Let's say you're looking for a franchise cornerstone. If we agree that it's tough to build a franchise around a pitcher, no matter how elite -- just ask the Toronto Blue Jays -- we'll look only at position players. Here are the career statistics of two players (entering this season) for your perusal:
Player A: .313 batting, .369 on-base, .459 slugging
Player B: .313 batting, .394 on-base, .459 slugging
Both will turn 26 years old this season.
Both play premium defensive positions.
Player A struck out in 7.2 percent of his at-bats last season. Player B struck out in 7.9 percent of his at-bats last season. (The big-league average last season was 17 percent.)
So far this season, Player A is hitting .341 with a .429 on-base percentage. So far this season, Player B is hitting .429 with a .419 on-base percentage.
Player A has 15 doubles. Player B has 11 home runs.
You're probably already there.
Player B is Joe Mauer. Player A is Dustin Pedroia.
Hanley Ramirez, despite his defensive shortcomings, is a player around whom the Florida Marlines will build for years. David Wright, Brian McCann and Grady Sizemore all are young and talented and perennial All-Stars. Evan Longoria is playing himself into the conversation more and more every day.
But you could make an argument that there aren't two better potential franchise cornerstones in the game today than Mauer and Pedroia.
Both will turn (or have turned) 26 years old this season. Both are exceedingly popular in their respective cities. Both play a premium defensive position -- and both won a Gold Glove a season ago. Both hit for average. Both leave plenty of dents on the outfield walls. Both draw their share of walks. Both can pop their share over the fence, Pedroia's early-season drought notwithstanding. Both strike out, well, hardly at all.
Mauer is 6-foot-5. Pedroia, of course, is probably 5-foot-6.
Mauer has sideburns that drive the ladies wild. Pedroia has, well, good reason to keep his hat on most of the time.
Mauer has issues with his back that lead many to question his future as a catcher down the road. Pedroia had designs on playing 162 games at second base this season before straining his groin on a swing.
But there are more similarities between the two than you'd think -- and both represent the future of their respective franchises.