Friday, March 4, 2011
Recently, noted baseball writer Rob Neyer (now at SBNation) ran a series where he is projecting the Player of the Decade at each position. It was sparked by looking at his selections from 2000 for the players of the next decade. It's a fun exercise. At some positions there is really only one player to logically choose, but at others it's pretty much up in the air.
A couple of Marlins were under serious consideration. Hanley Ramirez was in a toss up with Troy Tulowitzki for shortstop. Neyer choose Tulowitzki, and I can't complain too much since he is younger and a better defensive player than Hanley. Also Mike Stanton was the first name mentioned after Jason Heyward for right field.
This got me to thinking of who I'd guess will be the Marlins Overall Player of the Decade for 2010-2019.
Pros: Hanley has racked up quite a few accolades in his first five years. He won Rookie of the Year in 2006. He won a batting title in 2009. And he's been an all-star each of the last three season. He's easily been the MVP of the post-2005 era and there is really nothing at the moment to suggest any decline. He's signed through 2014 and is pretty much a lock to break the franchise career records for most offensive categories.
Cons: If Hanley is that good, and the Marlins aren't winning, what are the chances of him staying past 2014? It's silly to think about, but Hanley has often talked about his desire to win and make the playoffs. It's conceivable that if the Marlins fail to break through in the next few years, he could get frustrated and ask for a trade or walk in free agency. The other con is that by the time the decade is over he'll be 37 years old. His numbers will eventually start to decrease and maybe there willl be injury concerns.
Pros: In the limited time we've seen Mike, he's been a beast. I mean, to my knowledge, he's the first Marlins player to have a blog written solely about him. There isn't as much of a track record as there is with Hanley but he's been a home run and RBI machine at every level in the minors and in his little over half season last year. Most scouts project him as a 40 HR a season guy which is something the Marlins have never had (with the exception of Sheffield's 42 in 1996). You'd have to think in the coming years he can slightly improve his batting and on-base percentages, which could lead to some insane OPS numbers. He's only 21 so you don't have to worry about him getting old and transitioning towards being a DH yet.
Cons: There is always a chance he can fall into the path of similar sluggers (Adam Dunn) and wind up as a power hitter who strikes out a ton and doesn't hit for a decent average. They are still good players and vital contributors, but 200 K's a year and a lifetime .240% hitter is not MVP-worthy. Even worse, he could be like Jack Cust who made a similar splash into the majors with a ton of home runs, but soon was figured out by pitchers and is now a just an average player. Of course there's always the risk of injury which is hard to quantify.
Pros: JJ is the Hanley category in that he has a good sample size of success already. Since coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2008 he has started 75 games and has an ERA under 3.00. He's also been an all-star the past two years. When it comes to health you'd think that'd be a con since he's already had major elbow surgery and had back issues last year. But, I think having the elbow surgery early in his career is a plus. Also this year he started training with former World's Strongest Man Mark Philippi to improve his core. That's a good sign that he will take his health seriously.
Cons: Age is a factor. Josh is 27 now and as he moves into his 30s you have to wonder if he'll lose any velocity on his pitches and whether that might force him to change his approach. Also, with pitchers there is a higher risk of injury. And if last year's trend continues and he gets poor run support and no bullpen help, he won't put up extraordinary W-L numbers. I, like many don't put too much into the Wins category for pitchers, but some do, and if he has pedestrian numbers that could cause him to be overlooked.
Pros: And now we are back to someone with a small sample size. Superb Twitter-user LoMo certainly doesn't possess the power of Stanton, rather he's an excellent line-drive hitter in the mold of a left-handed Paul Molitor. He won't hit too many home runs, but he should pile up great doubles and triples numbers while steadily increasing his batting average as he continues to learn Major League pitching.
Cons: The fact that he probably won't dominate at a specific statistical category may cause him to be overlooked. Also, there is no guarantee he'll raise his average and be a career .300 hitter. Finally, for some reason I've seen him in a trade rumor or two over the last few years. I would be very opposed to trading LoMo, but it's the Marlins, so that's always a possibility.
There's a decent chance the Marlins MVP of the twenty-teens isn't even in the organization yet. As of right now the farm system is pretty bare and there is no true highly ranked prospect that you could give serious consideration to. But the Marlins scouting department has a good track record and pretty soon there should be a wave of new talent coming in. Hopefully this unknown prospect will be ready to contribute in the last half of this decade.
If forced to bet, with even money odds on everybody, I'd guess Mike Stanton. We'll revisit this in nine years, maybe.