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 2015 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?
Health is obviously the biggest factor for both of these guys. Ramirez has played in 371 games the last three years, while Tulowitzki has played in just 264. Take it back five years and the margin narrows a bit, with Ramirez leading 605 games to 529. From a production standpoint, Tulo is the bigger sure thing, at least as long as he plays half of his games in Coors Field. That could yet change, but if he ever does get traded, it seems more likely to be an offseason deal than one taking place at the trade deadline. Ramirez hasn’t been quite as consistent offensively. However, this is his first time in a hitter’s park in Fenway, and he gets the best supporting cast of his life, hitting cleanup with Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz ahead of him and Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli behind. So, I have Hanley as a little bit better of a bet to stay healthy and Tulo as a little bit better of a bet in the power department. What it really comes down to is steals: Ramirez still runs a bit, swiping 45 bases the last three years. Tulo, once a 20-steal guy in 2009, is a non-factor there now, having gone 4-for-7 in steals the last three years. That pulls Ramirez ahead in my projections. – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)
We know two things about Tulowitzki. The first is that he really has trouble staying healthy, having played fewer than 100 games two out of the last three seasons while averaging just 88 games over that stretch. The second is that, when he is healthy, he’s one of the elite hitters in the game. Tulo sports a ridiculous .323/.408/.566 batting line with 46 homers and 134 RBI over the last two seasons, and he’s topped Ramirez in fantasy value both of those years despite all the missed time. Ramirez hasn’t exactly been a bastion of health himself, averaging just 116 games over the last four seasons. Plus, while he’s certainly displayed the ability to be a fantastic hitter, he hasn’t done so with nearly the level of consistency that Tulowitzki has. I’ve already purchased Ramirez in our Mock Auction, so clearly I don’t have an aversion to owing the Red Sox’ new left fielder. But while the gap here isn’t wide for me, all things being equal, I’d prefer taking the gamble on the guy who’s the better bet at the plate. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
In some corners of this website Santana has been described as "nothing more than empty speed." The humor isn't lost, then, that Santana has been pitted against Andrus in this debate. For years, Andrus has been the face of untapped promise while providing little more than empty speed. Fantasy players waited for Andrus to hit for more power after swatting six homers in his rookie season; he's never hit more than five in a season since. Andrus has also been reliably middling when counted on to hit for average, owning a .272 career line while never hitting higher than .286 in a given year. Now 26 years old and coming off a season in which he was caught in 15 of 42 stolen base attempts, the upside with Andrus is limited. Santana will have a hard time topping his .319/.353/.472 line from his debut season, but he's just 24 years old, slugged seven homers and stole 20 bases in 24 attempts in 101 games last season. Empty speed may be Santana's worst-case scenario, but it looks an awful lot like Andrus' best-case scenario. Take the upside. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)
I know most people are down on Andrus right now. Heck, I am too to a certain degree. He's coming off a bad year and there's no question that he hasn't progressed as many thought he would. However, I still think there's something salvageable here from a fantasy perspective. Part of the reason his 2014 looked so bad on paper is that his counting stats suffered with so many injuries in the Rangers' lineup. I'm optimistic about an uptick this year, especially if he remains the No. 2 hitter. The 26-year-old has settled right in the .260-.270 range from a batting average perspective and has never hit more than six home runs in a season, but he's still someone who could drive in 60 runs while stealing 30 bases and scoring around 90 runs. Those are valuable numbers at the shortstop position. Santana will likely be a more popular name in drafts this spring, but he screams regression candidate. The 24-year-old hit .319 in his first taste of the majors last season, which was driven by an insane .405 BABIP. Don't look for a repeat there. I also don't love the plate discipline. Santana has speed and multi-position eligibility in his favor, but I'll still take Andrus even if his ceiling isn't quite as high as we once hoped it would be. - D.J. Short (@djshort)
Both of these shortstops are coming off tremendously disappointing 2014 seasons. To me, it’s Simmons who is more capable of a bounceback in 2015. Segura was named to the 2013 National League All-Star team following an explosive first half, but he collapsed to the tune of a .241/.268/.315 batting line after the break and has now been stuck in that offensive rut for a year-and-a-half. Is this just an extended slump that Segura can suddenly snap out of in his age-25 season, or was his 2013 first-half performance the outlier? Personal tragedy can shoulder some of the blame here -- Segura lost his infant son last July -- but we have to be realistic as fantasy prognosticators and I think it’s reasonable to wonder whether the Brewers shortstop can bring anything more than empty speed. It should now be noted that his stolen base total fell from 44 in 2013 to 20 last season. Simmons, meanwhile, is regarded as the top defensive shortstop in baseball -- maybe one of the top defensive shortstops of all time -- with great athleticism and budding offensive upside. He did not hit well in 2014, but his 17 homers from 2013 suggest that the 25-year-old has some big numbers in him. I’m siding with the better all-around player and the player who is always going to be in the Braves’ starting lineup because of what he can do defensively. I simply believe more in Andrelton’s upside. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)
Both Segura and Simmons are going late in Yahoo drafts thus far: Simmons is being taken 221st on average while Segura is going 235th. Both players are coming off of down years following productive 2013 showings, though Segura’s fall was a bit steeper. That may explain why Segura is going several rounds later. However, many projection systems – including Steamer and ZiPS, which can both be found at FanGraphs – see Segura being the better overall hitter in 2015 and Simmons’ equal in the power department. I tend to agree with that notion, but even if Simmons were to end up a bit better power-wise, Segura’s speed makes him the more attractive choice as speed is scarcer than power: 4,186 home runs were hit last season compared to 2,764 bases stolen. To illustrate it another way: given both players are roughly 10-homer players -- 163 players hit at least 10 home runs last season; only 39 stole at least 20 bases (and only seven stole 35-plus). Even if you bulk up on speed earlier in your draft, it may be worth grabbing Segura over Simmons just for the opportunity to trade him and turn him into something that better addresses your team’s needs. – Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill)