Broncos or Seahawks? What about Rockies or Mariners? Using 2014 projected lineups, here are the best players by position from the two MLB teams that play in the same cities — Denver and Seattle — as the Super Bowl XLVIII opponents. FYI: Seattle leads the all-time series 16-12, including a 2012 three-game sweep in Denver when the two last met.
Catcher: Wilin Rosario, Rockies
Rosario hit .292 with 21 homers and 79 RBI last year. Seattle’s Mike Zunino, the third overall pick in 2012, debuted last June, but an injury kept him out for more than a month and his numbers suffered (.214, five homers, 14 RBI).
Getty ImagesBrian Garfinkel
First base: Justin Morneau, Rockies
The four-time All-Star signed in the offseason as a free agent and will replace the retired Todd Helton at first base. Morneau’s career 221 homers and 863 RBI puts him on a whole different level than Seattle’s Justin Smoak (.238, 20 homers, 50 RBI in 2013).
Getty ImagesJim McIsaac
Second base: Robinson Cano, Mariners
The M’s are counting on the top offseason free-agent signing to be the spark behind their resurgence. The five-time All-Star has been the AL’s Silver Slugger winner at second base four years in a row and has hit at least 25 homers each of the last five seasons. Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu is no match (.280, two homers, 28 RBI in 2013).
Getty ImagesOtto Greule Jr
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Tulo is a three-time All-Star, a two-time Gold Glover and a two-time Silver Slugger. In eight seasons, he’s produced 155 homers, 552 RBI and a .295 career batting average. He hit .312 with 25 homers and 82 RBI in 126 games last year. Seattle’s 23-year-old Brad Miller is just getting his feet wet, hitting .265 with eight homers and 36 RBI in 76 games as a rookie in 2013.
Getty ImagesJustin K. Aller
Third base: Kyle Seager, Mariners
Seager, who finished his second full season, isn’t as good defensively as Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, but Seager’s offense — back-to-back 20-homer seasons (22 last year and 20 in 2012) — gives him the edge. Arenado, who won a Gold Glove and hit 10 homers with 52 RBI as a rookie in 2013, likely will have the better career, but his bat cost him in this head-to-head matchup.
Getty ImagesJohn Williamson
Left field: Corey Dickerson, Rockies
In a close call, Dickerson beat out Seattle’s Logan Morrison, an offseason acquisition from the Marlins. Dickerson debuted last June and hit .263 with five homers and 17 RBI in 194 at-bats. Morrison hit .242 with six homers and 36 RBI in 293 at-bats last year.
Getty ImagesJustin Edmonds
Center field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
The two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover, has been one of the best bats — and players — in the majors the last several years. Since 2010, the Venezuelan hit .311 with 108 homers and 364 RBI, while stealing 87 bases. Seattle’s Dustin Ackley (.253, four homers, 31 RBI last year), who is moving to center from second after the Robinson Cano deal, didn’t have a chance vs. CarGo.
Getty ImagesMitchell Layton
Right field: Michael Cuddyer, Rockies
Another no-brainer. Cuddyer led the NL with a .331 batting average in 2013, while hitting 20 homers and 84 RBI. His Seattle counterpart, Michael Saunders, is coming off a .236, 12-homer, 46-RBI campaign. Cuddyer’s selection gives the Rox a 6-2 edge vs. the M’s in the position player spots.
Getty ImagesDustin Bradford
Designated hitter: Corey Hart, Mariners
Sure, comparing DHs is a bit unfair, but since Colorado dominated this competition on offense, why not? Hart, who played 945 games with Milwaukee since debuting in 2004, joined Seattle as an offseason free agent. He missed last season with an injury after hitting 30 homers and 83 RBI in 2012 — his best year was 2010 (31 homers, 102 RBI).
Getty ImagesMarc Serota
The 1-2 punch of Felix Hernandez (left) and Hisashi Iwakuma is overwhelmingly better than anyone the Rockies can put on the hill. King Felix, the 2010 AL Cy Young winner and a four-time All-Star, was 12-10 with a 3.04 ERA last year. Iwakuma was better, going 14-6 with a 2.66 ERA, while making his first All-Star appearance and finishing third in the Cy voting. Colorado’s top two arms — Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge De La Rosa? Forget about it.
Closer: Danny Farquhar, Mariners
Just like Super Bowl XLVIII, Denver/Colorado has the better offense and Seattle the better defense. Farquhar (79 K’s in 55.2 innings) converted 16-of-20 save opportunities after taking over the closer’s role last August. Colorado counters with 19-year veteran LaTroy Hawkins, an offseason free-agent acquisition who was named the closer despite Rex Brothers’ 19 saves with a 1.74 ERA and 76 K’s in 67.1 innings last year.