“Faces of Baseball”

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Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez have both catapulted baseball to new heights and are indeed the 2 most highly identifiable players in the game today. However, beyond them there is a major drop-off from the tier that they are in. This article examines who would you want to be the #1 player to begin a franchise and who within the next 10-years potentially might share that label as well.

One common reoccurring question for anyone associated with baseball is that which current player would you first choose to start your franchise? The consensus now would be Albert Pujols since he at 30 years-old has amassed 372 HRs, 1128 RBIs, .333 BA, an amazing 821/584 BB/K ratio, a scintillating .627 SLG, and an astronomical 1.054 OPS. What is more than unfathomable is that he has not even entered his prime and has at least 5-7 peak years remaining. No player at 30 has generated this phenomenal all around offensive display since the likes of Hank Aaron and even far back as Jimmie Fox have eclipsed to those levels. That is why Albert Pujols has ascended in this past decade as the “Face” of Baseball and definitely will be a 1st time ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame, to be enshrined with all the other baseball luminaries.

There was recent debate on the forums regarding if Hanley Ramirez will eventually overtake Pujols as the top overall player in baseball. Several are inclined to believe that Ramirez potentially can, however, in order for that to happen, he must hit 30+ HRs, 100+ RBI, at least 40 SBs, .350 BA, .920 OPS and sustain that lofty level for three consecutive years. What makes it even more remarkable is that Ramirez plays at a position in which it is extremely rare to produce at that rate, whereas Pujols plays at a position traditionally known for sheer power numbers. Ramirez should be a sure fire inductee into the Hall of Fame since he is currently a trailblazer at his position and is setting new standards.

The reason why Ramirez might be drafted ahead in some instances ahead of Pujols is that there is a tremendous drop-off at SS compared to 1B, however, no one again has rivaled Pujols in quite some time to be such a threat at every facet of the game and during such a long-term period. The main concern about Ramirez is that he’s produced at albeit a small sample size and there are an abundance of players who excelled to start their careers and then they hit a wall and never reverted back to their initial success. Obviously only time can tell what will ultimately materialize. Take into consideration that Ramirez at 26 has been compared to either Derek Jeter and/or Nomar Garciaparra and that is definitely intriguing in itself. Garciaparra (similar to HanRam) was drafted by the Red Sox and was primed to be a perennial MVP candidate and a guaranteed Hall of Famer, but a rash of injuries immediately put all those discussions aside. Jeter took the torch from Cal Ripken Jr. to become the uber elite at SS and started to set standards in which Ramirez is expanding on now. Ramirez at SS is more susceptible is injuries compared to Pujols at 1B and already has had some lingering ailments that has sat him out on a few occasions. Pujols has been virtually injury free for 10-years…true..he did encounter an ailing back during Spring Training, however, that obviously has not slowed him down to the slightest.

The next question are who along with Pujols and Ramirez are within the top-5 best current day players? The harsh reality is that they are far removed from the pedestals that both Pujols and Ramirez are currently hoisted on. Chase Utley is the class of current 2B, however, he is already in his 8th season (is actually younger than Pujols) and has less than 1000 career hits, less than 170 HRs and 600 RBIs, and a career .295 BA. That is not exactly redefining his position like Ramirez has or a solid dominance at an upper echelon level that Pujols has generated. Next is Alex Rodriguez who obviously there has been a shadow of doubt that has engulfed him since it was revealed of his extensive use of Performance Enhancing Drugs, so essentially there is an asterik next to all of his stats. There is then a debate whether or not that Ryan Braun and Mike Kemp are deserving to be within in the top-5, however, regardless both respectively have only produced at a high level for 2-3 seasons. Obviously not enough to warrant top billing at this time.

Who within the next ten years will be the “Face of Baseball” once Pujols’ and Ramirez’s careers will be both winding down and at an end? The names should include Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Evan Longoria, Troy Tulowitzki, and Joe Mauer. Will they eclipse the brilliance of Pujols and define their position as Ramirez has? Probably not, but they will collectively account for most of the post season hitting awards/titles for years to come and shall also end up as Hall of Famers before it is over, said, and done with.