Top Fantasy Baseball Questions Entering 2010, Part 3

Bryan CurleyCorrespondent IJanuary 11, 2010

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 04:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees bats against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Six of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium on November 4, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees won 7-3 to win the series 4 games to 2.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

In Part 1 and Part 2 of my analysis of ESPN’s 2010 preview, we looked at some open-ended questions like “Who will win the AL Cy Young?” and “Who is the second-best catcher?” Today, we change up the pace and go with some either-or questions where we pick which player we’d rather have from a set of two. Let’s see what the experts think.

Hanley Ramirez or Alex Rodriguez

Matthew Berry: Hanley Ramirez
Eric Karabell: Hanley Ramirez
Christopher Harris: Hanley Ramirez
Jason Grey: Hanley Ramirez
Pierre Becquey: Hanley Ramirez, and it’s not even close
A.J. Mass: Han-Ram
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Hanley Ramirez, he’s eight years younger and it’s as simple as that

My Take: I couldn’t agree more with the experts, especially Becquey and Cockcroft. As I’ve said a few times in other articles (as have other writers on Baseball Professor), I take Ramirez first overall. That should make my thoughts on him clear.

Tim Lincecum or Zack Greinke

Matthew Berry: Tim Lincecum
Eric Karabell: Tim Lincecum
Christopher Harris: Tim Lincecum
Jason Grey: Tim Lincecum
Pierre Becquey: Zack Greinke, because I’m not spending a first round pick on Lincecum.
A.J. Mass: Tim Lincecum
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Tim Lincecum

My Take: Lincecum is the clear choice for best overall SP. He’s won back-to-back Cy Young awards and is the safest bet for Ks in the entire league. Greinke has probably peaked and plays in the AL for a bad team. Becquey is right, though. If you want Timmy, you better be prepared to use your first round pick.

Roy Halladay or Chris Carpenter

Matthew Berry: Roy Halladay
Eric Karabell: Roy Halladay
Christopher Harris: Roy Halladay
Jason Grey: Roy Halladay
Pierre Becquey: Chris Carpenter will go later yet can match the numbers
A.J. Mass: Chris Carpenter
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Roy Halladay. They might be dead even on a per-start basis, but I’ll take Halladay’s 33 to Carpenter’s probable 20-25.

My Take: Cockcroft nailed this one. Carpenter has proven time and time again that, when healthy, he is a Cy Young candidate, but do you really want to spend an early-round pick on an unreliable pitcher? Halladay is as reliable as they come, and leaving the AL East for the NL can only help.

Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp

Matthew Berry: Matt Kemp
Eric Karabell: Ryan Braun
Christopher Harris: Ryan Braun
Jason Grey: Matt Kemp
Pierre Becquey: Matt Kemp, simply on a gut call that this will be his career season, whereas Braun just had his.
A.J. Mass: Matt Kemp
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Ryan Braun

My Take: I’m actually surprising myself a little here and going with Matt Kemp. Both guys are fantastic and are pretty clearly the top two OF heading into this season, and they both are capable of scoring in all five categories, but Kemp has more speed. I think 2010 is the year he finally becomes a 30/30 guy, and a few years back he predicted that he would one day be a 40/40 guy. I love that confidence. Even if Braun does out-homer Kemp by 10+ (maybe 37 to 27 for example), Kemp should steal 15+ more bases (35 to 20). Braun has already shown he can hit well-over .300 in a full season whereas Kemp has only been a .290-.300 hitter, and Braun has scored more runs, but I still cannot ignore the 30/30+ potential. If you pick Braun though, you’re not wrong.

Yovani Gallardo or Josh Johnson

Matthew Berry: Yovani Gallardo
Eric Karabell: Yovani Gallardo
Christopher Harris: Josh Johnson
Jason Grey: Josh Johnson
Pierre Becquey: Yovani Gallardo
A.J. Mass: Josh Johnson
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Yovani Gallardo

My Take: Their win potentials are probably about the same (Florida vs. Milwaukee), Gallardo Ks a few more batters, and Johnson allows a bit fewer BB. I do think they will both be immensely successful in 2010, but Johnson has already shown he can put it all together, so he’s my choice.

Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard

Matthew Berry: Ryan Howard
Eric Karabell: Prince Fielder
Christopher Harris: Ryan Howard
Jason Grey: Prince Fielder
Pierre Becquey: Prince Fielder
A.J. Mass: Prince Fielder
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Prince Fielder

My Take: Fielder will hit for a better average, Howard is a guaranteed 45-140. Fielder has hit 40+ twice in the last three seasons, but last year was the first time he drove in over 120 RBI (141). Neither guy will steal many bases, regardless of the eight that Howard somehow swiped in ‘09, so this pick comes down to two factors: RBI and second-half performance. If Fielder drives in 135+ runs, then his season numbers should be better than Howard’s, but don’t bank on him beating Howard in the second half. Over their careers, these are the lines they have averaged (per 550 AB) after the All-Star Break:

Fielder – 88/.283/39/105/3
Howard – 104/.302/49/138/2

Because I would rather have the better player down the stretch and into the playoffs, I’m going with Howard on this one. If you’re in a keeper league though, Fielder is five years younger.

Adam Lind or Josh Hamilton

Matthew Berry: Josh Hamilton
Eric Karabell: Adam Lind
Christopher Harris: Josh Hamilton
Jason Grey: Adam Lind
Pierre Becquey: Adam Lind is so much safer
A.J. Mass: Adam Lind
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Josh Hamilton. I’m a sucker, remember?

My Take: Hamilton spent his entire 2009 recovering from separate injuries to his abdomen after running into the OF wall (twice). Call it a “gut” feeling (get it? He hurt his abdomen… I know, it was a terrible joke) but I’m going with Hamilton based solely on potential. Also, I’m still not entirely sure Adam Lind can repeat what he did last season, even though he was a top prospect and the numbers seem to support it. Based on Lind’s 20.2% LD rate, his .323 BABIP indicates his success was indeed legitimate. His HR/FB rate rose from a previous career-best (in 2007) of 13.3% to 19.8%, which is a large jump but not unimaginable given that 2009 was the first time he played more than 89 games. Like Becquey said, Lind is so much safer, but I’m a sucker, too.

Aaron Hill or Ben Zobrist

Matthew Berry: Aaron Hill
Eric Karabell: Ben Zobrist
Christopher Harris: Aaron Hill
Jason Grey: Ben Zobrist
Pierre Becquey: Aaron Hill
A.J. Mass: Aaron Hill
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Aaron Hill

My Take: Hill had his 2008 season interrupted by injuries, but bounced back in a big way in 2009. Zobrist finally got his chance to play full-time, and his numbers grew in accordance with his change in playing time. Zobrist has a track record that warrants this kind of power output, posting very similar FB% and HR/FB% in both ‘08 and ‘09. On the other hand, Hill had his HR/RBI explosion come out of nowhere. Zobrist was also a career .318 hitter in the minors, and improved his average to .297 last season. Hill was a .295 hitter in the minors and batted one point above career average last season. I’ll take Zobrist because he has more steady numbers and a better overall track record than Hill.

Evan Longoria or Mark Teixeira

Matthew Berry: Evan Longoria
Eric Karabell: Evan Longoria
Christopher Harris: Mark Teixeira
Jason Grey: Mark Teixeira
Pierre Becquey: Evan Longoria. MVP.
A.J. Mass: Mark Teixiera. He just doesn’t get MVP because there are too many Yankees to choose from.
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Mark Teixeira

My Take: If you’re in a keeper league, this one is a no doubter: Evan Longoria. If you aren’t, then this gets a little more difficult. They both scored 100+ last season, but Teixeira had a higher AVG and more HR and RBI. Playing in Yankee Stadium gives a serious boost to Teixiera since he will get most of his AB as a lefty, and the right-field porch is famously easy to put one over. Longoria is only 24 though, and more growth is expected. Because of his immense potential, but moreso because of the great depth at 1B and lack thereof at 3B, I’m taking Longoria.

Mariano Rivera or Jonathan Broxton

Matthew Berry: Mariano Rivera
Eric Karabell: Mariano Rivera
Christopher Harris: Mariano Rivera
Jason Grey: Jonathan Broxton
Pierre Becquey:  Jonathan Broxton. Someday, Rivera is going to wake up and realize he’s old. I don’t want him on my roster when that happens.
A.J. Mass: Jonathan Broxton
Tristan H. Cockcroft: Mariano Rivera

My Take: I’ll take this opportunity to say that you shouldn’t have either player because there is no reason to draft a closer in the early rounds, but of the two I go with Rivera. The only edges that Broxton has on Rivera are K and age. Last season, Rivera had eight more saves (44 to 36), a better ERA (1.76 to 2.61), and a better WHIP (0.91 to 0.96). Plus, he’s had an ERA under 2.00 in six of the last seven seasons. That’s right, under 2.00. If you are in a league that has K/9 as a category (as I am), then Broxton has added value, but in your standard 5×5 league, Rivera is the choice.

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