You could ask ten people and get ten different answers to this question. If you were starting an expansion club tomorrow, and somehow could choose any player from any team to start with, who would it be? You'll be seeing each of us tackle this question during the offseason.
Three players sprang to my mind immediately: Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp. All are young and dynamic with Hall of Fame potential. Kershaw just won the NL Cy Young Award, Matt Kemp should win the NL MVP, and Strasburg (if he stays healthy) has multiple CYAs in his future.
It was a very tough call, but I'd go with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the following reasons...
- He's 23 years old.
- If you missed it above, he just won the Cy Young Award (even if Roy Halladay was more deserving, Kershaw was no worse than second best), becoming the youngest NL recipient since Dwight Gooden in 1985.
- He generates swings and misses. Kershaw doesn't get by on finesse, he can overpower hitters. He has the fourth best strikeout rate among starters since 2008.
- He used to have problems with control, but he's made significant improvements, reducing his walk rate to only 2.1/9 this season.
- He's also been increasing his endurance, upping his innings each of his first four ML years.
- Kershaw's healthy; he's never hit the big league DL, and should consistently toss 230+ innings/season for the foreseeable future.
- Oh, yeah. Did I mention he's left-handed?
Strasburg does have a better K-rate, probably better pure stuff, and is a year younger, but the Tommy John Surgery (inverted W and all) makes me wary.
Kemp would be a great player to start with as well, but he's a few years older than his Cy Young-winning teammate, plus I love being able to throw out an ace every fifth day as well as at the start of a playoff series.