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 2016 season projections and have writers take a side and debate who should be selected first. Whose side will you be on?
Let's start with this: Dozier is a batting average drain. He has been for the entirety of his career, and it's not as though something, save for an inordinate amount of luck, is going to change that now. With that on the table, what else is there to dislike? He offers a power/speed combination matched by few players in the majors, as evidenced by the fact that only four players -- Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gomez and Ian Desmond -- have hit as many or more home runs (69) with at least as many stolen bases (47) as Dozier has over the past three seasons. Is that a cherry-picked stat? Sure. But the point remains, Dozier is in good company with the skills he brings to the table. The opposing argument might be that Rendon offers some of those same things with a much higher batting average, but let's not get carried away with Rendon's magnificent 2014 season. The 25-year-old hit just five home runs in an 80-game, injury-plagued season last year, and he's never come close to the 21 jacks he hit in 2014. Even more questionable is the 17 stolen bases from that year, considering Rendon has nine steals in his other 293 professional games. And we haven't even gotten into his injury issues, which threaten any season Rendon enters. With great reward comes great risk, and in this, an election year, I'm choosing a candidate I can depend on -- even if a dependably low batting average comes with it. – Nathan Grimm (@Nate_Grimm)
This matchup wouldn’t have been a question a year ago, as Rendon was coming off a breakout year and was getting some consideration as a second-round pick in mixed leagues. Unfortunately, a sprained MCL during spring training set the tone for what would be an injury-plagued year. He ended up appearing in only 80 games while batting .264 with five home runs and a .707 OPS. Meanwhile, Dozier turned into another solid season by setting career-highs with 28 home runs and 77 RBI while stealing 12 bases and scoring 101 runs. This ultimately comes down to whether you are willing to take the chance on a rebound from Rendon. If he’s healthy, I’m confident he’s the superior all-around option. Sure, Dozier has the edge in power and speed, but Rendon should help in those categories too. They could be a wash in runs scored if Rendon finds himself near the top of the Nationals’ lineup. Dozier has never hit higher than .244 in a season before, so Rendon should have the clear edge in batting average. While this is a second base showdown, Rendon’s eligibility at third base is a nice bonus as far as roster construction is concerned. Given that his price tag will be significantly lower than last spring, I’ll take a chance on Rendon’s upside. - D.J. Short (@djshort)
Odor is a star in the making. After returning from the minors, he hit .292/.334/.527 with 15 homers in 336 at-bats last year. As a 21-year-old! My only real issue with him is that he’ll open the season batting in the bottom third of the Rangers order. That’s a notable contrast with Kinsler, who gets the bonus of hitting first or second in a strong Tigers lineup. Still, Kinsler just doesn’t seem to offer much home run or steal potential these days. His home run percentage (per fly ball hit) has dropped four straight years, as has his number of steal attempts. It’s also hard to count on him hitting for average again (last year’s .296 was his highest mark since 2008; he’s hit in the .250s three times, the .270s twice and the .280s once since then). Odor surely offers more power potential, and with a strikeout rate about 15 percent better than the league average, he should hit for solid averages as well. I’d also expect more steals; the speed is certainly there, and while his technique is lacking, it’s something that can be worked on. I see him finishing the year as a top-five second baseman. – Matthew Pouliot (@matthewpouliot)
This is a battle of young and old and I'm usually one to argue on the part of youthful upside, but I don't think Kinsler is as washed up as most seem to think he is. The 33-year-old second baseman actually improved his on-base percentage from 2014 (.307) to 2015 (.342), back toward his career average of .344. That's a promising trend if the Tigers are going to move him into the leadoff spot, and that seems to be the plan as spring training opens. Kinsler could be hitting in front of Justin Upton, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and J.D. Martinez in that order or something close to it throughout the 2016 season. Few teams -- maybe none -- can boast a better top of the lineup. If the 20-homer power returns, Kinsler is going to again be a fantasy star. Odor is an intriguing up-and-comer at only 22 years old, but I still think Kinsler has the higher fantasy ceiling at this point. Kinsler had a slightly lower OPS than Odor in 2015, but adjusted OPS+ -- which accounts for ballpark factors -- would point to Kinsler being the better hitter. – Drew Silva (@drewsilv)
I was in the “fade Harrison” camp last year following his breakout showing in 2014. The strategy worked out, as a slow start and a thumb injury contributed to him finishing as the No. 20 fantasy second baseman. It appears now that the market overcorrected on Harrison heading into 2016, as he’s currently being taken outside the top-15 second basemen in some fantasy drafts, depending on what ADP data you’re using. I like him to exceed value this time, as the 28-year-old hit the ball quite well for the bulk of 2015. Following a woeful April that could have been blamed partly on him placing too much pressure on himself after a contract extension, Harrison batted .305/.345/.396 over the final five months. The Pirate makes a lot of contact and sports a .303 batting mark across 999 plate appearances over the last two seasons. He’s a much better bet than Forsythe both in the average and stolen base department, and I like his run-scoring potential more, as well, hitting toward the top of the Pittsburgh batting order. Forsythe could have an edge when it comes to power, but more arrows are pointing me to Harrison here. – Ryan Boyer (@RyanPBoyer)
After functioning primarily in a platoon role for most of his career, Forsythe had a chance to function as a full-time player for the first time in 2015. The 28-year-old infielder didn’t disappoint, either, slashing a healthy .281/.359/.444 while destroying his career highs across the board with 17 long balls, 68 RBI and nine stolen bases. The plus counting stats were driven by spending most of his time hitting fourth or fifth in the Rays’ lineup, and there’s no reason to believe that will change in 2016. A .252 career hitter, his 2015 average may have been inflated by a career-best BABIP of .323. Even with a regression in average, though, producing 65+ runs and RBI with 14-15 homers and around seven stolen bases returns a solid profit at his current price and ADP. After a breakthrough 2014 season, Harrison crashed back to earth in 2015, blasting only four home runs and plating 28 while swiping 10 bases. Slated to hit second in the Pirates’ lineup, Harrison is a strong bet to hit for a higher average and score more runs than Forsythe, and should easily best him on the bases. Unless his power rebounds significantly, though, the massive difference there gives Forsythe the slight edge in my book. – David Shovein (@DaveShovein)