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Draft Strategy

Showdown: Abreu vs. LeMahieu

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: February 27, 2020, 5:02 pm ET

Often in the midst of your draft, you’ll find yourself deciding between a couple players at the same position. With Player Showdowns, we take two players who are closely ranked and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?

We’ll offer up one Showdown per position (catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, third base, outfield, starter and reliever) here, and you can get dozens more by purchasing the 2020 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.

Jose Abreu vs. DJ LeMahieu

Abreu

Abreu was able to drive in 123 runs last season, and even playing in the loaded White Sox lineup – yes, I did say loaded – it's unlikely/unreasonable to expect those kind of numbers again in 2020. That being said, he doesn't need them to provide plenty of fantasy relevance this summer. He's hit 30 homers in four-of-five healthy seasons for the White Sox, and he was on his way to that number again in 2018 before his health scare. He's also hit at least .280 in all but that season, and that's the only campaign where he didn't drive in 100 runs. In other words, he's been a consistent performer, and the fact that Chicago lineup looks as good as it does certainly doesn't hurt. Meanwhile, LeMahieu has consistently hit for average – and he does get to play in a homer-friendly park – but it's tough for me to ignore the fact that this was easily a career high in homers and RBI, and there are questions about the equipment that he was hitting/what the equipment will look like next year. The positional value for LeMahieu is nice, but he fits better as a second or third baseman in a normal lineup than a guy I'd want at first base. – Christopher Crawford (@Crawford_MILB)

LeMahieu

On the heels of an epic campaign as the Yankees’ primary tablesetter, LeMahieu has been met with a healthy dose of skepticism in fantasy drafts this spring. It strains credulity to envision a true repeat performance after he ranked fourth in the majors in batting average and nearly doubled his previous career-high marks in home runs and RBI last year. However, he’s sustained a preposterously-high BABIP throughout his big-league career, so fantasy owners can count on him to provide elite numbers in the batting average department moving forward. In terms of the unprecedented uptick in over-the-fence power, LeMahieu has always hit the ball hard. He finished in the 88th percentile (or higher) in terms of average exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, expected batting average (xBA), expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) and expected slugging percentage (xSLG) last year. In addition to making consistently hard contact, he significantly increased his average launch angle to take advantage of Yankee Stadium’s favorable dimensions. Given the composition of the major-league baseball itself, in tandem with LeMahieu’s uptick in launch angle and barrel percentage, he has a realistic shot at winning a batting title and blasting 20 homers this season. – George Bissell (@GeorgeBissell)

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