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Draft Strategy

Showdown: Upton vs. Pence

by NBC Sports EDGE Staff
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 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 by Average Draft Position (ADP) and/or Rotoworld’s 2015 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 2015 Rotoworld Baseball Draft Guide. It’s an essential weapon to have in your arsenal at the draft table this spring.


Justin Upton vs. Hunter Pence




I'll start this out by saying I wouldn't be disappointed if Pence is on my fantasy team this season. He's a very safe option. Pence has played in 162 games in back-to-back seasons and you can generally expect him to hit around .280 while launching at least 20 homers and reaching double-digits in steals. He lost 25 RBI last season from 2013, but some of that was about his supporting cast and he could easily bounce back this year. But this choice is all about upside for me. It's easy to expect Upton's numbers to decline with the move to PETCO Park, which is a tough place on right-handed power, but I think he can hit home runs anywhere. I'd maybe set my expectations for somewhere around 25 homers for this season, but he's certainly capable of reaching 30 again if he gets on one of his patented tears at some point. And remember, he's just going into his age-27 season. I firmly believe that it's still possible we haven't seen his best season yet. I'm not a big fan of the tablesetters in San Diego and Upton has struck out more in recent seasons while running less often, so I understand the potential downside involved, but I'll still pay for the upside over playing it safe with Pence. - D.J. Short (@djshort)




Upton is one of the best power hitters in the game. He's close to the prime of his career, he's playing for a new contract...and he just moved to one of worst ballparks in the majors for right-handed power hitters. When power is your game, that's a bad trade-off. Of the balls put in play for his career, Upton has lifted 39.6 percent in the air. Too many of those are going to die at the track in Petco Park. That will hurt both his home run production and his batting average -- Upton struck out in 26.7 percent of his at-bats last season, so he needs a good BABIP to make up for it. Pence has played in a pitchers' park for a few years, but he's got enough other skills to balance out the depressed power numbers. He scores plenty of runs and drives in plenty in the middle of a productive Giants lineup, and he consistently hits for a good average. He also runs a bit, having stolen 35 bases in the two seasons compared to Upton's 16. There's just too much certainty in what you're getting from Pence and too much uncertainty from Upton. Early in the draft, certainty means something. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)



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