We've all played the "would you rather" game with baseball players. If you're starting a franchise, who would you rather have? Or for one at bat with the game on the line?
What could make that hypothetical more fun? Asking actual talent evaluators who they would rather have. This season, we'll take some of the best players/groups in baseball and ask scouts and executives who they'd take in a head-to-head situation.
Let's pretend there's a magical cloning machine in the world. Now let's pretend this magical cloning machine only worked on really good baseball players, and the mad scientist running it decided to make 24 copies of the best position player in the world, Angels outfielder Mike Trout. Now let's pretend he (or she) also made 24 copies of the best pitcher in the world, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. Finally, let's pretend that this mad scientist did the unthinkable—or thinkable, now that I think about it—and decided to form two baseball teams with those players, and have them face off. Who would win?
To get the answer, I asked two scouts who they believe would win: 25 Clayton Kershaws or 25 Mike Trouts?
AL West scout
"This is fun. It's sort of tough to answer the question without having seen Trout pitch, but I know that he doesn't have a great arm and I can't imagine he's going to be anything special on the mound. Having said that, I've seen Kershaw hit. Not exactly Madison Bumgarner swinging the bat.
I think ultimately the Trout team would win because of defense. Any weak contact groundballs are going to cause a ton of trouble for the Kershaws. I think it'd be a high-scoring game but I like the Trouts to win."
NL West scout
"Team Kershaw would smoke them. Think about this, if you have a team of Kershaws, you're talking about maximum effort for nine innings with the best pitcher in baseball. You also have a guy who at least has some experience on the mound, and I have serious doubts about whether or not Trout could throw strikes. The only way the Trout team would have a chance is if he bunted for hits or Kershaw just couldn't play any defense at all. I think he's better athlete than you might be giving him credit for. Kershaws all the way."
Mike Trout in his career vs. Clayton Kershaw has a .523 OPS. That sample size is only 11 at-bats, but it does at least sort of illustrate just how good of a pitcher Kershaw is. He's the best left-handed pitcher I've ever seen, and I grew up with Randall "K" Johnson.
Having said that, I've also seen Kershaw run, and all Trout is going to have to do is make contact and he's going to get a lot of hits. A lot of them. I assume Trout can at least hit 80 on the gun, and that should be enough for Kershaw to not get many hits. I also think Trout is a better actor based on his Subway commercials. Team Trout 7, Team Kershaw 5.