An age-old question, via Dave Cameron:
- A few weeks ago, I was asked the popular barstool argument question -- if you could start a franchise with just one player -- with contracts and dollars being irrelevant -- who would it be? I’d guess that a lot of us have had that conversation more than once. It’s a fun topic to talk about.
There are a few names that naturally get mentioned early on. Joe Mauer, Evan Longoria, and Hanley Ramirez are popular choices because they’re established stars and still in the earlier stages of their careers.
Longoria turns 25 in October, while Zimmerman turns 26 a couple of weeks prior to that. Ramirez turns 27 in December. Ramirez has a bit better offensive track record but is the oldest and worst defender of the trio. Longoria is the youngest, but his best season at the plate is not as good as the best season of either of the other two.
It is splitting hairs to pick between them, but gun to my head, I think I’d take Washington’s third baseman. Right now, he’s the perfect blend, combining Ramirez’s offense with Longoria’s defense into one unbelievably good package.
If his teammates were more talented, he’d be have a strong case for the NL MVP right now. Zimmerman has truly become one of the game’s great young players, and the guy I’d point to if I could only take one player to begin a franchise.
I don't often quibble with Cameron, but I can't figure out how to compare these three players without mentioning the Elephant in the Room ...
The Difference Between the Leagues.
If these three guys are essentially tied, doesn't Longoria win on the strength of the American League? Let alone the American League East?
Also, Longoria's a year younger (which Cameron notes) and is the better, faster baserunner (which he doesn't).
Zimmerman's having a fantastic season, and it's a shame that nobody really seems to have noticed. But if I can have one of these brilliant players for the next four or five years, I'll take Longoria.