Friday, May 11, 2012

Face of the Franchise: MLB Edition

Who's the face of each MLB team?  I took into account several factors such as name recognition, overall performance and length of tenure with their respective clubs.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles-Matt Wieters
The big, slugging backstop has been a of the club's future since scouts compared him to Joe Mauer, but with more power.  After a slow start to his career Wieters finally broke out during the second half of last year and his fast start has him primed for a monster season.  I thought long and hard about Brian Roberts, who's been there since 2001, but it's tough to choose somebody who hasn't been relevant since 2009.  Also considered Nick Markakis and Adam Jones.

Boston Red Sox-David Ortiz
The longest tenured member of the team now that Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek retired during the offseason.  Kevin Youkilis is the only other remaining player from the legendary 2004 curse-breaking band of Idiots.  Big Papi has been a fixture in the heart of Boston's lineup for ten years now, and shows no signs of slowing down. 

New York Yankees-Derek Jeter
You could try to make a case for Mariano Rivera, but why bother?  Jeet's been making memories in pinstripes since 1995, and by now his name is as synonymous with the Bombers as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle.  Even on a team of All-Stars, he's still the star.  Robinson Cano is poised to inherit the title whenever DJ2 decides to hang it up.

Tampa Bay Rays-Evan Longoria
The franchise transformed themselves from AL East doormats to perennial contenders in 2008, Longo's rookie year.  Since his debut, the Rays have developed into a powerhouse that can hold its own with the mighty Yankees and Red Sox.  Also gave some thought to "Big Game" James Shields.

Toronto Blue Jays-Jose Bautista
On August 21st, 2008 the Pittsburgh Pirates traded Joey Bats for Robinzon Diaz.  Straight up.  Diaz played 43 games and has been out of baseball since 2009.  Bautista evolved into one of the best hitters in the game. 

AL Central

Chicago White Sox-Paul Konerko
Has been a rock at first base for the Sox since 1999.  Just slugged his 400th home run, and if he can play until age 40 he'll have an outside shot at 500 dingers.

Cleveland Indians-Travis Hafner
Pronk's in his tenth season with the Tribe.  Injuries have devastated the second half of his career, but when healthy he can still provide some pop.  Grady Sizemore (still only 29) should be the face of the franchise, but his once promising career fell apart halfway through the '09 campaign.

Detroit Tigers-Justin Verlander
The anchor of Motown's staff is arguably the best pitcher in baseball and has already netted a Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP trophy

Kansas City Royals-Billy Butler
Already in his sixth season with the Royals, Butler's been the main force of KC's lineup.  Alex Gordon was the more highly regarded prospect, and Eric Hosmer looks like a Joey Votto in the making, but nobody's been steadier than Butler.

Minnesota Twins-Joe Mauer
The MVP and three time batting champion is in the second season of an eight year, $184 million contract that should keep him in a Twins uniform through 2018.  Justin Morneau's demise has assured that Mauer Power will remain a franchise icon for the remainder of the decade.

AL West

Los Angeles Angels-Albert Pujols
The Halos didn't really have one (Jered Weaver?) before the Machine arrived.  He's going to be there for the next ten years so...

Oakland Athletics-Yoenis Cespedes
The A's have gone through a lot of roster turnover during the past decade and is completely devoid of star players.  A homeless man's Vladimir Guerrero, the free-swinging Cuban import attracts a lot of attention with his prodigious power and high strikeout totals.

Seattle Mariners-Ichiro Suzuki
The fan favorite and .325 career hitter has spent his whole career in Seattle.
Texas Rangers-Michael Young
Apologies to Josh Hamilton, but Young has spent every one of his thirteen seasons with the Rangers, though Texas nearly traded him before last season after bringing in Adrian Beltre to man the hot corner.  The versatile batting champ has played every infield position and DH'ed for them, too.

NL East

Atlanta Braves-Chipper Jones
The Braves' elder statesman has been crafting a Hall of Fame worthy career for 19 seasons in the ATL, making the playoffs eleven times.  He's like the NL version of Jeter, but without the rings and big market.

Miami Marlins-Hanley Ramirez
Han Ram came over with Anibal Sanchez from Boston following the 2005 season in the trade that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Beantown.  Since then the slugging shortstop, now playing third to accomodate Jose Reyes, has been named Rookie of the Year, won a batting title and finished second in the 2009 MVP race to Albert Pujols. 

New York Mets-David Wright
Has had his ups and downs recently, but with Reyes and Carlos Beltran gone the team now belongs to him, and he's undoubtedly their most talented player.  He's responded with a scorching start.

Philadelphia Phillies-Ryan Howard
Jimmy Rollins has been there longer, and Chase Utley was more valuable during their respective primes, but the big fella's monster power numbers and pricey contract extension made him the most high-profile member of the National League powerhouse

Washington Nationals-Stephen Strasburg
He and Bryce Harper are the future, but Strasburg's immediate dominance and electrifying pitching performances have overshadowed the teenage outfielder to some degree.  He's already the ace of what might be the best rotation in the Senior Circuit.  Jayson Werth's the one making the big bucks, but in reality he's more of a complementary player.  Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman just can't seem to stay healthy.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs-Starlin Castro
Alfonso Soriano has been there longer and is making a lot more money, but Castro's a symbol of hope whereas Soriano represents a gigantic mistake.

Cincinatti Reds-Joey Votto
The best first baseman in the league after Pujols and Prince Fielder jumped ship to the AL last winter.  Brandon Phillips is also worthy of consideration, but Votto's massive contract extension will keep him in Cincy through his 40th birthday.

Houston Astros-Carlos Lee
The only big name on a team of unknowns, El Caballo is one of the few veterans/power threats in a thin, inexperienced lineup.

Milwaukee Brewers-Ryan Braun
With Fielder gone, it's his team.

Pittsburgh Pirates-Andrew McCutchen
The budding superstar on a crappy team.

St. Louis Cardinals-Chris Carpenter
The workhorse has won a Cy Young and helped lead St. Louis to three World Series and a pair of titles since signing there a decade ago.  Adam Wainwright, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman are all big names, too, but they can't match Carpenter's history.  Too bad he'll be on the DL for quite some time.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks-Justin Upton
The Diamondbacks' best position player has a bright future in front of him.  After a slow start he's shown signs of life at the plate recently. 

Colorado Rockies-Todd Helton
The lifelong Rockie has been with the team for sixteen seasons, and until he turned 30 he was putting up Ted Williams-esque numbers with the help of Coors Field.  Even at 38 he can still be productive, but over the last five years or so he's become an every-other-year player due to injuries.

Los Angeles Dodgers-Matt Kemp
Has surpassed Pujols as the best player in baseball and looks like a strong bet to take home the MVP this season after getting stiffed in 2011.  Just inked an eight year, $160 million deal in the offseason to rival Manny Ramirez, the player some say he rivals offensively.

San Diego Padres-Chase Headley
Heath Bell and Mat Latos departed, leaving the third baseman as one of the few recognizable faces on an otherwise terrible roster.  He's in his sixth season with the Pads.

San Francisco Giants-Tim Lincecum
The Freak won back to back NL Cy Youngs in 2008 and 2009, then helped bring San Francisco their first World Series title in 2010.

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