Last week during the All-Star break, there were a lot of comparisons between two great players: Derek Jeter and Mike Trout. The main storyline was the retirement of Jeter, the face of baseball for the last twenty years. But the secondary story was understandably intertwined: the emergence of Trout as his replacement.
Personally, I am one of Trout’s biggest fans. Over the last three years, he has probably been one of the best, if not the best, in baseball. However, when considering who the face of baseball is going to be in 2014 and beyond, there’s another player who should get consideration: Clayton Kershaw.
The case for Kershaw by the numbers
The point here is not to take anything away from Mike Trout, but rather to recall how amazing Kershaw has been. The Dodgers ace was called up in 2008 and struggled at times, putting up an ERA of 4.26, but from 2009 to the present, his numbers have been out of this world. In 2009 and 2010, his performance saw drastic improvements as he posted ERAs of 2.79 and 2.91, respectively. During those years, he was a great young pitcher taking the majors by storm, but he had yet to take his place as the best pitcher in baseball.
As the 2014 pennant race starts to kick into gear, we explore a number of teams who need to look to 2015 and beyond for their chance to compete. The fourth and final team we’ll discuss is the Miami Marlins. (Click here to see the rest of the series.)
The Marlins have had four losing seasons in a row, and could be on the way to a fifth in 2014. However, while not spectacular, their 44-50 record through the All-Star break is an improvement from years past. They might not be in serious contention in 2014, but they have undoubtedly gotten better, and should continue to do so in the future. The Marlins’ farm system is far from the best in baseball, but this is partly because several of their top prospects are already in the majors. However, they do have several prospects in the minors who they hope will contribute in the future.
Impact hitters proving their worth
The Marlins’ best hitter, and one of the best players in baseball, is right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. in 2014, the 24 year old leads the National League in home runs (21) and RBIs (63) and has raised his batting average to .295. Stanton is already in his fifth year, and was an All-Star for the second time in 2014. He figures the cornerstone piece of the Marlins franchise; the player to stand strong during the rebuilding period and carry them to future contention.
As the 2014 pennant race starts to kick into gear, we explore a number of teams who need to look to 2015 and beyond for their chance to compete. The third team we’ll discuss is the New York Mets.
For the last few years, they have been playing second fiddle to the other New York team, the Yankees. They have not made the playoffs since 2006, nor even finished with a winning record since 2008. A lot of people blame the Mets’ woes on a hesitance by their owners, the Wilpon family, to spend money. While this may be true, the Mets have done a good job of rebuilding and developing talent at both the major and minor league levels.
Core position players to build around
The current face of the Mets’ franchise is homegrown star third baseman David Wright. The 31 year old was named the fourth captain in team history prior to the 2013 season, about a year after signing a long-term extension to keep him playing in New York through 2020. Wright might not put up 30 home runs and 100 RBIs a year anymore (he’s batting .285 with just 8 home runs in 2014), but his consistency and leadership have proven invaluable in a period of rebuilding.