Look at this stupid list.
If you were starting a franchise and could pick any player in professional baseball, who would be your franchise player? That's the question we asked 30 of our resident baseball "experts" who participated in ESPN's fourth annual Franchise Player Draft.
I don't even feel bad about calling it a stupid list because it came from a 30-person collective, so I'm not exactly picking on someone in particular. Besides, the whole point is to make people argue about how crappy the list is. The Giants have Buster Posey at #14, which is fine. But after 60 players drafted, let's check in with Madison Bumgarner:
Madison Bumgarner - N/A
Look at that stupid list.
Okay, okay, I guess that's not exactly a persuasive argument against the conclusions reached by the Franchise Player Draft. It's probably more mature to look at the players that went before Bumgarner.
There's a case of pitcher bias that probably hurt Bumgarner -- a few of the participants likely weren't going to take a pitcher with the first two picks, regardless of who slid down the list. That probably hurt several pitchers. And I'm not going to compare Madison Bumgarner to Paul Goldschmidt or Andrelton Simmons because hurts my brain. I'm not going to compare Bumgarner to rookie George Springer, even though they're the same age and close to each other in career extra-base hits. Pitchers only.
Here are the pitchers taken instead of Bumgarner.
Contracts absolutely matter in this exercise. You're not taking a player for your fantasy team; you're taking a player for your hypothetical franchise, and you'll still have 24 more players to pay. In this scenario, pretend you're the Giants -- a team that can spend, but avoids farting money away. Now list the pitchers you would take before Madison Bumgarner.
I would not take anyone before Madison Bumgarner, for he is the only pure thing my worldview can comprehend. His snot rockets are the amniotic fluid of the universe, protecting and nourishing, all encompassing, the truth and light, a ...
Okay, okay. Let me rework the possible answer. Which pitchers would it be possible for a rational person to take instead of Bumgarner?
Clayton Kershaw - Maybe, but that contract ...
Masahiro Tanaka - Maybe
Yu Darvish - Sure
Felix Hernandez - Sure
Michael Wacha - Sure
Jose Fernandez - But he's broken
Julio Teheran - Maybe
Max Scherzer - No (free agent in five months)
David Price - No (free agent in 17 months)
Stephen Strasburg - Sure
Adam Wainwright - No (old)
Justin Verlander - haha, no
Chris Sale - Maybe. Why is he this low?
Matt Harvey - But he's broken
Sonny Gray - No
Gerrit Cole - Maybe
If you get a chance between a fully formed ace with a team-friendly contract right now, or an ace rehabbing from serious elbow injury, whose service-time clock continues to tick, I don't see how that's a choice right now.
Kershaw's an interesting thought exercise, because he's clearly the better pitcher, but he's guaranteed about $165 million more than Bumgarner, which is the kind of coin that can buy a team a legitimate star. Would you rather have Kershaw or Bumgarner/$165 million free agent? I'll take the latter. Smells less like unwashed Lasorda, too.
Verlander has the same problem, except he's older and his velocity and performance is down this year. Scherzer and Price are easy calls, as they're rentals. And while Wainwright might age gracefully, I'll stay away from pitchers over 32 or so.
The lone youngster with a straight "no" is Gray, who is fantastic, but he's 100 starts behind Bumgarner at the same age. We've seen Bumgarner go through the what-do-I-do-now-nothing's-working stage. Plus, Bumgarner has the team-friendly deal already in place.
Gerrit Cole kisses Brandon Crawford's sister on the mouth and everything, and that might distract Crawford, so no thanks.
The thing is, though, that smart people could probably make smart arguments for all of those pitchers. Arm angles and home parks and durability projections and je ne sais quoi. Don't do the Internet Giants Fan thing and get huffy about it. This isn't about you and your feelings. Just note that in a list of 60 players, it's possible for 30 people to somehow agree that Madison Bumgarner isn't one of them. I'm almost sure they were kidding about Domonic Brown, to be honest, and there isn't a true 60th player chosen. But look at that stupid list.
That could be the tagline of the Internet, now that you mention it.