Around the Hill: If you were an MLB General Manager, which young star would you rather build your team around?

Question of the Week: 

Mike Trout, 23, and Clayton Kershaw, 26, just won the AL and NL MVP awards, respectively. If you were an MLB General Manager, which young star would you rather build your team around?

By Evan Rogers

If given the choice between building a team around Mike Trout or Clayton Kershaw, I’m taking Mike Trout every time. By winning the MVP award this season, he became the fifth youngest player to ever earn the honor. He nearly won the award in his rookie season, finishing as the runner-up behind Miguel Cabrera who hit for the Triple Crown that season. Trout is your quintessential “five-tool” player, who can hit for both power and average, run, field and throw. He’s spent three years in the league, making the all-star game all three times and finishing second, second and first in MVP voting in 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Kershaw is an amazing young talent in his own right and has won three of the last four National League Cy Young awards on his way to winning this year’s NL MVP award. He is definitely the most dominant pitcher in baseball, and if we were comparing him to anyone other than Trout, I’d probably choose him. In this circumstance though, Trout is three years younger and has already proven himself to be the best position player in baseball. When considering the future of pitchers, there is always the risk that they get seriously hurt or just lose their stuff altogether and are never the same; Tim Lincecum and Justin Verlander come to mind here. In the end, I’m taking the younger player who plays every game rather than someone who only impacts one out of every four or five games.

By David Josselsohn

Conventional wisdom says that good pitching will always beat good hitting, so, naturally, Los Angeles Dodgers righty Clayton Kershaw would be the better player to build around. Conventional wisdom, though, probably assumes that no player should be as good and well-rounded as Mike Trout. The Los Angeles outfielder is a “five-tool” player in the truest sense. He can hit for average, hit for power, field, throw and run. Trout won the American League Most Valuable Player Award for this past year and was also the runner-up to Miguel Cabrera the past two years. Among his statistical highlights are his 49 stolen bases in 2012, 36 home runs last year, 111 runs batted-in last year and batting averages above .320 in 2012 and 2013. In addition, he is the darling of MLB sabermetricians, posting the highest WAR (wins above replacement) in 2012 and 2014, while having the second highest WAR in 2013. And did I mention that he is only 23?

​This is not to disparage Kershaw and what he has done so far in his career. He was, hands-down, the most dominant pitcher this year, boasting a sub-2.00 earned run average.Despite that, his poor playoff resume makes me doubt his ability to pitch in high-pressure situations. In addition, he is 26, meaning that if he hasn’t entered his prime yet, he will soon. Trout, at his age, still has a lot to add to his game (even if it is tough to point out any holes currently).  Choosing between these stars is a good problem to have, but I believe that Mike Trout is the better option to build around.

By Kristen Duarte 

If I were an MLB General Manager, I would definitely build my team around Mike Trout over Clayton Kershaw. Don’t get me wrong, Kershaw is an amazing pitcher; the Dodgers’ righty became the first pitcher to win the National League MVP award since Bob Gibson in 1968. On top of that, Kershaw unanimously won the NL Cy Young Award this year. However, Mike Trout is still my pick to build a team around.

First of all, I think it is better to build a team around a position player rather than a pitcher. Because pitchers generally keep more to themselves, I think a position player who plays every day can really motivate and drive a team. Trout is young, he’s humble and he’s an all around fantastic player. At just 23 years old, Trout led the American League in both runs scored and RBIs this season. In addition to his recent AL MVP Award, Trout also won the AL Outstanding Player award, AL Hank Aaron Award and was AL RBI champion this 2014 season. In past seasons, he has been a three-time All-Star (2012-2014), was the AL Rookie of the year in 2012, and won the Silver Slugger Award three times (2012-2014). On top of all these awards, there’s the obvious fact that he is one of the best fielders in baseball. He is the prototypical baseball player, and without a doubt, he should be everyone’s choice to build a team around. Now that Derek Jeter is retired, Trout is the new face of baseball. Both MVPs are exceptional players, but I would definitely go with Trout.