Big League Stew - MLB

John Romano of the St. Pete Times recently turned in a great debate-worthy column, arguing that Evan Longoria(notes) ranks as 'baseball's most valuable asset.' 

Romano reached his conclusion on the hometown stud by considering a number of factors beyond performance, including salary, position and off-field marketability. 

Romano explains his formula further:

"There is a difference between saying Longoria is the best player in the game and saying he is the greatest asset. Albert Pujols(notes) is certainly a better hitter than Longoria. But Pujols is six years older, and his salary is 16 times larger. Joe Mauer(notes) is a better hitter and plays a more critical position. But Mauer is in the final year of a contract and about to become the highest-paid catcher in history. Zack Greinke(notes) or Tim Lincecum(notes) might be more valuable today, but pitchers are far more volatile."

Romano makes a good case for Longoria and if we're throwing out pitchers because they only go once every five days and are more injury-prone, it's a good choice.

Admittedly, it's hard to draw a big distinction between Longoria and the other young players — Justin Upton(notes), Hanley Ramirez(notes), Troy Tulowitzki(notes), etc. — who are still performing on contracts that are relatively club-friendly. But considering that Longoria and Ramirez led that young crop in WAR with 7.2 in 2009, the Rays third baseman is as good a selection as any.

Which player would you say is baseball's most valuable asset? 

BLS H/N: Diamond Hoggers

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