
30-34 = 2
34-37 = 1
>37 = 0

Note: These are my personal opinions, but this article is meant to be more of a discussion than anything else. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section.

 

Angels: Mike Trout/Jered Weaver
Talent factor: 20
Youth factor: 8
Total Score: 28

What Trout has done in his age 19/20 season is remarkable. He’s a true five-tool prospect and could end up as the best overall player in baseball when all is said and done. Weaver, for the second straight season, has performed at a Cy Young level.

 

Astros: Jose Altuve/Bud Norris
Talent factor: 13
Youth factor: 8
Total Score: 21

There will always be those who doubt Altuve because of his size, but all he has done is hit at every level. He may be nothing more than an above average regular down the road, but that’s nothing to sneeze at. Norris probably won’t be a national star either, but I could see him making an all-star roster at some point. He has shown strikeout upside and improved command at age 26.

 

Athletics: Jemile Weeks/Gio Gonzalez
Talent factor: 13
Youth factor: 8
Total Score: 21

The A’s lack a true young impact position player. Brandon Allen has some upside, but he may not hit enough to be much more than above average as a firstbaseman. Jemile Weeks should hit enough, with decent speed, to be a valuable second baseman, but his upside is very limited. Gio Gonzalez may not have exquisite command or control, but his stuff is plain filthy for a 25-year-old.

 

Blue Jays: Jose Bautista/ Ricky Romero
Talent factor: 18
Youth factor: 5
Total Score: 23

Despite being on a non-contending team, Jose Bautista could very well be the American League MVP. What he has done over the past two seasons is amazing to say the least. Ricky Romero has blossomed into one of the top left-handed starters in the league. The only issue is that neither player scores high in the “youth factor” category.

 

Braves: Jason Heyward/Tommy Hanson
Talent factor: 18
Youth factor: 8
Total Score: 26

If you told me that Jason Heyward would end up splitting time with anyone this season, let alone Jose Costanza, I would have laughed uncontrolably at the pure silliness of such a statement. Well, here we are. Heyward is a part-time player after struggling through slumps and injuries this season. Remember, however, that last season, at age 19/20, he was worth just over five WAR and ranked 20th in NL MVP voting. Tommy Hanson has been one of the more dominant pitchers in baseball this season, but some issues with the home run ball have dampered his overall numbers a bit. He should contend for future NL Cy Young awards (hopefully his shoulder heals up fine).

 

Brewers: Ryan Braun/Yovani Gallardo 
Talent factor: 18
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 25

Ryan Braun is one of the game’s best offensive players and 25-year-old Yovani Gallardo has taken a big step forward this season after a rough start, showing a big improvement in control.

Cardinals: Albert Pujols/Adam Wainwright
Talent factor: 20
Youth factor: 5
Total Score: 25

Given the very good comeback rate from pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery, I’m not too worried about choosing Wainwright over any of the healthy Cardinals arms. Wainwright had posted 11.8 fWAR in his previous two seasons before the surgery. I think we can all agree that Albert Pujols, regardless of age, is the no-doubt offensive representative here. 

Cubs: Starlin Castro/Matt Garza
Talent factor: 15
Youth factor: 8
Total Score: 23

While young Starlin Castro is definitely talented, some wonder if he’ll ever become a true star. His defense and plate discipline leave a lot to be desired. Matt Garza has been very impressive in his first go-around in the NL, posting over nine K/9 and a 3.12 xFIP.

Diamondbacks: Justin Upton/Daniel Hudson
Talent factor: 18
Youth factor: 8
Total Score: 26

Justin Upton is making a strong case for NL MVP and he’s only 24. I went back and forth between Hudson and Ian Kennedy as my pitching side of this duo, but ultimately I think Hudson, who is a few years younger, has the most long-term upside.

Dodgers: Matt Kemp/Clayton Kershaw
Talent factor: 20
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 27

This is an exciting duo. That might be an understatement. Kemp is hitting .321/.396/.573 and has already gone 30/30 with a chance for 30/40. He always had been projected for this type of breakout. Kershaw has devoured the NL this season, improving his control/command for a third straight season while leading the league in K/9 and keeping the ball in the ballpark (0.6 HR/9). He may very well be thee best young pitcher in the game of baseball.  

Giants: Buster Posey/Tim Lincecum
Talent factor: 19 Youth factor: 7 Total Score: 26

We all saw what Posey was capable of last season. Unfortunately, a nasty knee injury ended his 2011 season way too early. He gets the edge over prospect Brandon Belt due to his positional value. I almost went with Madison Bumgarner (3.7 K/BB rate) over Lincecum, but you can’t argue with how dominant The Freak has been over the last four years…I’m still thinking of changing my choice to Bumgarner.

Indians: Carlos Santana/Justin Masterson
Talent factor: 16
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 23

While Justin Masterson has had a breakthrough season, he still doesn’t miss enough bats to convince me that he can repeat such a performance in 2012 and beyond. The real superstar of the future in Cleveland is Carlos Santana. While the 25-year-old catcher hasn’t had much success in the AVG department, he has hit for power and drawn plenty of walks. His future is ultra-bright.

Mariners: Dustin Ackley/Felix Hernandez
Talent factor: 18
Youth factor: 8
Total Score: 26

Felix Hernandez is obviously one of the best pitchers in baseball. Dustin Ackley, on the other hand, has a chance to be a very solid player, capable of hitting for AVG and OBP, but his power/speed upside may be limited a bit, keeping him from reaching superstar status.

Marlins: Hanley Ramirez/Josh Johnson Talent factor: 20 Youth factor: 6 Total Score: 26

While it has been a miserable year for both Hanley and Johnson — with regard to production and health — both players have been superstars in the past and could easily be once again.

Mets: Jose Reyes/Jonathan Niese
Talent factor: 16
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 23

Reyes has obvious injury concerns, but it’s the lack of a star pitcher that brings this tandem’s overall value down. I like Jonathan Niese as a very solid middle-of-the-rotation type, but he’ll probably never be an all-star.

Nationals: Ryan Zimmerman/Jordan Zimmermann
Talent factor: 17
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 24

The Zimmer boys make for quite an interesting twosome. Both have had medical issues in the past, but both have displayed a level of dominance as big leaguers. Stephen Strasburg probably bumps Zimmermann if he were on the big league roster, but that only goes to show how bright the future is for the Nationals rotation.

Orioles: Adam Jones/Zach Britton
Talent factor: 15
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 22

Adam Jones continues to come into his own as a big leaguer, though his low walk rates will always be a concern. While there is plenty of youth on the picthing side for the O’s, most of that pitching has failed to live up to expectations. If you had posted this question to me two seasons ago, Brian Matusz might have been the pick. However, he has dealt with a lack of progression on top of injuries so far in his young career. At least it seems like Zach Britton should develop into a strike-throwing groundball machine. That limits his upside a bit, but when all is said and done, he’s probably the safest bet of the group.

Padres: Cameron Maybin/Mat Latos
Talent factor: 16
Youth factor: 8
Total Score: 24

I still think there’s a bit too much swing-and-miss to Maybin’s game, but he is clearly benefiting from a fresh start in San Diego. Mat Latos battled a rough start to put together another strong season at age 23.

Phillies: Shane Victorino/Cole Hamels
Talent factor: 18
Youth factor: 5
Total Score: 23

Shane Victorino is in the midst of his best season to-date, but he’s not the type of player you’d think of building a franchise around. The problem is, with Domonic Brown in the minors, the Phillies don’t have much youth on offense. It’s incredibly difficult to try and chose between three aces: Halladay, Lee and Hamels, but Hamels has the others beat on the youth factor, so he’s the pick.

Pirates: Andrew McCuthchen/Joel Hanrahan
Talent factor: 16
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 23

Andrew McCutchen is just straight-up fun to watch play baseball. As good as he is now, the best is yet to come. The Pirates were the only team that I didn’t pick a starting pitcher to represent the pitching side of the duo. I don’t see many of their current arms as long-term solutions. At least Hanrahan has a chance to be a lock-down closer for a few more years, while regression is likely for most of the starting rotation.

Rangers: Ian Kinsler/Derek Holland
Talent factor: 16
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 23

Ian Kinsler may not hit for AVG, but he doesn’t strike out much and draws a good amount of walks. That, on top of his power, speed and defensive skills at a valuable defensive position, make him the pick. It may seem surprising to not see C.J. Wilson as the pitching representative of the Rangers, but I believe in Derek Holland’s upside (3.88 xFIP at age 24) enough to take his youth over the 30-year-old Wilson.

Rays: Evan Longoria/David Price
Talent factor: 20
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 27

It’s easy to look past Longoria’s down 2011 season (injury problems and a .229 BABIP), so I will, and state that he will be an MVP candidate in 2012. David Price has also ran into a bit of bad luck in terms of his W-L record, but his 3.20 xFIP is once again legit, complimented by a top-end strikeout rate and improved walk rate.

Reds: Joey Votto/Johnny Cueto
Talent factor: 17
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 24

On most teams, Jay Bruce would get the nod here, but I’m not passing up on possibly the best hitter in the game. Votto’s combination of plate discipline and power makes him a nearly perfect presence at the plate. There is a bit gap between Johnny Cueto’s 2.05 ERA and 3.87 xFIP. If he doesn’t get the same results on balls in play next season (.239 BABIP), he’ll be a good, but not someone to build a team around.

Red Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury/Jon Lester
Talent factor: 20
Youth factor: 6
Total Score: 26

The Sox have three legit MVP candidates in A-Gon, Pedroia and Ellsbury. Though Pedroia has the better on-base skills, I see his overall skill set regressing faster that that of Ellsbury, who has broke-out in a huge way this season. Jon Lester was my preseason pick for AL Cy Young. If he stays healthy in 2012, I think he has a shot to contend for that title once again.

Rockies: Troy Tulowitzki/Jhoulys Chacin
Talent factor: 17
Youth factor: 7
Total Score: 24

Troy Tulowitzki is the best shortstop, offense and defense combined, in the game of baseball. Jhoulys Chacin has a chance to be a very good pitcher for years to come, but his control issues are holding him back a bit.

Royals: Eric Hosmer/Danny Duffy
Talent factor: 17
Youth factor: 9
Total Score: 26

If you’re looking for a future Joey Votto light, look no further than Eric Hosmer. Hosmer has shown flashes of how good he can be at the plate this season and he’s doing it as a 21-year-old. Look for a big improvement in his walk rate as the years go by. Danny Duffy might be one of the best least talked about young pitchers in baseball. His 5.55 ERA doesn’t look pretty, but consider the fact that he’s only 22 years old and had posted a 10.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 350 minor league innings. Once Duffy learns to command his stuff within the strike-zone, which includes mid-90’s heat from the left-side, he has a chance to be a dominant starter.

Tigers: Miguel Cabrera/Justin Verlander
Talent factor: 20
Youth factor: 6
Total Score: 26

Do I really need to say much about this Duo? While Cabrera won’t win the AL MVP this season, at this point it’s not too far fetched to envision him taking home a future MVP award while Verlander takes home the Cy Young in the same season.

Twins: Joe Mauer/Francisco Liriano
Talent factor: 18
Youth factor: 6
Total Score: 24

Remember when Joe Mauer hit .365/.444/.587 with 28 home runs? Yeah, that was fun. This season has been another letdown after his power regression last season, but health is most certainly the key. Given the lack of upside and injury risk involved with other Twins batters, I still see enough upside in Mauer to consider him a franchise player. Maybe I just can’t get over how dominant Liriano was in 2010: 9.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 0.42 HR/9, 54% groundball rate and a 2.95 xFIP. He has that type of stuff, but he has also been battling shoulder soreness since spring training. I’ll give him a pass this season and hope that he’s healthy once again in 2012.

White Sox: Alexei Ramirez/John Danks
Talent factor: 16
Youth factor: 6
Total Score: 22

Alexei isn’t sexy, but he’s a damn solid shortstop, especially on defense. His plate discipline will always be an issue, however. John Danks has fought his way back from a forgettable start to the season to post a 2.47 ERA and 5.9 K/BB rate in 47.1 second half innings. Lefties of his caliber don’t grow on trees.

Yankees: Curtis Granderson/CC Sabathia
Talent factor: 20
Youth factor: 4
Total Score: 24

Mechanical changes have made all the difference for The Grandy Man, as he closes in on 40 home runs, 130 runs scored and a possible AL MVP award. For CC, it’s just another year at the office. He has actually improved his numbers each of his three seasons with the Yanks. Unfortunately, for this exercise, their youth factor holds back their overall score.

Conclusion

Based on my scoring system, two teams, the Dodgers and Rays, scored a 27. However, they come in at a close second to the Angels, who were the only duo to score a 28, two points away from a perfect score. While these scores are obviously subjective, the argument for starting a franchise with Mike Trout and Jered Weaver is a strong one. That being said, I’ll take the younger pitcher over the younger hitter, which means that I’m going to bypass the scores and chose the tandem of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw to start my MLB franchise.

What batter/pitcher duo would you chose to start your MLB franchise?

Derek Hanson

About Derek Hanson

Doctor by day, blogger by night, Derek Hanson is the founder of the Bloguin Network and has been a Patriots fan for more than 20 years.

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