Baseball’s Hardest-To-Obtain Commodity

When Major League executives discuss what they’re looking for in the amateur draft, they use phrases like “middle-of-the-order bat,” “five-tool athlete” and “top-of-the-rotation stuff.” They’re focused on premier talent, not replaceable role players, and the jargon they use reveals their intentions. Not coincidentally, starting pitchers and up-the-middle players like catchers, shortstops and center fielders dominate the early rounds of the draft.  

Free agency isn't so different. It pays to be an elite starting pitcher, a shutdown closer, a legitimate power threat or a serviceable hitter at a defense-first position. But if you’re a left-handed specialist out of the bullpen, a pinch hitter or a utility player, your chances of obtaining a substantial payday are substantially diminished.

Baseball’s general managers are always on the lookout for their team’s next impact player, so they know which players tend to be easy to acquire and which ones are elusive. So what’s the hardest commodity to obtain: an all-around catcher, an elite shortstop, an ace starter, a power bat or something else entirely?

Justin Verlander

“It’s a great question,” Pirates GM Neal Huntington says. “I don’t know that you can really put one over the other. To find that all-around shortstop, to find that all-around catcher, to find that true top-of-the-rotation starter, those are probably the three most challenging. There just aren’t a lot of them, whether they come out of high school or come out of college, via trade or via the draft it’s a scarcity,”

The Mets employ Sandy Alderson, baseball’s longest-tenured GM. Even though he’s been running MLB teams since the year Jose Reyes was born, Alderson doesn’t have a definite answer, either.

“Well if you’re talking about a five-tool catcher, you’re talking about a very rare commodity,” he said in Milwaukee at baseball’s GM Meetings. “On the other hand to find a Justin Verlander-type number one starter — that’s extremely difficult to find. If you were starting a franchise, which would you prefer to have? You might say a position player over a pitcher, but then look at what happened to Buster Posey, so injuries can occur to catchers just as they can occur to pitchers.”

Like Alderson, Orioles GM Dan Duquette has experience running large and small-market MLB teams. He echoed his counterpart when describing baseball’s toughest-to-obtain commodity.

“A switch-hitting catcher with power from both sides of the plate, who’s a good field general,” he said, seemingly referring to Matt Wieters, the Baltimore backstop who hit 22 home runs and won his first Gold Glove in 2011.

Four-time Gold Glove winner Yadier Molina joined Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter on the 2011 World Series Champions. The Cardinals obtained excellent production behind the plate, in the middle of the order and atop their rotation, but one type of player continues to elude Mozeliak.

“For us it seems to be that dominant shortstop,” he said. “I think having just a stable young star that becomes the face of your club — it’s everybody’s goal to try to get that, whether that’s a starting pitcher, first baseman, shortstop, catcher and so for us shortstop is a hard position to find.”

25 years ago, when Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith was in his prime, then-Cardinals GM Dal Maxvill probably would have answered the question differently. There are few absolutes when it comes to roster construction, but every team — even the defending World Champions — wants something.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


Full Story | 118 Comments | Categories: Uncategorized

118 Responses to Baseball’s Hardest-To-Obtain Commodity Leave a Reply

  1. Because five-tool catchers are rare, they’re not required in order to win a title.

    True aces are rare, but quality pitching IS required to win a title.  (Well, almost always.)

    Thus, ace pitcher is more valuable than a five-tool catcher.

    A championship team can carry a defensive specialist at nearly any position, and make up for the hitting elsewhere (as long as the entire team isn’t defensive specialists).  Thus, no one position absolutely requires offense, though offense is required overall.

    Thus, ace pitcher is more valuable than offensive position player at non-offensive position.

    • LordD99 4 years ago

      Well, no.  Just the opposite.  Since a five-tool catcher (and, btw, has such a creature ever existed?) is so rare, the very possession of such an athlete would give a team an advantage year in and year out over virtually every other team that could not be matched. 

      • JacksTigers 4 years ago

        Craig Biggio is probably the closest thing we have ever had to a 5-tool catcher.

        • and how long did he last at that position?

          • JacksTigers 4 years ago

            Irrelevant. The point is that he played as catcher on regular basis at points in his career.

        • Joe Mauer was a 4 tool catcher in one season. Speed doesn’t matter for a catcher.

      • Ferrariman 4 years ago

        Jason Kendall back in his pirates heydays was close to a 5tool catcher.

      • FunkyTime 4 years ago

        Avlia is almost a five-tool catcher.  Well ok … I’m REALLY stretching on the speed tool.  But he improved his running speed a ton last year.  (He legged out 4 triples in 2011, after being slow as dirt in his rookie season)

        For a catcher at least, he runs pretty good.

        • Daniel Wesley 4 years ago

          Avila a 5 tool catcher? He’s lucky to be considered a 3.

          • FunkyTime 4 years ago

            What’s the 4th tool you don’t think he has?

            I was kind of joking about the 5 tool thing, but he definitely was an all-around great catcher last year.

      • BlueSkyLA
        BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

        The “five tools” shorthand comes up a little short. Who really cares if a catcher can run well, if he’s got the other tools, the ones that are more important to his position? Much better that a catcher can’t run well than can’t throw well. One flaw may be a liability but another could be a career killer.

        I also don’t necessarily agree with the critical need for “ace” pitching. Even if we knew what that was exactly, we also know that competence throughout the rotation and a couple of good swingman arms in reserve are even more important than one elite pitcher at the top of the rotation. During the regular season, anyway. Then you have the issue of how often a starting pitcher actually plays. An important position player can give you over a thousand innings of value. Even the most reliable starter hardly more than 200.

        • FunkyTime 4 years ago

          I think yearly WAR totals show that a true ace can be just as valuable as a great position player. 

          They don’t influence near as many games, but their impact on any game
          they’re in is so much greater than that of a position player.

          • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

            I don’t see how the impact of an ace is GREATER than that of a position player. Was Verlander more valuable (and I mean the actual definition, not the BBWAA defintion) than Bautista or Ellsbury?

          • WillieMaysField 4 years ago

            I would say their comparable. Verlander faced 969 hitters last year while position players have 600 ab’s.

          • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

            they were also running the bases and playing defense

          • Lanidrac 4 years ago

            Pitchers play defense, too.

          • LordD99 4 years ago

            Yeah, really.  Many of the “Verlander-for-MVP” supporters started touting that B.S. stat about how he faced more hitters compared to position players having ABs. Well, yeah, but that ignores that hitting is only a portion of a position players game, dismissing the defensive portion (and the base running) of a position player’s game, which is truly odd considering that a pitcher is actually part of the defensive unit that the argument conveniently ignores.  Even more faulty is it’s treating a pitcher’s hitters-faced portion of the equation as equal to a position player’s ABs.  That of course is nonsense since the pitcher has a defensive unit behind him. As we know, even the best hitter is going to be out seven of ten times thanks mostly to the defensive unit, so the pitcher’s job it not lose the advantage he has at the start, while the hitter has to defeat the defensive unit. No comparison.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

            That’s because WAR is a nonsense stat, for the reasons you have just stated. It tries to compare fundamentally dissimilar things.

          • RationalSportsFan 4 years ago

            WAR is comparing the same thing between pitchers, hitters, and fielders: EXPECTED RUNS.  For pitchers it measures their run prevention, for hitters it measures their runs produced, and for fielders it measures their run prevention.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

            I know what it is supposed to represent, but whether it actually does so in any meaningful way is the question. I think it is a ridiculous stat in concept for what it attempts to do, and it only gets worse the more you look at it. For one, it is based on a series of weighted stats and other highly debatable assumptions. But all you really need to do is run your finger down the WAR column for any given player. The number jumps all over the place, season to season. Erratic, almost random results, are the big red flag for all statistical results. It generally means that you aren’t really measuring anything but noise.

          • RationalSportsFan 4 years ago

            You are definitely measuring more than noise.

            I would contend that you are eliminating more noise than any other stat generally used to evaluate players’ overall performance (ERA, BA, etc.).  If you prefer to use certain peripherals such as K%, BB%, LD%, etc. without combining them into one overall stat, I think the would be understandable.

            What are the debatable assumptions WAR makes?  I understand the fWAR (since it uses FIP) ignores a pitcher’s ability to control BABIP.  Is this worse than ERA or BAA which assumes pitchers have perfect control over BABIP (thus ignoring luck and defense)?  WAR is certainly not perfect, and some statistical noise remains, but it eliminates more noise than any of the other current evaluative stats we have.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

            The assumptions are too numerous to state here, but you can read up on them. Suffice to say, all statistical models are based on assumptions. If you don’t consider their validity, then you can’t really judge the validity of the results. 

            Here’s an exercise I’d like to see to test the overall validity of WAR: sum all the WAR scores for entire teams over the course of a season, and plot the aggregates against actual team W-L records. If WAR is measuring anything, you would expect to see a strong positive correlation between the two with a small degree of variance. Then run the model for multiple seasons to determine if the results are consistent and stable. That would be the first step in finding out whether WAR is a useful statistic. Until then you can’t really say if WAR is representing much more than noise.

            All stats have inherent problems. But the way to address their limitations is to understand them and not bury them in larger models where the issues are harder to see. From what I see, I think this is what WAR does, and sadly a lot of fans buy into the “magic” without considering the underlying issues.

          • RationalSportsFan 4 years ago

            Agreed in terms of testing WAR, looking for potential flaws, and not accepting it on blind faith.  Ideal evaluations of players will involve more than simply saying what their WAR was in a given year.  But, for a one-over-all stat, I find WAR to be superior to any other out there.  And, even if we use a great number of stats in evaluating a player (as we should), I find WAR to be a nice, simple shorthand to generally group players.

          • BlueSkyLA
            BlueSkyLA 4 years ago

            Fair enough. My message I suppose is to remain skeptical of all statistics. People who work with them every day do. In the sciences, peer reviews are used to root out problems in the data and methods of analysis. Nobody peer reviews baseball stats or analysis methods; in fact, some of the newer stats fans seem to like so much are based on proprietary data and analysis, so they are impervious to cross examination. BTW, you’ve earned your screen name!

  2. Pete 4 years ago

    Baseball’s hardest to obtain commodity is truth in reporting during Hot Stove season. 

    • Pete 4 years ago

      Or a commissioner who is fueled by integrity, not a quick buck.

  3. j6takish 4 years ago

    Elite 2nd baseman. Usually guys that can hit get moved to 3b to prolong their careers, and guys that can really field get moved to SS. The shelf life for 2nd baseman also seems to be shorter also. Kinsler, cano and Pedroia are all elite….after that, it gets pretty depressing

    • rzepczynski 4 years ago

       utley?

      • n0s 4 years ago

        Hasn’t been elite since 2009, also hasn’t been able to stay on the field since then either.

        • MetsMagic 4 years ago

          I’m certainly no Utley fan, but that just isn’t true. 

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            If “elite” means top 5 at his position then Utley barely makes the cut but still…he does make the cut.

          • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

            he was on the top of the list for several years before

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            I know.

          • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

            yup, I read the previous comment (not your comment) wrong

        • Pete 4 years ago

          He’s certainly far from “depressing” though.

    • JacksTigers 4 years ago

      Phillips? Weeks (Maybe?) and a few more guys with potencial like the other Weeks, Walker, etc.

      • j6takish 4 years ago

        The fact that we have to think this hard about it really shows how hard it is to find talent with the skills set required to be an elite option at 2b

    • MetsMagic 4 years ago

      Why does everyone forget Zobrist? Easily one of the top 5 2Bs in baseball. They try moving him around but he is an elite at that position. Cano’s defense is much overrated. 

      • Pete 4 years ago

        From 2009 to 2011 the top 5 position players in WAR:
        1. Pujols 21.5
        2. Longoria 21.3
        3. Zobrist 19.2
        4. Votto 18.9
        4. M. Cabrera 18.9
         
        Zobrist might be the most under-rated player in all of professional sports today. He’s been better than literally everyone except 2 players. That’s so crazy, he’s an outright superstar of the game yet no one knows who he is. He does everything offensively except hit for a high batting average, he plays every position except catcher and is an elite defender at not one but 2 positions! Fans are so stupid sometimes…

        • MetsMagic 4 years ago

          I wouldn’t call people stupid, Zobrist is just often overshadowed by the guy right above him on the list. I don’t think anyone will argue that Longoria is the best 3B in baseball right now. 

          • Pete 4 years ago

            Ben Zobrist is an incredible baseball player, arguably the best in the game. But no one ever says this. Why? Stupidity is the only answer I can think of. You say “overshadowed by Longoria” which might be a part of it, but its pretty stupid to ignore a superstar because of another superstar. 

          • RationalSportsFan 4 years ago

            People undervalue defense, and Zobrist derives a large chunk of his value from that.

          • FunkyTime 4 years ago

             And most people have no idea which players are actually good defensively.  (See Jeter’s 5 Gold Gloves)

          • Pete 4 years ago

            His bat is also pretty damn great too, and he steals bases and walks a lot. He needs more recognition, its ludicrous that people would leave him out of their top 5 (and probably top 10) when he’s just helping you win more than everyone else. That’s all that matters, not RBI or HR, its everything a player does to help his team win games. Zobrist does that arguably the best.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            Actually, Beltre and Longo have been neck and neck for the last two years. 

        • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

          Yeah but so much of his WAR value comes from his spectacular defense. His bat isn’t that special among position players. Among 2B, then yes.

          • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

            well there’s a thing called positional adjustment, so I don’t see how that matters.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            That’s what I just said, but thanks for stating the obvious. The person I was refering to said…

            “Zobrist might be the most under-rated player in all of professional sports today. ********He’s been better than literally everyone except 2 players************”. 

            To say he’s the 3rd best player in baseball over the last 3 years because of his WAR is inaccurate.  

          • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

            positional adjustments exist so you CAN compare players in different positions. I agree that Zobrist isn’t the 3rd best player over the past 3 years, but only because his UZR is higher than I think it should be.

          • Pete 4 years ago

            His bat is pretty damn great, thank you very much. Zobrist is a god at this game and its about time he got some recognition.

          • Pete 4 years ago

            An 820 OPS over the last 3 years (would have been higher if his BABIP didnt dip in 2010) is outstanding for a 2B. 

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            “….is outstanding for a 2B”.

            wasn’t that my point? quit the love affair and read what i said.

        • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

          Going striclty by WAR to declare who the best player is, isn’t the best way to go.

          Ask anyone if all things were equal (salary, age) if they would trade Votto, Cabrera, Tulo, Gonzalez, Cano, Braun or Batista for Zobrist STRAIGH UP and most would probably say no.

          3rd in WAR does not equal the 3rd best player in baseball.

          • Pete 4 years ago

            I think that WAR is a perfectly fine way to gauge value, and believe the MVP should be decided by it. I disagree with you, 3 years of WAR equals a big enough sample scale to clear any UZR anomalies, Zobrist really will win you more games than anyone. Over the last 3 years, he really is the best. You are really downplaying his batting numbers.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            “I think that WAR is a perfectly fine way to gauge value, and believe the MVP should be decided by it”.
            “Zobrist really will win you more games than anyone”.

            “Over the last 3 years, he really is the best”.

            A) You insist that Zobrist is the 3rd best player because he amassed the 3rd most WAR over the last 3 years. You insist that WAR should = MVP.

            If we did use WAR to pick the MVP then….

            Ellsbury wins the MVP in 2011 and Zobrist finishes no better than 7th and a lot lower if I include pitchers and their WAR.

            Hamilton would still have won in 2010 with Zobrist finishing 21st behind Swisher, Austin Jackson, Daric barton and others.

            Zobrist WOULD win in 2009……followed by Jeter (4th), Figgins (5th) and Gutierez (6th)…..and with the exception of Jeter, the others are ranked so high because of their high UZR ratings.

            Still think WAR is the way to choose the best player? And if so, then how can you justify calling Zobrist the 3rd best player in baseball if he would only rank top 3 in WAR once over that time period in just the AL?

          • RationalSportsFan 4 years ago

            Using WAR alone for each MVP is worrisome because of the year-to-year fluctuations of UZR that you mention.

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        Actually, it’s underrated considering how UZR rates him. Break down all the individual factors that go into UZR and it’s the one non-statistical “eye ball” stat range factor that weighs him down.

        • Pete 4 years ago

          Are you just mad he’s not a Yankee, or he plays for the Rays? Come on, support an underdog. He should be a household name and isn’t, that’s on the stupid notions that baseball valued 50 years ago that weren’t relevant then, and certainly make zero sense now. Yes, defense wins you games too. Zobrist is great at defense and even better at the plate. He deserves to be viewed as a superstar. He hits HRs, steals bases, gets on base, hits EBH, what the hell else do you want? Are people (not you) that dense that if he had 9 more RBI that he’d get noticed more? Sheesh I’m pulling my hair out over here….

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            I would say the same if he were a Yankee or a Pittsburgh Pirate. He’s a great 2b and a very good player but I don’t agree with your thinking of him being a top 3 player oover the last 3 seasons.

    • Pete 4 years ago

      Have you not watched baseball since 2002? 2B is the deepest postion in the game right now. Seriously all these guys rate from potential HOFers to very good regulars: Pedroia, Cano, Kinsler, Zobrist, Phillips, Kendrick, Utley, R. Weeks, J. Weeks, Ackley, Espinosa, Walker, Uggla, Lawrie, Johnson, Infante….dude just about every team in MLB has a very good 2B right now. You have no idea what youre talking about.

      • j6takish 4 years ago

        Well, for one…. Lawrie is a 3b. Johnson is wildly inconsistent. Uggla may be the worst defensive infielder in the game right now. Infante’s  “coming out party” this year was a whopping 2.7WAR season… and this thread is about “hardest to obtain commodities” and I think 2-3 WAR players are about a  dime a dozen. I’ll give Jemile Weeks and Ackley more than 100games at the MLB level before I decide to build a franchise around them.  You got me on Zobrist though. Point is, is that 2b is an incredibly thin and demanding position, and finding a truly elite 2b is no easy task

        • Pete 4 years ago

          2-3 WAR players aren’t a dime a dozen though. You also ignored the fact that at least a third of MLB teams have an elite or will be elite in a year or two at 2B, 2B is as deep as any postion right now. Its SS that is truly pathetic right now, you have Tulo then a big drop to everyone else, SS is definitely the weakest talent pool in MLB.

          Brett Lawrie played 244 minor league games at 2B and 72 at 3B before playing 3B in the bigs to not-great results. Pretty sure he will be back at 2B next year unless the Jays get a stud 2B to block him.

          You also called Kendrick, R. Weeks, Phillips, Utley, Espinosa & Walker “depressing”, which means you are simply off base in your analysis of how deep the talent pool is at 2B.

          • RationalSportsFan 4 years ago

            Using WAR to discuss how deep a position is in a given year is a bit strange, given that WAR is adjusted for position and year.  So, we should expect about the same number of 2+ WAR guys at 2B every year.

            But I agree with you that 2B is MUCH deeper than the above posted claims.

      • vtadave 4 years ago

        “dude just about every team in MLB has a very good 2B right now. ”

        We wish our team did.

        Sincerely,

        Dodgers fans

  4. Rarest commodity is an intelligent owner/GM tandem.

    • Infield Fly 4 years ago

      To that I would add: an owner with the sense to realize when it’s in the the team’s best interests for him to sell…and to have the guts and decency to do it regardless of how breaks his heart.

  5. Sam_Merten 4 years ago

    Not sure why the quotes are in italics, and when you start a sentence with a number, you gotta spell it out (Twenty-five, not 25).

  6. LordD99 4 years ago

    Don’t ever join Twitter.  You’ll fling yourself off the tallest building. Granted, you’re probably and rightly holding the reporters to a higher standard than BB posters.

  7. Slopeboy 4 years ago

    Jeez… You guys have it all wrong!! The hardest commodity to find in Baseball is a Good Hot Dog and a Beer for under $10 Bucks!!

  8. FunkyTime 4 years ago

    Nice article.

    As a Tigers fan I find it rather encouraging that we actually have most of these commodities right now.  We have Verlander for locked up for 3 more years.  Avila became an all-around stud at catcher last year, and we have him for at least 4 more years.  And Peralta — surprisingly enough — played like a very good all-around SS last year. And we have one of the best pure hitters in the game in Cabrera.

    Now if only the Tigers could get decent production on both sides of the ball from 2nd, 3rd, and
    LF …

    • JacksTigers 4 years ago

      I’m still not 100% sold on Peralta yet.

      • FunkyTime 4 years ago

        Same here.  Prior to last year I actually thought we should give Worth a shot over him, but he greatly exceeded expectations on both sides of the ball, and he’s in a contract year.  I think he’ll have another good year.

        But I certainly would be wary of giving him a massive long term contract.

  9. A switch hitting gold glove power hitting centerfielder. Just look around the league how many All-Star CF can do all that. Then next would be shortstop followed by a True Ace. A Catcher is nice and all but since every team doesn’t have a power hitting gold glove catcher you can settle for a average catcher. 

    • JacksTigers 4 years ago

      How many switch hitting, gold glove winning, power hitters are in baseball period? I honestly cannot think of anyone off the top of my head who fits that criteria. I take that back. Mark Teixeira does. But seriously, besides him, who else is there. There are no centerfielders. There aren’t even any in the HOF.

      • Slopeboy 4 years ago

        Mickey Mantle says Duh!!

        • RationalSportsFan 4 years ago

          Not in the HOF (but should be): Tim Raines.

          Given his era, his power wasn’t too shabby.

          Edit: Upon review, Raines played WAY less CF than I expected.

          • Slopeboy 4 years ago

            Yes, more LF than anything else and he didn’t win a GG

        • JacksTigers 4 years ago

          I used a different source on switch hitting HOFers that neglected to mention him.

      • MetsMagic 4 years ago

        Carlos Beltran. 

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        Eddy Murray. 500 hrs. +61 UZR (all 1b from 1975-1995). Ranks behind only Keith Hernandez and Pete O’Bien. #1 in WAR among all 1b from 1975-1995 by 18 WAR above the #2 (Keith Hernandez). And not that it matters, 3 GG.

        • JacksTigers 4 years ago

          The keyword was centerfielders. Not first basemen.

          • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

            Sorry, I was referring to “How many switch hitting, gold glove winning, power hitters are in baseball period? “

          • JacksTigers 4 years ago

            None of those guys are still in baseball.

  10. Sniderlover 4 years ago

    Interesting question. I think it has to be one of starting pitching, SS, catcher, CF (up the middle guys). The hardest to obtain commodity………………………………… maybe an elite 2-way catcher who can put up MVP type seasons? There are aces and very good starters around the league and while it is difficult to get that, you still can (Phillies have 3 freakin’ aces!) but getting a catcher that can rake and play gold glove caliber/above average defense is pretty rare.

    I am curious now so I am going to ask who would you want to build a team around with choices of Kemp/Ellsbury, Halladay, Mauer (a healthy one) and Tulo taking age and contract aside?

    • FunkyTime 4 years ago

      Tough call between Halladay and Tulo … if they’re both youngins I think I’d go with Halladay.   Look at his WAR over the past 10 seasons.  He’s been doing it consistently for a long time.

      With Kemp and Ellsbury, lets see them do it for a few years before we start talking about them being potentially the most valuable commodity in the league … Ellsbury wouldn’t even be in my top 20 choices right now.

      • Lanidrac 4 years ago

        Honestly, I’d take a 21 year old Albert Pujols all over again ahead of any other current player despite not playing a premium position.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      I would have to say Tulo…

      You can be a good team without elite pitching, and you can acquire average to above average pitching often because there are so many arms..

      I look at my fantasy drafts.. If you miss out on doc, sabathia, verlander, you can still scooop in and get a lee, kershaw or lincecum… where as, if you miss out on Tulo, Hanley, the  difference is so HUGE from an elite SS to an everyday shortstop on some teams, (betancourt, gonzalez, etc)

      • YanksFanSince78 4 years ago

        Ok…look at the Rockies. Great SS in Tulo + lousy pitching = not making the playoffs very often. 

        Problem is, one stud #1 pitcher doesn’t make you a 95 win team and neither does a stud SS, CF or C.

        I think people are confusing rarity vs value. If I’m a GM I instruct my scouting staff to think power arms, power arms, power arms and hope to develop as many mlb starters as possible because it’s the one commodity you need to win consistently. 

        If you were starting a brand new team and age and salary didn’t matter and the idea was to build a winning team (not points like in fantasy leagues) and you had the #1 overall pick who would most of us choose (again, age doesn’t matter).

        Halladay, Reyes, Mauer (a healthy version) or Kemp? I would choose Halladay all day.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          If i had those choices I would choose Doc all day as well..

          but in that hypothetical situation. If I had to choose anyone as my first overall pick, it would be tulo.

          The drop off between the best SS in the league vs the worst everyday shortstop is a lot bigger then the gap a verlander to a cj wilson..

          teams need more than pitching to win, look at the giants this year. You need some sort of balance. you are spot on with drafting power arm after power arm.

  11. Leonard Washington 4 years ago

    A catcher with average, power, excellent D, leadership and speed is nearly impossible to find (If not impossible). A middle of the order SS with elite D has to be in the conversation also because like catcher its a hard position to fill. A truly elite young pitcher is also hard to get. And to put in my two cents for Sniderlovers question, assuming they all the same health status (Which they don’t, I know) I would probably go with Tulo. I will offer no reason other than its my preference, you really can’t go wrong with an elite P, C, CF, or SS.

  12. Slopeboy 4 years ago

    Halladay. It always starts with pitching for me. I’ll site last year’s Giants as an example. They were a team that hung around most of the year because of their pitching. They were able to make a couple of trades that worked and got hot at the right time, and won it all.

    Yes they had Posey, but it was the pitching that won for them more than the clutch hitting or lucky breaks.

  13. Rick Ankiel was a true four tool pitcher back in the day. He could run, hit 4 avg, hit 4 power and field! He just couldn’t throw! 4 tool pitchers are the worst.

    • Lanidrac 4 years ago

      He could throw, and he still has a rocket arm in the outfield.  He just had some weird mental problem that kept him from throwing strikes when on the mound.

  14. vtadave 4 years ago

    I guess Russell Martin was a five-tool catcher for a very short period of time before he became a drinking, partying tool himself.

  15. Lunchbox45 4 years ago

    I would say the offensive SS..

  16. vinnieg 4 years ago

    In the playoffs the most important thing is a stud pitcher. However, in the regular season the most important position is a durable offensive catcher.

    • vtadave 4 years ago

      I get what you’re saying, but I’d still take Clayton Kershaw (stud pitcher) over Brian McCann (durable offensive catcher).

  17. Taylor Haberle 4 years ago

    great job as always ben…

  18. tomymogo 4 years ago

    Really the 3 positions that are toughest to find players are CF, SS, and Catcher. There is a lot of quality pitching.

    And honestly the most important thing is defense. For instance I would prefer to have Yadier Molina than Brian McCann and I know McCann is a better offensive catcher. But Yadier’s defense is incredible. Molina is no slouch at the plate but all I’m saying is that defense comes first, and then I would totally be happy with a 350 OBP and 400 SLG% from my catcher.

    And for the SS and CF position, defense comes first as well, and they don’t need to hit for power if they have speed and solid OBP’s. 

  19. Fast and powerful COF seem quite hard to come by these days not to mention ones who can also field.

    But if I’m starting in the field, I’m starting with a solid offensive player who can play at multiple positions. Catalanotto, Ryan Roberts, Martin Prado, Michael Young. They’re not many of these guys out there and the teams that have them seem especially nowadays to be successful. It avoids a gaping hole in your team without wasting a roster spot.

    Speedy catchers is a silly thing to look for in my opinion. Catcher is a position made because you naturally have slower speed. Of course there are acceptions but going looking for a 20 SB catcher is completely counterproductive.

    CF is the first actual position I go after, McCutchen, Kemp, and Bourn are the most enviable to me.

  20. Ta-Kuan Fuan 4 years ago

    So who do you go for if you had the #1 pick? (if they were all young, entering-their-primes 25yr olds.. and ignore the hindsight of steroid usage later in their careers re:Bonds/A-Rod)

    CF – Ken Griffey Jr (or even Barry Bonds, whom originally came up as a CF’er)
    SS – Alex Rodriguez
    C – Ivan Rodriguez
    SP – Greg Maddux

    • DrHMD 4 years ago

      Casey Stengle , when he was with the Mets, drafted Hobie Landrith, a journeyman catcher , among the first players. When asked why, his response was that if you don’t have a catcher, the ball rolls to the wall on every pitch.

  21. DrHMD 4 years ago

    For the Cardinals, Mo is right on target. The last farm system produced shortstop for the Cardinals who lasted more than 2 years was Gary Templeton. Since then, with the short term exception of Brendan RYan, all the starters have been acquired. It might be interesting to look at each team and see when the last everyday player with at least 3 season tenure played. You might see a pattern to how a team drafts.
    On the current Cardinals, Molina , Pujols, Schumacher, Freeze (hopefully), Rasmus who is now gone, maybe Jay and Craig in the near futurem when and if Craig becmes a regular,

    • chaifetz10 4 years ago

       Freese wasn’t drafted by the Cardinals.   And hopefully Schumaker will be gone next year.  

      • DrHMD 4 years ago

        You are absolutely right on Freeze. I forgot he came in the Edmonds trade. Anyway, I think you get the idea about the farm system and middle infielders.

  22. This was a very well written post. Enjoyable read.

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