Scott Boras says a lot of crazy things -- perhaps none quite as absurd as when he compared Oliver Perez to Sandy Koufax last winter -- when he's out stumping for a big contract for his clients. So, we shouldn't be overly surprised that Boras was willing to espouse platitudes about Matt Holliday to Jerry Crasnick, calling him a "franchise player" and comparing him to Mark Teixeira. In that comment, though, Boras claimed that there were "less than 30" franchise players, as he sought to put Holliday in that select company.
Setting aside that the phrase "franchise player" is vague and could mean different things to different people, I was curious to find out how many I thought there were in the game. So, let's take a look.
First off, there's the no argument tier. Regardless of what you think a franchise player is, pretty much everyone will agree that Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Chase Utley, Hanley Ramirez, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Grady Sizemore, Evan Longoria, David Wright, Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia, Tim Lincecum, Dan Haren, and Zack Greinke qualify. Those 14 just shouldn't really elicit much debate, I don't think. They're franchise players by pretty much any definition.
Beyond those guys, though, there are some players who I could imagine will invoke some dissent. They all have a wart of some kind, making them great but not perfect. This group includes Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia, Prince Fielder, Kevin Youkilis, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki, Josh Beckett, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, and Cliff Lee. I'd vote yes for all 11 of these guys, but there's a nit to pick with each that could lead one to disagree.
We're already up to 25 names that I'd be comfortable slapping the franchise player tag on. And there's still another group that I think you could make a case for -- the talented-with-a-sketchy-track-record crowd. These guys have shown franchise player abilities, but may not have sustained that ability over the last few years. This group would include Jose Reyes, Adrian Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Ryan Zimmerman, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera, Jon Lester, Javier Vazquez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Clayton Kershaw, and Johan Santana.
That's 13 more guys that I could see making a case for. We've already listed 38 names without mentioning Holliday. There's a lot of trimming to do to get down to Boras' "less than 30" estimate. I think I'd probably end up around 32 or 33.
This, obviously, is not particularly objective. Reasonable people can disagree on pretty much everyone in the last two groups, meaning that your number could probably be anywhere from 15 to 40 without being too controversial. But I did find the exercise interesting, and my final count was quite a bit higher than I thought it would be. I suspected I'd end up in the 20 range, but there's a really good crop of high end talent in the major leagues right now.
Oh, and as for Holliday, I think he fits in well with group two. I'd call him a franchise player too. This bit of propaganda from Boras is actually reasonable.