August 07, 2016

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Building a baseball team around one player can be a risky proposition, but if done properly, it can enable a team to taste postseason success. These four players are all good foundation players, though some of them might be better than others.

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Mike Trout

The Angels have a gem in Mike Trout who seems to be increasing his production year after year. At only 25 years old, he already has nearly 170 home runs in only ~750 games, while compiling a .306 average.

Among major league center fielders, he is absolutely one of the best, especially for his ~$16 million salary. While the Angels have attempted to build a team around him, their whole seems to equal slightly less than the sum of their parts, with little in the way of postseason wins.

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Bryce Harper

Few players drop out of high school to concentrate on baseball and even fewer become MLB superstars. Bryce Harper is one of a handful of U.S. players to see major success without finishing high school. His career slugging percentage hangs just over .500, but he still has at least a decade of good production ahead of him being only 23 years old.

The Nationals have put up some decent seasons since Harper blew his way through their farm system in 2010-2011, but where the team has excelled in batting and starting pitching, they seemed to have neglected their bullpen. As long as Bryce Harper stays in the outfield for the Nationals, they should always be considered a contender for the pennant in the off-season.

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Kris Bryant

Though only 24, Kris Bryant has put up electric numbers for the Cubs since he debuted in 2015. As a power hitting left fielder his place in the lineup is well protected since the Cubs have done a good job of building a World Series contender around him. Because of this lineup protection, he is averaging a home run every four games during the 2016 season and a .539 slugging percentage.

For a 2nd overall draft pick, he comes at a fairly low price to the Cubs at around $600,000/year for the rest of the 2016 season. Because of the back-loaded nature of his rookie contract, the team has been able to bring in veterans and talented starting pitching to help their chances at winning their first World Series in 108 years.

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Clayton Kershaw

While building a team around a pitcher is risky, it can pay big dividends, especially if the Dodgers can get themselves into the postseason, when Kershaw takes the mound in October. At $33 million a year, Clayton Kershaw is the highest paid player in the major leagues, but his stellar record and low ERA would be worth it if the Dodgers can win the World Series.

The problem with investing heavily in one starting pitcher is that they can only pitch about every five games, leaving 80% of the season completely out of their hands. However, at 28 years old, Kershaw is entering the prime of his career, giving him a solid chance to win a fourth Cy Young Award.

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