Often times 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 by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2014 season projections 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 2014 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Opening Day's games (March 31). It's $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. Starts at 1:05pm ET on Opening Day. Here's the FanDuel link.
Like so many of these, Cingrani vs. Cashner is a matchup of two different players. Cingrani is a high-strikeout pitcher who gets by with a fastball and not much else; Cashner has all the ability to be a strikeout pitcher but has found success by pitching to contact. And yet, Cashner is the sexier name this draft season. That's largely due to the expectation that he'll turn some of those ground balls into strikeouts, but right now that's simply projection. And if spring statistics are any indication, Cashner is sticking with what's worked -- he's struck out six batters over nine scoreless innings while inducing 16 ground ball outs through three exhibition starts. That's plenty useful, especially considering he'll pitch half his games at run-suppressing Petco Park, but there are plenty of pitchers who get ground balls and keep runs off the board. But people aren't running out to draft the Wade Mileys of the world. On the other hand, Cingrani doesn't need to improve to be a strong fantasy option; he simply needs to continue doing what's been effective for him. The southpaw's 2.92 ERA isn't likely to stick, but there's no reason to think an ERA around 3.50 with over a strikeout per inning isn't possible. That may represent the best-case scenario for his counterpart, so bet on projection at your own risk. I'll take the proven commodity. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)
Cingrani posted a 2.92 ERA in 18 starts and five relief appearances as a rookie last season and averaged 10.3 K/9, so why am I going for Cashner? Well, it's a combination of factors. First off, Cashner was pretty solid in his own right last year, compiling a 3.09 ERA and 128/47 K/BB ratio over 175 innings while putting up a ground ball rate of 52.5 percent. The strikeout rate was surprisingly low given his mid-90s fastball, but it's worth noting that he got more swings and misses as the season moved along. This was no accident, as he began to rely more on his slider. If he can carry that momentum into 2014, we could have a frontline fantasy starter on our hands. That he pitches half of his games in PETCO Park only helps his cause. While it has worked for him so far, Cingrani walks a fine line as a (mostly) one-pitch pitcher. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched last year, only Bartolo Colon relied on his fastball more often. The young southpaw is also a fly ball pitcher in a hitter-friendly park. I think both of them will be valuable in mixed leagues this season, but Cashner is the more well-rounded option. Injuries have been an issue for him in the early part of his career, but a breakout is a legitimate possibility in 2014. - D.J. Short (@djshort)