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?
The inconsistency of Sandoval is frustrating. He was a monster in 2009 -- his first full major league season -- hitting .330 with a .943 OPS, 25 home runs, and 90 RBI. But that production could not be matched in 2010 as he wound up finishing the year with a .268 batting average, 13 homers and a .732 OPS. A resurgent 2011 had his dynasty owners dreaming big again, but 2012 and 2013 were both letdowns. Now we’ve reached the 2014 campaign -- a contract year for the 27-year-old Venezuelan third baseman. Can he reach another peak before putting himself on the market for the first time? Seems plenty capable to me. Sandoval showed up to Giants camp this spring with a freshly-toned physique and there have been multiple stories written about the changes he’s made to his lifestyle, especially with regards to his daily eating habits. Seager is a nice hitter coming off back-to-back 20-homer seasons, but Sandoval’s offensive upside is much, much higher. Let’s see what an in-shape and motivated “Kung Fu Panda” can do. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)
Seager's breakthrough didn't really materialize last year because of a two-month slump at the end (he hit .174/.283/.277 in his final 53 games). That left him with a .260 average once again. In 2011, he came in at .258 in 182 at-bats as a rookie. In 2012, he finished at .259. Seager, though, should do better than that. He's been good for 30 doubles and 20 homers in each of his two full seasons, so the power is legitimate. His strikeout rate is below the league average. His line-drive rates have been solid. There's no reason he can't hit .280+ for a full season. Last year, he was at .300 through 420 at-bats before slump. Now Seager gets to hit second ahead of Robinson Cano in Seattle, and while lineup protection is a myth, that will at least mean more runs scored than ever before. Even if he's just his usual self, the improved Seattle lineup will ensure that he's a top-10 third baseman. More likely is that he improves at least a bit in his age-26 season. – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)
What I will concede here is that Headley has a better chance of staying healthy than Ramirez. Since becoming a regular in 2009, only once has Headley fallen below 600 plate appearances, and both disabled lists stints in his career were a result of fluky hand injuries. Meanwhile, Ramirez has been below that mark three times in the last five years and played in fewer than 100 games in two of those seasons. Given that he’s in his mid-30s, there’s a chance A-Ram will become even more brittle. However, what I think Mr. Grimm is probably willing to concede is that if both Ramirez and Headley are healthy, the third baseman in Milwaukee is going to have better numbers. Why? Well, because when Ramirez plays, he simply produces. If you throw out the clear outlier of his .241 average in 2010, Ramirez has hit at least .283 in every season since 2004, and his full-season lows over that stretch for home runs and RBI are 26 and 93, respectively. Headley has hit above .269 just twice in his career, and, other than in his obvious outlier of a 2012 season, has never come remotely close to approaching Ramirez’s full-season lows for homers and RBI. Ramirez is unquestionably the better hitter in unquestionably the better hitter’s park. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
What I'm not going to do, in arguing in favor of Headley, is try to tell you he can approach his 2012 numbers again next year. In fact, Headley's 2012 season in which he hit .286 with 31 home runs, 95 runs scored, 115 RBI and 17 steals has a chance to go down as one of the biggest outliers in recent history. But that doesn't mean Headley is someone to cast off, either. The 29-year-old dealt with a list of bumps and bruises last year but still managed 600 plate appearances, suggesting he played most of the season at less than 100 percent. Headley actually began the season on the disabled list due to a fractured left thumb and underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee immediately after the season; both ailments likely played a part in his down year. Now healthy -- mild calf strain early in camp notwithstanding -- Headley will try to build on a September in which he hit .305/.424/.573, proving that he shouldn't be thrown out with the trash just yet. And even if his power numbers pale in comparison to some of his peers, Headley is also a safe bet to end up near the top in stolen bases among third basemen again this year. All that -- and the fact that Headley is entering a walk year -- means a .270 average, 15 home runs and 15 steals is well within Headley's range, with potential for more. At 35, Ramirez is on his way down. I'm taking a chance on Headley's bounceback potential. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)
When in doubt, take the guy who plays half his games at Coors Field. Arenado is far from a perfect player and in particular his plate discipline and power left a lot to be desired as a rookie. However, he was a 22-year-old top prospect playing in the big leagues after just 18 games at Triple-A and his skill set is well-suited to take advantage of a spacious home ballpark by putting the ball in play. Even while posting mediocre numbers overall for the Rockies he struck out just 72 times in 133 games and Arenado whiffed a total of 67 times in 152 games between Double-A and Triple-A. If he can maintain that type of contact rate hitting for big batting averages in Colorado is all but assured and Arenado is not without power, potentially going deep 15-20 times. He won't contribute in steals, but neither will Bogaerts and I like Arenado's odds of being an above-average fantasy third baseman in 2014 a lot more. – Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman)
What we have here are two promising young players on the rise. However, I'll gamble on the one who only has 50 regular season major league plate appearances to his name. Arenado won the National League Gold Glove Award for his defense at third base last season, but he only hit .267 with 10 home runs and 52 RBI in 133 games. And that's with playing half of his games in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the game. It's fair to expect an increase in batting average in his age-23 season, but anything beyond 15 home runs should probably be considered gravy. Bogaerts is admittedly a bit of a risk as a rookie, but he showed an intriguing combination of power and patience during his time in the minors and impressed against some of the game's best pitchers during the playoffs last year. While the 21-year-old will likely hit in the lower-third of the order to begin the year, he should still score plenty of runs. Bogaerts also has shortstop-eligibility in most leagues, which makes him even more valuable for fantasy owners. Assuming the Red Sox don't bring back Stephen Drew, Bogaerts has the opportunity and the upside to give him the edge over Arenado. - D.J. Short (@djshort)