Matt Kemp and Jacoby Ellsbury are two different hitters at the plate. One hits for power, with a high average, and can steal bases; while the other can hit for a high average and steal ALOT of bases. But they have one thing in common: they are injury prone and pose a dilemma for fantasy owners heading into the 2014 drafts. Kemp is a risk as he has battled injuries in 2013 and has an ankle injury that is reported to be "career threatening". Kemp's 2014 fantasy value depends on how healthy his ankle and shoulder is heading into spring training. Ellsbury is also injury prone and will be leaving the friendly confines of Fenway Park this offseason in search of free agent riches, so his 2014 fantasy value hinges somewhat on where he signs.
Our own Andrew Ball commented on my recent article on Jacoby Ellsbury where I opine that he is not a top 20 outfielder for 2014. In the article, I list my early top 25 outfielders for 2014, with Matt Kemp ranked at #12. Andrew stated that he would have Ellsbury ranked higher and that Kemp is ranked way too high in my rankings.
Who ranks higher in 2014: Ellsbury or Kemp? Discuss.— Ray Guilfoyle (@faketeams) October 19, 2013
And there was plenty of discussion. For the most part, the responders, besides Fake Teams writer Brian Creagh and myself, sided with Ellsbury. That response surprised me, honestly, but I can understand the reasoning as Kemp has been injury prone the last two seasons.
Let's take a look at their career stats, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
|162 Game Avg.||162||660||108||196||35||7||15||71||55||50||93||.297||.350||.439||.789||108||289|
Ellsbury had the one year where he hit 32 home runs, but that looks like a career year for him at this point. He is a hitter that will hit for a high average, score 90+ runs and steal 40-50 bases for his owners year in and year out. In years where he has played at least 134 games, he is averaging 53 stolen bases per season. But, in two of the last four seasons, he has missed 144 and 88 games (2010 and 2012), so the injury tag is firmly attached to his name.
His 162 game average is 15 home runs, 108 runs, 71 RBI and 55 stolen bases with a .297 batting average.
|162 Game Avg.||162||592||96||173||30||5||26||94||27||9||52||154||.293||.350||.493||.844||126||292|
Kemp is the better power hitter, who can steal 20+ bases and hit for a high batting average, hit for power and drive in runs. He is a five category contributor, while Ellsbury is more of a three category contributor. In years where he has played at least 155 games, Kemp has averaged 28 home runs, 32 stolen bases and has scored 82 or more runs in each of those four seasons.
Kemp's 162 game average is 26 home runs, 96 runs, 94 RBI and 27 stolen bases with a .293 batting average.
Again, both have questions marks heading into the 2014 season, so who would you prefer in fantasy drafts in 2014? For me, I lean toward the hitter who can contribute in more categories, Kemp. If he is healthy in 2014, I see his power returning and 20+ stolen bases from him. His shoulder was never 100% this season, thus the drop in power, but even with all the injuries, he still managed nine stolen bases in nine attempts this season, so 20 is not out of the question for 2014.
Let's hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
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- Preliminary Top 5 Fantasy Third Base Prospect Rankings
- Fake Teams Podcast Episode 36: The epitome of projection
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- Jacoby Ellsbury: Not a Top 20 Outfielder in 2014
- A Look Back at our 2013 Consensus Starting Pitcher Rankings - Part 3
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