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Question of the Day: Which MLB player would be your choice to build a lineup around? [Updated]

April 25, 2011 | 10:26 am

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Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to weigh in with a comment of your own.

Steve Gould, Baltimore Sun

It’s tempting to answer "Albert Pujols." However, assuming we’re talking about building a lineup over the long haul, Joey Votto is too good to pass up.

At 27, the Reds first baseman is almost four years younger than his Cardinals counterpart, meaning he’s theoretically just entering his peak seasons. And while it’s still very early in the season, his statistics seem to indicate he’s only getting better.

Votto has walked in 19.6% of his plate appearances this year (his career rate is 12.4%) and has struck out only 13.2% of the time (21% for his career). His OPS is an otherworldly 1.173. Those numbers, better than Pujols’ across the board, probably aren’t sustainable, but there’s little to suggest Votto won’t at least come close to posting similar stats for the season — and for years to come.

Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune

Starlin Castro was the youngest player in the majors when he arrived last May 7, and he’s still the youngest player in the majors. He’s also been a .313 hitter in 146 big-league games. He doesn’t have Troy Tulowitzki’s power but he has everything else that has made Colorado fans chant "Tulo, Tulo, Tulo."

Castro gets his pitchers an out or two every game (sometimes more) because of his range and strong arm at shortstop. He has speed and is working to become a good base stealer. He’s a ferocious hitter who is tough to strike out. He also has tremendous instincts for the game -– and he’s five years younger than Tulowitzki and three years younger than Buster Posey.

Those are probably the guys you want if you’re looking to win a championship in 2011. But because of his age and minimal salary, Castro is a perfect piece for a team trying to climb out of the second division, like the Cubs.

Kevin Baxter, Los Angeles Times

The easy pick would be Albert Pujols, the best player in the game over the past decade. But at 31, he’s not likely to remain the game’s most productive player for long.

The next tempting pick would be an unhittable young pitcher, someone like Florida’s Josh Johnson, the Angels’ Jered Weaver or the Giants’ Tim Lincecum. But as good as those guys are, they can only pitch every fifth day. I want to build my team around a guy who can dominate the game every day.

So at the top of my list would be Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki, a 26-year-old Gold Glove shortstop who can hit for power and average and plays a premium position, and 27-year-old Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto, the reigning NL MVP. Both are young, have been productive over a number of seasons, have played on winning teams and can do more than one thing well. Either one would provide the foundation for a winning lineup.

[Updated at 1:14 p.m.:

Keith Groller, The Morning Call

The most popular choices for lineup-building are the guys who have been doing it for a long time -- players such as Pujols and A-Rod. You couldn’t go wrong with Robinson Cano, Matt Kemp, Joey Votto or a healthy Josh Hamilton, either.

But the player I’d love to write down in the middle of my lineup card every day is Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun. It’s no wonder the Brewers just locked him up until 2020.

At age 27, he’s entering the prime of his career. He hits to all fields, he hits for average, he hits for power, he can steal bases and he has cut down on his strikeouts.

His one negative? Probably playing for a nondescript franchise in the middle of the nation.]

ALSO:

John Lackey beats Angels, 7-0, to complete Red Sox sweep

Andre Ethier sets Dodgers record with 21-game hitting streak in April

Photo: Cincinnati's Joey Votto. Credit: Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

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