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 2017 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.
I like Thames just fine as a sleeper if you want to take a shot on him in drafts this spring, but the fact remains that we have no idea how his gaudy power numbers from the Korea Baseball Organization are going to translate in MLB. He was a decent enough player in his previous stints in the majors, putting up 21 homers and a .727 OPS (96 OPS+) in 684 plate appearances, but we’re going to need to see more than that for him to be an impact guy in mixed leagues. Belt is just the safer, more-established option. He shook off concerns about his previous concussions last season by setting new career-highs in games played, on-base percentage, OPS, RBI, and runs scored. The one thing that holds him back from the top-10 first baseman is that he doesn’t possess elite power at a position where it’s normally expected. But power is plentiful enough at other positions these days that you can accept Belt’s relatively safe floor as long as you balance your roster. - D.J. Short (@djshort)
Thames hasn't appeared in a major league game since 2012. The 30-year-old has re-invented himself after pummeling the baseball for the past three seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization. There, in addition to greatly improving his strikeout and walk rates, he averaged .348 with 41 homers, 126 RBI and 21 stolen bases over 130 games. The Brewers saw enough to shell out $16 million over three seasons to sign him, and installed him as their starting first baseman and likely cleanup hitter. Provided he stays in that role and lineup slot throughout the season, it seems likely that he'll exceed 150 runs+RBI while clubbing 25 or more homers and chipping in between 5-10 stolen bases. On the other hand, I'll admit I have been a bit of a Belt truther since he broke in during the 2011 season and have bought in every year since. Unfortunately, I think at this point he is who he is. His power has never quite developed as many anticipated, with his home park in San Francisco doing its best limit his home run total. The only clear edge that Belt has over Thames is batting average, and that should still only be in the neighborhood of .270. Thames brings significantly more power to the table and should be a contributor in stolen bases as well while Belt swiped a grand total of zero bases in four attempts in 2016. – Dave Shovein (@DaveShovein)