Say what you will about ESPN -- and we do -- there's one thing the Worldwide Leader in Sports is good at: debate. They'll debate anything, whether it makes sense or not to do so or whether their personalities have a clue what they're talking about or not. (Usually not.) Well, I'm no idiot. When I see an idea I can run with I'll do it, even if it originated at ESPN. So here we go:
With the MLB Draft coming up next week -- right? I don't care personally, you guys know that -- ESPN thought the personalities could draft franchise players for a bit for Baseball Tonight and for pieces for ESPN.com. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitski went first.
Which brings up a question, or two. Could the Tigers have two players drafted into their 30 franchise players? And if you could only pick one, who is Detroit's franchise player?
It's a difficult question to be sure, and it tells us a lot about how you approach the game of baseball from a philosophical side, because the two players are
Brandon Inge 28-year-old first baseman Miguel Cabrera and 28-year-old starting pitcher Justin Verlander. One plays daily, one plays every fifth game or so. One is one-ninth of a lineup but always a threat, while the other can dominate a game seemingly single-handedly to keep the opposing team off the scoreboard. Any team would be foolish not to want both players. We're truly spoiled as fans to have them
But for the sake of debate, you only get one. Which is it?
When Justin Verlander on his game -- which is most nights, but not all -- he can shut down an opposing team and give his club a good chance to win. He might rank as a top five starting pitcher in the game, but he's probably closer to 10th. And as a starting pitcher, he's only playing between 20-25% of the season. He has a big impact in those games, but none in the others. Heck, Verlander actually threw the ball 100 mph on his 132nd pitch of the night, and he already has two no-hitters in just his first five-plus years in the sport.
On the other hand, Miguel Cabrera plays nearly daily. In about 150 games a year, he hits in the cleanup hole with a chance to score instant runs on every pitch. You need a key hit, he's going to give you as good of a shot as anyone in baseball at getting it. There's little room for debate that he's among the best hitters of his generation. In fact Cabera was called by Albert Pujols the best player in baseball. Still, if you're looking to bring him down a notch you could note he doesn't exactly play the hardest defensive position out there.
Me? I think I'd probably take ... I don't know. I was thinking "Miguel Cabrera" as I began that sentence and yet I started typing Justin Verlander anyway. It's just that tough to decide. But, OK. I give a slight edge to Cabrera because I said you only get to pick one. He plays often and the lineup would be lost without him.
For the record, ESPN didn't select Cabrera at all for their top 30. Not at all. Verlander went in the middle -- 16th -- but Cabrera not at all.
And so we can wrap things up in a nice package by asking yet again: Why is a place so good at starting debates so bad at putting thought into them?
But the real question for you is: Who do you take? Cabrera or Verlander? Bonus for those who love to bloviate. (No, I don't watch O'Reilly but it's a fun word to use.) Who do you take out of the entire MLB?