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Poll: Which young pitcher would you pick to build around?

Sep 15, 2010, 4:17 PM EDT

Felix Hernandez and David Price are always featured in discussions of the best young pitchers in baseball, and rightfully so to say the least, but at 24 years old they’re almost elderly compared to, say, 22-year-old Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw.
After writing earlier today about Kershaw’s unique dominance at such a young age I became curious about which 23-and-under starting pitcher the Hardball Talk readership would choose to build a team around. Ignoring all service time and salary issues and simply focusing on which guy you’d want to make the building block for your franchise, who gets the nod?

  1. adam - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Clayton Kershaw is my favorite pitcher in all of baseball right now. I love the huge glove, the “effective wildness” and the complete domination of hitters.

    I made a bet with a friend of mine where he took Johan and I took Kershaw and whoever had the better year the other person had to buy a beer for. It was pretty tight, but I think with Johan’s injury I’m going to win.

    Now if only the Dodgers could put it all together.

  2. birdmancometh - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    Who the hell voted for strasburg?

  3. geoknows - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Strasburg will be back; you just have to be patient getting your franchise started. TJ failure percentages are really small these days.
    Good list, but I have to say, I’m wild about Latos.

  4. Giant Space Ants - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I’d rather have Anderson than Cahill when it comes to young A’s pitchers, actually.

  5. Jonny5 - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    Who builds teams around young pitchers? Don’t they come to fruit in a hit and miss kinda way? You build a team with a gaggle of young pitching prospects in the minors, then pray to God that most of them become major league stars. Domonic Brown, prime example. Was drafted as a left handed pitcher who threw serious heat as a Junior in high school. He’s now an OF with good power and one heckofa arm.
    I’m not nit picking, just asking. If i had to pick, I guess Clayton. He’s a proven work horse now isn’t he? the Dogs are lucky to have him.

  6. RichardInBigD - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    Had to vote for NOTA, so I could write in Neftali Feliz. A great closer is much more important, in my estimation, than a single, dominant starter. The closer contributes often, if not daily, helping to maintain a dynasty (see: Yankees/Mariano Rivera).

  7. okobojicat - Sep 15, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    I urge you to look at all the championship teams that have won without a great closer. Closer might be the most over rated position in sports and all right-thinking people in the world hope the Rangers do their best to move Feliz into the rotation soon.

  8. Giant Space Ants - Sep 15, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    “A great closer is much more important, in my estimation, than a single, dominant starter.”
    I’ll channel my inner Brian Fellows and tell you that’s crazy. I’m a Rangers fan as well, and while I love Happy right now, I’m dying to see what he could do in the rotation.

  9. Trevor B - Sep 15, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    Kershaw is of course the favorite as he already is an established young star. I voted for him purely based on this but Latos is an extremely close second. Once Latos gets regular games where he is allowed to pitch a CG if he is dominating I feel he’ll edge out Kershaw.

  10. fungo - Sep 15, 2010 at 5:11 PM

    Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman, and Zach Britton.

  11. Proudly Canadian - Sep 15, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    The whole concept of building around a single pitcher makes no sense. The Jays had Halladay for years and did not make the playoffs. One season, the Jays had an extremely low team ERA and did not make the playoffs. Yes you need good pitchers (note the plural), but you also need to score runs. Just ask King Felix about run support.

  12. MerkleBoner - Sep 15, 2010 at 8:28 PM

    Madison Bumgarner

  13. Mark - Sep 15, 2010 at 8:52 PM

    That’s faulty logic though. The Jays could have built around Pujols or another stud position player and still would have missed the playoffs. One good player doesn’t equal the playoffs. No matter how good the player is. You need a good team, whether it’s built around a pitcher or a hitter is irrelevant. Halladay was a tremendous pitcher, but it’s not his fault the Jays didn’t make the playoffs. You don’t see the Giants complaining right now that their team is built around Lincecum.
    What it does say is how sad the Jays teams were, that thanks to the division they played in and the teams they put out over that time that they couldn’t win with arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball between 02-09.
    And before you ask, I’m a Jays fan.

  14. Fecteau - Sep 16, 2010 at 9:28 AM

    I’m frustrated that Clay Buccholz isn’t on this list. Has the same amount of experience as Kershaw, it not less since he wasn’t a regular until late last year, but has a no hitter, is 2nd in ERA among all AL pitchers and 4th in the MLB… Why the heck was he not listed but Strasburg who’s pitched what, 7 or 8 games and now is shut down for at least an entire season, is… Messed up.

  15. doctorfunke - Sep 16, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    “I don’t like that bird!”

  16. doctorfunke - Sep 16, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    I will respectfully point out that the main factor of this debate was for pitchers under the age of 23. Buchholz was born in 1984 which makes him ineligible for this debate. But you’re right, he is a good pitcher who is having a good season.

  17. BleedGreen - Sep 16, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    Cole Hamels is only 26. I choose him to build around.

  18. Fecteau - Sep 17, 2010 at 8:59 AM

    For the record you’re right doctorfunke that Clay is 25 and the article is allegedly about 23 year olds. I didn’t read the article just looked at the players on the list after seeing YOUNG picther and not pitchers under 23… Which is why I posted such, and for that I’m sorry…
    But if you do your research, which it seems the writer didn’t properly do, you’ll see that two of those players, albeit just recently, are 24 years of age. One’s B day in in July and the others in August of 86, which makes them now 24. Tommy Hanson is one and Jaime Garcia is the other… So this article doesn’t even hold to its own standards, meaning that Felix Hernandez and Clay Buccholz SHOULD be on the list, Strasburg off, let’s see him pitch more than 10 games in the MLB to decide if he’s a franchise player, and make it the 25 and under list to build your team around…
    And Clay better be #1 or you’re an idiot. 2nd in the MLB in ERA, and in a division where the Blue Jays and Orioles are the red headed step children but would probably have a chance at contending in Hernandez’s Western division… Don’t forget that no-no in his 2nd game…

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